Great Places in Scotland for Remote Holidays Without the Crowds

Cape Wrath Lighthouse. Picture by Cameron Swanson

With COVID-19 still lurking around, local holidays in Scotland are currently probably a better idea than going abroad. Scotland might not be as sunny as Spain or Italy but still has beautiful white-sand beaches. You don’t need to travel far to get to stunning remote places, far away from the city and any crowds that might eventually carry the Coronavirus.

Scottish islands are generally more vulnerable to the virus since they don’t have huge medical capabilities. Thus, here is a list of places that are on the mainland and don’t attract tons of people.


Ardnamurchan

The peninsula Ardnamurchan on the West Coast of Scotland is your address if you want to enjoy your holiday in wild, beautiful scenery. It takes about 3.5 hours to drive up there from Glasgow, so this spot is better to reach for any of you living in Fort William or Oban.

There are a few Airbnbs and hotels in the local villages where you can stay during your holiday. From there, you can visit Sanna beach for example. The water is blue like the Caribbean sea and eventually, you share the sand with a Highland cow.

If it’s rainy, you can take a day trip to the Ardnamurchan Distillery that produces excellent Single Malt Whisky and hopefully reopens soon for visitors.


Applecross Peninsula

Another beautiful spot in the North West of Scotland is Applecross. A bit further North, the region around the short row of houses is surrounded with spectacular mountains. You will most likely recognise the region for its famous pass, the Bealach na Bà. The road is known for its curvy shape and goes uphill to about 626 meters.

There are only a few Airbnbs and hotels in the area, so you might be best with a tent. But you will be rewarded with beautiful landscape, Munros and beautiful lochs such as Loch Hourn. Perfect for those who enjoy mountaineering and action.


Sands of Forvie

If you prefer a calm holiday at the beach with good chances of sun, then the Scottish East Coast is your address. If you look for accommodation there, try to find one that is close to the Sands of Forvie. They are the fifth largest sand dune system in Great Britain, so you can enjoy long walks along the white-sanded beaches with the sea to the one side and flora and fauna to the other.

Right next to the Sands of Forvie is the Balmedie Beach which is just above Aberdeen. With its flat sandy beach in front of long sand dunes, it is just as beautiful.


South Ayrshire

If you live in Glasgow, then the area of South Ayrshire is the closest for a beach escape. Chances for rain are a bit higher than on the East Coast, but that’s reflected in cheaper accommodation prices. The beaches of Troon and Ayr are probably the most well-known ones with their long sweeping stretches of sand. But also Croy Beach between Maiden and Dunure is great for a long walk in the sand.

South Ayrshire also offers lots of different castles such as the picturesque Culzean Castle on the coast or the Dean Castle Country Park in Kilmarnock. Unfortunately, both castles are closed for now but are still great for a day out to take pictures and walk around through the gardens.


Highland Perthshire

You love hiking but don’t want to drive up too far North and prefer staying in a wee village rather than a tent? Then Highland Perthshire might be ideal for you. You can look for accommodation in the beautiful towns of Pitlochry or Aberfeldy.

There, you are surrounded by dramatic mountains, lochs and ancient castles such as Balmoral or Blair Castle. Take a walk to the Queen’s view to look over Loch Tummel and the mountains around it.


Fife

The area of Fife in the East of Scotland is mostly known for St. Andrews but has much more to offer. Compared to the Highlands, the region is relatively flat, but isn’t as rainy and has landscape, beautiful fisher villages, coastline, landmarks and nature to offer.

It’s not too far away from Edinburgh or Glasgow, so perfect for a short weekend trip out of the cities.


Sutherland

If you want to make sure that you are definitely far away enough from any people, then you can drive all the way up to the top of Scotland. Even though Sutherland is a relatively huge region, it has only about 13 000 inhabitants. You are probably more likely to meet a sheep than a human being.

The dramatic scenery up there features magnificent landscape and beaches. One of them is Sandwood Bay. The beach lies in between high cliffs and has white sand and turquoise water for more than a mile. You will need to be good by food as there is no road access. But you will be rewarded with unspoilt, fabulous views.

Sutherland has a small number of Airbnbs and hotels, but it’s probably best if you bring your own tent to protect the remote area from contracting the virus.

Best Mountains To Climb In Scotland – The Buachaille

View of the Buachaille and the probably most photographed cottage in Scotland. Photo: Cameron Swanson

One of the most beautiful things in Scotland are the mountains that are spread all over the country, which makes for some fantastic scenery. The road through Glencoe is especially famous for its breath-taking views of the mountains.

