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 quite literally 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!
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.
Ben Venue, Stirling, Scotland
Dancing with the devil never looked so appealing. Alluring and sinfully beautiful, this shot was taken near the Devil’s Pulpit at Finnich Glen, a location featured in Outlander. Folklore states that ancient Druids congregated here, as did Satan when he preached to monks.
Devil’s Pulpit, Drymen, Scotland
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.
Loch Earn, St. Filians, Scotland
Neist Point Lighthouse
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.
Neist Point Lighthouse, Isle Of Skye, Scotland
Buachaille Etive Mòr
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’.
Buachaille Etive Mòr, Ballachulish, Scotland
Buachaille Etive Mor | © john mcsporran/Flickr
Sound of Raasay
Whimsical and hypnotic, The Sound of Raasay gracefully separates the islands of Skye and Raasay, while resembling an alternate universe.
Sound of Raasay, Scotland
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.
Aonach Eagach, Ballachulish, Scotland
Aonach Eagach | © john mcsporran/Flickr
Frightfully stunning and beholden to the devil, this body of water supersedes the natural realm and enters the supernatural. It’s an impeccable display of nature at its finest.
Finnich Glen, Drymen, Scotland
Finnich Gorge | © john mcsporran/Flickr
Regal and renowned, Ben Nevis takes the crown as the highest mountain in the British Isles. It hosts approximately 100,000 ascents every year and boasts sublime variety, allowing for numerous scrambling, rock climbing and mountaineering routes. Ruins of an old observatory still punctuate the summit – a dilapidated ancient volcano dome.
Ben Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland
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.
Dunnet Head, Thurso, Scotland
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.
The Quiraing, Isle Of Skye, Scotland
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.
Loch Awe, Argyll, Scotland
The National Wallace Monument
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.
The National Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland
Loch Etive & Ben Cruachan
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.
Loch Etive & Ben Cruachan, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Jaw-dropping and perfectly rugged, Cùl Mòr is the kind of place that helps muster up that perfect epiphany. An ideal spot to fall off the grid.
Cùl Mòr, Assynt, Scotland
Sgurr na Stri
Wizardly and demanding, 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.
Sgurr na Stri, Isle Of Skye, Scotland
Sgurr na Stri | © john mcsporran/Flickr
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.
The Hermitage, Perthshire, Scotland
Eilean Donan Castle
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.
Eilean Donan Castle, Inverness-shire, 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’.
Loch Rusky, Stirling, Scotland
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.
Ben Lomond, Stirling, Scotland
The Fairy Pools
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.
The Fairy Pools, Isle Of Skye, Scotland
Sron na Creise
Sacred to the core, the magnificent picture belwo 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.
Creise, Ballachulish, Scotland
The gold at the end of the rainbow, Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve, a natural treasure, possesses the type of ineffable beauty akin to fairytales and dreams.
Flanders Moss, Stirling, Scotland