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Youth Beat

Scotland's Highlands and Islands

July 17, 1988|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes.

Scotland has 81 youth hostels, numerous bed and breakfasts and several unlimited transportation passes.

The Scottish Youth Hostel Assn. has combined two of the unlimited transportation tickets with vouchers for youth hostel accommodations, creating economical do-it-yourself tour packages.

The Explore Scotland package, available until Oct. 1, includes vouchers for seven nights of youth hostel accommodations; a seven-day Scottish Citylink Bus Pass, which can be used to travel Scotland and the island of Skye, and a youth-hostel handbook, plus map, transportation timetable, discount card and a pass for visiting a variety of historic monuments. The cost is 54.50 (about $105 U.S.). No age restrictions.

The association also offers an add-on bus fare with this package for travel between London and Edinburgh or Glasgow for 20 (about $38 U.S.).

A second package is geared to travel in the north. The Highland Wayfarer do-it-yourself package is a 7- or 14-day travel pass for use on rail (second-class), bus and ferry travel in the Highlands and islands, youth hostel vouchers for 6 or 13 nights, and transportation by bus and train between Glasgow, Aberdeen or Edinburgh to the Highlands area.

Until Sept. 30 the Highland Wayfarer package costs 79.50 for seven days and 127 ($244) for 14 days. On Oct. 1 the prices drop to 59.50 for seven days, 99 for 14 days.

An extensive network of bus, train, ship and air services cover the Highlands and islands, but services can be restricted, particularly on Sundays.

In remote areas, post office buses carry passengers as well as mail. Timetables are available from the post offices.

Another source of information for transportation services, including post office buses, is a pocket-size booklet, "Getting Around the Highlands and Islands," by FHG Publishing. It's sold at newsstands for 2.50.

For details on the packages, contact the Scottish Youth Hostel Assn., 7 Glebe Crescent, Stirling FK8 2JA, Scotland. In Edinburgh, contact the SYHA, 161 Warrender Park Road. In Glasgow, SYHA is at 12 Renfield St., G2 5A1. In London, check with the affiliated YHA Travel, 14 Southampton St., WC2.

In London, for information on transportation and accommodations in Scotland, contact the British Travel Center, 12 Regent St., Piccadilly Circus, London SW1Y 4PQ, or the Scottish Tourist Board Information Center, 19 Cockspur St., London SW1 5B1.

If you don't want to use the dormitory-style budget lodgings at the youth hostels, ask at these offices for the book, "Scotland: Where to Stay, Bed and Breakfast 1988." It lists more than 2,000 homes that offer inexpensive accommodations.

People under age 26 can take advantage of special Transalpino reduced rail fares from Scotland to Europe. In Edinburgh you'll find a Transalpino office at 14 N. Bridget, in Glasgow at 180 Byres Road.

The SYHA also will arrange travel to Scandinavia by sea. Packages include round-trip transportation and vouchers for seven nights in Scandinavian youth hostels.

Rates vary depending on the type of sleeping arrangements, the date you travel and the country you visit (Norway, Denmark or Sweden).

For example, during low season (September) you could have seven nights in Danish youth hostels, plus sea transportation with accommodations in a four-person cabin for 105.

You are not limited to seven nights, however. You can arrange return sea transportation for a later date.

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