Touring Ireland and Scotland’s Most Stunning Spots
Posted by Niamh Allabyrne on the 17th of October 2013 at 10:57:53
The ties between Ireland and Scotland are very strong with both countries sharing many things in common… from towering cliffs to crashing rugged coastlines, valleys and glens to sweeping landscapes, historic castles and houses to age old traditions all infused with an irrepressible Celtic charm and character. With such a shared history, many people have connections and roots in both countries and so when touring Europe will decide to take in both countries during their travels.
And although both countries are small, both have so much to offer, so as time is always a factor when touring, I compiled a list of some of the highlights from each country and while it is has proved nearly impossible to do so (both are just so gorgeous!) here it goes – and in no particular order!
Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland – this ancient monastic site is for me is one of the most special places in Ireland. It is my go-to-spot - serene and peaceful – well – mostly – it is a popular spot for locals and tourists (!), there is a peace that transcends you as you walk the site and view the round tower, ancient graveyard, churches and high-cross. It is easy to see why St. Kevin founded his monastery here in the 6th century - the valley it is situated in, is simply stunning and whispers of an ancient spirituality. Take one of the walks/treks around the valley and gain a true appreciation of its timeless allure. It really is hard to describe it without actually experiencing it – so do! And you’ll see what I mean!
Loch Lomond, Trossachs National Park, Scotland – ideally situated not too far away from Glasgow – yet seemingly a million miles away is the breath-taking Loch Lomond. It is the largest inland fresh water expanse in Great Britain and has some astounding views. Located within the Trossachs National Park, the area is ideal for water sports and treks but as for me I enjoyed a leisurely cruise around the Loch to really soak up all that beauty around me. Wow!
Slea Head Drive, County Kerry, Ireland – the Dingle Peninsula enjoys some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland – from jaw-dropping cliffs to sandy beaches and majestic mountains. For me the Slea Head Drive allows you to take in all the beauty of the region from its scenery to history in one go – take your time though - as you will want to savour those views and take a gazillion photos
Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland – no list of Ireland’s most beautiful spots would ever be complete without mention of these amazing cliffs. Shaped by the wilds of the Atlantic - they are one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts standing at some 214m tall and stretching for over 8km. Take in their gusty salty winds as you take a walk along these magnificent cliffs and gaze out at the playful seahorses crashing to shore. Magical.
Loch Ness, Iverness, Scotland – this place was on my bucket list for a while – childhood stories of the famous Loch Ness monster filling my head! But there is so much more to it – so don’t let the legend overshadow a possible visit to it! The second largest loch after the aforementioned Loch Lomond, it is located in the Scottish Highlands and is just breath-taking! I took a cruise and heard the history of the region including all about Nessie, passing by Cherry Island, Fort Augustus Abbey and the ruins of Urquhart Castle.
Eilean Donan, Dornie, Scotland - this is quite possibly one of my most favorite castles and I am sure that even if you have not visited it, you will surely recognize it from its photo – it is one of the most photographed Scottish icons after all! Located on its own island, surrounded by the mountains of Kintail and overlooking the Isle of Skye, this castle surely has one of the most stunning locations in the world. Dating to the 6th, the castle has undergone several renovations down through the centuries – none of which have taken away from its beauty. Must see!
Rock of Cashel, Cashel, County Tipperary – situated on top of a craggy rock outcrop, this dazzling array of Medieval buildings dates from the time the site was given to the Church in the 11th and 12th centuries. However, prior to this, it was once the seat of the High Kings of Munster. The Rock’s long and compelling history, combined with the beauty and uniqueness of its situation ensures that this is one of Ireland’s most popular attractions.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland – arguably one of the most recognized and popular of Scottish sites – the castle sits atop a dormant volcano dominating the cityscape. The oldest part of this magnificent castle dates to 12th century with later additions made down through the years. Take a tour of this impressive complex – see the Scottish Crown Jewels, the famous Stone of Destiny and learn all about the castle’s dramatic history!
Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland - this beautiful island off the Mayo coast encapsulates for me the beauty and wonder of Ireland’s western seaboard. Sandy and secluded beaches, winding roads and amazing coastal views, I fall in love with Achill a little more with every visit – no wonder it is sometimes referred to as the Island of Love.
Isle of Skye , Scotland - located off Scotland’s western coast, the island was recently voted the “4th best island in the world” by National Geographic! Easy to see why! A small island with amazing scenery – packed with mountains, sea lochs and an abundance of wildlife from Scottish wildcats to eagles, red deer to otters. View dinosaur footprints and stone circles, and enjoy every second of this little piece of heaven!!
So, why not book your Escorted Bus Tour of Ireland and Scotland and see some of these amazing places for yourself! Scotland and Ireland – together?! Nothing better!