Scotland

Scotland is rated high on visitor’s lists for many reasons. One is that it is a small, compact country where the scenery changes noticably in a very short distance. It is renowned for the beauty of its mountains, lochs and glens. It is also well known for the undependable weather! Please do not come expecting sun and warmth because we cannot guarantee that!  May and June are beautiful in the Highlands and much less busy than July and August. Edinburgh is particularly busy in August when the International Festival and other events take place.
Scottish loch

Many parts of Scotland are rural so the roads are smaller and journeys may take longer: slow down and enjoy! A lot of the attractions are out of doors, so good boots and waterproof clothing will make walking enjoyable whatever the weather.

The various areas of Scotland are indicated in the Servas Britain host list. Unfortunately, in the most beautiful areas that are probably high on people’s list of places to visit there are not many Servas hosts.! In the cities there are a higher number of hosts but also many visitors so, as recommended in the host list, travellers should consider staying with hosts who are outside the city but within easy reach by public transport. In more rural areas, ask about local accommodation in the village shop, post office or pub. This will not be advertised and may be much cheaper!

One reason for visiting Scotland has to be whisky! There are distilleries all over Scotland, with those in Speyside and the island of Islay probably being the most famous. Many are open to the public. The furthest south is Bladnoch Distillery close to Wigton in Dumfries and Galloway and the furthest north is Highland Park on Orkney.

Other attractions are the scope for outdoor activities, golf, fishing, hill walking and mountaineering and surf, and the chance to see some unique wild life. The Scottish music scene also attracts visitors. Groups such as Capercaillie and Runrig are world famous but there is a new breed of musicians who play around the world linking the Celtic music of Scotland, Ireland, France, Northern Spain and Cape Breton. Churches are well attended in rural areas and welcome visitors.

Servas Britain Regional Co-ordinator: Giles Waley (host 386)
Number of Servas host households in Scotland: 39
Peace activities in Scotland:
Several organisations strive for international peace in Scotland, and travellers may be interested in finding out about the work and activities of some of the following:
Sunset at Arisaig
  • The Findhorn Community, established in 1962, is a spiritual community, ecovillage and an international centre for holistic education. It organises a regular programme of workshops and events.
  • The Iona Community describes itself as  ‘a dispersed Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, re-building of community and renewal of worship’. Residential experiences are offered over a week in the different centres run by the community.
  • The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is the major organisation that opposes the presence of nuclear weapons in Scotland and their proliferation.  A permanent peace camp can be visited on the roadside near the Faslane Naval base.
  • Scotland’s for Peace. A group co-ordinating peace activities in the country.
Main towns in Scotland:

 

  • Edinburgh – capital city
  • Glasgow – largest city and commercial capital 
  • Aberdeen – large seaport and centre of the oil industry 
  • Dundee – historically known for journalism, jute and jam
  • Inverness – city that is furthest north 
Transport in Scotland:
Larger cities and towns have good bus and rail links to the rest of Scotland. In rural areas, if there are no local bus services,  there are usually post buses.
Transport hubs and useful websites are listed opposite:

Transport hubs:

  • Edinburgh: airport, bus and train for borders, central and north
  • Glasgow:  airport, bus and train for south-west, central, west highlands and islands
  • Aberdeen:  airport, bus and train for east and south, and ferry to Orkney and Shetland islands
  • Inverness:  airport, bus and train for west, north, south, highlands and Orkney
  • Oban:  ferries to Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides
  • Tarbet:  Ferries to Southern Hebrides

Follow these links for trains, buses, ferries and post buses, and for general route planning, including flights.

Tourist information:
There are tourist offices in most towns – links to some of these and other useful websites are given opposite:Loch Hourn

 


Visit Scotland (official website and tourist information)
Youth Hostels
Scottish Independent Hostels
Àite Cruinnihidh (hostel near Fort William)
Scottish Natural Heritage
National Trust for Scotland
Undiscovered Scotland

Gardens
Scotland’s Forests 
Other information: Scotland the Best, by Peter Irvine is a book describing the best in many categories. He is very good at sourcing little known places and has developed a cult following within Scotland.