Ten magical Scottish Islands to visit instead of Skye!

This morning we came into the office to yet another slew of enquiries for guests keen to visit the Scottish Isle of Skye, and it’s got us here at adeo Travel scratching our heads!

I mean, yes, the Isle of Skye is beautiful, yes, it’s full of wildlife, dramatic coastline and intriguing history. But, it is only one out of hundreds of incredible Scottish Islands – 790 to be exact – each one more spectacularly beautiful than the last.

So here are 8 alternative Scottish Islands to visit if you want to escape the crowds this summer and experience the wild and unspoilt beauty of the Scottish Isles.

  1. Islay
Isle of Islay
Isle of Islay

The ‘Queen of the Hebrides’ is probably best known for its whisky production. Despite its size, at just 600 square kilometres, this tiny island is home to eight working distilleries – it’s certainly the Whisky Capital of the Hebrides!

Visit if: You never say ‘no’ to a dram or two!

Don’t miss: Bowmore, the oldest distillery on Islay, founded over two centuries ago in 1779

  1. Jura

This island is famed for being where George Orwell retreated to write 1984 and literary buffs can still make a pilgrimage to the remote croft house where he lived. Orwell wanted to get away from it all and you can see why he chose wild, untamed Jura where wild deer outnumber people more than 10 to one.

Visit if: You’re a novelist having an existential crisis.

Don’t miss: The Corryvrecken Whirpool, one of the largest permanent whirlpools on earth and one of the most dangerous stretches of water around the British Isles.

  1. Harris

    Isle of Harris
    Isle of Harris

You might be surprised to learn that most visitors travel to this Outer Hebridian Island for its beaches. The dazzling white sands and turquoise waters surrounding the largest island in the Outer Hebrides are reminiscent of the Caribbean. With dozens of beaches to pick from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Visit if: You’re a bit of a beach bum

Don’t miss: The volcanic islands of St Kilda, the most remote Islands in the British Isles.

  1. Orkney

Actually Orkney consists of around 70 Islands but I’ll ignore that. I’m going to leave it to the poet and storyteller George Mackay Brown, who lived on Orkney at Stromness, to sell you his island home. He wrote ‘The essence of Orkney’s magic is silence, loneliness, and the deep marvellous rhythms of sea and land, darkness and light.’

Visit if: There is a hint of whimsy in your soul

Don’t miss: The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae which is thought to be older than Stonehenge and the pyramids.

  1. Iona
Iona abbey
Iona abbey

Iona is a mystical Island accessible only by foot-passenger ferry from Mull. The Island is infused with religious devotion and is known as ‘the cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland. Iona Abbey was founded by St Columba in 563 and continues to be an important site of worship and pilgrimage.

Visit if: You are in search of peace and restoration

Don’t miss: The Fairy Hill or Hill of Angels which has been the site of pagan and Christian rituals for centuries and has been strongly associated with the world of the supernatural.

  1. Arran

One of the most accessible islands, you can drive to Arran from Glasgow in a couple of hours. Despite being so close to the hustle and bustle of the mainland you will still be able to experience the relaxed, whimsical atmosphere of island life as well as the dramatic scenery and eclectic wildlife of the Inner Hebrides.

Visit if: You’re looking for a taste of the Islands of Scotland

Don’t miss: The spectacular Glenahdale Falls, accessed by walking through an Iron Age fort and Neolithic burial mounds known as The Giants Graves.

  1. Barra

    Barra airport
    Barra airport

Beautiful Barra is the most southerly of the inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides. it was the strong hold of the Clan MacNeil and you can visit their ancient seat, the ‘Castle in the Sea’, sitting on a rock islet in Castle Bay.

Visit if: Your name is MacNeil

Don’t miss: The island’s unique airstrip on Traigh Mor Beach.

  1. Mull

The third largest of the Scottish Isles and one of the most accessible as it is served by three ferries. This island boasts a huge variety of flora and fauna including Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Otters, Whales, Dolphins and Basking Sharks.

Visit if: You are a birder or a twitcher

Don’t miss: The brightly painted waterfront houses of Tobermory.

