Travel: A novel idea… Lose yourself in Scotland through iconic books set in or written in the country’s most stunning locations
There is nothing like getting lost on the pages of a good book, escaping to different destinations and embarking on new adventures.
It is World Book Day on Thursday and it is not yet possible to explore Scotland due to the restrictions imposed by Covid.
But readers can enjoy discovering Scotland in one page, either through the eyes of a Scottish author or by reading a Scotland-inspired story.
Discover Scotland’s literary connections and be inspired to travel when it is safe to do so.
Here are some favorites:
The Waverley novels by Sir Walter Scott
From the epic poem The Lady Of The Lake in the wild romantic landscape around Loch Katrine and the Trossachs to Rob Roy, inspired by the Highland folk hero Robert ‘Roy’ MacGregor and against the backdrop of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, Scott’s works are landmarks of the Scottish literature. Visit Rob Roy’s Cave at the head of Loch Lomond and Glen Falloch, Abbotsford House, near Melrose, the ancestral home of Sir Walter Scott.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The daring adventure was written while staying in Braemar. It is believed that Stevenson based some of the characters on people he met in the village. Treasure Island is also said to have been inspired by Fidra Island in East Lothian.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Edinburgh is woven into the pages of the famous novel, particularly places like Greyfriars Kirkyard, Barnbougle Castle, and Dalmeny House.
Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Sunset Song sums up the struggles of peasant life in an Aberdeenshire village. Grassic Gibbon’s novel mentions real-world locations like Laurencekirk, Stonehaven, Dunnottar Castle, and The Aberlemno Standing Stones in Angus. Arbuthnott is home to the Grassic Gibbon Center, the perfect place to learn more about the author.
© Shutterstock The Glenfinnan Viaduct, immortalized in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
The Thirty-Nine Steps from John Buchan
Buchan’s love of borders is often depicted in his books, and the region is home to the John Buchan Story at Peebles and The John Buchan Way – a 13-mile route between Broughton and Peebles.
The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Follow Harry and his friends at Hogwarts, the school of witchcraft and wizardry. Visit Tom Riddle’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard and meet Hedwig’s feathered friends at the Scottish Owl Center. Or hop on the Hogwarts Express over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Peter Pan by JM Barrie
The story of a boy who will never grow up has been fascinating for decades. A statue of Peter is in JM Barrie’s birthplace in Kirriemuir, Angus, but it was Moat Brae in Dumfries, where Barrie lived as a boy, who inspired Neverland, the enchanted far-off place where Peter Pan and the Lost Boys outwitted Captain Hook .
Beano, Dandy and Oor Wullie from DC Thomson
The antics of Dennis and his friends in Beano and Oor Wullie, A’body’s favorite child, are published by DC Thomson in Dundee. If restrictions allow, keep an eye out for statues of fellow legend Desperate Dan, Minnie the Minx and Oor Wullie in the city center.
Peter Rabbit and his friends from Beatrix Potter
Potter created her fluffy friend Peter Rabbit after the summer vacation in Dunkeld. Add Birnam Arts to future travel plans as this is a great place to learn more about the region that inspired them and to meet some of their other characters at the Beatrix Potter Exhibition Garden.
Report for Murder & My Scotland by Val McDermid
Even crueler is Val McDermid, whose first book, Report For Murder, was published in 1987. My Scotland, a personal journey through Scotland and how she used the country’s particular framework in her works, was published in 2019.
The Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films is the famous steam train The Jacobite. Fans of the famous magic train can even book a seat in the Harry Potter compartment.
For more suggestions for books on Scotland, visit visitcotland.com/blog/scotland/must-read-books/