100 Things to do in Scotland before you die
1. See a band in the Barrowland. Ask most bands where their favourite place to play in the world is, the answer is always the same: Glasgow Barrowland. Its fantastically gaudy neon exterior is like a beacon to any self-respecting music lover, while the interior, complete with sticky sprung floor, is reassuringly dingy. The Barrowland is a sweaty, dark, cavernous canvas for the best bands in the world to go to town on like fevered Jackson Pollocks, squirting sound and colour over the pogoing masses below. 244 Gallowgate,Glasgow, www.glasgow-barrowland.com/ ; www.ticketsscotland.co.uk 2. Visit the Standing Stones at Callanish. Leave Stonehenge to the hippies, Callanish is for grown-ups. The pyramids are derivative and the Incas mere weans compared to the inspired druids who erected the 50 stone sentinels overlooking Loch Roag on the Isle of Lewis 5000 years ago. These standing stones in the shape of a cross predate Stonehenge by half a millenia, and are similarly rumoured to have an astrological purpose. Myths about "the shining one" appearing on midsummer's eve and even an adolescent Jesus visiting the site only add to the air of otherworldy intrigue. Call 01851 621 422 or log on to www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/ 3. Take the West Highland line to Mallaig. A 164-mile train ride bursting with superlatives - it rolls past Britain's highest mountain (Ben Nevis), deepest loch (Morar) and longest canal (Caledonian). The train scales mountains, glides through glens, dodges waterfalls, careers across Rannoch Moor on a floating track, and sweeps over the Glenfinnan viaduct, a place made famous by Bonnie Prince Charlie, but now more associated with a new young pretender, Harry Potter. Scotrail, 08457 48 49 50, http://www.firstgroup.com/scotrail/tt/1139320602-WEST%20HIGHLANDS.pdf 4. Go to an Old Firm game. Every time Rangers or Celtic meet, whether in the blue and white cauldron of Ibrox or the hooped hysteria of Parkhead, it is a clash of Wagnerian proportions encapsulating centuries of religious and political feuds in 90 minutes. The football often isn't pretty but if you can get a ticket, buckle up and prepare to be shocked and exhilarated at the greatest sporting derby in the world. Bar none. Parkhead, 95 Kerrydale Street, Glasgow, 0141 551 8653; Ibrox, 150 Edmiston Drive, Glasgow, 0870 600 1993 5. Drive over the Bealach na Ba to Applecross. Its official title of A896 belittles the most spectacular road in Scotland justice, or maybe Bealach na Ba (Pass of the cattle), just doesn't fit on most AA prescribed maps. Imagine the James Bond Alpine car chase from Goldfinger, only with steeper roads and more hairpin bends, and you have one of Scotland's most precarious drives. With the summit at 2053 feet, Bealach na Ba, just north of Kyle of Lochalsh, is also one of the highest. Hire an Aston Martin especially. 6. Visit the Turner Watercolours at the National Gallery of Scotland. With all the lights and colour of the festive period gone, January can be bleak. But every year, cracks of light appear at the National Gallery. In 1900, London art impresario Henry Vaughan bequested 38 of Turner's finest watercolours to the National Gallery of Scotland with one condition: they could only be displayed in January, when the sunlight was weak and less destructive to the painting. So each January Turner's masterpieces arrive like a swirling winter solstice of colour, illuminating the Mound and chasing away the January blues. The Mound, Edinburgh, 0131 624 6200; www.nationalgalleries.org 7. Eat a real Arbroath Smokie. It's all in the name. It has to be in Arbroath and it has to be smoked. Revel in its new EU protection status (alongside Champagne and Parma Ham), by following the wood-smoked aroma drifting from the cluster of family-run smokehouses on Arbroath harbour, and indulge on the succulent haddock meat smoked over a barrel for 90 minutes. www.arbroath-smokie.co.uk 8. Enjoy a Dorothy's-eye view of...
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