Loading...

Follow VisitScotland on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

There are all sorts of ways to see Scotland; you can take a bus tour, catch a train, hire a bike – but nothing quite beats a long walk. Taking a walk is not only a good way to see the sights, but fresh air and exercise are great for your well-being – and there is no air quite as fresh as Scottish sea air! So, fasten up your walking boots and have your camera at the ready, because here are some of the best coastal walks Scotland has to offer.

1. Eshaness Circular

Eshaness, Shetland

Location: Shetland

Walk Distance: 6km

Best Walk for: Clifftop Scenery

Places to See: Eshaness Lighthouse, Tangwick Haa Museum, Braewick Cafe

Refresh and raise your spirits on this vigorous clifftop walk around the headland of Eshaness in Shetland. You can explore the coast around the Villains of Ure, The Grind of the Navir and the Holes of Scraada, perhaps spotting otters, dolphins and even orcas along the way. In summer the cliffs become hanging gardens scattered with flowers as the surging waves crash against the rocks below.

2. St Magnus Way: Evie to Birsay

Birsay, Orkney

Location: Orkney

Walk Distance: 20km

Best Walk for: History

Places to See: St Magnus Church, Brough of Birsay, Sands of Evie

Orkney has a magic all of its own and the St Magnus Way is a 55-mile pilgrimage route that inspires even the most well-travelled walkers. The route follows the life and death of St Magnus, Orkney’s patron saint, stopping off at many fascinating historical points of interest. The section from Evie to Birsay offers stunning views of Eynhallow, Rousay, Westray and the Brough of Birsay. The terrain can be quite challenging, so a good pair of boots is recommended.

3. Rackwick to The Old Man of Hoy

Old Man of Hoy, Orkney

Location: Hoy, Orkney

Walk Distance: 9.25km

Best Walk for: Epic Views

Places to See: Craa’s Nest Museum, Rackwick Bay, The Old Man of Hoy

This dramatic clifftop walk culminates with fantastic views of one of Scotland’s most celebrated natural landmarks: The Old Man of Hoy. Keep an eye out for the majestic peregrine falcon which can be seen circling along the route as it hunts for prey. Walking in Scotland doesn’t get more epic than this!

4. Mangurstadh Beach and Cliffs

Isle of Lewis

Location: Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Walk Distance: 3.25km

Best Walk for: Beachcombing

Places to See: Mangurstadh Beach, Mealaisbhal (the highest hill on Lewis)

This short walk, for those visiting the Isle of Lewis, features a mixture of easy-going terrain, a beautiful sandy beach, dunes and clifftops. Wander down from the track to Mangurstadh Beach to explore the shoreline – who knows what you might find?

5. South Berneray

Isle of Berneray

Location: Berneray, Outer Hebrides

Walk Distance: 4.5km

Best Walk for: Island hiking

Places to See: North Uist, memorial to Angus MacAskill, Rubha Bhoisnis (rocky headland)

This lovely coastal walk in the Outer Hebrides combines gentle terrain, picturesque machair and little bit of local history. Head to South Berneray where you can spot the Causeway, which joins Berneray to North Uist, that was opened by Prince Charles in 1998, as well as the memorial to Angus MacAskill, a 7ft 9 giant who was born on the island in 1825.

6. Moray Coastal Trail: Buckie to Cullen

Bow Fiddle Rock, Moray

Location: Moray

Walk Distance: 12km

Best Walk for: Dolphin spotting

Places to See: Bow Fiddle Rock, The Whale’s Mouth, The Three Kings, Cullen Harbour

When it comes to coastal walking trails, Scotland is hard to beat. The Moray Coastal Trail is one of the best and this section from Buckie to Cullen offers clifftop walking, picturesque fishing villages and fine sandy beaches to explore. Keep your eye out for the spectacular Bow Fiddle Rock, an incredible off-shore stack that looks like a giant sculpture.

7. Waternish Head

Waternish, Isle of Skye

Location: Isle of Skye

Walk Distance: 21.5km

Best Walk for: Sea Views

Places to See: Trumpan Church, Dun Borrafiach (an iron-age broch), Waternish Lighthouse

Skye is a fabulous place to go for a walk and Waternish Head offers a whole day of wonderful views – just remember to bring a picnic! The terrain is mixed, with easy walking to Waternish Point and a more challenging return through deep heather and marshland. The sea views at Waternish Point are breathtaking!

8. Isle of Canna

Location: Small Isles

Walk Distance: 4.5km

Best Walk for: Couples getaway

Places to See: A’Chill, Saint Columba’s Church, Early Christian cross dating from 7th century

The Isle of Canna is the westernmost of the Small Isles, and some say the most green and verdant. Even a couple of hours’ walk around the island and along designated tracks and paths that are not too rough underfoot will give you a feel for the place. Starting at Canna Pier, this short walk will take you by the historic remains around A’Chill – the island’s main settlement.

9. Portuairk to Sanna

Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan

Location: Ardnamurchan Peninsula

Walk Distance: 6.6km

Best Walk for: Birdwatching

Places to See: Sanna Bay, Views of the Small isles, Machair

As spring arrives, the machair grassland on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula blooms into a kaleidoscopic patchwork of colour. The route from Portuairk to Sanna provides an opportunity to explore the landscape as well as the stunning white sandy beaches of Sanna Bay. You won’t have to look far to spot seabirds drifting into view around Ardnamurchan Point.

10. Dunnet Head

Location: Caithness

Walk Distance: 17km

Best Walk for: Getting away from it all

Places to See: Dunnet Head Lighthouse, Hoy, Loch of Bushta

One of the best things about walking in the north of Scotland is the remoteness – if you are looking to clear your mind then this is the place. Dunnet Head is the most northerly point of mainland Britain and walking here is a great antidote to urban life. Enjoy outstanding views across the sea to Orkney but take care as walking along vertical cliff edges can be risky.

11. Cruden Bay to the Bullers of Buchan

Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire

Location: Aberdeenshire

Walk Distance: 4.5km

Best Walk for: Literary inspiration

Places to See: Cruden Bay, Slains Castle

Experience the drama of Aberdeenshire’s coast on this rousing walk from Cruden Bay. Along with impressive geological features, you will pass the eerie ruins of Slains Castle, thought to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Perhaps the wander from Cruden Bay to the Bullers of Buchan will inspire you to come up with a story of your own…

12. The Fife Coastal Path: Buckhaven to Elie

Elie, Fife

Location: Fife

Walk Distance: 20km

Best Walk for: Quaint villages

Places to See: Earlsferry, Elie, Chainwalk, Lundin Links Golf Course

The Fife Coastal Path is one of the most interesting paths in Scotland with a huge variety of things to see and do along the way. The 20km section from Buckhaven to Elie offers charming villages, golf courses, historic monuments and an abundance of wildlife. Elie is the perfect place to finish off your walk.

13. The Loch Ryan Coastal Path

Location: Dumfries & Galloway

Walk Distance: 18km

Best Walk for: Panoramic Lochside Views

Places to See: Stranraer, Cairnryan village

The Loch Ryan Coastal Path begins in Stranraer and extends to Glenapp Church in the north. Get ready for some of the most spectacular scenery Dumfries & Galloway has to offer, with panoramic views of the loch and local wildlife including deer, which you can often spot along the route.

14. Tobermory Bay

Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Location: Isle of Mull

Walk Distance: 5.5km

Best Walk for: Taking the dog

Places to See: Tobermory, Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse

This well-signposted walk along Tobermory Bay would make the perfect holiday for you and a special friend – your dog! With your trusty companion at your side you will be able to enjoy beautiful views of the mainland and exciting sections of path through the woods. There are plenty of options for refreshments along the front including tea rooms, cafés, pubs and fish & chips.

15. Seaton Cliffs

Location: Arbroath, Angus

Walk Distance: 11.5km

Best Walk for: Classic coastal scenery

Places to See: Seaton Cliffs Nature Reserve, Deil’s Head, Arbroath, Auchmithie

The Seaton Cliffs look out onto the North Sea on the Angus coast, immediately north-east of Arbroath. These spectacular red sandstone cliffs are a wonderland of sea caves, stacks, blowholes and arches. In the hotter months wildflowers and butterflies are the norm and if you’re lucky you might even spot dolphins offshore.

Explore more stunning coastal spots and landscapes across Scotland ahead of our Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

The post 15 Spectacular Coastal Walks in Scotland appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

So you think you’ve heard mention of Angus? What would be the first thing you think of? Would it be Arbroath Abbey and the Declaration of Independence or a famous style of fish – the Arbroath Smokie – or perhaps Aberdeen Angus beef? Maybe it’s golf and the beginning of Tiger Woods’ comeback at The Open in Carnoustie last year or the fairytale Glamis Castle – birthplace of The Queen Mother – and its connection to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth?

Let’s delve deeper – where exactly is Angus? Literally a step away from the every day. Getting to Angus is rewarding, following the dramatic east coastline it’s well-placed on the east coast main train line, where you’ll arrive after one of Scotland’s most scenic rail journeys.

Enjoy stunning views from the train

It is also a stone’s throw away from Dundee, Scotland’s coolest city (according to the Wall Street Journal) and within easy reach of  Scotland’s other six cities if arriving in Scotland by air or touring by car! There are seven towns in Angus, each with their own unique character and attractions – Arbroath, Brechin, Carnoustie, Forfar, Kirriemuir, Monifieth and Montrose – and in between many quaint villages to discover.  

Glens & Munros. No, they’re not just male names – it’s the natural setting that adds to Angus’s beauty. The Angus Glens are spectacular for walking and wildlife. Visit the ornamental well at Glen Esk, erected to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria. You’ll find ten Munros in Angus a nice number to ‘bag’. They are from a list of Munros (that’s a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 feet) that was created by Sir Hugh Munro, who lived in Angus. It’s become a bucket list for many to achieve.

Peter Pan Statue, Kirriemuir

Pens, poets and music that rocks! Peter Pan creator JM Barrie was born in Kirriemuir. Visit his childhood home where he performed his plays in the washhouse! The Neverland play park in the town is also a fun playground for kids. Contemporary Scots poet and writer Violet Jacob, who was born at the House of Dun, was well-known for her Scottish history novels written in the rich dialect of Angus. Ready to rock? Bon Scott, lead vocalist and lyricist of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, was born in Angus and every May is celebrated in Kirriemuir with a dedicated music festival – Bonfest.

Its collection of planes, trains and automobiles. Catch the steam train on the Caledonian Railway and step on board for some of their special fish n’ chips or sloe gin themed train rides. Kids just love Kerr’s Miniature Railway in Arbroath while adults and kids alike will relish the Red Lichtie spitfire at Montrose Air Heritage Station, the first base of its kind in the UK. If you’re a motor fan, don’t miss the Scottish Transport Extravaganza held at Glamis Castle every July.

Surprising inventions. The modern-day lawnmower, designed by Alexander Shanks, had its humble beginnings in Angus, while Brechin was the birthplace of Robert Watson-Watt who developed radar technology. The Davidson family and founders of the Harley-Davidson® Motor-Cycle Company emigrated to the USA from a humble cottage in Netherton, Aberlemno  ,which has been lovingly restored and is now a site of pilgrimage for many dedicated Harley Davidson fans.

Lunan beach

Beach life. You’ll also find some of the best unspoilt beaches here. Lunan Bay is a great find with a magnificent sweep of sand to sink your toes into, and for explorers, a cave and arch at its northern end are all overlooked by a dramatic ruined 12th century castle – the Red Castle. Throw in some great surfing conditions and what more could you ask for? It’s well worth rounding off a day at the beach with a stop off at the Lunan Bay Diner for some delicious home baking.

Land of legends. Many a golfing hero has tested their mettle on Angus’s legendary courses. Carnoustie Golf Links, which was host venue of the 147th Open in 2018, is known as one of the world’s most challenging links courses with its thick rough and devilish bunkers.

Carnoustie Golf Links

Meanwhile, Montrose Medal is thought to be the 6th oldest course in the world with testing holes facing the North Sea. Inspired to play?

Stunning architecture. Looking for some grand designs? You’ll find a good and varied sprinkling here. Sail out from Arbroath to the Bell Rock Light House designed by Robert Stevenson or marvel at House of Dun, near Montrose, a William Adam masterpiece. Looking for a fairytale castle? Look no further than the beautiful Glamis Castle. Hospitalfield House in Arbroath sparked Sir Walter Scott and inspired Monkbarns in The Antiquary. It is now a stunning arts centre and well worth a visit.

Record breaking. The Glenesk Hotel in Edzell has broken the world record for the largest number of whiskies for sale behind its bar. That’s something to raise a glass to!

Get ready for an adventure in Angus with a step away from the everyday!

48 Hours of Adventure - YouTube

The post Angus unwrapped – 10 things you didn’t know about Angus… appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Scotland certainly has a lot of wonderful landmarks, attractions and historical sights to explore. This is a country of history, stories, traditions and secrets, and it’s no wonder that there are also a lot of interesting sites beyond the famous Edinburgh Castle that may not immediately spring to mind. Explore the quirky ones, the out of the ordinary ones, the unusual ones, and even the ones with an unexpected story to tell.

The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire

Here are just a few suggestions on heritage attractions with a unique twist to charm, intrigue and entertain you. They’ll have you exploring all the nooks and crannies of Scotland that you didn’t even know existed. Make sure you add these to your travel list; go forth and start exploring!

STAR-SHAPED WALL AT CORGARFF CASTLE

Standing in the wild at the head of Strathdon on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, this very striking, lonely tower house looks quite ordinary from a distance, but a closer look reveals its unusual character – the rare star-shaped encircling wall.

Corgarff Castle is thought to have been built in about 1550’s and was once a noble residence of the high-status Forbes family. The surrounding wall would have been much simpler and probably rectangular in plan, but the structure you see today owes much to the events following the 1745 uprising and the unsuccessful Battle of Culloden in 1746. In an effort to pacify the Highlands, the government converted this stronghold to become a Redcoat garrison fortress and stationed its troops here for tracking down Jacobite sympathisers. The most obvious feature of that conversion is the distinctive star-shaped perimeter wall that surrounds the castle, giving it its unique appearance. Equipped with musket loops, the peculiar shape was meant to provide lines of fires so that there could be no place an enemy could approach. It’s believed that the wall would never have withstood an artillery attack – it simply isn’t strong enough, but it would have deterred a band of armed Highlanders from raiding the castle.

The castle’s last military use was to control the smuggling of illicit whiskey between 1827 and 1831. Interestingly, Corgarff itself briefly housed a (legal) distillery in the 1820s. A small whisky still from the period is displayed in one of the two pavilions added to the castle by the army.

THE FRUIT-TOPPED PINEAPPLE HOUSE

Fantastically fruity and eccentric to the core, it should come as no surprise that The Pineapple was crowned as Scotland’s most bizarre building.

Standing a mile north of the village of Airth in Dunmore Park in Stirlingshire, this elaborate summerhouse of two storeys was built for the 4th Earl of Dunmore in 1761 as an epic birthday gift for his wife. It probably began as a pavilion of one storey, and grew its fruity dome after 1777, when Lord Dunmore returned from serving as Governor of Virginia. A symbol of hospitality, wealth and power back in the day, the pineapple took on a life of its own, appearing in art and architectural motifs. In the Caribbean, sailors would put pineapples on the gatehouse to announce their return home. Lord Dunmore, who was fond of a joke, announced his homecoming more prominently. At this time, pineapples were among Scotland’s most exotic foods.

