(a Scottish beach, one of the recipients of environmental awards. photo credit from rampantscotland.com)

Scotland is one of the four constituent countries comprising the United Kingdom in Western Europe, its ideal location in the far north of Great Britain is endowed with breath taking landscapes, lochs, beaches, hills and ancient castles and palaces. Its rich history is immortalized in many classic films and books including that of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (the man who seized the Scottish throne from King Duncan and eventually killed by the latter’s son and successor, Malcolm III). However, Scotland’s pride remains to be its magnificent landscapes and pristine beaches, which made this place one of the most exciting countries in the world to visit.

Isle of Skye is home to some of the best landscapes of Scotland, the romantic Loch Bracadale in the far east of the isle is a good haven to relax, it is where the alluring sunrise magnified like a shimmering diamond in its placid water, according to many books about Scotland, a very relaxing and serene environment where one can experience a peaceful  walk both in the morning and afternoon along its seaside resorts.

Traigh Scarista and the West Coast of South Uist are Scottish white beaches which clear blue water dramatically varies from aquamarine green to cobalt blue. It is always a great escape from morbid lifestyle to get some relaxation in a powdery sand.
(a long, beautifully constructed road leading to the entrance gate of Glamis Castle. Photo taken from tripadvisor.com site)

Glamis Castle is one the most famous castles in the British isles located in Forfarshire, Scotland in the hillsides covered with acres of heather. It is a childhood home of the late Queen Mother, youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and the mother of the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The castle had been romanticized in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. It is a massive complex of weathered red sandstone with two staunch towers. According to the book written by Anne Edwards, The Royal Sisters (which details the colorful childhood and teenage years of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and her only sibling, the late Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon), the ancient castle came to the Bowes-Lyon family some 700 years ago as a dowry for Princess Jean, daughter of Robert II of Scotland who married Sir John Lyon. The castle’s romantic environment and history still enticed tourists to visit this historical noble abode.
(Balmoral Castle, British royal family's holiday retreat during summer season in Scotland. Photo taken from disabledholidayinfo.org.uk site)

Balmoral Castle is a private royal residence of a British monarch located in Aberdeen, Scotland just across the River Dee and usually the seat of court of the British monarchy during summer. Balmoral castle came into the British royal family in 1848 when Queen Victoria purchased it for her sickly husband, Prince Albert. The castle has a dramatic backdrop set in a peaceful countryside with private residences along its parameters , including Birkall and the Castle of Mey.

It is surrounded with 25,000 acre of heather in each side with a horse stable and a hunting lodge, where British male royals occasionally organized a fox hunting expedition. Controversy surrounding the ownership of the castle was first raised in 1936 when King Edward VII (known to the family as Prince David) announced his voluntary abdication in order to marry his commoner lover (before 20th century, European royals were not allowed to marry commoners).

The castle couldn't directly pass to his younger brother and successor because it is inherited by an eldest son, so Edward's brother, George VI (known as Prince Bertie, the Duke of York and the father of Queen Elizabeth II), heavily paid for the acquisition of the castle. Balmoral castle echoes a romantic past, Queen Victoria often spent vacation here with her husband, Prince Albert. Lady Diana Spencer was first invited by Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales here and it was in the ground of Balmoral that the press and the world first discovered their romance.

This is one of the favorite royal residences (along with Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England) of the Prince of Wales, he is often seen taking a vacation here and go fishing at River Dee. It was also in Balmoral where he and his two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, received the sad news of the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
(the elaborate 9-acres Hercules garden of Blair Castle in Pithlocry, Perthshire, Scotland. Photo taken from gardenvisit.com site)

Blair Castle is a medieval fortress set in the breathtaking Scottish highland surrounded by lakes and rugged cliffs. It is the official residence of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl, both members of the British and Scottish Peerage. One of the Scottish castles to be opened to public for visits and tours, Blair Atholl significantly stored rich and illustrious history of the past through its fascinating artifacts, furnitures, armours and captivating landscapes and gardens which are famous for wedding and party receptions. The 9-acres Hercules garden is said to be designed by the 2nd Duke of Atholl in the 18th century and remodeled and refurbished by the succeeding Dukes and Earls. This elaborate garden has a relaxing atmosphere with its beautiful architectural landscape and design.