Scotland British Pound - GBP
Many people know that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. As such it uses the British pound as its official currency. It does however have its own versions of the banknotes, which are commonly known simply as Scottish notes. These are worth exactly the same as British notes; the only difference is in the design.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
The British pound sterling is comprised of 100 pennies per pound. The smallest coin value is the penny, with others going up through 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p in value. In addition there are the £1 and £2 coins, although you tend to see the £1 coin more often than the £2 coin.
You can also use a number of banknotes, which are the £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes. You can get Scottish versions of all of these notes, although Scottish banks do not produce their own coinage, so the British coins will be used throughout Scotland with no alternative designs available. The one difference is that the Royal Bank of Scotland does still have a very small number of £1 notes at its disposal. However it is quite unusual to come across these in everyday life.
From past to present – the history of the Scottish pound
Before 1707 Scotland was known as the Kingdom of Scotland in much the same way England was referred to as the Kingdom of England. At this time the pound Scots was used in Scotland, but this came to an end with the unification of the two countries in 1707. This occurred with the Acts of Union that were passed in 1706 in Scotland and the following year in England.
Although the controversial independence vote in Scotland threatened to derail this union in 2014, this did not happen. Instead Scotland remains as part of the United Kingdom and as such still uses the British pound.
How to get hold of the Scottish pound
If you are visiting Scotland from any other part of the United Kingdom you can use the pound you already use in everyday life. English notes and coins are accepted throughout Scotland without any problems at all. You may find when you pay cash for things that you get Scottish notes in return. However you might just as easily get English notes or even a mix of the two.
In theory Scottish banknotes are legal tender throughout the UK, so you should be able to use them to pay for things in, say, England. However some shop owners don’t like to accept them so you may want to swap them for English notes prior to leaving Scotland (or save them for your next trip). This is more likely to happen in smaller shops where the shopkeeper is uncertain whether they will be able to get rid of the notes elsewhere.
If you are coming into Scotland from any other country you’ll need to get some British pounds before you arrive. Fortunately this is very easy to do since the British pound is one of the easiest currencies to get hold of. You can order your currency from a bureau de change, either online or in your local area. You might also want to get some traveller’s cheques if you’d like the option to change up more cash when you get there. If you do opt for this alternative, make sure your traveller’s cheques are denominated in British pounds so you pay less in charges.
Scotland is very well-developed as a country and is used to welcoming tourists. As such you can also pay for goods and services by using a credit or debit card, and many areas have lots of cash machines you can use to withdraw cash as well. One thing you might want to be aware of is that some of the more remote areas of Scotland (up into the Highlands and beyond) have far fewer facilities and cash machines. Make sure you always go prepared if visiting some of these more remote areas.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Scottish pound
There’s no need to do this if you use the British pound anyway. However if you use another currency you should easily find the pound and your own currency on any good currency converter. This will give you an up-to-date idea of how much you might get for your cash when you convert it (notwithstanding exchange rate charges via bureaux de change of course).
If you want to find out more about travelling in Scotland and the tourism industry there, visit the official Scottish government website at the relevant page - http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/Tourism.
Travelling safely with the Scottish pound
Scotland is a pretty safe place to be for the most part. Of course it is always wise to take precautions to preserve your safety, so be sensible in terms of where you go and what you do. It is worth remembering that Scotland is a big country and there are vastly-different areas of it you could visit. For example a weekend away in Edinburgh would be very different from spending a week in the Scottish Highlands. The circumstances and surroundings of each would be very different indeed, so bear this in mind.
It is said there is no such thing as the wrong weather in Scotland, only the wrong clothing! Make sure you stay safe in terms of being prepared if you go walking or hiking or head up a mountain. Safety here is not just about keeping your cards and money safe in a pocket or refraining from flashing your valuables around.
Where to spend your pounds in Scotland – and what to spend them on
Scotland is of course in the United Kingdom and shares a border with England to its southern end. Its northern end is more rugged than other areas and it counts many islands among its total land mass as well, including Skye, the Isle of Arran and the Isle of Mull.
Scotland offers a vast array of things to see and do. It is quite possible to have a great city break here for example, such as a break in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen. At the other end of the scale you can head to the Scottish Highlands to get a taste of the mountainous and dramatic scenery in store there. From cities to mountains you can enjoy all manner of experiences in Scotland.
The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh and this packs in many charming places to see. It is definitely worth checking out the Old Town and New Town, which together form a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss Edinburgh Castle, which is well worth spending a few hours exploring. Nearby you can find the famous attraction called The Real Mary King’s Close, which is hidden beneath the streets of the city. These streets once existed in the 17th century as places where people lived, and today you can descend to them to find out what awaits you there. Rumour has it they are haunted by their former residents and many tourists say they have seen and experienced things there. Clearly, a weekend or longer spent here is a fascinating experience.
In contrast you can expect some very different experiences if you head up to the more remote Highlands of Scotland. This is the place to go if you love walking or hiking, and if you want to test your fitness by climbing a mountain or two! There are many peaks here that are within the realms of many people in terms of their fitness levels. One of the finest hill walks takes you up a peak that is some 541 metres high, so be prepared for aching leg muscles. You get amazing views from the top on a clear day though.
The Glenlivet Estate is also well worth exploring. This is marked with many different walks and trails, some of which are designed for mountain bike users. It is well worth being dressed for whatever you are going to do, from wearing waterproof walking shoes or boots to bringing extra layers in case you get cold. Maps, phones and a few snacks and water bottles never go amiss either.
We have barely touched on the immense number of activities you can do and places you can see when you head to Scotland. This country is perhaps more dramatic than many and in a good way too. A city break is quite enjoyable if you want the hustle and bustle of a popular city such as Edinburgh. However if you fancy getting into the real outdoors, so to speak, the Highlands await with all their dramatic scenery and breath-taking views.
At least you don’t have to worry about getting hold of an obscure currency when you go to Scotland. In fact nothing could be further from the truth, since the British pound is welcomed here and very easy to use too. You might however come home with a Scottish note or two as a souvenir though!