The best out-of-town trips from Glasgow and Edinburgh
Loch Lomond, North Berwick, Stirling Castle and Commonwealth-level mountain biking
Escape the books, clubs, drinks and deadlines, and detox your soul with a cheap and easy weekend trip away
There’s nothing like being a student in the big city. Gigs galore, taxis on every corner, round-the-clock access to chips and cheese: everything you need is at your fingertips. The city has its downsides, though. After being woken up one too many times by singing crowds stumbling past your window at 4am, you might find yourself yearning for the gentle sound of birdsong or the crashing of waves on the shore.
Or maybe you’re fed up of studying and just want to put as much distance between yourself and the library as humanly possible. Whatever your reason for escaping town, Scotland’s central belt offers some cracking getaways right on your doorstep. Grab a few friends and head to one of these top spots for some well-earned downtime.
Best for beaches
Why not travel back to a bygone age when rail travel was the height of glamour and all you needed for a jolly good time was a picnic and lashings of ginger beer? Just half an hour by train from Edinburgh, North Berwick is the quintessential seaside town. Dip your toes in the paddling pool, stroll along the seafront with an ice cream from Luca’s vintage van, battle it out on the putting green, then round the day off with fresh local lobster and chips from the Lobster Shack and a pint at one of the friendly locals. If you want to make a night of it, Tantallon Wigwams start from £18.50. Enid Blyton would approve.
Best for wilderness
Everyone should visit Loch Lomond at least once, and with Citylink running frequent buses up the A82 there’s really no excuse not to go. The spectacular scenery and peaceful location are guaranteed to help the stress of uni life melt away. Download free trail maps from the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park website and explore the beautiful lochside woodland; or if you’re a hardcore hiker, try tackling a stretch of the famous West Highland Way. Whatever you do, the pub at Beinglas Farm Campsite is the ideal place to share tales of the day’s exploits, before camping out under the stars for just £6 a night.
Best for daytrips
Tempting as it may be to run off into the hills for a leisurely weekend, sometimes a short, sharp blast of nature is all you need to get you back on track. In that case, try Cathkin Braes Country Park, located just on the edge of Glasgow. Not only is this a designated area of outstanding natural beauty with breathtaking views across the city, it’s also home to the official mountain biking circuit for next year’s Commonwealth Games. The circuit has just opened to the public and, if you’ve got your own gear, it’s absolutely free to use. Alternatively, you can hire from a city centre bike shop for around £20. The best part? Pointing at the screen during next year’s Games and saying, ‘see that? I did that.’
Best for history
It doesn’t count as skiving if you’re learning something, so for a midweek jaunt (and if you’re not studying there already), why not head to Stirling? Scotland’s former capital gives the current one a run for its money in the castle stakes, having once been home to the Stuart kings and Mary Queen of Scots, while a wander round the Old Town reveals centuries of history. If you’d prefer a different kind of education, the Allanwater Brewhouse in nearby Bridge of Allan offers visitors a free insight into the brewing process, with tastings included. You’ll need a lie down after that, so it’s lucky there’s a four-star youth hostel (Stirling Youth Hostel), with late check-in until 2am.