|Here is the birthplace of Scotland,
the cradle of its Christianity and nationhood and the focal point of much of its colourful
history. Here you can savour the atmosphere of the Hebridean islands, the charm of rural
villages and the natural frontier which separates the rugged grandeur of the West
Highlands from the gentler beauty of the Lowlands.
Here too, you can echo the footsteps of heroes like St Columba, Sir
William Wallace, King Robert the Bruce, Mary, Queen of Scots at Linlithgow... and celebrated, notorious Rob Roy.
Here, by the Highland Frontier and along the western
seaboard, was the great meeting place of Scotland's founding peoples and their
multifaceted cultures. Nowhere is more closely
associated with the story of Scotland and nowhere is the present more inextricably
entwined with the past.
Who are the Scots? Trace the Picts to Breadalbane, the Romans to Falkirk, the Angles to Clackmannanshire, the Britons to Dumbarton and the Vikings to the West Coast or even Loch Lomond. Add
to that the Scots, from Ireland, in their
Argyll kingdom and you have the people.
Take the momentous struggle of the Wars of Independence, of Braveheart Wallace and King
Robert the Bruce, around Stirling and you have the nation. Take centuries of Gaelic tradition among the clans of the Highlands; feudal, mercantile progress
across the lowlands and the coming of Christianity through Iona's sacred isle and you have the foundations
of our culture.
The great contrasts thrown up by Scotland's geography shine
brightly here. While Stuart kings reigned in
splendour from their royal castles like Rothesay, Dumbarton or Stirling, the Lords of the Isles forged their own Western kingdom.
In the Lowlands, craftsmen toiled and inventive minds took the first steps to
industrialisation on the Clyde, in Falkirk, Grangemouth,
Bo'ness and in Clackmannanshire. Meantime, picture the Argyll Highlands, echoing to the titanic
clan feud between Campbells and MacDonalds and Rob Roy MacGregor, wreaking havoc from his mountain
homelands in the Trossachs.