With over 6000 miles of coastline, mainland Scotland has plenty of watery wonders to share with you. Stretching to over 11,000 miles if we include the island shores, there is no excuse not to celebrate every day of National Marine Week this year. Go on, explore the shores of Scotland!
For Marine Monday, why not drop in to the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick? Book onto a boat trip to the amazing Bass Rock. A short boat ride takes you into the world of one of our largest native seabirds, the gannet. These handsome creatures dive dagger-like with half-closed wings to catch their fishy food. Ungainly on land with their oversized paddle feet, they are extraordinary fliers and spend most of their lives on the wing. Bass Rock is the most accessible of their large colonies. Gathered together in huge numbers the ‘fragrance’, like the spectacle, can be quite overpowering. You may wish to take a nose peg as well as a hat to safeguard yourself from those vertical deposits.
NB is North Berwick’s local gin, and their visitor centre nearby is well worth a visit. Book direct here
To complete your day in North Berwick, why not book a table at Herringbone, for some great locally sourced food, and some amazing cocktails (some with NB Gin!)
Tuesday is Cruise-day, so how about visiting mystical Loch Ness on the Jacobite Cruise Boats? With more sightings of the elusive monster than ever this year, it could be your opportunity to go down in history by snapping the perfect portrait of the beast. If she doesn’t appear, it’s still a splendid waterway connecting two seaboards of Scotland, from Inverness right down the Great Glen to Fort William. Crowned by one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks, visit Castle Urquhart to wander around the ruins and imagine how life once was, on the shores of Scotland’s largest, deepest, and most celebrated loch.
Loch Ness Gin is distilled on the shores of the Loch. Lorien Cameron Ross who co-founded the brand with her husband Kevin, was born at Aldourie Castle on the shores of Loch Ness.
Her family goes back over 500 years as local landowners, and the juniper used in Loch Ness gin is still foraged from their own land. Buy Loch Ness Gin here
Eat and Stay Local
If you’re able to stay overnight, treat yourself to the historic and luxurious Culloden House Hotel. Bonnie Prince Charlie himself stayed here the night before the fateful Battle of Culloden. It’s gracious rooms and sweeping lawns are fit for modern day Princes and Princesses too, and what a great opportunity to immerse yourself in some real history!
Waterways Wednesday might take you to the Marina at Rhu, near Helensburgh. Cruising the pretty inlets and tree lined shores of the Firth of Clyde is one of Scotland’s most serene experiences. With fresh vistas at every tack, yet all within the sheltered waters of the estuary. The Marina itself welcomes land lubbers just as warmly as salty sailors, so drop in for some food, to pick up a collectable at the ‘Boat Jumbles’, or to help out with a beach cleaning campaign, you’ll be warmly received.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House is also close by, so you could be paddling in the mighty Clyde in the morning, and dabbling in mighty architecture in the afternoon!
Glasgow’s Makar Gin is also worth discovering. You can buy it online here.
Apparently ‘Thalassophile’ describes someone who loves the sea, so for Thalassophiles everywhere, check out the gorgeous sandy beaches of the Moray Firth. Not only Scotland’s sunniest region, with a micro climate which often out performs regions much further south, there are beaches here to rival any in the world, and some resident dolphins to look out for too. To plan your day-trip, visit the Gincyclopedia, and plot a route to include stops at some of the gin producers you’ll encounter along the way. After all no
one wants to be a Thirsty Thalassophile!
Eat and Stay Local
There are a range of places to eat and stay along this coast, from The Cullen Bay Hotel, overlooking (you guessed it) Cullen Bay, along to the Golf View Hotel in Lossiemouth, overlooking the beautiful sandy west beach and (you guessed it) the golf course. Continue westward to Nairn and the West End Hotel and Restaurant in the (you guessed it) quiet West End of Nairn. Take your pick, they’re all excellent and all stock a wide range of Scottish Gin!
Feel Good Friday
Friday’s dose of Vitamin Sea heads to the south west coast and the Largs Yacht Haven. Known for some amazing sunsets across the sea, there’s an array of eating places and other reasons to visit, including Geraldo’s of Largs. If you haven’t discovered it yet, Geraldo’s is one of those shops you dream of. Run by a mother and daughter team and a collection of lovely friendly staff, they stock chocolates, cakes, ice creams, (and probably some healthy stuff too if I cared to look) PLUS, an amazing collection of Scottish Gin. Visit their website here for more details.
