Monsters,lochs and Glens
Where will you find lakes tabbed 'lochs', rivers as 'Glens' 'laddie' for a young man, 'lass' to a young lady, a land where you mostly get a lifestyle of a 'single malt' , typically associated with scotch whisky. Here you got the stumper !!. This is a incredible terra firma of stunning landscapes, nature has bounty to strike an hue of varied shades of green, blue, yellow, lavender, chocolate and coffee brown. Fables, folklores, murals, history, anthropological studies oozes out from this land. On a lighter note if you are planning a romantic Christmas a deux, raucous new year with friends or a simply a summer vacation hurry up, get ready with your backpacks!!.
This hub takes in my 6 days planned routes to Scotland. The tour tramps you to Edinburgh, inaugural city of Literature marching upwards by forth bridge to discover Scottish highlands finding trails of Rob Roy and William Wallace, highlands steeped in legends are the only unspoilt region left in Europe touching up some fairy-tale hamlets and villages along,visiting Rosslyn Chapel and learning the truth about the Holy Grail on a "Da Vinci Code" tour lastly covering the prestigious educational pilgrimage of Glasgow coming to a halt in the Capital city.
Day 1 - Edinburgh
Took a BMI flight from London Heathrow, reached at morning 6 am at Edinburgh .It was the month of October that too at 6 in the morning the chilling air was seeping through our veins. We headed towards Royal Mile, it was the place we booked our hotel.We had no idea what was in stockpile for us. Before reaching royal mile looking out of the window started producing little butterflies inside my stomach. Glimpsing at a seconds pace the row of crowning spires, neo-classical structures dotting, still clinging on the medieval picture everywhere made me say ' This journey would be Godsome'.We were dropped at Royal Mile, luckily it took us 5 minutes to locate our hotel. We were so excited to take a shower even in the chilly hour to get ready for our move.
- Royal Mile - It is the name entitled to a series of streets lining the main thoroughfare of the old town of Edinburgh .Royal Mile is actually one scots mile long runs showcasing all the major historical monuments and structures. What I found, calling it a street would be an understatement. It is a fun fare one mile lane with electric mix of shops, eateries, pubs,lovely souvenir stores selling Scottish checks apparels and many more bric-a-bracs.
- Some of the architectural surprises are St.Giles' Cathedral, Holy rood Castle, Scot Monument, Royal Scottish academy building.Edinburgh has some modern gems to enjoy too. Parliament house, Malcolm Fraser Architects took on the challenge of converting the old Netherbow Theatre into the modern Scottish storytelling theatre, and John Knox's house the culture house of Scotland.
- No-one should leave the city without wandering round lofty Edinburgh Castle .You could hardly forget to, as the edifice can be seen from all over town. At 1pm daily (except Sundays) a field gun lets rip with a burst of shellfire. Take a pew at the memorial bench commemorating the late Tam the Gun, who fired the piece for 27 years, if you think your eardrums can take it.
- No other city has an extinct volcano in its limits, so climbing to Arthur's Seat, the tallest of Edinburgh's seven hills, is an essential activity for the able-bodied visitor. As well as an aerobic workout, a jaunt up the hill, combined with a intriguing geological tour.
- The city is best for walking and excavating the hidden treasures untold. As darkness rises the city spires' clubbed with the cobbly,twisty and windy state looks really creepy.You can indulge in all the conducted ghost tours.The famous one Mary king's close tour.
- We took for a Award Winning conducted tour http://www.highlandexperience.com/
- Depart Edinburgh at 09.00 and travel north over the Forth Road Bridge, passing one of Scotland's great engineering wonders - the Forth Rail Bridge. Continuing north into the Kingdom of Fife you pass Loch Leven castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567 and forced to abdicate from the throne.
- Further on you will also pass Perth, the medieval capital of Scotland, before crossing the Highland Boundary Fault line, and the point where the scenery changes from the rolling farmland of the Lowlands to the forested hills and mountains of the Scottish Highlands.
- Surrounded by this beautiful scenery and on the banks of the River Tay is the Cathedral town of Dunkeld, your first stop of the day. Dunkeld was for many centuries the capital of the Christian Celtic Church, and its 13th century Cathedral reflects the once great importance of this quaint Highland village.
- From Dunkeld it's a short drive to the Hermitage, a fantastic woodland walk leading up to the Black Linn Falls where the River Braan cascades into a narrow gorge. Surrounded by some of Scotland's tallest trees and changing spectacularly in appearance throughout the seasons it's a great place at any time of year. You may even have the chance to see the spectacular sight of Salmon attempting to leap up the falls and on towards their spawning grounds.
