Shetland Travel Guide As I continue my review of this month’s trip to the Shetland Isles, I’m going to deviate slightly from the typical blogging route and dive into a deeper exploration at getting the most out of visiting these parts. Its fascinating and unique culture, its wildlife, its largely self-sufficient industrial prowess – this is a place with a very strong identity. Whether weighing up a visit or just blessed with a traveller’s curiosity, this Shetland travel guide is an attempt at putting my interpretation of the place into words. Shetland Culture Where else could I possibly start?
Mainland Shetland – My Travel Blog Highlights An absolute belter of a storm rages outside. I’ve been tossing and turning in my cabin bunk, gauging the distance to the bathroom and the likelihood of projectile vomiting on my journey there. Images of Titanic scream to mind as I attempt every diversion technique known to man to distract me from the growing messages of outrage being passed along by my stomach. Should I have taken the plane? No. God help me - that may have been worse. Where did they say the nearest life raft was? How many people can fit
The Best of Scotland in a Day Don’t let the title confuse you. This is not a post about an - absolutely impossible - attempt to experience this fabulous wee country in 24 hours. Rather, it’s about capturing Scotland’s broad appeal in one day. The assets that have made it one of the top destinations in the world to visit this year; the attributes that are so synonymous with its past and the natural wonder of our legendary Highlands. All add up to deliver one overwhelmingly Scottish day on the road. If I was to sum up Scotland in a
A Scottish Borders History Trail While Scotland has been basking in the glory of a fantastic tourism season – with interest in my homeland at record levels – there has been challenges that have arisen to match the positivity. Over-marketing of certain places have seen the local infrastructure to be dramatically shown-up for its alarming deficiencies. Our more rural areas are simply not kitted out to handle the numbers of visitors they are receiving. I attempt to do my bit to re-distribute the interest elsewhere, as I’m firmly of the view that every region of Scotland has its rewards, if
Outlander Filming Locations - The North of Scotland I remember my thought-process during the early minutes of Series 1, Episode 1 of Outlander. A bit over the top, un-relatable, unrealistic….all occurred to me as I pondered whether I’d suddenly start regretting my Amazon Prime subscription. There may have been some mumbles about it being a necessary part of any job in Scottish tourism and just having to make peace with it. Fortunately, the dubiety didn’t last long. A wee bit of time travel to the politically unstable, militarily combustible and generally brutal times of the Jacobite Risings in Scotland hit
Scotland’s Most Spectacular Clifftop Castles This post is entirely the fault of Game of Thrones. Like many around the planet, I’ve spent the last several Monday nights with my jaw on the floor, sweat lashing off me, eye twitching, hands trembling (spilling whisky in the process and barely noticing) and heartrate racing. Quite aside from a stunning plot, the drama of the most successful TV show ever owes much to the magnificent locations (real or otherwise) used in filming. Me being me, my mind wanders to Scotland at this point. When I see the audacity of the incredible clifftop castle
A weekend on the Isle of Arran At long last. I've been waiting years to spend enough of a spell on the Isle of Arran to produce a blog that does it justice. The island's incredible proximity to the central belt of Scotland makes it advantageous territory for day trips and, as such, my visits have always been too fleeting. But, no longer. With several days to play with here's a look at my top picks for a weekend of activities in this fabulous all-rounder of a Scottish island. Goatfell This is one of the finest walks in the country.
The Kintyre Peninsula I’m not entirely sure why it has taken me so long to find my way into this protruding finger that has been geographically insistent about keeping itself separate from mainland Scotland. Such is its isolated and remote feel, the Kintyre Peninsula seems more like an island than most Scottish islands. Coastlines are never far away, island-pace has generally been adopted, it takes ages to get anywhere and Calmac ferries are as common as cars. All very confusing. But therein lies the appeal of one of Scotland’s barest stretches – an area that even most Scots would never
Which Scottish Island? It’s one of the big questions that I get thrown at me on a regular basis. With close to 800 islands in this seemingly small little land, the choices are endless and more than a little confusing. An ambitious lifetime achievement for someone like me might be to make it to them all before I kick the bucket, but it would literally take me all my days I suspect. Assuming that that is a ludicrous expectation for most folks, let’s start by keeping it realistic. Here’s a look at 5 of the most loved Scottish islands –
Being a Travel Blogger As we’re in the midst of another busy and impressive summer tourism season in Scotland, I’ve been taking some time to take stock of what being a Scotland travel blogger is all about. With events coming thick and fast, I’ve had the chance to gab with some of my peers and industry partners and, before you know it, I’ve started to ponder just what on earth I’m doing with my life. But it’s got me thinking more widely too. What’s going on with blogging? What’s the state of play in Scottish tourism just now? And how
