The Holy Isle of Iona: A Historical Pilgrimage

iona abbey

Like the first monks and today’s travelers, I first glimpse the holy Isle of Iona in the Scottish Hebrides from the sea. This birthplace of Celtic Christianity has attracted the faithful for nearly 1500 years and I wonder how Iona has drawn so many pilgrims and tourists to such a remote spot. Its enormous appeal is quite out of proportion to its size. The converted trawler, Glen Tarsan, of ... Read Full Article

The Unspoiled Isles of the Scottish Outer Hebrides

wild Heather

Since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of time-travel— never into the future, always to the past — but the closest I can achieve without magic is traveling amongst history. The Outer Hebrides of Scotland, the Western Isles, proved one of the best destinations to feed my dreams. . They are empty of soaring Gothic cathedrals and have no teeming cities, but I relished experiencing the unchanged locations ... Read Full Article

My Love Affair with Great British Food

Stargazey Pie

I love British food. When people ask me what I love about the United Kingdom, what keeps me coming back, I often blurt out “food!” Some people laugh. Most think I’m joking. Britain, they note, is not exactly known for its cuisine. But I beg to differ. Perhaps it’s because I’m a Minnesotan. Midwesterners, Northerners, we like our meat and potatoes and we like them covered in gravy so thick ... Read Full Article

My Barradise: The Scottish Isle of Barra

Kismul Castle from the Castlebay Hotel

The Twin Otter banks hard and within seconds is skimming low over the sea. The fat tires bounce on hard, still-wet sand, and I breathe again. I step onto the biggest runway I’ve ever seen — the Cockle Strand — and my romance with the Outer Hebrides Isle of Barra, Scotland begins.  The airport on the Isle of Barra is the only one in the world with regular flights that follow a schedule ... Read Full Article

The Subtle Palette of Scotland’s Isles of Harris and Lewis

As the fog dispersed we saw a typical inlet of The Bays region on Harris’s southeast coast.

I ripped open my package from the Isle of Harris. As I pushed my nose into the fabric, it smelled of lanolin and scratched my face. I had chosen it a month before because its color would forever remind me of the heather, sky, and rock that cover this Hebridean island. The fog was thick as my husband and I awaited the ferry to take us to the most northerly of the Western Isles. This ... Read Full Article

Edinburgh’s Rose Street—A Beer Aficionado’s Nirvana

the Kenilworth, one of Rose Street's most popular bars, named after a novel by Sir Walter Scott

The medieval stone city of Edinburgh boasts a staggering 700 pubs for its population of just under 500,000, the highest concentration of pubs in Great Britain. And the epicenter of Edinburgh’s beer sampling scene, as any local will tell you, is Rose Street, only a brisk 10-minute walk down the hill from the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. Now a lively pedestrian walkway, Rose Street lies between ... Read Full Article

The Spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Massed Pipes - ©The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The opening sights and sounds of the Edinburgh Tattoo are spectacular, set against the backdrop of ancient Edinburgh Castle. In the distance, behind the castle walls, I hear the sinister rattle of dozens of snare drums followed by the wail of a single bagpipe. Then, suddenly, 600 pipers fire up their instruments in a loud cacophony of noise that echos across the esplanade. The excited crowd goes ... Read Full Article

National Museum of Scotland Displays The World

Ancient Roman cameo glass, 'Portland vase'

Scotland has scores of museums, all of them interesting, but the National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh, is truly exceptional. Its collections of thousands of objects cover natural history, world cultures, geology, archaeology, science and technology, and of course the entire story (pre-history included) of Scotland. The museum is set in the heart of the city, on Chambers Street near the George ... Read Full Article

A Wee Jaunt to Arran and Tiree

Not all tartan is made into kilts!

I knew I’d arrived when my taxi driver said, “Enjoy your wee Hebridean jaunt.” But I was left in no doubt when I discovered tartan carpets and upholstery in my room. Later, I even saw tartan VW vans! In fact, my adventure was not wee at all, but fifteen islands and three weeks long. I began in the south on the Scottish Isle of Arran, an easy drive and ferry ride from Glasgow ... Read Full Article

A Small Ship Cruise in the Scottish Hebrides

Glen Tarsan anchored off the Isle of Staffa with a misty Mull in the background

Every September morning I wondered why I hadn’t explored the Scottish Hebrides before. White sand beaches and turquoise sea, purple-washed mountains and golden glens lured me every day. Dry weather heightened my enchantment as I lapped up the islands’ ancient history wherever I found it. The Hebridean islands, formed by ancient volcanoes and sculpted by the restless Atlantic, run north-south off ... Read Full Article