Summer in the UK: The stars of Scotland

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

In the latest of our weekly guides to Britain, Jackie Hunter discovers an ecopod with the wow factor and glimpses the northern lights

The population of Edinburgh doubles to about a million in August's festival season, and good-value accommodation is elusive.

Instead of a pricey hotel room or flat rental, try Scotland's first "boatel". The Four Sisters (07762 476367; thefour.sisters.co.uk) is a 55x10ft barge that's permanently berthed on the city-centre canal, 15 minutes' walk from the Royal Mile or Princes Street. Up to four adults and two children can comfortably share this unique and affordable four-star billet, stylishly furnished and equipped with sunloungers, a barbecue, even folding bicycles for those robust enough to pedal the city's steep, cobbled streets.

If you're on the rural west coast, there's a place to stay that's no less quirky – the new five-star Ecopod Boutique Retreat (07725 409003; dome sweetdome.co.uk), a 70sq m geodesic dome, at Kingairloch, with impeccable green credentials and a real wow factor. Even more breathtaking than its Austin Powers-chic interior is its views over Loch Linnhe and the mountains of Mull. The outdoor cedar hot-tub, a gourmet local food hamper, and the high-end audio-visual system all add to the sensory pleasures that nature provides.

The Peat Inn (01334 840206; the peatinn.co.uk) – a favourite with foodies for three decades – triumphed twice at the 2010 Scottish Restaurant of the Year Awards, winning both best restaurant and best chef. In the refined yet cosy dining rooms at this beautifully run 18th-century inn near St Andrews in Fife, diners feast on monkfish poached in champagne butter, carpaccio of wild venison with goats' cheese cream, or home-cured salmon on a dill blini with lobster and avocado crème fraîche.

Scotland's newest fine-dining destination is Edinburgh's Castle Terrace (0131-229 1222; castleterracerestau rant.com), which opened in mid July, a sister venture to the Michelin-starred Leith restaurant The Kitchin. In comfortable, elegant surroundings, its chef-patron, Dominic Jack, infuses Scotland's best seasonal produce with a dash of innovation. Summer dishes include Newhaven spider crab with mango mayonnaise, braised pork in a summer blanquette of Arran vegetables, and Fife strawberries with a peppered mascarpone mousse and olive-oil ice cream.

A three-year, £28m facelift resulted in Glasgow's magnificent Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (0141-276 9599; glasgowlife.org.uk) becoming the most visited museum outside London. This summer, one of the highlights is a specially commissioned installation by the acclaimed Scottish artist David Shrigley, which typifies his offbeat humour. Traditionalists may prefer the first major exhibition of paintings by the 19th-century Glasgow Boys, pioneers of Naturalism, to be shown in more than 40 years.

Edinburgh Comedy Festival (edcom fest.com) grows bigger and better, expanding into new venues and new comic territory. A month in duration, it's now the world's biggest and most diverse laughter fest. This year you'll catch stars such as Paul Merton, Emo Philips, Dillie Keane and Alan Cumming, as well as rising talent including Josie Long, Shappi Khorsandi, Kevin Bridges and more. The venues range from theatres, offices and pubs to lawns and inflatable tents. They all rock with laughter from breakfast time until the wee small hours – it's an unforgettable experience.

You'll see even more stars if you go to Galloway for Europe's first Dark Sky Park. Awarded this rare status by the International Dark Sky Association, Galloway Forest Park's (0870 835 8558; gallowayforestpark.com) 300sq miles of wilderness has a canopy of sky unpolluted by artificial light. Stand in its midst on an ink-blue summer night and you could witness twinkling meteor showers, the aurora borealis, or the just-discernible thumbprint of the Andromeda galaxy.

Perfect for escaping the holiday crowds, Machrihanish in Argyll is one of Scotland's most stunning beaches, fringed by dunes along three miles of the remote south-west Kintyre peninsula, close to Campbeltown (hial.co .uk). These red-gold sands are beautifully unspoilt and usually deserted; the only people you're likely to see are the occasional surfers who pitch up here (this is a Blue Flag beach, noted for its clean Atlantic waters) and local dog-walkers. On the other side of the dunes is a golf course that is considered to be one of Scotland's best.

For more information go to: visit scotland.com/perfect;edinburgh .org; see.glasgow.com; visitdum friesandgalloway.co.uk; argyll-bute.gov.uk.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all