My Scotland: Ian G Black

My Scotland: Ian G Black


Few men are more qualified to offer Scotland recommendations than Ian G Black. One glance at the photographer's Instagram feed indicates he knows every nook and cranny of the key cities - along with much of the expansive rural lands too. Here, he reveals his must-visits across the country...



Best Restaurant: Edinburgh has four Michelin-starred restaurants and a great many other fine-dining restaurants, but it has to be The Witchery for me.
Best Hotel: Rocco Forte's The Balmoral is the first hotel in Scotland to receive a Five Star award from the Forbes Travel Guide.

Best Pub: Ensign Ewart is the highest pub in Edinburgh and dates back to 1680. Also just a short stroll from the castle, Deacon Brodies is in the historic heart of Edinburgh. The Grassmarket is a great area for pubs and has a lively atmosphere, especially during the 6 Nations rugby – in particular, check out the Black Bull, the Beehive Inn, the White Hart, the Last Drop and Maggie Dickson’s.
Best Coffee: The Wall on Cockburn Street is my second home in the city. Barista Arzu makes the best mochas that warm me after I’ve done one of my walking Instagram tours of the city. Other strong contenders are Lovecrumbs and The Milkman.
Most Interesting Tourist Spot: Mary King’s Close is the city’s only preserved 17th-century street and a must see. Imagine a warren of streets frozen in time, where centuries of stories are just waiting to be told. Discover Edinburgh's dark past, and find out what it was really like for the people who lived, worked and died on the Close.

Best Fried Food: I’m not a huge fan of deep-fried food, so I’d follow the advice from my friend Carrie of Hero Cashmere to get yourself to Café Piccante for a deep-fried Mars bar.
Best For Local Cuisine: Number One at The Balmoral has a Michelin star for a reason.
Best Independent Store: I’m currently editing an exterior photograph of the Grow Urban plant shop and it’s going well, so in this impossible-to-pick-a-winner category I’m going to say Grow Urban.
Best Shopping Street: I enjoy the range of independent stores in the new town and Stockbridge areas.
Favourite Bookstore: Armchair Books, which could also vie for best independent store it’s so cool.
Coolest Museum: The National Portrait Gallery of Scotland. It’s great for Instagram – the internal colours are so cool.




Best Rural Hotel: Douneside House and Health Club on Royal Deeside. The setting in the Scottish Highlands is remarkable and the restaurant is surely set for a Michelin star. My family adored the leisure facilities and had the most wonderful luxurious weekend break.

Favourite Rural Food Spot: I adore Balgove Larder in Fife. Balgove has become a hub for top-notch locally reared, grown, stalked, caught and handmade food.

Best Spot For History Buffs: Culloden. Every Outlander TV series and history fan I know who comes to Scotland typically leaves Edinburgh for Culloden as their next stop. This is an emotive and atmospheric battlefield where the 1745 Jacobite Rising came to a tragic end.

Most Dramatic Scenery: The rugged mountains of Glencoe, which is one of the most beautiful and other-worldly places in Scotland. It's featured in films such as Skyfall and several Harry Potter movies. The Jacobite ‘Harry Potter’ steam train journey has been described as the greatest railway journey in the world.

Most Beautiful Scenery: If you possibly can, make time for a trip to the Isle of Harris on the Outer Hebrides. It’s got the most beautiful beach in the world, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others.

Best Road Trip: The North Coast 500. Even Jeremy Clarkson has admitted it’s the best driving route in the world.

Favourite Walking Route: I loved walking the Lairig Ghru in the Cairngorms. It’s the most famous mountain pass in Scotland.

Best Beaches: Isle of Harris aside, Edinburgh has its own beach, Portobello. At St Andrews, there are the vast and magnificent West Sands or the smaller and lovely East Sands.

For Rainy Days: Head back to the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. It will keep you and your family engrossed for hours.

If You Only Visit One Place: The Isle of Skye. Book accommodation early as the world is becoming aware of the breathtaking beauty of this island. Skye is a world-class destination for walkers and climbers: the Cuillin range (with its 12 munros over 3,000ft) and the Trotternish Ridge offer challenging climbs and interesting scrambles. Also check out the Fairy Pools, hike up the Quiraing and look out in awe over the kingdom of the Old Man of Storr.

Follow @IanGBlack on Instagram


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