Alternative Holiday Ideas

Want to see the mountains of the Cairngorms, Grasmere and Inverness but don’t want to stick to the tried and tested spots? If you’re not after the same old areas, or if you prefer to take in the beauty of the mountains with a proper comfy bed and hot continental breakfast before you tackle it , then why not consider a cottage or a hotel with a difference?

A view from Rothay Garden (see below)

In keeping with our ‘Anti Glamping Movement’ these aren’t brand name, big corporate hotels that strip away the heart of the outdoors. These are family run, quaint, old or just wonderful cottages or hotels based in charming towns or National Parks so you can confidently enjoy being in acres of woodland whilst you eat your dinner- literally having your cake and eating it.

So before you check into a lifeless name brand hotel on the nearest motorway, why not choose a unique country cottage closer to the big name mountains with something different to see? Here’s our pick with help from our friends at

 Visting Snowdonia? Try The Beautiful Lakes of Bala.

If you’re in Wales wanting to walk Snowdonia, then you can should stay and also play near by, at the beautiful Bala lakes.

Surrounded by craggy mountains and slate overhangs you can learn climb, abseil or boulder, whilst the lakes themselves are great for sailing, canoeing, kayaking, or raft building.

The more adventurous can do some ghyll scrambling, wind surfing, powerboating or downhill mountain biking. A day of hillwalking in Snowdonia is also a great idea.


The Bala lakes are an ideal place to stay near and the Cysgod y Garn Farm Cottage in the village of Frongoch is a perfect location. With organic farmland, a 5 star rating, this stone built cottage has the roaring log fire you need after a day on the lake, comfy beds, fresh cakes, coffee and great food for around £80 a night.

Visiting Windermere? Try Bowness-on-Windermere

This beautiful town is picturesque and is ideal for days out on the river sailing or enjoying watersports, whilst the beautiful 19th century buildings make a wonderful postcard perfect picture.

Ride the local trails, and get out on the lake canoeing or on a kayak.

To stay, well there is nowhere better than Beatrix Potter’s former house in Lindeth Howe.

Lindeth Howe aka Beatrix Potter's House

 Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel ,with 6 acres of garden with excellent food, tea, as well as lake views, saunas, fitness room, and on site massages, this is a luxury trip away for any traveller at around £75 per night and will refresh you after a day on kayaking!

Get the full Beatrix Potter experience and allow your imagination to run riot here,  whilst enjoying the pool, garden terrace and bar!

You could also look at staying in Ambleside – Lake House for the same £75 per night. This family run Lake House has brilliant views of Waterhead Bay, Windermere Loughrigg Fell and the Langdale Peaks. With flat screen TV’s, DVD players, music systems and use of the onsite pool and evening meals at The Regent, which is just 400yards away.

Lake House In Ambleside

Enjoy continental breads, cereals, smoked fish and fruit or even a full English in full view of the mountains- or in bed.

Visiting Cumbria? Consider Grasmere.

Nestled in Cumbira, Grasmere is William Wordsworth’s village. Places to eat and stay. Farms and cottages, as well as the Grasmere Lake for sailing, this is a great place for adventure and activity.

Walk or cycle around Easdale Tarn or Loughrigg Terrace, or explore the enchanting field named after William Wordsworth’s daughter by himself, Dora’s Field.  Grasemere has lovely scenery ( William called it ‘The loviest place a man hath ever found!)

You can climb up Scafell Pikes, Helvellyn, Skiddaw and the Langdale Pikes, or enjoy canoeing, kayaking or biking.

After all that walking and climbing, The Rothay Garden Hotel  is a wonderful place to take in all Grasmere has to offer. Around £130 per night, this is a 4 star stay, with flat screen TVs, internet and fine dining with views of their 2 acres of land, this is an ideal break for the busy modern traveller.

Rothay Garden Hotel

Visiting the Cairngorms? Stay in the National Park

If you want to see the real Caingorms, you need to be out there in the thick of it. You cans tay in the national park because it is so vast.

The Cairngorms have so much to do. Ski centres, Glenshee, Lechy and Cairn Gorm in Aviemoor means you can get out on the slopes for less than a trip to the alps.

If you go before November (when the snow typically falls) you can enjoy munro bagging, walking, mountain biking and even pony trekking.

Watersports in the Cairngorms National Park is a must do as well. Clean rivers and lochs means you can swim, fish, kayak, windsurf, and paddle, or if you’re adventurous, you can enjoy sailing, white water rafting, wind surfing as well as river tubing and gorge scrambling.

Loch Insh near Kincraig and Loch Morlich are pure waters that are great for fishing or paddling in, whilst the Spey river is a great place to find not only the whiskey water, but also some amazing salmon and trout in their natural habitat.

Ard-na-Coille  is a great place to stay if you want to be right in the heart of all this activity. Featured in the Monarch of the Glen, this is a beautiful place to relax in. With 3 acres around it, this has a 5* visit Scotland rating and was built in the 1920s and a room costs around £90.

You could also look at the Boat Hotel. This has a more modern feel with plasma screens, DVDs and an exquisite bistro for around £95 per night.

Bathe in The Boat...

Close by, the Strathspey Railway still runs steam engines, whilst the gold course, backdrop of the mountains and the close proximity to famous cities make this an excellent option for the keen traveler.

Going to Inverness? Look at the Muir of Ord

If you want to explore Inverness, then you need to have a look at Muir of Ord.

Take a dram of whiskey on the local distillery, enjoy a boat trip on the Loch Ness, spot dolphins on the Black Isle or enjoy archery, walking, trekking or orienteering.

The beautiful mountains make it easy to get really adventurous with mountaineering, climbing and abseiling, take it down a notch and take in the beauty of Inverness with a hill walk, a day or biking , or perhaps you could do something with a team or stag group, like raft building, paintballing or orienteering.

Hillview Park in the snow

Hill View Park is a family run bed and breakfast accommodation just 12 miles from Inverness and one mile from Beauly, so named from Mary Queen of Scot’s exclamation of  ‘C’est un beau lieu’ – aka, what a beautiful place!

High praise indeed! Beauly is also home to the lovely Beauly river, great for trout fishing, whilst being close to Glen Affric for walking and cycling, all for around £60 per night.

Do you fancy any of these lovely getaways?

Or have we missed any mountainside hotels and cottages that you love? Let us know!

Elaine @ GO Activities


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