Adventure can come in many forms, and for a lot of people (including myself) city breaks exploring busy, exotic and colourful metropoles can be a great way to get to know a country or location. However if you want to push the adventure up a notch, I say you should get away from the noisy and grey cities, and get to know places through their natural beauty. Scotland is a country that really only shines at its brightest when you leave the cities (which are occasionally a little grey – excluding Edinburgh), so I want to show you some of the most savage and wild areas of Scotland. These are areas that I think you will not ever have heard of, but after reading this, there’s no way you'll forget them.
I’ve previously written about a relatively wild adventure I had on the Knoydart Peninsula, but I have another trip coming up in the area so it’s the perfect time to see what else is in this deserted and naturally stunning area of western Scotland. The Knoydart Peninsula is attached to the Scottish mainland, but is so remote and lacking in roads and connections that it really is one of the best places in the United Kingdom to get away from the city and busy life and truly connect with nature and the awe-inspiring but rough beauty that Scotland does almost better than anywhere else in the world.
The first step on the journey is a stop at Mallaig, the last town before you head out into the wilderness, to pick up sea kayaks and all the supplies you need for the journey. There are quite a few kayak hire businesses in the area, as this is a relatively ‘popular’ activity for those who frequent the area. From there it is around a 5km paddle over the water to the Isle of Skye, which is a relaxed half day journey for someone with a good amount of kayaking experience. There is also a ferry that goes from Mallaig to Armadale (and indeed to Inverie/Knoydart, the place I previously visited and wrote about) if you are not sure about paddling across to the island.
Although kayaking as a means to get around is admittedly one of the slowest and least practical ways to get around on a typical holiday – water and luggage are rarely a happy combination – but the reality is that for those of you who are interested in these types of adventurous holidays, a kayak will not only be the most practical way to island hop, it will also be the most rewarding and beautiful.
a kayak will not only be the most practical way to island hop, it will also be the most rewarding and beautiful
Once you reach the small village of Armadale, on the southern end of the Isle of Skye, in an area called the Sleat Peninsula (basically opposite the Knoydart Peninsula, across the water), you’ll see why I’m telling you to go here. Not only can you visit the ruins of Armadale Castle, you can also see seals and otters in this wild and undisturbed natural environment.
The castle was built in 1790, and was the seat of power for Clan MacDonald for more than 150 years. Now the Scottish clan system is integrated into the parliament, and very few English military incursions or tribal wars are fought in the area now (none in fact I hope).
At the castle you’ll find a surprisingly well kept garden and visitor centre, where you can find out all about the history, conflict and beauty of this not-at-all well-known area. Like the majority of the natural beauty in Scotland, it’s not a carefully shaped and curated garden, but more of a wild and flowering beauty that is barely controlled. Shades of green and blue clash, flowers bloom and paths wind through this gently breath-taking coastline castle grounds.
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