I love showcasing accommodation in Fife and indeed Scotland, I love helping my readers to find their perfect place to stay. Although I tend to end up in quirky glamping spots I do like to ramp it up with a stay in a luxury hotel in Scotland once in a while, everybody loves to be pampered after all. Scotland does luxury well! This weekend I was invited along to check out the multi million pound renovation of the stunning Fairmont near St Andrews, spend the night and enjoy their Savoy Afternoon tea.
Situated three miles east of St Andrews the Fairmont Hotel sits in 512 acres of beautifully manicured land. Two championship eighteen hole golf courses, The Torrance and The Kittocks, hug the coastline surrounding the hotel with panoramic views of St Andrews and the Fife Coastal Path.
As a Scottish travel blogger I get asked a lot about where to visit in Scotland from people who are just beginning to plan their trip. They have an idea of a couple of places but want to know where to go to see the locations they see on TV and in magazines such as the vast lochs, the mighty mountains and the cute colourful villages. Often people who visit will take a day trip in Scotland, or several, from their base in one of the cities which is a great idea. It means of course that you can settle into your accommodation knowing you won't be moving for a while. A good idea is to spend a few days in one city, exploring and taking day trips to nearby sights and attractions then moving to another city in another area and doing the same. This A-Z of places to take a day trip in Scotland are some of my favourites. I've included some possible bases where you could stay while taking day trips, mostly cities and towns which have all the amenities you will need including shops to buy food, pubs, restaurants and petrol stations.
This island in the Firth of Clyde is nicknamed Scotland in minuture. As it crosses the highland boundary line the north of the island is dramatic and awe inspiring not disimilar to the mountain ranges in the highlands. The south is filled with lush green fields, cute villages and beautiful beaches. If your short on time while your visiting Scotland but want to head to an island this one is a good bet. You can catch a train from Glasgow which takes just over an hour, arrive in Adrossan and hop on a ferry to Brodick on Arran. The ferry takes 55 minutes. Even if you have all the time in the world I’d still highly recommend Arran, it’s my favourite so far.
Possible bases - Glasgow, Largs, Ayr
B Ben Nevis
Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, can be found not far from the town of Fort William and stands at an impressive 1346 metres high. One to tick off your bucket list if you're feeling energetic or jump on the Gondola on the nearby Aonach Mor for breathtaking views over the Nevis Range and the Scottish highlands.
Possible bases - Fort William
The Cairngorms national park is a haven for winter sports but the summer is also a great time to stick on your hiking boots and explore. You can take a guided hike to discover the arctic fauna on the mountain trails, paddle board or canoe the River Spey or visit one of the five whisky distilleries. If you are lucky you can spot wildlife such as wildcats, ospreys and mountain hares. The pretty town of Aviemore is the perfect base to explore this stunning mountain range.
Possible bases - Aviemore, Pitlochry, Newtonmore
This historic city is a hub of design and creative talent. With a brand new £1 billion redesign of the waterfront taking shape and the highly inticipated new V+A Museum of Design opening in 2018 this city is becoming a top destination, in fact it’s recently been ranked number 5 in the Wall Street Journal’s “Worldwide Hot Destinations In 2018”. Once the home to “jute, jam and journalism” the city is now the country’s first UNESCO City of Design.
Possible bases - Dundee itself, Fife, Perth
A beautifully cute sea view cottage on the Fife Coastal Path
I adore everything about the East Neuk of Fife, luckily I get to visit often as I live close by. The white washed houses, slotted in between the colourful ones in bright blues, oranges and pinks are cute as a button. They line the harbour front where fishing boats bob gently in the water and the seabirds fly overhead hoping for a bite to eat. The little wonky lanes that head uphill to the small Main Street are home to artists, craftsmen and holiday homes. Up on the Main Street are some lovely cafes which have excellent reputations amongst the locals and I find the locals always know best when it comes to food and where to eat. The East Neuk is an area of Fife that is hugely popular with Scottish families and couples who want a weekend away but is often overlooked by the international visitor who will land in Edinburgh or Glasgow and head up north to the Highlands. I can’t recommend this area enough. Pittenweem and also the surrounding fishing villages of Anstruther, St Monans, Elie and Crail should definitely be added into your Scotland itinerary, just look at the photos!
