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Favorite off-the-beaten-path location?

Hi, got some great feedback on booking reservations. Now I'd love to hear from you about places in Scotland that might not get the big write-ups in the travel books and forums. Someplace you loved. Maybe it's a town or wind-swept moor or an out-of-the-way pub, a restaurant with great local food or an artist's or craft shop. A favorite castle or ancient site. Or a small market or working farm. Some place special to you. Thanks!! Courtenay

Posted by
36 posts

Hi Courtenay,

Lots of special places! I lived and studied in Edinburgh for a year and was able to experience a good portion of the country. Here's what I remember as highlights, which are not all "off-the-beaten-path" - remember, some things are "tourist-y" for a reason :)

I have very fond memories of a trip to Oban (Western sea-side town) with the most gorgeous sunset I've ever seen. Great fish and chips in newspaper. Most people use this as a jumping off point for cruises to the Hebrides, but I loved the town itself. Nice cafes along the sea for a cuppa.

Putt-putt golf (called the "Himalayas") at St. Andrews - definitely not "off-the-beaten-path," ha! - but I never thought I'd be able to play golf at St. Andrews :)

Wandering past Arthur's Seat (a nice hike in Edinburgh) for walks around the city.

Exploring cemeteries (in the day-time) in every city/township/hamlet I visited.

Highlands in the spring-time to see baby sheep and baby highland "coos." I was able to visit friends in this area, so I'm not sure of great places with hotels, etc! But just driving through, you're bound to come across them.

Happy travels!

Cheers,
Ashlee

Posted by
5563 posts

The road along the sea from Lochinver to Newton is absolutely amazing. It's like it grows out of the earth. And no one is there!

Culbin Sands is very near to Inverness, but most tourists don't know about it. They go to Nairn and walk on the beach there. At Culbin, you walk out through the forest, and then over the main dune and there you are on the Moray Firth with birds, otters and more.

Glen Lyon is a well known glen in Perthshire, but I rarely hear it mentioned. It's beautiful, with a dam at the far end, so one upon a time it was longer. There is a art gallery part way down. And there are lovely little walks.

Balquhidder, is where Rob Roy MacGreggor is buried and many people make it to the grave site, but I only ran into one man with his dog when I drove out to the end of the Glen. There is a high end hotel half way out. There are trails out there that I've not explored.

Hermitage Castle and the Debatable Lands are fascinating stark reminders of what it was like to live in the Borders in the 15th through early 17th century. The museum in Hexham tells the tale as does Fraser's book Steel Bonnets.

Stathnaver in Sutherland is beautiful and tells its silent story of the clearances. Actually, if you drive along the top of Scotland, you won't see many people and will see amazing countryside.

Georgian House in Edinburgh. Well, the maybe not totally off the beaten path, but definitely, not on the main trail is The Georgian House in New Town. People get wrapped up in the Royal Mile and don't make it over to New Town. I love the Georgian House and the story that it tells about New Town. And as long as you have deserted the Royal Mile, why not go further afield and visit the Royal Botanic Gardens. They are well worth a visit and are far away from the Tartan Tat of the Old Town.

Ullapool Hills. This is one of my favorite walks. Ullapool itself is nice ferry port with good music and a bookstore! The walk is above town and gives spectacular views of Loch Broome and the Summer Isles.

I could keep going, but I'll give someone else a shot.

Pam

Posted by
312 posts

Summer 2010 I spent a short weekend in Stonehaven. It's on bucket list for a return visit. Dunnottar Castle is walking distance, if you don't mind the distance (little over 2 mi) but also don't have walking troubles as I did that trip, so I only saw it from afar. The seaside air was so good for dealing with a cold I caught on the trip. I had a wonderful sandwich and strawberry tart (looked delicious and tasted as good as it looked!) from Robertson Bakers and great fish/chips/mushy peas (I like mushy peas) from The Bay Fish & Chips. I didn't bring a suit, but if you go in the summer, you can try http://www.stonehavenopenairpool.co.uk (warmed sea water). Stonehaven has its own highland games, too, http://stonehavenhighlandgames.com (third weekend of July for 2015) and a very interesting New Years Eve tradition (also on my bucket list) with the fireball parade, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsskF3u-QoM

I really liked Stonehaven. I want a second visit to enjoy a longer stay.

Posted by
1292 posts

Often the best bits are not that far off the beaten path, but not that well known. The Crannog on Loch Tay is an example, I second Stonehaven and the coast between Dundee and Aberdeen.

Another I like is the Cowal peninsular in Argyll. Because the main route to the islands bypasses it it can feel quite remote.

Posted by
3418 posts

The area around Aviemore. Beautiful, wild, lovely. And the Cairngorm Hotel and it's restaurant!!

Posted by
453 posts

A small spot, great food, friendly service, off the beaten path a bit is the Brig O Turk Tea Room in Brig O Turk. Its a couple of miles off of A84 on route A821 near Callander. If you are in the Callander area this spot is worth a drive off the main road a bit! I also would recommend the Fairy Glen near Uig for a couple of hours of unique hiking, clearly you need to inlcude the Fairy Glen with a trip to Quiraing if you can get to the Isle of Skye, both spots are truely magical. And if they have a band playing the Old Inn at Carbost on the Isle of Skye is cool local hangout, music there is a must!

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks all. These are just the types of suggestions I was hoping for. I'll plot these on a map and put them in my travel packet. I've got a raft of info docs in Dropbox. C

Posted by
266 posts

I heartily second Stonehaven as a great place for coastal walking, castle seeking and fish& chips eating. The area around The Crannog Center is very educational along the Loch Tay in Kenmore. I'd have to say the drive to Talisker, above Talisker Distillery is so beautiful with the snowcapped Cuillen Mountains against the windswept plains, it just took our breath away.

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552 posts

I really enjoyed the drive out to Applecross. It's spectacular. A long slow drive up, then a sudden drop down the other side with switchback turns. Not for the faint-hearted. Also, Glenbleg Brochs was an interesting old iron age fort to explore. I had the place to myself, and the drive was stunning. It was a side trip on the way down from Portree. I also really enjoyed Oban, and the Island of Mull.

Posted by
1829 posts

Lauder's Bar at 76 Sauchiehall St.. Glasgow. Neeps and tatties or fish and chips and a glass of your choice of beer or a dram.

Posted by
5563 posts

Anita is right about Applecross. It is amazing. I saw it in the rain (and it was not a soft day, it was pouring down rain day) and it was still amazing. The mountains were bleeding water everywhere!

Posted by
266 posts

Either way to Applecross is amazing. We had fog and rain the entire day from Gairloch to Applecross then over to Lochcarron. Hope to do it again soon.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks! I've been using Google maps and starring all these places in a saved map. I know we'll end up at some. And I'm sure we wouldn't have found many of them without your recommendations. Hope others are enjoying these recommendations as much as we are. Courtenay

Posted by
5563 posts

If you are looking to buy a woolen sweater, the shop at Cawdor Castle sells them, but watch to make sure you get one from Scotland and not Peru.

But, off the Beaten Path, there is a wonderful shop in Beauly, Campbell & Company. They have walls of sweaters--jumpers and cardigans--and lovely old Scottish ladies to help you. The cardigan I got there was one of three sweaters that did not go into storage while I search for a new job. :)

Pam

Posted by
4998 posts

Hi Courtenay-I saw your other post about winging-it and I wonder, after your first 11 days, will you traveling by car or motorcycle (or even by air or boat)?

If you make it to the isle of Skye, by road, you can reach it quickly by bridge, or by the popular Cal-Mac ferry, or by a unique, smaller ferry at Glenelg. Actually, we used the smaller ferry to get from Skye back to mainland Scotland, and a couple miles past the Glenelg landing point stood the impressive remains of two Iron Age brochs. Together, that made for a very special experience.

Posted by
244 posts

You might want to look at the website Secret Scotland here. They have many driving itineraries. I purchased some for our trip in the fall.

Posted by
4998 posts

Good suggestion, pfresh3. There's also Undiscovered Scotland (well, once something's on the Internet it's no longer truly secret nor undiscovered, but still, also check out www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk .

Posted by
17 posts

You're all giving me such great suggestions and this trip is taking shape. We spent the afternoon figuring out when we'd be on Mainland, Orkney, and have emails out for a B&B near Kirkwall and one in Gills Bay, so we can take the ferry first thing in the morning. We'll spend 3 nights on Orkney and I know this won't be enough time to see and do all we'd like.

Undiscovered Scotland is a great site, as are the others. Pam, we'll probably make it to Beauty. Can't resist the sweaters and fabrics. Years ago I was a weaver and spinner and still find a strong connection to fabric and fiber. And, have you noticed that it's become more difficult to find nice wool sweaters? I haunt the secondhand shops for them.

No motorcycles on this trip, but planes, trains, boats and automobiles. Applecross calls me after these glowing descriptions.
Here's to travel and wandering adventures and meeting new friends. Courtenay

Posted by
17 posts

You're all giving me such great suggestions and this trip is taking shape. We spent the afternoon figuring out when we'd be on Mainland, Orkney, and have emails out for a B&B near Kirkwall and one in Gills Bay, so we can take the Pentland ferry first thing in the morning. We'll spend 3 nights on Orkney and I know this won't be enough time to see and do all we'd like.

Undiscovered Scotland is a great site, as are the others. Pam, we'll probably make it to Beauty. Can't resist the sweaters and fabrics. Years ago I was a weaver and spinner and still find a strong connection to fabric and fiber. And, have you noticed that it's become more difficult to find nice wool sweaters? I haunt the secondhand shops for them.

No motorcycles on this trip, but planes, trains, boats and automobiles. Applecross calls me after these glowing descriptions.
Here's to travel and wandering adventures and meeting new friends. Courtenay