Scotland, a catalyst for the imagination and a daydreamer’s playground, is worthy of a fairytale. Draped in intrigue and exalted upon high, one glance at the unfathomable transcendental essence of this bonnie land can truly transform any cynic. For a dose of sublime inspiration, Culture Trip has searched across Scotland far and wide to find the most magnificent fairytale destinations. And yes, they’re all real!
Stunning views of Old Man of Storr in Scotland | © DejaVu Designs/Getty Images
Watching over his kingdom, the ‘Old Man Of Storr’ is an ominous pinnacle of rock and one of the most photographed landscapes out there. Part of the Trotternish Ridge, this gracious chap came about from a leviathan ancient landslide.
A view of Ben Venue across Loch Achray in the Trossochs | © Andrew1Norton/Getty Images
What a venue indeed. Situated in the Trossachs close to Loch Katrine, the name ‘Ben Venue’ comes from the Scots Gaelic for ‘The Miniature Mountain’. A popular place for walkers, two summits and ferocious cliffs lurk within this beauty.
The Devil’s Pulpit, Scotland | © Westend61/Getty Images
The stunning hidden cliff rivers of Finnich Glen evoke a sense of otherworldliness, displaying the natural world at its finest. One particular spot, aptly known as the Devil’s Pulpit, perfectly captures the glen’s supernatural. Folklore has it that ancient Druids congregated at this mystical spot, as did Satan when he preached to monks.
© Andrew1Norton/Getty Images
Notably narrow and exceptionally magnificent, Loch Earn in the central Highlands is ruled by Mirror Man, a wondrous sculpture by artist Rob Mullholland. This enchanting loch is bestowed with its own tidal system or seiche, making it rare and stunning.
Neist Point Lighthouse
© David Tomlinson / Alamy Stock Photo
The kind of place featured in a great novel, this lighthouse waved to the world when it was first lit in 1909. Operated remotely from Edinburgh since 1990, an aerial cableway was put in place to transport supplies to the cottages and lighthouse.
Buachaille Etive Mòr
Buachaille Etive Mòr, Glencoe | © Billy Currie Photography / Getty Images
A sanctuary where faeries flock, Buachaille Etive Mòr is circled by the River Etive and sports steep ascents and vertigo-inducing ridges. Derived from Scots Gaelic, the name translates as ‘the Big Boy Of Etive’.
Sound of Raasay
Sound Of Raasay | © Joe Dunckley / 500px / Getty Images
Whimsical and hypnotic, The Sound of Raasay gracefully separates the islands of Skye and Raasay, while resembling an alternate universe.
Glen Coe at Loch Achtriochtan | © Neale Clark / robertharding / Getty Images
Astonishing and dominant, Aonach Eagach – a precarious rocky ridge and adventurer’s dream – sits to the north of Glen Coe in the Highlands. Unsurprisingly, this beauty has quite the reputation as being one of the the most difficult horizontal ‘scrambling’ ridges in Scotland.
Dunnet Head Lighthouse | © george robertson / Alamy Stock Photo
The sort of place to evoke existentialist thoughts, Dunnet Head, a peninsula of Caithness, is home to the most northerly point of mainland UK. Although frightfully vertigo-inducing, the jagged cliffs were made to be admired.
Ring Of Brodgar
The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle in Scotland | © Pako Mera / Alamy Stock Photo
While the age of this stone circle is unknown, the mystique that surrounds the historical artefact transcends time. Forming part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Sit in Stennes, the world-renowned circle of standing stones range between seven and 15 feet, bearing a number of ancient carvings. Though likely to have once served a ritualistic purpose, the true purpose is still unknown, cloaking these pillars of rock in intrigue.
The perfect fusion of wild and wondrous, the name ‘Quiraing’ stems from the Old Norse ‘Kvi Rand’, meaning ‘Round Fold’. Legend has it that the fold was a perfect place to hide cattle from Viking raiders. Unknown to many but avid adventurers, this is Game Of Thrones land.
Loch Awe, Scottish Highlands | © Westend61/Getty Images
The longest freshwater loch in Scotland and appropriately named, Loch Awe holds schools of salmon surrounded by unfathomable beauty and intriguing ruins. Hypnotic reflections resemble an other-wordly portal into uncharted territory.
The National Wallace Monument
Wallace Monument, Stirling | © BMPix/Getty Images
Sitting proudly atop Abbey Craig near Stirling, the National Wallace Monument was built in commemoration of 13th-century Scottish hero Sir William Wallace and resembles a scene from the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
Loch Etive and Ben Cruachan
Loch Etive | © AlasdairJames/Getty Images
The kind of beauty worthy of a bucket list, Ben Cruachan is the tallest summit in the beautiful range of peaks amidst Loch Awe and Loch Etive. The dancing reflections of the mirrored waters juxtaposed with the all-seeing mountains is therapy at its finest.
Cùl Mòr, Scotland | © Stan F / 500px / Getty Images
Jaw-dropping and perfectly ruggedCùl Mòr is the kind of place that helps muster up that perfect epiphany. An ideal spot to fall off the grid.
Sgurr na Stri
© Stewart Smith / Alamy Stock Photo
Wizardly and imposing, Sgurr na Stri may only be 494 metres tall, and yet, it is considered one of the best spots in Scotland for outstanding views. The all-encapsulating skies add that extra touch.
The river Braan flowing under the stone bridge at the Hermitage near Dunkeld in Perthshire | © atimages / Alamy Stock Photo
The kind of rabbit hole you want to fall into, the Hermitage is a picture-perfect wonderland overflowing with tribes of regal trees adorned with soulful leaves.
Eilean Donan Castle
© paulmerrett / Getty Images
The queen of all castles, Eilean Donan Castle inhabits her own wee island with views towards the Isle of Skye. A true star, this jewel is featured on many a shortbread tin.
Suilven a wonderfully shaped mountain in Sutherland, Northwest Highlands of Scotland. | © Derek Beattie Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Divinely profound and drenched in dreams, even the stars shine with astonishment as they delicately dance over Suilven. After all, it is one of the most precious mountains of Scotland.
Loch an Rusgaidh
An alternate universe, you can’t help but admire the kaleidoscope of dazzling colours as they flicker and taunt around Loch Rusky, or Loch an Rusgaidh in Gaelic, meaning ‘Lake Of The Peeling’.
Looking across to Ben Lomond, Scotland | © Andrew Wilson / Alamy Stock Photo
With intoxicating views of Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond first became frequented by explorers in the late 18th-century. Today, it is one of Scotland’s most raved-about munros.
The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland. | © Charlton Buttigieg / Getty Images
Fairies really do exist in Scotland. Enchanting little crystal clear pools of magic water, the Fairy Pools of Skye are so gracious they will render even the chattiest of folk speechless.
Sron na Creise
Sron na Creise from the Glen Etive road, Rannoch Moor | © Vincent Lowe / Alamy Stock Photo
Sacred to the core, the magnificent picture above shows Sron na Creise and Buachille Etive More in all their glory. When ice engulfs the area, only an ice-axe, crampons and intuition will suffice.