Scotland Misses You

10th June 2020

As I look out the window at the pebbles on the beach, sparking in the sunshine, I want nothing more than to jump in the mini-van and make my way along the winding roads of the magical Glen Affric. I never tire of spending days visiting its dazzling waterfalls and clambering up the dramatic mountains that surround the glen. Since the world locked down, I have been finding myself day dreaming more than usual of all the places in Scotland I want to discover or re-discover. I am sure you too are dreaming of a vacation; getting far away from all this and losing yourself in the Scottish Highlands. You would love Glen Affric, it is Scotland at its very finest.

So where should we take our adventure next? It is only a half hour drive to Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. The grand ruins of this 13th century Scottish fortress tell tales of our history; kings of the north, Wars of Scottish Independence, Jacobites, Lords and Ladies, lavish parties and bloody rebellions. All while the eternal waters of our most famous loch watch on. It has been months now since the sound of wonder and laughter have echoed around the ancient walls of the Castle. I know it can’t wait till we return, so that the castle can once again, share its stories with curious travellers.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness by Ramon Vloon on Unsplash
Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness - Ramon Vloon on Unsplash

Perhaps, we make our way slowly west, taking in the sights of Fort Augustus, Loch Lochy, our highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and its surrounding Munros. That evening we arrive at the next stop on our adventure, Glencoe. There is a chill in the air and our stomachs are grumbling. Any Scot in the know will tell you there is only one thing for it! We head for the Clachaig Inn - one of my favourite places to have dram and a bite to eat in the whole of Scotland. Did someone say haggis? We’ve bagged some seats by the log fire and the live band is awakening our spirits with its racing accordions and fiddles.

The next morning we wake to our first proper view of the magnificent Glencoe. The jagged mountains running for miles on either side of the lochans and streams. It was at Glencoe where I first fell in love with the Scottish Highlands. As a child, my parents would whisk the family away from Glasgow to Glencoe every year, to spend a weekend amongst the snowy mountains. No matter what time of year you visit, it looks spectacular.

Glencoe's Mountains, Scottish Highlands by Katie Mullen
Glencoe's Mountains - Katie Mullen

Now I couldn’t write a blog about Scotland without mentioning the weather, but come rain hail, snow or shine you just have to embrace it. In the words of one of Scotland’s most famous comedians, Billy Connolly, “There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”. Of course, Glencoe looks beautiful in the sunshine, but there is nothing more ominous and striking than when dark cloud and mist engulfs the glen. It is the reason Ian Fleming chose it for the birthplace of James Bond. There is no better backdrop to Mr Bond, than a moody Glencoe.

Glencoe offers everything from low level wanders to multi-munro challenges. Why not take a walk to the Lost Valley, where the Macdonald clan used to hide the cattle they had rustled from their neighbours. The more adventurous could set out to hike the stunning Pap of Glencoe. If you can make it to the top, you will be rewarded with the most spectacular views out across Loch Leven and the surrounding hills. Hopefully soon, we can share a smile at its summit.

What a tour so far! But there are so many more places I would love to share with you. The fine beaches of St Andrews, part of Fife’s long glorious coastline, peppered with some of the world’s most famous golf courses. However, if you truly are a beach lover, then we could take a ferry trip to some of our islands, Lewis and Harris, Shetland, Mull and Iona. The white and golden stretches of sand are mesmerising.

Seilebost Beach, Lewis, Outer Hebrides by Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash
Seilebost Beach, Lewis, - Paolo Chiabrando on Unsplash

And finally, a special mention to the Isle of Skye. Discover the Fairy Pools, The Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing and the rocky Cuillin Ridge. If you love castles, spend the day wondering through the rooms of Dunvegan Castle and admire its beautiful gardens. The perfect outing for your family vacation. I do wonder what Skye is like at the moment, without its visitors. Is anyone paddling in the Fairy Pools or watching the sunset from Neist Point? I am sure the island is grateful for a short breather, but I’m certain a welcoming smile and a hearty dram await the first visitors.

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye by Connor Mollison on Unsplash
The Old Man of Storr - Connor Mollison on Unsplash

It is a nervous time for the world right now, most of us are torn between feelings of sadness that we can’t travel and being scared of the dangers that travelling could bring. Thankfully, Best Scottish Tours are well set up to limit the spread of COVID-19. All of our tours are small - no more than 8 people in our luxury touring vehicles with the option to tour privately with family or friends if desired. Therefore, we regularly cater to private groups of family and friends.

Quality, hand-picked accommodation, all en suite, is included as part of every tour package. We will take the utmost care in ensuring that our accommodation partners take all the right measures so that you and your family are as safe as possible no matter where in Scotland you would like to visit. This would be a great opportunity for you to organise a small family reunion so that you can celebrate being able to get out and about again, once travel restrictions have been safely relaxed. We can collect you from anywhere in Scotland, usually Edinburgh or Glasgow, so all you need to worry about is having a wonderful holiday.

Scotland is the friendliest place; we love nothing more than sharing our beautiful landscape and our rich culture with you. So, from our wee home in  Dunoon, on Scotland’s glistening coast, we miss you. We can’t wait to welcome you back.

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