Planning your Scotland itinerary is an exciting time, researching builds the anticipation. Deciding where to go, which castles you want to explore, what lochs you want to see, which mountains you want to climb (or look at!). It’s a fun task and the perfect excuse you get your travel party together with a nice bottle of wine and a big notepad. Perhaps you've been dreaming about this trip for years. Maybe you have been tracing your ancestors in Scotland and you’ve discovered you have some Scottish blood. So you've decided to take the plunge and book a vacation. But where on earth do you start? This guide will help make the process easier, guiding you through the vital steps to make sure your holiday runs smoothly and you have the time of your life.
In this article, while planning your Scotland itinerary, you will research
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A wee note before we begin. I’m old school and love to write things down on a paper with a pen. I know, weird. I spend so long on computers and phones for my blog that when I get the chance to be creative with pens and paper I grab it. All of the below can of course be done on the computer, in word documents and on google maps if you’d prefer. I like it on paper so I can keep it all in a pretty folder , then when I get back I can add postcards, leaflets and photos so I have a nice folder filled with memories of my trip. I've attached a file at the foot of this blog which you can print out to help you plan.
The farm shops in Fife have it easy. The Kingdom of Fife’s vast coastline and fertile farmland means there is ample supply of locally produced food and drink. The long and glorious rugged coastline and the waters of the Firth of Forth and the North Sea supply fresh prawns, lobster, crabs, razor fish, clams and langoustine which are used in restaurants across the region as well as Michelin star restaurants and five star hotels. There are whisky and gin distilleries such as Eden Mill, Kingsbarn Distillery and Lindores Abbey who use fresh local water supplies to make their award winning drinks. There is also a cheese makers, bakeries, butchers, a buffalo farm, sauce makers, jam makers, chutney makers and even a Chilli Farm. Fife’s Farm shops certainly don’t have a struggle finding top class produce to line their shelves and luckily for the customers we can go to these farm shops and fill our baskets knowing we are supporting the local economy and also getting a pretty damn fine selection of goodies too. These four farm shops in Fife do it brilliantly well.
I love that each of these farm shops support local producers by stocking their products and promoting them in their shops. I love that each of the owners are passionate about the food they sell and about their business. Of course I also love that I can go to one place and get everything I need and it doesn’t involve a multi story car park, a tonne of unnecessary plastic and an abundance of processed junk food.
Nothing beats opening the doors to these farm shops, smelling the fresh handmade breads, picking up your wicker basket, selecting your colourful veg (which are sometimes wonky and always mouthwatering because unlike supermarkets this amazing veg doesn’t have to be perfectly uniform in size and shape), filling your paper bag, browsing the meat counters, tasting the cheese, selecting the perfect wine. It’s a misconception that these farm shops are expensive. Sure, there are some items which are expensive, but you are paying for quality and the knowledge that the best ingredients were used. There are definitely bargains to be had though, I always buy my fruit and veg here, where else can you get 8 massive, fresh from the ground, carrots for £1?
These four farm shops in Fife below are all fantastic. Have you visited any? What did you think? Love them as much as I do?
Looking for things to do in Perthshire?
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Perthshire has so many attractions - castles, walks, mountains; I could go on and on...
Over the years, during family holidays and while travelling the region for my Scottish travel blog I've fallen head over heels in love with the area so I thought I'd write one huge post, detailing all the things to do in Perthshire, to help you while you are planning your itinerary. I'm sure, once you are there, among the rolling hills, standing on top of a mountain or by a loch watching the sunset you will love it just as much as me. I've split the list into parts, so each covers a main village or town and the surrounding area.
Things to do in Dunkeld
The Beatrix Potter Exhibition
Long summers spent in Birnum and Dunkeld provided Beatrix Potter with the inspiration for her tales of Peter Rabbit, Jeremy Fisher and Mrs Tiggy Winkle and in this delightful centre you can learn all about her upbringing while the kids put on puppet shows, experience a Victorian classroom and find the characters hidden in the gardens.
10 Station Road, Birnum, Dunkeld PH8 0DS
A grand and beautiful Cathedral said to hold the relics of St Columba after they were removed from Iona during the Viking raids, half is now owned by Historic Enviroment Scotland whilst the Church is still in use today. It’s easy to see why this is known as the most romantic Cathedral in Scotland, the gothic architecture and the ruined nature of the older half, with its ground now layered with grass is extremely atmospheric.
