Guest blog post by Francesca Brooking
As travel started to open up again, I was itching to get out into nature. Staying closer to home, I decided to do 10 days in the Scottish Highlands, combining adventure with slow travel. This meant swerving the airport and leaving the car at home in favour of trains, coaches and ferries. By taking a slower approach to my holiday, I wanted to reframe how I travel. To go through rather than over places to reach my destination, and to sit back and enjoy my time in transit. It’s a lower impact form of travel too.
Slow travel in the Scottish Highlands
My slow travel holiday began with a sleeper train that took me up into the Scottish Highlands during the night while I slept. It was incredible waking up to the remote rugged landscape speeding past the window the next morning. Disembarking at Fort William, I took a coach to Skye where I spent the next few days enjoying the culinary delights of Portree and e-biking around the Trotternish Peninsula. A highlight was seeing the otherworldly Quiraing, an ancient landslide surrounded by rolling hills and silver lakes. Being one of the island’s major tourist hotspots, the site was busy with cars and campervans so it was handy to be able to secure my bike to a post rather than scramble to find a parking spot!
A few days later, I took a ferry back to the mainland where I rode the Jacobite Steam Train over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct before staying the night at a cosy Bed and Breakfast in Spean Bridge. The following morning it was back out to the islands. This time, Mull. Mull was my favourite part of the trip. I hiked to a waterfall and lighthouse and went on a boat trip to Staffa, spotting dolphins, gannets and rare feeding minke whales along the way. Plus, the colourful houses of Tobermory were a real treat to see. After Mull it was an epic train journey through the Highlands to Edinburgh and then all too soon, it was time to head home.
Staying hydrated with Water-to-Go
I had my trusty 75cl Water-to-Go bottle by my side throughout the trip. That meant I could easily have fresh drinking water with me wherever I went. This was particularly handy venturing into the remote parts of the Scottish Highlands and Islands where there isn’t a shop for miles around. It’s cheaper and more eco-friendly too. Finding places to fill up my Water-to-Go was easy and what’s better than Scottish spring water?
Top spots I filled the bottle up were a brook just before the Quiraing on Skye and a waterfall on Mull. It was nice to have peace of mind that the water was safe to drink. Delicious and refreshing too!
Time to ditch single-use plastic
Using my Water-to-Go bottle when I travel is important to me, not only because it guarantees access to safe drinking water and saves money as I don’t have to keep buying bottles, but it’s more sustainable too. Essential for reducing my impact.
I was fortunate to not come across too much pollution during my time in the Highlands and Islands (except for spotting a floating crisp packet in the sea on my ferry over to Mull!). Sadly, the same can’t be said for other parts of the world such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and its area twice the size of Texas. Or simply the fact that more than 29 million metric tons of plastic enters the environment every year. From there it ends up in the stomachs of wildlife, breaks down into microplastics and enters our food chains (including the food on our own dinner plates!) and takes thousands of years to decompose. Plastic – from extracting the oil to make it, through the production process to entering the environment as waste wreaks havoc on the planet. If the beauty of places like the Scottish Highlands and Islands is to be preserved then we need to reduce plastic. For the future, for the planet and for those minke whales.
For more sustainable travel tips and inspiration, follow Francesca on her blog Little Lost Travel.