This blog series will guide you through the best mountains in Scotland and how difficult they are to approach. There will be another series differentiating between mountains for beginners and more advanced, but this one will purely focus on the most beautiful mountains of Scotland.

Let’s start with the Buachaille, which you might recognise for the Lagangarbh cottage that is sitting right in front of it.


Where Is The Mountain And What Makes It So Special?

The actual name of the Buachaille is “Buachaille Etive Mòr” and is located at the head of the Glen Etive, which is right in the middle of the Highlands, close to Glencoe. The view of the mountain valley was featured in Skyfall when Bond takes M up to his family home, stopping on the A82 with the Buachaille on the left.

When there is no fog blocking the view of the mountain, you can see its beautiful pyramid shape. Especially with snow on the top, it’s spectacular to look at.


How Difficult Is The Mountain To Climb?

While you already get an incredible view if you just take a small walk off the road, you will probably get one of the best views of the Highlands from top of the Buachaille. Unfortunately, this mountain is not for beginners. If you don’t have any experience in hiking, then you should definitely not approach the climb without a guide, and maybe try an easier mountain first.

The peak is at 1110m, and you will need to go through some rough ground as well as climbing over several peaks before reaching the top. According to different reviews, it can take about a full day to climb, especially if sudden fog is developing.


What Is The Best Route?

There are two routes that lead to the top of the Buachaille. The one that starts from the street in the front of the mountain is quite steep and challenging, and only for very experienced mountaineers.

If you hike along the back, you can climb up a much smoother route that leads to the top. Check out the recommended route by walkhighlands:

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/buachailleetivemor.shtml


How Do You Get There?

There is only one road leading to the mountain, so it’s impossible to miss the Buachaille. Follow the A82, and once you pass the tiny lochs after Loch Tulla, watch out for either the Glencoe Mountain Resort or The Kingshouse Hotel. You can park your car there and start your hike.

If you want to go by public transport, you can take the bus that goes to Fort William or Skye and hop off at The Kingshouse.


Climbing the Buachaille involves some mountaineering skills, but will reward you with a spectacular view. Let us know about your experiences in the comment section below.

Places In Glasgow That Sell Good Bread

Photo by Bruno Thethe from Pexels

When you move to Scotland, you will discover sooner or later that it can be quite challenging to find a good loaf of bread. Baked goods in Scotland are usually the opposite of crunchy – scones or rolls are often very soft and need to be toasted first. While Edinburgh has quite a few different bakeries, there is not yet a single one in Glasgow city centre. If you don’t want to miss out on good bread, then here is a list of places where you can find relatively decent loafs in Glasgow.


Roots and Fruits, West End and Finnieston

If you miss the local farmer shops from home, then Roots and Fruits is probably the closest you can get in Glasgow. Most of the fruits are laying unpacked in wooden boxes and the store is full with lots of other Continental gems.

Most importantly, you can get lots of different loaves of bread there. They are a bit pricey, but you’ll find lots of different sourdoughs (including a rye one) and other breads that are worth the price. They are delivered by the Freedom Bakery which is a social enterprise that offers employment opportunities for former prisoners.


Locavore CIC, Southside

Another good alternative for farmer shops is Locavore CIC in the Southside. If you walk along Victoria Road you will find the shop that also has a small café inside. Right at the back, once you pass the seasonal food that is grown at different sites around Glasgow, you will find their selection of bread that is either from Different Breid or Freedom Bakery.

The shop is also a good choice if you want to refill your shampoo bottles, or stock up jars of dried goods. They have various fill-up stations for different goods and groceries.


Aldi and Lidl

Although it sounds unusual to include low budget supermarkets on a list of good bakeries, Aldi and Lidl are a good choice to buy standard rolls and bread if you want to live on a budget and don’t have one of the fancier local shops around the corner. Even the small Lidl close to Glasgow Central has different breads and rolls, including Kaisersemmel. Since Aldi has refurbished its store on High Street, it also offers a small bakery with all the basics you need.


Cottonrake Bakery, West End

You have the best chances for good bread if you live in the West End of Glasgow. It has probably the highest density of shops with Continental gems, including bread. For example, you will find excellent fresh bread at the Cottonrake Bakery. Every morning at 8am, they sell different whole, sourdough, and rye breads. And Croissants, Pain au Chocolats, Almond Croissants & Cinnamon Buns. You’re welcome.


