Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Britain, Ireland and beyond. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you.
While there are those who undertake itineraries that take in an entire country, most dispense with that necessarily more shallow approach because there is a certain something about getting to know an area more intimately. That there's less dashing around makes the whole experience more relaxing, an added bonus. Of course, the more extensive approach is followed often by those who may only get to pay one visit to a place but it's always worth returning to get under the skin of a location. You just so much more by doing just that.
Those who come on that one visit of a lifetime have to cut down on where they can go so the most famous places get seen. The scale of the world renowned Highlands even means picking and choosing and can take up a week with just skimming through them. Then, there's Edinburgh with its not unfounded reputation for architecture and festivals. Undoubtedly, that's not even a full sample of what Scotland has to offer and that may explain how I am drawn back to the place again and again. Well, revisiting locations that have delighted me before might have something to do with it too...
While it feels like the world and his wife have congregated in the best known parts, there are plenty of others that guarantee some respite from whatever tweeness can erupt in tourist honeypots. My first example is the wild and empty Southern Uplands. Unless open hill country with rounded hills is your thing, you may not go there but there are unlimited scenic rewards for anyone who does. The overshadowed Scottish Borders also are worth frequenting and I have found it easy to escape the hordes while exploring them. They are but two suggestions with the Cowal Peninsula and the Western Isles doing sterling duty on the escapist role too and there's more than those again.
So, there's plenty of Scotland there for all so there's no excuse for all piling into the likes of Lochaber and Skye at once. In fact, it can feel that there is a quiet space for anyone and they aren't to find either. Just set off on foot into any piece of countryside that isn't known all over the world (much isn't) and your reverie will be undisturbed. To locate those spots without foreknowledge needs a little local inside information and that's why I collected together what you'll find below. Hopefully, they'll help you to find an oasis of your own.
Some websites are localist though they cover a few areas at once or form part of a network that covers more than one locality. That makes them difficult to file under one region or another. For that reason, I have collected them under their own heading so do have a look here before looking into one single region or another. After all, you may be surprised what you find here.
Not only has Scotland got a national tourist board in Visit Scotland but there are regional ones too. Though the parent organisation's branding is never far away, they may offer a local perspective that makes a trip more worthwhile.
Until the last decade, Scotland was the only nation on mainland Britain that did not have its own national parks. A generally healthy attitude to looking after wild land led some towards antipathy to the suggestion but recent developments seem to belie that perception.
The controversy surrounding the Beauly-Denny electricity power line is one example and Donald Trump's golfing development in Aberdeenshire has been another. Both show that the fight for wild land conservation is far from over as decisions made by the SNP Scottish Government have illustrated very well.
If anything, it looks as if those national parks need to be more robust than they currently are. for one thing, the world is changing around them as the fuss about informal camping along the banks of Loch Lomond has proven. That is testing Scotland's enlightened land access legislation, something that depends on enlightened users if it is to work. Maybe greater awareness, understanding and a willingness to engage with those is part of the solution
If the people of Harris ever get their national park, I wonder what questions that might produce. Saying that, it would be a very good thing if it afforded greater protection for the intoxicating mix of coastal and hill country scenery. As with the other parks, it needs that bit of willingness to make things work smoothly to make the enterprise a success and not to have it challenged from every direction. After all, national parks need to protect stirring visitor destinations and help folk to find their feet in a way that doesn't jeopardise the enjoyment of others, either in the present or into the future.
This is a network of visitor information sites that fall under the heading of West of Scotland in a loose sense. Much of what you find here is dedicated to Ayrshire though it looks as if those sites need someone to keep them up to date since the content dates from 2009. The same comment unfortunately also applies to that for the Isle of Skye though the Ullapool one (which is how I found these) has received attention this year. While I can understand how much work is involved in keeping something like this up to date, things do look better if they are seen to get regular attention. Nevertheless, there should be some useful information in them for anyone needing to learn more about these places. There also is an Edinburgh Castle site in the same mould and with this year's date in there too. Let's hope that keeps getting the attention that it needs while the others get updates too.
