Time to get on the Scottish Gin Trail!

While Scotland will always be known as whisky country, the boom in the gin market over the past few years has seen many distilleries starting to produce gin as well as the traditional whisky. Distilleries solely producing gin are also popping up with over 200 now across Scotland and a loyal band of enthusiasts who are firmly on the Scottish Gin Trail.

Copper still machines

Gin is made with grain mash in the same way as whisky, with whisky going on to be aged in barrels whereas gin is infused with different botanicals such as juniper berries. It is then distilled to a higher strength alcohol by volume than whisky, with a minimum strength of 37.5% abv. In order for whisky to legally be referred to as such it must spend a minimum of 3 years in cask, but as gin doesn’t need to age it is much quicker to produce. It is no wonder distilleries are starting to branching out into it.

Gin is certainly not something new to Scotland, after all, some of the most well-known and much loved brands hail from here. Gordon’s has been made in Scotland since 1998 and Hendrick’s create their floral spirt in their very own ‘Gin Palace’ in Ayrshire.

The current popularity of the drink has resulted in an International Scottish Gin Day being established. This year it will be celebrated on Saturday, 2 October 2021 and will be marked by gin makers across the globe with a range of special events forming a real ‘celebration of gin’. Some hosts are offering complimentary distillery tours and there is the chance to take part in a cocktail masterclass or even a ‘virtual ceilidh’!

Negroni cocktail

Traditionally paired with tonic for a refreshing tipple, gin is also a key ingredient in some really delicious cocktails.

As well as the classic gin drinks such as the gimlet, gin fizz and martini, the Italian Negroni has had somewhat of a revival over recent years. The tasty blend mixes gin with vermouth and Campari over ice, topped off with a slice of orange – utter perfection!

Balmenach Distillery, Speyside

At the Balmenach Distillery near Cromdale in Speyside Caorunn Gin is produced by their resident Gin Master. As well as their usual gin and the flavoursome but potent Highland Strength variety they also make a Scottish Raspberry flavour that is particularly gorgeous and fruity when served with tonic over ice.

North Steading near Nethy Bridge

Just 7 miles away from the distillery is North Steading near Nethy Bridge. This former steading has been transformed into comfy, cosy holiday accommodation that is ideally placed for getting out and about in the Cairngorms National Park.

The Borders Distillery, Scottish Borders

The Borders Distillery, Hawick

The Borders Distillery in set right in the heart of the Hawick in the Scottish Borders and produces whisky and vodka as well as gin. Tours of the distillery are available followed by a tasting session and they provide a little sample bottle for the nominated driver to take home with them.

Stables Cottage at Borthwickshiels

Just quarter of an hour’s drive from the distillery is Stables Cottage, a peaceful rural retreat set in a woodland clearing on the Borthwickshiels Estate.

This traditional cottage is pet friendly and sleeps up to 6 people with scenic walks out into the hills straight from the door. Stables and grazing can be arranged for those wanting to bring their horse along.

Persie Distillery, Glenshee

A variety of gins are made by the Persie Distillery in Glenshee where as well as guided tours there are tastings with food and gin pairings and even the chance to try a cocktail master classes.

Their tasting room is dog friendly as well so four legged friends can come along but strictly sticking just to water!

The Dalmunzie country estate sits within an easy 20 minute drive of the distillery and has 6 different properties varying in size within its 6,500 acres.

The Dower House, Dalmunzie Estate

One of the more unusual properties on the estate is The Dower House that has a lovely baronial style turret that sets it apart. From the bedrooms some gorgeous views of the estate and the Glen Taitneach and Ben Gulabin mountains can be admired and there are wonderful walks all around the estate.

The Isle of Raasay Distillery, Isle of Raasay

The Isle of Raasay Distillery takes its name from the island it is based on just off the beautiful Isle of Skye. It uses a unique water source to create both whisky and gin made with handpicked juniper berries. The distillery occupies a stunning setting on the island with amazing views all the way over to Skye and the impressive Cuillin mountains.

Kilima, Isle of Raasay

Kilima is just half a mile from the distillery, offering spacious accommodation in a handy location for exploring the delightful island.

As it is less than 5 minutes’ drive from the ferry terminal it is really handy for popping over to discover the delights of the amazing Isle of Skye.

With such a wide range of distilleries to add to the holiday agenda, there are plenty of opportunities to bid each other the traditional ‘Sláinte Mhath’ (pronounced slanj-a-va) meaning ‘good health’ in Gaelic. Get in touch with our knowledgeable Booking Team to get your perfect cottage booked close to any of these fascinating gin makers.

