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Trip Report Best of Scotland 10 day tour

I generally don't do trip reports due to not knowing what to say and how to say it to keep it informative and fun. Unlike a certain Mr. Beebe who knows how to keep a person in stitches. :). I have now been home for a week, so here it goes.

We took two back to back tours Heart of Ireland 8 days then on to Best of Scotland 10 days. I am doing the Scotland first (it was the best one!) There are several factors that make a tour successful - the tour guide, your group of tour buddies and the sites that are included. The weather helps a lot too! To name a few.

First of all... I would like to say that we had an awesome, terrific, passionate, knowledgeable, etc tour guide..... James Macletchie. I cannot say enough how wonderful he made this trip. His passion for his country of Scotland and all the history that he provided to us. If you ever have him for your guide, he will make it a memorable one. Oh, did I say he can also sing too!!

Bus Driver - Marchin was so amazing... He got us in and out of tight spots. We were leaving on Sunday out of Inverness on our way to Oban. The street that the hotel was one was a one way street with cars parked along the river edge. Boy... we all thought, no way, we can't get out of the parking lot without touching those parked cars. Sure enough, we did. His cool temperament and James was exceptional.

Hotels were exceptional.....Edinburgh - Parliament House; Kenmore - Kenmore Hotel; Inverness - Glenmoriston Townhouse; Oban - Glenburnie. The breakfasts at these hotels were wonderful also. Kenmore was kind of quirky, but still nice.

Boy did we luck out of weather.... temperatures were fantastic. Yes a wee bit of rain drops but nothing serious.

Tour buddies - Consisted of 13 couples and 1 single female. There was no groups traveling together. No one knew each other, even with four separate couples from the state of Arizona did not know each other (Phoenix (2), Show Low and Sedona). With one exception, we did know one couple only due to being on the same Heart of Ireland prior to the start of this tour. It was nice that everyone participated in wonderful dinner conversations at our group meals together and no one was left out. Several members have been on several RS tours and others with lots of travel experience on other different tour group or traveling on their own. Most were retired or possibility still working or had part-time jobs. No grumps!! We were always on time and no one lagging behind and making us wait. This is probably one of the best groups I have had on my other RS tours.

Food - Food for our group meals were wonderful. Quite tasty and prepared nicely. I stepped out of my box on food this trip. Kinda of a picky eater. I ventured out and ate Haggis, lamb, venison, salmon, langostino and more.

I will add some more as a comment.

Posted by
829 posts

itinerary and sights -

Day 1 started off in Edinburgh. Large city and lots to see and do. Had our meeting and off on a wee walking tour. James took us to one of his favorite pubs for a pint of beer before our 1st dinner together.

Day 2 Next morning we had a more extensive tour of Edinburg with the local guide, tour of Edinburgh castle, National museum of Scotland, new town and old town, greyfriars kirkyard, then free at lunch time and explore on our own for the rest of the day. That afternoon Hubs and I went to the Georgian House (had a museum pass), did a little shopping, stopped for beer at another pub. Then met up with a few other couples and went to dinner near hotel.

Day 3 - Headed off to Culross to tour a 17th century palace (house). Next headed to St Andrews. Husband enjoyed St Andrews since he is an avid golfer. Took his Token Arnold Palmer pose on the famous bridge there. Only had about 1 1/2 - 2 hour or so. Not long enough to enjoy more of St A. Lunch here on our own. Then off to Kenmore for 2 nights. Had group dinners here both nights. This is a wee village and no other restaurants. Hotel dinners were excellent. Nice walking area after dinner along the river and exploring.

Day 4 - visited a Crannogs. Amazing how these people had their homesteads on piers out in the lochs. Then off to the Hermitage where we had a walk in the black Linn Falls. What a beautiful nature walk. Next stop was in the town of Dunkeld for lunch on our own. Then off to aberfeldy for a wee dram of whiskey and tour at Dewars. Headed back to Hotel in Kenmore for group dinner and relaxing, plus added fun with a bagpiper and several tour members tried their hand at playing the bagpipes.

