Food and’s a winning combination. Here Lorraine Wilson and Ailsa Sheldon have picked 20 top destinations where your thirst for a wee escape and appetite for good food can both be satisfied.


The East Neuk of Fife is one of the sunniest places in Scotland, a productive agricultural region and famous for the string of pretty harbour villages along its gorgeous coastline. It’s also, increasingly, gaining a reputation as a top destination for food lovers.

At the heart of this flourishing food and drink scene is Bowhouse on the Balcaskie estate. At this vast former farm building the aim is to replace a missing link in the food chain, connecting small producers with consumers, and making it easy to access the best food and drink in the region.

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Once a month Bowhouse throws open its barn doors to producers from Fife and beyond for a two day market weekend. These weekends are a brilliant opportunity for smaller producers to meet the public and each other. With live music, demonstrations and workshops for both children and adults, the programme changes every month so it’s worth making it a regular date in your diary.

Bowhouse has a number of permanent resident businesses including organic brewery Futtle, Scotland the Bread, and Angry Kulture ferments. Vegetables are grown here by East Neuk Market Garden and there is a butcher selling prime meat from the estate.

On-site café and restaurant Baern uses the market garden vegetables, Balcaskie meat, and the best local seafood on its incredible menus. Expect huge wedges of topped focaccia, incredible salads, and delicious combinations of local ingredients. Baern holds frequent dinner series which get booked up very quickly, often a month of Saturdays, announced on social media.

Make a weekend of it and stay in one of the many lovely coastal hotels, the Ship Inn in Elie has gorgeous coastal views and serves excellent seafood dishes.



In the pretty town of Peebles, the Cocoa Black Chocolate Boutique is a passion project by chef Ruth Hinks.

There are few people who know more about chocolate than Ruth, a World Chocolate Master, and she’s happy to pass on that knowledge and skills at the chocolate school.

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The classes are relaxed and before the aprons go on there’s a fascinating explanation of what chocolate really is – fear not, there’s a bit of a tasting so we can really understand.

The classes incorporate everything from truffles to vegan chocolate to chocolate bars, patisseries and much more. The two-day classes with Ruth are always popular.

And of course, whatever you make, you take home.


Hidden from the road and from the glorious Lunan Bay beach in the dip behind the dunes, the Lunan Bay Farm Shop and Café has a beautifully relaxed feel – perfect for its location.

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It’s what Lunan Bay lacked for many years and has been realised beautifully. It’s the Scottish version of a beach shack really (although architect designed) but the food on offer is definitely local, whether it’s one of the many teas and coffees on offer, a generous slice of cake, panini sandwich or something more substantial. The bacon rolls are popular among morning walkers.

Next door to Lunan Bay campsite and Lunan Bay Farm, which produces cashmere from its goat herd, the café is a place to sit outside in the sun or shelter if the North Sea coast offers more challenging weather that day.


In a beautifully renovated station house in Kirkcudbright, the Station House Cookery School is helping to improve their culinary skills in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.

There is a wide choice of classes – Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Eastern European and Scottish are all available. For specialist skills, there are breadmaking, fresh pasta or pastry classes.

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Whether it’s a class or a demonstration, Nick Morris leads a team that love cooking and want to pass on the joy of creating something delicious from scratch.

If a demonstration is more suitable, there are still opportunities to ask questions (and taste the results) as a dish is created in front of you.

Of course, everything is supplied and when the work is done, sit down with your students to enjoy the fruits of your labours.


Food tours are becoming more popular – the more bespoke the better. Tasting Scotland can put together full personalised tours, from a day to multi-centre itineraries.

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Cooking classes, tours, tastings, distilleries, fishing, and foraging. Visits to some of Scotland’s greatest attractions can also be worked into the individual plan.

If the idea is to sit back and relax, driver guides are available but there are also self-drive options available too.


The Lind and Lime distillery tour is a great way to spend an afternoon in Leith, it’s just the right balance of informative and informal. In addition to learning about the history and production processes, visitors get a chance to try bottling a miniature and then sit down to a cocktail workshop.

