I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting much when I’ve booked the tour online. I usually don’t like to travel in a bus/car with a group of people I don’t know and I have the idea that these companies are trying to take advantage of tourists – as I saw in Amsterdam. But there was no other way to visit the Highlands – we don’t have driving license and we had only one day so the train was no option. Anyway at 7:45 in the morning we were in Glasgow in George Square waiting for our bus.
It was a small one, we were around 20 people, and this time we were in the “elders” group: there was a group of 10 American students so the trip was lively. Many times I thought I can do this kind of arranged trips in Romania – visiting around 75% of the country, finding out places nobody knows about, but after one day with our guide I am sure it is not a job for me. The guide, who was also driving, spoke almost the entire trip: we’ve learned so many new things that only for this the tour worth all the money.
From Glasgow we followed A82 passing near Loch Lomond – which is the largest lake by surface from UK. On the other side of the lake, peaks, full of snow, are making the morning routine by reflecting in the lake. Unfortunately, there was no stop along the lake and the first stop was at Drovers Inn, in the North of the lake. I don’t know why this stop is in the itinerary as it doesn’t have much to offer: the inn is far from the lake, the scenery is not that good and there’s nothing special inside. Oh.. maybe because it is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in Scotland: the story says that in one night one girl died by drowning into the lake and her parents brought her at the inn and left her over night in one room. It seems that whoever sleeps in that room is waking with the sensation of a cold, dead body next to them. True or not, I am not fascinated by this kind of stories so I still don’t think it is something to consider in a tour around the Highlands.
From this point we’ve stopped several times on the road as we pass the mountains. The road itself is amazing, having lakes almost everywhere and with the mountains reflecting it is a beautiful view as you travel. The guide took us to a inn where some deer are staying to eat from your hand and to a farm where they have Highland cattle and we were able to feed them too. I see almost daily Highland cattle on my way to work in the Netherlands or in the park, but to feed them… it’s a new experience. And it was the first time I saw a white one.
Leaving Loch Lomond Park we’ve entered Glencoe: a picturesque city at lake, with a lot of history. As we were passing through the city, the guide told us about the massacre and showed us the protected small cemetery-islands on Loch Leven. As we were going out from the city we were listening the Glencoe massacre song. From this point our next stop was in a small inn near Fort William. Along the way we could see people hiking to get to Ben Nevis – the highest point in UK. The mountain is a legend itself as it seems that the weather can become really bad while you are up there. I climbed in Romania on peak higher than 1300 m but I never had this issue, but, most probably, in Scotland with particular weather it can be harder. Anyway, the guide told us many people will renounce during the hiking and they will come back. There are also walking routes of at least 25 miles and it seems that sometimes the tourists are in a bad situation and there are companies which will come to take them at their hotel. I would like to do this kind of trip, as I love nature and being on the road on my own feet is something that relaxes me. Anyway, let me continue with Highlands.
Our next stop was at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness – the biggest lake by the water volume in UK and the famous one due to the monster story. We’ve spent some time strolling around the remains of what used to be one of Scotland’s largest castles. From this point we took a ferry until the North end of the lake, but there was no monster. The guide told us that if we take a picture of the monster we will receive 1 million pounds, but there was no luck on that day. 🙂
Unfortunately there was an accident on the road so instead of following A82 and coming back to Glasgow through Cairngorms Park we had to return on the same road until one point when we took left and entered the park for some time. The landscape is beautiful wherever you turn your head and from place to place you can see whisky distilleries placed there especially for the fresh water. Our last stop was in Pitlochry, a picturesque town loved by the queen. We had a 30 minutes break there so we’ve managed to stroll around and to eat whisky ice cream (one of the must our guide recommended, personally I didn’t liked it that much).
From this point it took us around 1.5 hours to get back to George Square in Glasgow. It was 20:30 and we were kind of tired, but happy for booking this tour.