Unique holiday experiences in traditional settings

These days the world seems ever smaller, with national and international flights opening up stunning destinations in all corners of the world. It often seems like there are no hidden secrets left, no unexplored lands, or uncharted areas that haven’t promoted, written about, mentioned on social media, blogs and TV.

But has this push to venture further, to get to the latest “must see” attraction, to acquire that special passport stamp, left holiday makers missing some of the more beautiful, undisturbed and traditional locations around the world?

The mention of a traditional holiday will conjure up different memories; camping with parents in a cramped tent, staying in unusual B&Bs, long coach or car journeys (caravan hitched behind), playing on the beach and eating sandy food, or winter ski holidays that guaranteed fun in the snow every year.

With the availability of cheap flights, the draw of sun filled resorts, and tours that are so organised all you need do is roll out of bed in the morning, it’s easy to forget some of the natural wonders that can be found in oft forgotten locations (and how new attractions and experiences can be had in apparently traditional locations).

Take Scotland for instance. Often overlooked in favour of trips to Europe, London or tours around England, the landscape of Scotland offers so much variation it’s impossible to summarise concisely. The lowland hills of the Scottish Borders that run along the northern border with England, offer beautiful rolling farmland, forests, heather cover moorland and views over the famous River Tweed in the east. A largely rural area, farms, fortified houses, castles and ancient churches dot the landscape, and the wealth of history and monuments is staggering (due to the numerous battles fought between Romans and Celts and the Scots and English).

Charming village pubs, idyllic sandy bays, steep coastal cliffs, quiet woodland walks and tranquil river paths await the visitor, as do historic county towns, annual festivals, horse racing, picturesque golf courses and more vigorous activities such as kayaking, surfing and downhill mountain bike racing.

Tours include textile mills (where the famous Tweed fabric has been manufactured for over a hundred years), whiskey distilleries (you can’t come to Scotland without tasting a wee dram) and visits to historic country estates. And if historic tours, quiet woodland walks, or speeding down a hill on a bike aren’t your cup of tea, how about trying some traditional Scottish fieldsports? Local guides can arrange archery courses and clay pigeon shooting packages, or for those with a stronger stomach, activities such as salmon fishing on the famous River Tweed or an introduction to game shooting or deer stalking can be arranged.

Out of the Borders and further to the north, the more populous “central belt” runs between Glasgow and Edinburgh (the capital city) where culture and nightlife abound. Fabulously historic city centres, bespoke shops, award winning restaurants, internationally renowned comedy clubs, museums, art galleries and, of course, Edinburgh Castle looming over Princes Street.

A trip around Scotland wouldn’t be complete without venturing further north into the Highlands. Stunning mountain scenery awaits, with wooded glens, heather topped hills, rugged distant peaks, and locks ringed by pasture and woods (and more than likely, a castle or two). Trips to the islands offer a feeling of remote beauty and serenity, with golden white sands, crystal clear waters, unique flora and fauna, and the opportunity to dive ancient wreck sites. If seals, deer, buzzards, osprey, ealges, otters and highland cattle aren’t enough, a trip across to Inverness (stopping at Loch Ness along the way) will allow you to venture out into the waters of the Moray Firth where you might be able to spot dolphins or even a whale!

So if you’re planning a holiday and want something new, how about considering a traditional destination? I’m sure when most people think of Scotland, Michelin starred restaurants, dolphin spotting and fieldsports don’t come to mind – but they could be new experiences for you on your trip to a traditional destination.

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