Friday, 27 August 2010

Scotland's best camping spots

It was brilliant to see two top places for Scotland in the results of a Five Top Campsites in the UK contest. Thought up and developed by Cotswold Outdoor, the quest was to find Britain’s Best Campsites.

They wanted to hear about all kinds of campsites, from those with breathtaking scenery and spectacular surroundings to those boasting fun-filled family activities and back-to-nature charm.

Campers from across the UK were asked to put forward their favourite sites with the judging panel selecting the five best based on location, facilities, customer service, entertainment and their beautiful outdoor settings.

And the top five included two in Scotland (of course!). They are:

Marthrown of Mabie, Dumfries and Galloway

Why: Set in the middle of Mabie Forest near Dumfries, this quirky site offers a variety of unusual accommodation options, including a replica Iron Age Roundhouse, native American style Tipis and a Mongolian Yurt

For the active family this is perfect as a base for 7stanes famous mountain bike trails, or for something a little more relaxed, enjoy the luxury of an onsite hot tub and sauna under the stars.

Why: Situated in the Highlands of Scotland near the small village of Ross-Shire, this remote site offers spectacular views of the Outer Hebrides and the Kintali mountains. With no mobile phone reception the emphasis here in on tranquillity and relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Their heated camping huts are suitable for up to four adults and are fully insulated and double-glazed for a refreshing alternative to camping. Campers can wind down from an adventurous day at the Applecross Inn with excellent food and quality beers.

As Dave Housley, senior camping equipment buyer at Cotswold Outdoor, is reported as saying: “Camping is the perfect way to get out and explore everything our country has to offer. With such an eclectic array of accommodation, from eco-pods and yurts to native American style tipis, we’re thrilled to showcase the amazing variety of campsites enjoyed by families across the UK."

Isn't Scotland fantastic?

Friday, 20 August 2010

Happy Glamping and Glampervanning

Glamping in the purest sense

Words I've learnt this summer that still make me smile are Glamping and Glampervanning (the latter I think was coined by fellow bloggers Big Tree Campervans). Both reveal a growing desire from the general public for outdoors holidays but with a bit of luxury thrown in. So instead of seeing camping as a muddy, uncomfortable affair, Glamping was created to add all kinds of modern touches to camping.

Own-style Glamping

In the purest sense, Glamping is apparently more to do with static yurts and tents, which are kitted out with a wealth of 21st century luxuries, including heating, toilets etc. However, there are Glampers who organise their own tent and camping kit, and simply throw into the car as many modern gadgets as possible to make their camping holiday just that bit more glamorous.

Outdoors shops now sell a wealth of 21st century camping accessories such as solar showers, toilets, toilet tents, blow up mattresses, double sleeping bags, armchairs, proper cooking stoves, glasses, cutlery, crockery etc.

Have you tried Glampervanning?
Pic thanks to Angus Clyne

Glampervanning is similar except there's the added luxury of a warm van in which to live and sleep. While many campervanners still love the nostalgia of a VW van, increasing numbers are finding there are huge benefits to hiring or buying a more modern campervan. (That is, it's much less likely to breakdown/burn your bank balance in petrol!). And so an outdoors holiday in a modern campervan has been coined Glampervanning.

Whether you like the sound of Glamping or Glampervanning both offer a great base for an outdoors holiday whether you're looking for the convenience of a campsite or the get-away-from-it-all tranquility of a wilder spot. You'll also feel a great deal more inclined to embrace some of Scotland's great outdoor pursuits, such as walking, cycling, climbing, surfing.. oh the list is endless!

So many times I've found the weather in September and October to be ideal for an outdoors weekend or break during the school holidays. Who's up for a bit of Glamping or Glampervanning these next couple of months?

Friday, 13 August 2010

Families catch on to walking holidays

Family fun: Walking holidays are on the rise

And so we're seeing a bit of a trend here at Glentrek. We are finding that more families are asking for cycling and walking holidays. In particular, they are looking for bike rides and walks that while offering an adventure are easy-going and accessible for younger children.

We're happy to oblige as the Angus Glens and the wider Angus region has a great deal to offer the active family. There are lots of beautiful off-road tracks for cycling and lovely flattish trails for walking.

Perhaps, too, this is part of the trend for an increase in staycations. Instead of flying overseas, the stats tell us that more Brits are vacationing at home, in England, Wales and Scotland. The sector for which this is proving most popular is families.

Thanks to Scotland's fantastic outdoors landscape, our country offers the ideal destination for all kinds of active aspirations. In Angus we're a wealth of mountain biking and hiking trails, as well as other activities, such as white water rafting, canyoning, gorge walking, climbing, sea kayaking, Canadian canoeing, sailing and coasteering.

If you want to find out more about what Scotland has to offer - and the wide range of accommodation options - Glentrek will be happy to advise and tailor an active holiday to suit your family.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Cycle your way to a great holiday - and improved fitness

Every year the Tour de France inspires a host of people to rediscover their bikes. And what a great choice of transportation and fitness cycling offers!

Cycling at even leisurely speeds will burn off an average of 150 calories every 30 minutes. Riding at a moderate pace of 12 to 14mph burns double the calories.

There are a wealth of other positive health facts associated with cycling:

* One study found that regular cycling reduces the risk of premature death from ill-health by 39%.

* Research found that by cycling for half an hour most days of the week, you'll lose as much weight as doing three aerobics classes a week.

Go off-road on countryside trails or to one of Scotland’s many mountain biking centres and the health benefits increase. Riding uphill, going fast downhill and cycling on uneven surfaces will increase fat-burn and offer greater all-over-body toning.

Cycling is also a fantastic way to get around Scotland. Thanks to a wealth of off-road trails, purpose-built mountain bike centres and a network of quiet roads and traffic-free routes, there are many, many miles of countryside to cycle - and explore.

Most people are capable of cycling for an hour or so at a time and you’ll be surprised how far you travel in that time. And once you build up your strength and fitness, you’ll find that a bike offers a great way to get about.

Many more people are also discovering the delights of cycle tour holidays. Whether guided or self-guided, there are plenty of options and companies keen to organise routes, accommodation, bike hire and luggage transfer for you.

The advantage of following a route and schedule is that you are more likely to visit recommended places and benefit from the knowledge of local guides and cyclists.

Companies such as Glentrek know all the best routes in their area and can tailor a cycling tour to suit your aspirations and fitness. The cycling holiday could be a couple of days or a week or two. It might be off-road, on a long-distance cross country route or on quiet roads. It could be self-guided or part of a guided cycling weekend.

The choice is yours. But whatever you decide you’ll most likely lose weight, improve your fitness, meet new people and discover a host of attractions all in one holiday.