Travel Jottings

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.

Organising Places to Stay

Beinn Dorain & Beinn Odhar, Bridge of Orchy, Argyll & Bute, Scotland

For some who have voyaged to this website across the ether of the web, booking accommodation is as simple as finding a place to pitch a tent in a quiet spot that does not disturb anyone. There is a name for this and it's wild camping, something that's legal in Scotland so long as you leave no trace after you. Also, I expect that it means keeping away from other more permanent habitations and intensively farmed land. Most wild campers are bound for the empty fastnesses of the Highlands where no conflict is likely anyway but it's always best to make things clear for those encountering the idea for the first time. There are bothies (simple isolated shelters among the hills) available for similarly independent-minded individuals too but the main underlying requirement is a decent dollop of self-reliance and being equipped with experience and knowledge of what is being done along with possessing the right kit along with sufficient food and drink.

If that all sounds a little too rustic and you still fancy camping, there's always where managed sites can be found. Hostelling is another option since it adds greater human comforts with a reasonable cost. My first ever independent multi-day trip in Scotland, to the Isle of Skye as it happened, made use of two independent hostels in Portree and a Scotland-wide selection can be found at Scottish Independent Hostels. It horrifies me to think back to that first Skye trip now but I simply turned on the doorsteps of both asking about a bed for the night and there thankfully was one at each, saving me from sub-optimal open air sleeping arrangements even if it was the end of July. In contrast, my August 2008 trip to the Western Isles saw me eschewing those tactics and making advance bookings for peace of mind. The idea of just turning up at Gatliff hostels did not appeal when it was so far away. If I were to try this, I'd be arming myself with camping gear just in case there was no vacancy. For a few years, I made used of a fair few SYHA hostels and it was the ability to book online in advance that appealed to me.

Since then, major hotel groups and certain aggregation websites have seen me continue the online advance booking trend. While I have turned to Visit Scotland to arrange things at short notice many times in the past, it is the direct online booking route that I favour now. It just feels more certain that just appear on someone's doorstep asking if they have a vacancy though I did just that on a January 2006 weekend trip to Fort William.

For now, I will stick with the independent approach that I have been taking for I never have been one for package holidays like what Lochs & Glens offer with their coaching breaks. Booking online means that you can get somewhere quiet to yourself too or sort out something where you can meet others. The choice is yours and recent life changes have meant that I have gotten to valuing hotel rooms over ones in guest houses since I just fancy quiet getaways from time to time. Maybe that also is why some are attracted to holiday cottages when a family or a group of folk is travelling. There is something to be said for that independence too.