Wonders of Nature

22 November 2016


Photo: Plodda Falls

As well as those who like to challenge themselves on holiday, or those who look to epic sporting achievements to unwind there are just as many people who take pleasure in the more simpler things in life. Holidays are often memorable not for events, races, and organised entertainment but for the small intimate moments of quiet reflection or singular pleasures such as revelling in the wonders of nature. It is an oft quoted refrain that millennials (those born in the 80s and 90s) seek contentment through experiences rather than possessions so here is our list of top simple pleasures to experience on holiday this summer, many of which will not cost you a penny.

The Northern Lights is a classic example of something that is experienced, rather than just seen. No photograph you have ever come across can do justice to the feeling of standing outside on a winter’s evening and seeing the sky above absolutely bursting with colour. Part of the attraction must also be its ephemeral nature but with mobile phone apps able to predict when conditions are most favourable  then you can give yourself the best chance for a sighting by heading as far north as possible where the light pollution is lowest. Croft 23 has a unique glass atrium to take advantage of the clear northern skies, you can even watch the stars without leaving the house.

Sunsets can be magical in almost any location but there is something extra special about sitting on a beach watching the sun disappear over the sea. The west coast is the obvious choice for aficionados, as you gaze out over the Atlantic Ocean you realise the next land mass over the horizon is America, it makes you feel somehow small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The feeling can be overpowering and for some even celestial, but when the light fades and normality is restored it is handy to have to stroll only a short distance to get back to the real world again. Cuir na Bhoir is right on the beach and in one of the most photogenic spots in the islands if you want to try and capture that special moment.

The second highest waterfall in the country at Plodda Falls is a truly impressive sight, cascading almost 50 metres and surrounded my mist it’s not the easiest walk to get to the bottom but by far the best way to take in your surroundings is to jump in. The pool at the bottom is deep enough for diving and for the ultimate in refreshment you can stand underneath the falls themselves and feel their awesome power. It’s the closest you can have to replicating the feeling you used to get as a child when you ate too much ice cream too quickly, getting a numb head but not stopping because you are enjoying it so much. Waterfall Cottage, which comes complete with its very own mini waterfall is just a few miles away and is available at short notice for those seeking a bargain last minute break.

There is something uniquely comforting about warming yourself by a peat fire, maybe it’s the distinct smell, or the contrast with the fickle weather you can hear outside but for many it’s not just a means of heating a room it is an experience in itself. For those born and raised in a city who have never had the pleasure of an open fire it is almost like stepping back in time to a more traditional era. Certainly, reading a book or having a dram as you gaze in the flames is a timeless pleasure that generations have indulged in. Taigh Glas is a contemporary architect conversion of a traditional west coast cottage and comes with a modern wood burning stove. This makes it the perfect blend of old and new and the most atmospheric place on the west coast to either soak in the views or snuggle up to a loved one.

Although Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK the walk itself is only moderately taxing. A well maintained path leads all the way to the summit and in the summer hundreds of people make the trek every day. This not the place to come to get away from it all, there are plenty of other mountains suitable for that but rather this is the place to come to survey the panorama from the UK’s highest point. Its accessibility is its attraction, and even those not usually concerned with Munro bagging or mountain climbing will make a special effort to reach the top. It’s like a collective achievement, the camaraderie of the other ascensionists central to the experience, or maybe a rite of passage that will lead to further mountain adventures, but there is no denying that, despite its popularity, this is a day out that leaves most with an enduring sense of pride and achievement. The School House in Glenfinnan is close enough to make it a day trip and also has a huge variety of alternative mountains within easy reach should you catch the Munro bagging bug.