Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known Scottish Destinations We Love

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
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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