With flowers bursting into bloom all around, lambs skipping in the fields and the clocks about to go forward, it is time to experience the joys of Spring. The sun is starting to put its hat on so why not make 2023 the year for a Scottish adventure? Here are just 10 of the reasons why that should be right at the top of the ‘to do’ list.
Reason 1. To see the stars of the silver screen
Film location scouts have been recognising the beauty and versatility of Scotland’s striking scenery more and more over recent years, with some impressive film franchises choosing to film here.
For the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny film to be released in June 2023, locations in both Glasgow and the Scottish Borders were made use of. The quaint little village of St Abbs on the Berwickshire coastline was transformed into New Asgard for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and even boasts a sign now that says ‘St Abbs – Twinned with New Asgard’ which is an ideal photo opportunity for fans.
The railway line that crosses the huge Glenfinnan Viaduct at the top of Loch Shiel was famously used by the Hogwarts Express in not one, but three of the Harry Potter Films. In fact, it has become so widely recognised now that it is often referred to as the ‘Harry Potter railway’.
Reason 2. To feel the sand between your toes
As the weather improves beach trips are an absolute must and, with 48 beaches across Scotland awarded Blue Flag Awards in 2023 for their cleanliness, facilities and water quality, there are lots to choose from.
At Elie in the East Neuk of Fife the small but perfectly formed beach is very picturesque with its gorgeous golden sands. It is great for watersports with everything from windsurfing and canoeing to stand up paddle boarding and banana boat rides. Just along from the beach is Lady’s Tower which was built in the 1700s as a viewing point for Lady Jane Anstruther to appreciate the sea vista from after her daily skinny dip! In order to spare her blushes a servant would be sent into the town to ring a bell letting the locals know to stay away.
Another Blue Flag awarded beach can be found at Coldingham Bay in the Scottish Borders with a stretch of sand over half a mile long and colourful beach huts, some of which are around 100 years old! Fisher’s Brae Cottage sits in the heart of the village just 15 minutes’ walk from the beach and could not be better placed for a romantic seaside break set up perfectly just for two.
Reason 3. To stop and smell the roses
Scotland offers the chance to not just smell the roses, but with a range of gorgeous Botanic Gardens dotted across the country, a whole host of other amazing plants and flowers too.
Tucked away in the heart of the beautiful capital, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a stunning oasis that just begs to be discovered. With more than 70 acres to explore and something different to see around every corner, it is easy to while away a blissful day wandering around taking it all in.
The exotic Logan Botanic Gardens near Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway are home to a fascinating mix of plants and trees from Australia, South America and even southern Africa. It is quite an experience to wander amongst the palm trees and eucalyptus, with vibrant rhododendrons and azaleas adding a riot of colour. The walled garden is a particular highlight and the blue Himalayan poppies really have to be seen to be believed.
Reason 4. To tread paths well trodden
Scotland is very much walking country with waymarked walking paths carved out all across the country offering the chance to head out amongst nature and get a little muddy.
Those looking for a real challenge might consider taking on one of the best known – The West Highlands Way. This long-distance route is 96 miles long and, although physically demanding, is said to be well worth the effort! At the end in Fort William many a weary walker can be seen doing the ‘West Highland Way shuffle’ after it has taken quite the toll on their poor feet.
The John Muir Way starts at Helensburgh and stretches across central Scotland ending at the well known conservationist and inventor’s birthplace of Dunbar. It is a journey of 134 miles in total with some fabulous scenery to take in along the way.
Set only 15 minutes’ drive from Helensburgh is charming Carrick View, a spacious and contemporary retreat sleeping 6 that enjoys spectacular views out over the sparkling waters of Loch Long.
Reason 5. To trace your roots
It is surprising how many people’s heritage can be traced back to Scotland and putting together a family tree is an enthralling process to undertake.
The ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh houses a wealth of information that can help track down family members including births, deaths and marriage registers and census records. Another good resource is the Geneology Centre in Blairgowrie Library which is open to the public (at set times) and has knowledgeable volunteers who help visitors track down family ties around the area.
Those looking to find their clan tartan will enjoy a visit to the Lochcarron Weaver’s Shop on the western shore of Loch Carron that has over 700 tartans to choose from. They are still woven to this day in their mill in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders and the visitor centre there runs interesting tours that explain all about the weaving process.
Reason 6. To bag yourself some munros
With the days drawing out, the increased daylight hours mean that some of Scotland’s many munros can be climbed. These peaks, classified as munros at over 3,000 feet high, were named in honour of the famous mountaineer Sir Hugh Munro.
There are more than 280 to choose from and once those are ticked off the list (which would be no mean feat) there are also more than 200 corbetts (peaks between 2,500 and 3,00 feet high) to tackle.
With over 40 different munros in easy reach of it, Anamchara in Argyll couldn’t be more perfectly placed. Its stunning mountain views are truly unrivalled and the path up to the Aonach Eagach ridge, which has two munros within it, runs literally right by the driveway. It sleeps up to 5 people in comfort and great style and is the ideal base for getting out into the mountains.
Reason 7. To sample some award-winning scran
While Scotland is often known for its traditional dishes such as haggis, cullen skink, stovies and cranachan, there is also fine dining on offer where a twist is added to some of the classics. In fact, there are now 11 restaurants in Scotland that have received a prestigious Michelin star for their amazing fare that makes use of wonderful local produce.
Loch Fyne Oyster Bar on the banks of, unsurprisingly, Loch Fyne draws in diners from near and far to try their wonderfully fresh seafood. Oysters are of course first on the list of things to sample, they are an aphrodisiac after all, and the seafood platter is particularly impressive.
For a more informal option, the traditional Italian dishes from Tagliotello really are hard to beat. This mobile restaurant sets up stall at various locations around Inverness and is certainly worth tracking down for incredible homemade pasta and the best tiramisu outside of Italy. Another favourite is the popular Cheesy Toast Shack in St Andrews for one of their famous Mac n Cheese toasties that are not only delicious but have quite the impressive cheese pull.
Reason 8. To tick the Northern Lights off the bucket list
The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are a spectacular natural phenomenon that light up the sky in an array of blue, green and purple hues.
The Outer Hebridean islands are one of the best places to spot them as they are so far to the north west. They can also be seen a lot further south that might be expected and this year in particular have put on a stunning show that has been witnessed right across the country.
Amazing displays of the lights have been seen from The Rua Reidh Lighthouse on the coast near Gairloch in Wester Ross. Principal Keeper’s House is set within the compound of the lighthouse and sleeps up to 4 people (and 2 dogs) in a location that showcases views that will not be easily forgotten.
Reason 9. To take advantage of the quiet roads
With relatively little traffic, Scotland’s quiet country roads are a terrific way of exploring on two wheels. Those needing a bit of a hand on the hills can even hire an electric bike, as many bike hire shops now offer this handy option.
A brand new, coast to coast cycle route is set to open in summer 2023, named the Kirkpatrick C2C after Kirkpatrick Macmillan who invented the rear-wheel driven bicycle. It is 250 miles in total stretching from Stranraer in the west to Eyemouth on the eastern coast and is sure to be a hit with cyclists looking for their next challenge.
Mountain bikers will also be in their element as there are a good range of excellent mountain biking centres to choose from that have challenging graded trails to suit most ages and abilities. The 7stanes mountain biking centres strung out across the South of Scotland are deservedly renowned, from Glentrool in the Galloway Forest Park all the way over to Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders.
Reason 10. To geek out on our fascinating history
History buffs will be spoilt for choice in Scotland with so much rich history to explore from castles and stately homes to mighty standing stones, ancient abbeys and six World Heritage Sites.
The Battle of Culloden which took place near Inverness in 1746 was the last ever pitched battle to be fought in the UK. Today, it is possible to walk along the battle lines of the field and see the graves of the soldiers. A museum within the visitor centre showcases interesting artefacts including some of the weapons that were used on the day and there is also an immersive, 360 degree theatre experience that captures the reality of the epic battle.
One lesser known but definitely captivating sights is Prince Albert’s Cairn, which is rather unexpected to find in a forest on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire. The 35 foot cairn was erected by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved late husband with a magnificent view out over the Cairngorms National Park. There are 11 different cairns within the estate and a circular walk leads around them, taking a couple of hours to see them all.
With those being only 10 of the many, many reasons to plan your spring (or any time) adventure in Scotland, one visit will certainly not be enough to fit everything in! #aweekisnotenough