Driving thru the countryside in Scotland was so breath taking. Valleys, loch, rivers, scenery was so outstanding. Loved every minute of just looking out the bus window.

I will add another comment tomorrow night. Gotta hit the hay for work tomorrow.

Amazing tour!!

Posted by
1984 posts

Kim,
Thanks for a great report, it sounds like a wonderful trip! I’m interested in this tour.
How did you like the 8 Day Ireland tour? Will you do a wee report on it? I love how you sprinkled “wee” through your account! As you might remember, I was on that one last Sept. it was changed this year from 3 nights in Dingle to 2 nights in Dingle and 1 night in Kilkenny. Curious how that went. Personally I enjoyed the 3 nights in Dingle, it’s a real town with a relaxed vibe.

Posted by
829 posts

Hi Judy - Yes I do a Ireland report. Probably sometime next week. I just love their words/sayings. Got lots of things to do.

Off to my part-time job to pay for my trips. LOL Will continue tonight.

Posted by
166 posts

Really enjoyed the trip report! I’m taking the Scotland tour in July so please continue to tell us about the tour and your adventures !!!

Posted by
1872 posts

Enjoying your report! We head to Scotland this July, so very glad to read this, although we are doing it independent. Also, heading back to Ireland since I love it so much!

Posted by
8674 posts

Kim! Thanks for the Trip Report. I'm on the June 6th departure for this tour so your TR has already been helpful. I've added The Georgian House Museum to my To Do list! We are staying for 3 extra nights.

Looking forward to the rest of your report!

Posted by
276 posts

Waiting for more. I want to pull the trigger for a RS tour. One of these days I'm gonna do it so I'm anxiously waiting for more. Your report could be my trigger.

Posted by
31 posts

What a wonderful trip report! I'm signed up for the October 3rd departure of this tour. I was already pretty excited and reading your report made me even more so! I'm eager to read your report on Ireland as well. I did the Heart of Ireland tour in 2015 and loved it.

Posted by
829 posts

Day 5 - We are off to the highlands (love, love the highlands). As were going thru the highland, there was still snow on the high mountains. We made a quick stop at Dalwhinnie and did a group picture. While we were there, evidently James went into the shop and purchased some Whiskey for a future surprise for us. We had a convenience stop at the Hairy Coo Café and gift shop. On to the sheep farm. Neil discussed the workings of his sheep farm and amazing how his dogs herd his sheep. Highlight was that I got to hold a baby lamb. Sue and I whined (not really) about wanting to hold baby lambs. We saw so many cute wee lambs throughout Ireland and Scotland. Plus Neil had some puppies about 2-3 weeks old that we got to hold. Our group lunch together was at Rowan Tree country Hotel. They served us bread and lamb stew. I told my table mates that this was not right that after holding a baby lamb we have to eat lamb stew!!. On our table was delicious scones with jam, strawberries and cream. Very delicious. They gave a demo on making them along with the recipe. The final stop was the Culloden battlefield. Nice museum and very moving. Onto 2 night stay at Inverness. Checked into hotel and James gave an orientation walk pointing out places to eat and places to go. Four of us at the Castle Tavern bar and restaurant. I suggest making reservations for dinner in Inverness. Castle was full, but squeezed us in. Our dinner was superb!.

Posted by
829 posts

Day 6 - Another enjoyable/perfect day - Today we had good start this am to explore and cruise the Loch Ness (no monster sightings). We cruised the Loch and the boat dropped us off at the ruins of Urquhart Castle. This was probably one of my wow moments. This was such a beautiful and dramatic place. We got there early before the crowds set in. Had about two hours maybe to explore. We had low lying clouds hanging around which made for perfect Kodak moments along the way. We have two more stops before heading back to Inverness. Stopping at Clava cairns with is a prehistoric burial chambers. Reminded of the Newgrange in Ireland. James gave us pretty interesting history of this place. Then to Cawdor Castle.... ancestral home of the Campbells of Cawdor. Make sure you have time to see the gardens and mazes. Back to Inverness.... had some free time on our own. Husband and I went to the Inverness museum (free admission), then the group met James at one of the local pubs for a pint (the Gelllions) and off to a group dinner tonight.

