You can of course fly to Scotland on a variety of airlines. However, you've then
got to get from the airport to the out-of-the-way location of your choice. If you
want to travel with a bit more panache, and be delivered right to your destination
without wasting a day travelling, you should be taking the Sleeper. Imagine boarding
a train in London, having a drink in the lounge before retiring to your cabin, while
the dullness that is Southern England whizzes past in the darkness. When your breakfast
is bought to you in bed, you raise the blind to see mountains, lochs and amazing views
spread out before you. It is one of the most stylish and fun ways of getting north of
Although the sun does bring the landscape to life, the Highlands are now open for business
in all seasons, and in fact clouds and mist bring a brooding romanticism to the mountainous
terrain. In winter, Ben Nevis and Glencoe both have great skiing, with runs catering for
beginners right through to experts, and a burgeoning snowboarding culture. In summer,
it's worth taking the 15 minute cable car ride up Aonach Mhor in the Nevis range, above
the permanent snowline, where you can take in the amazing views of the glens.
Whatever the season, the delights of hill walking may not be immediately obvious to the
average urban queen, but the sense of achievement when you find yourself on a summit,
breathing crystal clear air and seeing for miles cannot be understated. If you don't like
heights, many of the lochs play host to watersports, from sedate boat trips and fishing
expeditions to windsurfing and jet-skiing.
If activity just isn't your 'thing', then take to the roads for some of the most dramatic
drives in the country. The Road to the Isles winds its way through heather-clad
moors and mountains to Mallaig, from where you can take the ferry 'over the sea to
Skye', while the drive through Glencoe can seem cold, sunless and forbidding on even
the sunniest days, adding to the drama of the landscape.
Like so much about Scotland, the cuisine is very different to, and far better
than, the tourist clichés allow for. If you really want it, you'll be able to get
haggis, but make sure you take time to enjoy some amazing seafood. Crannog, a seafood
restaurant on the shores of Loch Linnhe in Fort William serves local crab, langoustine
and oysters that would put many famous restaurants to shame.
If you can see beyond the city limits, and your criteria for a break is that heady
mixture of relaxation, activity, good food and great views, then Scottish country
living is only a night away!
For more details on the Caledonian Sleeper
contact Scotrail on 0141 335 4260 or
www.scotrail.co.uk. For details of rates and availability at the Ballachulish Hotel,
contact 0185 582 1582 or visit Booking.com.
Revised November 2015