Spectacular Scottish Highlands

by Spectacular World Travel & Events on July 9, 2019

IMG_2352When planning my recent trip back to the UK, my friend and I decided to include a ‘Yoga & Walking Retreat’ in the Scottish Highlands, which was being delivered by a good friend, Kirsty Innes. The chance to escape and experience a few days in the magical Scottish Highlands was too good an opportunity to miss, and the dates fitted perfectly into my already planned itinerary.

The journey from Edinburgh to Spean Bridge (which is where we were headed) is worthy of mention as this drive was amazing – scenery unlike any other, stunning mountains, enormous lochs and a wilderness that is just as picturesque as Canada and others areas that are renowned for their beauty.

We did take the slightly longer route so that we could drive alongside Loch Lomond through the Trossachs National Park, and we were pleased that we did. Further along from Loch Lomond, the countryside changed dramatically as we drove through Glencoe and the ski field areas close to Ben Nevis (Scotland’s highest mountain), and touching through Fort William. Our final strop was the Commando Memorial near to Spean Bridge which is a ‘must stop’, not only to see the memorial but also to take in the spectacular, rolling views of the Ben Nevis mountain range. IMG_2025

IMG_2042Our yoga sessions were held in the Clan Cameron Community Hall in Achnacarry, and our walks were in the surrounding area, through the woods, along the River Arkaig, and finishing at what is left of the Achnacarry Castle.

Our guide, Graeme, who is also the owner of Smokey Oak Lodge (which is where we were staying), shared tales of the local folklore and we were taken back in time to learn all about the Highlanders, the Jakobites and local Clan history. Graeme’s stories were captivating and without a doubt, an important part of the whole experience. He was a professional tour guide before renovating Smokey Oak Lodge, and we could tell! He also treated us to a trek into the woods in search of the ‘White Witch’.

Smokey Oak Lodge is basic style accommodation, but comfortable, well appointed and located right on the River. It’s got everything that you need and is in a beautiful location… the perfect place to unwind.

IMG_2100I knew that the yoga would be terrific, as I’ve been to some of Kirsty’s sessions here in Australia, and it was exactly what the Doctor ordered. Restorative yoga at its best, and four amazing sessions that were relaxing, restorative and the perfect activity to complement our Highland walks. We were also treated to delicious home cooked food, hot chocolate and marshmallows by an outdoor fire by the loch and a weekend of relaxation and a true ‘back to nature’ experience. IMG_2104

Edinburgh has always been one of my ‘happy places’ but I had forgotten just how scenic, rugged and spectacular the Scottish Highlands are. When you are next travelling to Scotland, make sure you try and plan a few days to take in this amazing part of the world, and hopefully it may fit in with one of Kirsty’s sensational retreats. This was honestly an amazing few days and I’ve returned with fond memories of a time that I shall always treasure.

 

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For more details on Kirsty Innes Yoga – head to:

https://kirstyinnes.com.au/

or follow her on Facebook at:

@KirstyInnesYoga

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Jaw Dropping Jasper

by Spectacular World Travel & Events on June 15, 2018

Jasper LakeThis is the last in my series of Canada blogs, as Jasper was our last port of call before driving through to Edmonton and then flying back to Australia. The drive from Lake Louise to Jasper was just over three hours, through magnificent terrain along the Icefields Parkway, which is the main highway that starts in Banff. We were lucky in that it had opened up a couple of weeks before we wavered across, as it remains closed in many sections during the winter months. It’s a spectacular drive, mountainous, rugged National Park terrain that is stunningly beautiful.

Jasper Steam Train

Jasper itself is an old style railway town; the railway runs straight through the middle of the little township and I have to admit, the town was much smaller than we expected, but still home to a number of restaurants, cafes (the bakeries are fantastic), shops and lots of hotels. The scenery and wildlife are the main draw-card that attracts people to Jasper, as it is set in an amazing National Park that is home to elk, moose, bears, deer and many other animals. It was a thrill to see the elk roaming through town, as we had no idea they would venture so close to civilisation.

Jasper Totem PoleWe were out of season to see the breathtaking Northern Lights in the sky, but the Planetarium is well known and people can see the evening stars, constellations and learn all about the Milky Way, solar system and Northern Lights.

Jasper Lake 2The Jasper National Park is home to Medicine Lake, Sunwapter Falls, Spirit Island, Maligne Canyon, Athabasca River and Falls, the Miette Hot Springs and Mount Robson, so there is much to see and take in and lots to keep you occupied, especially if you are into nature, wildlife and spectacular scenery. The area is fantastic for hiking, bike rides and most can be easily accessed by car which is great.

The Jasper Brewing Company is a great place to eat and is a modern brewery offering house made craft beers and pub food. We also had a great meal in our hotel restaurant at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre. Buffalo meat  is very popular in Jasper and its used to make nachos, spaghetti bolognaise and lots of meals we would usually make with beef mince.  The Sawridge Inn and Conference Center was the perfect place to stay; lovely rooms and great facilities. We spent two nights here so we could go wildlife spotting and we weren’t disappointed.

Jasper Elk Jasper Deer 2
After Jasper, we travelled to Edmonton and it is worth mentioning the West Edmonton Mall which is the largest mall in North America, and must be a place you stop in and visit if you ever get the chance. We were completely blown away by the sheer size, as this shopping mecca is also home to World Waterpark, Galaxyland, an Ice Palace skating rink, bowling alley, adventure golf, casino, hotel, Imax 3D theatre, nightclub, wild west shooting centre and the list goes on. And that’s not to mention every type of shop and brand you could possibly think of – it would be remiss of me not to mention as this is a MUST STOP IT you do happen to be passing through. Prepare to be amazed!

So this blog tells a tale of the end of our Canada adventure and it was truly and amazing almost three weeks – Canada should be on everyone’s list for a visit. Canada is a real ‘bucket list’ adventure; the people are amazing, the activities diverse and varied with some real highlights that you cannot do in Australia, beautiful sights and country, great places to eat and drink, lots to do and even more to experience.

Jasper Town Centre

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Cheers to 20 Years!

June 6, 2018

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Peru / Machi Picchu Adventure

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Environmentally-Friendly Elements (Byron Bay Resort & Spa)

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