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Issue 23 - A Lovers Kingdom

Scotland Magazine Issue 23
October 2005


This article is 13 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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A Lovers Kingdom

Where would you go for a romantic break in Scotland? Christopher Fisher picks some of the best places

Forget Paris, Glasgow is historically the city of love, as the remains of Saint Valentine, martyred in 269AD, were said to have been brought to Blessed St John Duns Scotus in the Gorbals by a Franciscan monk. So with Scotland being the world’s capital of romance, what locations make up the ultimate top 10 of romantic locations?

Lochgoilhead, Argyll
This is the perfect place for romance to blossom, as white stones mark out the outline of a heartshaped wedding ring. It is at this spot that the gypsies of Argyll are said to have held their wedding ceremonies. To feel the love, step in to the centre of the ring and listen to many a love story. Well that’s what they say, if you are quiet enough, you should hear many ‘I dos’ from yesterday’s lovers.

Dumfries and Galloway
The Marriage Act 1754 constituted the heart of controversy in England, making marriage without parental consent illegal under 21 years old. Scottish law differed, allowing Scots to marry at 16 without consent. Because the town was located on the old coaching London to Edinburgh route and the first village once across the border, couples came here to marry in secret. The anvil has become the symbol of Gretna Green weddings because blacksmith priests conducted the ceremonies in the blacksmith’s shop. Weddings are big business in Gretna; last year up to 5,000 couples married here.

730 Great Western Road, Hillhead, Glasgow, Clyde Valley
The Botanical Garden is more of an unusual location for romance to develop. Crystal met Darren in an internet forum more than two years ago and thinks the Botanical Garden is one of the most romantic city locations. “I was just getting into photography then. I bought a digital camera and we went up to the Botanical Garden to practice taking shots of flowers. It was romantic because we were both so excited about seeing so many new things. “I was amazed at how good everything felt, the photography and my boyfriend were the two most important things in my life at that moment. It's our new sanctuary really, and if you find someone to sit with you for hours in the rain just hoping you'll catch sight of herons, buzzards or deer... I think that someone's pretty special.”

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
Apart from the beautiful view making this a romantic location, this fortress is laden with love stories. Turn to writer Janet Elaine Smith’s book Dunnottar, a love story set during the battle between England and Scotland. In the novel the castle is home to the Keith clan, close consorts to the Royal family. The Keith clan brothers take centre stage; William, the patriarch, is the wealthiest man in Scotland, his brother John wants to fight for his country and their younger brother Robert is off to battle but his mother hopes that war brings him a wife in return. Romance entwines with war, bringing about nasty repercussions when secrets are revealed that could change the face of Scottish history forever. In reality the castle is a favourite location for wedding services, making this one of the most romantic locations in the country.

Beauly, Invernesshire
Belladrum Estate is described as a ‘romantic Scottish Highland retreat’ where tranquil cottages are scattered around a 1,100 acre estate full of stunning views across the Scottish Highlands. Whether you choose to soak up the beautiful backdrop or to marry by candlelight in the estate’s private chapel, this location deserves to be high up in the top 10. Manuela and Ron Verzonden chose the estate for their wedding, which was truly romantic for them both. Manuela says: “We held hands, looked into each other’s eyes and made our promises to each other. We were overwhelmed by everything that happened; the bagpipes, the lovely estate, the intimate chapel and the fact that we were now married. We both had tears in our eyes from happiness and felt we were the luckiest people in the world.”

It has to be the language of love that made Burns famous and his words still echo down the ages warming the hearts of lovers. The area surrounding his Ayrshire home has become known as ‘Burns Country’ and is a region full of romance. Atrip to Burns Cottage is a must to learn more about his life and is a way of feeling the love that he regularly wrote about. The coastline is full of beautiful beaches and quaint coastal towns, perfect for a romantic walk. A visit to nearby Mauchline is a must to hear about the love story that developed for Burns when he fell in love with nursemaid Mary Campbell. The pair were preparing to move to Jamaica when Mary unexpectedly died, while she waited for Burns to finalise their emigration documents. They had only been together for a short time and while the cause of death was unclear, doctors felt it could have been the result of a fever or due to the premature birth of their child. The tragic love story has bought visitors to Mauchline ever since.

Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire
For all of those readers not familiar with the local dialect, vat means ‘waterfall’ and this site has been designated an area of Special Scientific Interest and a National Heritage Site, located in the centre of Muir Dinnet Nature Reserve. Recent research has found that this favourite Royal Deeside walking trail is also a favourite place to propose. And you can see why with such beauty all around you.

The faint sound of waves crashing onto the sandy beach, the awesome views, fantastic colours and unforgettable surroundings insinuate an island of romance. Atrip to these romantic surroundings will leave couples remembering an unforgettable experience on an extraordinary island. For awesome views the northwest coastline with its indented and defined peninsula is one of the best places to be. Hiking along the stunning northeast coastline and through picturesque scattered towns with houses painted in different colours is also a heart warming experience. Take a quiet stroll through The Garden of Skye located in the south, where the ground is fertile and the area is sheltered is perfect too. Ruined castles, lavish houses and deserted beaches perfect to walk along at sunset make up this tranquil area.

Tarbet, Scourie, Highlands
How would you feel if the wedding present from your partner was your own island? Well, this happened to the owner who was given the island of Handa as a wedding present from her husband. Now this wedding present is open to you too. With regular ferry departures every 30 minutes from Tarbet, it is one present worth sharing with other people. It is internationally famous for its bird colonies and is managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The island is known for its magnificent layered Torndomin sandstone cliffs, which are perfect for birds to nest in. The layers have been created by thousands of years of weathering. In the past the island was its own kingdom and inhabited by 12 families who appointed their own parliament and queen, who was always the oldest widow in the community. Today it is the perfect wedding present that can be enjoyed by the wider community; birds, tourists and couples!

Dumfries and Galloway
With such a romantic name, this location must be the top of the romantic run-down. Set against the alluring backdrop of mountainous granite, the red sandstone of the abbey puts this location at the top. But it is the love story that really makes this Scotland’s most romantic location. Lady Devorgilla founded the abbey in 1273 in memory of her beloved husband John Balliol. The couple were so in love with one another that when he died she was so distraught she carried his embalmed heart around in a silver and ivory casket. This was carried with her until her own death 20 years later. In 1289 Lady Devorgilla was laid to rest ,along with the casket, in the high alter of the abbey church and the monks paid their own tribute to her by calling the abbey ‘Sweetheart’.