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Location - Western Europe; Capital - Scotland - Edinburgh; Population - Scotland - 5.2 million; Currency - Pound Sterling MORE UK - SCOTLAND

Amber weather warnings in the highlands meant I cancelled the Skye ferry and took the bus to Glen Coe, just south of Fort William - May 2016.


scotlandnote3England and Wales discontinued the £1 note many years ago, but Scotland still has them









scotland586Glen Coe is an area for walking and hiking through the highland valleys near Fort William, glen being the Scottish term for valley


scotland591As with most trekking experiences it's much better on a sunny day! This attractive section is Glencoe Lochan, an artificial lake only 15/20mins walk from the village of Glen Coe


scotland592Snow-capped mountains always look evocative - Glen Coe















scotland599The hub of mountain climbing, trekking and walking in the highlands is Fort William, set in the shadow of Ben Nevis


scotland603On a clear day a boat cruise on Loch Linnhe is a great way of getting the perfect view of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis - Fort William


scotland615Ben Nevis rises above the outskirts of Fort William














scotland619 Ben Nevis stands 1,346m tall and is climbed by a huge 100,000 visitors a year - Fort William















scotland622And in the original of this photo you can see over 20 of those climbers on the snow capped peak - Fort William


scotland650The train ride from Fort William west to Mallaig is known as one of the most beautiful journeys in Britain. Here the train skirts Loch Eil, with Ben Nevis as a backdrop - Fort William


scotland636The Glenfinnan viaduct ride is famous as a setting in the Harry Potter films - Fort William to Mallaig














scotland632 Shortly after Glenfinnan a gorgeous loch and valley reveals itself - Fort William to Mallaig














scotland642Mirror images on a still loch - Fort William to Mallaig


scotland645For that extra Harry Potter experience a steam train also makes the 1.5hr journey - Fort William to Mallaig


scotland655Mallaig is a port on the north west coast and the ferry gateway to Skye, as well as the small islands of Eigg and Rum














scotland659A hazy view of Skye across the waters of the Sound of Sleat - Mallaig














scotland665Another scenic glen a short walk from Fort William is Glen Nevis


scotland663It's (literally) the gateway to ascents of Ben Nevis - Glen Nevis


scotland671One of the Ben Nevis trails begins opposite the visitor centre - Glen Nevis














scotland667Ben Nevis is also one hurdle in the Three Peaks Challenge, where the three highest mountains in each of Scotland, England and Wales are climbed in 24hrs - Glen Nevis













scotland688The waterfront at Oban, 1.5hrs by bus south west of Fort William


scotland702McCaig's Tower is a 19th century folly giving great views of Oban



Take in the panoramic scene at McCaig's Tower. On the left is Pulpit Hill, rolling down to the ferry terminal and Oban Bay, which is protected by the long, thin island of Kerrera. Behind Kerrera is the Isle of Mull with a distant mainland (or Lismore island?) on the right - Oban


scotland707Oban Bay and Kerrera, with the mountains of Mull rising behind - Oban













scotland706Ferries connect Oban with the islands of Mull, Colonsay, Uist, Lismore, Coll, Barra and Tiree












scotland694Upside legs wearing wellies, of course! Oban


scotland714Mural outside a shop on the way down from McCaig's Tower - Oban


scotland718Little and large. A CalMac ferry passes canoeists near Dunollie Castle - Oban













scotland729The sun sets behind Kerrera - Oban















scotland732A beautiful sunset on the calm waters of Oban Bay - Oban


scotland726Mull and Kerrera islands - Oban


scotland735The bus ride south east from Oban to Loch Lomond passes Loch Fyne at Inveraray














scotland737Inveraray Castle is the seat of the Duke of Argyll, the chief of the Clan Campbell - Inveraray













scotland738Shortly after Loch Fyne the road winds down through Glen Croe


scotland742 If you want to visit a picturesque village on the shore of Loch Lomond then choose Luss over the tourist centre of Balloch













scotland748When the coach tours disappear Luss has an idyllic setting on Loch Lomond














scotland747In season boat cruises are available to the lake's islands - Luss, Loch Lomond


scotland754It was a blue sky day with temperatures in the 20s, perfect for a sunbathe (with the ducks) on the lakeshore - Luss, Loch Lomond


scotland760Loch Lomond is the largest lake in Britain, though Loch Ness is the largest by water volume - Luss, Loch Lomond













scotland756I planned to take a boat to Balloch on the lake's southern tip but it didn't turn up, so it was a bus jobby instead - Luss, Loch Lomond













scotland767The Maid of the Loch is a vintage paddle steamer open to the public - Balloch


scotland769Boats docked along the River Leven near the train station - Balloch


scotland771Stirling is an attractive historic university town and a great base for exploring central Scotland













scotland818The Old Town Cemetery with the 15th/16th century Church of the Holy Rude hiding behind the trees - Stirling














scotland816It's strange to see a big pyramid in the cemetery (unless you're in Egypt/Sudan of course!) The Star Pyramid is dedicated to martyrs in the name of religious freedom in Scotland - Stirling


scotland821Standing on top of a hill above the cemetery, and the whole city for that matter, is Stirling Castle - Stirling


scotland785The castle walls provide quality views of the city below - Stirling













scotland782A cannon points towards the National Wallace Monument on the hill - Stirling













scotland795The rooms of the Royal Palace have been fully restored, including the Queen's Inner Hall - Stirling


scotland799Look upwards to spot King James V who reigned Scotland in the 16th century - Stirling


scotland801The National Wallace Monument stands above the city on Abbey Craig, with the Ochil Hills behind - Stirling














scotland82317th century Cowane's Hospital served as an almshouse and is now an arts venue and cafe - Stirling













scotland829I'd say the legendary Rob Roy is the inspiration for Groundskeeper Willie of The Simpsons. On the undiscovered scotland website Rob Roy, born in 1671, is described as a 'soldier, businessman, cattle-rustler and outlaw, but above all a folk hero' - Stirling


scotland841The Old Stirling Bridge is near the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, where Scottish forces under William Wallace and Andrew Moray defeated the English in 1297 - Stirling


scotland834At the peak of Mote Hill is the Beheading Stone, a medieval execution block, again with the National Wallace Monument visible - Stirling













scotland848The National Wallace Monument is dedicated to William Wallace, leader of the First War of Scottish Independence - Stirling

















scotland849William Wallace was born in 1270 and died a national hero in 1305. His story was told in Mel Gibson's 1995 film Braveheart - Stirling


scotland855Climb the steps of the monument tower and take in the 360° views of Stirling


scotland852The River Forth winds its way through the Forth Valley - Stirling














scotland851On display in the tower is a sword belonging to Wallace - Stirling


















scotland866On the slopes of Abbey Craig are a few walking trails radiating from the monument with great views of the Forth River and Stirling Castle - Stirling


scotland859Sitting on another hill a few kms away is Stirling Castle - Stirling


scotland858There's also great views from right outside the monument, taking in the River Forth and the Forth Valley with Stirling Castle and the city below - Stirling














scotland874The historic site of Bannockburn is a 15min bus ride from Stirling, dedicated to the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, where the Scots - led by Robert the Bruce - defeated the English during the First War of Scottish Independence


scotland879Robert the Bruce was the King of Scotland (or King of Scots) between 1306 and 1329 - Bannockburn, Stirling


scotland882One more look at Stirling Castle rising above the Forth Valley, as seen from Bannockburn, Stirling















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