Realising that this space had more potential, the distillery began hosting supper clubs last year. After a warm welcome with a crisp gin and tonic, guests take a high seat around a long table in the bar and meet their chefs for the evening. The first two series of supper clubs, in summer 2022 and spring 2023 featured the best of the Edinburgh restaurant scene, including Sabzi, Eleanore, Heron, Cafe Pomelo and Skua. This summer Highland Perthshire is on the menu with chefs from Ballintaggart and Killiecrankie House cooking up a storm. In the autumn it will be the turn of Glasgow venues, as yet unannounced but sure to be exciting.

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At a supper club hosted by Skua I delighted in raw scallops with Isle of Wight tomatoes and gazpacho, charred asparagus with romesco sauce, and a chocolate and miso choux bun. The food was incredible and around the table the conversation flowed, easily carried by the delights of the food and the fun of being in a distillery after hours. Earlier in the year I had another memorable meal as chefs from The Palmerston fired up the barbecue in the car park.

There’s something very special about the ephemeral creation of a restaurant space. It’s not normal service, it’s an event, with the food, drinks, talented creators and servers all in conversation with the space. There’s no soft launch or practice run, and you see the chefs working in a new space. There’s a magic to it.

Ian Stirling, Co-founder of Lind & Lime Gin says, “Collaboration has always been at the heart of what we do and our distillery is the perfect space to showcase the very best of Scottish dining.”

Ticket prices vary from £55 to £70.


On the edge of the Pentland hills is a very special farm. The Free Company is based at Cockdurno Farm by Balerno, grows vegetables using no-dig, regenerative practices and rear a free-range herd of Berkshire and Mangalitsa pigs, Shetland Sheep and Highland Dexter cattle. The focus is on strengthening connections between people and the land and improving food security. The Free Company sells bountiful organic veg boxes to Edinburgh, and also offers a ‘pig club’ to allow customers to buy sustainably produced, hand-reared pork directly.

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The Free Company is also home to one of Edinburgh’s most exciting dining experiences. Every night during the series, a six-course meal is served to guests using seasonal produce grown and reared on the farm. No menus are revealed in advance, but they evolve through the series, responding to the meat and vegetables available from the farm; it’s more food metres than food miles here. All dietary requirements can be catered for.

The evening begins with drinks in the market garden and perhaps a nose around the vegetable patch, followed by a long table dinner in the milking byre and finally a dram by the fire pit before the last bus back to the city. To eat well, and further appreciate the connection between the land and what’s on your plate, an evening at The Free Company is a real treat.


Combining the best of Scotland’s ingredients and most picturesque Scottish scenery is a feast for so many of the senses. Throw in some luxury and it makes the Royal Scotsman dining experience.

This is special occasion rather than casual dining and definitely one for those who like their linen crisp, cutlery heavy and presentation artistic.

Although the food is the best in fine dining, the experience is much more than a meal. The Royal Scotsman has two dining carriages, the Raven and the Swift. Both offer true Scottish tradition, with mahogany panels decorated with thistles and other Scottish heritage marquetry.

The indulgence lasts all day. Sit back, enjoy the glories of Scotland and sip on a dram.


As if there needs to be any excuse to visit Orkney. Away from the incredible history, breathtaking views and warm welcome, the Orkney Islands have some of the best natural produce as well as a range of makers. Beef and lamb, shellfish and salmon and local brews as well as whiskies and gins. Everyone will have experienced famous Orkney fudge and cheese but it’s even better in context…

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Of course, the restaurants and cafes are supplied by these makers too.

During a visit, pick up a copy of the Taste of Orkney Food & Drink Trail map. Or download before you go and make it part of a plan. Whether it’s food or drink or a combination of both, it can add so much to any exploration of the islands.


Any self-respecting foodie should make a pilgrimage to the gorgeous south-west of Scotland and visit Castle Douglas, our official Food Town.

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Apart from the independent butchers, fishmongers, delis, grocers, family brewers and chocolate makers, the town with its busy high street is an independent shoppers’ dream.

Castle Douglas has all the benefits of a traditional small town but with restaurants offering all the world cuisines that we know and love now.


Soft fruit picking in the north-east used to be an extra source of income for families during holidays. Now it’s a way to spend a leisurely day before enjoying a great dining experience.

On the outskirts of Montrose, Charleton Fruit Farm has great opportunities to pick your own (consult the website for more details) – like any farm it’s dependent in the weather!

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What doesn’t change is the chance to eat in the Stables or Flower Barn or sit outside in the sheltered courtyard. There are also dog-friendly tables both inside and out.

