Hostelling in Scotland: Just go for it

Those of us who holiday regularly in Scotland know that it offers more than just kilts, whisky and bagpipes; it’s packed full of fun and adventures. Whether it is city chic, cultural exploits or outdoors adventure – hostelling is a great way to see this treasure trove.

Hostels are open to everyone and in response to customer demands, offer dormitory accommodation but also private rooms and family rooms and depending on the location a lot of our rooms are en-suite as well.

Why hostelling? It is an easy way to have fun, discover new places and meet people. If you are looking for peace and quiet you will also be able to find it.

Stirling and Glencoe

Bring Braveheart back to life! In Stirling, the Wallace Monument, historic Stirling Castle and the Battle of Bannockburn site are a few of the historical landmarks at hand.
Glencoe was written into the history books in 1692 when the resident MacDonalds were murdered by Campbell soldiers in what became known as the Glencoe Massacre. The ghosts of the MacDonalds are said to roam the Lost Valley – are you brave enough to visit?
Stirling Youth Hostel from £17.25pn, Glencoe Youth Hostel from £15pn

Shops sweetie, shops
Glasgow boasts the UK’s largest retail contingency outside London; it is a shopaholic’s paradise. From Versace to Topshop, John Lewis to Debenhams, you won’t be disappointed. Braehead, Silverburn and Glasgow Fort are all also worth a visit. Princes Street is Edinburgh’s principal shopping street, but there are smaller shops on Rose Street and designer boutiques on George Street. Ocean Terminal in Leith is its biggest shopping centre. It’s got the only Harvey Nicks in Scotland, the five storey store is on the eastern end of St Andrew Square, with superb views of the city and the Firth of Forth.
Glasgow Youth Hostel from £13.50pn, Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel from £17pn

Walking away
Escape from the stresses of your life by visiting Corrour and Loch Ossian in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands. Disembark from your train at the remote Corrour train station, which appeared in the popular cult movie ‘Trainspotting’. One thing you can be sure of is you won’t be seeing any Renton, Tommy or Sickboy characters here; this wonderful location is more popular with hill walkers and rambling groups. Corrour has a number of different walks at various physical intensities. There are over 20 peaks of more than 3,000 feet within easy reach of Corrour. Or if you’d rather stay on flat ground, why not try the 9-mile walk around Loch Ossian. Relax at the end of the day at the Corrour Station House and be fed a mouth-watering meal in their licensed restaurant.
Loch Ossian Youth Hostel 
from £18pn, Corrour Station House and Restaurant from £29.50 B&Bpn

Mountain bike moments

Combine a visit to one of the Scottish islands with an activity break; grab your bike and head to the Isle of Arran where you can enjoy mountain bike trails, lovely scenery and mostly quiet roads. You can cycle from Brodick ferry port to Lochranza, a route that should take 1½ to 2 hours. If you are not feeling so energetic the bus will get you there as well. If you listed the most attractive features of Scotland, then tried to squeeze them all on to one medium sized island, you’d end up with Arran. This explains why it’s affectionately known as “Scotland in miniature”! The island is cut in half by the Highland Boundary Fault, a geological division that makes the north rugged and hilly, whereas the south is gentler and lower lying.  
Savers tip: Public transport facilities on Arran are good. A bus service circles the island and connects with the ferry services at Brodick and Lochranza.
Lochranza Youth Hostel 
from £15.95pn

Funky Festivals

Every summer Edinburgh is taken over by festival fever. Highlights include the Military Tattoo and the world’s biggest Arts festival – the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe. Summer is also about music festivals. Rock Ness, Loopallu and Belladrum are only a few.
Savers tip: Look out for free acts in Edinburgh’s Festival and Fringe.
Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel from £17pn
Edinburgh Metro Youth Hostel, open during summer festival season, from £24.50pn
Ullapool Youth Hostel 
from £17.50pn, Inverness Youth Hostel 
from £15.50pn

Castles M’Lord & Lady

Edinburgh, Stirling, Culzean… there are over 250 castles, but perhaps none as unique as Carbisdale Castle in Culrain (pictured). Built for the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland in 1906, it served as a royal refuge during the war. It includes a gallery and art collection. Overlooking the river Kyle, many walks and mountain bike trails start at the front gates. Nearby Dornoch Cathedral is impressive, and not just because Madonna chose to get married there!
Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel from £20.50pn

Getting there and about
Scotland has a modern and efficient road, rail and ferry network, which has good access to almost all parts of the country.
Scotland has five international airports and budget airlines offer flights to and from other parts of the UK, including London.
The M74 motorway leads from the west coast of Scotland to England and you can drive from Glasgow to Manchester in three hours. There is an extensive bus network from other parts of the UK and there are regular trains from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow – including sleeper trains.
This article by Amy McGuinnes originally appeared in The Scottish Hosteller.