Scotland Off the Beaten Path
Just back from the land of big skies, storied Medieval castles and golf, Luxury Travel Expert Jessica Rizzolo shares her top picks for unique adventures.
Active adventure and wildlife were not terms that I would have associated with Scotland prior to visiting, but they were the highlights of my recent journey. In addition to culture, history, castles, golf and whiskey tasting—which are quintessential to Scotland—it’s fun to infuse the experience with a splash of the great outdoors.
While getting connected with the untouched beauty of Scotland’s wild and hidden wonders, you don’t have to forgo luxury.
A Ker & Downey journey to the Land of the Brave can combine the best of the outdoors and classic Scotland stops like whiskey tastings at a private member’s only club and stays at five-star properties.
Mountain biking is one of the best ways to explore Scotland, especially portions of the Highlands. Two wheels get you into remote areas of the country that can’t be accessed by car or sometimes even foot. The sweeping backcountry trails in the Cairngorms offer a choice of skill-appropriate paths for riders of all levels. To connect to the countryside and feel like a local, pedal through Rothiemurchus Forest and pass by an old logging trail, winding rivers and serene lochs.
The West coast is a haven for wildlife and nature enthusiasts. Take a rib boat cruise to Corryvreckan to see the world’s third-largest whirlpool. Marvel at the myriad of seals and birds; during certain times of the year see otters, whales and puffins too. Sail from the charming seaside village of Easedale. A five-minute ferry takes you across to the vehicle free, neighboring island of Seil—the perfect place for a post-cruise lunch.
A bit further up the coast, Fort William is a breathtaking launching point for a hike to Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. The rolling green hills, winding streams and waterfalls of the Glen Nevis Valley below make the eight-hour (roundtrip) journey worth every step. For Harry Potter fans, the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct is just a short drive away. The Jacobite steam train, often described as the greatest railway journey, crosses the viaduct and offers a different vantage point while giving your tired legs a rest.
Take a Hike
A nice compliment to the wild and untouched west coast is the Isle of Skye, which offers numerous opportunities for the active traveler to get off the grid. The Old Man of Storr is the most popular hike on the island, and well worth it. The iconic “Old Man” is a pinnacle that was formed by an ancient landslide, creating one of the most photographed places in the world.
Another popular hike on Skye leads to the enchanting Fairy Pools, located on the River Brittle at the foot of the Black Cuillins. The pools are vivid colors of blue and green and a popular swimming spot for adventurous swimmers. But beware—the waters are rarely warm.
For raw nature in its purest form, take a boat cruise from Elgol to Loch Coruisk. It’s yours to explore on your own. Hikes around the area give you access to a remote part of Scotland not many people know about.
Pro Tip! Keep a fleece on hand since the weather can get drizzly. -Elizabeth Frels, Luxury Travel Expert