canna northern coast

The Isles are Calling

A Long-Awaited Adventure to the Small Isle of Canna There’s the bright white light of a summer’s early morning, mirroring on the water. Dagger shards pierce through faint, watercolour cloud, searing downwards. The rhythmic glide of the gentle sea, stretching for miles, laps seductively, its rolling consistency for miles interrupted only by the odd raised head of curiosity. The seals have stirred for the day too. Bleary-eyed travellers shuffle around deck, no-one yet awake enough to engage in words. But excitement peers over face masks, like kids over a wall of promise. It’s been a long time coming. The Isle

drone bealach na ba scotland

There’s Change in the Air

Living in the Scottish Highlands – Is it for you? Three months have passed since I made the big move north. I’ve had the extremes of snow-sprinkled beaches in February and of flip-flopping my way around an increasingly luscious garden in early summer. There’s been desolate whispers during lockdown, and excitable buzz as tourism reopened. And I’ve relished in equal measure the stony silence of a dram across a mountain view and the internal carnival brought out by Atlantic submersion amid ‘wild splashing’. The early days of living in the Scottish Highlands has been a perfect whirlwind. But, is it

staycation scotland

2021: The Year of Scotland Staycations

….and Tourism with a Vengeance I feel I should apologise. What sort of subscription is this that you have to wait months for Scottish fixes during a pandemic? Folk like me should be churning out the inspiration, helping to keep optimism just about breathing in the expectation that better times await, just over the next hill. I have missed chatting about Scotland, and it does feel good to be behind the keyboard again. But the plain concession is I have simply not been on it and a combination of COVID limitations, the uneasy focus on Scotland staycations and significant life

lonely glen coe cottage

A Quick Hello From Scotland

Right 2020, That’s Enough Out of You Ahhhh……where to begin? ‘Season’s Greetings from Scotland!’ is inappropriately cheery. ‘I hope you’re all well’ appears almost sarcastic. ‘It’ll be better next year’ sounds recklessly optimistic. Aye, turns out summarising this unforgettable year is no easy task. What a time to be alive as we survey the destruction wrought by the wrecking ball of COVID-19 on our health, our economies, our cultures and our very way of life. I’ll take an unavoidable peek (as much as I can bear) at the damage to the tourism industry alongside a more upbeat look at some

travels with a kilt dog

An Autumnal Highland Explosion at Loch Ness

A Loch Ness Blog and some Inverness Day Trip Inspiration That sweet spot – so painfully short – when autumn is at its peak and winter’s bony finger is crooked in its foreboding call, is upon me. And so I headed north once more for a rare Loch Ness blog and a final Highland adventure of the year. Dotting around Inverness and its surrounds, there is arguably no finer place to find yourself than here, especially given the stresses thrust upon us this week in the form of sensational elections, pivotal trade deals and the prospect of returning lockdowns. For

dunnottar castle drone

Back on the Road in Castle Country

Aberdeenshire Castles and the Historic Giants of the North East With autumn in full flow and a gentle sting in the crisp air, I look once more to the north. The feel of history-influenced rural terrain under my feet is home turf indeed as the long list of Aberdeenshire castles drifts once more into my crosshairs. Castle country, the north east is littered with ruins spanning every chapter of our long story. Are you sitting comfortably?   Corgarff Castle Adrift in a lonely sky, isolated in the chilly heights of the Cairngorms, sits Scotland’s star. Corgarff is the remote, star-shaped

greenknowe castle scottish borders

History Hunting in Southern Scotland

In the Footsteps of Giants – on the Hunt for Castles in the Scottish Borders and Midlothian Following my reacquaintance with the road last week in West Lothian, my path promptly continued east and south as I went chasing memories. We all have an interesting relationship with time this year – it’s been both irrelevant and cherished. Irrelevant in that so many days have been largely the same, cherished in that we have placed an enhanced value on those memories and on our future plans, and on the freedoms we’ve recently enjoyed post-lockdown. I’ve personally longed for rural days behind

outlander filming tours lallybroch

Outlander Filming Locations Near Edinburgh

A Self-Guided Outlander Scotland Tour In this strangest of tourism seasons, I am finally now very much out of the starting blocks. I suspect some new travel hurdles are soon to be heaved into our path but, for now, those that promote Scotland as a visitor destination – either for the present or the hopefully not-too-distant future – can start to make some tentative steps towards returning to work. And it is with caution that I re-visit a few old favourites, and some of the best historic sites in Central Scotland, that have gathered renewed enthusiasm in recent years thanks

scotland highland landscape

An Update from Scotland as I Prepare to Hit the Road Once More

Scotland is Calling The gentle swish of the wind worrying the leaves, the flight of some beastie underfoot, the rush of hidden water and the creak and groan of the trees that have seen it all. It’s amazing what you notice when your senses have the inclination. Taking a simple walk in nature in these pandemic-dominated times is suddenly a very different kind of experience. I’ve become estranged with the outdoors for the entirety of the year and have had to wait patiently to begin the shy reacquaintance. But with a busy autumnal season of travel ahead, the time has

carrbridge cairngorms

Coronavirus Update – The Situation in Scotland

A Coronavirus Update as Summer Starts How utterly dismal that instead of showering you with travel inspiration at this beautiful time of year in Scotland, I’m restricted to diverting more energy into second guessing the next steps of COVID-19. Such are the times as I attempt to update travellers on the situation here, the big issues in the industry and give some indications as to when we may be able to experience Scotland again. It’s not all doom and gloom though I promise, I throw a silver lining in at the end that’s hopefully more than a token gesture.  

