It's been a while since I've written anything on my blog. Simply because of working lots of overtime and heading home for Christmas I haven't had enough time. So I thought I'd start 2018 with a post all about my travel desires for the year ahead.
I'm not going to create a post all about new year, new me. I don't tend to make new year resolutions, instead I focus on the countries I want to visit. The list is overly ambitious and hey, you'll just have to wait to see exactly where I end up going this year...
However, this post is based around where I'd like to visit in Great Britain. I'm aware that I've been fortunate enough to travel abroad, but have yet to see so much around my own home turf.
I want to write down where I'd love to visit this year and yes, potentially this list is a bit of a stretch for one year but perhaps my list can spur you on to travel to these places too!
I'm from the North East of Scotland, in a lovely rural area and I've had the pleasure of living in Aberdeen and currently now in Edinburgh. However, I'm ashamed to say that I have seen very little of my own country.
When I'm travelling abroad I love to tell people about how great Scotland is and that they should visit. Yet it's come to my attention that I have failed to visit the Scottish borders, St.Andrews and so many of the islands. (Western, Orkney and Shetland)
I don't really have a valid excuse, however my lack of driving skills has got something to do with it. The price of travel in the U.K. isn't exactly budget friendly either, yes alright you can get a Megabus to the major cities, but not to remote places around the country.
This year on my hit list are many of the Western Isles. Firstly I want to see Mull, this is because of the rich bird and wildlife. I've yet to see a Puffin in the wild (I've seen them on the menu in Reykjavik, but that doesn't quite count). I also want to see the small town of Tobermory and yes, I will sing "What's the story in Balamory".
Ideally I'd like to visit in the warmer months, and make an overnight stay out of it.
Photo: Hive Mind
Further afield I'd like to make it to the Islands of Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, I love visiting remote places and actually sometimes enjoy feeling isolated. What draws me to these islands is the landscapes, I've seen pictures of white sand beaches and I especially want to see the Sands of Uig on Lewis and Horgabost beach on the south of Harris.
Photo: Michelle Blanchette
Photo: Hebrides Hopscotch Holidays
Whilst we are on the topic of the Outer Hebrides I'd love to explore the Island of St Kilda, 100 miles off of the coast of Mainland Scotland. This uninhabited island has a rich bird life and rugged landscape.
I've recently been reading all about the islands history and remoteness, however the cheapest "day trip" I could find was from Skye at £250 per person. I guess it's a long way out into the Atlantic Ocean...
Photo: Allan Milligan
My next hot spot is the Scottish borders, it's pretty ridiculous I haven't ventured down there yet as I live in Edinburgh. However, the town of Melrose and has tickled my fancy. I want to see Melrose Abbey (The final resting place of Robert the Bruce).
Also for a taste of home I'd like to see the Johnston's of Elgin Cashmere in Hawick and stop in by for a coffee break.
Photo: Historic Scotland
My first trip this year is a small city break in York, in the north of England. I've wanted to tick this place off of my list for a while and will be heading down in February. (Look out for a blog all about that) Yet, there are much more places in England I'd love to see.
Usually when I've been in England it's a stopover in Manchester for the airport or on my annual visit to London. London is great, in fact I'd say it's one of my favourite cities in the world. Yet I always seem to neglect the surrounding areas. The cities of Cambridge, Brighton and Windsor are only a train journey away yet I have never made it that far.
I have a real hankering for Brighton because of the street art vibes and independent shops and cafes. Furthermore there is the Brighton Pavilion and the beachfront promenade with pebble beach.
Also on another note as a hardcore doughnut eater I really want to try the Donutterrie - Dum Dum Doughnuts for some tasty artisan delights!
Photo: Visit Brighton
Photo: Visit Brighton
As for Cambridge and Windsor it's the history factor that I want to visit. Windsor Castle is one of the largest castles in the world, and what better year to visit... (Prince Harry is getting married there in May) so probably avoid Windsor until the wedding hype has calmed down.
Photo: Visit London
The draw to Cambridge is the university and it's surroundings. I've seen that you can have an walking tour of the university and it's history and I really want to try punting on the River Cam. What could be more British? *Picnic food at the ready*
Photo: Visit England
With Wiltshire the main reason I want to visit is to see the historic Stonehenge. It's written on my bucket list and would love to see the Neolithic Stone circle, it just fascinates me that there are different meanings behind how the 4,000 year old stones got there. Additionally there is the modern information centre which hosts replica homes of the time and the audio visual show of the stone circle.
A bit or forward planning will be involved here as you need to pre-book your entrance tickets and have an allocated time slot. (I'll stick relevant links below for tickets.)
Photo: English Heritage
Another English city I have high hopes of visiting one day is Bath. I love architecture and really want to see the grand buildings and crescents all around the city. Royal Crescent in particular and the Georgian influence looks very majestic. A university lecturer once told us about the story of the red top deck tour buses that go around the city and that the residents on Royal Crescent became disgruntled about that and one day they decided to throw buckets of cold water over the eager tourists on the bus. Ever since hearing that story, I've wanted to go and see what all the fuss is about.
There is also the Roman Baths that have been there for thousands of years. The sacred spring is a lead lined thermal bath and you can walk around the extensive ruins. I assume this is the most popular attraction in Bath and I'll bet it is for a good reason. The water stays at a constant warm temperature and you can just imagine the Romans back in the day chilling over here.
Photo: Visit Bath
There are a few places I really want to see in Northern Ireland and I really don't have any excuse. Ryanair and even National Express travel frequently over to the city, but yet again I've just never made it over to the west. Anyways, my first stop would be Belfast.
The main draw to Belfast is the Titanic Museum and exhibition. The newly built experience has lots of new information all about the disastrous ship. There are 9 interactive galleries, artifacts and there is the last remaining White Star lined ship: SS Nomadic.
Photo: Ibis Hotel, Belfast
Outside of Belfast I would love to walk over the Giant's Causeway. The stone columns look like something from another world and you can walk along the coastal route and see more of the 40,000 pillars. Legend has it the causeway was built by a giant in order to fight a Scottish Giant across the sea...
The Causeway also has a permanent visitors centre to find out what exactly happened 50 million years ago. A geologists dream!
Well thanks for reading thus far and I hope to tick off a few of these British hotspots in the coming year ahead.
Happy 2018 everyone!