If the young ones aren’t tired out by the picking, then there’s an adventure park to enjoy.


Fodder+Farm in Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire, is a new collaboration between private chef Lucy Pattinson and smallholders Kat Goldin and Kevin Harrison at Gartur Stitch Farm.

Kat and Kevin have run Gartur Stitch Farm on the Cardross Estate for the past nine years, an education-led smallholding. In that time, they’ve hosted thousands of people at their farm for workshops, ‘Meet the Goats’ farm tours, courses, and retreats, teaching traditional skills, sustainable living, and food production – including learning how to hand milk their small herd of dairy goats. Their mission is to reconnect people with where their food comes from. They’re passionate about teaching regenerative agricultural practices and passing on traditional skills, including sourdough baking, foraging and spoon carving.

Kat says: “We want people to be part of the story of their food – not just consumers. Getting hands on with how things are grown and made, and gaining traditional skills that work in busy, modern lives.”

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Fodder + Farm offers Wild Pizza nights on Thursdays and Sundays with ‘deeply seasonal’ toppings. The current menu includes creations such as ‘Green with Envy’, using anever-changing-secret-recipe green sauce with fennel fronds on Scottish buffalo Mozzarella, and ‘Wild Walk in the Woods’ with wood sorrel and venison salami from Great Glen Charcuterie and locally foraged wild mushrooms. Fodder + Farm also hosts monthly long table feasts, a communal supper club experience, where farm ingredients and Lucy Pattinson’s inspired cooking can really shine. Dine with views of the Fintry hills, Ben Lomond and untouched peat bogs when it’s dry, or inside the beautiful barn as the seasons turn.

Chef Lucy says: “I’m so thrilled to work with Kat and Kevin to bring Fodder + Farm to life. It’s been magical to collaborate with local farmers, growers, and artisans to create menus and events at Gartur that feed your soul and light that fire in your belly that leaves you eager to learn more.”


If foraging has piqued the interest but the question is where to start, a short course with Wildwood Bushcraft.

The courses are for those with a love of wild places, there’s no doubt about that. This is not a luxury glamping retreat. Under the experienced supervision of guides who know our remote areas, this is wilderness survival.

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There’s everything from coastal foraging to bushcraft days to navigation courses, but always with a respect for the environment and nature.

There are courses for teams, for groups for schools and even places for solo adventurers.


There’s no through road in Port Appin, it ends by the Lismore ferry terminal. Here, overlooking Loch Linnhe, you’ll find foodie haven The Pierhouse hotel. Whether you stay for a long weekend or just pop in for lunch, you’ll be guaranteed a memorable seafood dining experience.

From the wide windows of the restaurant, or a table on the terrace, watch the catch of the day arrive: creel caught langoustine straight off the boat. Local Loch Leven mussels and Loch Crerar oysters add to the feast prepared by a skilled kitchen team, led by head chef Michael Leathley. For a real treat go for The Pierhouse grand platter, with langoustine, lobster, house smoked sea trout and mussels.

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Stay for a few days and explore the coastline. Wildlife boat trips are popular, and you can hire kayaks in Oban. For a gastronomic adventure take the foot ferry over to Lismore and book a spot on a seaweed foraging course with Lismore Seaweed. During the event you’ll explore the intertidal area of the shore of Lismore and find out which sea vegetables are good to eat and how to prepare them, then cook seaweed snacks over a fire.

Return to The Pierhouse for a seat by the fire, and perhaps a bowl of cullen skink.


An Talla is a bright, open, contemporary place to stop and eat – located at one of the country’s most historic locations.

It has its roots in a place where people stopped off when navigating the Caledonian Canal. It sits on that man-made part of the canal and takes its lead from the canal engineer Thomas Telford.

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The food is what Scotland does well – casual dining but using the best ingredients Scotland has to offer.

It’s just four miles outside of Inverness, at Dochgarroch Locks. A short drive of course but it can be cycled or even walked from the city. A great way to boost the appetite.

There is also a gift shop supporting local makers.


Join expert forager Amy Rankine to see the woods of West Lothian through fresh eyes. On a guided walk you’ll learn about the edible plants that surround us, how to safely identify them and harvest sustainably.

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Focusing on common, abundant plants and their nutritional benefits, expect to leave informed and inspired. The walks end with a shared picnic of forged delights, and samples of dishes you can make in future too. Suitable for all ages and abilities.


