A lot of wild coast, the massive expanse of the Cairngorms and the smokey flavours of single malts all combine to make glamping in Scotland an unforgettable adventure. Here are a few ideas for days out and weekend breaks, which you can string together into a great long escape, include on a rambling road trip or make a part of your glamping getaway.
Where: East coast - Newburgh, Ellon
How long: Half day
No, this isn’t all about food. Start the day with a blustery walk down the beach at Newburgh and, as you track through the dunes at the mouth of the Ythan River, you’ll start to hear the grunts and barks of the 400-strong colony of rock sausages, otherwise known as common seals. There’s good signage that helps you get the best views without getting too close and disturbing their sleep and the views along the inlet and out to sea are lovely. Once you’ve had your fill of sausages, it’s time for lunch. Ten minutes up the road you’ll find one of the tastiest places to visit in Scotland - DogTap Ellon, the home of Brewdog, where you can hang out, try some awesome beers and get a cracking burger before you carry on with your day.
Where: Cairngorms, Tomintoul
How long: Full day
The hiking in Scotland is incredible and there are endless trails in the Cairngorms alone, from the Falls of Bruar in the south to Ailnack Gorge in the north. The latter gives you a chance to discover some of the less-travelled corners of Britain’s largest National Park, and walk wooded slopes that are home to roe deer, red squirrels and mountain hare. Set off from the Queen’s View car park in Glen Avon and make sure you take good maps. After hiking up an appetite, head to Tomintoul for a bite to eat, either at the friendly restaurant The Clockhouse or one of the three pubs the little village manages to squeeze in. If you’ve still got a bit of energy then head over to the Dark Sky Discovery Site at The Carrachs. This is one of the many places where you have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Scotland, although it’s never guaranteed, of course.
Where: Rothiemurchus, Inshriach
How long: Full day
It might seem like these two things should never go together but they really do. Consecutively of course, not simultaneously. You’ll have to be sharp-eyed and well organised to experience them both though. Dog sled tours from Cairngorm Sledding Centre are an amazing way to experience the countryside, although sledding is currently suspended until 2021. You get to understand the training and techniques, meet the dogs and then skim across the ground under their power. If you’re very lucky, then Inshriach Distillery will be holding one of its rare open days too. These events are mini festivals of food, music and homemade gin, so keep an eye out and pounce as soon as you know they’re on.
Where: North coast - Sandend, Cullen
How long: Full day
Some people never think coastal when they think of holidays in Scotland, but there are a couple of great activities on offer. Sandend, aka Moray Firth, offers some fine surfing with peaks in a sheltered cove and an occasional left off the reef at the west end. With water temperatures around 14 degrees in August. Suds surf school can kit you up and take you out if you’re still learning. Tire yourself out in the waves then head down the road to Cullen where you can pick up some sea skills on the water or get a crash course in nautical knot tying. You’ll also find plenty of places to try out the local specialty, Cullen Skink, which will refresh surf-tired limbs and warm up cold fingers with its earthy combination of smoked fish, potatoes and onion.
How long: From a short tour to a very long night
Of all the things to do in Scotland, trying a little whisky is the easiest to come by. The Malt Whisky Trail is a group of nine Speyside distilleries that you can hop between, but there are so many in the area that it’s quite hard NOT to end up tacking a visit onto your glamping weekend. Most offer official tours which take you through the process so you can see how the flavour builds with every step, and many have cafes which make scenic stops as you travel around the countryside. If you don’t get to a distillery, then simply walk into a local pub and look up. You’ll often find a top shelf that winds around the bar, stocked with a dizzying selection of whiskies. Don’t worry if you don’t know your malt from your mash, just ask the barman to pick one out, try not to make a face when you try it and never, ever, ask for a mixer.
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