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10 reasons why Scotland in autumn is unmatched

children playing with leaves at Mount Stuart


In Scotland, the seasons don't just shift - they transform. No subtle nudge from summer sun to autumn chill for us, instead the light changes and the seasons seem to turn almost overnight. While some see this as time to hibernate, those in the know understand that a new Scotland is coming into focus. While we all love the warm glow of summer, some would say - maybe controversially - that autumn showcases Scotland at its very best.

To prove the point, we've compiled a special list to give you ten reasons why Scotland in autumn is unmatched.

1. Wildlife Comes Out To Play

Seal sitting above water

Autumn sets the stage for some famous performances from Scotland's iconic wildlife (and a few cheeky cameos into the bargain). Visit Iona where gorgeous Grey Seals can be spotted on the beach, soaking up some sun and teaching their pups how to swim in this idyllic paradise. On the Isle of Arran you'll find one of Scotland's most famous wildlife events in full swing - the Red Deer Rut. It's mating season for these magnificent creatures as they go head-to-head (or more accurately, antler-to-antler) to display dominance. Best enjoyed at a distance. Over on Mull you might be able to catch a glimpse of a Basking Shark in the waters as they make their migration South to warmer waters for the winter.

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2. Perfect Weather to Coorie In

couple sitting infront of fire

When the days draw in we know that the best accompaniment to the waning light and chilly weather is a big dose of cosiness, or as we say in Scotland - to 'coorie in'. Think tartan blankets, candles, warm soup and you might just be getting the vibe. And where better to hunker down and get cosy than a getaway cottage on a Scottish island? Perhaps a few days chilling out and reading in an eco-lodge on Skye is your perfect autumn escape? Or watching the stars from a traditional hotel on Lewis? Whatever your cosy fantasy, just remember to have the blankets at the ready.

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3. Nature Takes a Bow

Coeffin Castle Isle of Lismore

After the spectacular displays of summer, nature takes a bow in the autumn months. The changing of the leaves to red and orange creates a rich tapestry on the landscape, a dramatic hue that frames the hills and glens like a postcard. Why not take a trip to the oft-overlooked islands of Kerrera or Lismore with their verdant nature to see these vibrant colours in full flow?

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4. Beaches Reimagined

couple walking along beach on Arran

In the autumn months Scotland's beaches become reimagined. The towels are gone, bucket and spade empty, umbrellas stored away for another year. Instead the beautiful stretches of wild shoreline become our very own wellness spa. Take an autumn walk along a deserted beach with the wind whipping your face and the salt spray enveloping you and try not to feel renewed. Check out the beaches on Bute for an invigorating day trip or take a voyage to South Uist to experience mile after mile of stunning sand and sea.

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5. Whisky Season

Whisky Glass

Autumn is as ubiquitous a pairing for whisky as fresh Scottish water. A dram to warm the soul is the perfect antidote to the nights drawing in. Thankfully we are flush with the water of life. Why not build whisky tasting into your Autumn itinerary? Islay is home to no fewer than nine distilleries, each offering tours and tasting of their iconic wares. A perfect autumn destination for the whisky-lovers amongst us.

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6. Munro Bagging

couple climbing Goat Fell

Though we all love a good hike in the sun, the combination of high temperatures and physical exertion can leave things feeling a wee bit, well, sweaty. The autumn months lend themselves much more favourably to bagging some munros with a nice, cool temperature. There's nothing like an early morning climb up one of Scotland's famous hills in the autumn chill and gorgeous light. Take one of our crossings to the magical Isle of Arran to spend a day tackling the mighty Goatfell, an easy day trip from the central belt.

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7. Seasonal Delights

mussels being cooked

The changing of seasons means a changing of ingredients from Scotland's famous natural larder. Pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots and turnips make for hearty and nutritious meals with fresh local ingredients while apples and blackberries provide the basis for some sweet and sumptuous desserts. Why not take a foodie voyage with CalMac, visiting some of the best independent restaurants in the country as you hop between islands?

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8. Space to Breathe

An Sgurr

We can't overlook that after a busy summer of work and fun we all just need a little space to breathe. Thankfully space is something Scotland's islands have in abundance. Take in a lungful of crisp autumn air and let the wide vistas of our wonderous natural landscape breathe new life into your tired bones. Why not consider a trip to the sparsely populated small islands to really feel the majesty of the uninterrupted natural space? We have regular crossings to Eigg, RumMuck and Canna throughout the year - destinations sure to reset your perspective.

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9. Family Getaways

Kayaking on Eigg

For many families with children autumn means the dreaded October break. Thankfully there's a huge range of family getaways spread across Scotland's west coast islands, enough to entertain even the most cantankerous of teens. Whether you're looking for an action-packed adventure holiday or a slow-moving family break, you'll be able to find the perfect destination across CalMac's extensive network of routes. Kayaking on Barra? Chilling out on Mull? Hopping round the Hebrides? The choice is yours to make this October break one to remember rather than just time to fill.

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10. The Last of the Light

autumn image

There's something special that happens in Scotland during the autumn months. A transformation in the quality of light that needs to be experienced first hand to really be understood. The soft glow of a fading October eve as seen from a breath-taking island vista is a sight that will never be forgotten.

There's only one way to find out what'll reach the top of your own personal list and that's to experience autumn in the islands for yourself. It's time to reset and recharge, let CalMac take you there.

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