We are genuinely spoiled for choice when it comes to ideas for a staycation in Scotland. From beaches, mountains, islands and wildlife to bothies and wild camping, there is plenty to see and do – even if the weather is a little less predictable. Our solution? Pull on your Scottish-summer-proof Stroma Jacket and make the most of our wonderful outdoor spaces for a micro adventure that leaves you feeling refreshed and inspired.
Ice-cream and mountains; Isle of Arran
One of the easiest Scottish islands to get to for a staycation, the Isle of Arran is sometimes described as ‘Scotland in Miniature’ for its dramatic combination of landscapes, beaches and mountains.
Tour the island by bike
Travelling by boat always makes us feel as if we are heading off on an adventure – and this particular voyage is one you can bring your bike on too. Cycling in Arran may not be as well established as other parts of Scotland, but it’s still a wonderful open playground for you to explore. There are both on and off-road tracks, so you can choose to sightsee on long, calm stretches or get your thrills on the steep trails and crags.
Climb Arrans highest peak
If a hard climb is what you need to relax, then Arran is just waiting for you to take on its challenges. The climb up Goatfell, which is the highest peak on the island at 874 m, takes around 4 - 5 hours. Although the last ascent to the top is known to be a thigh burner, the trail leading up to this is relatively easy and is a great way to take in the island’s stunning views. Apart from this peak, there are numerous other hikes and walks that will take you to waterfalls, past castles and along the beach.
Forest Adventures; Pitlochry
Situated in Highland Perthshire is tiny Pitlochry. Nestled amongst the trees, this picturesque spot has lots to offer, including beautiful natural landscapes, waterfalls, hiking trails and a loch, as well as a local distillery-making it the perfect spot for a staycation.
River walks and red squirrel spotting
A walker’s paradise, all the Pitlochry trails start and end in the town centre. The landscape around Pitlochry offers diverse scenery, so walks can follow the river, curve around the loch, meander through the woodland or climb up a hill. If you visit Black Spout Woods, on the outskirts of town, walk up to the viewing point to admire the 60 m-high waterfall. And keep on the lookout for red squirrels.
The forests and hills combination makes Pitlochry especially beautiful in the summer and autumn when lush vegetation shows off its colours. A particularly special view is the ‘Queen’s View’, so named after a visit from Queen Victoria, overlooking Loch Tummel and beyond to Schiehallion, while the area has a range of woodland walks that are suitable for all abilities.
If you find you want to take things up a level, the Nae Limits adventure team hosts gorge walking, canyoning, white water rafting, river tubing and bungee jumping with a dramatic 40 m drop.
Bothies and Birds; The Cairngorms
It would be wrong to talk about Scottish staycations without mentioning the Cairngorms. Boasting 55 Monros, five of the UK’s highest peaks, 200 miles of way-marked paths and the darkest place on our island, the competition is unfairly balanced.
A particularly cosy little bolthole is the Glen Feshie Bothy, located in the new rewilding scheme. It’s a car journey to the start of the trail that leads to the bothy. The trail takes around 1 - 2 hours of walking through beautiful open moors, Scots pines, woodlands and burns. Be aware that any phone signal in this area is scarce to non-existent. The bothy itself is relatively new and the inside has been kitted out with wooden floors, which makes it a good deal more luxurious than the stone floor beds that are generally found in bothies. I visited in January, when there was snow dusted on the paths and was comfortably warm with a sleeping bag and the fire blazing.
Wild camping on the Speyside Way
There is also plenty of scope for wild camping within the Cairngorms National Park, the perfect opportunity to sample some of the beautiful dark skies. The Speyside Way is a common route that starts in the mountains at Newtonmore and follows the river Spey into the sea, ending at Spey Bay. The trail is broken down into several small sections, most of which are 4-5 hours of walking with a couple around two hours each, which gives you nine options to choose from on just this trail. The path from Kincraig to Aviemore is a good choice for a holiday stroll with kids or as a warm-up before you tackle something a little tougher.
Explore the Cairngorms’ nature reserves
The Cairngorms is the place to be if you’re looking to get closer to nature. The area is home to 25% of all endangered wildlife due to the rich and diverse landscape. The Scottish Access Code offers advice on what you can do to protect the wild creatures who live there.
There are nine nature reserves within the Cairngorms, home to ptarmigan, golden eagle, ospreys, lapwing, pine marten, dotterel and mountain hare, capercaillie and Scottish wild cat. Keep your eyes peeled and you should be rewarded. Scotland has so much to offer for outdoor and micro-adventures – you may never want to hop on a plane again.