I love finding hidden gems in Scotland and am often asked about where to find them in areas that tourists are visiting. Tourists visit Scotland with an itinerary which often includes the Isle of Skye, the Highlands, Edinburgh and Inverness and I love to encourage them to explore Scotland away from the usual tourist trail. Places that are rarely talked about, rarely photographed, places that are off the beaten track and away from the usual "must sees". I thought I'd ask some of my favourite Scottish travel bloggers about their best hidden gems. These are the blogs I read to inspire my travels and these ladies really know their stuff.
The Highlands of Scotland is an area I will never tire of exploring. Visiting the Highlands always makes me happy. Sometimes you just want to escape your daily life and get away from it all and travelling to the Highlands certainly does that for me. When I unexpectedly found three days free to explore the area I was over the moon.
With my planned trip up Ben Nevis put on hold for a few months I now had three empty days, as I had already booked the Invercoe Highland Holidays Campsite. As much as I say I want to relax it's impossible for me to visit a new area and not want to squeeze in as much as possible, so I got out my map and built myself a pretty exciting itinerary.
I could make this one really quick,
Follow the path and soak up the views.
Walks in Scotland don't come much better than the Fife Coastal Path and this section from Lower Largo to St Monans is my favourite part so far. 9.5 miles of stunning beaches, cute villages and panoramic vistas. It should take between 3-4 hours but you will want to stop off and explore so many times you could easily make a full day of it. You can read about the other sections that I've completed in the Fife Coastal Path section of the blog.
I finally got to an Outlander Gathering! And what a weekend!
Women (and a few brave and crazy men) from every corner of the globe descended on the Highland town of Aviemore for which is essentially a great big party. The Outlandish UK admins who planned this year's event need a huge pat on the back because I can't even imagine how much organisation it would take to pull off such a brilliant weekend. There were so many different elements and each was flawlessly executed. Every element was thought about, every potential problem was solved before it even happened and every attendee was looked after and made to feel welcome, including me, who knew a grand total of about three people there.
The intriguing and impressive story behind the formation of Dunfermline as we know it today is not something I knew a lot about, so when the new Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries opened last week it was the perfect opportunity to find out exactly what secrets this beautiful town holds. I began with a whistle stop tour of the impressive Heritage Quarter with Jack Pryde from Discover Dunfermline tours whose passion and knowledge for the town was infectious.
Read more at Welcome to Fife
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.