A guide to Shetland

A guide to Shetland


For a completely immersive travel experience, head to Shetland. A collection of islands in the north sea, Shetland is actually closer to Norway than it is to Edinburgh, and subsequently shares many cultural themes with both Scandinavia and Scotland. The islands have strong musical and literary scenes, celebrating fiddle music and prose and poetry in the Shetland dialect especially.

Shetland comprises more than 100 islands, so you’re never further than 5km away from the sea. The three largest islands – Mainland, Yell and Unst – have much to offer visitors who want to take in the scenery from the comfort of their Rockinvan.

Things to do

The natural beauty of Shetland makes it the perfect place to watch the sun rise – Lonely Planet voted it one of the best places to do so in the world. Because of its northerly location, Shetland is also the best place in Scotland to be in with a chance of seeing aurora borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights. From September through to April, or thereabouts, the sky can be seen to take on a greenish glow – but don’t count your hopes on it, as it’s weather dependent.

Shetland is also home to many indigenous plants and flowers unique to its islands. On the west Mainland, Lea Gardens is a two-acre botanic green space that was formed in the 1980s and today boasts 1500 plant species and collections. The gardens received a Shetland Environmental Award in 2011 and host blooms not just from the islands but also from as far afield as New Zealand, South Africa, and South America.

A great way to explore the smaller islands is by boat. The Noss and Bressay Cruise passes the Noss National Nature Reserve by water where passengers can see thousands of gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes and razorbills before cruising past sheer cliff faces dating back million of years. The tour also passes through The Giant’s Leg, and with the use of the cruise’s underwater camera, plankton, starfish, crabs and sea urchins can be observed.

Shetland is home to two breweries that make their own distinctive ales and beers. Lerwick Brewing Co offers appointment-only weekly tours to newcomers and exciting seasonal specials, as well as a core range of brews. On Unst, Valhalla takes the title of the UK’s most northerly brewery, but it’s well worth the trip. In operation since 1997, it produces six core beer and also offers tours.

In an area ripe with mouth-watering natural produce, it makes sense that Shetland holds its own in the food stakes. Shetland Cheese is housed in a former smokehouse 28 miles from Lerwick where award-winning cheeses are produced, including St Ninians – a soft cow’s milk product. An on-site cafe will fulfill the needs of anyone flagging.

Frankie’s Fish & Chips isn’t your regular chippie – far from it. As well as catching all its own fish and seafood just a stone’s throw from its premises, it recently won the UK’s highest chippie accolade in the form of the Independent Takeaway of the Year Award in the National Fish and Chip Awards. No mean feat. Situated in Brae with stunning views, this is one for the bucket list.

A list of campsites and caravan sites in Shetland can be found here: http://visit.shetland.org/caravan-and-camping-parks.php

A guide to Scotland for overseas visitors

A guide to Scotland for overseas visitors

A guide to Scotland for overseas visitors

Scotland isn’t just popular with UK tourists; it appears to be a ‘must-visit’ destination for overseas visitors too. Overseas tourism to Scotland increased by 10% in 2012.

Part of this has been linked to the partnership between VisitScotland and the popular Disney movie ‘Brave’. It’s not surprising given its stunning scenery, welcoming atmosphere and abundance of activities and attractions on offer.

If you’re coming to this unique part of the world, there are a few things you might want to look into before you do.

Understanding Scottish culture

Perhaps one of the hardest things to get to grips with is the culture. However, don’t panic as there are a few simple tips to follow on your visit.

Scotland has a very vibrant culture, known for its bagpipes, kilts and haggis. It’s a very lively country and fun is what you can expect to find in abundance on your trip.

If you want to witness Scotland’s culture in its entirety, get tickets to experience the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August. There you’ll find hundreds of pipers showing off their skills.

It could be worth checking out the most common Scottish slang terms too. That will definitely help you understand the locals while you’re here!

Top Scottish Cities

When you’re visiting from a different country, you’ll likely have no idea about the different cities in Scotland. Some of the best that are well worth a visit include:

● Edinburgh

● Aberdeen

● Glasgow

● Stirling

● Inverness

Edinburgh and Glasgow are the most famous cities in the country. If you’re visiting in the summer, Edinburgh is a great city to head to. There’s plenty to do including excellent festivals and attractions. Glasgow is the biggest city in the country and it’s well known for its great shopping opportunities.

Aberdeen is known as ‘Europe’s Oil Capital’ but it offers so much more to visitors. It’s packed full of parks, green spaces and stunning beaches – great for a relaxing getaway!

Stirling is a fairly new city, but it does have a long and interesting history. The cobbled old town is quaint and welcoming and it’s significantly quieter than similar city ‘Edinburgh’.

Inverness on the other hand is famous for its ‘Loch Ness Monster’ myth. This is one of the best tourist destinations as it features a stunning cathedral and a lot of souvenir shops.

There are also great islands you might want to check out including Isle of Mull, Orkney and Lewis and Harris.

The western isles are fairly easy to explore, while offering spectacular scenery. Simply drive up to Oban and buy a Island Rover or Island Hopping ticket on CalMac Ferries. You’ll be able to visit Inner Hebrides, Southern Hebrides and the small isles.

Accommodation options

There is a wide range of accommodation available in Scotland from luxury hotels to budget friendly campsites. If you’re looking to save the most money on your trip, why not hire a campervan? This can be a great way to see all that Scotland has to offer.

Drive through the Cornish country side stopping into some of the many quaint sea side towns for a pastie along the way. Driving through Cornwall will show you first hand what it is about this beautful place that has inspired generations of writers from DH Lawrence and Charles Causley to Sir John Betjeman and Daphne du Maurier.

10 essential tips for your Scottish campervan getaway

10 essential tips for your Scottish campervan getaway

10 essential tips to prepare for your Scottish campervan getaway

Packing nightmares

Campervan holidays can be fun, affordable and a great way to explore all that Scotland has to offer. However, before you set off on your trip, it helps to properly prepare.

There are some excellent tips you can follow to ensure you are properly prepared for your journey and you’ll discover the top 10 tips below.

1. Compare your options

When you’re hiring a campervan, it’s important to compare your options. There are many different models out there. Some come with more advanced features than others. Think about how basic you want the holiday to be and consider the features you’ll need.

2. Know what to pack

Packing for a campervan holiday is pretty straight forward. Remember, Scotland isn’t known for its predictable weather conditions. Therefore you should pack a variety of clothing to suit all weathers. Wet wipes, butane gas canisters if you have a gas cooker and a torch with additional batteries are all essentials you’ll need.

3. Research local road rules

Scotland doesn’t differ too much from the rest of the UK, but it’s worth taking a look at local rules before you set off. Bilingual road signs are just one thing you need to be aware of.

4. Don’t forget a map

While GPS is an excellent tool to use, sometimes you just can’t beat old fashioned maps. If you’re travelling to the rural parts of Scotland, an updated map could be your best option.

5. Create an itinerary

While ‘winging it’ can often provide you with the most spontaneous and exciting adventure, it can sometimes be a little stressful. Creating an itinerary before you go will help to ensure you see everything you want to see. You’ll also be able to plan in advance where you want to set up camp.

6. Consider fuel top ups

One thing you have to think about when going on a campervan holiday is fuel. Do you know where the cheapest fuel stations are? Are there plenty along the way? If not it’s worth planning where you should top up along the way. The last thing you want is to be stranded in a rural location with no fuel.

7. Look up free car parks

If you fancy a spot of wild camping, it’s worth looking out for free car parks. If you park in the city it can be quite expensive. Free car parks are often quite a distance away from actual towns and cities. However, the views are often well worth the trip.

8. Don’t forget your chargers

Yes you’re going camping, but you likely still want to be able to use your phone and/or laptop every now and again. You should be able to plug your chargers into the campervan. Not all models will allow you to do this however so keep this in mind when hiring one out.

9. Consider applying for National Trust Membership

Scotland has some of the best National Trust attractions in the UK. If you want to save money and visit a few of them, it’s worth getting National Trust membership before you set off.

10. Do you need a dongle?

If you’d like to use Wi-Fi services while you’re on the road, a dongle can come in useful. This will particularly help you to stay connected in rural parts of Scotland.

The tips above will help to ensure you have a more relaxed campervan holiday. Why not take a look at the different models available and plan ahead today to make the most of your trip?

Choosing a Campervan to rent

Choosing a Campervan to rent

Top tips on choosing the best campervan to rent

Which one?

Hundreds of people choose to rent a campervan for their Scottish adventure. There are so many benefits that come with hiring a campervan throughout the duration of your holiday. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s a lot more convenient too.

You get to go wherever you like, whenever you like and you can even choose to island hop or simply travel around a few different areas to make the most of your trip. However, before you rush out and hire a campervan, you need to consider several factors.

How big should you go?

There’s a temptation when hiring a campervan, to hire the smallest one available. It’s the most cost effective option and obviously you want to save as much money as possible. However, it might just be worth hiring the next berth up. Why?

Well there’s more storage space for one thing. It can also be a real pain trying to cook in a small campervan. In smaller motorhomes you need to keep assembling and dissembling the kitchen area. With a larger campervan you can keep these areas permanently assembled.

Just how self-sufficient do you want to be?

There are so many different motorhomes to choose from these days. Some come with a lot more features than others. What type of trip are you hoping to experience? If you’re looking to really rough it and be at one with the outdoors, you’ll want a really basic model.

However, if you like your home comforts it’s worth looking into campervans that have a toilet, shower and gas heating. Do you want the campervan to have its own generator or would you prefer to get it from an outside source? Many campsites have electrical outlets available.

How long do you plan on spending in the motorhome?

This is an important factor to consider as if you choose a van with waste water tanks, they will need to be emptied quite frequently. If left for too long, they will start to produce a really unpleasant smell. If you don’t plan on being on the campsite that long, it’s worth reconsidering whether you need a water tank or waste water tank included.

Which campsite do you have your heart set on?

If there’s a particular campsite you want to head to, you’ll need to first check out its requirements. Some will have size restrictions on the motorhomes that can camp there. So if you are considering hiring a fairly large van, you’ll need to double check the campsite will allow it.

These are just some of the main factors to keep in mind. As with any type of accommodation, adequate planning is required before you book a campervan. It’s also important to make sure you are booking with a reliable company and insurance is provided.

Scotland does have some of the best camping sites in the UK. Hiring a campervan will allow you to see all that this stunning country has to offer in a home from home setting. Take a look at the different models on offer today and compare as many as you can before making a decision.



Scotland’s Forests

Scotland’s Forests

Camping in Scotland’s forests

Driving through a tree

If you’re looking to enjoy a camping holiday this summer, what better place to head to than Scotland?

With beautiful, breath-taking scenery and plenty to see and do, you’ll struggle to find a more idyllic location. The forests of Scotland are perfect for camping and below you’ll discover the best spots to head to.

Cashel Campsite, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park

Situated in Loch Lomond, the Cashel Campsite is an ideal forest camping destination. With a majestic mountain backdrop and a beautiful lake surrounded by the Trossachs National Park, this is a great place to take a motorhome. Hiring a motorhome can be a great way to explore Scotland’s wilderness.

This location is particularly suitable for those looking to enjoy a more peaceful holiday. There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching and there are also plenty of activities to partake in too.

Prices start from as little as £4 per night. There are several pitch options ranging in size and the cost will also vary depending upon the time of year you visit.

Glenmore Campsite

The Glenmore campsite truly is an enchanting place. Open all year round, this campsite is located right in the centre of the Cairngorms. You’ll have access to stunning beaches, as well as breath-taking surroundings. It is very close to the Caledonian Pinewood Forest which is one of the few ancient forests still remaining.

In the summer you can enjoy spectacular walking routes, while in the winter there are great skiing opportunities. There are also plenty of activities available for the more active traveller with water sports being especially popular. Showers and toilets are available at the campsite and dogs are also welcome.

Prices start from as little as £5 per night, though again it will depend upon what time of year you’re visiting and the type of pitch you want.

Cobleland Campsite, Lomond and Trossachs National Park

Another campsite you might want to head to is Cobleland. Located right on the grassy banks of the River Forth, this campsite features beautiful oak trees. It provides you with the ultimate secluded wilderness experience. If you like being at one with nature then this is definitely the campsite for you.

The area is made up of woodland, lakes, mountains and lochs. There’s plenty of local wildlife you can potentially spot too. In the warmer months it’s a great idea to take advantage of the great walking routes around the park. If you’re travelling with the children, there are also a few great spots where you could teach them to fish. The great thing about this campsite is the fact it’s only 20 minutes away from Aberfoyle Village. Here you’ll find plenty of shops with everything you need.

These are just three of the best places to head to if you’re looking to enjoy forest style camping. Scotland truly is one of the most beautiful places you can visit; particularly in the summer months. Why not hire a campervan and set off on a beautiful Scottish adventure?