Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

CatsWhiskersTours provide unique tour experiences tailored to suit you. Call +44 (0) 141 638 5500

A short life history:

  • Born about 1514 in Haddington of townsfolk stock.
  • Ordained as a priest but did not serve a parish.
  • Qualified as a Notary ( equivalent to modern day Solicitor).
  • Tutored sons of country gentlemen.
  • Developed bitter hatred of Church of Rome due to the burning of his mentor, Wishart.
  • Was captured by the French at St. Andrews garrison in 1547 and became a galley slave.
  • Released from slavery in 1549 and made way to England; considered a safe place for a man of his views.
  • Invited to preach before the young King Edward VI who was being brought up as a Protestant.
  • Was offered and refused the Bishopric of Rochester.
  • When Mary succeeded to the throne in 1553, Knox fled to the Continent, first Frankfort then Geneva where the Reformation was directed by John Calvin who systematized a radical Protestant theology.
  • England reverted to Catholicism under Mary Tudor and her husband, Philip II.
  • Scotland became a satellite of France.
  • Knox spent some months in Scotland in 1555-6 preaching in a number of houses. Then left for Geneva.
  • Mary Tudor dies 17th November 1558.
  • England moves to Protestantism.
  • Scots and English share affinity of purpose-free from servitude to France, Spain and the Pope.
  • Knox lands in Scotland in 1559.
  • In 1560 Knox returns to the pulpit in St. Giles.
  • In August 1560 Parliament abolished the authority of the Pope, forbade the Mass and approved a reformed Confession of Faith.
  • Knox denounces Queen Mary’s mass.
  • Knox dies in Edinburgh on 24th November 1572.

Visit historic Scotland with catswhiskerstours


Day 1-

Arrive Edinburgh

Overnight at the centrally situated Apex City Hotel, 61 Grassmarket.

Visit Old Edinburgh with catswhiskerstours

Day 2-

Collect 0915 then:

Overnight at Albany hotel, North Street, St. Andrews.

Visit Fife with catswhiskerstours

Day 3-Tuesday, May 22nd.

Collect 0915 then:

Overnight at Atholl Palace, Pitlochry.

Visit beautiful Perthshire with catswhiskerstours

Day 4-

Collect 0915

Overnight at Castle Stuart (No lifts/elevators).

Visit Inverness with catswhiskerstours

Day 5-

Collect 0915 then:

Overnight at Airds Hotel and Restaurant

Recommend dinner at the Airds where dress code is “smart, no jeans, training shoes, t-shirts, etc, however we do not insist upon jacket and tie.”

Visit Scotland’s West Coast with catswhiskerstours

Day 6-

Collect at 0915 then:

Overnight Glasgow at The Kelvingrove Hotel, 944 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

Visit historic Glasgow with catswhiskerstours


Collect hotel 0915 for walking tour of Old Town:

Visit Edinburgh’s Royal mile with catswhiskerstours.

We then drive to see the famous Forth Rail Bridge which was completed in 1890. Nearby is the sister Road Bridge which is much younger but currently suffering from corrosion problems.

After exploiting the many photo opportunities we enjoy a spot of lunch at the Hawes Inn which is a traditional type pub sitting under the arches of the rail bridge-so we are able to hear the trains trundling overhead!

Now relaxed and refreshed we drive back to Edinburgh and the famous Calton Hill skyline. However, en-route we stop to admire the Royal High School building which dates to 1825-29.

A study of the appropriateness of form to purpose demonstratwes the extent to which the choices on Calton Hill were made on architectural grounds all being individually subservient to the totality of the composite skyline which comprises:

Appreciate Calton Hill with catswhiskerstours

Drive on to Charlotte Square, which was designed by Robert Adam in 1791. This comprises individual terraced houses sublimated within monumental palace facades which had a strong influence on the later New Towns.

Then to the nearby Dome in George Street for some afternoon tea. This is a fascinating, former bank Head Office which was constructed in 1844 under architect David Rhind.A perfect setting to end the day.

This concludes our day in Edinburgh and we retire back to the hotel for the evening.


Collect 0930 then drive out of Edinburgh, across the Forth Road Bridge which affords good views of the nearby Rail Bridge as we pass over.

