Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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A new GBP8M Caledonian MacBrayne ferry was launched Sept. 12 2006 at Gdansk, Poland. This will be known as the MV Argyle and will operate from 2007 on Scotland’s busiest isalnd route between Wemyss Bay, Ayrshire and Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.The vessel is identical to sister ship, MV Bute and will be able to carry 450 passengers and 60 cars. Visit Isle of Bute with catswhiskerstours

DAY 1

Party of four due to arrive Glasgow 0915 but two clients delayed by 8 hours due to flight cancellation in the U.S. In the meantime we elect to visit Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire Coast but find ourselves hemmed in by a 10K road race around Glasgow. Afer a “magical mystery tour” around the architecturally interesting streets of Glasgow we invoke Plan B and drive north to the Trossachs and Loch Katrine stopping at Aberfoyle for a refreshment break en-route. Avail of a 105 min trip on steamship Sir Walter Scott which proves most enjoyable; good scenery aided by clement weather (most of the time!) and hence good photo opps. Back to Glasgow in the evening to collect the two late arrivals then try to adhere to most of the original itinerary, i.e. Loch Lomond/Luss Note that heritage village Luss was used the set for a Scottish TV soap for many years, ‘Take the High Road’. Overnight at the well situated Loch Fyne Hotel at Inveraray which proved a good choice. A long day but we arrive in good spirit. Enjoy flexible tours of Scotland with catswhiskerstours

Day 2

We start with a quick tour/photo shoot of Inveraray and make contact wih some locals.Then head north to enjoy a scenic drive past Kilchurn Castle (photos) and then on up via winding, narrow roads of Glen Orchy (taking in waterfalls and rapids and hence more photo opps). After emerging on to the main road we move on to Glencoe

Glencoe is internationally renowned for its dramatic and extraordinary landscape, famous history (1692 massacre) and its important wildlife. All of these features are displayed at the well presented visitor centre. A quick drive through the actual village then on to
Fort William/Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is Britain’s highest mountain at 4406 ft (1344m) However, we don’t have the energy to attempt an ascent!

On to Glenfinnan
It was here that Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745 with aim of re-taking the Crown for the Stewarts. Good views and photo opps. Drive on to Mallaig to connect with the ferry to Skye but we get caught up in a convoy of slow moving traffic along the narrow road and catch the ferry by the skin of out teeth!

After a 20 min ferry trip we arrive at Skye and then visit the Clan Donald Centre
This is a fascinating and well presented visitor centre with library for research purposes. Much information on Scotland, Skye, the MacDonalds and emigration to Canada, U.S., Australia and New Zealand in the 18th and 19th centuries. We then move on to the well maintained gardens and ruined castle. The gardens incorporate some fascinating shrubs and mature trees, many originating from North America. Visit Scotland’s gardens with catswhiskerstours
Overnight at Eilean Iarmain Hotel
This hotel is wonderfully situated on a small peninsula and affords wonderful views and photo opps.

DAY 3
After an enjoyable overnight at the hotel (good food) we move on with our planned tour of Skye. Unfortunately this is a day of heavy rain-as predicted-but the only rainy day of the tour. We complete a loop of the main part of Skye taking in Portree and a visit to Dunvegan Castle
This is the home of Clan Macleod. Visit Scotland’s castles with catswhiskerstours
We wish to purchase some tartan clothing so drive on, off the island, to Lochcarron Weavers
This is a fascinating mill, well off the main “tourist route.” It is possible to see actual weaving in process. Aided by some very helpful staff we indulge in some purchases and then move to a local cafe (the Waterside) for some refreshment including some very tasty freshly cooked scones. After reflection at the cafe we elect to return to Lochcarron Weavers for some more purchases! After more photo opps we drive back to Skye, across the bridge Despite the weather, a very satisfying and productive day.

DAY 4

0915 start. Weather much improved. We leave Skye for the last time and head towards the famous Loch Ness. First stop at the very photo-genic Eilean Donan Castle
After refreshment and photos we move on through the breathtaking and ever changing scenery to Castle Urquhart on Loch Ness
Apart from the fabled monster, Loch Ness has claim to fame in that it has the greatest mean depth of any Scottish Loch at 433 ft and the greatest volume of water measured at 263,162 million cubic feet. Visit Scottish Lochs with catswhiskerstours
We spend well over an hour at Castle Urquhart which affords superb photo opps. Incredibly, some youngsters were swimming in the Loch, which has a temperature of about 38F degrees!
On to Moniak winery via a back road taking us through countryside which is well endowed with heather in bloom. Scotland is renowned for its heather, an often underrated plant which grows profusely in the Highlands. The praises of heather have been heralded in Song and Legend since time immemorial, yet little is know about it. Visit Scotland’s heather with catswhiskerstours
We drive on to Fort George
This is a fascinating 18th. century fort built to control the Highlands by the Government after the 1745-6 uprising and is still an army base today! After an hour or so at Fort George we move on to the hotel, Maple Court at Inverness which proves “OK”.

DAY 5

Collect 0915 then on to the famous battlefield site at Culloden
It was here on 16 April 1746 that the last battle was fought on British soil and ended the House of Stuart’s hopes of regaining the throne. Unfortunately, the special, guided tour was not available but we undertook our own tour with benefit of the guide books, etc.
After Culloden drive down to Highland Perthshire through ever changing scenery. At Pitlochry we visit the Edradour Distillery , which provides an excellent free tour lasting about 45 mins. Some of the group are converted to the merits of whisky and make selected purchases! Visit Scotland’s distilleries with catswhiskerstours
We are running late but a call to our next scheduled stop, the Crannog Centre
ensures that we should just make the last tour of the day. This is the only reconstructed Crannog in the British Isles and well worth a visit. Crannogs are a type of ancient loch dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland.They were built out in the water as defensive homesteads from 5000 years ago and people continued to modify and re-occupy them periodically until the 17th century AD! Visit the Crannog Centre with catswhiskerstours
After a fascinating visit to the Crannog we briefly visit the Kenmore Hotel to see the authentic Robert Burns’ poem written on the wall and then enjoy a scenic drive back to Dunkeld via Aberfeldy (where the famous Black Watch regiment was raised) and Dalguise (which has links with Beatrix Potter). Weather good/sunny. Overnight at the Royal Hotel, Dunkeld.

DAY 6

Start 0915 and all the portents of a good, sunny day. Drive to the village of Dunning where we visit the famous Dupplin Cross
This is housed in a fascinating, historic church which itself is a museum. After an excellent guided tour of the Cross we drive on to Stirling Castle via the roadside memorial to Maggie Wall who was burned as a witch in the 17th century. Stirling Castle is probably one of the best of Scotland’s many castles and, ideally, we should have allowed more time to visit all the various facets of this famous building. Then to the Wallace Monument which is a tower on a very steep hill, thus affording excellent views and photo opps. Then we drive on , availing of a refreshment stop en-route, to St. Andrews
We pull in at the Old Course Hotel and simply sample the atmosphere at this Holy Grail of golfing. Spend about an hour on the Old Course, taking pics and a call back to the U.S.to make friends/relatives envious! Visit St.Andrews with catswhiskerstours
On to Edinburgh via the Fife Coast and a quick visit to Lower Largo where there is a statue to the role model for Robinson Crusoe, one Andrew Selkirk.
Overnight at the spendid Dalhousie Castle and Spa

DAY 7

Final day!!

Collect 0915 then on to the nearby, famous, Rosslyn Chapel
The Chapel has magnificent carvings and features in the Da Vinci Code. We wanted to visit the Edinburgh Crystal showrooms but, at last minute we learn the company is in bankruptcy! So, on to Edinburgh Castle
After a visit to this iconic site a gentle walk down the famous Royal Mile for refreshments at Holyrood House.Visit Edinburgh with Catswhiskerstours. Overall, a very satisfying day. Then back to Glasgow and the Ramada Airport Hotel in readiness for return flight the next morning. Fond farewells after an enjoybale Scotland tour.

NB-Pics to come.

DAY 1. AUGUST 9TH

Collect Edinburgh hotel. To Castle Campbell via the Forth Bridge. Castle Campbell is set high up in the hills overlooking the village of Dollar. The castle is a semi-ruin with a fascinating history (Clan Campbell) and superb views. Its off the main tourist trail because the road is too narrow for coaches. Good photo opps. On through Perthshire to the Dupplin Crosss Dunning is of historic interest in its own right as confirmed by evidence of hill forts and 117 acre Roman marching camp of the 1st century AD.The church (now a museum) is named after the 5th/6th century Saint named St. Serf. On to Stirling Castle which is one of Scotland’s most splendid castles and was a long time favourite of the Stewart kings and queens. Close by is the memorial to William Wallace (“Braveheart”) who defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. On to the West Coast to Port Appin and the Airds Hotel This is a superb luxury small hotel with good food and seafront location. Nearby is Castle Stalker which is located just offshore on a small island. Good photo opps with benefit an evening rainbow. Enjoy Scotland’s heritage with catswhiskerstours

