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The best locations in Scotland for a marriage proposal
Will you…? The strongest relationships begin with a simple question, and it’s one that been asked countless times on Scotland’s beaches, castle terraces, mountain tops and loch shores, with thousands of nervous partners bending down on one knee across the land every year.
And why wouldn’t they? Nothing says romance more than the breathtaking backdrop of an isolated beach, a majestic castle or a dramatic mountain, and luckily for would-be husbands and wives, Scotland has them in spades.
I’ve whittled down the list of what I believe are the perfect destinations to encourage your future spouse to say yes to these three attractions below, each of which offers a perfect backdrop to pop the question. Read on for more info, and good luck!
Scarista beach – Isle of Harris
The Isle of Harris sits firmly in the list of my top three favourite Scottish islands, mainly because it’s so absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.
As one half of Lewis and Harris – the largest island in the Outer Hebrides – Harris is known for being much more than just the southern, more mountainous part of the island, and there are an enormous variety of attractions that make it worthy of a visit
Although Harris is quite a bit smaller than Lewis I feel it’s got a bit more charm about it, perhaps due to the fact that it’s got some of the most spectacular beaches in Britain, and rugged mountain regions that make you feel like you’ve just stepped onto some strange kind of lunar landscape.
The only other place I’ve seen in Scotland that resembles Harris’ wild landscapes is Rannoch Moor in the Highlands, one of the last great remaining wildernesses in Europe, and if you’ve driven through it you’ll know how other-worldly it is.
Much of the east coast of Harris has been carved into a series of wide, sweeping bays by ancient glaciers from prehistoric ice ages and it’s fascinating to visit if you’ve got any kind of interest in pre-history. Some of these rocks have been dated to over 3000 million years old, making them some of the oldest geological formations on the planet. Incredible!
But it’s not the geology that attracts lovers from all over the world (unless they’re both geologists perhaps?…), no, it’s the stunning golden-sand beaches that seemingly stretch for miles in front of vast plains of machir (a type of grassland) and the peaceful seaside bays that offer quiet seclusion that seems so difficult to find nowadays.
The machir, in particular, is absolutely glorious in summer because it blooms in a riot of colour with a sea of tiny flowers, but unfortunately you’re going to miss out on that particular sight in February.
What you won’t miss though is the sublime sight of the enormous expanse of Scarista beach sweeping away into the distance with the most striking azure-blue sea you’ll find anywhere in Britain.
It’s an absolutely magical place, quiet, ethereal, colourful in ways that are hard to describe and impossibly pretty. Seriously, if you’re going to ask your partner to spend the rest of their lives with you, you might as well ask the question somewhere they’ll never forget. For me, that place is Scarista beach.
The wild landscape of Glenfinnan will be immediately familiar to fans of Harry Potter as this is the location where the famous Hogwarts Express made its magical journey across the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and lucky tourists can frequently see The Jacobite steam train thundering through on its journey north to Mallaig.
While many tourists come to see the viaduct, many more come to visit the Glenfinnan Monument that sits on the shores of Loch Shiel.
The monument was built to commemorate the start of the Jacobite uprising of 1745 when Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his father’s standard at Glenfinnan in front of an army of Highland warriors, but sadly the uprising came to an abrupt end when the Jacobites were massacred by English Redcoats at the Battle of Culloden just a year later.
The 18-metre tall monument was built in 1815 as a reminder of the Highlander losses on that day and the lone kilted Highlander at the top stands as a poignant reminder of the failed rebellion.
Loch Shiel is the perfect background to the monument with a setting that has to be one of the prettiest in Scotland. Wooded hillsides rise up on either side of the freshwater loch with white summits glistening in winter, while in summer the surrounding picture-perfect Highland peaks are ablaze with flowers.
An abundance of bird species can be seen throughout the year including white-tailed sea eagles – Britain’s largest bird – and sparrowhawks, kestrels, and ospreys, all on the hunt for the small birds and fish that live in the loch, while below the surface you’ll find salmon and sea-trout.
This place really is a nature-lovers paradise and thankfully it’s been designated as a National Scenic Area to protect and preserve it.
As one of the most picturesque places in Scotland the view of Loch Shiel with the nearby monument and viaduct makes it a perfect setting for getting down on bended knee, but even if you’re just passing through it’s still a fantastic place to visit.
Holyrood Park – Edinburgh
Situated about a mile to the East of Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty that offers tourists and locals alike a haven of tranquillity amongst the noise of Scotland’s capital city. Although the park is situated deep inside Edinburgh’s centre it has a vast array of natural wonders to explore over its 650-acre wilderness.
If you walk through Holyrood park you’ll discover that it’s just like a miniature version of Scotland’s countryside in one compact area.
Wild and open meadows, peaceful lochs, mountain-like ridges, and swathes of gorse take visitors on a cross-country journey all within a few minutes walk of the city centre. In fact, on a quiet day when there are few tourists around it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of a city and you can almost imagine that you’re way up in the Highlands instead.
The parkland is open every day although it’s not always possible to drive through it, so your best bet is to walk to it from the direction of Holyrood Palace. In summer you’ll find the park full of people having picnics and going for strolls but in February it’s much quieter so you’ll get a bit more peace, especially if you go mid-week.
The trails that run through the park are generally well maintained but if you want to know which direction to go take a look at my Holyrood Park walking map.
The park is impressive in every direction but the best bit to explore is Arthur’s Seat. Like the rock on which Edinburgh Castle was built, Arthur’s Seat was formed by an extinct volcano that erupted around 340 million years ago, and over many millions of years the effects of weather erosion and glacier movements have formed the rocky outcrops that we see today.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can climb up the 800-foot incline to Arthur’s Seat, the highest point in the whole of Edinburgh, to take in breath-taking views in a full 360-degree panorama.
Although it’s a little windy up there the backdrop of the setting sun against the flickering lights of the city provides an amazing view, and one that in my opinion is the most romantic in Edinburgh. Perfect for marriage proposals.
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