16 things which make Scotland the beautiful place we know and love

From highland cattle to Annie Lennox, we celebrate the very best that Scotland has to offer.

The Queen would not think of spending summer anywhere else and no wonder. Scotland, that cornucopia of a nation, has heaped the British plate with an abundance of treasures, from seafood to Harris tweed. Here are just a few of its greatest pleasures.

Otters bobbing in sea lochs

Unspoilt habitat and peace also means forests populated by red squirrels, plus golden eagles, capercaillie and the shy mountain hare.

Good reads

Jim Hawkins, Peter Pan, Miss Jean Brodie, Rob Roy, Richard Hannay, plus Alexander McCall Smith’s Bertie Pollock and Ian Rankin’s Rebus – some of the most memorable characters were invented by Scottish writers.

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Annie Lennox

Her soulful voice and plangent songs are matched by an unmistakable personal style and thoughtful philanthropy: this is how to be a modern diva.

Charge of the Scots’ Greys at Waterloo

One of many legendary engagements by Scottish regiments, recorded in churches, kirks and war memorials.


Some of our most treasured native breeds, from the woolly Highland to the smart Belted Galloway, the prolific Ayrshire and magnificent Aberdeen Angus, were developed and improved by Scottish farmers and landowners.

Little HC calf ? #highlandcattle

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The most beautiful city in Northern Europe.


You can walk – and camp – more or less anywhere you please (not always a good thing).

Lola in Glencoe by Jonathan Haggerty.

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Crystal-clear coastal waters

Perfect for diving for shellfish.


David Tennant, Douglas Henshall, John Hannah, Bill Paterson – heavenly voices.

bill paterson

Bill Paterson pictured here with the Dad’s Army cast. From left: Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Tom Courtenay, Bill Paterson, Michael Gambon, Blake Harrison, Daniel May. Photograph by ©Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection.

The weather

You might laugh, but when the storm has gone through, the clarity and intensity of the light is breathtaking.

James Boswell

Friend and biographer of Samuel Johnson, whose peccadilloes are chronicled with disarming candour in his own diaries.

James Boswell

White, sandy beaches

As glorious as the Caribbean, but quieter.

Archaeological sites

The island of Orkney alone offers Maeshowe, Ring of Brodgar, the Ness of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness.

The Ring of Brodgar on Orkney.

Room to breathe

From the vast spaces of the Highlands to Dumfries and Galloway, which measures 90 miles by 50 miles, but has a population of only 150,000.

The Scottish Enlightenment

With its hope that human life can be improved through the application of brain power and that, despite all evidence to the contrary, we’re actually rational beings.


Winsome West Highlands, jaunty Scotties, Dandie Dinmonts, Cairns and Skyes – these are some of the best dogs.

These unfailingly charming Sealyham terriers are the cover stars of Country Life this week. This British breed was once a favourite of royalty and Hollywood's golden age A-list (Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart both owned them). Princess Margaret had two – there were standing instructions at both Clarence House and Windsor Castle that, 'when Princess Margaret has breakfast in bed, her two Sealyhams must be brought to the room along with her breakfast tray.’ Numbers later dropped enormously – there were less than 50 in Britain in 2010 – but thankfully they're on the rise once more. These adorable chaps were photographed by Charles Sainsbury-Plaice for Country Life. #sealyhamterrier #sealyhamsofinstagram

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A version of this article was first published in 2018.