 

If you’re tempted by any of these alternative Islands why not visit them with adeo Travel. You can visit by car on our Scottish Islands Self-Drive tour or a small group tour such as Orkneys and Scottish Highlands.

Or email us for a completely bespoke tour of the Scottish Isles!

Llangollen – North Wales’ Hidden Gem

As part of our #AdeoOnTheRoad programme, we recently headed north from our native Cardiff up to the largely undiscovered area of North Wales.

Our base in North Wales was the stunningly beautiful and historic Ruthin Castle. Despite its rich history and atmospheric castle setting, our rooms were very modern and comfortable; typical of 4* quality British accommodation. The hotel also boasts excellent leisure facilities.

While up in North Wales, the team and I decided to take advantage of our picturesque surroundings and ventured up to the mountains of Snowdonia National Park where we were greeted by a thick blanket of snow – atypical of April but a stunning view nonetheless.

IMG_20160416_100106635_HDR
Thomas in all his glory

After taking our snaps, we travelled to Llangollen – a quintessential and quaint Welsh market town in the heart of North Wales. To our surprise there was a special guest waiting for us at Llangollen Station – Thomas the Tank Engine himself!

After recovering from being star-struck, we became rather peckish and had food in a charming café named ‘Higgeldy Piggeldy’ where the service was fantastic and the food really hit the spot.

Next up on our itinerary for the day was to visit Plas Newydd – a beautiful gothic house fit with manicured gardens preserved since the 1800s; once home to two aristocratic women who received a stream of famous visitors over the years to their unpretentious home. The inside of the house was mostly untouched, except for insightful information documents that gave observers an idea of 17th century life in Llangollen and an insight in to the intriguing lives of the eccentric residents.

After a lovely day in Llangollen we retired back to Ruthin Castle and treated ourselves in the exceptional spa before a delicious 3-course meal at Manor Haus’ 5-star restaurant with rooms just a short walk away

Plas Newydd
Plas Newydd

(we also work with this property if you’re looking for something equally luxurious but a little more low-key than the castle accommodation) – after that it was safe to say we were ready for bed!

If you would like to experience Llangollen in all its glory, then be sure to enquire about one of our self-drive or coach tours featuring North Wales.

We hope to hear your very own North Wales stories soon!

Discover North Wales on the following tours:

Mountains and Medieval Fortresses (self-drive)

Wonders of Wales (small-group tour)

Castles, Coast and Celts (small-group tour)

Heart of Wales and England Tour (escorted coach tour)

Walking in Shakespeare’s footsteps – 10 spots to explore the Bard in Britain

A visit to Britain is not complete without a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. This quintessentially English town in the heart of the Cotswolds is most famous for being the birth place of William Shakespeare and literary pilgrims can visit The Bard’s birthplace and his wife, Anne Hathaway’s, cottage.Stratford-upon-Avon

But real enthusiasts may choose to travel further afield to follow in the Bard’s footsteps across Britain. Here are 10 places to explore the legend of Shakespeare in Britain:

 

  1. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London

The Globe Theatre in London has been linked with Shakespeare through 400 years and 3 buildings. The first building, constructed in 1597, burnt down in 1613 when a cannon set fire to the thatched roof during a performance of Henry VIII. The theatre was rebuilt, but in 1642 The Puritans banned all stage plays and the theatre was turned into tenement housing. In 1997 a faithful reconstruction of The Globe was built close to the original site in Southwark. You can visit the theatre, explore the Shakespeare exhibition and even see a performance.

  1. The National Portrait Gallery, London

The first acquisition of London’s National Portrait Gallery in 1856 was the ‘Chandos’ portrait of Shakespeare, attributed to artist John Taylor. It’s now considered the only representation of the writer that has any claim to having been painted from life.

  1. Hampton Court Palace, London

London - Hampton CourtIn 1603 Shakespeare and his players were summoned to Hampton Court to provide entertainment during the royal Christmas celebrations. They were lodged at the palace for three weeks and performed 7 plays in the Great Hall. So, if you’d like to stand in one of the only remaining theatrical spaces in which Shakespeare’s plays were performed during his lifetime, visit Hampton Court Palace.