Whether you’re an oyster connoisseur or just bivalve curious, the Stranraer Oyster Festival makes for a brilliant foodie day out. Last year 7,500 local Loch Ryan oysters were eaten over the three-day festival, with over a thousand people trying their first oyster. This year the shuckers hope to be even busier with a bigger, bolder events programme attracting visitors from the South of Scotland and beyond.

Loch Ryan oysters have national significance, as the last native oyster fishery in Scotland. The Loch Ryan oyster bed has been protected by Royal Charter since 1701 and sustainable management of the bed by Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery Company began in 1996. Since then, oyster numbers are believed to have grown from 1 million to 60 million today. Loch Ryan oysters are now used in native oyster bed restoration projects across the UK and in Germany. This year, as part of a pledge to ‘go greener’, festival organisers will return the shell of every oyster consumed at the festival back to Loch Ryan. This will reduce waste, create vital habitats for young oysters and naturally sequester carbon too.

The Herald: The Stranraer Oyster Festival is bigger and bolder than ever this year

Joining the best local chefs in the demonstration tent will be Michael Caines MBE, Tony Singh, Julie Lin and Felicity Cloake.

The bustling artisan market will bring together skilled food producers from across the region with plenty of delicious foods and drinks to try and buy. There’s free kids’ entertainment across the weekend, live music from local bands, watersport activities and even an aerobatics display planned too.

This year the Stranraer Oyster Festival runs from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th September. If you can’t make the event, you can try the Loch Ryan bivalves locally afterwards at Henry’s Bay House Restaurant in Stranraer.


While the Cuillins will always have a strong pull for visitors, today just as many travellers pack expandable waistline trousers as walking boots as the Skye dining scene goes from strength to strength. Travelling around the rugged island you are spoiled for choice (but you will often have to book in advance).

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Kinloch Lodge on the shores of Loch Na Dal has long had a strong reputation for food, for decades lead by chef and cookbook writer Claire Macdonald. Today daughter Isabella offers the warmest of welcomes, and chef Jordan Webb has taken the food to the next level. Book a morning foraging or fishing with Kinloch’s own ghillie: Mitchell Partridge.

At Edinbane Lodge, chef-patron Calum Montgomery’s exciting tasting menus were awarded four AA Rosettes last year. The Three Chimneys, led by top chef Scott Davies, is one of Scotland’s top dining destinations with many people planning their entire Scotland trips around a dinner reservation. For a more casual meal with real skill in the kitchen, try Tarmachan Cafe.


Enjoy a cooking course with a difference at Ballintaggart Farm. Set on a hillside a few miles from Aberfeldy, Ballintaggart Farm is the perfect location for an afternoon learning how to cook with the best Scottish produce, with the guidance of Ballintaggart chefs.

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Masterclasses for the rest of 2023 include bread, chocolate, fish and shellfish, game, seasonal suppers, and fire and foraging. Later in the year come back for Christmas canapes or Stress-free Christmas. Everything you need is provided, and you’ll enjoy a delicious meal at the end.

Make a weekend of it by staying nearby at The Grandtully by Ballintaggart and exploring the peaceful woods and glens of beautiful Highland Perthshire.


Take a trip to the Isle of Bute to discover newly opened Bute Yard, a project which aims to help the local food and drink sector flourish and bring the community together.

Bute Yard is the new permanent home for Isle of Bute Distillery and Bute Brew Co. and Isle of Bute Smokehouse. Monthly markets, running on the first Sunday of each month will offer the best local food, small batch drinks, art, crafts, and live music. The calendar is full of interesting events, and workshops and the distillery bar is open regularly.

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Cathleen Crichton-Stuart, Director of Bute Yard and Isle of Bute Smokehouse says: “The opening of Bute Yard is a major milestone for the Isle of Bute and the wider food and drink scene in rural Scotland. Bute Yard will play a major role in providing a space that taps into our heritage as well as our future as a successful food destination. Bute Yard is very much at the centre of a vibrant regeneration on the island, with a vision to establish the Isle of Bute as a food and drink destination and support the growth of local communities and businesses.”

A short Calmac ferry from Wemyss Bay connects to trains from Glasgow. Bute Yard is an easy walk from the ferry terminal.