All of these are part of the same network and the main hub might have gong on the Starting Out Exploring page but for all the local subsidiary websites. As it happened, it was the Oban one that I found first when seeking out information on the Isle of Luing. Naturally, the full complement of places to stay and things to do get covered so these are worth a look.
Here is another network that features a number of places in Scotland along with such non-Scottish outliers as Llandrindod Wells and Scafell Pike. The mixture includes historic monuments as well as islands and various places on mainland Scotland. Appeals for donations appear too and you can feel generous if a website has helped your trip planning.
Scotland has more than its share of offshore islands and some support small populations. Some used to do so but the communities became non-viable and they now are deserted. St. Kilda is but one example of these while Eigg hangs onto its inhabitants, a situation no doubt helped by regular ferry series. Both fall within the sway of this website and first impressions are good but I'd like to linger longer to get a fuller picture of what's on offer.
To Irish eyes, this appears to be inspired by what we call the Wild Atlantic Way and that has been a huge success from what I have heard. Until a bank holiday weekend trip to Aberdeen, I had not realised that what Scotland calls its answer to the American Route 66 was in existence until a guide book was spotted in the city's branch of Waterstones. There is dramatic scenery to be savoured on this 516 mile round trip from Inverness that takes in parts of Scotland that others could overlook and I must admit to not having explored as much as other areas. Some of the circuit follows single track roads so I am left wondering if it could end up being a victim of its own success, perhaps despoiling the some of the sense of isolation that could draw repeat visitors here already. Nevertheless, the locals do need to make a living and the attractions of where they live need to be balanced against that. This will be interesting to watch.
Scotland's Central Belt plays host to two major cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The latter became my home for a few years and it's a very attractive spot with a good smattering of festivals that pretty much make the place a visitor magnet. Glasgow is the larger of the two and possesses a more industrial edge that has left with rougher areas that do not help its reputation, particularly when they became the subject of dramas on televisions on in a cinema. That's not to say that Glasgow is all unattractive even if it has a grittier side that comes first to the minds of many; amazingly, Edinburgh's equivalents seem not to drown out the rest of its appeal. Beyond those tow contrasting conurbations, there are other parts to savour too and I only have made a start in building up a compendium of spots on the web the celebrate those overlooked parts. Life continues to be a work in progress.
If you want Edinburgher's views of what their city has to offer visitors and locals alike, then this regularly updated website is a good place to start. Between attractions, eateries and entertainment, there's a lot in here so I reckon that it's a as good a place to look as any.
It may lie in the shadow of nearby Edinburgh it also sounds a place to escape from a bustling city too. There are plenty of places for enjoying a quite stroll, it seems, as well as historic houses and castles too. After all, Linlithgow Palace can be found here and that's an impressive ruin.
If you visit the Mound in the heart of Edinburgh, then you cannot miss their main buildings at its foot and overlooking the eastern end of Princes Street Gardens. However, that is not all for the Portrait Gallery is on Queen Street and the Gallery of Modern Art is on Belford Road, beyond Dean Village. Between all of these, there is much to see.
This former industrial complex has become a World Heritage Site that is not far from either Glasgow or Edinburgh. The industry here was cotton spinning and the location next to the Clyde was ideal for the flow of water could be used to power the mills. Conditions here were fairly benevolent for the workers too and there is a community here today in a village where even a hotel is to be found. For lovers of countryside, the riverside location is another attraction alongside the industrial heritage that brought the UNESCO designation in 2001.
While I lived in Edinburgh, I never got the notion of exploring the Scottish Borders and I now find that staggering when I consider how much the area has to offer the visitor. It was only after moving south of the border with England that I got to seeing some of what is on offer and I only have scratched the surface after more than a few excursions. Its being overlooked in favour of better known areas is one of its best attractions; it means that it's not hard to find a quiet spot away from hustle and bustle.
