Early castle sites in Scotland take the form of ‘mottes’ - grass mounds once topped by wooden fortresses, now long gone. A small rectangular stone tower on the island of Wyre, Orkney, Cubbie Row’s Castle, as it is known today, is probably the earliest surviving stone fortress in Scotland, c. 1145.
Scotland’s choice of cruises and boat trips is simply huge and covers a range of excursions on inland loch, sea-loch and open sea right around the coast, from the Bass Rock in the east to St Kilda in the west.
Scotland has a great tradition of gardening and horticulture – partly through the work of generations of Scottish plant-hunters, such as David Douglas and George Forrest, who went abroad to bring back new species and give their names to many familiar garden plants of today.
Scotland’s historic sites and monuments span the centuries, from Neolithic standing stones such as the famous circle at Calanais on Lewis to 20th-century sites such as the Churchill Barriers on Orkney.
Guided tours take many forms. There are custom-made Scotland tours with your own tour guide, with the tour often built round a specific theme, for example genealogy or fine dining. There are whole programmes of guided tours, usually starting and ending in the cities, which allow small groups of visitors more than a glimpse of the scenic Highland areas of Scotland.
Whithorn in Galloway is regarded as the site of the earliest stone church in Scotland, though the island of Iona, where an abbey still stands today, is also regarded as ‘The Cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland.