The following blog post is my entry into a blogger competition run by Sykes Cottages. See the end of the post if you’d like to enter yourself!
I’ve lived in Scotland now for almost three years, and have been fortunate to have taken a few holidays/short breaks all over the country. From Peebles to the Black Isle, St Andrews to Mull, I’ve enjoyed experiencing the breadth of character these places have. Yes, I can’t deny that there is a significant drop in temperatures as you venture northward, but there is so much more to Scotland than the Krankees, Proclaimers and Haggis!
I don’t really consider myself a person who demands much in the way of romantic gestures, I would much rather go and enjoy a relaxing time away with my husband than for him to shower me with gifts. And that’s fortunate for both of us, considering he prides himself on being a thrifty Scot! (That is a semi-joke, he definitely would spend money on me if he knew I really wanted something!)
I was amazed when I saw a statistic that said only 5% of the 2,390 people asked would consider taking a romantic holiday or honeymoon in Scotland! Here’s why I think that Scotland is a pure dead brilliant (and MUCH underrated) place for a romantic anniversary break, honeymoon or holiday (including some picks that are either personal recommendations, or places that I really want to go to!):
You have the choice of taking in the city buzz together, or a remote getaway in which you feel like you are the only people on earth (or combine both!)
Glasgow and Edinburgh are cities with completely different characters and layouts. Events like the yearly Fringe Festival in Edinburgh really does showcase the cultural richness of the city, whilst the friendliness of the Glaswegians is world famous! If museums are more your bag, I’d recommend the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow for a wander, as well as the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. And of course if you want to climb a hill within a city, you can’t get much more romantic than Arthurs Seat in Edinburgh.
Or if you’re thinking of somewhere a little quieter, what about the East Neuk in Fife; a collection of pretty and quaint fishing villages.with cobbled streets, it really does feel like a different world! As well as walking the Fife Coastal Path through Pittenweem, Elie and St Monans, you could head to the busier university town of St Andrews, which is where of course Prince William met Kate Middleton – look out for the plethora of cafes that make the claim of being that romantic spot of their first meeting! Of course there’s other things you can do in St Andrews; taking a windswept walk along the beach (for doing your best ‘Chariots of Fire’ impression) or get some friendly (there’s no place for romance when Mr B and I do battle on the golf course!) competition going at the Himalayas Putting Course.
On the west coast you could base yourself in Largs, where you are close to the port of Ardrossan to catch a ferry to the Isle of Arran, where the landscapes of the island are so diverse. And Largs is yet just 50 minutes drive away from Glasgow if you need your city fix!
I haven’t even mentioned the many possibilities of destination in the north west of Scotland – there are SO many places to choose from in the Highlands and Islands region. We took an overnight visit to Wester Ross (we’re based in Inverness) earlier this year and loved driving around the area taking in all the atmospheric views on the winding roads. And being a very good patient husband, Mr B kept stopping every so often so I could jump out of the car and take pictures!
There are activities that suit every interest going, for any budget
Mr B and I are very fortunate as we don’t feel that we HAVE to spend loads of money on each other as a romantic gesture. One of our favourite holidays we took earlier this year was a walking holiday– walking around 55 miles of the Great Glen Way. We spent 5 days on our own, with minimal access to phone signal, emails, and general contact with the outside world. We walked, talked and laughed from Fort William to Drumnadroichidt, and it was BRILLIANT.
If shopping is more your thing, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are fairly evenly matched with impressive city centres and retail parks. If you are looking for something very special to celebrate an upcoming engagement/wedding/birthday gift I can recommend the Arygll Arcade in Glasgow; we looked here for engagement ring ideas before we had told any family or friends we were getting married/Mr B had officially proposed, so even though we were both quite giddy with excitement, I felt quite sneaky and very paranoid that we would get spotted by someone!
Now Mr B and I love to spend time together, but one place we work better separately is the kitchen! I think it’s because we are both fairly experienced cooks and like to be in charge. However I think that we would both enjoy a bread making course like this one at Ullapool Bakery. Would you enjoy a break where you both learned a new skill? Or, if you are a more active couple – what about a skiing holiday at Cairn Gorm or at the Lecht, where after a day spent in the cold you could enjoy a meal and a wee dram in front of the fire?
Speaking of whisky, there are tons of distilleries, particularly in the Highlands and Islands area. Whisky’s not my thing, and if its not yours either, there are always a growing number of local craft ale breweries to visit.
If none of those are floating your boat, don’t panic, sometime it’s just nice to get yourselves cuddled up in front of the fire/on the beach with a good book and an indoor/outdoor picnic!
Experience beauty in nature around you.
There are so many ways to experience the beauty of the Scottish landscape, and it’s all so varied! For a cosy winter log cabin break in the Cairngorms, could you be lucky enough to spot the Northern lights? (still one of my goals!)
When temperatures start to rise, use Walk Highlands to find a walk suiting your ability and desired terrain; take your pick from coast, loch, mountain or forest! Make sure you take a camera to capture all that you see!
If you are on the west coast/north coast, consider taking a dolphin or seal spotting trip?
Share in an amazing choice of cuisines, with fresh, local ingredients
Scottish food is much more than Haggis, Tunnocks Teacakes and Cullen Skink (though all of those things we do enjoy!) and these are just a few recommendations from around our neck of the woods in Inverness:
We love nothing more to treat ourselves to a cheeseboard once in a while on a quiet night in and we can quite easily fill our boots with goodies from the Connage Highland Dairy, and the Cromarty Cheese House, washed down with a ale or two from Mr B’s favourite – Black Isle Brewery
A walk along Rosemarkie (including the popular dolphin spotting area of Chanonry Point) followed by a lunch at the Allangrange Arms on the Black Isle is a great spot – we can recommend the burgers! And if you’re in the Cairngorms near Aviemore, I can also recommend a great cake shop called Inshriach Nursery where you will be spoilt for choice!
To sum up, there is a massive spectrum of treats, activities and experiences available in Scotland to make your romantic getaway very very special wherever you end up – I’ve only mentioned about a quarter of things I know about.
Finally, here are my picks of listed Sykes Cottages for a romantic getaway (I’d choose a remote getaway as I love Scottish hills, lochs and sea, though I think my husband might prefer some place closer to a city so maybe we’d have to compromise along the line!):
The Signal Box I LOVE the quirkiness of holidaying in a replica signal box. I love the layout and the fact that you get a woodburner and a balcony!
The Old Cottage Peaceful crofters cottage on the Isle of Skye complete with a four-poster bed?! Yes please.
Acorn Lodge Another quirky property, and eco-friendly. Fort William is a great location for walking and adventure sports. And it has a sauna at the ready to ease the post-walk aches and pains!
The Hideaway Not having spent much time around the Dumfries and Galloway area, this property looks well placed for some exploration!
**All words, pictures and experiences are mine unless otherwise attributed**
If you’d like to enter this competition to win £350 of holiday cottage vouchers, see the instructions on the Sykes Cottages website. Entries close on August 10th, so get in quick!
I nominate the following tweeters (and their blogs – linked below) to take part: