An ancient land in Britain’s north, Scotland has yielded many tales and legends due to its tumultuous history and landscapes so beautiful they verge on the mythical. Most mixing fairy tale and fact, the legends of bravery and struggle may seem too incredible to be true. Why not visit this land steeped in storytelling to experience the mystery and decide for yourself what is true?
Robert The Bruce - King of Scots (1274-1329)
Widely regarded as Scotland's first successful monarch, Robert The Bruce fought for decades to gain Scotland's independence from the English kings Edward I through to Edward III.
After being defeated by the English on numerous counts, he took to hiding in a cave on the beautiful west coast Isle of Arran. Now called ‘Bruce’s Cave’, Robert Robert got his second wind after being inspired by a cohabiting spider. He watched the spider try, time after time, to build its web in the inclement Scottish weather. After many attempts, the spider’s silk finally took hold. Robert took this as a sign, his faith was restored, and he was inspired to work for the Scottish independence campaign.
A source of the Highland Clan Family tensions can also be traced back to Robert the Bruce. He gifted Glencoe, the famous area and valley that the West Highland Way runs through, to the chief of the MacDonalds in 1308 in exchange for their support of him and his endeavors. The MacDougalls, another local family, had a strong hold on the area at this time and did not approve of this gift!
Robert famously defeated the English army in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn near Inverness.
Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried in the Abbey in Melrose, a charming town in the Scottish Borders. You can have the chance to take in this sight while on the St Cuthberts Way - the famous pilgrimage to Holy Island and Lindisfarne.
The Loch Ness Monster, aka 'Nessie', is perhaps Scotland's most well-known myth. Many visit Loch Ness, not just for the beautiful scenery, but to try and spot the elusive creature for themselves. St Columba reported the first sighting of the monster in the loch over 1500 years ago when he claims to have stopped Nessie from killing one of his followers.
Although many sightings followed over the years, the first supposedly credible photograph was taken in 1934. Referred to as the ‘surgeon’s photograph’, it was taken by a London Doctor who didn’t want to have his name associated with the image. Despite the fact that the image was thereafter proved a hoax, there are still firm believers out there who trust the photograph and oppose naysayers.
If you hike the Great Glen Way, from Fort William to Inverness you hike alongside the banks of the mighty Loch Ness…make sure you take your binoculars!
Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734)
Afigure deeply steeped in folklore, Rob Roy is said to be Scotland’s very own Robin Hood.
MacGregor, along with his clan where respected cattlemen of their time, earning a good living by protecting the cattle from thieves for a sum of money. Blackmail was common practice and if he wasn’t paid or hired the cattle would be stolen. His downfall started with a loan of £1000 from The Duke of Montrose. Apparently MacGregor’s chief herder disappeared with the money and MacGregor was branded an outlaw.
Discover the truth and legends surrounding this iconic Scottish figure as you walk the Rob Roy Way through his homelands in the Trossachs National Park and beyond!
Creatures of the ancient Scottish lore, the Selkie gets its name from the old Scot words ‘selkie’ or ‘selch’, meaning ‘grey seal’. However, this term is widely used to describe mermaid-like creatures. These ‘Selkies’ look like mermaid-seal crosses, but can take the form of human women by shedding their ‘seal skin’. On the Orkney and Shetland Isles, it's said that some men would steal the seal skins of Selkies, make the human-form Selkies their wives, and have a family with them. This worked until the Selkie would find its skin and return to the sea where it longed to be. Other similarly haunting stories can be found in the Faroe Isles and Iceland.