When you join one of our trips, we want you to have peace of mind. In response to COVID-19, we’ve:
Atlas Obscura is joining forces with Vacation With An Artist (VAWAA) to offer you a unique immersion into making sound art in the Scottish Highlands.
Every sound has a life, a texture, a weight—and, if you listen closely, a story. Join Jamie Smith, a seasoned sound artist, and explore the western Scottish Highlands through its soundscapes and the stories they tell. As we roam along the beach and through the streets of Appin, we’ll collect sounds and take on new recording techniques, capturing everything from the rush of tumbling waterfalls to the chattering of forests full of birds. In the hidden church that doubles as our guide’s home-studio, we'll learn how to thoughtfully weave them together.
Not only will you leave this trip with countless adventures under your belt, you'll also have a new, self-created soundworld—something scintillating, raw, and entirely immersive—that you can return to whenever you wish. You’ll have discovered a new way of listening to the world, casting an ear to the countless soundscapes that shape it.
Our partner, Vacation With An Artist (VAWAA): In order to curate this experience, we’ve partnered closely with Vacation With An Artist (VAWAA), a global platform to book creative vacations where you can learn directly from remarkable artists and makers around the world. From bamboo bicycle making in India and shoemaking in Czechia to natural textile dyeing in Vietnam, VAWAA is dedicated to preserving global arts and crafts and creating a new way to travel.
The cost of this trip is $2,775, based on double occupancy.
You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the core of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you:
(1) Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You’ll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender.
(2) Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $340. After booking your trip, please request a private room when you fill out your traveler information form and we’ll add the option to your booking and final balance.
Accommodation during this trip will be in lodges at Appin Holiday Homes. Each lodge sleeps up to four people in two bedrooms—one double and one twin—with shared bathroom facilities, living area, and fully equipped kitchen. Parking is available on site. All lodges are located in a south-facing, lochside location overlooking Loch Creran, each with a balcony to take in the views.
Our trip begins with a welcome dinner in Appin on Day 1. The train from Glasgow arrives in Oban at 3:30 p.m. where a minibus will take us on a scenic, half-hour drive along the water's edge to our loch-side lodges. You’ll have some time to settle in before we regroup and head to St. Mary’s for dinner. Our trip concludes in the morning on Day 5. If leaving Appin directly after our trip, we’ll help you transfer to Oban via minibus in time to catch the Glasgow train at 12:11 p.m. If you'd like to extend your trip, we’re happy to provide suggestions for things to do and see in the area on your own.
Travelers should feel comfortable walking two to four miles over the course of each day, spending time in nature, remaining on their feet for long periods of time, and sometimes walking on uneven and steep terrain, including broken ground. The workshop’s activities will be split between the recording studio and field recording locations such as the seashore, woodlands, and mountain valleys.
Transportation to and from evening activities, as well as field trips, will be provided via private minibus. You’ll be responsible for all other transport, including the daily travel to and from workshops at St. Mary’s. As public transport is infrequent in this area and limited to major routes, we recommend renting a car (available in Oban, Edinburgh, and Glasgow) either as an individual or as a small group. This will allow you the chance to explore on your own time—in particular on Day 3 after lunch and for two of the evening meals. One of the local pubs and restaurants is within walking distance of the lodges, but all others will require a car. If you’d like to carpool, or if you need help arranging transportation, we’d be happy to help coordinate this in advance.
Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated, though in most cases ingredients can't be substituted or omitted from particular dishes. If you have a severe allergy, please contact us to find out if this is the right trip for you.
If this will be your first trip to Scotland, we recommend staying a few extra days before or after the trip to visit any more traditional tourist sites that are not included in the itinerary. We recommend visiting Edinburgh, Ben Nevis, Glen Coe, and the Isle of Skye.
Visa requirements for the U.K. vary depending on traveler citizenship. Please check requirements for travel to the U.K. and any countries passed through in transit. A passport is required for international travel. We recommend your passport expire at least six months after your return home.
Your participation in the trip helps support artists, musicians, and creators in communities that see the benefits of tourism much less often than more popularly visited parts of Scotland. You can increase your impact by sharing the stories of these burgeoning artist communities with family and friends, and, if you wish, by purchasing art during the trip. In addition, a portion of your trip fees will go directly to the Appin Community Development Trust, an organization committed to building community cohesion and resilience and meeting the challenges of being remote and rural. As a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organization, it’s uniquely positioned to provide services and manage assets and infrastructure on behalf of the people who live and work in Appin.
In May, you can expect temperature highs to range from 42°F (2°C) to 57°F (14°C). It’s a beautiful time to visit Scotland, with the countryside bursting with daffodils, bluebells, cherry blossoms, and rhododendrons. The soundscape will be full of cuckoo calls, babbling streams, lapping waves, and spring birdsong as nature explodes into life after the torpor of winter.