By Shanie Dover
Scotland is a magical country, full of castles, myths and legends, rolling green hills blending in to mountainous wilderness, in complete contrast are the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Both cities offering a unique insight into royalty and fearless ancient Scottish warriors.
I have always been fascinated by Scotland’s heritage, and luckily as I live close to Manchester I can comfortably travel there by car for a short break.
Driving up the M6 I was unsure what to expect as I was about to live my dream of staying in a real castle and finally seeing the capital and revel in the atmosphere.
We arrived in Edinburgh in the morning and I cannot describe how fascinating this city is, the architecture could have jumped out of a fantasy novel and the contrast between the medieval and Georgian influences can be seen in the new and old towns all overlooked by the majestic Edinburgh Castle.
With not much time to spare, we headed over to the National Museum of Scotland, a superb collection teaching diverse cultures, technological advancements and the living world.
Influenced by what we had just seen, we headed across to the other side of town to the Scottish National Gallery.
Arriving at the Gallery I was surprised at the size of the collections of artwork kept here, Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and many more.
We stood and admired some of the greatest art ever created – and all for free!
As the day was drawing to the end we finished in Edinburgh Castle, one of the most famous and well known British buildings.
The cobbled paving and high walls were like nothing I had seen before and there were a series of buildings to make our way through, including the Military Museum and the prison where military prisoners where kept until as late as the second world war.
If you are more interested in the Monarchy and Royal history, you can view the Scottish Crown Jewels and find out about Mary Queen of Scots and her son King James 1 of England and Scotland.
After an Incredible day, we headed down towards Shieldhill Castle Hotel.
I was charged with anticipation. Shieldhill Castle Hotel dates back to 1199 and was once the home to the Chancellors, one of the oldest families in the area.
The hotel is set in vast sprawling grounds and sits majestically in the middle.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but a part of me thought it may be quite cold and formal.
I was completely wrong of course.
Walking in, we were greeted by a pleasant receptionist who kindly showed us to our room and a walking tour of the Castle.
Completely warm and welcoming, decorated in rich wood and thick carpets, low lighting highlighting the country elegance, the room was superb!
As the hotel is an award-winning wedding venue we were lucky enough to sample a night in one of the Honeymoon suites.
Deep red décor and linen which adorned a majestic four poster bed and adjacent lay the in-room Jacuzzi bath, what a luxury!
The room was decorated to a country taste and fitted in complete sync with the character of the building.
After a few hours enjoying a Jacuzzi bath and recharging, we headed down to dinner.
We waited to be seated in a charming sitting room, roaring fire and stags on the wall, I can’t tell you how pleased I was.
\It is simply a delightfully experience to stay in a hotel which offers luxury and character befitting to its outer shell.
A short while later we were sitting in the restaurant, quite a small room with very few tables, quite intimate.
I chose to have a fruit starter, along with a main of succulent chicken stuffed with haggis on a bed of vegetables in white sauce, and to finish off a cheeseboard.
The food was delicious, after the filling meal we retired to the room.
In the morning, I woke refreshed after a very comfortable night’s sleep and headed down to breakfast, a full Scottish breakfast is just what you need ahead a day of walking.
As we were checking out, I asked the receptionist if she knew of any places to walk. She suggested Tintu Hill and gave us excellent directions to the car park and café at the bottom.
The hill was practically a mountain and after a good three hour walk up and down we were ready to head home.
I fully enjoyed my weekend and can certainly say I have experienced a true Scottish holiday. The hotel is situated in the perfect location to enjoy a contrasted holiday of city and country.
We will definitely be heading to Scotland again and the castle will always hold a place in our memories.
For more information or to book your room, please visit shieldhillcastlehotel.co.uk