Day 7 - Another exciting day. A day of adventure with stunning scenery towards Oban. On the way we will go on a gondala ride up 2000ft at Anoch Mor Mountain top. Have lunch on our own at the top of mountain. Lots of trails to walk with amazing views. Another surprise by James. We all waiting at the top of the mountain and gathered again for a breath taking view behind us, group picture. Then we had our wee dram of whiskey with short bread. We had about 2 hrs or so here. Then off to Glencoe and Oban. Our group was split into two B & B's. Dinners are on our own for the two nights in Oban, we arrived early enough to find two places to make dinner reservations, suggestion by James Ee-usk and Cuan-Mor.

Posted by
829 posts

Few more thoughts.... I will try to finish tomorrow with days 8,9, 10 tomorrow. Getting a little tired tonight.
But I wanted to mention packing and washing that I did for this trip.

I took a backpack and RS rolling suitcase (then had my day crossbody purse tucked in my backpack). I always carry on because I don't want to take a chance on lost luggage. Plus, sometimes we are lucky to get on earlier flights(sometimes). We did going and coming home. Thankful we got on early domestic flights home and did not have to get in at midnight.

I took about 4 dry fit type shirts that I can sink wash, took 10 pairs of microfiber jockey undies. Took ones that were getting worn and tossed most of them at the end of my trip. I sleep in tshirt and shorts, took an old tshirt and tossed it. 4 pairs of socks. I like to travel in leggings and dress. Leggings/dress I wear again and sink wash the leggings. Think all of our hotels had those wonderful towel warmers and easy to dry overnight. Took three pairs of jeans. I take downy or some type of freshener spray and just hang and spray at night. Two pairs of shoes because I have bad feet (PF). I alternate each day with my shoes.

I am a minimalist with makeup....none!! toothpaste and brush - toss on last day. Take 3 oz of everything else ie hand lotion, hand santizers, hair gel/hair spray.... toss those too!

Some group members dropped off laundry at Inverness and got the next day. It is easier for me just to sink wash.

Airport - I suggest that you get the mobil pass app on your phone. Easy peasy going thru customs. No waiting in Newark for those who had it. The line was long at non app people. Boy, it was so smooth and quick coming home.

All for now.... Till tomorrow Good night.

Kim

Posted by
8674 posts

Oh yikes...chair lift. No. I can barely force myself on to the big Swiss gondolas!

Looking forward to the rest of your TR!

Posted by
829 posts

Pam ... sorry I should clarify... it is enclosed gondola also. You will be fine!! :)

Posted by
378 posts

Kim, I so enjoyed reading your post! I did the Scotland RS trip last year and it really helped me relive those great memories! Scotland is amazing, I hope to go back on my own some day. You're a good travel writer. I liked your tips about packing, laundry, etc.

Posted by
8674 posts

Hahah...thank you so much Kim!! My hyperventilating has now stopped! I am such a chicken.

Posted by
829 posts

Day 8 - 9 - 10 --- Finally got a few minutes to try to post the rest of our trip.

Day 8 wonderful breakfast at our B & B; then off on two ferries ending up at Iona. First ferry about 45- 1 hr to Isle of Mull. Got on bus to go to the next ferry to Iona. Richard was our bus driver and narrator thru our trip across the isle. He was so funny and comical. We all enjoyed his funny stories. The weather was terrific that day and beautiful camera snapshots while on the ferry. More baby twin lambs along the way. Came up to a couple of hairy coos in the road. They were so funny, just moseying along the road. Arrived at the ferry to transport us to Iona. Our local guide was Becca. She was darling... She is originally from England but her partner(husband?) is from Iona. She loves it so much on Iona, so her home now is there with the family. We had a 45 min walking tour around Iona. Went to an abby/church. Had a lovely surprise by James (our awesome guide), he sang to us in this small chapel a Ballad about the sea in Gaelic (don't understand Gaelic words but it sure was beautiful). Free on our own time for lunch and wandering around on our own time for about 1 1/2 hr or so. Hopped back on the two ferries back to Oban and arrived about 7:00 pm in time for our dinner reservation at 7:30 with two other couples at Cuan Mor.

Day 9 - Breakfast and off. Kinda a sad day because I realized it was our last day together and would have to be leaving Scotland to go back to the states the next day. Husband and I both just love Scotland. I think the Highlands was probably the best part. The country is just so beautiful there. We depart our hotel and head for Loch Lomond, Stirling castle ending up in Edinburgh for our last group dinner. On the way, we stopped at a unique church called Saint Conan's kirk. The architecture was unbelievable. Amazing how they build these churches ages ago. Evidently Walter Campbell's mom found it tiring to go to the nearest parish church and so he decided to build her a church nearby her. It was originally built between 1881 and 1886. Had a wee convenience stop at Inverary. Had a hot chocolate in a café and window shopped and wandered around for 45 or so minutes. Another surprise by our guide.... we stopped to have a toast to a wonderful Scotland tour experience with a shot of prosecco at Argyll forest park .On to the last stop to Stirling castle but first we stopped at Dobbies (it is garden center with a restaurant, very convenient place to stop before heading to the castle) for lunch. We were at the castle for a 2 1/2 hrs maybe. I don't think it was enough time.. husband and I did not seem to get to see it all. Guess we wasted our wandering around to much. Back in Edinburgh and back to the same hotel (lovely, Parliament House hotel). Our final supper was at Harvey Nichols. We all had fun and toasted to a wonderful Scotland memories. James gave us all a small token gift. Had a tour mate tell a nice poem about James and our trip. He gave a special award to Rob (tourmate) who was our constant entertainment in the back of the bus with his funny jokes. I have gotten involved with glass fusing with my local glass blowing school here in Tulsa, so I made our guide a fused Scotland plate for thanks for such a great tour.
Then off the next morning back to Oklahoma. We made some nice friend on this trip and hope to stay in contact with each other. Especially the other couple we had on our Ireland tour before the start of this Scotland tour. Plus they were on our same flight back home.

Feel free to PM me if you need anymore info. I highly recommend this RS tour.

Posted by
4743 posts

Great report, Kim. I can't wait to hear more at our travel group meeting this Saturday.

Posted by
307 posts

Kim, I enjoyed your report. Are you going to do a report on the Ireland leg of your journey? Thanks for posting. I should have posted a trip report after my France trip last fall, but I had so much going on that I never got to post a report. Looking forward to hearing about Ireland.

Posted by
829 posts

I will try to sit myself down this weekend to do the 8 day Ireland tour. Have to work rest of the week.

Thanks all

Kim

Posted by
746 posts

Thanks for posting this, Kim! We’re likely to do this tour next May. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Posted by
68 posts

Thanks for the posts. What caught my eye was the apparent necessity to reserve dinner reservations for those nights on the tour on which dinner is on your own. I know you posted some of the restaurants at which you ate---do you have restaurant recommendations and/or was there a cell phone app of some sort you had to locate the restaurants in order to make the reservations? We will be on the Scotland tour with RS in August (our second RS tour). Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

James, husband I will also be on a tour in August and I just went online to restaurants that had been mentioned and some others that I researched and made reservations through their site. With the Festival going on it will be very busy.

Posted by
829 posts

oban - there was no group dinners. Incase you want to make reservations, here are the two we ate at.

Ee-usk on north pier www eeusk.com
reservations@eeusk.com - sea food

Cuan-Mor don't have their business card. 60 George St Oban tel 01631 565078