It’s a dream for many people to see Puffins in Scotland. The comical, stocky little birds with their colourful beaks and brightly coloured feet adorn postcards and calendars in homes and gift shops across the country. They are popular birds, but they aren’t easy to see and people often come to Scotland hoping to see them and leave disappointed. That’s why it’s important to do a little forward planning. The Isle of May boat trips, which leave from Anstruther in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, are the perfect way to see puffins in Scotland, and not only see, but see up close.
If you take an Isle of May Boat Trip at the right time, you will see puffins, how can you not? There are 120,000 of them on the island during breeding season!
Interested in booking a trip? Want to know the best time to visit and how likely you are to see them? Need to know how to book? Read on...
Updated April 2018
We all know how difficult it is to please kids all the time. Where we are gobsmacked by the stunning Scottish mountains, lochs and forest, kids will probably be less impressed.
Having a teenager myself I know how impossible it is to get them to even lift their heads up from their phones and computers. What they need is to get out and get some fresh air and exercise. Easier said than done you might say. Well yes, I don’t recommend taking them anywhere without a phone signal (what a disaster that would be – queue Kevin and Perry style huffing and puffing), at least not for any longer than a couple of days. But if you are looking for things to do with kids in Scotland I have come up with some ideas. Through a lot of experimenting I have come up with the following list of things or activities you can try out with your little bundles of joys, and you never know, you might even get a glimpse of that smile you haven’t seen since they were 11.
Remember, any activity you do has to be cool! Even though they might surprise themselves and actually have fun, what they are really thinking is 'how cool would this photo be on Instagram?', or how cool will my pals think I am when I tell them what I’ve been doing (also good bargaining tools – think how good the photos would be on your Instagram son).
1. Canoeing or Kayaking
There are canoe hire shops almost anywhere near a stretch of water. 90% of Scots live within 10 miles of a canoeing site so it should be easy to find somewhere. Get them in a wetsuit or buoyancy jacket and out into the water, especially somewhere stunning (photos!). It’s surprisingly easy if it’s a nice calm day and they should be pleased they managed to do it successfully. This was a good one for us and now we do it quite regularly. Elie Watersports in Fife hire out canoes and wetsuits, or you can have a go on a banana boat or paddle boat, or have a lesson windsurfing or sailing. NaeLimits near Grandtully in Perthshire also has loads of activities water based and land based from the easy to the build up one’s courage type of activity like cliff jumping and canyoning(!) For kayaking you could try Splash Rafting, as well as kayaking they could try river bugging, canyoning, abseiling and loads of other activities. Kayaking £50 for a half day including all equipment and wetsuit.
How to catch the Oban to Mull ferry and everything you need to know when you get there
The beautiful Isle of Mull lies just off the west coast of Scotland and is the second largest island in the Inner Hebrides. It's easy to fall in love with this island, you only need to get on the Oban to Mull ferry and gaze at the jagged peaks of the mountains of Mull to fall head over heels. The friendly locals, the delicious food and the whole relaxed and peaceful vibe will have you returning as often as possible.
In this article you will discover
-How to get to Oban
- All about the Oban ferry terminal
- How to catch the ferry to Mull
- Mull accommodation
- Mull restaurants and cafes
- Things to do on the Isle of Mull
Are you planning to visit Aviemore and the Cairngorms on your trip to Scotland? There is more to the area than skiing, although the skiing is pretty fantastic I admit. If you are looking for things to do in Aviemore and the surrounding Cairngorm National Park then look no further. This extensive list will help you plan all your adventures and give you plenty of choices to add to your Scottish Travel Itinerary.
The Cairngorms is home to four out of five of the UK’s highest mountains. It’s also the UK’s largest national park. During the summer months the area is a mecca for outdoor sports with 1750 square miles to explore. Whether you prefer a hike, a cycle, horse riding or canoeing anything is possible in this stunning part of the Scottish Highlands. If you are still looking to book accommodation Aviemore is the ideal town to base yourself in. At the foot of the famous Cairngorm mountain itself, surrounded by mystical lochs (60 of them!), ancient forests and breathtaking scenery it’s a town containing everything you need. There are independent shops, a supermarket, lovely little cafes and a massive range of accommodation of all types.
I’ve put this blog into my Perthshire section as the road I take to get there goes through Perthshire (the A9) but the Cairngorms are so huge the boundaries actually stretch into Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus and the Highlands.
The most obvious activity to do in the Cairngorm Mountain Range is of course skiing and here there are over 30km of ski runs on the Cairngorm mountain to keep you busy. If you prefer to snowboard there is a snowboarding fun park too. You can hire equipment, take a class at the ski school or go cross country in the forest below.
The Cairngorms Mountain Range isn’t the only ski centre in the Cairngorms, there is also Glenshee which is home to one of the most challenging black runs available - The Tiger or The Lecht which is brilliant for beginners and families with lots of nursery slopes and lots of jumps and runs for skiers and snowboarders.
Sir David Attenburgh once said Rothiemurchus was one of the glories of wild Scotland and his is definitely an opinion I’d trust. It’s a place where you could easily spend the day, if not longer, exploring. If you are looking for things to do in Aviemore and have the whole day this one is for you. Beautiful scenery, walks, wildlife and a massive range of activities such as Segway, archery, pony trekking and fishing. The jewel in the crown of Rothiemurchus is the incredible Loch An Eilein. Take a leisurely walk around the Loch and take in the Highland Castle on the island. Look out for an abundance of wildlife such as Ospreys, Otters, Roe deer and Pine Martins. You can take a photography tour or head to the hides with Speyside Wildlife for a close up look.
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
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
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 your Scotland Itinerary 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?
**Updated November 2018**
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.
Open daily from 10am-4.30pm, entry £3 per person, up to £12 per family.
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.
Open April-September 10am-5.30pm, October to March 10am-4pm, free entry
10 Cathedral Street, Dunkeld, PH8 0AW