A self-funding charity providing affordable accommodation with a friendly welcome to anyone travelling around our beautiful country. Our blog is an informal collection of photos and text from our lovely staff and happy hostellers – we see it as a place for sharing ideas, advice and hostelling tips. You’ll find information about our Youth Hostels and the wonderful areas they’re located, along with local knowledge from our staff on things to do and places to see. It’s all about hostelling, what we love about Scotland and the issues we’re concerned about. We hope you enjoy reading our articles and that you’ll respond to them – and feel free to add your own article or photos, we want it to be a place for learning and sharing.
With its stunning landscapes and architecture, Scotland is the perfect place to inspire your inner Romeo or Juliet (but we’re hoping for more “starlit skies” than “star-crossed lovers”!). If you love to get out and about with that special someone in your life then here are our top tips for romantic places in Scotland.
Enjoy a gentle walk through the huge American conifers – planted by Lord Strathcona in the 1890s in the hope that they would comfort his homesick Canadian wife – while admiring the lovely views of Bidean Nam Bian and The Pap of Glencoe in the background. For the more adventurous, the view of Loch Leven from the slopes of Stac a ‘Chlamhain is breath-taking!
With an abundance of restaurants, theatres and cultural hotspots, you’re sure to fall in love with Edinburgh! Cosy up … Read More »
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day athletes are not made in a week. The more training you do the more resistance you will build up and the easier you will find crossing the finishing line on race day. As a rule of thumb, Sport Ecosse recommend that you give yourself at least 4 months to train for fitness challenges that are above a distance of a 10K. With less than 3 months to go before our SYHActive Outdoor Challenge here’s a guideline for where you should be with your training…
3 Months Prior to the event: Build strong foundations by aiming to cycle for 2 hours per week and 1 x 20 mile cycle ride.
2 Months Prior to the event: This is where you should be building up endurance and strength. Aim to cycle … Read More »
Guest post by Julianne McGraw.
Dig It! 2015 has begun and you’re invited to join in with the year-long celebration of Scottish archaeology! After all, archaeology is about you, me and all the people who’ve gone before us. It’s about identities and a sense of belonging. It’s about getting muddy – or staying laboratory clean – and having fun. To put it simply, archaeology is for everyone!
Over a hundred events are listed on www.digit2015.com and hundreds more will be added throughout the year. To give you an idea of what’s going on, a few highlights have been listed below…
Out of Time: Memories of the Neolithic – Scotland is rich in Neolithic monuments and photographer David Paterson has been capturing them from the 1970s to the present day. Visit the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum until 1 March … Read More »
I am writing this piece whilst listening to the wind, rain and hail batter against the windows of my house. We are in the early part of the winter and already I have experienced what I call ‘the etch a sketch’ moment where spring, summer and autumn are wiped clean and it feels as if I have always been in winter, my favourite season. The dark season, the cold season, the white season, the adventurous season – for some the only season.
This piece is about winter mountain safety and in it I hope to share and inspire folk to enjoy themselves winter walking this coming season…
Weather in winter is far more severe and has a much greater effect on our route choice, safety and enjoyment so it’s important to check what the weather is doing in the lead up to … Read More »
Beat those January blues with a winter break in some of Scotland’s most stunning locations. The mountainous terrain that makes Scotland such a great hillwalking destination is precisely what makes it the go to ski destination this season. The fantastic ski conditions coupled with the breath-taking scenery make the Scottish Highlands a popular and dare we say better get away destination than some European counterparts. All of the Scottish ski resorts offer a range of runs from beginner green through to advanced black. If you’re new to skiing here’s the skinny on Scotland’s hotspots…
Nevis Mountain Range
Claim to Fame: Access to Scotland’s only Mountain Gondola which in just 12 short minutes transports you from the carpark to 650 metres! The Nevis Mountain Range also has the easiest access to some of Scotland’s best backcountry skiing with snow filled powder bowls, … Read More »
Two of our German Volunteers, Steffen and Max, tell us what they got up to on their days off in November…
On our first day off, we decided to head to a football match in Inverness between the league leaders Caledonian Thistle and Hamilton FC. Max arrived in Aviemore just in time and we caught the train. Up in Inverness the weather was absolutely beautiful – a sunny day in November – so we walked to the stadium just outside the city on the Moray Firth. It was a good game, with a lot of goals scored. The result was 4-2 for Caledonian Thistle and put them on top of the table.
It was getting late on in the day and the sun was gone so we took the bus back to the city centre. Once there, we followed the advice of … Read More »
Sarah visits the Battle of Bannockburn Heritage Centre in Stirling and learns about Scotland’s History
After more than two months living in Stirling, I finally made it to the site of a significant event in Scottish history – the Battle of Bannockburn.
Besides the well-known Battle of Stirling Bridge, fought by William Wallace and Andrew de Moray in 1297, the Scottish Resistance defeated the English in another battle based on Stirling’s ground. As part of their War of Independence, the Scots, led by King Robert the Bruce, gained a victory in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. They succeeded preventing the English from conquering Stirling Castle, which has since been seen as a significant landmark in Scottish history.
By visiting the Heritage Centre, which has recently been renovated for this year’s anniversary of the Battle, you can enjoy an interactive exhibition with great applications. Starting with … Read More »
Sarah, our German Volunteer, tells us more about her travels around Scotland, this time her visit was to the capital city, Edinburgh.
As part of my holidays, I decided to go to Edinburgh. Together with my boyfriend, who was visiting me for a couple of days, we set off to explore the Scottish Capital City!
Fortunately, as fairly unusual for a November day, the weather was very bright and sunny which allowed us to spent the day outside, experiencing the city.
Edinburgh is a good city to discover by foot, as the centre is not too big and the orientation not very complicated (in case of a rainy day, it is still a good option to take the bus, given that a day ticket costs only £3,50).
While having a nice walk down the Royal Mile, going from the Castle to the Parliament, we enjoyed the … Read More »
This year saw the 75th birthday of Glencoe Youth Hostel. We celebrated this fantastic milestone by offering beds for only £7.50 per night during the last week in October along with free tea, coffee and – of course – it wouldn’t be a birthday celebration without a piece of cake!
Glencoe Youth Hostel was purpose built in 1939 and in the 1960s had 104 beds, most of them in 3 tier bunks. In 2014, we have less than half this figure (48 beds) in dormitories as well as private rooms, no doubt offering far more comfort to our guests.
The face of hostelling has certainly changed in the past 75 years but one thing remains consistent; the surrounding landscape is breath-taking. Glencoe Youth Hostel is within easy reach of over 10 Munros (a mountain over 914m), not to mention the Corbetts … Read More »
Guest post by Alex Gregg.
Character Scotland visited an enthusiastic group of Liberton High School S3 pupils during their funded STEM Residential Camp – a unique programme delivered by SYHA Hostelling Scotland and their partners – on October 7th, 2014.
SYHA Hostelling Scotland has created a unique education programme around STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, with a focus on renewable technologies. This activity-based residential break is designed to provide an enjoyable and challenging experience for S1 to S3 pupils, providing hands-on-experience of STEM subjects. Every aspect of the programme is based around the principles of informing, engaging and exciting pupils about STEM subjects. It aims to inspire pupils and to encourage an interest in these subjects.
A clear, crisp autumn morning welcomed our arrival to SYHA’s Rowardennan Hostel situated on the ‘bonny banks’ of the majestic Loch Lomond. Upon driving … Read More »
We hear from two of our German volunteers who recently walked from our Aviemore Youth Hostel to our Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel via the Old Logging Way:
My name is Steffen and I am volunteering with the SYHA as after finishing my exams in Germany, I wanted to take a gap year before going to university. I am 18 years old and I actually live in Hamm, a city near Dortmund in the west of Germany.
When I first heard of this volunteer programme, I was really impressed. Scotland offers me a lot of outdoor activities and a beautiful landscape. I like to spend much of my time outside and I love travelling, both which I can do by working for the Scottish Youth Hostel Association. I am now working in Aviemore, which is in the Cairngorm National Park and a really nice place to live and work. … Read More »
Sarah is a volunteer from Germany, who is currently helping at the SYHA National Office. Here she tells of her first trip to Oban:
“Yesterday, I went on an amazing and sunny one-day trip to Oban, where I met my German volunteer-colleague Max.
Oban, also called “The Little Bay”, the nearby beach and of course the 5-star youth hostel itself impressed me a lot. It’s located within direct reach to the water and while relaxing in the comfortable lounge, I enjoyed an exceptional view out of the building.
You can go for a nice walk along the riverside to visit the city centre and the lovely little harbour which welcomes many ships and ferries. We also went to the beach which was very rewarding, since it’s surrounded by an impressive landscape which is even more beautiful to watch in the current bright autumn colours.
There’s … Read More »