  1. Windsor, Buckinghamshire

The historic town of Windsor is the backdrop for Shakespeare’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor. The events that unfurl take place in the town with many local landmarks featured in the play including The Castle, Frogmore, the Thames and the Garter Inn. It is likely that Shakespeare himself stayed at the Inn which has now been replaced by a hotel – stay here and you really will be following in The Bard’s footsteps.

  1. Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire

Broughton Castle is a moated and fortified manor house in Oxfordshire. Built in 1300 and fortified by its then lord, Broughton Castle has stood the test of time, despite being captured during the English Civil War. You might recognise it as one of the locations in British film Shakespeare in Love.

  1. Milford Haven, Wales

This coastal town in Pembrokeshire, Wales was described by Shakespeare as ‘blessed Milford’, and is the setting for his play 1611 romantic play, Cymbeline.

  1. Glamis Castle, Scotland

Dundee - Glamis CastleShakespeare chose this castle with its dark and bloody history of murder and witchcraft as the backdrop for his darkest play, Macbeth. As Thane of Glamis, Shakespeare’s Macbeth resides in the castle and many believe it is where he famously murders King Duncan. Duncan’s Hall commemorates King Duncan’s death at the hands of Macbeth.

  1. Bosworth Field, Kent

The Battle of Bosworth, referred to in King Richard III, is where Richard III famously speaks the words ‘A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!’. The site can be visited by public footpath and the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre is well worth a visit.

  1. The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent

Dover - White CliffsShakespeare famously brought the cliffs to the attention of the nation in the play King Lear in which the climax takes place on and around Dover’s white cliffs. You can take a stroll along Shakespeare Beach which stretches West from Admiralty Pier to Shakespeare Cliff, Dover’s most impressive cliff.

  1. The Forest of Arden, Warwickshire

The ancient Forest of Arden is the setting for one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, As You Like It. In the play, Rosalind flees to the Forest of Arden, likely based on Arden Forest which was situated near Shakespeare’s hometown in Warwickshire. The oldest oak in the forest has a girth of 9.2 meters and is estimated to be 1000 years old.

Follow Shakespeare’s footsteps through Britain with one of our self-drive tours like the English and Scottish experience or Castles and Manors of Britain.

Top Ten Visitor Destinations in Britain – Traveller’s Choice.

We’re often asked what Britain’s best visitor destinations are – but with three countries, dozens of bustling cities and expansive and contrasting areas of natural beauty to choose from, it’s not a question easily answered! So on this occasion we can dodge the question and look to you, the visitor, to answer it…

A major online review site has recently released their 2016 traveller’s choice awards – using a complex algorithm based both quality and quantity of local destination and attraction reviews by visitors over the last twelve months, Trip Advisor have compiled a top-ten list of UK destinations.  The list throws up some obvious choices, but also some real gems; so, as local travel experts, do we agree…?  Here’s the list, and our thoughts:

10. Manchester

Often overlooked by the international visitor, Manchester has so much to offer! Home to England’s leading soccer team (ManchesterUnited), the national soap opera (Coronation Street) and internationally renowned museums, shopping and nightlife, Manchester has something for everyone.

scotland_glasgow_george_square

  1. 9. Glasgow

Scotland’s second city was recently named as a top international destination for 2016, and with good reason.  A hub for modern Scottish culture, Glasgow also boasts grand Georgian architecture, world-class museums and hallmarks of Scotland’s industrial heritage.

8. Bath

One of our favourite spots in Britain and arguably England’s prettiest town, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage city.  With elegant Regency architecture and a history which dates back to the Roman Empire, Bath is simply a must-visit for travellers exploring England.

england_york_shambles

7. York

Another of adeo Travel’s choice destinations, set amidst the scenic Yorkshire Dales and Moors, York is simply packed with history – discover how the Vikings invaded, explore the cobbled Shambles, walk the medieval town walls & gates and visit Europe’s largest gothic cathedral at the masterpiece of York Minster.

6. Torquay

Possibly best known as the home of Basil Fawlty’s less-than hospitable hotel in John Cleese’s seventies sitcom, Torquay has experienced a resurgence in recent years; this pretty Devonshire harbour-town is at the heart of the “English Riviera” coastline and has the wild landscapes of the Dartmoor National Park on its doorstep.

