Wilderness Scotland - Capercaillie Escapes

It is often too easy to take for granted what is on our doorstep.

We work hard and save hard to escape to a foreign land in the quest for adventure, culture, cuisine and sunshine.  Albeit, we certainly can’t guarantee the weather but escaping further into Scotland can offer a few surprises and make the ‘staycation’ a very attractive option.

One of the things so inspiring about Scotland is the diversity – from bustling cities, to moorland and high mountains, ancient forests, deep glens and lochs, rugged coastlines, pristine sandy beaches and more than 790 islands dotting our shores we are scenically spoilt for choice!  We are as diverse culturally too offering visitors a friendly welcome and simple Scottish hospitality, not to mention our great natural larder celebrated this year in Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.

To get the feeling of escape many of us crave wilderness.  The experience of getting back to basics, away from it all, and at one with nature.  Well with two beautiful national parks – the Cairngorms and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs – wilderness Scotland is not difficult to find, but what about if we were searching for that extra special little place?  Put on the spot to name our Top 5 that would be tricky but here are a few favourites to recommend (in no particular order)…

Assynt and Sutherland

In a small bay a few miles north of Lochinver in the north-west highlands you’ll find Clachtoll – a coastal fishing and crofting village with magnificent views to Split Rock and the sea beyond.  This is an area of dramatic and outstanding beauty rich in wildlife and history.  Drive or cycle north on the narrow winding roads to Stoer where you’ll find the lighthouse and a great coastal walk to the Old Man of Stoer, a spectacular 200ft sea-stack.  Keep an eye out for sea-life whilst stopping in at the Blue Tea Van before returning to base.

Applecross Peninsula and Wester Ross

The journey to the Applecross makes getting there all the more rewarding.  The iconic BeaLach Na Ba or “Pass of the Cattle” is a unique historic single-track pass through the mountains and makes for an unforgettable drive with spectacular views across Wester Ross, Skye and the Outer Hebrides. The small remote village of Applecross at the foot of the pass has a good campsite, Inn and local bed & breakfast.  With calm waters and beautiful beaches enjoy the tranquillity of the area as well as sample fresh local seafood from the wonderful lively Inn overlooking the Inner Sound.  Continue your journey along the winding coast road towards the 200 year old fishing village of Shieldaig and Loch Torridon.

Shetland Islands

Sitting at a crossroads in the Atlantic the beautiful Shetland Islands which lie 100 miles north of the Scottish mainland offer a truly unique experience.  Landscapes and seascapes are wild and dramatic offering a fascinating haven for wildlife including puffins, fulmars, otters, seals and hardy Shetland Ponies.  Physically the Shetland Islands are different and culturally there is a unique blend of Scandinavian and Scottish influences which make for an even more interesting and special visit. With only 16 of about 100 islands inhabited you’ll not struggle to find wilderness here – there are plenty of opportunities to explore by foot, boat or bike with many local guides available too.

Aberdeenshire and the Moray Coast

A hidden gem less than 40 miles north of Aberdeen are the unspoilt historic coastal villages of Pennan, Crovie and Gardenstown. Whilst this may not be wilderness as some expect here you’ll find one of the most scenic picturesque coastlines in the country.  Built into old red sandstone cliffs the villages are quaint and with gardens and doorsteps often washed by the sea.  In Crovie the single row of houses are perched on such a narrow ledge cars are left outside the village.  Looking out over the Moray Firth you’ll often see dolphins, porpoise, sea birds and seals. Continuing along the coast towards Cullen and Forres there are more wonderful bays to explore and superb local seafood to sample.

Eigg and the Small Isles

Eigg, at 9km long and 5km broad, is one of the four Small Isles off the west coast of Scotland just south of Skye.  The island is dominated in the north by the dramatic ridge of An Sgurr which makes for an excellent walk and superb 360 degree views back to the mainland and over to Rum.  Eigg is quaint, remote and with no cars apart from those of the locals you really feel like you’re getting away from it all when the ferry drops you at Galmisdale.  Bikes are available for hire or bring your own, stay in one of the local guest houses or rent a simple bothy.  There are a couple of good spots for eating out too to sample the best of the natural larder of the islands.  The sunsets are simply stunning, particularly from Laig Bay and a little further north at Singing Sands or “squeaky beach” as it is affectionately known.

Explore Scotland Your Way…there is something for everyone here and these are only a few tips for escaping to the wilderness.  It’s simply about getting off the beaten track and sharing what is great about beautiful Scotland!


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