It may not be in the name but this website covers the delights and the practicalities of visiting Dumfries and Galloway. So much of area extends west of the main thoroughfares between England and Scotland's Central Belt that it would be no wonder if it started to feel a little like an island. There are hills around Newton Stewart, Sandquhar and Moffat that await exploration and the Southern Upland Way passes through its most remote country in these parts. The sections between towns and villages are lengthy so you are guaranteed rewards for being self-reliant. Of course, there are other more accessible attractions like Caverlock Castle and this is Rabbie Burns country. There should be plenty here to keep you busy for a good while.
This is more visitor oriented than the previous entry in the list and it certainly sells the place. Not having visited the town myself before, it might be an idea to make good use of the visitor information on offer while planning a trip.
Scotland's most southerly point can be seen from the Isle of Man on clear days and is further south than a few notable spots in the north of England. Here is a website celebrating the place. The lighthouse isn't the only thing to sea around there either and a good walks should keep some of us busy.
It has been a long time since I last visited Moffat (a September weekend in 2006) but it is worth revisiting for its nearby hills. As it happens, they remain the major attraction here with the Southern Upland Way passing nearby. It is place that is oft overlooked too by those heading for Scotland's Highlands so you can be sure of some soothing solitude if that is what you need and there is wildlife around too to add to any strolls you do.
Peebles has been subject to my attentions at times over the years so the sight of a website dedicated to promoting its attractions does not surprise me, especially with all that alluring hill country nearby.
This is a community website for the the Scottish terminus for the Pennine Way rather than an out and out visitor resource. Nevertheless, that's not to say that knowing a little more about a place isn't worthwhile.
Both of these introduce a part of the Scotland that may be passed by many en route to other delights but it is worth lingering here too. The name Breadalbane comes from the Scots Gaelic Bràghad Albainn, meaning the high ground of Scotland. This area includes parts Highland Perthshire and of the area governed by Stirling Council. It contains delights like Ben Lawers and Loch Tay and summertime trips to the University of Edinburgh's Firbush Field Centre for internal research meetings were the cause of introducing me to the area, and to the Scottish Highlands too. With quiet roads, this is good cycling country and I found that when I once cycled all around Loch Tay. Even so, I still fancy sampling more of its hill country on foot because there only has been one such incursion to date and that was in 2006.
For me, this is a rare thing: an unvisited part of the Trossachs. For all its romantic associations and the possibility of regular sailings aboard its steamship during its operating season, my attentions have gone elsewhere and that is as much due to what else is offered by the region to hill wanderer but also its relative inaccessibility by public transport. This could make a good place to visit on a cycling tour.
This is one of my favourite haunts when I manage to get away for a few days and I need to say a few words about how I define the area for this collection of visitor websites. In the south, I start in Argyll before continuing up through Lochaber and to get Lochalsh to Ross and Cromarty in the north west of Scotland. Along the way, islands along Scotland's western seaboard and even the area around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs would be included too. What you find find below may feature a taste of what is a wide swathe of countryside but I would be surprised if these are all the websites that are out there promoting their little corner of what is a stirring part of the world.
This is a small website for a small place on Scotland's west coast. There may be but one page here but it does a lot for this stop on the West Highland railway line to Mallaig. It looks a quiet spot too and we need plenty of them for when the world exacts too much from us. Having summertime day trips to the Small Isles (Rum, Eigg & Muck) is a bonus that has drawn the place to my attention.
It look coincident features in two magazines, Scotland Outdoors and Scottish Islands Explorer, to remind me of this alluring part of Scotland. So far, I only have probed its northern reaches near Glenfinnan and glimpsed it on a ferry ride between Lochboisdale and Oban. The intoxicating mix of rugged countryside and proximity to sea send heavenly thoughts to my mind and this website could have a part to play should I get to deepening my explorations of the area with all of the information that is needed for such a venture. Visions of island views of the likes of Mull, Eigg and Rum only add to the sense of enticement.
