Here are some experiences that Scotland is not famous for, but you should definitely not miss out on! Regular readers, this might be a quick bite for you, but irregular readers, get a cup of coffee and be prepared for an armchair journey.
1. Find a Husband Storage in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is one of the most photogenic cities I’ve visited recently, but do you know what my favorite part of the city is?
Precisely! Feel free to drop your husband at one of the many daycare centers and don’t worry if you forget to pick him up later. He’ll be taken care of very well 🙂
2. Bump into a Scottish Sheep (Herd)
Did you know that Scotland has more sheep than people? 6.8 million vs 5.3 million. And the Scottish Blackface is the most numerous breed of domestic sheep in the United Kingdom. Chances are that you’ll bump into a sheep than a human here in Scotland.
Ehmm, excuse me Mr. Blackface, may I pass?
3. Navigate the Single Track Roads
Yep, Scotland still has single track roads on the mainland as well as on the islands off the west coast. These are roads that are wide enough for single file traffic, with various passing points along the road for use when cars (or sheep) approach from the opposite direction. This is not for the faint of heart, though, it’s your chance to practice courtesy and your driving (and English) skills on single track roads.
4. Catch a Wild Deer (if you can!) on Rannoch Moor
Rannoch Moor near Glencoe is a rugged wilderness area in the middle of the Scottish Highlands. Trainspotting fans will remember the remote Highland station ‘Corrour’. So this is basically the place, Rannoch being the next station on the same railway line. There is just the station, a small cafe at the station, and a small hotel next to the station. That’s it! Otherwise, the vast emptiness of upland surrounds you. As such, your backyard is a fabulous red deer spotting location.
A side note for hikers: I personally found hiking in the Highlands bleak and disappointing. The Scottish Highlands are beautiful for sure, but not in a traditional, picturesque sort of way. If you are planning on hiking, I would recommend you to consider biking instead. You would only then be able to get a true sense of the sheer magnitude of the Highlands combined with spectacular views from the vast emptiness of the largest uninhabited stretch of land in Europe.
5. Undertake a Serious Coastal Walk on the Isle of Mull
The Isle of Mull, the second-largest island of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides offers fantastic walking options along its 500 km raw coastline. My choice for a coastal hike happened to be the walk to the Carsaig Arches on the south coast of the island, rated as one of the most stunning and most difficult hikes on tough terrain. Well, then perfect!?! How difficult a flat walk could be after all the high alpine climbs I’ve done so far?
But it turned out that I completely underestimated the difficulty and distance that we ran out of time and had to turn around before we could reach the sea arches (as seen in the third picture below taken from the internet). It was a tough call but safety comes first. Nevertheless, the walk along such a wild and magnificent coast involving boulders, bogs, and scrambles was so much fun that I discovered a new favorite activity!
6. Visit the Lair of a Giant on the Isle of Staffa
The mythical Fingal’s Cave, located on the uninhabited island of Staffa was one of the main reasons for spending an entire day traveling all the way from the east to the west coast of Scotland. Even from the Isle of Mull, it is about a 2-hour boat ride away. It’s a remote sea cave, not easy to access but absolutely worth the trouble. Formed completely in hexagonally jointed basalt columns, it is the other half of the better known Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Read the full story of Irish and Scottish giants here and be sure not to wake up Benandonner.
7. Adopt One or All of the Puffins on the Isle of Lunga
I am not going to rave about the cutest birds on the planet once again. Read my previous post here and tell me if you don’t agree!
8. Resist the Irresistible Charm of Seal Pups
Scotland may be well-known for whiskey, but it’s also full of incredible nature and surprising wildlife encounters. Just like these cute seal pups that we met on the way back to the Isle of Mull. It’s hard not to slip overboard to swim with these curious animals. If you can only get to one destination to enjoy Scottish wildlife, make Mull your base.
9. Admire the Russian Art in Exile in Glasgow
When I visit a new city, I tend to spend most of my time strolling through the streets and try not to have a long list of must-see/do things. But I make sure not to miss unique stuff.
A true oddity in Glasgow is Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre. Inside lies a bizarre collection of highly elaborate mechanical sculptures, brought to life in sync with a haunting mixture of music and light telling the stories of the human spirit and Soviet Russia’s often murky past. An unconventional, unmissable show when in Glasgow or even it’s worth a detour from Edinburgh.
10. Swim with Basking Sharks
Just off the coast of Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, you can go snorkeling with the second largest fish in the world — the basking shark. This is the only activity on this list that I haven’t done personally. Sadly. I only found out about this unique opportunity after booking our plane tickets for last April. Even though I went swimming with whale sharks a couple of years ago (read the details of this stunning activity here), I’d have done my best to include their smaller cousins into our itinerary if only I had known. So, if you are addicted to the thrill of swimming with the sharks or want to experience it, be sure to visit Scotland in the summer months. And for me, this means just one more reason to return to Scotland with more time!