Scotland’s capital is one of Europe’s most characterful small cities. Some say it’s two cities in one – the dense Old Town high on its volcanic crag that runs from the spectacular castle all the way down to Holyrood Palace; and then the orderly Georgian New Town with its acres of beautifully proportioned architecture.
There’s plenty of green space and excellent walks with no need for a car to reach them. Explore Holyrood Park with its famous Salisbury Crags. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb Arthur’s seat for panoramic views across Edinburgh and reward yourselves to a picnic lunch at the summit.
The East Neuk of Fife
The East Neuk, or corner of Fife, is a part of the country unlike any other. With a string of charming coastal fishing villages and small towns running from Elie, through Pittenweem, Anstruther and Crail and then on to St Andrews, it’s perfect for a short touring holiday. The area is a favourite with artists who are drawn to the colours of whitewashed cottages, red pantiled roofs and the intense blues of sea and sky.
For solitary beach walking seek out Tentsmuir just to the north of St Andrews. You can park under the trees and wander the miles of fine golden sand. In autumn, grey seals congregate and make for entertaining watching, but make sure you keep a respectful distance so that the animals aren’t scared off.
Check ahead to ensure that no major golf tournaments are scheduled – accommodation will be much easier to fond.
If you feel like more of an expedition and have a yearning for the far north then there can be few more dramatic and romantic locations than Torridon, the closest thing to a first class fjord this side of Norway.
Reached after a long drive through exceptional scenery this sea loch is bound on the North by mountains that rise steeply to over three thousand feet and include the famous Liathach, a must see for all serious hill climbers. Take care, though – it’s not for beginners. More relaxing walks are available round the shores and sea tours can be booked from the nearby village, Shieldaig.
For an island getawayis hard to beat with just the right combination of wildness and civilization. The literally colourful Tobermory is the island’s metropolis (pop.700), with a good range of outdoor activities, restaurants and historical attractions.
Mull is one of the larger Inner Hebrides islands, and arguably one of the most varied. There’s a Munro in the middle for hill walkers and miles of winding rocky shore interspersed with secluded beaches which you will often have to yourselves.
But for the romantic traveller, there’s one thing you can’t leave without seeing – the tiny island of Staffa and the geological marvel of Fingal’s Cave. This is the sight that inspired Mendelssohn to compose his Hebrides Overture. Boat trips leave twice a day from Mull. If you’ve got good sea legs, pick a day with a decent swell and turn up Mendelssohn on your iPod as you approach for the full experience.
The Solway Coast
Equally accessible from the bustling cities of central Scotland or the North of England, theis ideal for a quick break. With a number of historic towns, it has been recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty since the 1960s and it’s particularly rich in bird life. The Solway Coast Heritage trail will take you along the coast, but it’s really the history that sets the region apart. Visit the extraordinary triangular fortress of Caerlaverock Castle and, if it’s only the two of you travelling, where better to end an evening walk than through the ruins of Sweetheart Abbey just the other side of the Nith estuary?