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The magnificent Scottish Highlands are renowned for its unspoilt beauty, amazing wildlife and captivating history. This huge expanse lies in the north of Scotland stretching across two thirds of the country and is easily accessible from Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow. With so much to see and do, we can’t think of a better way to embrace spring than with a short trip to the Scottish Highlands!
Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park by Deus Ex / Wikimedia Commons (image size has been modified)
Cairngorms National Park is the largest National Park in the UK covering 4,528km and is home to 25% of Britain’s threatened species. Here, you can find Britain’s largest and highest mountain range as well as ancient forests, spectacular lochs and plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy! The Cairngorms National Park has some of the cleanest rivers in Europe making it the perfect place to enjoy water sports including fishing, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, white water rafting and more. During the summer months, tourists can choose to explore the mountains by foot or on horseback, while in winter the mountains turn to slopes and you can ski or snowboard your way down! A day pass for skiing or snowboarding costs £34.50 for adults and £20.50 for a junior and lessons and equipment hire are available. Click here for more information. Cairngorms National Park is approximately 1 hour drive from Aberdeen. Public transport options are also available from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Whisky tasting - Pixabay / CCO Public domain (image size has been modified)
If the great outdoors are not for you, you may prefer to spend a day discovering the secrets behind the art of whisky creation! Follow the fantastic Malt Whisky Trail and pass through seven working distilleries including the only working cooperage in the UK; Speyside Cooperage, Speyside’s smallest working distillery; Benromach Distillary and Strathisla or as they refer to themselves; “the spiritual home of one of the most famous whisky brands in the world – Chivas Regal”. Enjoy behind-the-scenes tours, tasting sessions and beautiful scenery as you drive along this trail. From Aberdeen, it’s a 1 hour 15 minute drive to Stratisla Distillery, from here it is a 20 minute drive to Speyside Cooperage and Cardhu distillery is a further 15-20 minutes in the car. If you are planning to drive the Malt Whisky Trail, make sure you have a designated driver with you and remember to drink responsibly even if you are not driving!
Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart by Eusebius / Wikimedia Commons (Image size has been modified)
It would be shame to travel all the way to the Scottish Highlands and not have a look for the legendary Loch Ness monster! Loch Ness is 23 miles long, incredibly deep and very cold! Thousands of visitors flock to Loch Ness every year in search of the monster. The nearby Casle Urquhart is a popular monster-spotting location. Loch Ness is a 3 hour drive from Aberdeen or a 3.5 hour spin from Glasgow. It’s a long way to travel but the scenic drive makes the trip worthwhile, not to mention the triumph involved in spotting Nessie should you be so lucky! If there are a few of you going, take turns with the driving and stop for a coffee or breakfast along the way.
Ben Nevis by Thincat / Wikimedia Commons (Image size has been modified)
Another famous Scottish landmark is the highly impressive Ben Nevis! Standing tall at 4,406ft, Ben Nevis is Britain’s highest summit and is a very popular trek with hikers, whatever the weather. It will be an early start for climbers as the drive from Glasgow to Ben Nevis takes 2hrs 40mins and the climb itself will take approximately 6 – 8 hours to complete depending on your fitness levels. Hit the road around 7am to start your climb at 10am and you should be up and back down before sunset! If you’re not quite ready to take on the challenge of Ben Nevis, you could opt for one of the many low lying walks through Glen Nevis instead. There are plenty of options that cater for all levels of abilities.
Glencoe by Gil Cavalcanti / Wikimedia Commons (Image size has been modified)
Glencoe, which is perhaps Scotland’s most famous and scenic glen, also lies 2 hours from Glasgow. This pretty glen is flanked by tall mossy mountains and offers exceptional mountaineering and hillwalking. You could choose to relax on one of the many beaches dotted along the west coast of Scotland close to Glencoe during the summer months while skiing, snowboarding and sledging are all available during the winter months.
The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park provides a handy alternative for those who don’t want to venture too far. The park is just a 1 hour drive from Glasgow and there are gentle, family-friendly trails that are suitable for wheelchairs and buggies that meander along to a beautiful waterfall. For something more strenuous, climb to the spectacular summits of Ben A’an, Ben Venue, Ben Ledi or Ben Lomond. There are also plenty of cycle tracks to explore and bike hire is available for those who would prefer to take a spin through the park.
St. Andrews - Pixabay / CCO Public Domain (Image size has been modified)
If however, you prefer to stroll the Fairview instead of the countryside; then you couldn’t do much better than St. Andrews Links. Regarded by many as the “home of golf”, St Andrews Links is located in Fife, Scotland just an hour north of Edinburgh. Golf has been played here since the 15th century and it has one of the oldest courses in the world. There are seven public golf courses at St Andrews Links including the Old Course which is considered to be one of the finest and most traditional courses in the world. So why not book a weekend break to Edinburgh and perfect your swing while you’re there!
There is literally something for everyone in this beautiful part of the world with walking trails varying from an easy stroll to a strenuous hike, soaring mountains and low lying glens to be explored, water sports, skiing and more for the adventurous and plenty of history for the culture vultures. Choose from one of our Jurys Inn hotels in Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow and plan your Scottish Highlands trip today.
Main image by Alan Hughes / Wikimedia Commons (Image has been modified and re-sized)