We absolutely love Scotland, it’s wild, rugged the scenery takes your breath away plus there’s so many fun things to do. We had a place to stay near Glen Coe which is one of the most stunning and spectacular places in the world and definitely worth a visit. This article covers what we got up to and some top tips for you to consider for your own trip.
by Madeleine Seaman
We are a family of 4 with 2 kids aged 5 & 8. We live in Surrey and for this staycation summer, to venture north for a week in Scotland, where we’ve been many times before pre kids, but are now excited to share adventures with our whole family.
Before we left I did a lot of research, I’m a research queen! I like to know where I’m going & what we can do as I have massive FOMO! I never plan what we actually do each day, I just like to know what my options are. I like to include a few paid for excursions plus pretty places for walks where the kids can explore and be free.
For Scotland I never plan for ‘bad weather’ activities, you don’t go to Scotland expecting it to be hot and sunny. So we go armed with practical clothing and venture out into the wilderness whatever the weather. I make sure everyone has a couple of pairs of comfy shoes and waterproof coats plus lots of warm layers, especially for kids. We had a car whilst we were in Scotland so we always make sure we have spare clothing and shoes with us just in case.
Lots of people talk about the midges, how they are a nightmare in summer. Maybe we were lucky but we didn’t encounter any and rarely have on our trips. You’re most likely to find them near water or warmer days. Pack some repellent just in case, we use Avon ’Skin so Soft’ oil spray, it’s just a regular oil but seems to work, plus it doesn’t have that nasty smell and you can use it on the kids.
We chose to drive and did the journey in one go. The kids were amazing even though it took 12hrs each way, they were so much more patient than me, iPads were our saviours! The M6 was a bit of a nightmare with so many roadworks, plus it’s just a really long way. Next time we agreed we’d fly up to Glasgow and then hire a car.
Not taking into account our 2 days of travelling we had 5 full days, here’s some of the activities we did.
First day we visited Tralee beach, we parked by a lovely little cafe called Ben Lora Cafe which we had lunch in first, it was nice and reasonably priced. From there it’s a 10min walk to the beach along a track behind the cafe. The beach is mainly stony with some sandy patches where the kids built sandcastles, there was hardly anyone there so we pretty much had it to ourselves - well apart from the nosey seal that watched us from just off the shore the entire time we were there, they’re very inquisitive and want to know what you’re up to!
The next day we went to our local beach Cuil Bay where the kids spotted jellyfish and skimmed stones, again this is a very quiet beach. That afternoon we ventured further to Fort William to go in the gondola up Aonach Mor where you get amazing views of Glen Nevis and Ben Nevis. We prebooked this online www.nevisrange.co.uk/activities/mountain-gondola/ (£57.50 for a family of 4), if possible try to go on a clear day to get the best views, although we’ve previously been up in the pouring rain and still had fun. Once you’re at the top there’s a cafe and toilets. There’s a couple of walks taking you even higher up and giving even better views, we’ve done this before when our son was only 3 so it’s not that difficult, although it’s high up & can get very windy so take warm clothes. That evening for my birthday I really wanted to go to a seafood restaurant and have lobster, we hadn’t prebooked so found it a bit tricky but eventually managed (by ringing lots) to get into Loch Leven Seafood Cafe my first choice. We had drinks on the picnic tables right next to the loch before whilst the kids played on the beach. The food was outstanding, one of the best lobsters I’ve ever had. The service was a bit rushed but would 100% recommend going in, not cheap so budget £100-£150.
We went on a boat trip from Oban, we used www.argyll-seatours.co.uk. There was a 1 or 2 hour option, we picked the 2 hour option costing £72 thinking we’d see more wildlife, however it meant more scenery which we enjoyed but the kids got very bored, next time I'd stick to an hour. The highlight was seeing the seal colony, if you’re lucky you might see dolphins or porpoises. That evening we ate at The Pierhouse Hotel in Port Appin, the restaurant has amazing views, prebook and ask to sit near the window. It’s pretty fancy although relaxed enough to take kids, we had drinks in a little snug lounge with a fire beforehand (although if it’s sunny you can sit outside and take in the views of the lock), budget roughly £100-£150.
Probably our favourite day, we went on the ski lift www.glencoemountain.co.uk/chairlift-rides/ in Glencoe. We were a bit apprehensive about how we’d get the kids on & off the lift but the staff there were amazing, full of banter and so friendly. The views from the ski lift were unbelievable, the kids weren’t scared in the slightest. When you reach the top there’s a tiny little toilet block and plenty of paths to follow for walks. We took the most obvious path that led us past a stream that the kids played in for ages. We’d prebooked this too although I did see lots of people rocking up without booking and getting on just fine, it’s £40 for a family of 4 ticket.
I’d heard about a crazy 3 rope bridge across a river near Nevis, I had to check it out. The road to the car park (Glen Nevis car park - there are several before this one if it's full) is very long and winding, you basically go all the way to the end of the road to the final car park, I wouldn’t recommend taking this road in bad weather conditions or with a camper van.The walk is 3.5km round trip, the path leads to An Stealls Falls the second highest waterfall in Scotland, it's quite treacherous in places with narrow paths and steep drops to the side, you cross several little streams/waterfalls, eventually the path opens out into open pasture with an incredible view of the waterfall where you can see the rope bridge. I didn’t want to risk getting wet and falling in, was quite happy for my husband to test it out though, unfortunately he stayed dry! I really wanted to find somewhere special for dinner our final evening, however we’d struggled to find anywhere available and it was getting late and everyone was starving. We ended up eating at Glen Nevis Restaurant on the road out from the walk, the menu was more simple & trying to cater all tastes, having said that everyone had full tummies and it was a very convenient location, budget £50.
I’m sure it won’t be long until we visit Scotland again, if I had it my way we’d be there tomorrow, Scotland definitely has my heart, as you can tell from the photos it’s very easy to see why.