The 10 ultimate Scotland trips for a 2022 getaway
On the tiny Isle of Raasay off Skye, there is a gravel road that winds between the sea and the sky that defies the imagination.
It was built by postman and assistant lighthouse keeper Calum MacLeod after local councils ignored years of calls to connect his community of small farmers to the nearest paved road two miles away. So he built it himself with a homemade wheelbarrow, a pickaxe, an ax and a DIY road building manual. It took him over 10 years of backbreaking work, but at least he enjoyed some spectacular views. At every turn there are breathtaking vistas, the rugged mountains of Skye and the deserted and secluded hills of Wester Ross on the mainland.
To me, Calum’s Road embodies what makes Scotland special, an independent spirit fostered by rugged landscapes that cry freedom. In the dramatic chiaroscuro of rain and sun, the menacing hills seem to come to life.
But if you know where to look, the land of the Celts has so much more to offer. Picturesque railroads, sea loch cruises and wilderness hiking trails with expert guides, bustling towns reinventing themselves as hubs of culture and cuisine, and festivals celebrating art, literature and caber throwing.
And there are the people. Years ago I took a French girlfriend for a drive of Skye, and after a week of mist and rain brightened up by friendly islanders, she said, “You know Gavin, the sun of your people are his people. “
Really sums up the place. Here are 10 ways to taste the best of Scotland.
For lovers of refined whiskeys and quiet islands with immense skies and grandiose landscapes, Islay is a utopia. It has no less than seven distilleries producing millions of bottles of spiced and smoked single malts each year with machines and methods that have hardly changed since the Napoleonic era. All of them offer tours and tastings of what each claims to be the best drams in the world.
The sparsely populated island is a haven of peace and freedom, with trackless hills rising above the peat bogs that give its whiskeys their distinctive pungent flavors, and a 10 km long seashell-sand beach. It serves as a bird sanctuary with over 180 recorded species.