5. Blackpool

Not one often requested by our international guests, Blackpool is a seaside resort on Northern England’s Lancashire coast. Home to an annual coloured lights festival, donkey-rides on the beach, traditional games arcades and the famous tower ballroom there’s no doubt the town holds a certain nostalgia for Briton’s and their childhood seaside holidays.wales_llandudno

4. Llandudno

A picturesque Victorian seaside resort on the North Wales coast, Llandudno boasts a beautiful sweeping bay, historic pier and elegant promenade not to mention Britain’s only cable-hauled tramway (which dates back to 1902) and the Great Orme headland and nature reserve.  And just a stone’s throw from Conwy Castle and the Snowdonia National Park, Llandudno is definitely one we’d recommend.

3. Liverpool

The home-town of the World’s best known pop group, the wealth of Beatles’ related cultural sites is enough to put Liverpool on the map; but the city has much more besides including two magnificent cathedrals, dozens of listed historic buildings, the famous Albert Docks and a rich maritime heritage.

2. Edinburgh

Scotland’s enchanting capital, Edinburgh offers architectural beauty, an ancient history, major Scottish political and heritage sites and a leading international cultural festival. The must-see Scotland destination and gateway to the renowned Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh deservedly holds the second spot of this top-ten.

england_london_westminster_dusk

  1. 1. London

Britain’s top-rating location, incidentally, London also tops the list of international destinations.  A thriving metropolis, the English capital leads in terms of sport, politics, commerce and culture. Playing host to a wealth of historical and heritage landmarks, recognisable the world-over, London is truly a global destination and unsurprisingly features at the premier position of Britain’s top-ten visitor destinations.

Discover any of the above Britain destinations on one of adeo Travel’s self-drive tours or rail tours which can be entirely customised to suit your travel requirements and preferences.

Lakes, Waters, Tarns and Snowy Mountains #AdeoOnTheRoad

This weekend an unseasonal late winter snowfall tempted me and some of my mountain-mad mates to make the 5-hour journey from South Wales to the Lake District for a spot of ice climbing and winter walking.

Can you believe this was taken with an iphone?
Can you believe this was taken with an iphone?

The Lake District is undoubtedly my favourite spot in England. For starters, the scenery is incredible: from the tops of the majestic, craggy peaks you are treated to stunning views over the glacial ribbon lakes that give the region its name. The Lake District is also home to England’s highest peak: Scarfell Pike and is a popular destination for hiking, climbing, mountain biking and kayaking.

We drove up late on Friday night, arriving late at the four-bedroom cottage where 35 of us would be staying…what can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time! That is until 35 people wanted to use the loo in the morning…

The next day dawned foggy and snowy. The mountaintops were covered in thick white clouds which didn’t look too fun but we were determined to a spend as much time outdoors as possible during our weekend away so we slogged up High Street, named after the Roman Road which once ran over its summit. We spent most of the day stuck in the clouds, which was a good excuse to treat ourselves to a pub dinner that evening!

The next day we were karmicly owed a good day and we were rewarded with possibly the best conditions I have ever had in the Lakes. The sky was clear and blue, the snow was crisp and the wind had dropped. Perfect. We returned to Glenridding, on the banks of Ullswater, to begin a hike up Helvellyn, the third highest point in

That's me with the red bag!
That’s me with the red bag!

the Lakes after the twin peaks of Scafell Pike and Sca Fell. We decided to approach the peak via a short but tricky scramble up Swirral edge which meant crampons on and ice axes out! After jogging down the mountain and just about catching our train on time, we eventually arrived home, tired, achy, soggy and happily planning our next trip!

 

Most of our guests and the several million other tourists who visit the Lakes annually don’t end up scrambling up mountains in the snow! For the less adventurous the Lake District still has plenty to offer: check out the adeo Travel destination pages for more ideas of what you can get up to on your holiday to the Lake District!

You can visit the Lake District with adeo travel by car, coach or train. Visit our website or drop us an email enquiry to find out more!