ON TO SCOTLAND, AND THE FIRST PORT of call took us to Glasgow, which is just 46 miles by land to Edinburgh. By ship it took us four days — four fascinating scenic days to sail through the Irish Sea, around the Orkney Islands at the northern tip of Great Britain, and down the North Sea to the vicinity of Scotland’s capital. In Glasgow, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum offers an eclectic collection of art, artifacts including stuffed animals and a World War II fighter plane, and a Glasgow historical narrative.
The next port of Invergordon was a jumpingoff point for a glimpse of Scottish life and history away from the big cities. We walked the battlefield of Culloden, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s brave Highlanders were cut to pieces in the last gasp (until recently) of hopes for Scottish independence. Nearby Cawdor Castle shows how a fortified structure that began more than 500 years ago can evolve into a bright, roomy, antique-filled home that seems to invite visitors to perch on the sofa for a cup of tea.
No doubt Edinburgh is Scotland’s big destination, rewarding visitors with a rich history spanning nearly 1,000 years. A walking tour might start at Holyrood Palace, associated with Mary, Queen of Scots and still the place where British royals bed down when in town. Then head west along the historic Royal Mile, lined with medieval stone structures, to Edinburgh Castle, which looms over the city and houses Scotland’s Crown Jewels. Lastly, visit the city’s New Town. “New” is a relative term — this part of the city was laid out in the 18th and 19th centuries in a Georgian architectural style and is considered a masterpiece of urban planning.
Around every turn and in every port along a British Isles cruise, a bounty of storied sites awaits to remind you of centuries past. Take time to leisurely take in the views and learn abundant lessons in history.