All posts by jennifermacl

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:


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 Cairngorm 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.


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.


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.


'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.


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.


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.

Glen Shee: An All Year Round Destination

Glen Shee is a very picturesque glen set amidst stunning scenery in Northern Perthshire within the Cairngorms National Park. The glen lies between the pretty towns of Braemar and Blairgowrie and takes its name from the gaelic ‘shith’ meaning fairies, so it is often referred to as ‘Glen of the Fairies’.

One of the main attractions in the area is the Glenshee ski resort at the top of the Cairnwell Pass that is Scotland’s largest ski resort with 38 different runs to choose from (lessons and kit hire available). When the resort first opened tractors were used to take people up the mountains but there are now 22 lifts and tows that make light work of the various ascents.

'Craigh Na Dun'
Downhill Mountain Biking

Much though the resort is best known for its winter sports it is also popular in the summer months (May to September) when it becomes a hub for walking and mountain biking with the ski lifts being made good use of taking people up to the blue graded mountain bike track.

Walkers can enjoy exploring the stunning mountain scenery whilst keeping an eye out for red deer, ptarmigan and mountain hares and may even be lucky enough to spot golden eagles soaring overhead.

The beautiful Dalmunzie Estate is set just 7 miles from the Glenshee resort and offers a range of 6 different accommodation options with something to suit everyone.

Dalmunzie HouseDalmunzie House

Large parties will enjoy the chance of being all together in Dalmunzie House which sleeps up to 14 people. There is plenty of room to spread out into as there is a sitting room, a separate TV room and a lovely sunroom that is perfect for admiring the view from. Everyone can gather in the open plan kitchen/dining room where the vast dining table allows the whole party to enjoy meals whilst planning the next day’s activities by the wood-burning stove.

Smaller parties have the other cottages on the estate to choose from – Dalmunzie Cottage, Glenlochsie Cottage, Lochsie Cottage, Sauchmore Cottage and The Dower House.

Carn Dearg Cottage
The Dower House

The Dalmunzie Estate extends to over 6,500 acres of rolling countryside and there is plenty to do within the estate itself. Fishing for rainbow and brown trout is available on a stocked loch and there is the opportunity to try clay pigeon shooting and stalking. There is great walking all around and also a 9 hole golf course that opened all the way back in 1922.

To the west of the Cairnwell Pass are three munros known as The Cairnwell Munros – Carn Aosda, Carn a’Gheoidh and The Cairnwell, an unsual cone-shaped mountain that can be seen for miles around. Those keen on some munro ‘bagging’ will relish the opportunity to be able to take in three different peaks in one day and the Cateran walking trail can also be joined nearby.

Get in touch on 01835 822277 to speak to our booking team to get your 2019 holiday booked in while we still have some availability.

Start Your Outlander Adventure

Fans of the popular TV programme Outlander who are eagerly awaiting the next series of the show have been travelling to Scotland to see some of the iconic places that were used as filming locations.

The show was inspired by a series of books written by Diana Gabaldon and follows the tale of Claire Randall who is transported back in time from post-war Scotland right back to the year 1743. Scotland’s stunning scenery is showcased throughout Outlander and we have cottages that are ideally placed for visiting the settings of your favourite scenes.

The town used to represent Inverness in the very first episode was in fact the historic conversation village of Falkland in Fife. The bed and breakfast that Claire and Frank stay at is actually a hotel where a drink or meal can be enjoyed in what feels like very familiar surroundings.

The Key House in Falkland
The Key House, Falkland

Right in the heart of Falkland is The Key House, a traditional B-listed building that is full of history and set right next door to the impressive Falkland Castle. This fine royal Renaissance Palace is now looked after by the National Trust for Scotland and guided tours are available of the palace and its wonderful formal gardens where there is an amazing living willow labyrinth.

Mary Queen of Scots stayed in the palace in the 1500s and was said to be very fond of it as it reminded her of the chateau where she grew up in France.

'Craigh Na Dun'
‘Craigh Na Dun’

The Craigh Na Dun standing stones that are so significant to the plot of Outlander are in fact fictional but are said to have been inspired by the stones at Clava Cairns near Inverness.

A trip to see these Bronze Age stones can be combined with a visit to the Culloden battlefield that is less than 10 miles away from the cosy accommodation on offer at Horseshoe Cottage. This Highland getaway that sleeps 4 people is very centrally located and is only 15 minutes’ drive away from Loch Ness should ‘Nessie spotting’ also be on the agenda.

Doune CastleDoune Castle, Stirlingshire

Another location that was featured fairly prominently is Doune Castle near Blair Drummond in Stirlingshire that was used as Castle Leoch, the fictional seat of Clan Mackenzie. The interior shots were done in a studio but the castle is still fascinating to wander around and there is an interesting audio tour available that is voiced by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame (Monty Python and the Holy Grail was partly filmed at the castle).

Stay at Kilbryde Castle Apartment, 4 miles from Doune Castle, for a real feeling of castle dwelling as the apartment is set within the baronial style Kilbryde Castle.

Carn Dearg Cottage
Carn Dearg Cottage

The Highland Folk Museum (open Mar to Oct) in Newtonmore proved to be ideal for the film producers as the thatched crofts in its recreated 1700s township already perfectly resembled the Mackenzie village they were used to represent.

In the heart of Newtonmore is Carn Dearg Cottage that is only a mile from the museum so is very convenient for visiting and is a lovely place to come back to after days spent out exploring the surrounding area.

The next series of Outlander (season 4) is due to premiere in November 2018 and is sure to feature plenty more of Scotland’s beautiful landscapes and architecture. We can’t wait and also look forward to welcoming guests who are on their own Outlander adventures! Give us a call on 01835 822277 to speak to our helpful booking team or browse the portfolio for yourself.

Tying the knot in 2018?

If you are searching for the perfect wedding venue for a 2018 wedding, why not think about trying something a bit different? How about taking your vows on the shore of a stunning Scottish loch or in the grounds of a spacious country house?

Wedding on Loch AweWedding on the Shore of Loch Awe

Situated on Scotland’s west coast, Achnacarron Boathouse is located in lovely, secluded grounds on the shore of Loch Awe, one of the most beautiful and most frequently photographed of all of the Scottish lochs.

Achnacarron Boathouse
Achnacarron Boathouse

The owners of the boathouse were married there themselves and they loved the property so much that they decided to buy it and offer other couples the same kind of relaxed, intimate celebration that they spent so long looking for. They had dreamed of a small wedding by the water’s edge and after months of looking at grand venues that catered for huge numbers of guests at enormous cost, they found their ideal destination in Achnacarron Boathouse.

The scenery is breathtaking and is the perfect dramatic and romantic backdrop for any wedding or civil ceremony. There’s a private pier that’s wonderful for photos, plus a decked seating area overlooking the water where you may be lucky enough to spot some of the area’s abundant local wildlife.

There is no extra charge for using the venue, although the property, which sleeps 6 people, has to be booked for at least a one week stay. The owners have great local contacts who can take care of everything from flowers, catering, cakes and hair and beauty to photographers, pipers and musicians.

Cuilcheanna's Dining Room
Cuilcheanna’s Dining Room

It is a wonderful way for a couple to take their vows and is the perfect solution for anyone looking for a smaller, more intimate celebration that can be tailored to their own special requirements (maximum 6 guests).

Other properties in our Unique Cottages portfolio that make wonderful wedding venues include Cuilcheanna House near Fort William. This impressive Victorian country house sleeps up to 17 people and is set just quarter of a mile from the shores of Loch Linnhe.

Its beautiful gardens would make a lovely setting for a small wedding, with a marquee erected on the lawns overlooking the loch and the mountains in the distance, plus accommodation for extra guests available nearby.

Torloisk HouseTorloisk House

Over on the Isle of Mull, Torloisk House near Tobermory is one of our heritage properties that would be perfect for a small wedding.

Located in extensive grounds on a private estate, this eight bedroom Georgian property sleeps up to 16 people and comes complete with a housekeeper. Torloisk House is filled with old world grandeur including an impressive great hall at the entrance, a charming drawing room, a library and a grand formal dining room. You and your guests can even enjoy a game of croquet on the lawn.

For more information on any of these Unique Cottages properties for your wedding or get together, or if you’re simply looking for a beautiful Scottish holiday property, just visit our website or call 01835 822277 and speak to our experienced booking team.

Be King or Queen of the Castle

As 2017 is Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we thought we’d celebrate this country’s unique and colourful history by showcasing some of the best Scottish castles for you to visit as part of a break with us and have even highlighted special places to stay nearby.

Caerlaverock CastleCaerlaverock Castle, Dumfries

The literal translation of Caerlaverock is ‘castle of the lark’, but this gentle name seems somehow at odds with the imposing sandstone walls of one of the most powerful-looking castles in Scotland. Located in Dumfries and Galloway on the edge of the Solway Firth, this medieval fortress is packed with fascinating tales of its turbulent history and yet has a fairytale appearance and its own moat. It was even used as a filming location for the film ‘The Decoy Bride’ back in 2011.

Box Bed at Ghillie's Bothy
Box Bed at Ghillie’s Bothy

Enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep in a full size Scottish box bed set into the wall in the beautiful Ghillie’s Bothy in Dumfries and Galloway. Tradition combines with modern facilities to offer a scenic, peaceful base for visiting Caerlaverock Castle and the surrounding area. Sleeping 2 people and welcoming 2 pets, prices start at £295 for a 7 night stay.

Stirling CastleStirling Castle, Stirling

One of the largest and most imposing castles in Scotland, Stirling Castle sits dramatically on top of Castle Hill, surrounded on 3 sides by step cliffs – an ideal defensive position. Several kings and queens of Scotland were crowned here, including Mary Queen of Scots, who also lived in the castle as a child. It has the largest medieval banqueting hall ever built in Scotland – and even comes complete with a ghost.

The Ridge is the lower section of an old turreted Scottish baronial mansion situated just a short walk from Stirling Castle. This elegant, spacious property sleeps 4 people with prices starting at £335 for 7 nights.

Dunvegan CastleDunvegan Castle, Isle of Skye

Dunvegan Castle, situated at the heart of a 42,000 acre estate on the Isle of Skye, is one of the great Hebridean castles and has been continually occupied by the Clan Chiefs of Macleod for over 800 years. It is absolutely filled with paintings and clan treasures including one of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s waistcoats and the famous Fairy Flag, a sacred clan banner that is said to have with magical powers. When it was unfurled in battle, the clan would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

View from Sandaig CottageSandaig Cottage is a modern, open plan cottage with gorgeous views out over the Sound of Sleat where you can relax and keep an eye out for the otters, seals and dolphins that are often spotted along the shoreline. Pet friendly and sleeping up to 4 people, prices start at £550 for 7 night stays (with linen, towels and WiFi included).

Tantallon CastleTantallon Castle, near North Berwick

Tantallon Castle is the ruined stronghold of the Red Douglas dynasty. Set high on a cliff edge looking out towards the Bass Rock, it was besieged by both James IV and James V but was ultimately destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in 1651. There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore, including the remains of the Great Hall and the spooky pit prison.

A short drive up the coast from Tantallon Castle, on the outskirts of Dunbar, is The Beach House set just 50 metres from the shores of beautiful Belhaven Bay. There is the potential for surfing at mid to high tide, plus lots to explore nearby. The Beach House is pet friendly and sleeps up to 3 people with prices for 7 night stays starting at £355.

Floors CastleFloors Castle, Kelso

Floors Castle is Scotland’s largest inhabited castle and it’s easy to see why it is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Scottish Borders. It is a truly stunning building, designed by William Adam in 1721 for the 1st Duke of Roxburghe and subsequently remodeled by William Playfair between 1837 and 1847. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and filled with treasures including fine art, newly-restored tapestries and porcelain, it is a lovely place to spend an afternoon.

Kingfisher Cottage
Kingfisher Cottage

Kingfisher Cottage near Kelso is a spectacular conversion of part of an old mill dating from 1774 that has been carefully renovated with all 21st century comforts. It has plenty of space to spread out into with a spacious open plan living area and separate galleried TV room upstairs that makes sure all viewing tastes are catered for. The cottage sleeps up to 6 and prices start at £450 for 7 nights.

eilean-donan-castleEilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan is one of the most photographed castles in the world, thanks to its stunning setting on an island at the entrance to Loch Duich. Many different versions of the castle have been built and rebuilt since the 13th century but after it was partly destroyed in a Jacobite rising in 1719, Eilean Donan lay in ruins for around 200 years until it was restored to its former glory and became one of Scotland’s best-loved attractions.

