The Scots Magazine has a photo feature each issue written by a famous Scot about their favourite places in the country. They can be locations with personal memories attached to them or just spots they enjoy visiting. It got me thinking about which places I would choose, so this week’s blog is my ‘My Scotland’.
This narrow village on the Moray Coast, surrounded on almost all sides by ocean, brought about a huge shift in my life. Those who have followed me for a while will know that I grew up in south east England, and once I began exploring Scotland I realised I didn’t belong in my home country anymore.
It was Burghead that introduced me to north east Scotland and this in turn led to my first book, so it will always be a meaningful place for me. I’ve also seen a humpback whale, orcas, basking sharks and the northern lights from its rocky shore, so that scores it plenty of points!
Edinburgh was the first city I visited in Scotland, and every time I go there I’m on holiday so it reminds me of Fringe shows and the Christmas market no matter what time of year it is.
Its centre is old and graceful, with everything you expect to see in a city but with cobbles, narrow closes and plenty of steep staircases. It’s also the home of Hendersons, an amazing vegetarian restaurant where I’ve had my favourite ever meals.
Since moving to Scotland I’ve made a pilgrimage to the west coast every year. Usually this is in autumn to coincide with rutting red deer and leaping salmon, but I’ve also been in summer and seen great northern divers, white tailed eagles and even pine martens in daylight, when it’s not truly dark until nearly midnight.
It’s also where I broke my lifelong curse and got my first otter photos. The wilderness of Assynt has given me countless wildlife memories and as soon as I leave I’m thinking about when to go back.
I’m not much of an urban dweller and much prefer the stillness and seclusion of rural habitats, but I connected to Aberdeen straight away. Scotland’s third largest city is hugely varied and this is perhaps most evident in its architecture, where a single street has large stone block buildings, ornate granite colleges and transparent office blocks.
Despite its size Aberdeen is easily walkable, with museums, gardens, restaurants and artworks in just a couple of miles. It has loads of character.
I love the Cairngorms National Park in general, but this spot in particular had me obsessed from my first visit. I rarely use the word ‘magic’ because there isn’t much that justifies it, but the Uath Lochans do.
Submerged in pine forest not far from Aviemore, these four small lochs sparkle like they emit their own light. On a still day in summer, their surfaces create perfect reflections of the heathery hills beyond, disturbed only by the feet of dragonflies.