Scotland is beautiful. The wild, rugged landscape looks exactly like the setting of any great mythical and legendary story. And you all know Scotland has many of them. From tales of the infamous Mary Queen of Scots to the fabled Loch Ness Monster, the Scottish landscape is riddled with secrets, folklore and beauty.
Even in the 21st century, Scotland maintains its traditional, rugged origins and exudes an honest and straightforward confidence. The 2012 James Bond thriller, Skyfall, left people dreaming of exploring the country’s ethereal misty highlands, haunted glens and pristine lochs.
To see the best of Scotland, you need to be outdoors. The two major cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, are lively, vibrant and charming, but the truly mysterious and striking parts of the country are found away from the main hubs.
To set out on foot is the greatest way to see every hidden nook and cranny. Trails wind all over the weathered countryside – all you need to do is start walking. As of the 30 October 2012, it’s now possible to walk the entire length of Scotland, all 470 miles of it, along the countries longest hiking route, the Gore-tex Scottish National Trail. This single journey, which will take five to six weeks to complete, takes walkers from Kirk Yetholm, on the Scottish and English border, all the way up to Cape Wrath. Only one and a half hours from Newcastle Airport, the starting point is easy to find, but the trail can also be broken down into shorter sections for a less strenuous adventure. The West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way are two of the best trails to tackle and are connected to the large Gore-tex track.
The Scottish countryside is also a fantastic place to cycle. Routes meander their way around the land and you’re bound to stumble across an ancient castle or city walls as you pedal your way around.
The country’s cycling routes will be receiving a huge upgrade over the next few years too. The Scottish government has pledged £4 million to upgrade and improve cycle infrastructure. This investment will see new tracks created and old paths renovated with the aim of improving tourism, connecting regional communities and making cycling much safer for everybody.
The Great Glen Way is one of the main routes set to see an upgrade. This iconic trail covers 79 miles of woodlands and runs between Inverness and Fort William. The region already draws over 20,000 visitors during the annual World Mountain Bike Championship in June, but the improvements to the track will attract tourists all year round. Fly into Glasgow Airport and enjoy a few days exploring the city before making your way north to the trail. For an easier ride full of sightseeing, take the trail that runs from Glasgow to Loch Lomond. You’ll be taken past popular attractions like Victoria Park and Fossil Grove before finishing in the stunning national park surrounding the Loch and overlooked by the mountain, Ben Lomond.
A getaway spent exploring Scotland can be affordable for any family. Cheap flights around the UK can easily be found using sites like Flybe and will put you right in the heart of Scotland’s natural beauty in a only a matter of hours.