Part 1 of this pair of articles looked at some beautiful areas in Scotland, and this article will show you two more remarkably beautiful parts of this cold but stunning country. Scotland can be quite a hard country to explore, for two reasons. The first is that everything is quite far away from everything else, much like Spain. Cities are distant, and the smaller villages and more remote beautiful locations are also distant. the second reason is that this is not the most forgiving environment, with heavy wind, rain and a cold enough temperature to put of many people. But if you can overcome these issues, there is a world of green, mountainous, hilly and heather covered joy to discover.
Orkney is the perfect place for the really adventurous. If you have seen much of the highlands and the cities of Scotland, then the Orkney Islands should be the next on your list. Orkney is known for its Neolithic history, and a particular place to visit is the 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney' on 'Mainland', the largest of the Orkney Islands. These Neolithic sites are made up of Maeshowe, the Standing Stones, the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brea.
Maeshowe is a tomb, surviving through the centuries and millennia, sitting in this wild landscape for almost 5000 years, 35 metres around and eight metres high. Historians have estimated that it took anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 man hours to build, and would have been an incredibly labour intensive and slow, long process. I love to be able to see these kind of monuments, as they show the beauty and joy that societies impart when they spend so much time on spiritual and non-practical buildings. These kind of buildings are at the heart of these societies, and the fact that they survive for us to see is both fantastic and so so welcome. Skara Brae is the most famous of this group of monuments, and here you can find eight houses, that are the best surviving example of Neolithic civilisation in the UK.
One of the highest roads in Scotland, this mountain pass used to be used by cattle drovers seeking good grass for their cattle, and has only been open to navigate since 1822. Very similar to the mountain roads in the French and Swiss alps, this road is all tight curves and awesome views. There are several stretches of the road where two cars cannot pass by, so look out for the overtaking spots where two cars can slide by each other with less danger.
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