Scotland Travel Blog.
A Monster Day Tour!
14th May 2021.
On April 29th, no sooner had hotels opened in Edinburgh, we were called to do a day tour for a family from London, who were on their fist visit to Scotland. It came as no surprise, that they wanted to include Loch Ness on their private tour of the Scottish Highlands. We were happy to deliver this epic day of touring, albeit a long one for all concerned.
A day trip to Loch Ness and the highlands from Edinburgh or Glasgow is, on one hand, a stunning trip to see a lot of countryside, but on the other, is a lot of sitting and looking out the window. Ask any tour guide in Scotland what they think of this day tour and they will tell you, “too much travelling, you can see more without going this far.” There certainly is much more to see without going so far, and you can also get out the vehicle and experience more. You can visit more historic and cultural sights, and get just as much beautiful highland scenery, without going all the way to Loch Ness. However, every now and then when we get this request, we take it on, and, as we don’t do this type of day tour very often, we do enjoy it.
First thing about doing this day tour is an early start, and we always recommend 8.00am. You might be on holiday (or vacation), but we must get you up nice early!
Wear the right type of clothing! Layer up, it might be sunny in Edinburgh, but it might be raining in the highlands, or vice versa! Bring a water or shower proof coat, comfortable shoes and comfortable travel wear.
Food and drink: A picnic lunch is the way to go. We can provide this or ask your hotel to prepare one for you. This is the one of the key factors for making this day run successfully, and I can’t believe I have now let my competitors in on this secret! Oh well, your welcome! We do however have a fantastic scone recipe as part of your lunch, and we are not letting secret out!
We travel west and get a glimpse of one of our favourite palaces in all of Scotland, Linlithgow Palace (sorry we are not stopping!) Next, we get a view of the Kelpies (sorry we are not… you get the idea.) We pass Stirling Castle sitting proud and beautiful on its volcanic rock, and we also get a stunning view of The Wallace Monument, sitting on the Abbey Craig. It is at this point that we leave the big road, (M9) and join the even more scenic country roads which we will now be on for bulk of the day. Travelling on through beautiful lowland Scotland, we pass the newer and much-loved Deanston Whisky Distillery (their tours are excellent), and as we cross the River Teith, we get another wonderful castle view, and this time it is Doune Castle, which dates to 1390.
After fifteen minutes we are in the delightful town of Callander, gateway to the Trossachs. Our first stop is Loch Lubnaig, a most beautiful loch with amazing views of Ben Ledi and the surrounding mountains – we have arrived in mountain country!
Our next stop is in the village of Strathyre, a mere 9 miles away, for coffee at the Broch Cafe, a local gem. The time is 09.45am and we have seen, or rather passed by, a lot of amazing Scottish sights, but it has been so good to see them, nonetheless.
After coffee, we embark on stage two of the journey and the sight of the Glen Ogle Viaduct is always a beautiful sight. As we continue one of my favourite stretches of road arrives – Glen Dochart. It might not be as dramatic as other highland glens, but I do love the open country and hill sides of this glen. The River Dochart meanders through it running east from Loch Lubhair. We arrive in the beautifully named highland village of Crianlarich and continue to Tyndrum, where a bathroom break is always welcome at the Green Welly Stop! After this, the truly epic, and I mean greatest landscape on earth type of epic begins! The run into and including Glencoe is a stunning landscape and a visit should be on everyone’s to do list. One of my favourite parts of this route is the Black Mount, Loch Ba and Rannoch Moor section. The mountains sitting behind Loch Ba make for stunning photographs in all weather.
The entrance to Glencoe starts at the most stunning of mountains – Buchaille Etive Mor and the jaw dropping scenery here will make you glad you are in Scotland. Journey on and The Three Sisters of Glencoe is a popular stopping off point and another spot for excellent photographs. Coming out of Glencoe is beautiful Loch Linnhe and we will follow this into Fort William. We don’t stop in Fort William, but we do get a glimpse of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis (1,343 metres.)
We are deep in highland country now, and to be in the Great Glen is always a pleasure. Loch Lochy followed by Loch Oich and Invergarry is just so special. The natural beauty in this area is good for you.
We have now arrived in Fort Augustus and the southern Shores of Loch Ness! The time is 1.00pm and we are getting hungry. We continue up the western shores of Loch Ness, and I should mention that the children in the group, who have enjoyed the journey so far, are a little more excited now. There is a monster in that loch! We stop in Invermoriston to tuck into our picnic (what an amazing idea to bring a picnic), and continue for a visit, (yes decent time out of the car,) to Urquhart Castle. The ruins of Urquhart Castle sit spectacularly on Loch Ness and if you don’t see anything resembling a monster here, then you never will! Urquhart Castle | Lead Public Body for Scotland's Historic Environment The family loved this castle, and we then made the short journey to the Clansman Pier where they boarded a 1-hour boat trip for more views of our famous, vast and very deep loch. They loved it, even though nothing appeared from the deep! About Jacobite | Loch Ness By Jacobite
The journey home begins… We continue to Inverness and through it to the great road south – the A9! This too is a beautiful drive, although not so dramatic. In saying that, I absolutely love The Cairngorm National Park and have spent many a family holiday in this part of Scotland.
It has been 1 and ½ hours since we left Inverness and we arrive in the Highland Perthshire town of Pitlochry for light refreshments. It is now 1 hour and 45 minutes back to Edinburgh and as we cross the Firth of Forth on the beautifully designed and built Queensferry Crossing we are all happy to be back in Scotland’s capital city.
It has been an amazing day of touring with a lovely family from London. We have seen (not visited) a lot of the highlands, and we are all slightly tired but happy. Just don’t ask me to do this tour again tomorrow!
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