You’ve read the book now visit the place that inspired the author. Scotland’s characterful cities, towns and villages, moody landscapes, intriguing history and colourful heritage have enthused writers and plot lines over the centuries.
This Book Week Scotland (18-24 November) why not go behind the scenes of your favourite Scottish prose and walk in the footsteps of the likes of JM Barrie, Sir Walter Scott and Lewis Grassic Gibbon. You never know what inspiration you might find for your own story….
Crime and thriller
Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian – The Da Vinci Code
Some parts of Dan Brown’s smash hit novel might seem unlikely, but this bit is definitely real! Described by the author himself as ‘the most mysterious and magical chapel on earth’, Rosslyn Chapel, along with its hundreds of mysterious and beautiful carvings, has been the source of thousands of myths and legends. The chapel has generated an uncountable number of theories for almost 600 years, with the film shooting it to worldwide prominence. Walk in the footsteps of Robert Langdon and explore for yourself what makes this place so special.
Where to stay: Ideally located as a base to visit Rosslyn, the wider Midlothian region or go into Edinburgh, relax at the beautiful four-star Dalhousie Castle Hotel and Aqueous Spa. The magnificent 13th century fortress is set within acres of wooded parkland on the banks of the River Esk. For room rates and bookings visit: www.dalhousiecastle.co.uk
Oban, Argyll and Bute – Morvern Callar
Despite the dark nature of Alan Warner’s novel, Oban is a bright port known as ‘The Gateway to the Isles’. Warner’s descriptions of the town are less alarming than his depiction of his heroine, and there’s plenty to see while you’re there. Or, if you like, you can venture to sea and explore the neighbouring Hebridean islands with their dramatic beaches and aqua waters are some of the most unspoilt in the world – who needs Spain!
Where to stay: Replicating a small celtic village Clan Cottages, five gorgeous thatched cottages, are sympathetically designed to integrate and blend with the surrounding landscape. Situated on the shores of Loch Nell and the River Nell, a stunning and very peaceful location within a six minute drive from the town of Oban and all its amenities. One of the two-bed cottages has a VisitScotland Cat 2 disabled access. Cottages start from £495 per unit per week, visit: www.clancottages.com
Slains Castle, Aberdeenshire – Dracula
The castle located on the dramatic cliffs of the north east is a must-see for any fans of the Dracula franchise. The atmospheric ruins of the 16th-century tower house inspired Bram Stoker on his many trips to Cruden Bay. Discover the unsettling stories that surround the castle and its occupants which was also visited by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell on their famous tour of the Highlands and Islands. The spooky castle and theatrical settings are sure to inspire the imagination…
Where to stay: A mere 15-minute walk from the castle itself, curl up with an atmospheric read in the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. Steeped in history, Bram Stoker stayed in the hotel on his own visits – he even started the first chapters of Dracula there in 1895. The small hotel has a three-star VisitScotland Quality Assurance grading and prides itself on sourcing the very best local produce from the Aberdeen larder, also holding a Taste Our Best Award. Book your room at http://www.kilmarnockarms.com/.
The Mearns, Aberdeenshire – Sunset Song
One of the most important Scottish novels of the 20th century, author Lewis Grassic Gibbon, born James Leslie Mitchell, was strongly influenced by his life in The Mearns and the area’s wonderful mix of countryside and coastline. Listen out for the distinctive local Doric Scots dialect, spoken in north east Aberdeenshire, in towns and villages across Mearns. While in Fettercairn, one of the bustling villages in area and featured in the book, see the distinctive Royal Arch erected in 1864 and don’t miss the white-washed buildings of Fettercairn Distillery.
Where to stay: Anniston Farm Cottages are situated between sandy beaches, picturesque coastal villages, the magnificent Angus Glens and the Cairngorm National Park. The three self-catering cottages with four to five-star VisitScotland Quality Assurance grades, offer the perfect rural location to explore the region: www.annistonfarm.co.uk
Birnam Wood, Perthshire – Macbeth
Like all the best stories, the camouflaged attack on Macbeth’s castle is based on real life – Shakespeare heard the story on a visit to Perth, Birnam and Aberdeen in 1599 and pinched it for his play. The two surviving trees, the Birnam Oak and its neighbour the Birnam Sycamore are thought to the sole surviving trees of the great forest that once straddled the banks and hillsides of the River Tay, and are believed to have been there in Shakespeare’s time. Bet they could tell some stories, too. The trees can be enjoyed as part of the relaxing Birnam Walk.
Where to stay: The Meikleour Arms Hotel & Restaurant is the perfect base to explore Perthshire. A picturesque small country hotel with award winning food and pub in an historic Scottish country estate, it has a four-star VisitScotland Quality Assurance grade. For the best room rates visit: www.meikleourarms.co.uk
Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway - Peter Pan
Childhood games, ‘enchanted lands’ and the theatre in and around Dumfries, as well as the home of his friend, Moat Brae, would inspire the astonishingly successful writing career of JM Barrie’s throughout his lifetime. In the gardens of the Victorian house and its gardens, Barrie would find his love of pirates, codes and make believe, while it was also in the wings of the Theatre Royal in Dumfries that Barrie developed his love of theatre. A visit to the town and the wider region will not leave you disappointed…
Where to stay: On the edge of Dumfries, the historic and family-run Woodland House Hotel is conveniently situated to give its guests the tranquillity of dark starry skies and a rural retreat, with all the convenience of a well-situated hotel in southern Scotland’s largest town. To stay at the Grade B listed Georgian mansion visit: www.woodlandhousehotel.co.uk
Scott’s View, Scottish Borders – Walter Scott
No literary tour of Scotland is complete without a trip to the Borders, where the beautiful landscape and local legends inspired one of Scotland’s all time literary greats, Walter Scott. Stop off to see ‘Scott’s View’, reputed to be one of the author’s favourite views and featuring the Eildon Hills and River Tweed. Scott penned world-famous novels including Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and Waverley, and you can visit his home in Abbotsford House (the library is every book lover’s dream!) just outside Selkirk: https://www.scottsabbotsford.com/
Where to stay: There’s no better place to soak up all things Walter Scott than in his very own home! The five-star visitor attraction also offers top quality self-catering accommodation for 10-15 people in the form of their Hope Scott wing. Bespoke interiors but with a family-feel, follow in the footsteps of other famous visitors and writers including Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens and J.M.W Turner. Find out more here: https://www.scottsabbotsford.com/stay
Barra and Eriskay, Outer Hebrides – Whisky Galore
Compton Mackenzie’s comic novel is based on a real-life incident from 1941, when the Jamaica-bound SS Politician and its cargo – including 28,000 cases of malt whisky – sank off the coast of Eriskay. Mackenzie’s islands of Great Todday and Little Todday are loosely based on Barra and Eriskay, where today you’ll still find white sands, blue waters and a more than decent dram.
Where to stay: The Castlebay Hotel on Barra, the most southerly of the Western Isles, has views over Kisimul Castle, the harbour and the beautiful island of Vatersay. Relax and watch the changing scene around the bay at the 3-star VisitScotland rated hotel: www.castlebayhotel.com
Tulloch Ghru, Aviemore – Outlander
The locations in the Outlander novels are fictionalised, but the locations used in the phenomenal TV success are very real. This extraordinary beautiful woodland and lochside setting in the Cairngorms features in the opening credits, and is where our heroine Claire’s historical Highland adventures begin. Explore even more locations that inspired Outlander in an epic, 12 day Outlander itinerary of Scotland.
Where to stay: AA Guest Accommodation of the Year for Scotland 2016-17, The Dulaig is a beautiful 5-Star Gold B&B in the Cairngorms National Park. Perfect as a base for exploring the Scottish Highlands, a relaxed romantic break or an activity holiday, you’ll definitely be able to chill out and unwind. Enjoy the best of Scottish hospitality: www.thedulaig.com
Glasgow – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Experience the Glasgow that provides the backdrop to the award-winning bestseller. Honeyman writes about the kindness and warmth of Glasgow, in her homage to the city in which she lives. With plenty of bustling cafes, trendy restaurants and a thriving music scene you’re sure to receive a friendly welcome. Visit iconic Glasgow locations including Ashton Lane and the Barrowlands and get your literary fix with a trip to the renowned Women’s Library.
Where to stay: Enjoy the best the vibrant city has to offer in the luxurious surroundings of the Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel. The hotel boasts a VisitScotland five-star rating as well as being the only hotel in the city with an AA accreditation. It’s renowned for its exquisite Georgian architecture, stylish interiors, spa, café and more. You can rent a bike or even bring your animal companions free of charge to explore the city: https://www.kimptonblythswoodsquare.com
For more inspiration on Scottish Literature head to - https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/culture/scotland-in-literature/
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