It's a fabulously wild, empty and ancient part of the world but it's also one where I have yet to visit. Those reasons should be enough for me to be paying a visit sometime so these are places on the web that I should be consulting beforehand along with any books that already have fallen into my possession. Who knows what could come of my brainwave.
The Isle of Bute is at the southernmost extent of this listing and remains somewhere that I have yet to visit. Mount Stuart is the ancestral house of the Marquess of Bute and shows all the signs of the wealth and consequent architectural ambitions of the second Marquess. There are more natural delights too given the island's setting in the Clyde and it has its own long distance hiking trail, the West Island Way. Though Bute is a small place, that is not all and it is amazing how so much variety is packed in there.
My own encounter would have been a distant glimpse from a CalMac ferry returning me from South Uist to Oban a few years. Even then, that sight would have been a fuzzy one since the island largely is flat and the day on which I was doing my scouting wasn't the sort that I imagined. Blue skies and sunshine had been my hope but grey skies and dampness were all that I got.
To the minds of some, this website does the island a disservice in highlighted how little is has to offer the visitor. Accommodation is in short supply, for instance, so planning ahead is of the essence unless you fancy camping. However, the lack of any semblance of being a leisure resort is no bad thing since the island plays host to a vibrant machair and the lack of height doesn't diminish the possibility of there being any vistas to savour as the gallery of computer wallpapers should attest.
Anyone that has travelled on the West Highland railway between Bridge of Orchy and Roy Bridge will have passed Corrour train station and savoured the remote unpeopled landscape about it. The place has appeared in Trainspotting too so that extends the audience somewhat. This website though is about the surrounding estate with its accommodation provision for those wishing to leave the strains of modern life after them for a while. There are organised activities in which you can partake and there always are the self-organised ones like going for a long walk in the empty scenic countryside.
These are sister sites and they feature useful information for planning a visit to Fort William and Lochaber. Places to stay and enjoy are all part of the mix and a Ben Nevis webcam is on offer too. Fort William Online is primarily a visitor site while Lochaber.com takes things further and is a more general business search resource. Both are worth a visit.
A journey down to the Mull of Kintyre will pass this island and there is a ferry to it from Tayinloan. It is yet another Scottish island that has been taken into community ownership after years of neglect. There has been a work to do and they need visitors to help their economy. Luckily, they have an alluring place to visit too.
Glen Affric is one of Scotland's wilder corners and many a visitor approaches it by coming along Strathglass. It was recently that I was reminded of the place by an article in The Great Outdoors that was written by one-time editor Cameron McNeish. It always has felt a little isolated for a public transport user like me but there are buses from Inverness that get you nearby. Some even extend into the glen itself during the Scottish school summer holidays. In addition, the listed websites should give you what you need to plan your own trip there. For backpackers, there is the Affric Kintail Trail to be followed on a multi-day trip through remote and mountainous countryside.
Glencoe is one of those iconic places in Scotland and for a very good reason. Though there is an element of grizzly human history, it is the scenery that is the main attraction and I will never forget the first time that I saw the mountains rising straight out the flat ground at at the edge of Rannoch Moor. This is a hill walker's paradise and some decry the passage of the A82 through the glen but it makes for great accessibility. Other activities abound here too and the website collects all the information you need for planning a visit or a stay. The effort will be rewarded.
These are two villages near the end of a long single track road leading from the A87. Though the former is a calling point for a seasonal service to the Isle of Skye and Knoydart is near at hand, the lack of a regular bus service has meant that I have yet to savour the delights that surround these. Maybe, the carriage of a folding bicycle on a Citylink coach followed by a cycle might remedy the situation as making use of the services of MacRae Kintail when their service runs. It is landscape like this that justifies a longer backpacking trip.
While this is a history blog more than anything else, it never hurts to know a little of the history of an area before you go there. That Scottish island history is that of the people and not all about the great and the good is a bonus too.