If you’re able to linger longer in Largs, the peaceful Ferry Row B&B in nearby Fairlie, enjoys full on sea views. It also scores highly in our ‘Travel Kindly’ ratings, as they have been awarded a Green Tourism Gold Award, and you’ll enjoy the homemade jams, and the lifts to help you use public transport if you so desire.
Saturday’s Seaside sojourn takes us right up to the very top of Scotland, to Unst. Two ferries north from Lerwick, this is indeed a pilgrimage, but gosh you won’t be disappointed.
Shetland has a very distinct feel, unlike any other island group, and an enchanting accent too. It really does feel more Scandinavian than Scottish sometimes. The Norse influence is very evident at Haroldswick, where a replica of the Skidbladner Longship sits alongside a reconstructed Viking Longhouse. Discover more about Unst’s Viking Heritage at the Unst Boat Haven. It has a collection of craft from Shetland and Norway, as well as a wonderful array of related artefacts to explore. Nearby is Saxa Vord, where Shetland Reel Gin is made. Britain’s most northerly distillery uses locally growing seaweed in its botanical recipe, and you can taste the ozone in every sip! Book a tour here, or buy this delicious gin online if you can’t get there this Summer (or Simmer, if you are a local).
Accommodation on Unst is understandably limited, but there’s a hostel and campsite at Gardiesfauld, Uyeasound. Each tent pitch has a stone wall sheltering it, as Unst can be a wee bit breezy at times! There is one hotel, a few B&Bs and some gorgeous self catering properties. Check out www.shetlandvisitor.com for details.
If you are heading back to the mainland (Shetland mainland that is), Busta House Hotel is gorgeous! Rich in history, warm and welcoming, and with a menu packed with local ingredients. It’s perfectly situated in the heart of Shetland, so gives easy access to explore so much of these intriguing and intoxicating islands.
Sea-based Scenery Sunday
So, for Sunday’s sea-based scenery overload, there’s nowhere more beautiful than The Road to the Isles. From Fort William out via Glenfinnan and Lochailort, the road reaches the Atlantic at Loch Nan Uamh. Here the King’s Rock marks the first step onto Scottish soil of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender. Learn more about him at Glenfinnan’s Visitor Centre.
As you approach Arisaig take the small road down to the shore line, and stick with it. Whether you follow this road along the coast, past a collection of small sandy bays with azure water and views of the small isles of Eigg, Muck & Rum. Or you stop to explore the peninsula which frames the southern side of Arisaig Bay. Or continue to the tiny golf course at Traigh, the endless sand of Camusdarach (Ewen McGregor’s favourite beach incidentally), or on to the white sands of Morar, I can’t make you choose. But do take time to stop, to walk, to explore.
Boat trips run from the Arisaig Marina to transport you out to the isles, as well as wildlife spotting trips. Take advantage of those gorgeous views and the sunsets at The Arisaig Hotel, from its lovely deck area. You may spot (or more likely hear) the Jacobite Steam Train as it chuffs its way to Mallaig, packed full of Harry Potter fans, thrilled to have crossed the Glenfinnan Viaduct in ‘Hogwarts Express’ mode. There are kayaks to hire, walks to be had, wildlife to be spotted, and fresh seafood to be gobbled, as well as Arisaig Gin! Buy yours here. It seems there are ways to improve perfection – Arisaig and Gin. What a way to end National Marine Week. Land Ahoy!
Eat, Stay and Play Local
The Arisaig Hotel really is the centre of this community, and whether you just have time for a quick Arisaig Gin and Tonic on the deck, some fresh local seafood in the Crofters Rest, or join in with the music sessions on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, there’s always plenty to enjoy. Stay a few nights if you can and soak up the views, the sunsets, the wildlife, oh, and the gin of course!
Explore the Shores of Scotland
Plan your own next coast line adventure with the Gincyclopedia. An interactive map that can help you plan the perfect getaway, daytrip or longer staycation! Create your own itinerary for FREE. Book direct with accommodation providers, transport, activities and lots more.
Don’t forget your Scottish Distillery Gin stops along the way!
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