Sweet Jane Bakehouse, Dennistoun

Good news for those who live in the East End: A new bakery called Sweet Jane opened in March on Duke Street. Unfortunately, it was only open for about one week before the Coronavirus Lockdown started. Luckily, you can still order all of its products online, including all sorts of bread.


Café- Bakehouse Singl-end, Merchant City

If you live in Glasgow city centre and don’t want to travel to far for fresh bread, you can visit the Singl-end in the Merchant City. Next to a great selection of cake, they sell a few different loaves of bread. It’s not a huge selection, but the ones they have are very nice. The café itself is a bit hidden, you will find it on John Street next to Osteria.

If you live in Glasgow city centre and don’t want to travel to far for fresh bread, you can visit the Singl-end in the Merchant City. Next to a great selection of cake, they sell a few different loaves of bread. It’s not a huge selection, but the ones they have are very nice. The café itself is a bit hidden, you will find it on John Street next to Osteria.


If you were searching for places in Glasgow that sell good bread, then this list of shops might have been the inspiration you needed. Especially when you’ve just moved to the city, it might be quite helpful to know these places since a Google search for bakeries just brings up a lot of pastries and cake shops. Once we find more places that offer good bread, we will give an update on that.

Loch Lomond Roundtrip: Best Spots to Stop

View on Loch Lomond from Luss

The first loch tourists think of when they hear Scotland is usually Loch Ness. Its mysterious monster Nessie rose to fame in 1934 when the London physician Robert Kenneth Wilson supposedly took a picture of it. Each year, the loch attracts thousands of visitors to look out for a creature in the lake. Even though loch Ness has its own charm and spots you shouldn’t miss, there are also other lochs in Scotland which ooze with stunning nature.

One of these is certainly Loch Lomond. The 39km long loch starts at Balloch and reaches far into to the Highlands. If this is your first time going to Loch Lomond, here comes a list of spots you shouldn’t miss out on.


Luss

If you start your roundtrip from Glasgow, then your first stop at Loch Lomond is about 30-40 minutes away. Luss is a cute village on the west bank of the loch with a great view over the water. From its beach you can hop on a boat tour across the Loch if you want. But to be fair, the view from the beach is already quite nice and hard to beat.

You might find Luss a bit too busy since it has a huge parking spot that also busses can use. If you find it too crowded, you can try Firkin Point where you will be rewarded with a quieter viewpoint over the loch. Watch out for it on Google Maps because the exit is quite hidden.


Drovers Inn

After your first stop(s) at Loch Lomond, it’s probably time for lunch. One of the pubs on your way around the loch is called Drovers Inn. It opened in 1705 and its interior hasn’t change much ever since. If you’re lucky and it’s not too busy, you might catch a seat right next to the old fireplace. The pub has a good selection of traditional food, including Haggis, Neeps & Tatties (also available in a vegetarian version).


Killin – Falls of Dochart

After having lunch at the pub, you will find yourself driving through the Highlands. Before you start driving South again, it’s worth doing a little detour to the Falls of Dochart that are just before the little town of Killin. In order to find a parking space, you will need to drive over the tiny stone bridge that crosses over the waterfalls. The bridge is very thin, so you might end up driving backwards because only one direction at a time is possible.

Once you have your car parked, you can take a walk back across the bridge and climb along the stones next to the scenic waterfalls.


Doune Castle

For those of you who are Game of Thrones, Outlander, or Monthy Phyton fans, you shouldn’t miss out stopping by Doune Castle. To be fair, the courtyard of the castle looks a bit disappointing without all the film animations, but the castle rooms are worth the visit. Especially the Great Hall is in good state and you will quickly recognise the location in which the scene “Knights of the Round Table at Camelot” was directed for the Holy Grail movie.


Balmaha

After Doune Castle, you can check if you can make it to a last stop at Loch Lomond to see the sunset. Balmaha is a relatively quiet village on the loch with parking spaces without charge.

From the car park, you can climb up Conic Hill to get an amazing view over the loch. That might not be on your list after a long round trip, but is definitely worth to do another time.


Balloch

In case you find Balmaha too much of a detour, you can stop at Balloch on your way back. The village is right at the bottom of Loch Lomond and the carpark right next to the castle is great for a stop. From Balloch, it’s only a 30 minutes’ drive back to Glasgow.


Everyone probably has their own favourite spots at Loch Lomond, and once you’ve been there for the first time, you will probably prefer to spend your day at just one spot. But for those who visit the loch for the first and want to see as much as possible in one day, then this roundtrip might be great for you!