Edinburgh Outdoor Activities – A Weekend in the Capital For a Glasgow lad to sing the praises of our big rival as often as I do is quite disturbing. I sometimes catch myself doing it and think ‘good God man, where’s the loyalty?’ but, in truth, I can’t help myself. I’m just a big, big fan of Edinburgh. For the record (and to save me getting lynched on my return to the west) I’m also nuts about Glasgow, it’s the Kansas to my inner Dorothy. But with my tourism-loving hat on, our sister in the east has very few equals
Top 5 Mountain Walks in Scotland for Beginners It’s the time of year when it’s bright at 4.30 in the AM and only gets dark as the clock approaches 11. Temperatures creep up to the high teens (or into the 20s if we’re exceptionally lucky). The population of the Highlands and Edinburgh go nuts. Oh and midges, never forget about the goddamn midges. They're out in force. Throw all of that into the mixer and it’s clear that the hills are calling. I never like to be too far away from my next hike personally but, as I try to
Kennetpans Distillery Having spent some time in the spring touring around underrated Clackmannanshire, one of the things that lingered on my to-do list was a deeper exploration of Kennetpans Distillery. Truly the stuff of historians’ dreams, this seemingly insignificant ruin by the River Forth is nothing of the sort and it can be looked upon as pivotal in the evolution of the whisky industry in Scotland (and Ireland). In partnership with DigIt and their Scotland in Six campaign, this is my top pick of Central Scotland’s historical hidden gems. The world’s first whisky distillery on an industrial scale, Kennetpans is
My Jacobite Castle Trail in Aberdeenshire If there’s one chunk of Scottish history that gets folk going, it’s likely to involve the Jacobites. Covering a bloody and tumultuous period in the 17th and 18th Centuries, these were chapters that show Scotland at its most divided. For my latest Scotlanders campaign, we’re teaming up again with the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland (as well as new partners National Museum of Scotland and Palace of Holyroodhouse), and fleeing around the country to see the best castles with a Jacobite connection. 5 bloggers, 5 regions, 26 historic sites. For me,
Finding The Devil’s Pulpit and More in the Trossachs As a Glasgow boy, vacating the city for the outdoors leaves numerous open roads, all incentivising and grappling for your attention in their own unique way. None are more convenient or more accessible though than the fabulous Trossachs. In addition to my top picks in the region for first timers, this highly rewarding area merits repeat visits and a deeper recce. Keeping the outdoors – and a sneaky bit of a certain TV show – in mind, here’s some additional thoughts. Specifically, a look at the Devil’s Pulpit including how to
Oban Points of Interest Following on from my Best of Argyll Part 1 blog, here’s me at it again in this fabulous region that keeps on giving. Having covered eastern and central Argyll, it’s time to head to the west coast and pop over to a couple of the closest islands as I take a look at the top Oban points of interest to be found in and around the energetic port town. Oban There is a bustling charm to Oban that is unmatched in my experience in this country. Catch it on a sunny day and there’s a fabulous
Exploring Harris and Lewis with Wilderness Scotland It’s maybe the best feeling there is. Top of a mountain in one of the world’s most emotionally-charged places, in good company, a little sunburnt (what?!?) and surrounded by breathtaking island beauty. Those that know me or that are familiar with my travel ramblings will be unsurprised to learn that the Outer Hebrides have a very special place in my heart. Hyperbolic and a tad mushy as it may sound, there is something overwhelmingly captivating about this far-away little segment of this fabulous country. When the opportunity to join a walking tour of
Attending the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Ah, Speyside. Cue the misty eyed, dreamy state that's taken ahold of many a traveller, drinks connoisuer and social butterfly to have ever visited. Home to around half of Scotland’s world-renowned whisky distilleries, it is our Golden Triangle of 50+ whisky houses, with brands from the legendary to the unknown. In the first weekend in May, going back to 1999, each year has seen a massive celebration of the region’s eternal contribution to Scotch whisky. Over 500 events are held during 5 headspinning days during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, with everything
Hiking Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe For just about every single fan of hillwalking in the Scottish Highlands, there’s going to be a special place in their heart and soul for Buachaille Etive Mor. The distinctive, much photographed pyramidal sentry that stands guard to the entrance of the most famous Glen of them all, this has long been a personal bucket-lister. One of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever faced, it also proved to be amongst the most rewarding. Yes, Buachaille Etive Mor is the definition of mountain-climbing magnificence. Coming at Glen Coe from the east as most travellers
The Best of an Argyll Road Trip - Part 1 Full of Highland promise, Argyll is the beginning of so much to follow for those working their way north to Scotland’s true soul. A massive region, Argyll is still so often merely passed through on road trips as travellers make bee-lines to the likes of Glen Coe, Skye and the North Coast 500. I can almost imagine myself into the back seat of the average visitor’s car…. “This is pretty nice isn’t it? Why don’t we stop here for a bit?” “Can’t. We need to get to Portree before dark.