The BritRail pass, or a special Scottish rail pass, gets you around much of Scotland. Some interesting places like the Dukes of Argyll’s home and the village of Argyll are reachable only by village road.
In Scotland there are more brooding castles with romantic names Inveraray, Cawdor, Elair, Glamis, Edinburgh and Sterling. The Highlands of Scotland call Scotchmen from around the world. They provide natural beauty aplenty; bountiful Scottish breakfasts; fishing, hiking, shopping and touring of stately homes; and accommodations ranging from private homes (bed and breakfast) to Gleneagles Hotel, one of the best. Gleneagles and St. Andrews are the most famous of Scotland’s numerous golf courses. Several castles and mansion owners take in guests on a discreet, pre-arranged basis, with payment made to a London tourist office. Some farmers also take in guests and it is well worth the time to reserve them in the local tourist offices. Most fishing and hunting must be prearranged with the landowner or the person owning the fishing rights along the streams. Some of this can be very expensive.
Scotland has several unique tourist attractions, one being the Scotch Whiskey Trail in northeast Scotland, centered around the rivers Spey, Avon and Livet. The distilleries themselves are not too different from one another. But then neither are the wineries on the wine tour of the Napa Valley of California, or the pubs one is supposed to crawl between in places like London. It is the spirit of the thing, especially since at many of the distilleries the guest is treated to something completely un-Scotsmanlike, a free dram of whiskey. The official Whiskey Trail is seventy miles long, with signposts along the way. Visitors should allow at least an hour for each of the five malt distilleries on the trail. Incidentally, because of high taxes Scotch whiskey costs more in Scotland than the same bottle in the United States.
Scottish food is hearty and straightforward. Elegant dining tends to favor French dishes, understandably, because of Scotland’s long association with France before becoming a permanent part of Britain. Haggis, a mixture of meat, oatmeal, and spices, cooked in a sheep’s stomach, is really not as bad as it sounds. The fresh fish and other seafood and short (meaning plenty of shortening is used) biscuits are memorable.