TRAVEL…..THE SCOTTISH WAY
With a world full of travel beckoning it can be easy to forget that there are endless fantastic places to visit on a budget right on our doorstep.
Whether you’re an international student new to the country or you’ve lived here your whole life, there’s so much to explore from the big cities to the most remote countryside escapes.
Scotland is filled with some of the best travel spots not just in the UK but the world – if you don’t believe me check out The Lonely Planet.
What’s more, since it’s such a small country, it’s perfectly suited to quick, easy road trips and short day or weekend trips.
Choosing a destination for a spot of road-tripping really all depends on what you want out of your travelling.
takes you on a tour of the top Scottish travel spots.
EASY TO REACH: Skye
When people think of the Highlands, one of the first things that come to mind is the Isle of Skye.
Located just off the west coast, it’s the second largest island in Scotland after Lewis and Harris.
One of the nice things about travelling to Skye is the easy transport links: there’s the Skye Bridge as well as ferries in several locations running back and forth to the island throughout the day.
Skye is first and foremost completely stunning: it’s been used as a filming location for too many films to mention (Harry Potter. Oops, named one!) and is filled with some of the most fantastic scenery, complete with mountains, caves, waterfalls and beaches.
It’s an explorer’s paradise and is also a popular one for anyone interested in hiking: Skye is home to 12 Munros, Scotland’s highest mountains.
Clearly, there’s an awful lot to do and see in Skye, but a word of caution: whatever you do, don’t go during midge season.
Ignore this advice and you’ll be itching to not go back!
HISTORICAL INTEREST: Stirling
If you’re looking to really get to know Scotland’s history, then Stirling is the place for you.
Two of the major battles in the Wars of Scottish Independence took place at Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn for which some of the most celebrated Scottish historical figures like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce are known.
Landmarks like The Wallace Monument at Stirling Bridge are well worth a visit.
It’s Stirling Castle, however, that’s the real selling point for making a trip to the city.
Many would argue that Stirling is home to Scotland’s best castle in a country with some stiff competition.
It’s in a less ruinous state than the likes of Dunnottar Castle, but is also arguably a more immersive experience than those on offer at Edinburgh or Eilean Donan.
First of all, it would be hard to find a more historically significant attraction in Scotland: several Scottish kings and queens were crowned there, including Mary Queen of Scots, one of Scotland’s most famous monarchs.
Additionally, the castle’s strategic positioning on top of Castle Hill, surrounded by cliffs, makes it a spectacular sight to behold.
WINTER SPORTS: The Cairngorms
You don’t need to travel all the way to Whistler in Canada or Zermatt, Switzerland to have a brilliant skiing or snowboarding experience.
Located on the mainland between Perth and Inverness, it has three different resorts to choose from and saves you the time and airfare expense.
On top of that, it’s one of the most beautiful skiing and snowboarding locations in Britain and great for beginners and experienced skiers and boarders alike.
If you’re not really one for winter sports, then fear not.
The Cairngorms is also great for hill walkers or, if you’re just not the sporty type, there’s a funicular railway that goes all the way up to the top station.
There you can enjoy the fantastic views and have a bite to eat in the restaurant – all whilst remaining safely indoors and benifiting from the central heating!
TRAVEL IN STYLE: The Jacobite Steam Train
It’s not just the destination but the travelling itself that’s the main appeal.
Having said that, each location still offers a fantastic look into the towns and villages of the Highlands.
Starting in Fort William, the largest town in the region and located right next to Ben Nevis – Scotland’s highest mountain – the Jacobite Steam Train takes you on a six-hour round trip to Mallaig, with some stunning stops along the way.
You have the opportunity to stretch your legs and have a little look around each stopping point and longer to soak it up in Mallaig.
It’s often referred to as the Hogwarts Express journey – the train crosses over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which provides one of the most memorable shots in the Harry Potter films.
The train only runs during the Spring and Summer months, but realistically, nobody wants to see the Scottish Highlands during the driech seaons!
Really, it’s a fantastic deal – you get to see four different locations in the Highlands all for a very reasonable price and with exciting and beautiful travel along the way.
What more could you want?
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: The Outer Hebrides
Not to diminish the individual appeal of a lot of the islands that make up the Outer Hebrides, but it would be nigh-on impossible to choose just one out of the many islands that make up this part of Scotland.
If you’re looking for a true escape from reality, then the Outer Hebrides are for you: it can sometimes feel like you’re in a totally different world.
They are made up of over 100 different islands, but only a handful are inhabited, with the Isle of Lewis and Harris having by far the largest population.
The landscapes and beaches on offer are some of the most picturesque in the world and filled with bright blue seas and white sand – who needs the Caribbean (said the pale-faced Scottish lass). The Outer Hebrides also offer the unique
opportunity to immerse yourself in Gaelic culture, traditional music and ceilidhs in a way that no other place can offer.
If you’re up that way be sure to stop off at Mull and Iona for an unforgettable experience.