Fifty Shades Of Scotland

Written by Linda Jackson

highland cows
yellow seaplane scotland
forth rail bridge

From the azure blue and white of Scotland's national flag and the assorted colours of Scottish tartans, to purple-pink heather-cloaked hillsides and vibrant orange sunsets, Scotland is bursting with colour throughout the year.

Soak up the kaleidoscope of colours on a luxury break in Scotland. 

There’s certainly nothing grey about Scotland. You’ve just got to experience for yourself the vibrant sunsets and pastel sunrises, the orange hues of autumn, the vast pale blue skies, the winter whites of the Highlands and you’ll be captivated for life - guaranteed.

Seeing the blue sky and white clouds mirrored in deep, dark blue lochs is breathtaking, golf on the lush green fairways of Scotland’s world-famous golf courses is enticing, and the orange flickering flames of a roaring log fire in a huge inglenook fireplace so very welcoming.

Enjoy a wee dram of Scottish whisky gleaming gold in the candlelight, the swirling of colourful tartan kilts and dresses during an evening of Scottish dancing, the stark contrast of a foraging squirrel wearing its rich red chestnut-coloured coat scurrying across pristine Persil-white snow, and a bird's eye view of the green bonnie banks of Loch Lomond from the quirky custard yellow seaplane.


An interest in photography, I have found, is a certain way to heighten awareness of the colourful world we live in. It’s all too easy isn’t it, in today’s busy world, to take one’s surroundings for granted as we rush from A to B.

But, as soon as I have camera in hand, my awareness is amplified three-fold. This is when I fully appreciate the colours, shades, shadows, contrasts, and diversity of the beautiful Scottish landscape around me and which I particularly relish when being able to chill out on a short break in one of the exclusive boutique or luxury hotels that are members of Luxury Scotland.

See any colour of tartan or a pink-purple thistle anywhere in the world and immediately one’s thoughts are of Scotland. I have to admit there are rather more than 50 shades of tartans, Scotland’s national dress - more than 2,800 publicly known tartans at the last count.

There are also several varieties of Scottish thistle, the national symbol of Scotland – the legend of which has it that, when Scotland was being invaded by a Nordic army, a barefooted Norseman carelessly stood on a thistle… his cries of pain fortunately alerted the Scots to the invaders. Not a surprise, then, that the thistle is much revered.

February and March is the time of the year when winter snowdrops grow in profusion showing their bright white blooms in the woodlands of Scotland, painting the ground white beneath towering trees.

You’ll find carpets of snowdrops in woodlands throughout Scotland – amazing woodland displays in Fife, Dumfries, Dundee, and East Lothian, banks of them in the Scottish Borders (Dawyck Botanical Gardens), in Culzean Country Park in Ayrshire, and in the woodlands of Gargunnock Estate, Stirling… to name but a few snowdrop carpet locations.

Then the Scottish landscape is cloaked in blue around April-May time, when true bluebells set the scene. I say “true” as in Scotland the Harebell (Campanula Rotundifolia) is also called a “bluebell”, but the wild Harebell come into bloom a lot later - from July to September.

Fantastic displays of bluebells cloak the ground in shady woodlands all over Scotland including Carstramon Wood in Dumfries & Galloway, in the grounds of Lochnell Castle in Argyll and Taymouth Castle in Kenmore, Perthshire; on the slopes of the Trossachs National Park, in Kiel’s Den - Fife, in the forest at Ardvasar on the Isle of Skye, in woods near Crinan Ferry, Knapdale Argyll & The Isles, and of course on the bonny banks of Loch Lomond.


The month of May is when the Scottish landscape is covered in shades of vivid yellow when the gorse (broom) comes into bloom and the air carries its fabulous heady scent.

May is when the gorse is at its very best, but you will see the vibrant blossom also popping up here and there in Scotland year-round.

To name but a few of the locations where you will see a fine display of broom are Loch Broom (what a surprise!) in Wester Ross, around Loch Ewe on the northwest coast of Scotland, Loch Dunvegan and Broadford on the Isle of Skye, Helmsdale on the east coast of Sutherland, and Barns Ness near Dunbar in East Lothian.


During the summer months a world of colour will greet you in Scotland. Nothing is more rewarding, colour-wise, than strolling through Scottish estates boasting walled gardens bursting with colour, admiring the manicured gardens and flowerbeds and meandering along paths in the beautiful gardens and parklands of our Luxury Scotland ™ hotels,  of which there are many.

Colourful Scottish botanical gardens worth visiting are located in St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Dumfries & Galloway (Port Logan). For a riot of colour visit the small town of Inverewe where the botanical gardens boast a rhododendron collection that flowers most of the year from January.


Scotland is also famous for its pale purple-pink heather-clad hills – anytime from July to September/October is the time to see the hillsides covered in a hue of purples, lilacs and pinks. Ling heather is the most predominant in Scotland which flowers from July to September, August being the month to see it at its very best. Bell heather, a vibrant purple-magenta colour, is another variety but which flowers slightly earlier.

The colours of autumn in Scotland are glorious – see trees in all their autumn glory along the banks of the River Tay in Perthshire, rust-coloured bracken in Tayside, the yellow and ochre colours of Rannoch Moor in the Highlands and the striking autumn woodland colours around Rothiemurchus in Aviemore, Inverness-shire. The colour of the trees around Pitlochry in Perthshire is stunning as are the autumn colours along the River Affric Trail in the Scottish Highlands. On the Glen Lednock circular walk (near Comrie) the far-reaching views are flamboyantly breathtaking. As for my favourite autumn scenes in Scotland –the fantastic autumn hues of trees reflected in deep and almost-black tranquil lochs, a double bonus of autumn shades.


Autumn is a time when the sun paints city buildings with rather a special warm glow, so I never discount cities for that special splash of colour – the rich vibrant reds of the iconic Forth Rail Bridge or the silver-reflective Armadillo-shaped Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow. The black and white zebra-skinned library of the University of Aberdeen is striking, and it is said that buildings in the granite city of Aberdeen sparkle in the sun.


When the snow falls Scotland can turn overnight into a winter wonderland – striking landscapes, dramatic skies and a magical, uplifting stillness that is hard to find in today's busy world.

How very green the soaring Scots pine trees are against the pale blue skies, how very blue the deepest of Lochs, and just how incredibly beautiful are the Scottish pale amber sunrises and deep orange sunsets…

Colour yourself Scotland. You won’t regret it.

Luxury Scotland
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