7 Places You Won’t Believe Are in Scotland!

Scotland is known for its beautiful lochs, rolling hills and imposing mountains but there may well be some other sights that are surprising to come across on a visit here but should definitely be on your ‘must see’ list.

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1. Clachtoll beach near Lochinver

This gorgeous beach wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean so visitors may well be surprised to find it on the west coast of Scotland! Set in a secluded spot on Sutherland’s Assynt peninsula that juts out into the sea, it takes about 40 minutes to walk to but is definitely well worth the effort.

As the area benefits from the warming effects of the Gulf Stream a mild microclimate is created that is ideal for spending time exploring the sands. The local sheep can often be seen wandering on the beach and they seem to like it just as much as the human sightseers!

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Taigh Na Fraoch near Clashnessie, Sutherland

At Taigh Na Fraoch all the home comforts you can wish for can be found. Its enclosed grassed garden is great for children and pets to run and play in freely. As well as being in easy reach of Clachtoll (only 5 minutes’ drive away), the house is just a short walk from another beautiful beach at Clashnessie Bay so there is a choice of places to enjoy the seaside.

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2. Quiraing on The Isle of Skye

The Quiraing is an unusual land rock formation that lies on the Trotternish peninsula of Skye, one of four peninsulas radiating out from the centre of the island that are said to look like fingers. A walk up to see it in all its glory is an absolute must, although a good view of some of it can be seen from the road.

Its grassy landscape looks like something from a different planet and in fact it has been used as a filming location in several box office hits. In the partly animated BFG film it was used to represent Giant’s Land and it appeared again in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword that was directed by Guy Ritchie. The Bealach Na Ba pass on the Applecross peninsula was also used in the film, as was the imposing Old Man of Storr.

Two Bay Cottage near Dunvegan, Isle of Skye

Two Bay Cottage is set on the Waternish peninsula of Skye so it is roughly an hour’s drive over to the Trotternish ridge where the Quiraing sits. Inside the accommodation is comfortable and homely, sleeping up to 4 people in two double bedrooms (making it ideal for couples looking to holiday together). The garden looks out towards Loch Bay and on a good day you can even see as far over as the Western Isles.

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3. Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran

The Isle of Arran, off the west coast of Scotland, is known as ‘Scotland in miniature’ due to its varied landscape that is reminiscent of many parts of mainland Scotland. Ferries run over to the island from Ardrossan on the North Ayrshire coast, taking approximately 45 minutes, and on arrival into Brodick it is hard not to notice Goat Fell rising up to the north.

Goat Fell is the highest peak on Arran that dominates the landscape of the island and will surely entice hill climbers to give it a go. A walking route leads up the mountain from Brodick Castle and it takes about 5 hours to climb up and back with sturdy footwear and appropriate clothing being definite requirements.

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Waverley at Whiting Bay, Isle of Arran

Looking out over Whiting Bay near Lamlash, 8 miles from where the ferry docks, is Waverley. This spacious house sleeps up to 5 people and is bright and airy throughout with a conservatory to the front where the sea view can be enjoyed whatever the weather. The shore is just across the road from the house and, when the tide goes out, a lovely sandy beach is revealed.

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4. Falls of Clyde near Lanark

Set on the River Clyde near Lanark are the Falls of Clyde, the collective name for a set of four remarkable waterfalls. A pleasant riverside walk from New Lanark leads up to the falls that are particularly impressive after heavy rainfall and various viewing platforms have been set up at the points with the best views.

The area around the falls is actually a wildlife reserve where badger watching evenings are held, giving visitors the chance to spot these elusive creatures in their natural habitat. Bats and peregrines can also be seen and if you time your visit right (aiming for May and early June) you may even manage to see some badger cubs that are incredibly cute.

Windgill Cottage near Biggar, Lanarkshire

Pretty Windgill Cottage is set in the rolling countryside just on the edge of the Clyde Valley, just over half an hour’s drive from the falls. There is excellent walking straight from the front door and fishing can be arranged on the River Clyde itself.

Sleeping up to 4 people in a double and a twin bedroom and welcoming up to 2 dogs it offers great peace and seclusion and is yet in easy reach of Glasgow for day trips to the city.

5. Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris

With its charming white sands and sparkling turquoise waters it is not surprising that Luskentyre beach has been named as the ‘best beach in Scotland’ by several different publications. Situated to the west of South Harris it is just one of the many stunning beaches that can be found in the Outer Hebrides.

Harris and Lewis are not separate islands but are actually parts of the same island. It is reached by ferry in under 2 hours from Uig on Skye so it is easier to access than one might first think when hearing the words Outer Hebrides.

