My Highland Experience


My name is Siobhan and I am the first volunteer at The Smugglers Hostel.

Coming from the other side of the world, I really didn’t have any knowledge about Scotland other than the usual stereotypes – Braveheart and bagpipes etc. But I really have discovered and experienced a truly beautiful part of the world. I learnt some things through living here and have had to adapt to others. The first thing  that was quickly corrected by locals when I got here was the pronunciation of ‘Tomintoul’. It’s ‘Tom-in-towl’, not ‘Tom-in-tool’ – but I felt better when I found some visiting Scots saying it the wrong way!  I wouldn’t quite say I’ve adapted to understanding the Scottish accent, which I still tend to struggle with! Also, Scotland can be quite warm occasionally, but it doesn’t last long!  I’ve also had to adapt to the night time that lasts only from around 11pm until 3am. This is from living up so high in the world.

I feel quite lucky to have had the opportunity of living in a village like Tomintoul. I have met some memorable characters living here which just adds to Tomintoul’s character. Living away from malls and department stores has made quite a change, but you soon get used to it. It’s nice to be located somewhere where you can walk 10 minutes outside and potentially not pass another soul for hours. You learn to gain an appreciation for a different way of life to city living, and you really have an opportunity to connect back with the abundance of green space and beautifully clean air.

There is an array of activities to do in the Highlands. I only did some of them. One of my most memorable experiences was visiting a distillery. To have a guide take a group of us around the distillery and show us through the whole process of making the whisky from grain to barrel. And then at the end be able to have a decent tasting of several whiskies, let’s just say I was cycling home happy! That’s another thing. I had no knowledge of whisky before coming to Scotland and now I’ve gained a huge appreciation for this aspect of Scotland that now brings in so many tourists. Whisky, Irn Bru, and Skirlie – my new found Scottish loves…

I’ve happily adventured through the lands and had a lot of fun exploring all that the Highlands has to offer.

Although I’m going to miss it here, I’m sure I’ll be back some day!


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