Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known Scottish Destinations We Love

There are few places in the UK that are better equipped to handle the vigour of our post-quarantine cabin fever than Scotland. In moments of existentialism, it's the sort of place we find ourselves leering at on Instagram. It has rambunctious, open plains that are begging to be trekked, a striped and spotted smattering of rare wildlife and more whisky distilleries than you can shake a hiking pole at. These are the five mini-break destinations on our post-lockdown wishlist, and what to check out in the meantime.

Five Scottish getaways to book once lockdown ends


Why we can't wait to visit again: We wouldn't mind getting as far away from our current abode as is humanly possible. Unless you fancy a 15-mile hike through spiky, unyielding bracken, the only way of reaching this beautifully desolate country estate is by train. We're packing a stash of books, hiking boots, binoculars and not a lot else.

Where we're staying: At one of the cottages on the estate or the architecturally magnificent Corrour Lodge if we save enough in our quarantine kitty.

Before you go: Watch Trainspotting - the original and the sequel. Not only is Corrour railway station the highest of its kind in the UK at 408m above sea level, it's also where Ewan McGregor and pals filmed that iconic scene.

Isle of Islay

Why we can't wait to visit again: We need a drink, a long one. Anyone with a penchant for artisanal whisky knows that Islay is the place to be. The copper-coloured liquor which streams out of this industrious isle is made with wild peat plucked from the mosslands - a unique step in the process which gives each bottle that signature, earthy flavour. We're roosting in the white-washed village of Port Charlotte, but we'll see you in Port Ellen for a dram or two.

Where we're staying: Port Charlotte Hotel.

Before you go: Get to grips with the ins and outs of Scotland's distilleries (big and small) with this compendium by ex-New York Times editor, Clay Risen.


Why we can't wait to visit again: Okay, it's not off-the-map or under-the-radar, but we're currently lusting after some architecture - anything that isn't these same four walls. We're ogling the simple, community-oriented work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the Glaswegian Arts and Crafts pioneer. If the stream of cack-handed upholstery, painting and half-baked home improvement projects pouring onto Instagram is anything to go by, an Arts and Crafts revival might be well underway.

Where we're staying: Grasshopper Hotel Glasgow.

Before you go: Get acquainted with Mackintosh's era-defining oeuvre. Try this book in Taschen's Basic Architecture series, for starters.


Why we can't wait to visit again: It's a sparsely populated parish, blessed with anthropomorphic peaks which poke out of scrubby moorland and spiny ridges made for dramatic hikes. Come autumn, we'll get our hands dirty with Fergus Steward, chief potter at Glencanisp Lodge before aimlessly strolling along the baby-pink sands of Clashnessie Bay. Assynt is also a pit-stop on the North Coast 500 - an epic road trip around Scotland's northern coastline.

Where we're staying: Either at Kylesku Hotel or one of The Brochs of Coigach - luxurious, contemporary reconstructions of traditional old roundhouses.

Before you go: Get your hands on a copy of The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson by James Boswell. Things have changed a bit since 1785, when it was first published, but his observations of local customs are fascinating and sometimes funny too.


Why we can't wait to visit again: This wibbly-wobbly village in Cairngorms National Park is almost sickeningly twee. Almost. It sits in the shadow of the Grampian Mountains which are filthy rich in fauna. The village of Glenshee is a short drive away and home to the largest ski resort in Scotland, so we can slalom like we were supposed to in Alpe d'Huez this spring - not that we're bitter, at all.

Where we're staying: The Fife Arms.

Before you go: Follow @joshuacopping on Instagram for close-up wildlife shots taken in the Cairngorms. Start brushing up on your knowledge now and you'll be a nature buff by the time you visit.

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Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known UK Destinations We Love