10 Cathedral Street, Dunkeld, PH8 0AW
The Isle of Skye is probably Scotland's most popularisland and for good reason, it's a stunningly beautiful island with a long and fascinating history. The largest island in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, has a romantic and mystical reputation too with fairies and giants believed to be roaming the hills and glens. The famous Skye Boat Song, which tells the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie's escape to Skye after the Battle of Culloden, help to invoke a longing in travelers from every corner of the world. It's an island at the very top of many Scottish bucket lists but what exactly do you do when you get there? Read on to discover my top things to do in Skye.
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The Cuillin Mountain Range
The Black Cuillins consist of 11 munros (mountains over 3000 feet) and 16 other summits. Not for the faint hearted these mighty hills should only be attempted by the experienced or under the guidance of a qualified instructor. In the centre of the island, they are a spectacular sight being both dark and dramatically shaped with sharp peaks and steep drops. If mountain climbing is your thing this range will test you and give you a thrill like no other (I'm told, as I wouldn't dream of it!)
The Red Cuillins on the other hand are far gentler and therefore far more popular. Whereas The Black Cuillins is an alpine mountain range and not suitable for hill walking the Red Cuillins can be hiked if you know what your doing. I highly recommend hiring a local guide who will make sure you have a fantastic day and will keep you safe in the hills.
Finding accommodation for your NC500 road trip is easy, if you plan ahead. The route is popular and North Coast 500 accommodation fills up fast so booking well in advance will mean you can get the hotel/campsite/B+B you want.
No matter what your budget is there is accommodation to suit you. There are luxury hotels, basic hostels, top notch B+B’s, guest houses and campsites with beautiful views. It’s worth gathering your group together and sitting down with a pen and paper. Write down everybody’s top priorities. Does it need to be accessible? Pet friendly? Write down exactly what you want. Read reviews too to make sure people enjoy staying there. It’s fun finding accommodation, there is so much to choose from.
When I was planning my accommodation I was looking for something a little different, I prefer something quirky but no matter what your taste and budget is the best way to begin planning is with a map. If you are beginning at the start point in Inverness judge how long you want to be driving each day. If you have towns/villages/areas already in mind then use google maps to give you the time to each. If you think you’ll manage to drive that distance then you can go ahead and begin to look at accommodation. If you don’t have any preferences you can have a look at my suggestions here.
Then the fun begins
Are you planning to visit Scotland and looking for some inspiration? As well as my Scottish travel blog ?How about watching some of the best films about Scotland? This list of movies will have your booking your trip before you can say "Take me to the mountain". Whether it's a movie set in Scotland, a Scottish historical romance or movies about those Scottish Highlanders this list has something for everyone. It's also a list of films I'd like to add to so if I'm missing out your favourite please let me know in the comments below so i can add it on. I'm always looking for good films about Scotland or ones which use Scottish filming locations, the film industry here is booming at the moment and with news of new film studios in the pipeline I'm excited to watch this list grow.
This post contains some affiliated links, meaning i get a little cut if you click on the movies below and decide to purchase. Just click the photo if you fancy some Scottish inspiration.
Shakespeare’s tale of murder, guilt, witches and tyranny hardly shows of the most beautiful side of Scotland but it’s a well known story and definitely one of watch. I particularly like the 2015 version with Michael Fassbender playing a rather dishy Macbeth. Receiving a prophecy from three witches that one day he will become the King of Scotland, he is consumed by ambition, kills the king and spirals into madness. Filming took place across the UK and the Isle of Skye appears regularly.
The Village of Falkland in Fife, Scotland, was used several times as an Outlander filming location and it's easy to see why when you visit. The traditional stone cottages that line the streets were built in the 17th and 18th century and there are 28 listed buildings including the impressive renaissance Falkland Palace. The door frames of the cottages are small which is typical of the era, there are original marriage lints above several of the doors and some of the cottages even have thatched roofs. The winding cobbled lanes, colourful hanging baskets and quirky artistic touches make Falkland a popular day trip for locals.
Filming for season one began in October 2013 and Falkland was used as Inverness in 1946. The real Inverness was not suitable as the buildings and roads are now modern and not exactly the look they were going for!
Much of the filming concentrated on the main Square. Claire and Frank spent their second honeymoon in Mrs Baird's B+B after returning from the war. The Covenanter's Hotel was used as the B+B and the team didn't have to change much so you will instantly recognise the building. the black window frames were painted a mustard yellow and the white lost outside the front door were painted a matt black.
In the centre of the village you will find the Bruce fountain and you won't be the first to recreate the scene where Jamie's ghost looks up at Claire in the window. Again not much was changed except the horse statues on each corner which are usually red were changed to black using what looked like a black rubber covering.