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The Highlands

LIFESTYLE|TRAVEL

LIFESTYLE@SPARKNEWSPAPER.CO.UK

Where to find the winter wonderland of your dreams in Scotland REBECCA WHITE 3rd Year English Language

WHILST procrastinating my dissertation by reading a BuzzFeed article on the UK’s best locations, it dawned on me: I needed to go to the Scottish Highlands. Feeling impulsive and knowing I had some money saved (which has to be the most dangerous combination of factors in existence), I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to go with me, and that same day we booked a hotel for the week term finished for Christmas. December arrived and off we went. The rather daunting 9-hour journey had encouraged us to book another hotel on the way up which split the driving into one day of 3.5-4ish hours and another of 5-6ish, depending on traffic and weather. We finally made it to Boat of Garten where our hotel, The Boat Inn, was. We were greeted with the most quaint, snowy winter wonderland. The hotel was a strange mix of gorgeous 5-star touches, mixed with a few run down 2-star elements. For example, we turned up and had no hot water from the shower, which was fixed within an hour of arriving, and there were a few

areas where the paint needed touching up. However, we had a massive room, with gorgeous views, a TV, lovely bathroom with two sinks and a huge bath, which somewhat strangely was in the middle of the room, but no complaints from me as I could take in the wonderful landscape view and watch TV, all whilst warming up from the day’s adventures. Having recovered from the drive there, we woke up to heavy snow. We decided to drive to the local town, Aviemore, that had a little bit more going on than Boat of Garten. There were some stunning walks starting half an hour away from Aviemore, so having stocked up on snacks, off we went on a hike. Our goal was Loch Eiliein in the Rothiemurchus forest. Whether or not we found that exact loch we were not sure, but what we did find was utterly incredible. It was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my whole life and for relatively little effort, we hiked for about an hour to get there, the terrain was easy going and I enjoyed every second. We then visited Blair Atholl and Blair castle. Whilst it was not quite the image that comes to mind when you hear castle,

Credit to:Emma Phillips

"what we did find was utterly incredible. It was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my whole life" Credit to:Emma Phillips

it was still absolutely gorgeous. We went on a tour of the castle • Relatively easy to get to with experienced drivers which was well worth doing. It and good weather. was really interesting and full of fun titbits about the area. • Plenty to do in terms It is worth noting that if you of activities, from want to visit over the winter hikes to whiskey and season, check whether the gin distilleries to dog castle is open as it is normally sledding. shut over winter. If you visit the Highlands, do not limit yourself to visiting things that are in the immediate area. Blair Atholl was about an hour away from where we stayed and the • Eating out was drive there and back let us take occasionally expensive in the beautiful scenery, find depending on location. a nice place for lunch that we would otherwise have not gone • Need to be able to drive in extreme conditions. to, and see what other activities My boyfriend got stuck the Highlands had to offer further afield. with a lot of the driving To sum up the trip here is in the snow because he a cheeky little table of the is more experienced, and information you probably want did not scream at every to know better. patch of ice!

Cons

Pros

• Need to have some idea of what you would like to do when and what is close, whilst maintaining • Cheap holiday, about flexibility to do what £90 on fuel and £200 you want when you are on accommodation per there. Also associated person. costs of activities.

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