Scotland’s Great Escapes

Published

Callander

Callander
Credit: Glasgow Guardian / Amber Hindle

Susie Butler
Deputy Culture Editor (Travel)

Despite all that Glasgow has to offer, sometimes the pace of the city can have us demanding an escape. With deadlines looming and dissertation stress mounting for many, what better way to take a winter break than exploring the great outdoors. Scotland may not be able to guarantee you glorious sunshine and golden beaches, but it does have some pretty flawless scenery ready for exploration. Whether it’s just an afternoon outing or a weekend away, here are the top five places to visit that are not as far away as they sound, and won’t break the bank.

Glen Etive

Glen Etive

Credit: Glasgow Guardian / Amber Hindle

Around 80 miles away and inaccessible by public transport, you’ll need a car for this one, but it’s well worth the drive. With such spectacular scenery, it’s no wonder famous scenes from Skyfall and Braveheart were filmed here. What more could you need to get that creativity flowing than embracing your inner James Bond? Driving down the long road to Loch Etive truly leads you to the middle of nowhere, with the landscape providing the perfect highland backdrop to that afternoon drive. Failing that, there’s multiple hills to climb and endless fresh air to take in.

The Devil’s Pulpit
Real name “Finnich Glen”, this gorge drops down 100 feet, making for a dangerous trek down slippery 200-year-old steps. What better distraction from your studies than an afternoon of exploration? Not too far away and generally considered a hidden gem, this one is relatively tourist-free. At only a half an hour drive away (or an hour and a half if you don’t mind jumping from the subway to the bus and then walking), this is a great little natural wonder. It may take you a while to find, being “off the beaten track”, but the view when you reach the bottom is something to behold. If the water is low enough, you can see “the devil’s rock” – for which the attraction is named – and contemplate the myth which surrounds the place.

Callander
It has to be said the middle of nowhere is not for everyone. In which case, Callander may be the place for you. Just an hour and a half train ride away (36 miles) why not take your flat mates and essay on a weekend mini-break. Callander sits just on the edge of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, so there is plenty of opportunity for country walks and exploration. However, if you aren’t that way inclined, the town itself has plenty pubs, shops and cafés everywhere. Failing that, Stirling isn’t far away. The “gateway to the highlands” provides the perfect compromise and all the inspiration you need to beat that writer’s block.

Glencoe

Glencoe

Credit: Glasgow Guardian / Erin Gallagher

A bit further away, but a direct bus goes from Buchanan Bus Station. Surrounded by hills and mountains, this rugged scenic location is the perfect destination for the more active among us. With Fort William close by, AKA the “Outdoor Capital of the UK”, there are endless opportunities for adventure. Time to embrace nature, grab the perfect picture and head home, fully refreshed for the next working week.

Loch Lomond
So we’ve probably all been here before, but it has to make the list. There are no excuses not to make it to Loch Lomond. Less than an hour away on accessible public transport, it’s the perfect day trip out of the city. The scenery is second to none, no matter what the weather, and you’re guaranteed a new experience every time. Whether its finding new waterfalls, taking a bike ride or attempting the pedalos (only the brave in winter), this is the ultimate student day of escapism.

If, however, you really are chained to the library, a quick jaunt around Kelvingrove may have to suffice. Either way, we encourage you to take on the great outdoors while the rain holds off.