Keep Warm out West

11 January 2018

uist (1000 x 628)

Uist by Alasdair Mckenzie via CC

What a year it was in 2017 and what an exciting one 2018 is shaping up to be already. As we approach the end of the year, here are our thoughts and reflections on what was a bumper one for self-catering holidays in Scotland, with some predictions for what to watch out for in the coming year.

2017 was for many all about the car. The huge global reach of the North Coast 500 saw more visitors than ever drawn to the north of Scotland and the villages of the north-west saw some of their busiest summers ever. It’s a trend we expect to continue next year especially as new infrastructure and facilities to cope with the increased demand are only just coming on stream, something that will make the whole experience even better than previous years. The route has also led visitors to some of the previously unheralded areas of the Highlands, the North East coast has in particular seen a surge of interest with its beaches, golf and historical attractions finally getting the attention they deserve. Farthingworth is a great base for exploring this new hotspot, close to the NC500 route so easily accessible but still with that feeling of remoteness that many come north to experience.

In an effort to grab some of the motoring market for themselves Moray Speyside Tourism have launched their own driving route, the North East 250, unashamedly derivative of its older sibling it nonetheless will highlight some of the attractions of some relatively unexplored parts of Scotland. The Cairngorms are already a big draw but few visitors venture along the coast as far as Peterhead and that’s a shame as the area has a lot to offer.

If the environmental impact of all these extra car miles worries you then rest assured, Highland council has proved itself to be one of the most forward thinking in the land with new free charging points for electric cars all around the Highlands and Islands. It is possible to now do the entire NC500 in a standard electric car. Expect to see charge points as standard in all newly built self-catering houses in the next few years, with more and more being added to existing properties as electric cars become increasingly mainstream and affordable.

The competition between Flybe and Loganair on flights to the Western Isles has led to a huge increase in the numbers of flights while at the same time a big drop in prices. With onward travel available on the same ticket and attractive flight times, we predict a surge in the number of city breaks in places like Stornoway and fly drive holidays on the Uists and Barra. If you were driving from the south of England to somewhere like Eriskay Views Cottage you could save almost 2 days of your holiday by flying.

Visit Scotland has officially designated 2018 as The Year of Young People so there will never be a better time to take your family on holiday here. Watch out for a detailed programme coming in the New Year but we are promised an enormous selection of events and activities throughout the year and taking place all round the country.

Another trend we see continuing for next year is for DIY weddings on holiday. These will not suit everyone but work especially well for small or non-conventional ceremonies. Branxholm Park House sleeps 22 and can host weddings for up to 40 guests. It offers intimacy and luxury as well as a wedding planner to ensure everything goes smoothly. Call us today to find out more or for details on all our other properties that can be used for ceremonies.

If all the long range weather forecasts are to be believed, we are in for a super-cold winter. With the pound still very weak against the Euro then this means skiing holidays in the Highlands instead of the Alps are starting to look particularly enticing. Low season short breaks are attractively priced for those who want to get away for a weekend skiing, but book quickly. Once this cold spell really hits us then anywhere close to the main ski areas like Inver Lodge or Drumrunie will fill up fast.

Last year we correctly predicted a big surge of interest in the Uists as a destination and we expect to see this growth continuing. LHH now have 8 properties on the islands with more due to be added this year, bookings are already going well for 2018 and beyond, with peak weeks in many already fully booked. To be notified when new properties are added to the website then sign up to our monthly newsletter to give yourself the best change of avoiding disappointment. Early booking is becoming the new norm for the Hebrides with summer 2019 already full in the most popular houses.