Becca’s blog

Tomintoul is an authentic wee Scottish town which seems to have its own pace of life, distant from the craziness of modern life. If you don’t want to be frowned at by the locals, remember Tomintoul is pronounced ‘Tom-in-towl’ (like owl). I have travelled in many countries but by far Scotland was the most welcoming and friendly. Tomintoul is located in the Cairngorms and is the perfect place to be based to explore everything this stunning national park has to offer.

I spent a month volunteering at the Smugglers Hostel and it became my home away from home. On arriving at the hostel I was warmly welcomed by Kerry the manager of the Smuggler’s Hostel and I knew from that moment I was going to have a great time. I was surprised but happy to find out that a Danish girl named Louise would also be there for the month. By the third day we were close friends and it was like we had known each other for years.

Tomintoul may be quite small but it still boasts three pubs where great food and beverages can be found. One of the things that you realise about the weather in Scotland is that it is unpredictable. Most of the weather reports were constantly wrong. I actually read a weather report that said ‘it may or may not rain’ which was highly amusing and at least it was accurate! We had lovely weather the first week which really gave us false expectations of Scottish weather, this was quickly corrected with the rest of the time much cooler and light rain most days.

Many of the weekends through-out the month had local events to amuse and entertain us. The first weekend we were lucky to be in town when the first Tomintoul motorbike meeting was held. Nothing like a big group of friendly bikers to liven up the village. The roaring of the bikes cruising around and everyone showing off their pride and joys. We were also able to experience the Tomintoul Highland Games which is a proud and interesting Scottish tradition.

The traditional sports were highly amusing as we watched men in kilts toss heavy items such as river rocks, tree logs and metal balls on chains around. There were plenty of stalls to delight as well as Scottish dancing and bagpipe competitions. I enjoyed a few drams of whisky with Tom and Ian who have been to the games previously. Before coming to Scotland I never had whisky so it was an interesting experience and I was just happy I could still walk after the three drams of 60% whisky!

At the beginning of my stay at the Smuggler’s a group of four men where cycling all the way from the Kingdom of Northumberland, England to Inverness, Scotland. If that isn’t amazing in itself they were doing it in 9 days. The best part of travelling will always be the people that you meet along the way and the memories that you make.  We definitely met some amazing people, some were locals others were visitors to Tomintoul like us.

This was an opportunity to meet lots of people with different nationalities from all around the world. There were many reasons that they came to Tomintoul, some for work with the forestry commission and others for recreational activities such as hiking, cycling or simply to explore the beautiful Scottish countryside.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kerry for being an amazing boss and friend. She made us feel at home from day one and part of the Smugglers family. To finish I would like to say that I have slightly fallen in love with this wee highland town. It has been the scene where many adventures have been played out. I have met amazing people and have created many fond memories that I will look back on with a smile.


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