This is an island that I have only ever viewed from other vantage points; Morar, Skye and the ferry from Lochboisdale to Oban are some that come to mind. In fact, I have been known to play with the idea of visiting this along with the other members of what are known as the Small Isles (Rum, Muck and Canna are others). Should I ever managed to turn that daydream into reality, this website should come in handy. After all, it provides all the information that any visitor should need. They seem to have it best working with Internet Explorer though and that is something they could do with changing with the software choices that many are making. It may look a little rough in Firefox but it doesn't stop you finding out more about what appears a fascinating spot.
It is the association with Columba (or Colmcille as he is known in Ireland) that draws many to Iona, an island off the shore of Mull. There is a multi-denominational Christian community who have restored the old abbey, one from a later era than that when the island's most famous resident arrived and lived here. Day trips come here from Oban by ferry and coach during the summer and it is possible to stay longer to enjoy the peace and to walk around the place.
This is one the Slate Islands and is not that far from Oban. During the summer, the bus timetable allows for day trips so I might be lured here yet. After all, views are the Paps of Jura are a possibility and there are sure to be other sights too, given the weather.
This is one of the Small Isles that can be accessed from Mallaig year round and Arisaig during the summer season. It has its own Cuillin so there is hill wandering here to go along with other delights such as northward views of nearby Skye.
Knoydart is a very wild area that has next to no road connectivity with the rest of Scotland. Its ruggedness attracts many a connoisseur of empty mountainous countryside so it is a haven for any backpacker wanting to leave modern life after them for a while. Any of these websites should help with planning a visit and the last of them takes on a broader view takes in the countryside between Fort William and Mallaig.
The inclusion of Glencoe, Loch Leven, Ardnamurchan, Moidart and Arisaig cause to raise my eyebrows until I learned that the Lochaber region was redefined at the same as local government got reorganised. All of these feature along with the more usual Lochaber walking areas around Fort William and Glen Nevis. Even North Argyll gets a mention too though I am unsure if this relates to other northern reaches of the former county and not the present day Argyll & Bute. Aside from those area changes, there is a lot of information here that will help with trip planning and listings of places to stay and things to do are among those. Wildlife watching is among the latter and any organised Ramblers Scotland walks get a mention too.
This website is about more than the delights of Moidart itself with nearby areas such as Ardnamurchan and Morar also seeing inclusion. The area is part of the Rough Bounds that also includes Knoydart, North Morar and Arisaig so it is a wilder, rougher and more isolated part of Lochaber. Walking and wildlife are among the website's subjects as is accommodation so it looks a pleasing port of call when planning an incursion into this part of of Scotland's Highlands.
Moidart may be remote but it is not without its share of history and that is the preserve of the website of this history society. Highland life has been far less gentle than it is today and that needs not to be forgotten.
The coastline of Morvern is what you see lining the mainland shore of the Sound of Mull. On the approach to Craignure on the Isle of Mull, the coast consists of steep hillsides without any cliffs so it is tempting to think that this is an uninhabited part of Scotland but that is not the case. The website covers walking opportunities as well as noting observations of nature too. It is not purely a visitor information website and is no less valuable for that.
The Isle of Mull is a place that I have visited on four occasions yet there is so much remaining that I have not explored yet. This independent website could help with extending those since it features the usual mixture of places to stay and things to do. Mull's own offshore islands also get a mention as do a number of its villages together with its wildlife.
This centre on the slopes of Aonach Mor may be better known for snow sports during the winter but the gondola operates all year round and there are mountain biking trails as well as roped climbing opportunities. In line with the Scottish hillwalking tradition, there are opportunities here too.
It took me until a recent weekend trip to Scotland to get to spending a few hours around Plockton and it is well located. Across Loch Carron, there is the Applecross peninsula so the views from any prominences near the village are stunning. While there is plenty of scope for hill walking around these parts, there are boat trips available for wildlife watchers too. It is a place to which I plan to return and there are plenty of places to stay or to eat if you do some advance planning.