Carved to perfection, the masonry work is as impressive as the pineapple itself. It presides over an immense walled garden where you can take a walk through the orchard of crab-apple trees or enjoy a peaceful stroll around the pond and through the surrounding woodland. The grounds are also an oasis for wildlife, where you may catch a glimpse of the rare great crested newt as well as palmate newts and common frogs.

The most impressive architectural rendering of this fruit, the Dunmore Pineapple is available to rent as a holiday home.

COLOURFUL URBAN ART AT KELBURN CASTLE

Next on the list is Kelburn Castle near Largs in Ayrshire. Loved by all those who see it, the castle is undoubtedly one of the most alluring and colourful of Scotland’s heritage sites.

The current structure, dating from the 13th century and still lived in by the present earl of Glasgow and his family, received a lick of paintwork like no other back around 2007 — a head to toe graffiti extravaganza! This masterpiece was created at the request of Lord Glasgow, who brought together four of the world’s leading graffiti artists from Brazil to work alongside Scottish talent to create a unique burst of colour and transform the rendered exterior walls and turrets of the south side of the castle into a gigantic work of art. The hypnotic mural depicting interwoven cartoons blends Scottish architecture with vibrant urban art, creating an eccentric and delightful visual landscape. Quite unusual, isn’t it? It’s been named as one of the best examples of urban art in the world.

The graffiti is just one of the castle’s unique draws. The inside of Kelburn Castle is in stark contrast to its exterior – lush and sophisticated – and in its grounds you’ll find a secret forest with a Chinese garden, waterfalls and a gingerbread house – perfect for an amazing day out. The Kelburn Glen with its waterfalls and deep gorges is regarded as one of Scotland’s most beautiful woodlands and leads to spectacular views of the islands of the Firth of Clyde.

UNDERWATER SECRETS OF SCAPA FLOW

If abandoned places already have an eerie vibe to them, then underwater abandoned places are especially mysterious. The wrecks of Scapa Flow are phenomenal, their size awesome and history quite incredible. Many people who will never even get their feet wet are fascinated with what lies beneath the surface.

Nestled in the heart of the captivating Orkney Islands, Scapa Flow is a body of water about 120 square miles in area with an average depth of 30 to 40 metres. The area is teeming with a history that spans centuries and encompasses both grievous losses and magnificent victories.

In the early 1800s, it was used as a deep-water anchorage for trading ships waiting to cross the North Sea to Baltic ports during the Napoleonic wars, and later in the 20th century to defend against Germany during World Wars I and II. Today, Scapa Flow is one of the world’s best kept secrets when it comes to wreck diving sites, and together with the mainland and surrounding islands of Burray and Hoy, it makes this one of the largest sheltered anchorages in the world and a graveyard of sunken ships.

You’ll find an astonishing diversity of wrecks buried beneath the waters of Scapa Flow, along with fascinating stories behind them – from vast battleships, to smaller blockships dotted along the rugged coastline, to seven warships of the German High Seas Fleet. The murky waters are also home to the protected war graves of HMS Royal Oak, which sank in World War II after being torpedoed by U-47, and HMS Vanguard, which perished after suffering an explosion onboard.

While some wrecks offer a stimulating challenge for technical divers, others give a fantastic introduction to wreck diving. One thing is sure though: each wreck provides an emotive insight into a bygone era, compelling divers to return to Orkney time and time again.

KINNAIRD HEAD CASTLE-TURNED-LIGHTHOUSE

Have you ever heard of a full-size lighthouse built right through the middle of a 16th century castle? No? Well, Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthousein Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire is a fascinating example of one of Scotland’s most unique structures: a castle-turned-lighthouse where you can discover its story of 450 years of continual reinvention and survival.

Originally built for the Fraser family in the 1500s, falling out of fashion, the castle was sold to the Northern Lighthouse Board in 1787 to be converted into a mainland lighthouse. The lighthouse was constructed by the engineer Thomas Smith and started off life as a giant lamp positioned on the roof of the castle.

When structural problems began to appear, Robert Stevenson engineered a foundation, walls and a spiral staircase through the heart of the castle, completing construction in 1824. He even preserved the original castle structure! The original lighthouse was later superseded by an automatic light which operates beside the original structure and is now open to the public as part of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. It is still in perfect working order and is known to light the coast on very special occasions.

Come and see the lighthouse first hand to learn how lighthouse keepers lived and enjoy their beautifully preserved keeper’s quarters inside. It’s based in the bustling fishing port of Fraserburgh on the north east corner of Aberdeenshire.

ANNIE MACLEOD EXPERIENCE RIDE AT NEW LANARK

If you’re looking for that extra something, go on what is often described as the most spellbinding ghost train in Scotland – the Annie McLeod Experience ride at New Lanark. That is, of course, if you dare…

New Lanark is a remarkable place. It’s an exceptional example of a purpose-built 18th century cotton spinning mill village that has been beautifully restored as a living community. Today it is one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Renowned as a beauty spot, it’s set in a sublime Scottish landscape alongside the picturesque River Clyde and surrounded by native woodlands – all less than one hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The village was founded in 1785 in a convenient location where the mills could take advantage of the tremendous power of the nearby fast-flowing river. At the turn of the 19th century the mill buildings formed one of the largest industrial groups in the world. Over 2,000 people lived or worked in the village. The mills were operational for nearly 200 years, until their closure in 1986. This perhaps helps to explain why the rows of perfectly symmetrical buildings stand seemingly untouched.

Visit New Lanark and travel back in time on the Annie McLeod Experience ride which features the ghost of mill girl Annie who magically appears and reveals the amazing story of her life and teaches you what life was like in the 1820’s.

BATTLE REENACTMENT AT THE BANNOCKBURN VISITOR CENTRE

In June 1314 the history of Scotland as a nation changed forever. What if you could take your place on the very same battlefield? Come along to stand face-to-face with fearless warriors and participate in an interactive battle game to try out your own battle tactics and skills to see how the battle would end if you were in charge.

The Battle of Bannockburn is an immersive experience designed to bring Scottish history to life. Harnessing state-of-the-art 3D technology, you can experience medieval combat like never before to learn about this crucial event in Scottish history.

In case you’re not overly familiar with it, the famous Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was one of the most decisive clashes in the First War of Scottish Independence. Robert the Bruce led Scottish forces to battle against the English at Bannockburn almost 700 years ago. Although vastly outnumbered, Bruce’s men drove King Edward II’s army homewards after two days of fierce and brutal combat in the landscape surrounding Stirling Castle. The Battle established Robert the Bruce as a tour de force as he had defeated what was regarded as the finest army in the medieval world.

Located near the historic city of Stirling, the battleground still evokes the landscape that would have been seen by medieval soldiers in 1314 when the area was a royal hunting park.

BALMORAL CAIRNS, SCOTLAND’S OWN ‘PYRAMIDS’

Chances are you’ve heard about Balmoral Castle and know that the Royal Family own it and visit it regularly for holiday. What’s perhaps not so well known is that there is an interesting woodland trail round the grounds of the estate that is home to Scotland’s very own ‘pyramid’.

Queen Victoria had a passion for building cairns (mounds of rough stone built as a memorial or landmark, typically on a hilltop or skyline) all over the Balmoral Estate in Royal Deeside. While it may seem that the cairns are just a tower of stones, they also have meaning and purpose. This walk takes you past most of the impressive cairns that she had erected in honour of her family. The cairns mainly commemorate the marriages of Victoria’s children, but one of them – the most impressive grey stone pyramid-shaped cairn – is dedicated to the memory of her beloved husband Prince Albert, who died in 1861 at the age of 42. This is the largest of the 11 mount cairns and can be seen quite clearly from miles around; it boasts outstanding views over Deeside and the castle itself. There are further two cairns that were constructed to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 – 60 stones, one for each year of Her Majesty’s reign.

Queen Victoria lovingly described Balmoral as her ‘dear paradise in the Highlands’ and it remains a private home of the Royal Family. When not in residence, you can enjoy exhibitions in the castle ballroom, the largest room in the castle, and wander through the charming gardens and grounds.

For such a tiny country, Scotland really packs a whole lot of things to see and do, from iconic attractions to hidden gems and those a little more unexpected. Have we missed your favourite unusual heritage attraction with a twist? Tell us about it in the comments below or hop over to our iKnow Scotland Community to share your tips and pick up a couple more for your next break or day out in Scotland.

The post Scottish Heritage Attractions with a Twist appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Loch Lomond

Are you in search of a new summer challenge, or planning an action-packed outdoor holiday? Try out a new watersport, and you may end up hooked for life! Here in Scotland, we’ve got plenty of different options to choose from, spanning the gentle to the extreme to the ever so slighty unusual…

1. Kitesurfing

This is a thrilling sport combining skill, windpower, strength and a love for speed. Everyone can learn, whether you’d simply like to fly the kite or if you’d rather attempt some advanced wave jumping. Scotland’s coasts are a mecca for the sport, in particular, the Isle of Tiree. You can learn the basics at Troon in Ayrshire with Kitesurf Scotland.

2. Surfing

Brims Ness, Thurso, Highlands

With some of the best waves in Europe and huge swells from the North Sea and Atlantic, Scotland is blessed with some truly epic surf. Catch waves off the northern coast of Thurso, or learn to pop-up at Belhaven Bay in East Lothian, a safe place to polish your wave-riding skills.

3. Wakeboarding

No waves? No problem! If you haven’t already, this summer is the perfect time to wake up to wakeboarding. An activity which involves blasting along the water’s surface behind a speed boat, the wake from the boat is where this exhilarating sport gets its name. Head to Foxlake Adventures in Dunbar or Dundee to try out cable wakeboarding which involves being pulled across the water by an overhead cable, rather than a boat.

4. Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

One of the trendiest paddle sports of the moment (even Kim Kardashian West is a fan), this ingenious sport originates from the beaches of Hawaii and is also known as ‘Beach Boy Surfing’. Explore the lengths and breadths of our calm lochs or coasts and take in the views as you go.  You can learn to paddle in lots of places in Scotland, including Loch Ken in Dumfries & Galloway with Galloway Activity Centre, or hire a board from Paddle Surf Scotland and go exploring.

5. Sailing

North Berwick, East Lothian

Do you know your port from your starboard? If not, learning to sail in Scotland is an idyllic summer activity, with sailing schools offering Royal Yachting Association (RYA) courses across the country. Give it a go at Elie Watersports in Fife or Loch Morlich Watersports in Aviemore.

6. Windsurfing

Windsurfing on Loch Bee, South Uist

Since the 1960’s, the stylish combination of surfing and sailing has made windsurfing one of the most popular watersports in the world. Here in Scotland, we play host some of the top freestyle professionals at the Tiree Wave Classic, where the beach becomes a blur of colourful butterfly-like sails. Develop your skills at Loch Insh Watersports, where you can practice with a steady wind.

7. Canyoning

Nae Limits, Perthshire

If you enjoy scrambling, cliff jumping or leaping into waterfalls, chances are you will relish the chance to do some canyoning. Soar over rocky edges into flowing springs and rivers, and feel the invigorating force of the water as you are transported downstream. You can give it a try at Vertical Descents in Fort William.

8. River tubing

One of the many new watersports to make a splash in Scotland is river tubing, an activity guaranteed to give you and your friends a good giggle. Sit inside your river bug, an armchair-like one man raft, and recline down waterfalls and let the rapids take you on an adventure downstream! Try this, and many other exciting watersports, at Nae Limits in Pitlochry, Perthshire.

9. Paddle sports

Kayaking, River Etive, Highlands

Discover your paddling prowess with a spot of canoeing or kayaking. There are many watersports to try which involve a boat and a paddle – cascade down waterfalls at high speeds inside a kayak, or simply take in the sights at your own pace inside an open canoe. For kayakers, take in the beautiful beaches and blue waters of Arisaig with Sea Kayak Arisaig. Or why not experience a canoe safari on the iconic waters of Loch Lomond with Hidden Adventures?

10. Swim with basking sharks

It’s one of the ultimate bucket-list experiences, and you can do it in Scotland! Take a guided boat tour from Oban with marine biologists from Basking Shark Scotland. You might come face-to-face with incredible basking sharks in the wild, as these gentle giants explore the waters of the Inner Hebrides. Swim alongside them with a snorkel, or watch from the boat. The basking sharks start to arrive from April onwards and peak season is July – September.

Have you tried a weird or wacky watersport recently? Let us know in the comments below or share your pictures with us on social media. Don’t forget to check out our watersports pages for more information.

Don’t forget, next year is Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 – the perfect time to try something new!

The post 10 wonderful watersports to try this summer appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The Forth Bridge

Scotland has so many wonders scattered across its compact land and islands – vast starry skies, ancient archaeology, magnificent wilderness, acclaimed food and drink, and more. It’s natural that so many of its destinations and attractions have received international recognition.

Some of the most high-profile accolades in recent years have been won by Scottish destinations. In 2014 TripAdvisor crowned Lewis and Harris the number one island in Europe as part of the Traveller’s Choice Islands Awards, with Mainland Orkney and the Isle of Mull featured in the top 10.

Lonely Planet named the Scottish Highlands and Islands (including Moray Speyside and Aberdeen) one of the top regions in the world for travellers in 2019, featuring fifth on the list, while the city of Dundee came sixth in the travel Bible’s Best in Europe 2018 hotlist. And let’s not forget get Leith, the vibrant port district of Edinburgh which Time Out hailed as one of the 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world.

But these are a mere handful of the prestigious accolades won by Scotland. Read on to discover the county’s top award-winning attractions and what makes them outstanding.

The skyline of Edinburgh’s Old Town

UNESCO TREASURES

New Lanark

Scotland is a treasure trove of cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the remnants of the Antonine Wall, final frontier of the Roman Empire, to the innovative hub of Dundee, UNESCO City of Design, discover the places and attractions singled out by the UN agency for their major historical and culture value.

Heart of Neolithic Orkney – among the remarkably well-preserved Neolithic structures built on Orkney (named one of the best places to live in the UK at the 2019 Halifax Awards) as far back as 2500 B.C. is the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, a giant circle of standing stones constructed on archipelago’s mainland at around the same time as Stonehenge.

St Kilda – this remote archipelago located to the west of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides boasts breathtaking ocean views and a unique ecosystem, and is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Its history and even the origin of its name is a puzzle. Encounter a wealth of marine life on one of the many ocean tours offered by local boating companies, and walk around ancient ruins.

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere – this patch of south western Scotland has been recognised as an outstanding environment for both nature and people. Geologically significant and brimming with scenic beauty, this unique destination is home to Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, world-class mountain biking, and a number of arts and culture festivals held throughout the year.

New Lanark – surrounded by spellbinding rural scenery, step back in time at this small 18th century village where philanthropist and idealist Robert Owen designed a progressive model industrial community which included spacious and humane accommodation for cotton mill workers, as well as an educational institute and school.

Forth Bridge – this russet-coloured Victorian rail bridge had the largest span of any cantilever bridge in the world when it opened to 1890. Today it a UNESCO site flanked by its sisters: the 60s-era Forth Road Bridge and the magnificent Queensferry Crossing which opened in 2017.

