It can feel like a very long wait, but I’m delighted that summer in Scotland is finally here. There is no longer any need to hibernate away from the chilly days and the threat of snow that lingers on right into spring.
It’s time now to make the most of the milder weather and those ridiculously long, light Scottish summer nights. The Great Outdoors beckon, our Scottish cities are at their best and the myriad islands tempt.
Blogging for SYHA Hostelling Scotland I’ve stayed at countless youth hostels. In this blog I’d like to share a few that work brilliantly for a summer escape away from your normal routines. I’ve got everything from island oases and Highland retreats, through to capital boltholes, so what are you waiting for? Read on and get booking!
Whether you want to just meander around this graceful Victorian resort town, or hop on a ferry out to the isles is up to you. Oban boasts an excellent whisky distillery, a flurry of superb seafood restaurants, gentle walks and that whole squawking seagull seaside holiday vibe. The short ferry hop across to Mull is one of Scotland’s most spectacular, with the island ideal for a day trip.
The hostel - I LOVE Oban Youth Hostel! This grand old stone five star dame enjoys sweeping views out across Oban Bay, with more accommodation at the back. It also has a stand-alone apartment that is ideal for families – my young ones had a ball here. They also have the ace Raasay Dining Room too, well worth staying in for.
Isle of Skye's Cinematic Mountains
It’s off to those isles now as we head for the largest of the Inner Hebrides. Skye has hit the big screen recently, starring in the likes of Macbeth, BFG and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. It is easy to see why Hollywood producers are so enamoured with this epic land of sweeping mountains and towering glens. Swirl in a whisky distillery, a brewery, a slew of romantic castles (Dunvegan Castle is one of my favourites in Scotland) and Skye offers a beguiling mix. The lively island capital of Portree is a great base.
The Quarang in Skye
The Hostel – The Scottish youth hostel on Skye is handily located right at the heart of Portree. One of the newest hostels in Scotland, Portree Youth Hostel offers a lounge and dining area, backed up by a well-equipped modern kitchen.
Forget any notion that the Highland resort town of Aviemore is just a winter destination. Yes, it’s great for all sorts of snowsports, but it offers a smorgasbord of world-class outdoor activities in the Cairngorms National Park in summer too. If you’re well equipped and know what you’re doing you can head for the seriously big mountains up on the Cairngorm Plateau. The less experienced can just catch the mountain railway up to the Cairngorm Mountain visitor centre and restaurant, with its epic views. Lower down the trails and scenic lochs of the Rothiemurchus Estate await walkers and cyclists of all ages.
Robin Mountain Biking in Rothiemurchus
The Hostel – Aviemore Youth Hostel is the place to stay in this adventure hub, with the knowledgeable staff on hand to dispense advice about things to see and do. Handily the youth hostel has a Scottish Natural Heritage visitor centre that features a Peregrine nestcam and has loads of information about the Craigellachie National Nature Reserve.
NNR Display at Aviemore Youth Hostel
For me the Scottish capital is definitely at its best in summer. There are, of course, the world famous Edinburgh Festivals to enjoy, which together form the world’s largest arts festival. I love the atmosphere in Edinburgh during this extravaganza and anyone can enjoy it whether you go to a highbrow big bucks performance at the Festival Theatre or just enjoy the spectacular street theatre on the Royal Mile. Outside the festivals, Edinburgh buzzes in summer and it’s the best time of year for hiking to its highest point of Arthur’s Seat to take in the best view of this most special of cities.
The Hostel - Ok, so I’m cheating a little here. I have no fewer than three hostels for you in Edinburgh! There is Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel at the top of Leith Walk and also the brilliantly located summer-only Edinburgh Metro Youth Hostel in the Cowgate. New for 2017 is Edinburgh Haddington Place Youth Hostel, which also enjoys a spot on city centre location.
Edinburgh Festival Street Performers
Biography for Robin McKelvie
Robin McKelvie (www.robinmckelvie.com) is a Scottish travel writer, broadcaster and blogger who has been covering his native land since the 1990s. A member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, Robin is the author of a number of guidebooks, including National Geographic’s Scotland guide. He regularly contributes to a variety of newspapers and magazines across five continents, such as the Times and the Scotsman, as well as doing travel slots for BBC radio. Robin can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robinmckelvie.