A Scottish Movie Fix

Scotland Films for Stay at Home Survival I’m probably not alone in presently being on the cusp of insanity. Lockdown rumbles on and the sunny spring weather has sadistically tantalised us through the glass as our exciting plans for 2020 have generally been binned. But with signs that the virus is finally coming under some sort of control, albeit at a horrific cost to those that have lost loved ones and livelihoods, we can see that isolation at home has been necessary. In Scotland, we do seem to be on course for several more weeks of this before a gradual

scottish traits kilted blog

A Study of the Scots

Scottish Traits and the Personality of the Scots Self-isolation, social distancing, house arrest, lockdown…..choose your poison it all amounts to the same quandary. We’re stuck indoors for the foreseeable. Travel plans cancelled, work ceased or radically altered and social lives decimated. Tough times for us all and quite rightly I’ll not be talking much about travel for some time while we power through. But I felt it important to pause briefly from my on-going and increasingly concerning destruction of the whisky cabinet to jot down some thoughts on something that’s never too far from my mind. The Scots, and our

scotland travel blog

Coronavirus and its Impact on Travel to Scotland

Well, this was unexpected…. NB//This blog was written and published on March 14th 2020 and is subject to constant change as the crisis develops. This is typically the time of year when I’m engaged in all sorts of cheery, can’t-wait gabs about exciting upcoming adventures in Scotland. Not so in 2020 it seems and the only chat on offer this month concerns coronavirus, the economy-crippling nightmare that has delivered a worldwide panic just as spring finally enters its final approach. How will it affect plans, what impact is it having on Scottish tourism, what’s the outlook in Scotland just now,

north coast 500 ardvreck castle itinerary

If I were you…..

A 14-Day Scotland Itinerary Travel plans and musings tend to go into overdrive at this time of year. It’s really very funny to watch. Suddenly there’s a whole bunch of stuff that shoot up the priority charts when it’s pishing down. Gaps in life need filled, memories are aching for the making and the heart starts to completely overrule the head. I want to see X, I must experience Y, my life is incomplete because I’ve never had Z. Helps make it one of my favourite times of year in a dreamer’s sense. Anticipation is king. Which brings me to

polish map scotland

2019 – A Year’s Summary

Another Year Getting Closer to Home With Christmas upon us, it’s reflection time. Another year as a travel writer has seen me direct more resources than ever into this career as its opportunities and challenges have pulled me in further new directions. It’s always the time in the calendar when I analyse the changing nature of my work, and societal and industry norms more widely. New technologies, political ramifications and changing markets occupy my thoughts constantly. When I question the longevity of this line of work and whether I’ve gone mad. And, more pleasantly, when I review all of the

crail harbour east neuk fife

Winter Travel in the Kingdom of Fife

Coastal Winter Breaks in Fife Deep winter is threatening in Scotland as dark skies, high wind and torrential rain have given us a fair battering over recent weeks. The whisky cabinet has taken a pounding, the walking boots less so. But, during the odd break in the cloud, the opportune traveller must pounce and the Kingdom of Fife is one of my favourite winter playgrounds. From the utterly charming East Neuk to the multi-faceted St Andrews here’s a look at some off-season inspiration, excellent self-catering accommodation and food for thought for 2020 travel planning….   St Andrews and Kingsbarns Distillery

winter buachaille etive mor glen coe scotland

An Off-Season Highland Winter Trip to Lochaber

Winter in the Scottish Highlands, But Don’t be Hasty The big coats are on. Its dark by 4pm. The kettle’s working overtime. The mountains are snow-topped. Roads are empty. Sunsets are spectacular. Whether you love or loathe winter, these are the days when all of the above shape routines and influence Scotland travel planning. The Scottish Highlands in winter seem oddly off-limits to many of us, with an all-too-hasty sense of dismissive trepidation taking over. Aside from the obvious need to tinker with practicalities and expectations, I’m not entirely sure why that is. Presumably we’re smart enough to realise that

glen coe scottish highland road trip

A West Coast Adventure Through Argyll

The Castles of Argyll and The Road Trip of Champions Fresh-faced and windswept, I return to the mainland at Oban ready for the final chapter of my west coast autumnal adventure. The weather has been kind beyond words but there is that nip in the air now, winter won’t be long away. It’s been a trip packed with island allure, seafood feasts and raw, rugged, spectacular coastal vistas. Argyll, my go-to in the road trip department, concludes things. This is immersion in deep Highlands. Misty glens, looming mountains, clan legends and the ancient castles of Argyll. Always end on a

vatersay bay western isles

The Call of the Hebrides….

West Coast of Scotland Island Holidays It has become a familiar spot to find myself in reflection mode. Ferry embarkation point at Uig on the Isle of Skye. This, friends, is the sweet spot. That point of perfect collision on a Scotland west coast holiday. Where the memories of Skye’s drama-filled landscapes are fresh and dominant…..and are now meeting, face-on, the imminent promise of the Outer Hebrides. Very different, very unique and very powerful visualisations are wrestling for the forefront of my mind’s eye. At this point, I always make my way up on deck and find myself a lonely

Day Trip Ferries from Mallaig to Explore the West Coast

Day Out Mallaig Boat Trips to Knoydart and the Small Isles It was in spring, when making my travel plans for the year, that I realised I was coming very close to having travelled, at some point in my 32 years, to almost the entirety of my homeland. The final marker on the mainland, Knoydart, was held back deliberately. The most remote section of all. My precious bank of island recollections has always had one major blind spot too, the Small Isles. Likewise, I’ve been holding them back on purpose also, determined as I was to visit in autumn, and

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