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh – the Scottish capital’s historic heart is among the most beautiful and well preserved in the world. Chart the city’s transition from the sprawling medieval tenements of the Old Town to the Georgian splendour of the New Town with its symmetrical crescents and palatial town houses.

Glasgow UNESCO City of Music – UNESCO has declared Glasgow one of half a dozen Cities of Music. Some 130 concerts are said to occur here every week. It is the home of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Opera and the Scottish Ballet. It also boasts thriving indie scene which you can enjoy at venues including King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, and the grungy basement that hosts Sub Club, home to some of the best underground techno music in the world.

MOST-VISITED ATTRACTIONS IN SCOTLAND

Discover the top 20 visitor attractions in Scotland.

STELLAR NIGHT SKIES

Kirroughtree Forest, Galloway Dark Sky Park

Scotland has become hugely popular for stargazers seeking out dark places where they can enjoy a clear view of the night sky free from light pollution. These are Scotland’s Dark Sky Parks.

Tomintoul and Glenlivet – this area is one of the best places in the Cairngorms National Park to take in the celestial wonders of the night sky. This dark sky park is the most northerly in the world and but highly accessible with parking facilities located nearby.

Isle of Coll – this Inner Hebridean isle was awarded the status of Dark Sky Community by the International Dark-Sky Association. The island has no street lighting and enjoys a night-time clarity on a par with high Arctic regions.

Galloway Forest Park – Europe’s first official Dark Sky Park scores an impressive 23.6 out of 25 on the International Dark Sky Association’s scale of darkness. You can see the Andromeda galaxy with the naked eye, and with the help of powerful telescopes at the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, wonders like the Whirlpool Galaxy.

GEOPARK GEMS

Dore Holm off the coast of Esha Ness, Shetland

According to UNESCO Scotland is home to some of the most outstanding natural landscapes on the planet. This specially designated areas are called Global Geoparks and boast natural landmarks and landscapes which are considered to be of major international significance and worthy of conservation.

Lochaber – shaped by a millennia of shifting geological forces this area spans some of the dramatic scenery of the Highlands including Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and its deepest fresh water loch, Morar.

North West Highlands – explore 2000 sq km of mountain, peatland, beach, forest and coastline north of Ullapool, including some of the most well-known and important rock formations in the UK, some of which stretch back over three billion years.

Shetland – climb an extinct volcano, walk across an ancient ocean floor, stroll across ever-shifting sands and admire some of the oldest and most dramatic rock formations on the planet.

Interested in discovering more of what Scotland’s natural environment has to offer? Learn about Scotland’s 208 beautiful Blue Flag Beaches which are recognised for the environmental quality of their sands and waters. Scotland also has an amazing 1,423 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). These are specially protected environments where you can observe a huge array of plant and wildlife.

FIRST-CLASS FOOD & DRINK

Arbroath Smokies

When it comes to food and drink, Scotland is best known for its traditional dishes such as haggis, and for being the birthplace of Scotch Whisky. But it also enjoys a glowing reputation for many other kinds of local produce.

Orcadian Gin – Orkney’s craft gin scene is having a moment. The Orkney Gin Company’s Johnsmas gin won a prestigious UK Gold Medal in the World’s Best Gin Awards in 2017, while Kirkjuvagr Gin of Orkney Distilling came fourth place in a survey conducted by the Scottish Gin Society to find the nation’s top 50 gins. What’s more, its Arkh-Angell or ‘Storm Strength’ Gin won a Gold Medal at the World Gin Awards in 2019.

Orcadian Beer – Orkney breweries have also won awards recently. Swannay Brewery took home the SIBA 2018 Gold Awards for its Bottled Magnus Blonde and canned Muckle larger, while the Orkney Brewery was a UK winner at the 2017 World Beer Awards thanks to its Dark Island Reserve and Red MacGregor.

The Arbroath Smokie – these salted and dried haddocks are smoked over a beech-wood fire and have, like Champagne, EU-protected status. That means they can only be called Arbroath Smokies if they are prepared in a highly specific, traditional way and come from within a 5-mile radius of the small fishing village of Arbroath.

The UK’s No.1 Fish n’ Chip Shop – a fish supper is considered as fine a delicacy as any of the meals prepared in the country’s Michelin-star restaurants – of which Scotland boasts nine. In 2015, the winner of the National Fish & Chips Awards was announced as Frankie’s Fish & Chips on Scotland’s Shetland Isles, which also happens to be the most northerly in the UK.

TASTE OUR BEST

Discover more acclaimed places to eat and drink with VisitScotland’s food and drinks rating scheme: Taste Our Best

SCOTTISH THISTLE AWARD WINNERS

See which Scottish establishments and providers have been recognised as among the best in the  country at the Scottish Thistle Awards.

TOP COOK SCHOOLS

You can also perfect your own culinary skills at Scotland’s top cook schools where you can learn from our most talented chefs.

The post Scotland’s Award Winners – Top Attractions & Destinations appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

From a music festival to a beach barbecue and spectacular sunsets over beautiful vistas, to a dusk walk at 10pm, the extended daylight hours of a Scottish summer provide lots of time for experiences that you’ve maybe not considered before. Make the most of Scotland this midsummer, with some of the suggestions below.

1. Enjoy a midsummer event

The Scottish Crannog Centre, Loch Tay, Perthshire

Get along to one of these brilliant midsummer events. But don’t forget there’s also a massive selection of festivals, including the Edinburgh International Festival, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and a raft of Highland games, taking place throughout the summer.

  •  The West End Festival is Glasgow’s largest cultural festival. In 2019, it’s running from 31 May – 30 June and is likely to feature over 400 events across 80 different venues.
  • Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival offers over 50 different events between 14 – 23 June 2019. There’s lots of themed walks, watersports, family events and even a film night at Scotland’s midsummer walking festival.
  • Celebrate the summer solstice with Midsummer Music in a replica Iron Age crannog on the shores of Loch Tay. Taking place on 21 June, experience a captivating blend of traditional music, a crackling fire and the unique ambience of the crannog.
  • Taking place between 21 – 23 June 2019, in Errol near Perth, the Solas Festival offers a packed programme of live music, talks, storytelling and recitals with lots to keep the wee ones entertained.
  • St Magnus International Festival from 21 – 27 June 2019 is Orkney’s midsummer festival of the arts, with music, drama, dance and literature all featuring in this well-loved community event, where visitors are very welcome.
2. Head for the hills at dusk

Loch Affric and Glen Affric, Highlands © VisitBritain/Britain on View

There’s something a little bit magical about the idea of heading into Scotland’s mountains as the sun goes down, when everyone else is returning home from their day in the hills.

Long midsummer evenings, moonlight and a forecast of clear skies, are the perfect combination for enjoying sunsets over summits, high-level star gazing and nocturnal nature. With the right planning, preparation, skills and respect for the risks, midsummer hillwalking around dusk can be an awesome experience.

Mountaineering Scotland has given us some great advice for twilight hillwalking:

  • Choose the right night – clear, warm, settled
  • Don’t be too ambitious – follow good paths and start out low
  • Take the essential kit – head torch, shelter, clothing layers
  • Get the hills skills – navigation, navigation, navigation
  • Keep company – find a friend, a club or a guide

Read their ten tips for heading to the hills from dusk to dawn before you venture out.

3. Try twilight golf

Royal Dornoch golf course, Sutherland © Glyn Satterley

Fancy teeing off at 10pm or even midnight? The Highlands and the northern and western islands can have up to 19 hours of daylight in summer. So why not play a round of golf with a difference and tee off in the still of twilight?

