Weird and wonderful corners of Scotland
The summer’s annual raft of visitors could be forgiven for thinking that Scotland’s all about castles, tartan and haggis. And yes, OK, we love a good haggis, but Scotland’s also home to more than the occasional corner of eccentricity. We celebrate some of the quirkier places to stay and things to do.
They say a man’s home is his castle but what about when it’s not; what about when it’s a Kyrgyzstani tent on a farm in Orkney or a ‘60s film set caravan up a tree in the forest? Both are bona fide accommodation options that you can book, right now. The latter is set in a forest, near Rhynie, Aberdeenshire and goes by the name of Bogancloch Treehouse. Owned by an actor named Jake Williams, the setting starred in a film which went on to win an award at the Venice Film Festival. Yours for just £17 a night on Airbnb, don’t expect the Ritz; there’s no electricity or shower or toilet but the views are great. If that’s roughing it a bit too much for your liking, The Bus Stop in Gifford (pictured above) heads towards the luxury end of the spectrum. Hot tubs, swanky bathrooms and outdoor terraces are the order of the day here on the beautiful contemporary conversion of an old single decker. There’s a mild air of discombobulation when your accommodation looks like it’s about to drive off but unless there’s a steering wheel hidden in the cosy looking double bedroom, it’s going nowhere.
If you’ve ever fancied running your own version of Black Books then there’s something for you too; The Open Book in Wigtown is the nation’s first ever bookshop holiday residency experience, allowing visitors to play bookshop for a week or two. The middle class adult version of a kid’s pretend supermarket may not be your idea of a holiday but a quick peek at the diary shows there are enough bookworms out there to fill the residence well into next year.
Speaking of grown-up versions; how about a tree house? Not a few planks strapped together to make an elevated death trap, a proper house… in a tree. Tree Howf 9mian image) perches in an old ash, peering onto the Ochil Hills from Dunblane, complete with electricity, gas and hot running water. The wonderland house is wrapped with a balcony which peaks with a viewing platform to gaze across the countryside with a glass of vino. There’s something very Disney about it, and it’s marvellous.
Walking in the footsteps of abbots, the Scriptorium in Fort Augustus (pictured above) on the shores of Loch Lomond was once the ‘writing room’ of an abbey’s monastery. Inside, the religious heritage is obvious but amidst the gothic features is a new lease of luxury, a far cry from the presumed austerity of its past life. Over in the chapel is a deliciously sacrilegious swimming pool while the bedroom’s vaulted ceiling and stained glass window offer an ethereal atmosphere, at least eight out of 10 on the quirk factor.
Finally, when it all gets too much, answer the call of isolation and head to the craggy west coast island of Eigg to lap up the tranquillity and escapes of modern life during a peaceful stay at the stunning Sweeney’s Bothy (pictured above). The contemporary self-contained bothy has all the creature comforts one would need and a mind blowing view, making it a favourite with artists in search of some quiet inspiration. The tiny island is home to only 87 people but that doesn’t stop it having a local pub; The Whales Head is quirky enough in itself to make this list, a converted outbuilding is now a great fun community drinking den for locals and visitors.