- Leaving the Hermitage you follow the wide valley of the River Tay towards the Victorian resort town of Pitlochry. You will spend around 1 hour here and you can visit the many great shops and restaurants or maybe even take a walk down towards Loch Faskally.
- After lunch we took a scenic drive through the mountains of Highland Perthshire, first crossing over the Pass of Killiecrankie before a short stop at the Queen's View overlooking Loch Tummel. On a clear day the view here is stunning, looking over to the unmistakable peak of Schiehallion and beyond to the mountains of Glen coe.
- As you travel north visit Glen Coe and feel the past come to life as our guide tells you about the terrible massacre of the MacDonald clan. Then take in the majestic sweep of the Great Glen and the stunning heights of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain.
- Continuing alongside Loch Tummel you then head over the hills into the ancient lands of Breadalbane, or the ‘High Country’ surrounding Loch Tay. You will make a stop at the waterside village of Kenmore with a chance to walk along the shores of the loch and enjoy the views to the dramatic bulk of Ben Lawers rising high above the water. You will hear all about William Wallace - the Scottish hero brought to life in the film Braveheart.
- Drive along Loch Ness sleep by the shores of its beautiful and tranquil village. We went for a home stay. A typical Scottish cottage with friendly hosts to welcome us.
Who is the Lock ness Monster?
Its been a famous legend following down the years that a monster lovingly called Nessie lurks in the waters of this loch.The first recorded sighting of Nessie was in 565 A.D. by Saint Columba. Saint Columba was an Irish missionary praised for spreading Christianity in Scotland. On one trip to the highlands, he ran across a group of people burying a man who had been bitten by the monster in the River Ness. The Saint supposedly asked another man present to swim across the river. When the man jumped in, the monster rose from the depths and Saint Columba, invoking God’s power, banished it. The story was written nearly a century after the supposed encounter; but even so, it remains a popular piece of “evidence” used to demonstrate Nessie’s existence.
On April 21, 1934, the most famous picture of the monster was published in the Daily Mail. The picture was supposedly taken by a doctor named Robert Kenneth Wilson, but he didn’t like having his name associated with the photo so it became known as the “Surgeon’s Photograph.” The picture shows, from a distance, the long neck and head of the monster rising from rippling water. The picture is convincing to the untrained eye, though critics, certain the photo was a hoax, claimed it was everything from an elephant to a diving bird.With all of the sightings and hunts for the monster, Loch Ness has become a popular tourist destination and interested parties can hop on a boat and travel around the loch looking for the famous monster.
Day 3 Cont.
- After a delicious Scottish breakfast, explore the loch. Why not take a boat tour over to Urquhart Castle, or just monster hunt from the shore?( optional tour we took)
- We drove through Inverness to visit Culloden, last stand of the Jacobites against the British government forces. Then you'll pass the stunning Cairngorm mountains, stopping en-route to visit a distillery.
- Lying in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Fort William is the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ and the main town in Lochaber. We stopped in this beautiful town for lunch.
- As one of the major resorts of the Highlands, the town commands an important position and is easily accessible from Glasgow and the central belt. Fort William’s setting is dramatic, on the shore of Loch Linnhe, and under the mighty hulk of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. There is a footpath to the top of the mountain starting close to the town.
- During evening we reached we reached Sterling. Explore the beautiful historic city of Stirling in the heart of Scotland’s bustling central belt and learn about Scotland’s rich heritage.
- Stirling is Scotland's heritage capital, where the Wars of Independence were fought and won, where for three centuries monarchs ruled in regal splendour and where merchants and craftsmen plied their trade below the castle rock.
- Reached Glasgow at the night.Checked in to our B&B.
Day 4 : Glasgow
- Explore Glasgow, one of the liveliest and most cosmopolitan destinations in Europe.Set your own itinerary.
- From George Square, the city's main plaza in front of Glasgow City Chambers, catch one of the open-topped tour buses. The trip, from historic Glasgow Cathedral in the east to Glasgow University and trendy Byres Road in the west, can be as entertaining as it is informative. It's also the best way to get oriented. Tickets are valid for 24 hours, and you can get off and on as much as you desire. Visit at least one of the city-run museums (they're free) and a bona-fide Glasgow pub, such as the Horse Shoe.