Whilst clubhouses and facilities might be closed for the day, courses aren’t and if there’s no-one to take your green fees, honesty boxes are a charming and easy way to pay for your round.

Head for one of the four courses on Shetland, perhaps the Dale at Shetland Golf Club? Or try one of the five courses on Orkney – the views to the Isle of Hoy from Stromness golf course, for instance, are hard to beat. Durness in the North Highlands offers golf from dawn to dusk, as does Brora Links in Sutherland and the course at Traigh near Arisaig, set amidst stunning coastal scenery, is a gem not to be missed.

4. Experience a spiritual summer solstice

Ring of Brodgar, Mainland, Orkney © Iain Sarjeant

Orkney’s historic and spiritual heritage dates back over 5,000 years and on these islands you’ll find some of the best–preserved Neolithic monuments in Europe. Midsummer and the summer solstice on 21 June is one of the best times to experience the mystical qualities of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Alternatively, step back in time during the summer solstice and explore other fascinating historic sites on Scotland’s islands.

The Standing Stones of Calanais, Dun Carloway Broch and the replica Iron Age house at Bosta beach on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides are sure to enthral.

Or why not visit the ruins of Jarlshof, Old Scatness wheelhouse and the impressive Broch of Mousa in the Shetland Isles?

5. Taste Shetland’s ‘Simmer Dim’

Shetland Reel Simmer Dim gin © The Shetland Distillery Company Ltd

The sun barely sets in the Shetland Islands at this time of year, so why not plan a trip and really make the most of summer?

Head for the most northerly of the islands, Unst, where you’ll find Valhalla Brewery – the UK’s most northerly brewery, which produces a delicious golden Simmer Dim (a Shetlander term for summer twilight) ale.

Or you could visit the Saxa Vord Distillery (the UK’s most northerly), also on Unst and try some Shetland Reel Simmer Dim Gin, which is flavoured with orange peel, orris root, liquorice root, caraway and juniper.

The post Midsummer Nights in Scotland appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Arbroath Smokies Being Prepared on The Beach At Auchmithie

Scotland is home to a whole host of foodie experiences that will get your tastebuds tingling, so we asked what you guys thought too. We got an amazing response from everyone, with answers ranging from tasting a genuine Arbroath Smokie to eating fish and chips in an idyllic location.

Here are some of your great suggestions, along with a few from our experts too …

Fish and chips in Anstruther.

The charming fishing village of Anstruther in the East Neuk of Fife is famous throughout Scotland for its fresh seafood. Visit the famous Anstruther Fish Bar for a portion of golden fish and chips and enjoy them at the harbour, taking in the sparkling views of the Firth of Forth.

A meal at the Andrew Fairlie Michelin star restaurant, Gleneagles

The spotlight was on Gleneagles in 2014 when it hosted the prestigious Ryder Cup, one of world’s greatest golfing tournaments, but this beautiful part of Perthshire has much more to offer visitors than just world-class golf courses. Treat yourself to a luxurious break at the Gleneagles Hotel and indulge in one of the many fantastic restaurants, including Andrew Fairlie’s exquisite two Michelin-star restaurant, and the Strathearn, awarded two AA rosettes. The hotel’s decadent afternoon tea is also a refined treat, boasting three tiers of scrumptious savouries and sweet treats.

Wild berry picking in the Scottish Borders.

Experience the natural sweetness of the Scottish Borders with an afternoon of berry picking. Scotland’s long daylight hours in the summer are ideal for growing berries, and help them to ripen with plenty of flavour. Grab your boots and take a refreshing walk in the countryside, and you might find a juicy treat waiting for you in the hedgerows along the way too.

A meal at a restaurant on Thistle Street in Edinburgh

Thistle Street is fast becoming one of the most famous ‘hidden gems’ in Edinburgh. The street is bursting with boutique shops, trendy bars and high quality restaurants. Pop into European inspired Bon Vivant for a delicious meal or head to Iris for a tasty bite in sleek surroundings.

Frankie’s fish and chips, Busta Voe in Shetland

Frankie’s is Britain’s most northerly fish and chip shop, but it is definitely worth the trip. Named as best eatery in the Highlands at the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, this wonderful restaurant only uses the freshest locally sourced seafood from sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

Enjoying a Scottish breakfast on the seafront in Ayrshire

Ayrshire is famous for its sausage offering and they don’t come much tastier than a sizzling slice of lorne sausage, made from prime Scottish beef, or a couple of juicy link sausages, made from the finest Scottish pork.

Eating a genuine Aberdeen buttery in Aberdeenshire

Created to serve Aberdeen’s growing fishing industry in the 19th century, the Aberdeen buttery – also known as an Aberdeen rowie – is a deliciously salty bread roll, often eaten for breakfast with butter and jam.

A meal from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull

Surrounded by clear waters, the Isle of Mull is the perfect place to sample fresh fish. Head to Tobermory for traditional fish and chips from the Fisherman’s Pier fish and chip van and eat them on the waterfront with sparkling views of the sea. For a decadent sit-down meal you could also book a table at Café Fish, a tremendous seafood restaurant with a loyal following. Café Fish pride themselves on only using fresh fish and offer a varied specials menu based on whatever has been caught that day.

A trip to Castle Douglas, including a visit to Cream o’ Galloway

With over 50 food and drink outlets it’s easy to see why Castle Douglas has gained a reputation as a fantastic Food Town. Pop in to Sulwath Brewery to see how they craft their bespoke ales, browse local delis and restaurants for a delicious bite to eat, or enjoy a trip to the marvellous Cream o’ Galloway, just outside the town. With a wonderful adventure playground, a huge range of animals to meet and some of the most delicious ice cream in the country to sample, it would be easy to spend a whole day at this wonderful visitor centre.

Trying a genuine Arbroath Smokie!

If you’ve already tried an Arbroath Smokie you’ll know there’s nothing quite like it. If you’ve not, you have a treat waiting for you! An Arbroath Smokie is a fresh haddock, smoked over a hardwood fire. The flakes of fish melt in your mouth and are packed with delicious savoury flavours, along with a subtle smokiness. Eat with warm bread or flaked over a salad for a quick, tasty and healthy meal.

A visit to BrewDog in Glasgow or the Artisan in Wishaw

Whether your preference is beer or whisky, Scotland is packed with places to sample the best of both. Head to BrewDog in Glasgow and enjoy a taste of their famous craft beers or pop over to the Artisan, a restaurant in Wishaw, and browse their extensive collection of over 1,300 whiskies, featuring bottles from all five of Scotland’s whisky regions.

A pilgrimage to the Isle of Skye to visit restaurants such as The Three Chimneys

The gorgeous Isle of Skye will enchant you with its breathtaking scenery and wonderful wildlife. It’s also home to a fantastic food offering, including the wonderful Michelin star restaurant, The Three Chimneys. Sample Scottish cuisine at its finest in an idyllic island setting.

A picnic by Loch Lomond

Pack a tasty picnic with delicious Scottish produce and head for the bonny banks of Loch Lomond. Tuck into delicacies such as Scottish cheese on traditional oatcakes and melt-in-the-mouth Scottish tablet as you gaze at the tranquil waters and mountains in the distance.

A meal of fresh smoked fish in Orkney

Enjoy a taste of real Scottish smoked salmon in a glorious island setting. Donaldsons of Orkney have won awards for their delicious hot smoked salmon while Jolly’s of Orkney use a wide variety of different smoking methods and flavourings. Treat yourself to their Highland Park Whisky Smoked Salmon for an authentic taste of Orkney.

A visit to the Temple Café in Harris

Enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or dinner in the beautiful Temple Café at Northton on the stunning Isle of Harris. Reminiscent of an ancient temple, the building is made of stone with stunning views out over the beach. Enjoy tasty coffee and freshly baked cakes or opt for a meal including pizza and an ever-changing specials board.

Find more information on the Year of Food & Drink Scotland 2015 as well as great recipe ideas and more information on Scotland’s traditional food and drink.

The post 15 amazing food and drink experiences in Scotland appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Some of the finest sailing waters in the world are to be found here in Scotland. Discover secluded coves, explore islands, skerries and miles of rugged coastline, or glide gracefully across a misty sea loch. Our sailing in Scotland video provides plenty of inspiration if you want to learn more about sailing here. We’re also making preparations to celebrate the Year of Scotland’s Coasts & Waters in 2020. Come and join us!

Each year Scotland hosts a number of regattas, sailing events and nautical festivals, which are very popular with seafarers and landlubbers alike. Below is just a small selection you’ll not want to miss.

1. Scottish Islands Peak Race, Oban to Troon

17 – 19 May

Looking across Loch na Keal to Ben More, Isle of Mull

The Scottish Islands Peaks Race is definitely an adventure race with a difference and takes participants through some of the finest scenery in Europe.

Starting at Oban Sailing Club, the race begins with a run through parts of Oban and down to nearby Gallanach. Then it’s all aboard as competitors sail to the lovely Isle of Mull, where runners ascend the lofty Munro of Ben More. Back on the yacht, next stop is the Isle of Jura to run and climb the striking Paps of Jura, followed by more sailing to the Isle of Arran and an ascent of Goat Fell. The race ends in the pretty Ayrshire town of Troon.

2. The Scottish Series, Tarbert, Argyll

24 – 27 May

Yachts moored at Tarbert with Loch Fyne beyond, Argyll

The Clyde Cruising Club has been holding the Scottish Series, arguably the premier event in the Scottish yacht racing calendar, in the pretty Argyll harbour village of Tarbert since 1977. The village offers a sheltered anchorage and there are many welcoming bars on the harbour side too.

The event sees boats and crews pit their wits against each other, the elements and the local waters, for a festival that is a must-see whether you’re a sailor or spectator.

The racing is spectacular and the renowned atmosphere of the event around the village is something to savour, as Tarbert’s welcoming bars fill with music, laughter and many (sometimes tall!) tales of the day’s adventures on the water.

3. Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy, Aberdeenshire

22 – 23 June

‘Fifie’ fishing boats at the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, Portsoy

The popular Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, which takes place in the charming little coastal village of Portsoy, attracts many visitors from Aberdeenshire and beyond.

The enchanting 17th century harbour is the main hub for festivities, where you’ll find a host of traditional and modern boats and yachts, and an unrivalled festival atmosphere.

A main stage on the harbour side hosts entertainment throughout the weekend and a raft of stalls here and further into the village offer unique crafts and keepsakes and the finest food and drink from the north-east. Loch Soy, close to Portsoy Ice Cream (very yummy!) offers lots of festival activities for kids.

Cheer on ‘skiff’ crews as they compete against each other and the choppy North Sea, delight in the aromas of seafood and other tantalising festival treats, and enjoy music and mirth into the wee small hours.

4. Tarbert Traditional Boat Festival, Argyll

20 – 21 July

The Tarbert Traditional Boat Festival brings around 30 traditional boats from the local Argyll area, as well as visiting boats from around Scotland and further afield, to the pretty harbour village of Tarbert. Visitors and villagers alike, are very welcome to admire the boats moored up in around the harbour and pontoon and browse the popular shore-side stalls. There are crews to cheer on in the exciting skiff races and there’s plenty of music and dancing to enjoy into the wee small hours.

5. West Highland Yachting Week, Argyll

26 July – 2 August

Yachts moored at Craobh Haven, Argyll

West Highland Yachting Week has been riding the crest of a wave for over 70 years and is a premier historic and international yachting event.

The regatta moves from venue to venue along the west coast during the course of the week. Starting in Craobh in Argyll, the fleet races in Lower Loch Melfort, Loch Shuna and south of Loch Shuna before heading for Oban. After spending two nights here, the race is on to Tobermory on Mull to bag the best moorings (that are closest to the pubs!). After spending two nights in Tobermory, the fleet races back down the Sound of Mull to end up back in Oban Bay to spend the final night in this bustling ferry port.

If you’re in the area, there’s a good chance you’ll see some of the racing action set against a spectacularly scenic west coast backdrop, and you’ll enjoy the on-shore atmosphere of the regatta in pubs and restaurants at each venue.

6. Scotland’s Boat Show, Kip Marina, Inverclyde

11 – 13 October

Sailing in Scotland

This popular and free entry boat show is the UK’s second biggest and offers a packed programme. Experienced hands can browse the many new and pre-owned boats for sale, or pick up new equipment and clothing. While novices, who are keen to get on the water for the first time, can opt for taster sessions with the Royal Yachting Association. There’s a host of food and drink stalls and cookery demonstrations to tempt those tastebuds and lots of onshore and afloat events to keep you entertained.

7. The St Kilda Challenge, Lochmaddy, North Uist

11 – 13 June 2020

Dramatic skies around St Kilda on the St Kilda Challenge © Glenn L Porter

Heading into the wild North Atlantic, the dual UNESCO World Heritage Site of St Kilda, lying 40 nautical miles off the coast of the Outer Hebrides, awaits intrepid sailors and adventurers, who are brave enough to take on the St Kilda Challenge, which takes place every two years and is next scheduled for 2020.

Over the three days, skippers and their crews will navigate some of Europe’s finest sailing waters as they set sail from Lochmaddy on North Uist and make for Village Bay on St Kilda’s main island of Hirta.

These islands saw their last permanent residents depart for the mainland in the 1930s and they are a magical draw for sailors and other adventurers, keen to explore Scotland’s outer-most western limits.

Organised by the Clyde Cruising Club and partners Comann na mara, the challenge ends with festivities and the odd dram back onshore at Lochmaddy.

Find out more about these and many other special seafaring and maritime-themed events taking place around Scotland on the Sail Scotland website.

The post Scottish sailing events you won’t want to miss in 2019 appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Visiting our craft breweries and brewpubs is a great way to get a real taste of Scotland. They offer wonderful tours of discovery, where brewers, with their infectious enthusiasm, share their secrets of the art of brewing.

We’ve been brewing in Scotland for 5,000 years and some of our breweries are found in secluded places that can often only be reached by car. That’s bad news for the driver! So what to do? Some are close to railway stations so, as an old advertising slogan once said, why not ‘let the train take the strain’? That way everyone can enjoy some tasty Scottish beers.

Here are a few suggestions for our Rail Ale Trails. Each can, of course, be split over a number of days.

Rail Ale Trail 1 – Edinburgh west and south

Affectionately known as ‘Auld Reekie’ – the nickname comes from the sweet, malty-smelling breweries – Edinburgh has long connections with brewing. Between the 19th and 20th centuries, the city was home to over 40 breweries including big producers such as William Younger and William McEwan. Today, many of the larger breweries have gone and been replaced with smaller breweries and welcoming brewpubs within easy reach of each other.

Edinburgh Beer Factory Paolozzi beers © Edinburgh Beer Factory

Our first stop is at Edinburgh Beer Factory, just a short taxi ride from Edinburgh Gateway or a short walk from Edinburgh Park. With a varied range of brews, named and inspired by the artwork of Eduardo Paolozzi, the beers here are never dull!

Then it’s a five minute walk to the Bankhead tram stop. Heading into the city centre, get off in the West End and walk five minutes to BrewDog Lothian Road – Edinburgh Castle provides a dramatic backdrop. A minute more takes you to the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen, where tasty beers and food are served – you can also book a brew your own session! A further minute takes you to The Hanging Bat brewpub.

Heading back into town to Howe Street brings you to six°north, where they offer delicious Belgian-influenced beers from their brewery in Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire.

Jonny and Gary of Cross Borders Brewing Company © Cross Borders Brewing Company

Next, walk to Waverley Station and take the Borders Railway service to Eskbank Station where you can try the ‘braw’ beers of the Cross Border Brewing Company – it’s just a short walk from the station. Stewart Brewing in Loanhead is a short taxi ride away, where you can brew your own.

The Tempest Brewery, Galashiels © Tempest Brew Co.

Then it’s back on the southbound train to head for Tweedbank Station and the award-winning Tempest Brew Co. in Galashiels, where they produce tasty Scottish beers with global influences.

Rail Ale Trail 2 – Edinburgh north and east

Campervan Brewery, Leith, Edinburgh © Campervan Brewery

Our second trail starts from Waverley Station. Walk to Princes Street and take the 22 or 25 bus or a taxi down Leith Walk to the Campervan Brewery, where they produce amazing beers using all sorts of interesting ingredients.

Mochaccino Stout from the Pilot Brewery. Delicious! © Pilot Brewery

Then it’s on to the Pilot Brewery, just a 10 minute walk away, to try their lovely unfined and unfiltered brews – Iced Tea Pale Ale anyone? Just perfect for a sunny summer afternoon.

Just two of the fabulous beers you’ll find at Barney’s Beer © Barney’s Beer

Our next stop involves a taxi ride from Leith to Barney’s Beer at Summerhall – a lively cultural village (containing the Royal Dick Bar and Pickering’s Gin Distillery) in the heart of the city.

From here it’s a 15 minute walk to BrewDog in the Cowgate, followed by a short walk back to Waverley Station to catch a train to East Lothian.

Wonderful beer from Scotland’s oldest brewery © Belhaven Brewery

Heading for East Lothian, take the train to Dunbar for a tour of Belhaven Brewery, which is 20 minutes from the station and not far from Belhaven Bay. Belhaven is Scotland’s oldest working brewery and celebrates its 300th anniversary this year.

Rail Ale Trail 3 – Glasgow

Once one of the world’s largest exporters of beer and the first to introduce keg beer, bottles and cans to Britain, Glasgow also has long connections with brewing. The Wellpark Brewery was founded in 1740 by Hugh and Robert Tennent and lager has been produced here since 1885. Tennent’s is clearly an important brewery, but there’s a lot more to discover across the city.

Our Glasgow trail starts just a stone’s throw from Queen Street Station at BrewDog’s Doghouse in the Merchant City, where you’ll enjoy BrewDog’s outstanding craft beers, alongside US-inspired delicious low- and slow-cooked barbecue dishes. Yum!

A tempting beer flight from Drygate Brewery © Drygate Brewing Co.

Taking its moniker from the original name for Wellpark Brewery, Drygate Brewing Co. is a joint venture between C & C Group and Williams Bros Brewing Co. and is just 15 minutes on foot from the Doghouse. You’ll find their brewery, brewhouse bar and kitchen and beer hall in a converted factory and they offer tours and brew your own experiences.

Wellpark Brewery, the home of Tennent Caledonian is very close to Drygate and is one of Europe’s most popular beer themed visitor attractions.

Beers with a ‘Glaswegian heart and a German head’ © WEST Brewery

From Wellpark, WEST Brewery is a short walk away and their beers are produced according to strict German Purity Law. Founder Petra Wetzel and her team produce German-style Scottish beers in the brewery, which alongside WEST On The Green bar & restaurant, is in the Templeton Building near the People’s Palace.

From WEST, it’s off to the West End. Take the subway from Bridgeton Station to Partick. The six°north bar is just a five minute walk away on Dumbarton Road and won Best Beer Bar in the 2018 Scottish Beer Awards.

A 20 minute walk, then takes you to BrewDog in Kelvingrove – another great venue where tasty beer, delicious food and regular live music keep customers well entertained.

Charming Ashton Lane, just 10 minutes away, with its cobbles underfoot and fairy lights overhead, is full of popular bars and restaurants including the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen, where beer features in many dishes and there’s always fresh beer on tap!

Then we’re Inn Deep! Situated on the banks of the River Kelvin, this venue is owned by Williams Bros Brewing Co. who produce fine ales including Fraoch, Alba, Seven Giraffes. They are passionate about producing ‘craft beer, not crap beer’ and ‘dugs’ (dogs) are very welcome!

Award-winning ScotBeer run fun, highly rated and recommended beer and brewery tours in Edinburgh and Glasgow, which include some of the above-listed venues.

Rail Ale Trail 4 – Dundee to Aberdeen

Dundee is better known for its marmalade and cake rather than beer. The last few years however, have seen three new breweries and some fine brewpubs open in the city, so things are bubbling up. Further north, six°north, Fierce Beer and BrewDog especially, are making their mark in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and beyond.

This trail starts at Dynamo Dundee, part of the six°north family, which is just across the road from Dundee Station and V&A Dundee. The bar features 24 taps of the best beers from Scotland, the UK and beyond.

Then it’s just a short walk from Dynamo to BrewDog Dundee, where you’ll find 18 taps pouring fresh beer from BrewDog and other carefully curated guest breweries.

Next is Innis & Gunn’s Beer Kitchen just a 10 minute walk from BrewDog. The taproom here offers over 50 craft beers, tank fresh lager and you can also make your own and take a 5 litre mini keg of it home with you!

71 Brewing, Dundee – the ‘Engineers of Beers’ © 71 Brewing

Finally in Dundee, take a 15 minute walk from Innis & Gunn to Bellfield Street for a tour of 71 Brewing. Housed in a former engineering works, the team here were the first to bring brewing back to the city in 50 years. There’s also a taproom and bottle shop on site.

Continue this trail and take the train to Stonehaven. Head for The Marine Hotel, overlooking the town’s lovely harbour. Here you’ll find another six°north bar serving Belgian-influenced Scottish beers. six°north are also well-known for delicious collaborations with other brewers.

Belgian-inspired Scottish beer from six°north, Laurencekirk © six°north

If your train goes through Laurencekirk, stop off at the Burnside Brewery where they sell their beers from an on-site shop each Saturday. Whilst they don’t offer tours, visitors are very welcome for beer and chat. The six°north brewery is just a little further up the road, though not open to visitors.

From Stonehaven, we’re off to Aberdeen, where you have a choice of BrewDog outlets to choose from! The nearest is just a few minutes from the station in Union Square shopping centre, BrewDog Castlegate is just a five minute walk and BrewDog Gallowgate – their first bar, set up in 2010, is 10 minutes away, near Aberdeen University.

Fierce Beer – brews that are fiercely full of flavour © Fierce Beer

The Fierce Bar is just a minute from BrewDog Castlegate. Fierce is a young Aberdeen brewery, rooted in the city, though with global ambitions – they’re already exporting to 15 countries! They also have some great partnerships and beery experiments fermenting. The Fierce Brewery isn’t open to visitors, so the Fierce Bar is the next best thing.

To round off this trail, head for six°north’s bar, which is just a minute from BrewDog Gallowgate.

Just some of the brilliant beers produced by BrewDog © BrewDog

An optional extra involves a train trip from Aberdeen to Inverurie followed by a 30 minute taxi ride to Ellon and BrewDog’s global HQ. In their state-of-the-art eco-brewery, they offer DogWalk tours which include the original brewhouse, Site 3 brewhouse, Lone Wolf Distillery and a cheeky walk through their offices! Then unwind in the DogTap taproom.

These are just a few options to get you to some of Scotland’s breweries and brewpubs without a car. You could always have fun and use our Craft Beer Map to plan your own trail.

The post All aboard for Scotland’s Rail Ale Trails appeared first on The Blog.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview