Resolutions & Bucket Lists

27 January 2017

aurora bute

January is a great time for making plans, the chaos of Christmas and new year is over and it’s time to plan the year ahead, consider your new year’s resolutions and tick off some more things from your bucket list.

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to get fit and lose weight, an outdoor or active holiday can be the perfect motivation. Highland Perthshire is ideal for lovers of the outdoors, cyclists can enjoy hundreds of miles of the most scenic of roads without huge amounts of traffic as well as access to some of the finest off road trails in the country, with options for all ages and levels of ability. Strathlyon Cottage is on the route of the Etape Caledonia, one of the biggest closed road cycling events in the UK. It couldn’t be more convenient for those wishing to take part or spectate and has secure storage for all your bikes.

Another way to keep in shape and at the same time see some of the most spectacular scenery in the country is to climb some hills. If you have never climbed a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet) then make 2016 the year you start. Be warned though, it is an addictive hobby and it is very common for recreational ramblers to quickly find themselves consumed by an obsessive quest to tick off as many as possible. Woodlands is right in the heart of the Cairngorms and so is the perfect base for Munro bagging, whether you are a first timer or are well on your way to completing a round of all 282 peaks.

A Via Ferrata is a series of steel staples and cables fixed to a mountain side to enable it to be climbed easily and safely. Common in the Alps since the Second World War they have only recently come to Scotland with the construction of a new route that climbs up the third biggest waterfall in Scotland, the Grey Mare’s Tail near Kinlochleven. This is a brilliant way for those not accustomed to climbing to experience a big mountain type adventure without being super fit or having loads of experience. A guide and some specialist equipment is essential but can be hired locally. The School House is within easy reach of here and the outdoors centre of Fort William, with outdoors activities galore.

January is also the time of year for debating what to put on your bucket list, two things that should be on everyone’s list for 2016 are a visit to St Kilda and to see the Northern lights. With the growth of visitors to St Kilda barely sustainable there has been much debate about restricting numbers in order to preserve this world heritage site. Access to the islands has never been easier with regular boat trips from Leverburgh in the summer, but the fragile environment of the islands is under considerable pressure from increased visitor numbers. Book now with Seaharris while you still can. Oran na Mara is just a ten minute drive from the harbour and is also close to all the best local beaches.

The aurora borealis, or northern lights, are one of nature’s most spectacular sights. In the north of Scotland, where the light pollution is low, on a clear night you can be entranced by them for hours.  In Gaelic they are called Fir Chlis, ‘the dancing men’ and Croft 23 is in a great location for watching them from the glass atrium or just star gazing. We can give no guarantees that you will see the aurora but if you do then we are certain you will be impressed.

A journey on a steam train is another unique experience you can strike off your bucket list in 2016. There are a number of steam services operating in the summer months in the highlands but perhaps the most famous is the Jacobite railway from Fort William to Mallaig. This crosses the famous Glenfinnan viaduct made famous in the Harry Potter films and travels through some of the most majestic scenery in Scotland. Often voted as one of the scenic rail journeys in the world you can alight at Arisaig for a picnic before returning the same day. Alternatively you could stay at Borrodale House and arrive in old fashioned style.