Megan McCormick explores Scotland, the land of untamed
highlands, windswept islands, spectacular locks, glens
and intriguing cities which has struggled for self-determination
for more than a millennium. During the course of her
journey she meets a cast of hardy inhabitants and experiences
the vibrant culture of a land which is completely distinct
from the rest of the British Isles.
She begins her journey in Glasgow,
Scotland's largest city, where she visits some of the
city's cultural attractions, including the Macintosh
Museum which is dedicated to Scotland's most
celebrated architect and designer Charles Renny Macintosh.
She also takes a lesson in playing the bagpipes,
the traditional Scottish instrument which was invented
by young shepherd boys in the highlands.
Scotland had always had a stormy relationship with England,
known as 'The Old Enemy'. Scotland's national hero is
William Wallace, who led successful
guerrilla campaigns against the English in the late
13th century. The story of his victories and eventual
betrayal became famous the world over when the 'Braveheart'
movie starring Mel Gibson was made. Megan travels to
Stirling, the sight of one of William
Wallaces most famous victories, where a re-enactment
of the battle and a Braveheart Banquet is
From Stirling Megan heads to the Hebrides to explore
the island of Islay. Islay's main industry is the distillation
of whiskey and she takes a tour of the Ardberg distillery,
one of the best in all of Scotland. Megan also meets
musician Fiona Middleton who first came to Islay in
1976 and is known all over the island for playing her
violin to the seal population.
Megan continues her journey to the mountainous region
of Oben on the west coast of the mainland. She sets
out on a mission to climb Ben Truerton,
the biggest hill in the Campbell area
and one of the 284 mountains in Scotland over 3,000
feet. Known as 'munroes', the feat of conquering these
admirable peaks is known as 'munroe-bagging', and her
companion Charlie has bagged 'em all - twice over!
The West Highland railway runs from
Glasgow via Fort William to Mallaig
and is one of the most scenic train journeys in the
world. From Mallaig Megan takes a ferry to the Isle
of Skye, a rugged island known for its castles,
mountains and changeable weather. She takes a boat trip
with a local fisherman who pulls mussels off the pillars
of Skye bridge and cooks up a lunch time sea-food feast
for tourists on his boat.
After hitching a ride with the local postman to Loch
Dunvegan, the oldest inhabited castle in Britain
where the McCloud clan have lived for 700 years, it's
time for Megan to bid farewell to Skye. She teams up
with a tour company that takes travellers all over the
highlands in a converted bus - the very vehicle in which
Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath used to tour. First
stop is the Battlefield of Culloden,
where the last battle ever to be fought on British soil
took place in 1746. In just 45 minutes 1,500 highlanders,
led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, were slaughtered by the
troops of the Duke of Cumberland. The English leader
earned the nickname 'Butcher Cumberland' for his brutal
treatment of the defeated Scottish forces.
Britain's biggest lake and legendary home of 'Nessie'
lies just 6 miles west of Culloden. The first sightings
of a gigantic monster living in Loch Ness occurred in
the 6th century AD. Since then tourists have travelled
here in the hope of sighting the beast. Megan meets
some local characters who have given up comfortable
jobs and home lives to pursue the myth of the Loch Ness
Megan travels to Strathdon for the Clanloddoch
Highland games. The games are an ancient tradition
held all over the highlands, and were originally used
as a test of skill and strength when recruiting clan
warriors. She witnesses a range of events, from putting
the stones, to throwing the hammers and tossing the
caber, then tests her strength in the tug of war.
Next port of call is the Orkneys,
70 or so islands off the north tip of mainland Scotland.
The ancient landscape richly strewn with stone circles
and burial chambers and Megan visits Skara Brae,
Northern Europe's best preserved prehistoric village.
She also witnesses an Orkadian wedding tradition, where
the bride and groom are pelted with a mixture of yoghurt,
eggs, ironbrew, molasses and sand, known as blackening.
Blackenings have been happening in Scotland for centuries,
but the origins of the practise are steeped in mystery.
St. Andrews is the home of golf, one
of the world's most popular sports which was actually
invented in Scotland over 500 years ago. The club has
6 courses, the most famous being the old course. To
play on it you have to enter a ballot and just hope
that your name is drawn - and fortunately for Megan,
After a few rounds is time to embark on the last leg
of her journey: to Edinburgh, the Capital of Scotland.
She times her visit to co-incide with the Edinburgh
Festival, an annual cultural extravaganza of
dance, theatre, art and music. The population of the
city doubles for the festival during the months of August
to September and events take place all over the city.
Megan spends her final evening in Scotland at the Edinburgh
Military Tattoo, a display of military musical
prowess from the finest bands of the British Commonwealth.