Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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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


Scotland’s oldest national sport is on the wane-in its land of origin.

Whilst events like caber-tossing, shot-putting and hammer-throwing are growing in popularity elsewhere in the world, the sports and gatherings where they are practised are in decline in Scotland. There is a risk that all but the largest events could die out.This is attributabe to lack of interest in the younger generation in turn due to youngsters’ ingnorance of these sports and a shortage of experts to train them.

Some experts claim that the games were invented by the tribe of the Scotti in pre-Christian Ireland and subsequently migrated to Scotland.

There are 120 Highland Games associations in Scotland. Over the past 8 years Games have lapsed at the rate of one per year. Conversely, there is strong interest in North America where there are 300 events, often attracting 50,000 people, the biggest being at Grabdfather Mountain, North Carolina.

Visit Highland Games and other aspects of Scotland with catswhiskerstours

More than a century ago people were evicted from rural Scottish communities to make way for sheep, which were considered more profitable. There is now evidence that this trend is being reversed with latest figures showing that Highlands and Islands lost nearly 100,000 sheep annually for 5 years. In context of a total flock of 8 million this may not seem material but farmers are concerned with the long-term trend which may result in a major reduction in high hill sheep farming within 10 years. This trend is aggravated by the average age of sheep farmers-60 years. There is a multiplier affect on the local economy because fewer sheep results is loweer demand for abbattoir services, vets and markets.However, there is some good news in that the increase in cattle numbers compensate for the reduction in sheep.Visit rural Scotland with catswhiskerstours