To Castle Campbell which sits in isolation on a narrow ridge overlooked by a crescent of the Ochills.The castle dates back to the 15th century and was under ownership of the Campbells of Argyll. Both John Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots visited the castle. The end of the castle as a residence came during the Civil War when it was attacked by General Monck in 1654. It is now a semi-ruin. Location affords outstanding views and superb photo opportunities.

Then we drive on to Perthshire and the country town of Crieff to the ruins of a Clearance Village set high upon a hill in a remote location. We try and empathise with the people who lived here prior to their enforced exit, possibly to other parts of Britain and North America in the early 1800s. We encounter plenty of sheep-and a pair of deer.

Back to Crieff for a light lunch at the famous Crieff Hydro, which proved most enjoyable.

On the way to Falkirk we stop and visit Ardoch Roman Fort.
This site is actually a candidate for categorisation as a World Heritage Site-in conjunction with other parts of the Roman Frontier in Britain and Germany.

Very close to Ardoch , but almost hidden away from the passing traveller, is a beautiful Pack Horse Bridge, which is interesting from both historic and architectural perspectives- and provides superb photo opportunities when the light is right.

On to the Falkirk Wheel, a magnificient piece of engineering which connects the Forth & Clyde (Glasgow) canal to Edinburgh’s Union Canal. The Wheel replaced a series of 11 locks which fell into disrepair.

Because of time constraints we were, unfortunately, unable to make our appointment with the owner of a nearby Grade A listed 1820 house.So, back to Glasgow and the hotel. However, we do drive past parts of the Antonine Wall which was built by the Romans around AD 140.

Visit unusual parts of Scotland with catswhiskerstours


Collect at 0930.

Commence with a walking tour of historic Glasgow, centering first on Glasgow’s historic links with the Tobacco industry and the Southern United States.

At no. 42 Miller Street is the last of the so-called Virginia tobacco merchants’ houses to survive in Glasgow’s Merchant City. We are unable to enter the property but take photos of the exterior.

Then, via Virginia Street, we move on to the Corinthian at 191 Ingram street. This was built by David Hamilton in 1842 on the site of the Virginia Mansion, and remodelled in in 1876 by James Burnett. The Corinthian is one of Glasgow’s most stunning buildings, both internally and externally. The building impresses to the extent that a reservation for dinner that evening is made at the restaurant there.

Visit Glasgow architecture with catswhiskerstours

Now we indulge in the work of the famous architect/designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

First we visit the Lighthouse. This is a former newspaper building it is now home to Scotland’s award winning Centre for Architecture and Design.

Then for some tea in the famous Willow Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall Street. These rooms were owned by Catherine Cranston who more or less invented the Glasgow tea room phenomenon. Uniquely, ladies’ rooms were offered where respectable women could go out to meet at a time when women without men in the urban scene were usually taken for servants or prostitutes. This was not a cafe but offered a range of provacies in the public world. We also visit the Billiard Room on the premises.

Next visit is the McLellan Galleries across the road to see the Glasgow Style Gallery but, unfortunately, the building is closed. So, we move on to the Glasgow School of Art at Renfrew Street. This is truly magnificient with the added dimension of the “buzz” of students. We spend considerable time here and avail of the photo opportunities.

Our next scheduled visit is the House for an Art Lover but, we are thwarted again as this is closed for a special occasion.

Visit Mackintosh properties with catswhiskerstours

Undaunted, we move to see the work of another famous architect, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson at Holmwood House, Cathcart.

Central in the design is the circular lantern over the staircase. Horizontality predominates and the wall which links house and stable lodge emphasises this. Many rooms are richly ornamented in wood, plaster and marble. Thanks to investigation by Historic Scotland, Thomson’s original rich decoration, based on themes from the classical world, is beginning to emerge. Much of the original stencilled decoration has been found, and visitors may follow the progress of continuing conservation work. The small kitchen garden is planted with a range of Victorian herbs, fruit and vegetables.

This is quite an awesome property, both architecturally and from a social history perspective. We indulge in the atmosphere and avail of photo opportunities.

After a some afternoon refreshment and a short visist to a local synagogue for information purposes, we try again to visit the 1820 house near Falkirk but, sadly, heavy traffic militates against meeting our re-scheduled appointment so we elect to return to the hotel. and fond farewells.

Overall, a varied tour covering a wide range of architecture,engineering and social history.

Catswhiskerstours specialises in tailored tours of Scotland.