Plan it yourself….with a wee bit of help!
World travellers tend to fall into three categories; those who insist everything from securing airline tickets, to arranging car rental (or coach travel) and accommodation be planned for them, those who insist on doing everything on their own with no help at all and the ‘happy medium’ category. These, in my view, are the cleverest of all.
They have a definite interest in a particular part of the world, but have not yet visited it or, if they have, have only scratched the surface sufficiently to realize their next trip would be far more enjoyable with a bit of expert advice from someone who has travelled the area for many years.
If you fall in the last group and are considering a trip to Scotland, particularly the Highlands and Islands, why not take advantage of my twenty-five years experience wandering about this remote, spectacular and beautiful part of the world?
Odds are, you can use the internet as well as I can to research airfare and car rental (not that I won`t have some suggestions in those areas) but my advice can be invaluable when it comes to route-planning, driving time, recommendations of areas of outstanding beauty, remote Highland castles and gardens, some of the most spectacular and eerie neolithic sites in the world, lovely and little known Highland villages, as well as specific ideas for accommodation, be it a ‘self-catering’ cottage near a remote beach, a picturesque former Victorian hunting lodge, a country hotel or an economical and friendly Bed & Breakfast.
Thinking of ‘tying the knot’? What better place for a wedding than the romantic Highlands of Scotland? You don`t have to have Madonna`s budget!
Route Planning and Estimates of Driving Time.
Maps, even good ones, can be deceiving. A fifty mile trip over a ‘single-track’ ‘B’ road, with stops every few miles to photograph, or just wonder at, the spectacular scenery, is altogether different from the same distance on a U.S. highway.
The proper maps are vital and should be secured well before your trip begins.
Recommendations; Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Scottish Highlands and Islands have been called “The Last Great Wilderness of Europe” and the scenery, from craggy mountains to beautiful white sand beaches, to remote villages with the ‘High Street” lined with palm trees (!) defies description.
Having said that, though, if time is limited, and it always is, why waste it going out of your way to visit an area that might be a bit of a let-down? I`ll steer you in the right directions!.
Which Highland Castles Are “Must See”?
There are literally hundreds of castles throughout the Highlands, some picturesque ruins, some still lived in many hundreds of years later by the descendants of the original owners.
Many are open to the public and well worth an extended visit. I`ll suggest the best of the bunch. You won`t be disappointed.
Where To Stay?
There are any number of options. A ‘Self-Catering’ holiday house, as often as not a nineteenth century stone ‘crofter`s cottage’ with an open fire and period furnishings, can make a terrific ‘base of operations’ to allow serious exploration, either by car or on foot, of a particular area.
There are thousands from which to choose, some better than others, and at surprisingly reasonable rates. There are restored (and a few un-restored) Victorian hunting lodges operated as well-appointed small hotels, as well as any number of Bed & Breakfasts, most quite attractive and reasonable.
Fine cuisine in the remote Scottish Highlands? You bet!
There are quite a few wonderful restaurants in the most unlikely areas and if you enjoy fresh seafood, salmon that was thrashing about on a line a few hours before landing on your plate, excellent local produce beautifully prepared and presented, accompanied by surprising choices from well-stocked wine cellars, you won`t be disappointed.
There is one particular restaurant on a remote stretch of road beside a beautiful loch in an almost unpopulated area of the Isle of Skye that has, year in and year out, been rated among the top thirty restaurants in the world!
The Scots and French formed the ‘Auld Alliance’ to bedevil the English and quite a bit of Scottish cooking shows the Gallic influence. You`ll be amazed, and a ‘night out’ halfway through a ‘self-catering’ week is a welcome respite.