Why Rural Scotland Should be on your Travel List
The Scottish highlands are a true delight, and just as magical as you’d expect; there’s a good reason it’s been voted the most beautiful place in the world. If you can stand the high chance of heavy rain showers and a hell of a lot of driving, Scotland is worth adding to anyone’s list. While much of it looks similar, regardless of which loch you happen to be close to, it’s not a view you tire from.
There are plenty of options, depending on your preferred holiday style – unless you like sunning yourself on the beach with a cocktail of course. There are nice (though sometimes rather dicey) scenic drives, old castles to explore, mountains to trek, shopping to be done, lochs to relax at, close-up wildlife to see… The list goes on. Obviously, I’ve only just scratched the surface with what this great country has to offer, but I am certainly willing to return to explore some more.
You can read more about all the brilliant stuff I did get up to during my time in a gorgeous log cottage in Strontian, sitting on Loch Sunart, in my travel diaries, but as a little overview, here are my must-see and missable destinations in the Ardnamurchan area of Scotland…
MUST-SEE AND MISSABLE ATTRACTIONS
3 Must Sees…
- Nevis Mountain Range – While climbing Ben Nevis may seem daunting, there are plenty of much gentler mountaineering options in this range, suitable for the whole family. At the Nevis Mountain Range car park you can buy tickets to go up the mountain on a cable car and take one or both of two reasonably short walks through the mountains. Without any stops you can do one round route in about an hour, but you’ll be hard pressed to resist sitting on a rock and taking in the indescribably magnificent view. Want to make more of a day of it? Experienced mountain bikers can take a rocky course back down the mountain, but the rest of us could opt to add on a woodland walk and high ropes experience.
- Ardtoe Beach – This little beach sits west of Strontian, and while there’s not a lot to do it offers a peaceful tranquility away from the usual hustle and bustle of the beaches you’re probably used to. When we went, the entire string of coves was deserted, and the water completely still. Definitely worth a short stop if you’re in the vicinity, but bear in mind it isn’t easy to find, requiring you to take a slightly questionable side road that seems to lead nowhere – Still, you will reach it eventually if you persist and it is a fascinating sight.
- Glencoe – Glencoe is comprised of a series of mountains with a winding road passing through the valley, but it’s truly a sight to behold. In the sunny weather, you’re met with plenty of green and sprawling landscapes with an island feel, but it’s almost better when the weather is overcast as this creates a certain eeriness, making it less photogenic, but far more atmospheric.
- Glenfinnan Viaduct – The Glenfinnan Viaduct is famous as the iconic stretch of railway where the flying car chased the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter – but herein lies the problem. The viaduct itself is actually nothing special and looks like any other viaduct in the country, and the whole area is a huge tourist trap. Aside from Fort William, it was the busiest place we saw on our trip, and it wasn’t even that impressive. Plus you have to be on the ball and do your research if you hope to even be in with a chance of spotting the train. If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan and want to do the whole Hogwarts Express thing then by all means go; you’ll love it, but otherwise your time can probably be better spent elsewhere.
- Inchree Waterfall – I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls in my time, and despite them being small compared to some of the great waterfalls of the world, the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia completely blew me away, and even Golitha Falls in Cornwall makes a gorgeous little visit. This waterfall, however, did not impress. It’s a rather uninteresting climb to see a trickle of water spilling down a cliff a stretch away from the track, and that’s it. I guess if you’re not accustomed to nature’s water features it could be cool, but there are far better falls to be seen back in England and other parts of Scotland.
- Mallaig – Mallaig is just Mallaig. It’s not a particularly bad place, but it’s not worth travelling far to reach. This small fishing town is seriously tiny, and you can walk from one end of the main bit to the other in around fifteen minutes. There’s some cute art and craft shops and a few cafes, and you get to see boats coming in and out of the harbour, but that’s pretty much it. Vaguely nice to look at, but ultimately disappointing. Therefore it’s probably only worth bothering with if you’re nearby anyway.
You may not be lucky enough to see a wild red deer at a close distance like we did, but there is plenty more on offer in Scotland’s North West. And while no image compares to the real thing, if you’re planning a trip there, a camera is an absolute essential to capture the beauty of the largely unspoilt landscape of this pretty part of Britain. Seriously, you won’t see views like this is England – fact.