You’d be fair pushed to find a place Neil from the Scotlanders hasn’t visited on his summer travels across Scotland…
As a lad made for travel, my pen had barely hit the desk after my last university exam before I was on a plane and off to see what the world had in store.
Not far off 5 years were spent on the road – living in tents, learning new languages, teaching others my own (there’s a little town in rural China where kids speak with a Glasgow twang now) and even turning into a suit in the heart of EU politics. It was a diverse few years that only underlined that I belonged somewhere else entirely.
So kilt replaced suit and I’m back home, endlessly exploring Scotland.
What started off as some lonely ramblings about my travels has turned into a job in itself scribbling, snapping and recording it all for my travel blog Travels with a Kilt.
Early this year it all went a step further with the formation of the Scotlanders. Six like-minded Scotland fanatics looking to make a splash in the world of digital marketing, it has been a hugely successful 2015 for us all.
Promoting regions across the country, we aim to shine the spotlight on more than just the tourist hot-spots and through our themed weekend campaigns we have done what we love and seen Scotland at its very best.
My summer so far
My summer started with the long road to my favourite part of rural Scotland, the Isle of Harris.
Staring slack jawed at Luskentyre, Scarista, Hushinish and the rest has become something of a pilgrimage. Add to that the upcoming Harris Distillery and this little slice of heaven just got even better.
City breaks to my former stop-off of Brussels and also Barcelona followed in pursuit of that bright thing in the sky, and the latter saw me observe celebration Catalonian style as they won the Champions League.
As a Juventus fan – yes, I know, what was I thinking – it was hard to take, but an extraordinary thing to witness. I look forward to the streets of Glasgow dancing the dance of the victorious as Scotland win something other than a free kick at next year’s Euros….
In the last few weeks my focus has turned on Stirling and the Trossachs, exploring the very best highlights of the area and trying to find ways of squeezing them into weekend itineraries for visitors both local and international.
For history lovers it does not get better than Stirling, and to have the luscious Trossachs within an hour of Glasgow, the country’s biggest city, just seems bewildering.
When not engaged in the day job in Glasgow, I’ve also squeezed in trips to some Outlander filming spots including Fife and Hopetoun House at Queensferry.
Following in the footsteps of Jamie and Claire and all that. Neither seem keen on following me on Twitter though so I’m doing something wrong.
While at Queensferry and with the weather behaving, a quick trip to the superb Inchcolm Island was also called for.
August for the Scotlanders
Speaking of the Kingdom, August kicked off with all of us laying siege to Fife. Covering the outdoor highlights of the region saw me get my first taste of land yachting on West Sands beach (I was dismal) and rifle shooting at Cluny Clays (I aspired to dismal) as well as some more familiar activities including cycling the East Neuk and, cough, drinking whisky in the wonderful new Kingsbarns Distillery. (What do you mean it’s not an outdoor activity?!)
As a history buff I also managed to fit in a wander around the magnificent ruins of St Andrews Cathedral and Castle. Finish that all off with a compulsory Fife fish supper and it all made for a wonderful weekend.
Our most recent jaunt saw three of the Scotlanders head north for a photography course with Gordon and Tommy of Caledonian Light.
It was one of the nicest experiences of my time as a travel blogger. Lending some hype to a business concept that is full of passion and enthusiasm is as easy as it gets for someone like me and the five of us, with our shared love of natural Scotland, had a day to remember.
Fighting the midges and the compulsory summer deluges in Glen Coe, looking down over majestic Glenfinnan and catching the last of the light at camera-friendly Castle Stalker, I’ve yet to see a finer part of the world.
For my own travel writing I’m looking to continue my “Weekend in…” theme by turning the focus onto Ayrshire and around Edinburgh. More of Argyll is also on the cards and at least one Munro.
For the Scotlanders, one of our most eagerly anticipated journeys awaits as we set off around the west coast isles as part of our #Isleathon campaign with Calmac.
Each taking on a different island, my own path will lead me to gorgeous Barra for my first ever visit.
Be sure to follow our adventures on Twitter using #Scotlanders, and check back at our Scotlanders’ Corner page for our next update for the Scots Magazine!
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