Maps and Guides | By Air | Cars, Trains, etc. | accommodation
Climate and clothing | Not only megaliths | Other Web sites
Beauty itself doth of itself persuade the eyes of men without an orator.
Maps and guides. In order
to better plan your journey, we suggest to buy and examine a map of Scotland in
advance. In Europe it's easy to find the right Michelin map (sheet 401, scotland/Ecosse,1:400.000).
It has got a good index, a lot of road and tourist indications (megalithic monuments
included), a nice price and it is easy to fold up. However, the key is in English,
French, German and Dutch, but not in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese; after a
journey under the inevitable Scottish rain it will be drenched with water and
hard to be read near the creases. Lastly, it has got only maps on a scale of 1:800.000
for the Orkney and the Shetland Isles (megalithic paradises). So we suggest buying
more detailed maps locally. The best of all are the Ordnance Survey ones. Quite
expensive (in 1997, from 3.95 to 5.95 pounds each), they are neverthless well
worth the expense and essential in searching the most remote megaliths. Extraordinarly
detailed, updated and full of useful information to get you really know an area,
they have also the National Grid squares so that any feature can be given a unique
reference number (see also our location page).
The Ordnance Survey maps are easily recognizable by the colour of their map cover:
the pink Landranger series with 204 sheets covers all Great Britain, isles
included. It is the only one at the 1:50.000 scale, then there is the family of
1:25.000 maps: the yellow Outdoor Leisure series (37 sheets that cover
Britain's National Parks and popular Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: in Scotland,
Aviemore and the Cairngorms, the Cuillin and Torridon Hills, the Cheviot Hills
and Isle of Arran); the orange Explorer series (10 sheets for well known
recreation areas and beauty spots throughout the country); the green Pathfinder
series, that completes the coverage of Great Britain at the 1:25.000 scale for
areas not already covered by the Outdoor Leisure and the Explorer maps.
Usually, a charter flight is the cheapest choice. But take information about airports
and timetables: for example, arriving in UK, from Luton airport to London you
have to take (and pay the fares of) coach, train and underground. And if your
return charter flight is scheduled early in the morning, you have to stay and
pay for one more night in Britain. In other words, look at all the possibilities.
Among national airlines, we have appreciated both the efficiency and the kindness
of British Airways a lot more than Alitalia's. From Edinburgh to London, without
any reservation, one could get a very cheap airfare; as a last minute choice,
and naturally depending on seat availability.
trains, etc. We rented a car from Europcar
in Edinburgh. It is possible to rent a car in Scotland (remember that in an airport
it costs more than in town) or to buy a 'fly and drive' offer from a tour operator
in your country. This second choice helps save time and trouble as soon as you
have arrived (the car is ready at the airport). Cars, even small, are good; they
usually have a radio and cassette player, so be prepared to take some music cassettes
with you. Be careful: of course, Scottish, as British, drive on the opposite side.
We suggest you take great care particularly in the first days and always at roundabouts.
And don't forget your seat belt: in Scotland it's not considered an option as
in Italy and in other countries.
We have always slept in Bed&Breakfasts. Often located in splendid places,
not expensive, B&Bs are almost everywhere and they help in meeting local people.
A lot of foreign travel agencies offer vouchers you can spend in B&Bs and
country houses. We liked better choosing our B&Bs daily, in order to be free
to go step by step. Even if we were in Scotland during the most crowded period
of the year (in August), without any reservation, we always managed to find a
room. And when we had difficulties, on the Isle of Skye, some B&B owners called
each other and helped us to find a room with a wonderful family, by the way.
clothing. Scottish people go around in short sleeves and enjoy any faint ray
of sun, but for us Mediterraneans Scotland is cold and it rains unbelievably often.
In a megalithic expedition we suggest wearing warm and comfortable clothing. Special
regard to shoes is important, to avoid slipping and for walking easily for a long
time in soggy soil. In the summer, it's better to dress in a so-called 'onion
style', that is several layers of clothes. A K-way or a waterproof jacket is a
must, even if there are no clouds at all in the sky. Try and you'll see.
Not only megaliths.
Several megalithic monuments and a lot of castles, abbeys and historic buildings
are in the care of Historic Scotland, a public institution that preserves almost
300 historic sites. The National Trust for Scotland is similar, but private. To
enter some monuments you have to buy an admission ticket. If you plan to visit
more than one monument in your wanderings, you'll do better buying a weekly ticket.
Both Historic Scotland Explorer tickets and National Trust Touring tickets are
available for single adults or for families and for various days. The Explorer
we bought in 1990 for 6 pounds was valid for two weeks. Anyway, in our opinion
it is a wonderful way to preserve a country heritage: we appreciate very much
the excellent work that the Historic Scotland and the National Trust do.