5 Great Winter Walks in Scotland

5 Great Winter Walks in Scotland

5 Great Winter Walks in Scotland

Walking in the snow

 

Christmas is nearly here! So why not spend some time taking in the stunning Scottish scenery on a crisp winter’s day? We’ve rounded up a variety of walking trails for you to enjoy this winter in a variety of Scottish locations, which also cater to different tastes. Let’s not forget, each of them is reachable by campervan.

1. Robert Burns Trail, Ayrshire & Arran

Be inspired by the setting of the country’s national bard and take the Burns trail starting at Burns Cottage. Six kilometres later you will have seen some wonderful sites along the way including Robert Burns’ National Monument and a 15th century bridge featured in Tam  o’ Shanter. There are many points along the trail relating to the poet and you’ll also get to see local woodlands and parks.

2. Blairadam Forest, Fife

The forest is usually occupied by horse lovers, but is also perfect for an amble this winter. It boasts miles of walking trails, but you won’t get lost – well hopefully not… What’s more, on the weekends leading up to Christmas you’ll be able to grab hot beverages at the park to shake off the chill, as well as tasty baked goods.

3. Allean Forest, Perthshire

Located near to Pitlochry, this forest boasts different walking trails on which you can take in nature in its most diverse forms, as well as a scattering of archaeological remains. One highlight of the area is a beautiful body of water, Loch Tummel. There’s also the Queen’s View Visitor Centre nearby, a stunning vantage point for the river Tummel.

4. Balmoral Castle Grounds, Aberdeen

I do declare that Balmoral Castle is the home of the royal family in Scotland. Surrounded by the picturesque scenery of Deeside and neighbouring Lochnagar, the grounds and gardens of the castle offer a splendid setting for a winter walk. There’s even an audio tour available in several different languages to act as your guide.

5. Threave Garden and Estate, Dumfries & Galloway

Recently voted number 2 on The Independent’s list of the ’10 Best Gardens to Visit in the UK’, I can’t imagine a better place to take your winter walk – apart from maybe the garden which was voted number 1… Anyway, the gardens are mahoosive and feature three key areas; take in the landscaped gardens of the Threave Garden, have a look at some Scottish sculpture in the Threave Sculpture Garden or check out the wetlands and woodlands of the Threave Nature Reserve.

So, it’s time to get your woolly jumpers on and get a bit of fresh air by visiting one of these picturesque areas of Scotland this winter. Whether it’s history you’re after, nature or just a fantastic family photo op out in the snow then you’re sure to find something on this list.

Thrill-seekers

Thrill-seekers

Calling All Thrill-Seekers

Lachlan Gray mid air

 

Not all of us want to take a trip in order to see castles and architecture and blah blah blah. That would bore some people to tears!

So we’ve come up with a couple of ideas for a thoroughly action-packed holiday for you and your mates therefore, which mostly involve getting wet and wild.

All you need to do is hire a campervan to get your head down in and let the frivolity commence!

 

 Sea Kayaking

Sea Kayaking in Scotland

 

Get to the beach for a spot of sea kayaking. Scotland is absolutely perfect for such a trip, boasting stretches upon stretches of beaches, some secluded if you fancy a private session or some very popular if you’re a bit of a show-off.

This activity would be heaps of fun, can you imagine exploring dark and spooky caves or tunnels. The Orkney Islands are a perfect destination for sea kayaking with 500 miles of cliffs, caves, and beaches to be at your disposal.

Alternatively, there’s the Scottish Sea Kayaking Trail, if you fancy something of a challenge. There will be 500 km of sea for you to cross and interesting areas to take in such as Loch Linnhe, the Sound of Mull, Loch Sunart and the Sound of Arisaig. It was even voted a top European tour of a lifetime by National Geographic.

 

White Water Rafting

White water rafting

 

Now this has to be an activity that’s on everyone’s bucket list! It feels a little dangerous and fun and that’s why you just have to do it.

Scotland has tonnes of rivers, rapids and drops where you can show how brave you are on this thrilling ride. In case you didn’t know rivers are graded on their speed and therefore difficulty to raft on.

So, if you’re a beginner you might want to hit the water in a grade two river, but if you’re a thrill-seeker try out grade four or five. One great rafting route is at the river Tay. Another option is going to Cairngorms National Park and experience rafting with the Ace Adventure activity centre.

 

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking in scotland

 

Scotland is home to some fantastic mountain biking trails, but an absolutely momentous event will be taking place at Fort William next year, the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.

The atmosphere is reportedly like that of a festival and crowds will be flocking in their hundreds to watch the competition. You’ll watch from the village as the Downhill and 4-Cross racers speed to the finish line. I couldn’t imagine anything more thrilling!

These fun travel ideas are bound to have you and your pals excited for weeks before hand.  So if action is more your kind of thing than poncing around an art gallery then why not live dangerously and go get your thrills in Scotland?

