Take it slow and steady and savour every-single-moment in stunning Scotland, a mythical land of open spaces, tranquil lochs and those famous Highlands – all ripe for a Scottish adventure.
Scotland is best travelled slow and steady.
Ditching the check-list and taking your time across the Scottish Islands not only gives you the chance to soak in the sights of the land – and believe us, there are too many to mention – but it also plunges you deeper into the local community where you can connect with locals and learn about their culture with a pint at the local pub or a coffee at the harbourside cafe.
What’s more, travelling slowly through Scotland and truly immersing yourself in the landscape is just a more sustainable way to “do” travel. Scotland is absolutely brimming with tons of incredible outdoor adventures with your name on it, and it’s better for the communities that call this paradise home – not to mention the environment – if we travel responsibly to preserve this absolutely gorgeous pocket of the world.
Here are five ways you can do Scotland the right way: slow, steady and sustainable…
1. Cycle through the Highlands of the Lowlands
Ditch the car, throw on a pair of bike tights and cycle the majestic Highlands of the Lowlands on the 58-kilometre Big Country Route in Galloway Forest Park.
Thanks to its 250 lochs, seemingly unending forest, undulating hills of heather, and tranquil glens, locals fondly refer to this area as “Scotland in miniature.”
After a day of wonderful exertion on the saddle, rest up and stay the night at one of the five bothies located within the park on the shores of Loch Ken. Alternatively, slumber in one of the cool off-grid eco bothies which comes with its own kayak and a timber hot tub for soaking under the stars.
2. Learn how to forage like a pro in the Scottish Highlands
Speaking of the Highlands, get in touch with your inner hunter-gatherer, connect with the natural world, and forage for your supper with the friendly folks at Wildwood Bushcraft, where an experienced guide will teach you how to spot food amongst the foliage in the local area. Forage for edible plants, seafood and shellfish that you’ll use to create a naturally-sourced, nutritious and sustainable feast – including dessert – cooked over a campfire.
Over in the western Highlands, check out Bluebell Croft to learn about home smoking, fungi foraging and cooking using the family Aga.
3. Hike the Affric Kintail Way
For even more outdoor adventure, get off the beaten track and follow the Affric Kintail Way, which stretches all the way from Loch Ness to Loch Duich on the west coast of Scotland. It’s around 70km long, passing through some incredibly dramatic glens – such as the incomparable Glen Affric – as well as verdant pine forests and tranquil lochs, before finally reaching the sea via the peaks of Beinn Fhada and the Five Sisters of Kintail. But it’s oh so worth it. Immersing yourself in the geography of the land and taking it slow – literally one step at a time – is the best way to unravel the landscape in this part of Scotland. If you’d rather tackle the trail in sections, you can. Visit www.affrickintailway.com.
4. Take a Cruise down the Caledonian Canal
Slow travel doesn’t necessarily involve you breaking a sweat or combing the wilderness to source your supper.
Slow travel is also about relaxing and taking it easy, such as jumping aboard a traditional barge and cruising down the peaceful waters of the Caledonian Canal.
Sit back and just soak in the passing scenery floating by – the glistening lochs, the moody mountains, the charming scenes of local village life – before sailing into Scotland’s majestic Great Glen. Once there, you can either stay on the vessel or jump into a kayak, saddle up on a bike or simply walk around the trails that skirt the loch, again one step at a time (it’s the best way).
5. Experience a spa on wheels
Finally, as we mentioned above, slow travel can also be uber-relaxing. And nothing soothes the body (and the soul) quite like a spa treatment. But this is Scotland, and things are a little different here.
If you’ve never had a spa treatment on a train before, then you can tick that experience off your bucket-list onboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman, a luxury train that meanders across the Scottish Highlands. Whatever you’re into – facials, massages, manicures – you’ll be able to indulge in it whilst the train, made from sustainable wood, lulls you into a deeper level of relaxation. Oh, and the treatment rooms where you’ll be receiving these 1-hour (or more) spa treatments? They offer amazing views of the gorgeous Scottish landscape, so you can watch it all pass by whilst in pure bliss.
So what are you waiting for?
Scotland is committed to responsible tourism – see here. Come and experience slow travel in Scotland when the time is right.
Win! Win! Win!
Want to win one of five prize packs worth $150?
Then tell us in 25 words or less what crowns your Scottish to-do list and you’ll go in the running to receive a $100 Coles Myer Gift Card plus the beautiful cookbook Aran: Recipes and Stories from a Bakery in the Heart of Scotland by Great British Bake Off alum Flora Shedden.
Thanks to Visit Scotland, in association with Karryon, you can score these sweet prizes by simply telling us what sits at the top of your Scottish bucket list. It’s THAT simple!
But hurry, as the competition runs from 21 March to 16 April.
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