Scotland: Travel Planner

Everything you need to know for your halal break to the West of Scotland

Accommodation

They may not look glamorous, but they are well furnished, have ample space and kept very clean.

They may not look glamorous, but the apartments are well furnished, have ample space and are kept very clean.

I stayed in the Old School Apartments in Dalavich, which are run by the lovely Carol and her husband. Each apartment is fully-equipped with cooking and washing facilities, which works really well if you are travelling in a big group or as a couple. Carol has stocked each kitchen very well with cooking utensils and crockery, and there are even cute little shampoos and conditioners in the bathroom – a sweet touch that you don’t usually find in self-catered accommodation.

If you want to try something a little different, the village also has a few log cabins that can be rented, although these will be more expensive and get booked up very quickly.

 

Food

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I’m going to put it straight out there and say halal meat is hard to come by. There is at least one halal restaurant in Oban, but Oban itself is about an hour’s drive away from the village. This restaurant – Kebabish Curry House – is more of a fast food joint, serving Indian/Pakistani takeaway.

There is also Grants the Butchers, who advertise halal meat. It is worth checking their certification (by phone) before you make the trip down to Taynuilt to pay them a visit, as they also sell pork.

Fish all the way!

To be honest, a few days without meat or chicken was not difficult. If anything, I enjoyed the break. A nearby fish smokery in Inverinan sells delicious smoked salmon and mackerel. There is a Lidl in Oban where you can obtain supplies for your stay. Alternatively, Tesco deliver to the village for the same price as anywhere else, even if you are in the middle of the Scottish Highlands.

If self-catering is not your thing, Dalavich village has a restaurant, though again, does not cater to halal or kosher needs.

 

Travel

If you are already in the UK, getting to Scotland is pretty straightforward. I live down south so took a short flight from Luton Airport to Glasgow, and then a two-hour drive past Loch Lomond to Dalavich.

Road trip!

Road trip!

If you are travelling in a group, I would recommend driving up. It’s a lot cheaper – a flight is about £100 – and from London it is around 6 hours to Glasgow, which isn’t too bad. It also means you have your own car once you get to the Highlands. Having a car to get around is a necessity, because of the remoteness of the region.

 

What to pack

The five items below are essentials whatever time of year you are travelling:

  1. Sturdy and waterproof walking boots that come up to your calves (at least)

  2. Trainers

  3. Kagool/Raincoat: don’t bother taking an umbrella, just make sure your raincoat has a hood.

  4. Socks

  5. Cash: If you are staying in the Highlands in particular, you will need it as ATMs are hard to come by.

If you have these five essentials, you are sorted. Everything else you need will depend on what time of year you are travelling. It does get very cold, so if you are heading out in Autumn/Winter/Spring (i.e. for most of the seasons), do pack warm clothing. If you are dressed for the weather, it won’t bother you!

 

Prayer facilities

Much like the availability of halal food, there is not unfortunately a mosque nearby. The nearest mosque is in Glasgow. This not exactly surprising, since Dalavich and indeed Oban are rural and therefore do not need to cater to the multicultural needs that come with metropolitan and urban areas.

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If you are worried about praying when you are out and about, remember it is sunnah to shorten and join the prayers. This means that in practise it is unlikely you will require prayer facilities, unless you are out from dawn until dusk! Also, remember:

“The (whole) earth has been made a mosque (or a place of prayer) and a means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my ummah may be when the time for prayer comes, let him pray.”

(Sahih Bukhari, 335)

Nothing quite like praying in the midst of incredible natural scenery pondering the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’ (Surat Al-Imran: 191)