Day 2

Head north to Glencoe. Site of famous (or infamous!) massacre of the MacDonalds by the Campbells in 1692. Good visitor centre which also the covers the local environment and geology. A drive through the village of Glencoe where the museum has a traditional thatched roof. On to Glenfinnan where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in 1745 and raised his standard with aim of taking back the British throne. Scenic drive to Mallaig, a coastal fishing village for the ferry to Skye. At Mallaig railway station is the ‘Harry Potter’ steam train. A 25 min ferry trip (mini cruise) to Armadale on Skye (‘Winged or Divided Isand’) where we visit the Clan Donald Centre where the museum offers an interesting insight into local histry, Clan history, social conditions and emigration to US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand which occurred in the 19th and 18th centuries. On to the pretty harbour town of Portree (‘Harbour of the Slope’) where stay overnight at the Cullin Hills Hotel, Portree. For a clan history based tour contact catswhiskerstours

Day 3

To Isle of Skye Craft, Torvaig which specialises in Cross Stich Kits, Knitting Wool and Haberdashery. Drive on through magnificent scenery to Dunvegan Castle, home of the MacLeod chiefs for 800 years. The inside is very interesting with the family history dating back to 1200 AD, ancient fabric and an equally ancient royal charter. After Dunvegan Castle we drive on through the spectacular scenery (ancient volcanoes) over the bridge to the mainland and to Eilean Donan Castle via the Kyles of Lochalsh. Eilean Donan is possibly the most photgraphed castle in the world. Today’s castle rose from the ruins of its predecessors dating back to at least the 13th century.This castle featured in the Highlander, a film starring Sean Connery. The castle is home to Clan MacRae. Visit Scottish castles with catswhiskerstours

During the day we try to locate the distillery which produces Balvinie whisky. We track it down to Dufftown in Banffshire but, incredibly, it is not in the phone book! Following further research we ascertain that it is connected to Glenfiddich on 0134082000. Tours of Balvinie last 3 hours (max 8 persons) and occur at 1000 and 1400 daily Monday-Thurs and Friday at 1000. Cost is GBP20 per person. Visit Scotland’s Distilleries with catswhiskerstours

After Eilean Donan we drive on to Loch Ness and the famous Castle Urquhart which is an interesting ruin which offers superb views/photo opps of Loch Ness.

On to Inverness (capital of the Highlands) and overnight at the Glenmoriston Town House which offers a very high standard of accommodation and cuisine. Most of the staff are French speaking.

Day 4

From Inverness we drive down to Perthshire, noting a subtle change in scenery and colours, less rugged than Skye. Drive through Aviemore in the Cairngorms and avail of some photo opps en-route. On to Pitlochry and Edradour Distillery where we enjoy a 45 min tour of Scotland’s smallest distillery. This is very good value, especially as there is no charge! Lunch at the Moulin Inn (est.1695) where we are able to sit outside Then a relaxing walk through Pitlochry undertaking a spot of shopping in this very popular town.

Then a tour of the Tay valley, through Dalguise (Beatrix Potter connection) to Aberfeldy (where Highland Games were in process) then past Croft Moraig Stone Circle to Taymouth Castle (where Queen Victoria took her honeymoon) and Kenmore. At Kenmore we visit the hotel (Scotland’s oldest Inn dating to 1572) where there is inscribed on the wall over the fireplace a genuine poem by Robert Burns. Dinner at the hotel restaurant, overlooking the river Tay and then back to Pitlochry after a drive past of the Crannog Centre, Note that Kenmore means ‘Big Headland’ and that Kenmore has a namesake in New York State. Overnight at Wellwood House, Pitlochry, an intriguing former magnificent private residence whose proprietor has sailed the Atlantic no less than three times and written a book on the subject. Visit Perthshire with catswhiskerstours

Day 5

We head east, firstly to Leuchars which, incredibly, sits in the centre of an Air Force base and then to the Holy Grail of golf at St. Andrews. A quick visit to the Old Course for some photos and souvenir purchases. On to the the East Neuk with its ancient volcanic history and picturesque fishing villages at Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, St. Monans (historic church), Elie and Lower Largo. The latter is where Alexander Selkirk, the role model for Robinson Crusoe was born in 1676 and where there is a statue in commemoration of the castaway. Excellent seafood lunch at the Craw’s Nest Hotel, Anstruther. As we are making good time we are able to visit Dunfermline Abbey which dates back to 1072 and was the centre of the Scottish Royal establishment until 1603 when James VI moved to London upon the merger of the crowns of Scotland and England. This is also where Robert the Bruce is buried. A fascinating site being part living church, part museum , part ruin. Well worth a visit. Good views and photo opps. Nearby is the Andrew Carnegie museum. Photograph and enjoy Scotland with catswhiskerstours

Back to Edinburgh hotel in time for a rest and an evening meal