The Argyll Slate islands are Luing, Belnahua, Seil and Easdale. They are so called because they once host the Scottish slate industry. That means that there is industrial heritage to be conserved and it is hard to believe that Belnahua once had a population of 200. It hardly is a large place and is no longer inhabited like the others, which incidentally are easier to access from the Scottish mainland. Their surroundings could be a draw too with Mull and Jura not being far away from them either.
This looks a very nice part of Skye through which I have only ever passed on all of my travels around the island. The slide show on the website does its very best to show the most alluring sights that abound around the area and it's enough to starting me thinking about stationing myself here for a few days is in order for a quiet retreat from the stresses and strains of everyday life. That sounds very appealing and this website should provide me with all the information that I need for planning exactly that. It really helps that all the usual details such as places to stay and things to see are featured on this part of the web.
It was the magazine Scottish Islands Explorer that drew my attention to this website. Out of all the islands that it introduces, only Iona, Kerrera and Mull have seen my footfall and are among the northernmost members of its collection. There are plenty of others from which to choose and some are near the Scottish mainland too so I hope to catch up with these sometime.
These are near Ullapool so that makes them quite a way from the centre of everything, never a bad things. Only one of the islands, Tanera Mòr, is inhabited and this website serves to advertise the island's charms and to get folk to stay in cottages on the island for their holidays.
Much of the north-west of Scotland is a wonderfully empty but that does mean that bases for visitors are harder to come by and Ullapool is one of the biggest places around those parts. The countryside is a pleasing mix of old geology, a myriad of lochans and hills of much renown like An Teallach. Handily, the village also is the mainland ferry hub for Lewis so explorations of the Western Isles can begin from there. There is much of interest so it is beyond time that I went to have a look.
Here's another part of Skye promoting its wares on the web, the north-eastern corner this time. There's a photo gallery with pictures taken during the winter, an interesting choice to make. All the usual visitor needs are informed with some ideas for walks included too. A nice touch is that much of it is done like a slide show and it works very well in introducing you to it all too.
During the time that I have been exploring Scotland's Highlands and Islands, most of my attention has drifted to the west. However, that's never to say that eastern reaches have remained beyond my footfall with visits to Highland Perthshire, the Cairngorms and even Loch Ness featuring on excursions from time to time. Much remains unexplored but that can be good in its own way too.
Not only does this website cover the delights of the place with a waterfall of renown but the nearby area also sees recognition. That it includes the likes of Loch Tay, Glen Lyon and the mountains around Ben Lawers is an advantage that many places just do not have. There is much of use here for exploring any of these.
Aviemore saw its share of me in 2009 and 2010 when I took up several chances to explore Rothiemurchus, Glen More and some of the surrounding hills. It remains a place worthy of a return so this online guide is useful. Well, this is part of the Cairngorms National Park so anything providing a mix of information of places to stay, places to see and things to do that focussed on one local area has to be a help.
Having passed it so many times, June 2012 finally saw me stop off at Blair Atholl to explore the countryside around Blair Castle. Glen Tilt was a big hit with me but some time was spent awaiting a spell of sunshine for photographing the castle too for it is painted white, a striking sight in its hilly setting. Aside from the countryside, you also can spend some time in the castle and its gardens though entry is not free of charge. Nevertheless, time is needed for such explorations and that was not something that I was willing to spend on my visit. However, it sounds a good option for a dreich day when exploring hill country may not be so pleasant.
Though best known for its flat-topped mountains, you'll find images on this website that show another side of this part of Scotland too. As you'd expect of a visitor website, it contains all the usual information needed for planning a trip there. The site is that of a local business group and came to my attention via Twitter, something of a trend these days.
During a summertime stay in Pitlochry, I was tempted by the idea of visiting these parts though time and a lack of public transported options stymied any such ambitions. It took a weekend based in Aberdeen for a first visit to happen. Though it was showery and none too warm around Braemar, it was no disappointment so I hope to return. Hopefully, this website should give you a sense as to why I feel that way.
