Day-tripping the Land of Waterhorses and Fairies

Welcome to the Scottish Highlands

 The beautiful landscapes of the Scottish Highlands

The beautiful landscapes of the Scottish Highlands

I fall in love with the Scottish Highlands after a five-day tour at the beginning of 2017 and vowed I would return to discover more of this stunning land.  In September 2017, I found myself with a week free and purchased a £18 return coach ticket with Megabus (from London to Glasgow return); it was time to explore. 

I based myself in the Scottish city of Glasgow and stayed in a centrally located hostel called Euro Hostel.  Whilst at the hostel I was recommended a local tour company, Timberbush, for tours to the Highlands.  I had a list of places I wanted to visit, the approximate amount it would cost me to visit the places on my own but also had time restraints.  Given my tight budget and my timeframe, I found two one-day tours with Timberbush that would take me to the places I wanted to visit amongst other places I haven't heard of before and all for a good price within my budget. 

Day 1 - Loch Lomond, The Trossachs National Park, and Stirling Castle

 The stunning beauty of Stirling Castle

The stunning beauty of Stirling Castle

My first tour was the ‘Loch Lomond, The Trossachs National Park, and Stirling Castle' tour.  Our tour guide, Charlie, was fantastic.  He entertained us with Scottish music, songs and folktales, and wowed us with his knowledge of places we visited and historical icons like Rob Roy MacGregor, Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie Stuart and the Jacobites.  The tour took us to the ‘bonnie, bonnie banks' of Loch Lomond where we had a choice of an hour cruise (extra cost) or to stroll the stunning village of Luss.  As Loch Lomond was one of the places I wanted to visit, doing the cruise was a no-brainer.  The landscape surrounding Loch Lomond was breath-taking beautiful and being in the shadows of Ben Lomond gave me a real ‘wow' moment. 

After our cruise, we headed into the gorgeous Trossachs National Park where we stopped for lunch and other exploring and photo opportunities.  I admit, on more than one occasion I had my nose and forehead pressed against the coach window being mesmerized by the passing pretty villages.   In the afternoon, we headed for Sterling.  Sterling Castle is located on top of a volcanic rock with the most stunning views of the surrounding landscapes; just the sights themselves are worth the reasonable entry fee into the Castle.  Inside Sterling Castle, I joined a free 45 to 55 minute Castle guided tour and learnt about the Castle's history, its many face-lifts and its strategic roles in many past battles and wars.  After taking my fill of photographs of the Castle gardens, buildings and the surrounding country landscape, I enjoyed sitting by the Castle high wall and looking out over the city of Stirling and landscape beyond the city.  After nearly 2.5 hours at Stirling Castle, it was time to head back to Glasgow. 

Day 2 - Loch Ness, Glencoe, and The Highlands Tour

 Taking in the magical ruins of Urquhart Castle on the 'bonny bonny' banks of Loch Ness

Taking in the magical ruins of Urquhart Castle on the 'bonny bonny' banks of Loch Ness

The following day I found myself heading back up to the Highlands on my second day tour, ‘Loch Ness, Glencoe, and The Highlands', with a new tour guide, Stephen.  Stephen was a veteran of this tour taking over 300 tours up into the Scottish Highlands since starting with Timberbush.   Stephen showed us some hidden treasures during our many exploring and photography stops and share awesome recommendations like trying a ‘McCloud' at Pitlochry. The tour started by taking us into some of the most dramatic landscapes like Rannoch Moor, Loch Linnhe, the Great Glen and the ‘most haunting glens', Glencoe.  Glencoe is one of those places that you can only dream of and see in movies like James Bond's ‘Skyfall', it's also the site of the McDonald massacre in 1692.  Glencoe is a photographer's dream.  On our way up to Loch Ness, we had the chance to meet and greet some highland ‘coos' – the highland cows..  if only I could take one home.  

Visiting Loch Ness has always been a childhood dream of mine so exploring the ruins of Urquhart Castle and taking a cruise (extra cost) on the Jacobite was a "must-do" for me.  Being on the cruise gazing at the magnificent sceneries of Loch Ness whilst being on the ‘lookout for Nessie' had me giggling with glee like a little school girl.  On our way to the ‘Capital of the Highlands', Inverness, Stephen kept us entertained with stories of Waterhorses and Fairies and traditional Scottish songs.  After stopping for some sightseeing opportunities and afternoon tea in Inverness, we headed into the glorious Grampian Mountains until we reached our final stop at Pitlochry for an early dinner.  I fall in love with Pitlochry with its traditional old Victorian buildings and friendly people.  When in Pitlochry, you must try the ‘McCloud' – soft serve flavoured ice-cream in a cone wrapped in fairy floss with whatever topics you could imagine – it's a sugary delight you must have.  After an awesome day packed with highlights of the Scottish Highlands, it was time to head back to Glasgow.

I had the best time exploring the Scottish Highlands on the two one-days tours with Timberbush Tours.  The guide driver-guides were fantastic and the coaches were comfortable, and I could tick off many places and experiences I wanted to visit and experience in a short period of time. The best part was I stayed within my budget - in two days I spent £70 – that includes all extras, food and some nick-knacks I brought along the way. 

 When visiting Pitlochry, add 'McCloud' to your travel bucket list - promise, you won't be disappointed..

When visiting Pitlochry, add 'McCloud' to your travel bucket list - promise, you won't be disappointed..

I highly recommend Timberbush Tours if you’re in Glasgow wanting to experience the Scottish Highlands.  For more information about the different prices, tours lengths and feedback check out Timberbush Tours check out their website: www.timberbushtours.com

I hope you found this article helpful.  I look forward to hearing any feedback and your experience visiting the Scottish Highlands.  Feel free to leave a comment, like and/or share.  

 

All photos and items in this article were taken and are owned by me.  Enjoy them but please respect them and ask permission before using them.  If you would like to see more photos and images from this trip then head over to the photography/gallery page.  Happy viewing...... xxxx

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