Scotland the Place to Be in 2013

Buachaille Etive Mor, featured in Skyfall

Buachaille Etive Mor, featured in Skyfall

Around Edinburgh at the moment signs of the post-festive season are evident, and life is slowly returning to normal. Discarded, tired Christmas trees lie on the pavements waiting patiently for someone to come and remove them, tram preparation has resumed on Princes Street after Hogmanay celebrations, and pubs seem to be quieter than usual as patrons who have over indulged over the last few weeks start the new year with well-rested livers.

Following 2012 and the Year of Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government has announced the theme of 2013 as the Year of Natural Scotland. The aim of the year is to promote Scotland as “a land of outstanding beauty” through eco-tourism and enjoying landscapes, wildlife and historical sites in a responsible manner.

In a major boost for the themed year, a recent travel feature by CNN has named Scotland as the world’s number one travel destination in 2013, citing the newly unveiled Scottish National Trail, “pristine lochs and haunting glens”, and the misty landscapes featured in Bond’s latest outing Skyfall as key reasons to visit.

Opened by First Minister Alex Salmond in October 2012, the Gore-Tex Scottish National Trail is a 470-mile walking trek that connects Kirk Yetholm in the Borders, to Cape Wrath on the north-western most tip of the British mainland. The trail is the brainchild of author and broadcaster Cameron McNeish, and came about from a need for Scotland to have a world-class trail that stretched the length of the land. “I wanted to walk through my own country of birth, simply to get to know it better, to weigh up aspects of its character and culture, to remind myself of its history and factions, its nuances and its remarkable diversity of landscape at a time when this small nation was beginning a process of re-discovery and questioning if it could go it alone outside the comfort zone of the UK.” McNeish has documented his experience in a book called Scotland End to End, with particular emphasis on the changing uses of the land – from Romans, Highland Clearances and Victorian shooting estates to sheep farming and wind farm industrialisation.

The 2012 release of Skyfall, staring Daniel Craig as Ian Flemming’s 007, saw Bond return to his Scottish roots with Dame Judi Dench’s M to escape the wrath of villain Raoul Silva. The Highland driving sequences were filmed on the A82 near the striking peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag, with the atmospheric scenery providing a leading role in the edge-of-your-seat action that follows. Ian Flemming was said to have been enamoured with the Highlands, so much so that he made the spy’s father hail from Glencoe. Upon completion of filming in the area, Dench said “It was glorious as always and happened to be the most wonderful day in Glencoe – a beautiful clear day. With just that kind of band of mist under the hills – it was perfect.”

There are also many outdoor events planned for 2013 including the Dumfries & Galloway Wildlife Festival (March 29-April 14); Knockengorroch World Ceilidh (May 23-26); Heb Celt 2013 music festival (July 17-20); and the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight (September 7-22).

In keeping with the theme of the year, and setting some kind of New Years resolution for myself I have decided to make a start on a list of must-see places in Scotland to tick off by the time 2014 rolls around. Top of the list is the majestic grandeur of Glencoe, followed by the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘The Heart of Neolitihic Orkney’ in the Orkney Islands, and some William McTaggart inspired seashores on the West Coast. I’m very open to suggestions so if you have any, please leave a comment below. All the best for your 2013!


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