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8 Rural & Remote Places To Escape To In Scotland

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John Muir Way, East Lothian

Come and discover the true meaning of the word ‘escape’ by heading to some of the most rural places in Scotland.

Everyone needs time to switch off and recharge. Take the chance to reconnect with loved ones somewhere faraway, or simply be at one with nature in wild open spaces.

When the time is right, try some of these remote beauties and you’ll be rewarded with the most serene and undiscovered places in Scotland.

CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS 

The majority of Scotland is now under a temporary lockdown, though some island communities are under level 3 restrictions. Please follow any current restrictions – you might need to save these ideas to try later on a future trip.

Find out what level each area is under and read more about the 5-level Covid-19 restrictions to plan and book ahead when considering a future trip. You can search for businesses that are open, and Good to Go, where they have a Covid-19 risk assessment.

1. Dumfries & Galloway

The Southern Upland Way, Portpatrick

The lands of Dumfries & Galloway offer a rural wellness escape like no other.

From mountain biking in the Galloway Forest Park to long distances strolls along the region’s long-distance route, the Southern Upland Way, there are lots of opportunities to feel inspired by the natural beauty of the south west. If you’re really interested in the science of the Lowland landscape, check out the work of the UNESCO-backed Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, which promotes sustainability within this incredible environment.

Stay at one of the Loch Ken Eco Bothies at Galloway Activity Centre. These custom-built structures are powered by solar panels and made from renewable materials. Each bothy has a wood burning hot tub and a kayak, but there are no TVs or Wi-Fi, so pick one for your perfect digital detox.

2. Morvern, West Highland Peninsulas, Lochaber 

The Corran Ferry

A stunning secret peninsula, Morvern is only a short crossing over Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry, just a few miles from the bustling Highland town, Fort William. But it feels a world away from everything.

If you like hidden beaches, towering peaks and straying off the beaten track, this spot is for you.

Stay at the Kingairloch Estate. You can stay inside traditional buildings, including the Old Post Office or the Old School, both of which offer stunning loch and mountain views.

3. Isle of Foula, Shetland 

The Gaada Stack, a natural arch of three legs, at Da Ristie on Foula, Shetland

This is one is a real adventure. Foula is thought to be the most remote inhabited island in the UK, lying 20 miles west of Mainland Shetland.

The name Foula comes from the Old Norse for ‘bird island’, and the 1937 classic film The Edge of the World directed by Michael Powell was filmed here. Framed by some of Britain’s highest cliffs, you’ll likely be joined by puffins, Shetland ponies, seals and even some very unique-looking sheep.

Stay at Ristie Self Catering . A cosy croft house situated right beside the incredible Da Gaada Stacks, you’ll receive a warm island welcome here, with a homecooked dinner prepared by the owners at your request.

4. Lochgilphead, Argyll & The Isles

Crinan Harbour, with Dunure Castle in the background

Time to turn the spotlight back to the west, with a visit to glorious Argyll. The Crinan Canal meanders nine miles through the ancient Dalriada kingdom from Ardrishaig to Crinan and is filled with ancient forests, cycle routes and incredible seafood.

Take the 3-mile route around Loch Collie Bharr and Dubh Loch to see if you can find beavers along the Scottish Beaver Trail. Meanwhile, the Taynish Nature Reserve is another beautiful woodland trail – venture through ancient oak trees and keep your eyes peeled for otters. The magical Kilmartin Glen is nearby too, famed for its forest tales and mystery.

The town of Lochgilphead is a seafaring spot, with lots of other boat trips available if you want to see some marine life, including basking sharks, minke whales and dolphins.

Stay in a woodland lodge at Kirnan Estate. With no Wi-Fi, you’ll really be able to switch off with wood fires, a hot tub and beautiful views to distract you from your screens.

5. Caithness, Highlands 

Duncansby Head, Caithness

Head up to the north east tip of Scotland. This corner, sometimes missed by the masses, isn’t short of stunning sights.

Pick up the path from John o’ Groats to Duncansby Head and take a wander where you’ll see two giant sea stacks. It’s a great surf spot (for those who love the prospect of jumping in the North Sea) and the region is home to more brochs than anywhere else in Scotland.

Stay at the Caithness View Farm Lodges for a taste of countryside living. Located on a family farm, these new luxury lodges offer relaxation and a glance into a simpler way of life.

6. Isle of Canna, Small Isles

The ‘small isles’ of Canna, Eigg, Muck and Rum lie to the south of Skye. A wonderful way to experience these isles is by setting sail and seeing them from a sailing boat.

From Oban, cruise in the shadow of the Skye Cuillin mountains and navigate to Canna where your skipper will enjoy a classic anchorage and safe mooring. On the island, you’ll discover many treasures including deserted beaches, fascinating geology, a rich heritage and fabulous local food from Café Canna, who produce their own beer and serve up tasty shellfish.

The island may be ancient, made from the lava of the neighbouring Isle of Rum, but it is entirely self-powered by wind turbines, bringing its ethos very much into the 21st century.

Stay on a sailing boat. You can head for the seas with the Oban-based charter boat, Alba Sailing, or do day trips from Elgol on Skye.

7. Scottish Borders

Smailholm Tower, near Kelso

Next up, the south east. The Scottish Borders has everything you could possibly want for an off-grid getaway – wildlife, castles and a bit of adventure. After all, the landscape isn’t just for admiring from afar, is it?!

Take a wildlife tour with Wild Eskdale and see if you find the pair of elusive golden eagles, or tear up forest tracks with a day of mountain biking in Newcastleton Forest. Mix in a bit of history, with visits to Fatlips Castle, Hermitage Castle and Smailholm Tower, then finish it all off with a tour of the Borders Distillery.

Stay at the rugged Singdean. A secluded hut with private outdoor hot tub and sauna, you might feel that you’ve fled to an alpine mountain chalet. Take in the fine views of the rolling Borders countryside.

8. Isle of Jura, Argyll & the Isles 

Wild deer outnumber people on Jura, so if that sounds appealing, head to this island (Islay’s next door neighbour) to get lost in nature. You’ll be in good company – this is where George Orwell stayed when he sought peace and quiet to write his book 1984.

Stay at the Jura Hotel. In the peaceful village of Craighouse, the hotel is just metres from the Jura Distillery and is home to the island’s only pub. Enjoy incredible views and beer garden in the summer which overlooks the ocean.

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