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Sgeir a’Chais at Loch Grosebay, Isle of Harris

Sgeir a’Chais is the perfect base from which to visit the beach and explore the rest of the island, safe in the knowledge that you have a cosy, welcoming retreat to return to at the end of the day. This traditional bothy has a solid fuel stove at its heart and even has an added extra in the form of a superb sauna with pretty loch views to admire as you relax.

6. Kilt Rock on the Isle of Skye

This attraction on the Trotternish peninsula of the Isle of Skye gets its name from its columns of basalt that tower from the water and are said to resemble the pattern of a kilt. The Mealt Falls flow down the rock and it is all a pretty impressive sight to see. It can really be appreciated best from the water and there are various boat trips that run out to allow visitors a much closer look.

Mealt Falls from Afar…

If you choose to visit by car there is car park just by the viewpoint and the cliffs have been fenced off for safety and peace of mind. To really set the scene there is often a bagpiper there which makes for the ideal photo opportunity.

7. Skara Brae on mainland Orkney

This prehistoric village, that sits on the coast just off the Bay of Skaill on the mainland of the Orkney Isles, dates all the way back to the Neolithic era. It lay covered by sand for an estimated 4,000 years before being partly exposed by storms and then later excavated.

It is fascinating to picture the people who once lived in the village’s dwellings that have been remarkably well preserved since their discovery. It is easy to tell why it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status as part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney group of monuments back in 1999.

Bay Cottage near Stromness, Orkney

Bay Cottage at Skara Brae is just down the road from this wonderful historic sight and is actually in easy walking distance of it. The cottage sleeps up to 4 people in a double and a twin bedroom (that can be converted to a king-size bed for extra flexibility. It is also only a short stroll from a gorgeous sandy beach where time can be spent exploring or just enjoying the picturesque surroundings.

These are merely a tiny selection of the amazing sights that Scotland has to offer. Visit our website or call our friendly booking team on 01835 822277 to book your perfect stay.

Superb Scottish Snowsport Adventures

Most people may associate snowsports with popular locations such as the French Alps, Italy, or perhaps Austria. If you live in the UK though, you’ll be happy to hear that you don’t have to venture too far to hit the slopes and you won’t even need your passport! There are numerous locations in Scotland where you can ski including Glencoe, The Lecht, and Glenshee. The ski season in Scotland typically runs from December to early April, but it does depend on the amount of snowfall.

snowsports-blog-post-glencoeGlencoe

Glencoe Mountain Resort attracts thousands of visitors all year round and it’s not hard to see why. The resort offers snowsports enthusiasts 20 different runs and 8 lifts which cater to both skiers and snowboarders at all skill levels. The resort is home to some of the longest and steepest runs in Scotland so daredevils – this place is for you! There is also a cosy café that serves hot food to warm you up after a day out on the slopes. In warmer months, when there isn’t much snowfall, the resort offers mountain biking trails, chairlift rides and tubing so you can have fun at the Glencoe Mountain Resort whether there is snow on the ground or not!

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Laraichean cottage offers a cosy, log cabin-like interior and unbeatable views that will leave you speechless on arrival. Glencoe Mountain Resort is only 30 minutes’ drive from this beautiful cottage so it makes the ideal place to unwind in the evenings after a day on piste. We also have a range of other cottage that are near the Glencoe Mountain Resort.

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The Lecht

The Lecht ski resort has been named one of the best ski resorts in Scotland. Located in the Cairngorms National Park, it is an excellent location for families to learn how to ski together as it is one of the smaller, quieter resorts. The runs are shorter than in other ski resorts and are therefore great for beginners.

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We have the perfect cottage for a small family, which is only 25 minutes’ drive from the resort. Ben Rinnes Lodge is a charming, detached wooden lodge in a rural location close to Glenlivet. The two bedroom lodge has a homely feel that will make you never want to leave. After a long day of skiing, come back to the cosy hideaway and try some stargazing as Glenlivet and the surrounding area are known for good places to see the stars. Lucky people also sometimes manage to spot the Northern Lights! View our other cottages that are in close proximity to The Lecht.

snowsports-blog-post-glensheeGlenshee

Glenshee Ski Centre is a haven for both skiers and snowboarders. The ski centre’s unique selling point is its sheer size with a range of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all capabilities. Glas Maol, one of the resorts’ many runs, is considered by skiing enthusiasts to be one of the best runs in Scotland.

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There are three cafés on-site that serve a range of food, drinks and snacks to fuel your day. An ideal base for your trip is Dalmunzie Cottage which is located only 7 miles from the Glenshee Ski Resort.

