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The busier and more screen-based our lives become, the more we seek out travel experiences that allow us to slow down, switch off and immerse ourselves in nature. The wild places of Scotland are well-known destinations for outdoor adventure and escapism. However, for many, it’s not about scaling the highest peak or camping in the most remote spot. Several progressive Scottish businesses are championing the concept of slow or soft adventure, offering more accessible nature-based activities and accommodation that provide the perfect tonic to today’s fast-paced world. Here we help you plan the ultimate slow adventure in Scotland.
Settle Into Farm Life
The farms scattered across Scotland’s countryside offer a glimpse into the country’s rich agricultural heritage. Many of these are traditional working farms deeply rooted in slow living, where farmers take time to cultivate the land, raise their livestock and create some of the finest produce in the world. It’s an exciting time for Scottish farms, as more and more farmers welcome people to their land and share their working lives through agritourism experiences.
Many have introduced new innovative ideas and offerings, including Guardswell Farm – a 150-acre grassland farm in Perthshire with beautifully designed self-catering huts and houses, plus a large rural events space in a converted steading. You can stay in an off-grid hut perched on a hilltop, a stylish farmhouse with lovely gardens and an outdoor pizza oven, or a cosy modern take on a shepherd’s hut. During your stay, you can explore the farm, meet the animals, attend long table suppers or learn new skills in a variety of rural and creative workshops.
Further west, in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, lies the Mhor Estate and Monachyle Mhor – a boutique lochside hotel run by chef Tom Lewis and his family. This is a farm that’s mastered the art of diversification. Accommodation includes feature rooms in the old farmhouse, a quirky wagon, and contemporary cabins. One standout example is ‘In the Trees’ – a unique cabin with floor-to-ceiling windows that have wonderful views of the glen.
Monachyle Mhor is also a renowned food and drink destination, with an award-winning restaurant, cosy bar and lively Wine and Whisky Safaris. One of the farm’s latest additions is a unique ‘apipod’ where you can experience bee therapy – a unique wellness activity that is said to reduce stress and boost the immune system.
Looking for more farm stays and experiences in Scotland? Visit Go Rural for a selection across the country.
Go Island Hopping by Foot or Bike
To fully appreciate the concept of slow travel, consider ditching your car and taking a ferry to the islands. The Hebridean Way is a 184-mile cycle route which utilises ferries and causeways to move between the secluded islands of the Outer Hebrides off the North West coast of Scotland. With two separate routes for walking and cycling, the trail takes you from the scenic island of Vatersay in the south, to the northernmost point at the Butt of Lewis. The route can be cycled in full or in shorter sections and you’ll find plenty of cycle-friendly accommodation options along the way.
The Isle of Mull is another stunning island in the Inner Hebrides that’s serviced by three ferries from the mainland. If you’re a fan of long-distance walking, you can follow a section of the ancient pilgrimage St Columba’s Way. Head from Craignure pier along the south coast of Mull, then hop on another ferry to the beautiful island of Iona. Another option is to take your bike on the boat across to the colourful town of Tobermory, exploring some of the hidden beaches in the north of the island before stopping for lunch in the vine-covered Glass Barn at the Isle of Mull Cheese Farm.
Learn to Forage or Grow Your Own Food
If you’re a foodie, you might want to explore Scotland’s rich and diverse natural larder by joining a foraging course or growing workshop. Slow Adventure, who helped establish the slow adventure movement in the UK, runs small group adventure holidays throughout the year. Their Wild West Coast Survival adventures involve exploring lesser-known hills and islands, learning bushcraft and foraging for your supper along the way.
Monica Wilde is a West Lothian-based foraging expert who has been living on a wild food diet since 2020. She runs a number of half-day courses including fungi and hedgerow foraging around the country. Jayson Byles, owner of East Neuk Seaweed in Fife, specialises in Scottish seaweed. During his ‘On the Rocks’ workshops, you can learn how to safely and sustainably forage small harvests of seaweed to cook and use in your daily life.
The Taybank is a hotel, music bar and restaurant in Dunkeld with its own walled garden at the nearby Murthly Castle Estate in Perthshire. The green-fingered can spend a day learning how to grow delicious chemical-free veggies at one of The Taybank’s Walled Garden Workshops. Head Grower Donald Macrae guides you through the skills and knowledge required to start or improve your vegetable garden, and you can also enjoy a lunch made using produce you’ll help harvest from the garden’s polytunnels.
Stay on a Forward-thinking Scottish Country Estate
Glen Dye is an estate in the North East of Scotland and has been in the Gladstone family for several generations. It is today’s owners, Caroline and Charlie, who have passionately reinvented the estate by introducing an adventurous holiday business and a range of experiences and events. These include wild wellness bushcraft, art classes and a folk music festival. Accommodation includes a restored 1958 showman’s caravan, The Coach House B&B, a 1955 airstream, and cabins at The Sawmill.
Further south on the edge of the Angus Glens, Kinclune Estate puts nature conservation and sustainability at the heart of their family business. Guests and visitors can learn about Kinclune’s nature-friendly organic farm, Highland ponies and local wildlife during a range of organised experiences. The great care for the land and the environmental decisions made by owners Rowan and Marguerite Osborne have led to a number of awards and accolades for Kinclune, including being named the winner of the RSPB Nature of Scotland Award in 2021.
Reimagine the Bothy Experience
In Scotland there is a tradition of mountain bothies in remote areas of the country that are used as basic shelters by experienced walkers. However, it is the simplicity and wild setting of traditional bothies that has inspired a new wave of contemporary, off-grid cabins that encourage us to slow down and reconnect with nature. Loch Ken Eco Bothies are situated in the heart of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, a status awarded to world-class environments that demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature. Each bothy has its own dedicated kayak and log burning hot tub. As part of the Galloway Activity Centre, you can also take advantage of an abundance of outdoor activities suitable for the whole family.
Inverlonan Bothies are architect-designed cabins on the shore of Loch Nell near Oban, in Argyll. These secluded, stylish cabins are perfect for couples looking to completely switch off for a couple of days. Only accessible by foot, boat or buggy, time here is spent wild swimming in the beautiful loch, cooking a simple dinner outside over fire, or relaxing in the converted horsebox sauna.
Live life in the slow lane and explore your own relaxing travel options with VisitScotland.
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