Travel

Armchair adventures in Scotland: Virtual travel, tours and experiences

How to safely explore and experience glorious Scotland, including its whisky, wildlife and latest exhibitions, from the comfort of our homes

Now is not the time to travel. But while we’re confined to our homes or a very small local area, we can still dream of future holidays. The beauty spots, ancient sites, rugged coastlines, moors and mountains of Scotland are not going anywhere. Nor are its traditions, folk stories and legends, or its tangled, romantic past for that matter.

One day you will be back, and we’ll be here to guide you through your travels, offering advice on the best routes to follow, the cosiest places to stay and unmissable stop-offs along the way. Until then, you can keep your longing for all things Scotland sated by coming on armchair adventures with us from the comfort of your home.

Virtual Tours

Blair Castle. Credit: Paul Tomkins/Visit Scotland

You can still enjoy your favourite Scottish attractions while staying safely at home. The Google Arts and Culture app will allow you to take a look at Edinburgh Castle’s famous esplanade as well as allow you to view artworks online from exhibitions at some of Scotland’s best museums and galleries. We enjoyed reading about and seeing The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer up close. This iconic artwork currently on display at Scottish National Gallery.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Credit: Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

While in Edinburgh (virtually), check out the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which is creating a #VirtualSpring by sharing images of its four Gardens – Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan – online via its website and social media platforms.  Five-minute films will be available for viewers to learn more about their international plant science and conservation work.

The Queen’s Gallery at The Palace of Holyroodhouse. Credit: Visit Scotland

Meanwhile, a virtual tour of the Palace of Holyroodhouse allows you to discover details such as the medieval tapestries in the King’s Bedchamber. While here, be sure to check out the most recent exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, George IV: Art & Spectacle, which explores the life and tastes of arguably the most magnificent of British monarchs. While the gallery’s doors are temporarily closed, art-lovers can still experience George IV’s unrivalled collection of art through this virtual walkthrough.

Blair Castle, in Perthshire, also offers a very good virtual tour; a glimpse of what you’ll be able to see when you finally get to go there in person. Look out for our new issue, 110, coming soon, to learn more about Blair Castle, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl.

And if things aren’t surreal enough at the moment, Dumfries and Galloway’s first paranormal investigation team, Mostly Ghostly Tours, are doing daily #VirtualVisits live on their Facebook page. Learn more about south Scotland’s history and tune in for spooky stories.

Virtual experiences

Whisky

Unfortunately for all whisky aficionados around the United Kingdom, Europe and globally, COVID-19 is taking its toll on the many whisky festivals that were scheduled for this year, including The Highland Perthshire Whisky Festival, which was due to take place in Pitlochry on May 9th.  Instead, award-winning drinks retailer Robertson’s of Pitlochry have initiated The Self Isolation Whisky Festival, which will take place on May 30th, allowing whisky-lovers to order whiskies in advance and taste them in real-time with experts from the comfort of their own sofas. After tasting kits are purchased online (costing £27.50, with £5 going to the NHS), they will be sent to subscriber’s homes. Attendees can then tune in to the corresponding interactive session, either joining for part or the whole day. The packed day’s schedule brings talks and tastings from the brand ambassadors of Dewar’s of Aberfeldy, Tullibardine, Glenturret, Lindores Abbey as well as Robertson’s of Pilochry’s own Ewan McIlwraith. Access only (without whisky tasting) is free of charge.

Gin

The Isle of Raasey Distillery’s co-founder enjoys the view form the still room

If you’re more of a gin-lover (or just love both), enjoy some ‘ginspiration’ courtesy of VisitScotland and their ginteractive map. Fun fact: Scottish gin accounts for 70 per cent of UK’s overall gin production!

Wildlife

Caledonian pine forest at Lecht. Credit: Marie Harrison

For something a little different, follow the story of resident osprey pair, Louis and Aila, live from the heart of an ancient Caledonian pine forest thanks to the Woodland Trust. You’ll often see them napping in their nest near Loch Arkaig but the video stream has a 12 hour ‘look back’ feature so if there is no live action when you look in, you can always go back in time to see what was going on earlier. March to September is the best time of year to see these rare breeding birds, best known for the spectacular way they catch fish as they dive towards lakes and lochs, stretch out their talons and scoop them out of the water with ease.

Start the morning off right and enjoy a #DailyBirdSong with Speyside Wildlife on their Facebook page. Featuring a different garden bird each day, listeners can experience lovely bird songs from a variety of feathered friends. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Speyside Wildlife will be giving pointers and videos to help identify bird songs and calls.

Dancing

The lively Macgregors Bar in Inverness are hosting a daily #LifeAtFive livestream on their Facebook page. Enjoy pub nights, traditional music sessions and storytelling at this Thistle Award-winning business. 

Get up and dance with the #CovidCeilidh movement on social media. Kickstarted by fiddler Duncan Chisholm to help comfort and entertain everyone at home it has quickly become a collaborative effort in the folk community. Pick up an instrument or follow the hashtag on Twitter to ceilidh along.

Cooking

Scotland’s beloved chef, Tom Kitchin of The Kitchin, was the youngest chef to have received a Michelin Star at 29. Tune into his Instagram tutorials to get quick, easy and delicious recipes that the whole family can cook together.

Plus much more

We’ll be updating this page as and when we hear of more virtual events and opportunities, so we can all stay connected with our favourite country and hobbies during this time. Check back in with us in a few days!

In good company

In the meantime, you can join us on Facebook, Twitter (@Scotland_Mag) and Instagram (@scotlandmagazine), where we’d love to see your photos of past trips, hear your stories of Scotland and chat to you about some of the places you really want to visit when you can. We’ll be sharing regular book recommendations, good news stories, videos – anything that will bring a little slice of Scotland right into your home.

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SCOTLAND MAGAZINE

Published six times a year, every issue of Scotland showcases its stunning landscapes and natural  beauty, and delves deep into Scottish history. From mysterious clans and famous Scots (both past and present), to the hidden histories of the country’s greatest castles and houses, Scotland‘s pages brim with the soul and secrets of the country.
Scotland magazine captures the spirit of this wild and wonderful nation, explores its history and heritage and recommends great places to visit, so you feel at home here, wherever you are in the world.

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