The cottage has a warm and comfortable feel with rustic interior decor and a wood-burning stove to curl up in front of on cold evenings. Outside there is a small garden with spectacular views of the mountains where you will be spending your days enjoying the delights that the snow offers. Browse through our other cottages that are near to the Glenshee Ski Centre.

If you are planning a snow sports holiday in Scotland, why not browse our other cottages that are near popular ski resorts. Visit our website or call our friendly booking team on 01835 822277 to book your stay.

Scots know how to party on Burns Night

Burns Night is a significant date in any Scots’ calendar. On the 25th January, Scotland (and many other parts of the UK) celebrate the life and work of the poet Robert Burns, who is viewed as Scotland’s national poet, just as Shakespeare is England’s immortal bard.

Burns wrote famous poems and songs such as Auld Lang Syne (sang merrily at New Year), To A Mouse, A Red, Red Rose and many more. Even if you don’t know Burns’ poems off by heart, Burns Night is the perfect excuse for a get together with friends or family, so grab yourself a copy of Burns’ poetry and have a great night!

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What is Burns Supper?

The first supper was held in 1801 at Burns’ Cottage in Alloway, South Ayrshire, on the fifth anniversary of his death by his friends. Burns supper traditionally includes haggis, whisky and a healthy dose of Burns’ influential poetry. At formal occasions, guests are greeted as they enter by a piper. At more informal events, Scottish music is played as guests arrive.

At formal Burns Night events, there will be a ‘standard order’; this is a series of events that involve poetry, serving food, and remembering the poet himself. The host will give a welcome speech to guests, and all the guests will say the Selkirk Grace to give thanks for the meal that they are about to eat. The Selkirk Grace uses words from the Scots language:

Some hae meat an canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

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The supper starts with a soup course and traditional Scottish broths are served, such as cock-a-leekie, potato soup, Cullen skink, or Scotch broth. As the traditional main course of haggis is brought in, guests will stand as the bagpipes are played. The host, or a willing guest, then recites the Address to a Haggis and cuts it open ready to serve. After dinner, speeches and toasts to remember Burns’ life are given. When the event is coming to an end, all guests will stand and sing Auld Lang Syne to mark that the evening has come to an end.

Burns Night is typically celebrated in a more informal fashion in the present day. It is celebrated not just in Scotland, but all over the UK. Who doesn’t love an excuse to have a party? Restaurants have taken to hosting Burns Nights, where the traditional dish of haggis, neeps and tatties will be served, as well as a wide variety of exciting cocktails and, of course, some drams of whisky.

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Why not celebrate Burns Night in style in a Scottish castle? The historic Glamis Castle, the home of the late Queen Mother, holds a Burns Night to remember which is set in the incredible Victorian Dining Room, complete with a traditional Burns Night three-course dinner and drinks. If this event sounds like your cup of tea, the Garden Apartment at Reswallie House is the perfect base for your Scottish adventure, as it is only 8 miles from the castle.

 

No matter where you are in the world, everybody can enjoy Burns Night celebrations. If you’re planning on celebrating in style in the poets’ birth country, Unique Cottages is here to help you find the perfect location. Visit our website to find out more or get in touch with our friendly Booking Team on 01835 822277.

 

Have a Heavenly Hogmanay in Scotland

For most of the world, the last day of the year is named New Year’s Eve but in Scotland the celebration is called Hogmanay. Its origins began in the winter solstice that the Vikings celebrated on the last day of the year. The word ‘Hogmanay’ also has possible French origins from the world hoguinané meaning a gift given at New Year.

In the past, Christmas was not celebrated in Scotland, and Hogmanay was the most important celebration in the country. In fact, Christmas Day didn’t become a public holiday in Scotland until 1958 and Hogmanay became Scotland’s most important celebration. Hogmanay lasts longer than traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations as it runs from 31st December all the way through to 2 January which is a Scottish public holiday.

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Hogmanay has a number of customs associated with it and the most well-known is first-footing. The practice, which involves the first person to step into a household from the outside after the clock strikes midnight, is supposed to bring luck to the inhabitants. The custom requires that the chosen ‘first-footer’ brings items into the house that represent goals for the new year ahead including coins for wealth, or a drink to represent happiness and good cheer. You can be sure to find a lot of Hogmanay celebrations all over Scotland with firework displays, live music and great food.

hogmanay-blog-post-stirling-fireworksStirling Midnight Fireworks

Stirling in Central Scotland is known for its historic castle, the William Wallace monument and many a great Hogmanay celebration! Experience the arrival of the New Year in the grounds of Stirling Castle with a large range of cuisine and an array of bright and beautiful fireworks at midnight. The Ridge is the perfect place to stay in Stirling if you are planning on attending the Hogmanay event.

The Scottish Baronial mansion is situated on the same hill that the castle is situated on, so when you are tired from an evening of Hogmanay fun, it’s only a short walk back home. The Stirling Midnight Fireworks event starts at 10.45 pm on 31 December 2019 and tickets are £12.50 each.

hogmanay-blog-post-new-years-eveFamily Hogmanay in Aberdeen

If you are looking for a high-class event that you won’t forget, Mercure Ardoe House Hotel Spa in Aberdeen is holding a ‘Family Hogmanay’ event that everyone can enjoy. There will be a large buffet and plenty of entertainment before welcoming in the new year with a fireworks extravaganza. The event starts at 7 pm and is £85 per ticket.

If you want to join in with the celebrations in the city but retreat to the quiet and comfort of a Unique Cottages for the rest of your trip, Seaview Cottage is located in Banff, Aberdeenshire, and is the perfect holiday home. Celebrate New Year’s Day with a walk on the beach as this beautiful cottage is only 5 minutes’ walk from Banff’s wonderful sandy beach!

hogmanay-blog-post-highland-flingRed Hot Highland Fling in Inverness

This exciting event was first staged in 2008 and has been a crowd favourite ever since! The Red Hot Highland Fling attracts 10,000 spectators each year and it is not hard to see why. The family-friendly event has a wide range of food to choose from, fireworks and a big ‘Auld Lang Syne’ singalong. Better still, the event is free to attend and is hosted by comedian Craig Hill featuring numerous exciting acts such as the Trad Project, Blazin’ Fiddles and Tidelines.

Strone House is only a 30 minute drive from Inverness and is located on the west shore of Loch Ness. Combine the excitement of the Red Hot Highland Fling and a peaceful stay in Strone House to create the perfect Hogmanay trip away. What a way to ring in the New Year!

Visit our website to find out more or get in touch with our friendly Booking Team on 01835 822277.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There are literally thousands of reasons to visit Scotland and discover its breathtaking mountains, mysterious lochs, enchanting towns and bustling cities. While these elements remain all year round, they truly come to life at Christmas. Below are a few of our favourite reasons to visit Scotland around the festive season:

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Christmas Markets

What is more magical than visiting a Christmas market? The lights, the smell of mulled wine and the general feeling of festive cheer as well as the chance to pick up some special gifts. Scotland has a wealth of exciting Christmas markets to attend and, as there are multiple events happening around the country, no one has to miss out. If you’re staying in Fife near Aberdeen, you will not want to miss Aberdeen’s wonderful Christmas village. After a successful run in 2018, the Christmas event is back again this year by popular demand. You will find an open-air ice rink, a selection of fairground rides and attractions, festive food and drink and even Santa’s Grotto!

If you are looking to visit a Christmas market, but are also keen to visit some historical landmarks, Glamis Christmas market at Glamis Castle has the whole package. Located in the village of Glamis in Angus, the castle is a magical location to visit at Christmastime. With 80 different stalls selling food, drink and festive gifts, and winter walks around the historic castle, there is something exciting to do for visitors of all ages.

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There’s a higher chance of snow!

Bing Cosby’s famous song ‘White Christmas’ has really got our hopes up for some snow at Christmas. It is such a magical feeling to pull back the curtains on Christmas morning and see a blanket of snow on the ground. If you choose to spend your Christmas in a cottage in Scotland you are far more likely to have a white Christmas, especially if you choose one in the more northerly parts of the country.

Picture this – a cottage with an open fire, Christmas films on the TV and a bright white blanket of snow covering the ground outside as you cosy up to your loved ones on the sofa. If this sounds perfect to you, Unique Cottages offers many cosy cottages that would suit your festive needs. Glen Affric View is particularly lovely and is also pet friendly!

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Visit real reindeer in the Cairngorms National Park

If you are a fan of nature and are feeling particularly festive, a visit to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is an absolute must. Located in Glenmore in the Scottish Highlands, the centre is open from February half-term through the year and into early January. Enjoy a guided trip up a mountainside to view the impressive reindeer herd or, if you are not feeling up to the walk, you can visit the reindeer paddocks which are easily accessible.

In the run up to Christmas the centre runs various festive events including craft activities and there is even a visit from Santa that will definitely appeal to the kids! Set just a 20 minute drive away from the centre is one of our delightful cottages, Tayvulin. Wake up with a view of the Cairngorm mountains in this peaceful and quiet cottage and spend Christmas in the serenity of the Scottish Highlands.

Make this Christmas one to remember by booking your stay in a unique cottage. With hundreds of properties to choose from, you will be sure to find the perfect location for you. Visit our website or call our friendly Booking Team on 01835 822277.

The Scottish Backdrops of your Favourite Books

From 18 to 24 November it is Book Week Scotland! This annual event is a celebration of Scottish literature with different events that are held across the country. Scotland’s abundance of incredible landscapes and intriguing locations has inspired authors for centuries. From modern crime writers to eighteenth-century novelists, many authors have been enchanted by Scotland and the country features heavily in numerous famous novels.

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Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus books, set in Edinburgh

Rankin was born in Cardenden in Fife, which is 25 miles from Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh. His Inspector Rebus novels are mostly set in Edinburgh and are considered by many as integral contributions to the tartan noir genre that has grown in popularity over recent years. The genre has its roots in traditional Scottish fiction but borrows from twentieth-century American crime writing.

The author has published 23 Inspector Rebus novels over 31 years and they are based in various locations across southern Scotland. The main focus of the books is the criminal underworld in various locations across Edinburgh, but the books do also include various small villages, business districts and nightclubs. Rankin fans should definitely explore Edinburgh!

Have a look at our range of cottages in Edinburgh and The Lothians to find the right fit for you.

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Val McDermid’s The Distant Echo, set in St Andrews

Crime novelist Val McDermid grew up in Kirkcaldy, a town and former royal burgh in eastern Scotland. Her novel The Distant Echo is set in St Andrews, 24 miles from where McDermid grew up. The book centres on the relationship between four students who stumble across a dead body in the town.

The author explained that she set the crime thriller in St Andrews because she was familiar with the area, and she needed a small community to make the plot of the book believable. McDermid has used specific locations and landmarks to her advantage, saying ‘I knew I could use the particular features of the place to great effect. The Pictish cemetery, the Bottle Dungeon, the Castle Cliffs… irresistible, really.’ We can’t resist Scotland either, so we know exactly how she feels.

To find a cottage in the St Andrews area, view our selection.

book-week-blog-loch-katrineWalter Scott’s Waverley, set in the Scottish Highlands

Walter Scott’s Waverley has been regarded as one of the first historical novels in the Western literary tradition. The book, which was published in 1814, sees an English soldier travel from the south of England, first to the Scottish Lowlands and then into the Highlands to experience the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1745.

The book features numerous Scottish locations as the protagonist travels further north as the book progresses. Walter Scott created a romantic vision of Scotland in the book that was characterised by tartan, tradition and nobility.

Experience the beauty of northern Scotland for yourself by staying in one of our many cottages in the Highlands.

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Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, set in Edinburgh

Born in Leith, Irvine Welsh is one of the best-known Scottish authors due to the success of his 1993 novel Trainspotting. Trainspotting isn’t the only one of Welsh’s books that is set in Edinburgh; Filth, the story of an indulgent and cruel detective sergeant, is also set in Scotland’s vibrant capital. Trainspotting and its sequel feature prominent Edinburgh landmarks such as Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street, the main shopping street in Edinburgh.

While Edinburgh is a cultural capital and a tourist favourite, Welsh paints a darker picture of the city in the 1990s and the underworld that existed at the time. You’ll be delighted to know that you can learn all about the area AND stay in a beautiful cottage in the Lothians, while still being in easy reach of Edinburgh – it really is the best of both worlds!

To view our cottages in the Lothians, visit the website.

Why not celebrate Scotland’s literary masterpieces by visiting Scotland in person? We have hundreds of cottages for you to choose from. Visit our website to find your perfect match.

Autumn Adventures in Scotland

As the autumn weather makes an appearance and the cosy nights begin to roll in, why not book a stay in a unique cottage? Explore Scotland as the leaves start to brown and the air begins to cool. What could possibly be better than that? Here are just some of the activities you could be getting up to if you rent a cottage with us this autumn:

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1. Discover Stirling

Avoid the sweaty summer crowds of tourists by visiting Stirling during the autumn months. The city in the heart of Central Scotland is full of character and charm and is a history lovers paradise. Make sure to visit the imposing fortress that is Stirling Castle and enjoy the entertainment provided by costumed performers there.

After a fascinating excursion around Stirling Castle, why not stop off at the National Wallace Monument which commemorates the Scottish hero, Sir William Wallace? Braveheart fans will certainly want to give Stirling a visit! After taking in the fascinating history of the building, climb to the top of the Monument and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the whole city.

Browse our selection of cottages in Central Scotland.

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2. Explore the Scottish Lochs

As the leaves begin to turn their orange hue, why not visit one of the many Scottish lochs? There are over 31,000 different lochs spread out all across the country that range in size from the largest (Loch Ness) to much smaller ones such as Loch Ard in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, but all of them are beautiful in their own special way.

Drumnadrochit in the Highlands is, of course, home to the famous Loch Ness where the fabled monster that is said to haunt the depths of the water. Loch Muick, pronounced Loch ‘Mick’, in Aberdeenshire is sometimes home to a royal visitor, as it lies within Queen Elizabeth’s Balmoral Estate. A trip to one of Scotland’s many stunning lochs makes for a perfect day out in nature.

To view our cottages in the Highlands, visit our website.

 

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3. Visit Glasgow

Glasgow has a lot to offer people of all ages. If you are a fan of shopping, history, or nature, Glasgow has got you covered. Nature lovers will want to visit the stunning Botanic Gardens, located in the west end of the city by the River Kelvin. The gardens contain a variety of exotic plant collections from all over the world and the carnivorous plants in particular are quite fascinating!

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After a wander around the Botanic Gardens, wind down with a riverside walk or head towards the city centre for an afternoon of indulgent shopping. If that wasn’t enough, Glasgow has 11 fantastic museums ranging from the history of art to the history of religious life with something for everyone to enjoy. A visit to Glasgow is not complete without popping to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (free entry) that houses some fantastic works of art. The ‘Floating Heads’ sculptural art installation is a real highlight and makes for plenty of great photo opportunities.

To view our cottages on the West Coast of Scotland, visit our website.

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4. Spend a cosy night in your Unique Cottage

What could be better than spending the night snuggled up in a dressing gown, drinking hot chocolate and watching a film? Many of our cottages are pet friendly, so your furry friend can join in too! That isn’t all – some of our cottages have hot tubs that you can wind down in after a busy day of exploring all that Scotland has to offer.

To find your ideal cottage visit our website or call the friendly Booking Team on 01835 822277. They have specialist knowledge of Scotland and can help find exactly the right fit for you!

4 of Scotland’s Best Hiking Trails

We offer a variety of Unique Cottages that are perfect for your stay in stunning Scotland. Apart from its many lovely, quaint cottages, Scotland is known for its incredible natural beauty with so much to see and experience. If you’re a fan of hiking, Scotland is the place for you.

Explore mountains, forests and coastal paths from John O’ Groats to Dumfries – there are literally hundreds of trails to choose from. Here are our four favourite Scottish hiking trails:

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Loch an Eilein, Cairngorm National Park

Fans of medieval architecture will love the Loch an Eilein walk. The walk is 4.25 miles and explores the magnificent Rothiemurchus Forest in the Scottish Highlands. The walk attracts kayakers, wild campers and photographers from all over the world.

Along the way is a breathtakingly beautiful 13th century castle surrounded by water and thick, magical woodland. It is the perfect walk for a family who don’t want to journey too far but want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a couple of hours. Loch an Eilein was voted Britain’s Favourite Picnic Spot back in 2010. We can see why!

To view our cottages that are in close proximity to Cairngorms National Park, click here.

The Cateran Trail

For the hardcore hiker, The Cateran Trail is the whole package. The route takes hikers across 64 miles of farmland, forests and glens in Angus and Perthshire. The walk can be done in five days and is typically split into five stages by hikers, but completion times do vary.

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For those who want to explore Scotland’s breathtaking landscapes but want a range of terrain to traverse, this trail is perfect. The trail is well marked and there are plenty of places to have exciting and educational pit stops, such as the Alyth Museum in Strathmore. You will never forget the natural beauty of Scotland after completing this walk!

Browse our Perthshire cottages that are in easy reach of The Cateran Trail.

Fife Pilgrim Way

Since 1600, St Andrews was a popular pilgrimage destination in Medieval Europe as Christians wanted to be close to the bones of St Andrew, one of Jesus’ disciples in the Bible. The pilgrimage made its mark on the landscape in Fife, as many of the paths and roads were created to ease the passage of thousands of pilgrims.

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The Fife Pilgrim Way follows one of the many routes that the pilgrims took to reach the holy site of St Andrews. The walk spans 117 miles and the route goes through wildlife reserves, stunning beaches and historic villages.

To view our cottages near St Andrews along the Fife Pilgrim Way click here.

Arthur’s Seat and Hollyrood Park

hiking-blog-arthurs-seatView from Top of Arthur’s Seat

If you’re visiting Edinburgh, this short walk is one you shouldn’t miss. Arthur’s Seat is a well-known spot in Edinburgh that attracts thousands of visitors a year. But did you know that it marks the very top of a dormant volcano that erupted 350 years ago?

When you reach Arthur’s Seat, you’ll see spectacular 360 degree views of the city, including historic Edinburgh Castle. It is the perfect way to escape the chaos of the city for a while.

To view our cottages that are in close proximity to Edinburgh, click here.

Whichever trail you choose, Unique Cottages have a variety of beautiful cottages for you to choose from. Visit our website to find the perfect cottage for you or give us a call on 01835 822277.

Wild at Heart – the Whitmuir Estate

Guest blogger Lucy Cooke tells us all about her wildlife spotting visit to the beautiful Whitmuir Estate.

Deep in the heart of the Scottish Borders lies a very special secret – you don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to find a piece of the Scottish wilds and some absolutely stunning wildlife. This rolling countryside contains valleys, lochs, mountains and forests all ready to be explored or simply appreciated from the comfort of your chosen cottage.

Escape

'Common Blue Butterfly'
Common Blue Butterfly

Past the picturesque Eildon Hills and near the lovely town of Selkirk sits Whitmuir Farm and Estate that is set in 176 hectares of wonderful countryside with exceptionally rich grasslands, wildflowers and a mixture of woodland with more deciduous trees being planted every year. The estate has an impressive range of biodiversity, boasting as many as 1,400 different species including badgers, wild orchids, butterflies and fungi like the out-of-this-world Smurf Blue mushroom.

Explore

Whitmuir offers the perfect base for further exploration of the area within easy reach of the best the Borders has to offer. Lovers of the untamed and uninhabited can take their pick from the many hill ranges in the area, from the Lammermuirs to the Cheviots, that each provide a different experience and reward walkers with uniquely beautiful views and scenery.

Several long distance foot paths wind their way around the region from the Southern Upland Way that skims the outstandingly beautiful St Mary’s Loch and the Border Abbeys Way that takes in 4 historic abbeys, to St Cuthbert’s Way that leads from Melrose all the way over to the east coast. If waterways are your passion, pick from the many walks along the River Tweed where salmon jump, osprey fish and kingfishers dart.

Embark

Take a drive into any of the Border towns to find excellent local food, quirky little shops and many museums, castles and abbeys celebrating the life, culture and history of the region. For sport enthusiasts there is horse riding, rugby, golf and fishing and a trip up to the capital is easily achievable within an hour by train for a day trip to enjoy all that Edinburgh has to offer.

And relax…

We have a range of properties on the estate to choose from with everything from the remarkable Whitmuir House which is great for families or larger groups right through to Meadowside Cottage that is a warm and cosy hideout for couples in search of peace and tranquillity. There is also Marl Moss Cottage, Whitmuir Steading Cottage and Knowpark Cottage to choose from. Teyl, the Estate Factor, shares the environmentally friendly ethos and will be sure to make your stay a pleasant one.

Waking up Wild

Whitmuir truly is a wildlife haven and every year improvements are made that encourage a rich mixture of environmental habitats across the estate. One of the recent ambitious projects was to remove large areas of Sitka Spruce and replace it with a diverse range of tree species including some from the International Conifer Conservation Program based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

FungiExamples of fungi from the estate

Fungi fanatics won’t have to go far to find a wide abundance of species such as penny buns, fly argaric, witches butter or scarlet elfcaps. The previously mentioned blue smurf (entoloma madidum) is a fabulous and rare fungus and the estate even boasts a species that was new to science when it was found in 2013. It was finally named Cortinarius brunneiaurantius in 2014 and has since been found a few more times but in Northern Scotland.

Over 90 species of birds have been recorded on the estate from warblers to water rail and goshawk to crossbill. Winter visitors may well spy waxwings and redwings feasting on berries or fields full of skylarks whilst those catching the beginnings of spring may hear the sound of the cuckoo call.

Emperor Moth
Female Emperor Moth

Those with a passion for wildflowers can walk through the gorgeous meadows in spring and summer enjoying a canvas of colour that attracts pretty pollinators like the common blue butterfly. Moth traps have been set up to attract and record the many varieties of moth that visit throughout the year including the beautiful emperor moth.

So whether it’s walking in the footsteps of St Cuthbert, listening to skylark singing overhead, or watching the mighty hares box outside whilst enjoying a roaring fire and a glass of something special, the Whitmuir Estate has something for everyone. Explore them for yourself and decide which Whitmuir property suits you best.

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