PhDs are relentless, and they can obviously be very stressful. It’s a good idea to take a break regularly. As my therapist said, you have to rest before you burn out to avoid burnout!
So here are some ideas for decompressing days out near the main HEIs of Scotland, going north to south. If I miss your campus out, send us a guest blog post with your own ideas!
UHI North Highland campus, Thurso.
You study in such a beautiful part of the world! Get yourselves over to Castle of Mey for a look round the gardens and the main house and tower. Or, if you need a chill, pop over to Castletown and the gorgeous beach there for a stroll. Nothing like a long walk on the beach for reflection (take a coat).
UHI Highland Theological College, Dingwall.
Fortrose cathedral and Chanonry are both nearby, and the latter is great for dolphin watching, You also have miles of lovely beach up the Moray Firth (pick up some litter whilst there)! Get out west to Rogie Falls, Loch Garve and Loch Luichart to be at one with nature.
If you’re feeling like a longer haul, go all the way over to Skye! If you want to help out the locals, there are regular beach cleanups organised in many of these areas too. Pick those beer bottles up, guys!
One word: Cairngorms. Get yourself to the mountains. No, it isn’t just hiking and blisters! There are distilleries, cute tearooms, red squirrels, wildlife hides, and even Scotland’s longest steam railway! Also a great place to get involved with Scotland’s re-wilding projects!
RGU, Uni of Aberdeen, SRUC Aberdeen campus, NESC.
You’re spoilt for choice! There’s Drum Castle nearby, the unimaginably gorgeous Dunottar Castle, Arbroath Abbey and its famous Stone of Destiny story, Brechin cathedral and the tranquil Dalhousie Estate. And if that ain’t enough, you can always just head into the Cairngorm range to your west for a yomp around (take a map, compass and hiking gear).
UHI West Highland.
One word: Skye. Not enough for you? Wow, ok. How about taking a trip up the grand Caledonian Canal northeast through Fort Augustus? There’s wildlife, forests, pubs, and if you go far enough you’ll be at the Inverness campus. Win win!
Uni of Dundee
Up north there’s the Tay Forest Park near Pitlochry and Dunkeld, which is worth a visit itself. Up the Firth of Tay there’s Scone, with its palace, and if you cross over and take the bus a way, Balmerino Abbey‘s picturesque ruins are a tranquil place to recover from a stressful week (and there’s a pub up the road). If you want a jaunt further afield, Fife’s so close it hurts, and St Andrews and its surroundings are lovely (and full of fellow students)!
Uni of St Andrews
Tired of Janetta’s amazing ice cream already? Blimey. There’s loads around Fife, and most of it’s easy to get to by bus. Falkland, Loch Leven (and its castle) and the Lomond Hills country park are close by. The coastline down by Crail and Anstruther in the East Neuk is worth exploring.
Uni of Stirling (UK sports uni of the year 2019, lads!)
Head up north and Scotland is your oyster. The obvious choice is Blair Drummond safari park (isn’t it?). Or, Callander and its environs are a calm, picturesque place to visit filled with history. Loch Lomond is easily within reach, and…well it’s Loch Lomond. It’s ace!
Uni of Edinburgh, QMU, Heriot-Watt
There really is loads within reach of the capital. Go to Glasgow and feel the big city vibes, check out all the excellent stuff there (like SGSAH HQ!). Or nip south to Peeblesshire and the countryside there, nice and peaceful and filled with ruins and hillforts (ah, just like home!). You could cross the Forth and explore Fife. In fact, St Andrews is less than two hours away.
Uni of Glasgow, Uni of Strathclyde, UWS
You want to leave Glasgow? But people make Glasgow! Thankfully you’re only a little while by train from Loch Lomond and the Trossachs (see above), an hour from Edinburgh, and you can simply head south to New Lanark or the glories of Dumfries and Galloway. Nearby Paisley Abbey is also well worth a look, and there’s some lovely country close at hand (honest!).
UWS Ayr Campus
Galloway Forest Park and the mighty Drumlanrig Castle are super-easy to reach. Or get up to Ardrossan and you could perfectly time a wee trip over to Arran, or Largs will get you to the Isle of Great Cumbrae, which is where SGSAH has its summer retreat every year!
I hope that’s a few new ideas for some of you. Taking breaks and really getting away from uni and its hectic daily life can make such a difference, especially at PhD level. Take some time to just relax, and come back to the research desk refreshed. Good luck!
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