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Fern Urquhart December 30 2020

Well, what can we say? 2020 certainly did not turn out the way any of us expected.

For most of us, bags remained unpacked, jackets hung up, and passports unused.

Throughout the year, many of us rediscovered the real value of wild places, fresh air and open spaces. We learnt the importance of time spent outside, the need for wild spaces, and the healing powers of the outdoors.

We learnt what is of real value to us – our friends and our families – and how important real time spent together is, whether in a garden, park, or a beach – and always 2-metres apart! We remembered that our wild open spaces remained safe spaces, offering guaranteed social distancing and refreshing freedom.

And, of course, we were reminded to expect the unexpected. To make the most of each day and to take the chance to do the things you love when you can.

In fact, we learnt a lot in 2020! So let’s carry these lessons into the future and look at how we can make the most of 2021 …

Ben A’an, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

 

Give Back to Our Wild Places

We needed the outdoors more than ever this past year, from daily walks to break up weeks of lockdown to getting out into the hills when the restrictions allowed. The wild places were there for us – now it’s our turn to be there for them.

There are many opportunities across the UK & Ireland where you can get involved in work to conserve our mountains, green spaces and much more. Whether that is tree-planting in the Scottish Borders or something as simple as litter-picking in your local area, it all helps to restore our wild places to their natural beauty and protect them for years to come.

The John Muir Trust organise volunteering days on land owned by the Trust, and with a choice of some of the most spectacular wild places in the UK such as the summit of Ben Nevis in Scotland, or Helvellyn in the Lake District, volunteers are spoilt for choice.

Make 2021 the year you look out for our wild places and help protect them for our future generations.

Reflection of Liathach in Torridon Hills

Torridon Hills, North Coast 500

 

Go on, Treat Yourself

Whether you had to cancel your honeymoon, postpone a big birthday party, or you just feel you deserve a treat for getting through 2020 – Scotland is the perfect place to make up for lost time.

Our Honeymoons & Romance holidays are a great place to start, with a focus on luxury accommodation and dramatic scenery. For a truly special experience, our Stay in Scottish Castle Hotels self-drive holiday offers the unique opportunity to stay overnight in some of Scotland’s incredible castles.

Looking for a special hotel? Situated on 850 acres of Perthshire countryside, Gleneagles Hotel is sure to make for an unforgettable experience. With a mix of classic and contemporary styles throughout and an incredible spa, it’s the perfect place to unwind after 2020.

Further north-west into the Highlands sits the Torridon Hotel in one of Scotland’s most spectacular and idyllic locations. With a world-famous whisky bar and an incredible restaurant serving up the freshest of seafood, you’ll never want to leave.

Restaurant at the Torridon Hotel

 

Take on a Solo Walking Holiday

Taking time out for ourselves has proven to be essential this year and we think that it will be even more important next year. Travelling alone can be a liberating experience, having the freedom to do what we want, when we want.

Taking on the challenge of a solo walking holiday will give you the opportunity to take stock of your life, reflect on the past, and plan ahead for the future.

I was recently discussing a holiday with a friend who had previously walked the Great Glen Way on her own. Now a year on, she was starting university as the time on the trail had given her the opportunity to figure out what she really wanted from life. Who knows where a solo walking holiday could take you!

Whilst taking the first few steps may seem daunting, we think that the rewards always outweigh the nerves. And one of the best things about solo walking is the people you meet on your way – as you will always be more inclined to strike up a conversation with those around you on the trail.

If you think this is the thing for you, check out our blog: How to Prepare for Your First Walking Holiday.

Fern from Absolute Escapes walking the West Highland Way

 

Escape to the Coast

This year, we saw that we all love to be by the coast in times of trouble, and where better to escape to than Scotland’s famously beautiful coastline?

From historic fishing villages in Shetland & Orkney to vast, sandy beaches in the Outer Hebrides, there are so many beautiful spots to choose from, you could easily spend the whole of 2021 discovering new shores!

And if you’re looking to have the beach to yourself, check out our favourite secret beaches in Scotland. We reckon the azure waters of Achmelvich are sure to have you planning a trip in no time.

Achmelvich Beach, North Coast 500

 

Jump into Wild Swimming

With Scotland being home to countless rivers, lochs, and seas, it’s little wonder that interest in wild swimming has skyrocketed in 2020. Although sometimes a little bit on the cold side, Scottish waters are ideal for a refresh and reset.

Jumping into the water not only provides you with spectacular views and a chance to connect to nature, but it’s also packed full of other health benefits – from better sleep to boosting your immune system. Best of all, wild swimming is free!

Check out our blog on Scotland’s 8 best wild swimming spots. Our top tip – take a hot water bottle with you for after!

Wild swimmers, Black Isle

 

Explore Your Own Backyard

Sometimes we all become so used to the areas around us that we become immune to their beauty, their charm and their individuality. This year, we’ve learnt to truly appreciate the beauty around us, as we were forced to make holiday plans closer to home.

When we can’t travel far, we still need to explore. And travelling from one part of the UK to another (when restrictions allow) can be as equally rewarding, exciting and special as travelling halfway across the world.

2021 looks like it is set to be another year of the staycation. If you’re in the UK, why not let us take the stress of planning off your hands? We’ve been in the ‘staycation’ business for years!

Blair Castle, Scottish Highlands

 

Make Up For Lost Time in 2021

Okay, so are you ready to make 2021 a year to remember for all the right reasons?

With 2020 firmly behind us, we’re excited and hopeful that we can now move onto better and brighter times. Times when we make the most of the opportunities that come our way, discover new places, challenge ourselves, and protect the wild places that give us so much joy. Happier times.

From magical self-drive holidays to relaxing train holidays, send us an enquiry and we’ll be there to assist you all the way.

2021 Holiday Inspiration

North Coast 500

From £940pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 10 Nights
  • Admire the majestic splendour of mountains that Assynt has to offer
  • Experience a thrilling journey over the Bealach na Bà
  • Discover Achmelvich Bay, one of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches

Hebridean Island Hopping

From £795pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 8 Nights
  • Luskentyre beach - one of the most spectacular beaches in Scotland
  • Travel back in time at the 5,000 year old Callanish Standing Stones
  • 16th century Kisimul Castle - the magnificent 'Castle in the Sea'

Stay in Scottish Castle Hotels

From £1165pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 7 Nights
  • Enjoy spectacular views over Loch Fyne from your west coast castle hotel
  • Stay in a magnificent Highland castle with romantic turrets and ancient battlements
  • Explore the delightful town of Pitlochry from your luxury castle hotel in the heart of Highland Perthshire

Coll & Tiree: A Hebridean Escape

From £720pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 6 Nights
  • Enjoy the tranquility of Hebridean life in one of the sunniest places in the British Isles
  • Sandy beaches and crystal clear waters - a mecca for surfers and windsurfers from around the world
  • Spot a vast array of marine wildlife and seabirds in one of the last great wildernesses in Europe
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