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; 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, 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 – 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, 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; 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 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; 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 ( .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;edinburgh .org;; visitdum;

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
    Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

    From strung out to playing strings

    Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
    The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
    Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

    Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

    The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
    On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

    On the road to nowhere

    A Routemaster trip to remember
    Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

    Hotel India

    Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
    10 best pencil cases

    Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

    Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
    Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

    Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

    Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
    Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

    Pete Jenson: A Different League

    Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
    This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

    The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

    Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis