In Scotland, a trip to the pub often involves more than just a drink and a chat: it can mean stepping into part of the country’s past, into places teeming with fascinating stories, rumours and legends. Revealing the best-kept secrets of Scotland’s bars, A Story to Tell is a brilliant resource compiling tales from all around the country, available online or on a free mobile app.
The collection features bars from the Scottish Borders all the way up to Shetland, sharing stories of history, literature, music, sport and much more. This month, we’re taking a look at a few of the quirkier tales from bars around the country; read on to find out where you can try Irn Bru-battered fish and chips, where you can find a pub in a cupboard and more…
Angels Hotel, Uddingston
Dubbed ‘The Love Pub’ by locals, Angels Hotel in Uddingston is renowned for its matchmaking history. More than 250 couples have met working at the bar, fallen in love and married – the current manager, Clare Farr, and her husband met working here, as did her parents! There’s obviously something in the whisky… You might not find the One at Angels, but you could very well fall in love with the food: their steak pie is legendary.
The Station Bar, Alloa
Fish and chips is one of Scotland’s favourite treats, as is the vivid orange soft drink Irn Bru. It’s not surprising, then, that the Station Bar’s signature dish of Irn Bru-battered fish and chips has been such a hit! Usually battered in beer, the pub’s chefs instead coat the fish in Irn Bru, Scotland’s other national drink. The result is delicious, adding a hint of colour and that famous Irn Bru tang to freshly-caught fish.
Castle Tavern, Inverness
Castle Tavern in Inverness is famous for its life-size statue of 19th-century whisky tycoon Johnnie Walker. The statue made local news when it was kidnapped a few years ago; it was eventually found decapitated in a car park, while its head was later retrieved from a garden. Fortunately, Johnnie has now been restored to his dapper self and has returned to his duty of greeting the visitors to the pub. In the summer months he’s often photographed more than Inverness Castle itself!
The Papay Pub, Orkney
Located in the Papa Westray Hotel, it might take you a few minutes to find the Papay Pub: the bar is hidden in a cupboard, which opens up at 9pm on Saturday evenings to offer a great range of beers, music, and sometimes even dancing. Having long been part of the island’s history – octogenarian owner Jim was born in the building back when it was farm workers’ cottage – the pub is now a small but friendly social hub, offering fun get-togethers for locals and visitors alike.
From 18th century inns visited by royalty to eerie taverns rumoured to be haunted, you’ll find bars and pubs with surprising stories all over Scotland. Visit Scotland’s Pubs and Bars for more tales, or download the A Story to Tell app to find quirky locales near you.
Got any stories to add to the list? Leave us a comment below to let us know!