After lunch we travelled the short distance to the town of Aberfeldy and Dewars Whisky distillery, where you can discover the secret of how Scotland's national drink is made. No visit to Scotland is complete without sampling a 'wee dram' and you will get the chance to taste some of the finished product. Known in the Gaelic as Uisge Beatha (or 'water of life') whisky has been produced for centuries in Scotland and the art is now close to perfection. From here the tour returns you to the lowlands and Edinburgh.
Day 5 : Day excursion to the 'Da Vinci Tour'
After retiring early to bed we bounced fresh after a 3-day highland tour. We planned a Viator tour from Edinburgh for a Visit to Rosslyn Chapel and learning the truth about the Holy Grail on a "Da Vinci Code" tour to the Scottish Borders. Highly recommended tour .After early breakfast we headed up to the meeting juncture at 9.30 am for a 6 hours tour to the true history of the famous Rosslyn Chapel visiting the lovely town of Melrose on this small group tour.
Highlights of the tour
- Small group excursion to Melrose, Rosslyn Abbey and the Scottish Borders from Edinburgh
- Visit locations featured in Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code
- Hear the true history of Rosslyn Abbey
- Discount Card to use at local restaurants, shops and attractions
- Comfortable Mercedes minivan
- Professional driver/guide
- Enjoy privileged, personalized attention from your driver/guide on this small group tour
- Small group tour with a maximum of 16 people
Summary of the tour
Departing Edinburgh, you will head south to the world-famous Scott's View, with stunning views over the Tweed Valley and Eildon Hills. From here, you will travel to Melrose with the opportunity to explore its great Border abbey, founded by the Cistercians in the 12th century. The Cistercian monks had very close connections with the Knights Templar and Melrose Abbey is the burial place of Robert the Bruce's heart, brought back from the crusades in Moorish Spain.
Following lunch in Melrose you will make your way to the stunning 15th-century Rosslyn Chapel, immortalized in The Da Vinci Code and an important site of beauty and history in its own right.
The tour includes a discount card, offering fantastic savings on top Edinburgh and Scotland visitor attractions, restaurants, pubs and shopping.
The Scottish Agenda
Things to shop
Things to pack (Summer )
Things to pack (Winters)
Things to eat
Walkers Shortbreads Buscuits
Haggies with mashed turnips/potatoes
Lamb wool tartan scarfs
comfortable pair of sneakers
Fish & Chips
Pringle's woolen sweaters
Black pudding served with beans, sausage, mushroom and bacon....yum..
Whiskey shopping( for whiskey lovers)
Mackintosh or raincoat
Steak in Whiskey Sauce
Pair of sneakers/comfortable boots
The Scottish Gem in Pitlochry
Day 6 : Departs Edinburgh
I had a spectacular adventure through the Highlands with stunning scenery, incredible history and some unique and unforgettable experiences. Going monster hunting on Loch Ness, hiking in one of the last great wildernesses of Europe, hearing tales of Scotland’s bloody history and soaking up the culture with a wee dram after a day’s exploring. I also got a chance to taste some traditional Scottish food ,hearing Celtic bagpipe music along the Royal Mile throughout,in the midst of the weeping Glencoe listening to the song by John Mc Dermott 'Massacre of Glencoe' making this a proper Highland Fling!
Extra Features you might love to include
- Ride the Jacobite famous steam train which inspired Harry Potter's 'Hogwarts Express.(Summer)
- Edinburgh Night Walking tour of underground vaults
- Day trip to the Scottish Highlands Games from Edinburgh
- Hermitage Forest Walk
- Skara Bara Stone Village Walk
- Explore the west coast in Orkney
- Explore the wild north in the Isle of Skye
- Visit during Edinburgh Hogmanay (New Year) Party
Highland Sporting !!
What is Hogmanay?
It is the last day of the year, 31st December , celebrated with full gusto and merrymaking on the streets of Edinburgh.No one celebrates Hogmanay quite like the Scots! From traditional fire festivals and torchlight processions to street parties with live music and fireworks, they've got it all.Things get under-way on 30 December with the spectacular torchlight Procession where thousands of torch carriers join as they create a river of fire from the historic Royal Mile to the fireworks finale on Calton Hill.On Hogmanay itself, the action moves to Princes Street in the very heart of the city of Edinburgh beneath the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Around 80,000 people party their way into the new year featuring incredible live music and entertainment, DJ’s, giant screens, outdoor bars and of course, the world-famous Edinburgh Hogmanay Midnight Fireworks on the castle ramparts.