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.
Best Things to do in Clackmannanshire With the start of tourism season now with us, I’ve spent much of the early spring arranging my various trips to the north. But before I charge around on relentless trips to the back of beyond, I’m fitting in some support for a much-overlooked region. You know how I love a challenge. Yes, Clackmannanshire is not the first place that springs to mind when you’re trawling through blogs, guidebooks and travel guides but you may be in for a surprise or two. Working in support of VisitScotland and the local tourism movement there, I’m
Taking a Street Art Tour of Glasgow You think you know a place…. Street art has been storming along at pace as one of the leading activities while on a city break as travellers cum photographers seek out new ways to get to the soul of a place. Hyperbolic maybe – there are plenty of examples of what can only be described as a scribble that spring to mind – but in my travels each culture takes its own twist when it comes to this stuff. South America is all about vibrant colour and storytelling, Brussels refers to its comic-rich
Guide to Loch Lomond and the Best Things to do You know that feeling of contentment and excitement that you get when you realise the nights are getting longer, the temperature is edging up (from, like, 5 degrees to 8 but still) and you start to dust off the outdoor gear? Yes, spring is upon us and the Highlands beckon! While I formulate all sorts of plans for the year, I always ease myself in with a visit to my home away from home, Loch Lomond. I spent so much of my childhood in this part of the world, it
Best Things to do in Dundee In the world of Scottish tourism, Dundee is underrated. Why that should be is a real headscratcher. Geographically advantageous, within close proximity of the central belt and the south east Highlands, home to some of Scotland’s most likeable folk and a veritable culture hub. Not to mention the city’s eternal and affectionate contribution to the world of the comic strip. Lots to love. But with huge investments having been made to regenerate much of the city in recent years, there are signs that Dundee is back on the rise. Here's my look at the
Celebrating Robert Burns in Dumfries at The Big Burns Supper An ordinarily quiet month in the calendars for most of us, January sparks Scots around the world into life with the annual celebration of the works of one of our favourite sons. January 25th is the birthday of our national treasure Robert Burns and I’m heading down to his former home of Dumfries this year to join in the party. The Big Burns Supper The Big Burns Supper is in its sixth year and is a huge collection of events of all kinds to salute the main man himself. Over
Best Whisky Bars in Glasgow So begins a new year! I'd like to wish everyone best wishes for 2017 and thank you for following along with my Scottish adventures so far. I've got all sorts planned over the next few months as I look to up my game come the spring - new regions, new technology and plenty of my old favourites are on the agenda. But to kick off the new year I'm sticking with a winter cure close to home - the search for the best whisky bars in Glasgow. Whisky is much more than Scotland’s national drink.