Some of our most favourite coach holiday experiences are where we take a little walk on the wild side! No, we’re not talking lions and tigers, but instead it’s all about when we take the coach somewhere a little bit remote that you might not expect us to be able to get to. These tend to be the most stunning scenic locations that wow our passengers every time.
We had a memorable moment on our North Coast 500 trip last year as we were enjoying a bowl of soup at our lunch stop at the Smoo Cave Hotel. A gentleman came up to us and asked if Nigel was the coach driver.
“How did you get here?” he asked in disbelief. “Not on the same roads I’m using?”
He couldn’t believe it when we confirmed that yes, in fact it was the same roads – because there is no other choice!
So let us take you for a drive on the wild side with a run-down of our favourite “off the beaten track” coach holidays:
We do love a Scottish holiday, and our trip to the Outer Hebrides certainly didn’t disappoint! This was an excellent island-hopping break and we were super lucky with the weather so we absolutely saw it at it’s best.
After an overnight stop enroute, our Hebridean Odyssey began with a two night stop on the beautiful Isle of Barra. This is a tiny island at the southern end of the Outer Hebridean archipelago, remote and beautiful, yet has its own airport! It is believed to be the only airport in the world where scheduled flights use a tidal beach as a runway.
Leaving Barra, we travelled northwards through the archipelago to Stornoway, with the amazing feat of visiting a whopping SEVEN islands in one day via ferry and bridge. We passed through Eriskay, Benbecula, South Uist, North Uist and Harris before arriving on Lewis for another two night stay.
The scenery was simply incredible, passing stunning sea views, white sand beaches that would have you believe it was the Caribbean, glorious panoramas and quaint villages. We also enjoyed time exploring Lewis with visits to the Callanish Standing Stones and Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. An utterly fantastic holiday.
One of our favourite ‘wild’ holidays is actually not too far off the beaten track! The Moorlands Hotel is located at Haytor on the edge of Dartmoor, and in our opinion it offers the best of both worlds! It’s rural enough that you can enjoy the stunning scenery, with the moors just across the road and the likelihood that Dartmoor ponies will be roaming just outside the gates, yet it’s close enough that you can be in Newton Abbot, or on the English Riviera with just a short distance to drive.
We highly recommend this hotel for an excellent stay, superb food and friendly & caring staff to make your break away a fantastic one!
NORTH COAST 500
Another Scottish holiday, and a very popular one for the last three years! This tour takes in the North Coast 500 driving route, which is the UK’s answer to America’s Route 66, and is a circular route heading north from Inverness and following the coast around Cape Wrath to Skye.
Much of the route is on single track roads, but there are passing places every couple of hundred yards, so easily navigable with a coach. This stunning holiday takes us past mile upon mile of coastal delights, from deserted beaches and castle ruins to mountains and rocky crags. Around every corner there is a visual delight and panoramic view to enjoy.
We include a day on the Orkney Isles, with a sightseeing tour by coach allowing us to see the main tourist attractions, including the Italian Chapel, Churchill Barriers, Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar and Kirkwall.
Extending our stay on the Isle of Skye gives us the opportunity to explore a little further, where we could visit Portree and Dunvegan, explore the north of the Island and see Flora MacDonald’s Grave (of Skye Boat Song & Bonnie Prince Charlie fame), or head out on a boat trip from Kyleakin with their famous glass-bottomed boat.
We’ve had Scotland’s answer to Route 66 – now discover the Irish version! The Wild Atlantic Way stretches from Kinsale in the south to the Inishowen Peninsula in the north, and offers a stunning drive along the Atlantic coast.
This holiday encompasses stunning coastal scenery that is typical of the wilds of Ireland, but flavoured with Irish culture, music and history.
Just some of the sights you can see on this wild adventure include beautiful Killarney with an excursion through the National Forest by Jaunting Car, a scenic drive around the Dingle Peninsula, the famous Cliffs of Moher, Galway and a cruise on Killary harbour, Ireland’s only fjord. Heading further north, we can stop off at the grave of poet WB Yeats before exploring the beautiful town of Donegal, and head onto the Inishowen Peninsula to discover Ireland’s tragic past at Doagh Famine Village (a superb visit).
We originally did it as a 10 day tour, but you could spend longer on this trip and include other visits such as Mizen Head, Garnish Island and the Ring of Kerry to fully experience all that Ireland has to offer. Although most routes describe the journey from north to south, we recommend starting in the south for one simple reason – you’re on the coast side of the road!
This is an off-the-beaten-track coach holiday with a difference – because we don’t take the coach!! The Scilly Isles are a stunning archipelago of islands kicked off the coast of the UK by the boot of Cornwall. They are mainly accessible by ferry and our coach drops us off at the port for the 3.5 hour crossing to St Mary, the largest island.
Our holiday normally includes a familiarisation tour of St Mary, with the remaining time on the islands free for you to explore and island-hop to your heart’s content with ferry crossings to the other islands including Bryher and Tresco.
This holiday offers the best of both worlds where you are both part of an organised group and can enjoy the freedom to explore the Scilly Isles independently!
Our final holiday in the wild is a trip we took in 2014 exploring the Norwegian Fjords! It’s no longer possible to do this holiday exactly as we did, as there is now no ferry crossing between Hull and Esjberg in Denmark. Instead, ferries run to Amsterdam with a longer drive through Holland and Germany to cross the Baltic sea into Norway.
Discovering the wilds of another country is fascinating, particularly when we are able to marvel at the stunning panoramic vista of the Norwegian tundra, and immerse ourselves in the culture and history of the surrounding areas.
Staying at two amazing hotels in Norway gave us two different experiences of the country. First, our base was at the Quality Straand Hotel in Vraadel on the shores of Lake Nisser, with excursions including a scenic tour of the Harddangervidda Plateau & Vermork Heavy Water Sabotage Site, a photo stop at Heddal Stave Church, the largest in Norway, and a boat trip on Lake Nisser.
Then, we headed into the heart of the Fjordland to Stalheim Hotel. From here, we explored the Sognefjord Circular Driving route over the Vik Mountains, stopping at a Wild Salmon centre and Laerdal, famous for its traditional Gamla Laerdalsoyri with traditional wooden houses, before enjoying a tour of Borgund Stave Church as well.
The highlight of this holiday is the ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ excursion – summing up the best of Norway on one day! A fjord cruise along Naeroyfjord – the inspiration for Disney’s Frozen film – to Flam, where you board the Flam Railway for a return journey to Myrdal with unforgettable views of mountains and waterfalls enroute.
So those are our top picks for holidays in the wild – where else would you suggest?
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