Though this iconic ruined castle is situated on the Aberdeenshire coast not far south of Stonehaven, I am sneaking it in here because of its relative proximity to the Cairngorms. In fact, I have pondered the idea of giving it a visit during putative trips to Aberdeen that never came to pass. Given that this area is full of castles and baronial houses, it possibly could be one of a number that you could fit in on a visit to the area. After all, the location is as dramatic as the ruins themselves.
Much of this part of the Crown Estate is in the Cairngorms National Park and the name is associated with Scotch Whisky too. The Speyside Way passes here and there is more walking to had along with other activities like mountain biking. For those reasons alone, the place merits a mention here.
This website is the result of efforts by a local not for profit organisation that sounds much like an association of tourism businesses to me, not that that's a bad thing at all. While Loch Ness is best known for its mythical monster, there is more to the area than that and this is the place where horizons can be expanded. Things to see and do (it was a new walking trail along the southern banks of the loch that brought the site's existence to my attention) as well as places to stay are part of the offer as you'd expect. There's a blog too with a very tasty highland scene in a posting when I last took a look.
This is home to a circular long distance hiking trail called the Cateran Trail. That may be enough to draw the likes of me but there's more to the area around Blairgowrie than that with Glamis Castle being another attraction of the a part of the world that doesn't seem short of them.
This is where I first got my experience of Scotland's Highlands on annual research meetings while a student at the University of Edinburgh. Then, our base was on the shores of Loch Tay and Pitlochry has taken over for any visits that I have made to the area since then. Other bases in the area include Aberfeldy, Dunkeld, Blair Atholl and Kinloch Rannoch. All that surrounds these should give you plenty to be doing with plenty of walking, cycling and other activities on offer.
Though both places are found on the lowlands to the east of Grampian Mountains, it still makes sense to have the website listed here because of their proximity to the Cairngorms. Walking possibilities are listed as are other practicalities like places to stay and eat. These communities have their share of folk history as well as events like the annual country show that is held every August.
Geographically, the only reason for bundling together the Orkney and Shetland islands is that they lie off the north-eastern corner of Scotland. Of the two the Orkney archipelago is by far the nearer with only a ferry ride of around an hour in duration needed to make the crossing of the Pentland Firth. In contrast, getting to Shetland needs a long and expensive overnight ferry journey from Aberdeen or a scheduled flight. In fact, it has been said that Kirkwall is nearer to Norway than it is to Scotland. That makes it sound isolated though that is a lure for the longer distance traveller and makes it sound that little more exotic too though that is not a word that many would associate with the weather of the north Atlantic.
So far, these have escaped my footfall but there's plenty of coastal walking and a good scattering of antiquities to keep the wanderer busy. With regards to visitor information, there was a time when the Orkney Islands Council had a Heritage Website but that is no more and there only remains this survivor. Fittingly, it is packed full of content letting you in on the islands' heritage.
There might have been a time when a website like this would have been part of the Visit Scotland network but whatever Shetland had before seems to have become part of the main national website so something more distinct is in order. So, we have this instead and it's maintained by a small team from the Shetland Amenity Trust too. That means a sense of independence as well as a local focus. Apart from that, the website does exactly what you'd want it to do when planning a trip to a seemingly unique and far flung spot like Shetland.
This a Shetland lighthouse installation that you'll often hear mentioned in the shipping forecast and a visitor attraction has been developed at the southern extremity of the Shetland mainland. The lighthouse was designed Robert Stevenson, the first of a family of lighthouse builders whose legacy is to be seen all around the Scottish coastline. There is plenty of sea bird life to be seen so the allure of nature is to be found here too.
This is the mostly northerly of Shetland's islands and holds its own festival every year. Of course, it is also where Britain's most northerly point can be found so that must draw a good few visitors too. This website gives exactly the type of details needed for planning a stay too.