Letterfearn Cottage is situated right on the shore of Loch Duich and looks across to Eilean Donan castle. It makes the perfect base for forest walks, cycling and, of course, visiting the castle itself. Letterfearn sleeps 4 people and prices start at £395 for 7 nights (WiFi and linen included).

With cottages spread out across the whole of Scotland we have just the place for you to enjoy this special Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology by visiting some of the other castles Scotland has to offer, as well as historic dwellings, stately homes and heritage sites galore. Just delve in and immerse yourself in the stories of Scotland’s past. Give us a call on 01835 822277 to speak to our helpful booking team or browse the whole portfolio online to find your perfect fit. We even have some properties that are set in some pretty historic buildings themselves.

Exploring Scotland’s Best Beaches

Clear blue waters, giant dunes and stretches of soft golden sands. No, we’re not talking about the Caribbean, but Scotland, the surprising home of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Scotland’s beaches have a charm and character unique to the country and often feature fabulous wildlife and activities galore to try out from windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing to swimming, sandcastle building and rock pooling.

We’ve picked five of our favourites beaches that, like all of Scotland’s beaches, are perfect for exploring at any time of year – you don’t have to save them just for the summer.


1. Seacliff Beach near North Berwick, East Lothian

Situated on the gorgeous East Lothian coast, this is a gem of a beach that’s accessed by a private road (small charge). Visitors are treated to a beautiful sandy beach, a fascinating tiny harbour plus fantastic views of the dramatic Tantallon Castle on the cliffs overhead.

Out to sea, the famous Bass Rock dominates the horizon, a former prison island that is now home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the world. If you are really lucky you may even catch sight of the beautiful Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.

Shore Cabin, Driftwood and The Beach House are all in easy reach of Seacliff and sit on yet another sandy beach of their own!

2. Morlich Beach at Glenmore, Cairngorms National Park

Loch Morlich Beach
Loch Morlich Beach

Did you know that one of Scotland’s loveliest beaches is actually 25 miles from the sea? Loch Morlich is a fresh water loch in the Cairngorms with wonderful sandy beaches, a water sports centre and yacht club.

It is surrounded by acres of forest and has a stunning backdrop of the beautiful northern Cairngorms. It really is a perfect beach resort like no other.

Alvie Cottage is just over 15 minutes’ drive away and is new to our portfolio so currently has plenty of availability, a week’s stay starts at just £365.


3. Camusdarach Beach at Arisaig

Made famous when it featured in the film Local Hero, Camusdarach Beach is a fantastic place to while away the hours. There are stunning views over the islands of Eigg, Rum and Skye plus wonderful walks and lots of places to explore with the family. It is a true gem.

Orchard House and Achnahanat are both set just a mile away from this wonderful beach.

4. Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris

Luskentyre Beach
Luskentyre Beach

Luskentyre Beach in the south of the island of Harris frequently makes it onto lists of the country’s best beaches and it is very easy to see why. The seascape is truly spectacular with clear blue waters, white sands and amazing scenery that wouldn’t seem out of place abroad.

We have a range of lovely properties on both the isles of Harris and Lewis.

5. Coral beaches at Claigan, near Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye

Claigan Coral Beach
Claigan Coral Beach

The wonderful coral beaches at Claigan on the Isle of Skye are, despite their name, actually made up of scraps of hardened algae and seaweed from the sea. A lovely walk leads along to the beach which is great to walk along whatever the weather to admire the remarkable sparkling turquoise waters. You may even see some of the local cows that like to have a nice lie on the beach themselves.

Mag Findargat is just 11 miles from the coral beaches and offers a spacious, contemporary getaway with plenty of room to spread out into. A week’s stay starts at just £575 and discounts are available for couples.

We have dozens of coastal cottages right round Scotland that are perfect for exploring the country’s shoreline. If you are ready to hit the beach, just visit our coastal properties to find your perfect Scottish holiday cottage. A lot of our beachside properties are now booking up already for 2018 so get booking while there is still some availability! If you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, our booking team are happy to help on 01835 822277.