If you've been doing research about Scotland you'll have no doubt heard about the notorious wee beastie that goes by the name of "Midge". Conversation usually goes something like "those BLOODY midges were everywhere!" Or "I've been eaten ALIVE!!".
For those unprepared they can indeed be a complete pain and can easily ruin your holiday but fear not, a few simple rules should make your trip to Scotland beastie free and let your enjoy your trip without the need to turn into a mad man/woman, swinging tennis bats/hand bags/frying pans around your head like you are doing the time warp.
The Scottish Midge hates when the sun comes out, which is why so many are in Scotland I suppose 😂 What they do enjoy though is in the evening when they want to party! Even more so when you are situated near dense woodland or still water. If you are camping or sitting outside and one finds you they will bring their friends!
Callander is known as one of the gateways to the Highlands. On the edge of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park it's the ideal place for you to base yourself if you want to explore the park or further afield. You will find everything you need, including a supermarket so if your itinerary includes some more remote sights basing yourself here will ensure a lovely meal in one of the many restaurants and the ability to nip out and grab a bar of chocolate when you fancy. Id never visited Callander before but I'd heard many people talk of staying there so I was happy last week when I was finally able to see it for myself. Myself, Taylor and my wee pup stayed at Loch Earn Leisure Park, about half an hour further north, on the banks of Loch Earn but spent a lot of time in this lovely town as there is plenty to see. Overlooked by the Callander Crags, part of the Highland boundary fault, and the mighty Ben Ledi it has a stunning backdrop too.
Callander has an amazing range of small and quirky independent shops and cafes, all housed in beautiful historic buildings. I loved walking down the Main Street and felt the urge to explore inside almost every shop, the window displays certainly draw you in.
So Spring has arrived and it is time to take those first steps outside into the fresh air. You may need to shield your eyes, that blinding yellow ball of light in the sky is starting to appear on a regular basis. It may not be bikini weather but the days are getting longer, the colourful spring flowers are beginning to bloom and there is never a better time to start enjoying long walks around this beautiful Kingdom. Fife has some gorgeous walks, taking in castles, rivers, parks and forests, not to mention 117 miles of picturesque coastal path, so grab the kids and the dog, stick on your boots and venture outdoors.
Read more at Welcome to Fife
Castles have always fascinated me and being a Scottish travel blogger I visit a lot! I love wandering through the tunnels, climbing the spiral staircases, looking for engravings on the walls, imagining the stories and the lives of the inhabitants who once graced the great halls, the kitchens, the gardens. I love imagining what the rooms once looked like, the brightly coloured tapestries hanging on the walls, the dark furniture, the smokey kitchens.
Fife has many castles dotted around, some are romantic ruins, some are almost in one piece. Some have recreated rooms to give you an idea of how they once looked, others you just have to use a little imagination...
Near the Milton of Balgonie and 2.2 miles east of Glenrothes in Fife Balgonie Castle is a quirky and unique place to visit. Now owned by the Laird of Balgonie, Raymond Stanley Morris and his son Stuart Morris of Balgonie, this castle has a long and rough history. Building began in the 14th century with the Sibbald family who built the main tower house and fortified courtyard and was added to over the years, like many Scottish castles, by the families who took over the castle. Sir Robert Lundie, Lord High Treasurer of Scotland added a two story building to the east of the main tower. Sir Alexander Leslie (who became Lord Balgonie and Earl of Leven), John Leslie (7th Earl of Rothes) and James Balfour, grandfather of Arthur Balfour who became prime minister in 1902 all owned and lived in the castle but it was the latter who was unable to save it from decay.
Years passed, the roofs were removed for tax purposes and the vandals got in and it wasn't until 1971 that restoration began. The current owners are painstakingly repairing the castle and the chapel and main tower are now complete. It was used in the filming of the first season of Outlander and also the film, The Fairy Flag. You can now visit the castle and have a tour and you can even get married there! The Laird himself is a gifted artist and his art work is present all around the castle, making it pretty unique. The passion of the owners to restore this beautiful castle to its former glory is inspiring to see.
Tucked away in the luscious countryside between North Berwick and Dundar in East Lothian, on a huge expanse of farming land with views to die for, sits Harvest Moon Holidays.
The long drive up the rocky, dusty track guaranteed one thing - this is a place to get away from it all. The wide open fields gave way to a tree lined trail though the forest and as we emerged we were rewarded with vast views of the Firth of Forth and out to the North Sea in all its dark and moody glory.
We were met by Craig, who took us to our rather quirky and unique accommodation for the night, the wooden treehouses, which are perched up the hill, overlooking the fields, forest and sand dunes.
Scotland is well connected. Large, modern and well equipped train stations are in all 7 cities and many of the towns and villages. There are two main lines – one which runs north to south down the west coast and one running north to south down the east coast. These are connected by a series of lines criss crossing Scotland, taking you through some stunning countryside.
Our last section of Scotland’s North Coast 500 took us from John o’ Groats back to Inverness. After spending the night in Bower we headed back up to Thurso where I’d heard rumours of a popular American themed cafe. The Blue Door Cafe and Diner is situated in the Thurso Bay Caravan and Camping park and is certainty not what you’d expect to find on the North Coast 500. Decorated fully in red, white and blue, the pretty painted chairs, bunting and homely decor are not garish and there’s a nod to its Scottish location which mixes nicely. I couldn’t resist a corn dog and my daughter’s eyes almost popped out her head at the sight of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup – a firm favourite.
City link cover all 7 cities and a good majority of the towns and villages.
With an extremely good website you can use the journey planner to plan, research the destinations and book and pay for your tickets. Your tickets can be emailed or texted to you or you can pick them up from bus depots across Scotland.
Some examples of prices – A single ticket from Edinburgh to Glasgow on a weekday will cost you £7.50. A single ticket from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye, changing in Inverness on a weekday will cost you £55.50. Citylink
I often get asked about the best way to travel in Scotland so I’ve wrote this guide to answer your questions and hopefully make the planning stage of your holiday a bit easier.
Scotland is very well connected. Trains connect all 7 cities as well as many of the towns and villages. Buses will take you to almost anywhere that the trains don’t reach. Ferries link you to the islands and you can hire cars in all of the major cities and towns. It’s easy to travel around Scotland – you just have to know how.
I recently spent a weekend at the Oban Winter Festival and had a fantastic time! Now in it’s sixth year it has grown from a reindeer parade and craft fair into a ten-day all singing-all dancing twinkling Christmassy extravaganza. The harbour town is a popular gateway to islands such as Mull, Colonsay and Barra but it’s also a pretty amazing wee town in it’s own right. It’s a town where it’s residents all know each other, everyone is on first name terms and you feel part of a community. It’s a nice feeling.
I can highly recommend getting up there and experiencing it for yourself the next time it’s on. Why? Here are my highlights…
Corran Halls Craft Fair
Stalls and stalls filled with homemade Christmas decorations, yummy cakes and tablet, photos of the incredible scenery, transformed into glass plaques and posters, calendars, big wooly scarves and beautiful wreaths. Not to mention lots of cheery residents up for a good chat. Lovely jubly.