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How to enjoy a local community experience in Scotland

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How can you support local communities in Scotland? Whether you’re out for the day or staying for a week, we’ll show you how to best support local communities.

We’ve put together a list of community experiences and events where you can learn about the local culture. There are also community-owned businesses, and charity experiences where the money supports local individuals.

See local community experiences in the:


Bigton Collective, Shetland

The Bigton Collective are a not-for-profit community organisation focusing on arts, health and wellbeing. They provide a sustainable, supportive and inspirational hub for arts and health in Bigton that promotes wellbeing and creative confidence for all.

There are a range of activities from Bigton Band, Friday Friends, Bigton Singers, wellbeing events, concerts and community exhibitions.

Find out more about Bigton Collective


Cockburnspath Community Shop, Scottish Borders

This community-run shop has fair prices and reinvests profits back into the business and the local community.

The business is also environmentally sustainable, encouraging a lower carbon footprint for residents, and stocking local products where possible.

It’s an ideal stop for those walking the Southern Upland Way and other local walking routes.

Find out more about Cockburnspath Community Shop


Newcastleton Bunkhouse, Scottish Borders

This newly-opened bunkhouse sleeps up to 14 people in 3 en-suite rooms.

Income from the bunkhouse helps sustain the community hub on the same site, which provides access to services and support for everyone who lives nearby.

Find out more about Newcastleton Bunkhouse


Loch Arthur Camphill Community, Dumfries & Galloway

Loch Arthur is a working community, which includes men and women with learning disabilities. There are houses for around 75 people, a farm, large garden, creamery, bakery and craft workshops.

They also operate a farm shop and café renowned for quality food, both sourced and produced with care and integrity.

Find out more about the Loch Arthur Camphill Community


Knoydart, Highlands

Knoydart is a peninsula in Lochaber, on the west coast of Scotland. It’s cut off from the mainland road network, so access is only by foot or boat.

The Knoydart Foundation was set up over 20 years ago to manage the peninsula on behalf of the community and visitors. Since then, the foundation has improved housing, set up a ranger service, and leased land and buildings for local enterprise. The Knoydart Ranger Service run weekly walks for the perfect introduction to this fascinating area.

The local pub, the Old Forge, is newly community-owned, working for both the benefit of the 110 people who live here and the visitors who stop by.

Find out more about the Knoydart Foundation


Isle of Gigha, Argyll & The Isles

The island of Gigha has been community-owned now for over 20 years, benefiting from a growing population and a sustainable local economy. The Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust develops the island and runs projects for the community.

You can stay on the island, while exploring it by foot or bike.

Find out more about visiting the Isle of Gigha


Blarbuie Woodland, Argyll

Blarbuie Woodland is home to staff and volunteers of Argyll & The Isles Coast & Countryside Trust (ACT). This community-led organisation and charity sustainably maintain, enhance and promote this spectacular part of the world.

They support projects including saving the local rainforest, restoring peatland and woodland-based activities for people with poor mental health.

Blarbuie Woodland Rangers host regular events and open days, and the woodland is open for all to explore.

Find out more about Blarbuie Woodland


Auchrannie Resort, Arran

Auchrannie was the first Scottish hotel/resort to become employee-owned around 5 years ago.

In 2022, they also launched the Auchrannie Charitable Trust. This supports local charities and groups who work to improve the island’s environment and community wellbeing.

Find out more about Auchrannie Resort


Ten Hill Place, Edinburgh

This is a hotel with a unique mission. Owned by the Royal College of Surgeons, all the hotel’s profits fund the training of surgeons around the world. It also encourages guests to help support their local ecosystem by gifting a packet of Scottish wildflower seeds in each room.

Find out more about Ten Hill Place


Mercat Tours, Edinburgh

This Edinburgh tour company use donations from visitors to provide tours for local people facing a wide range of issues, all supported by the Grassmarket Community Project.

Every £100 pays for 15 members of the project to have a private 5-star 3-hour tour and attraction visit free of charge.

Find out more about Mercat Tours work


These locally-run events are a great way to learn about the community alongside local residents.

  • Storylands Sessions, Badenoch – regular events: featuring stories and music from local communities for residents and visitors.
  • Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, North Uist – regular events: champions heritage, visual arts and the Gaelic language and culture.
  • North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival, Orkney – usually August: volunteer-led conservation fortnight celebrating the island’s distinct culture and tradition through music, art and education.
  • Shetland Wool Week – 23 September – 1 October 2023: over a week of festivities around Britain’s most northerly native sheep, the Shetland textile industry and the rural farming community on the islands.
  • Stranraer Oyster Festival – 15-17 September 2023: a celebration of the area’s unique coastal heritage, culture, people and wealth of local produce.
  • Taste of Shetland – usually October: promotes Shetland’s wonderful product to the world.


Scottish Community Tourism (SCOTO) are a new network group that support and encourage community-led tourism enterprises and groups.

They have a map of all local community experiences including accommodation, attractions, activities, shops, food & drink and more.

Check out the local community experiences map for Scotland