Glasgow Shopping

Glasgow Shopping

Glasgow, Queen of Shops

Glasgow shopping

 

As home of ‘the style mile’, Glasgow provides a shopping mecca for those hoping to pick up some quality gear, especially over Christmas. Here’s a round-up of the best spots in Glasgow where you can bag some goodies:

 St Enoch Centre

St. Enoch Centre

 

With its protruding glass front, the St Enoch Centre is a dream for the modern shopper. Its pride and joy is the huge Debenhams situated within. Other major fashion brands such as Swatch, H&M and Fossil also have stores in the centre. Need a break from all of that hardcore shopping? Then there’s also a Nando’s, Kimble’s and a Costa Coffee.

 Argyll Arcade

Jewellery on the Style Mile

 

If you’re a bit posh or just looking for something special then you’ll probably want to visit the Argyll Arcade. Luxurious jewellery can be found at James Porter & Sons or Harold Barclay. Vintage jewellery is housed at Mr Harold & Son, while contemporary pieces can be found at Lewis Grant. You’ll probably need a stiff drink after splashing the cash, so the Argyll Arcade is also home to Sloans bar and restaurant.

 Argyle Street

Argyle street at Christmas

 

A visit to Argyle Street is a must for young people especially. High-street fashion is to be found at River Island, Gap, Next and Top Shop. Bargains can be bought at Primark and Scotland’s biggest TK Maxx. Plus if you’re looking for some cool footwear there’s a Schuh and Foot Asylum.

 Merchant City

Merchant City Glasgow

 

Merchant city is a thriving cultural quarter. Among the top bars and restaurants, you’ll find a famous thrift store, Mr Ben and designer homewares at Dallas & Dallas and Belgica. There’s also a couple of lush food stores in the form of Peckhams and Berits & Brown.

 Buchanan Street

Buchannan Street Glasgow

 

This street provides an interesting mix of retail and residential. The main attraction is the huge American brand Forever 21, one of only six stores across the whole of the UK. Wait there’s more, on Buchanan street you can also visit big names such as Paperchase, Fat Face and Skechers.

 Princes Square

Shopping Centre Glasgow

 

Designer gear is housed within beautiful architecture at the mall at Princes Square. There are simply too many big names on offer to list here, but I will give you a few tempting ones: Kurt Geiger, Vivienne Westwood, French Connection and Ted Baker.

 Royal Exchange Square

Royal Exchange Square

 

Also home to the cultural attraction GOMA, Royal Exchange Square has acquired some big name designer brands. Reiss and LK Bennett are top destinations for the stylish. Bags come from the well-established British brand Radley and there’s also a new kid on the block, Bag & Baggage.

The amount of shopping opportunities in Glasgow is astounding. With all your high-street faves and huge designer brands, I don’t know why you would want to shop anywhere else. So grab the girls, hire a campervan and prepare to be out of pocket for the next few months.

Scotland’s best cycling routes

Scotland’s best cycling routes

Three of Scotland’s best cycling routes

Cycle path

 

Next year will see another great sporting event come to Scotland, Etape Loch Ness, a 67-mile cycling event which will raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The event will start and finish in Inverness, and follow the A82 through Drumnadrochit, Invermoriston and Fort Augustus, boasting outstanding views.

The interest was so high for this ride however, that all 1,000 places were booked up in advance! Don’t despair though; we’ve rounded up some fantastic cycling routes in Scotland so you won’t have to miss out on the fun.

1. The Highlands and Isle of Skye

Make your way up to Edinburgh in your hired campervan and there you can rent bikes if you haven’t brought your own.

This is a great starting point to access the north-western seaboard, and you can even join cycle routes at any point if you drive there. What’s great about cycling in this region is the contact with wildlife and nature.

You can reach Skye by ferry from the coastal town of Mallaig. From the northern side of the island, cycle down in a south-eastern direction back towards Edinburgh, the best way to take in a few top sites such as, Loch Ness and Eilean Donan castle.

Some of the roads may take you through heavily forested parts, making for a peaceful and picturesque ride.

2. The Northern Circle

On this route, you will be taken down some very quiet roads with little traffic on the remote roads in a true experience of the Scottish wilderness.

You’ll begin North of Inverness, and go West to take in breath-taking sights such as the ruins of Ardvreck castle and Loch Assynt. If you journey northeast you can visit the end of the British mainland at John O’Groats.

The northern coast is a great spot for setting up camp out in the wild. So if you consider yourself a bit of a Bear Grylls, a cycling trip in this area would be perfect.

3. The Outer Hebrides

Cycling in this region, you will take in beautiful beaches and meadows on the islands of Barra, Eriksay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Harris and Lewis. Quiet roads will take you through mountains and valleys to charming little settlements where you can stop for a cup of tea.

If you cycle from South to North, the wind will be in your favour and you can visit sights such as Kisimul Castle in Castlebay and the Neolithic Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis.

What’s great about cycling in Scotland is that it gives you endless opportunities to find hidden gems and beautiful back roads. Obviously a trip in the summer would be ideal. Just take a map and don’t forget where you parked!