2018 was a really cool year for Luxury Concierge Scotland. Bathed in sunshine I travelled from Central Scotland to the Western Isles to Inverness, via Loch Ness of course and further North on the North Coast 500 (more about the fantastic NC 500 in my next blog). LCS visited the excellent Historic Scotland mainstays of Scottish tourism as well as some not so well known but very intriguing locations.
Towards the end of last year I was fortunate enough to travel with three lovely couples from Wisconsin, our itinerary started in Fort William where I enjoyed a delightful and welcoming cup of coffee at the Little Bay café, very helpful staff (so early on a Sunday morning), with tasty bacon rolls and plenty of parking just around the corner, this wee café is perfectly positioned to watch the world go by.
I met my guests at their Hotel and we headed over to Inverness stopping at the Glenfinnan Viaduct just in time to see the Jacobite train steaming over (no flying Ford Anglia’s in sight!), a fine start to the tour. Please check the Jacobite’s schedule to be on time and be aware that parking fills up quickly.
Next we headed to Inverness with a wee detour to take in the magnificent Eilean Donan Castle enjoying the tasty fayre in the coffee shop. Eilean Donan is one of the busiest tourist spots in Scotland so plan ahead and spend some time here.
Onto Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness to the recently upgraded visitor centre and castle tour, Historic Environment Scotland invested £300,000 last year to accommodate the almost 500,000 visitors per annum to Urquhart Castle, this does show with the centre busy but not overcrowded, plan this into your itinerary when you are here. A great first day ended in Inverness with the prospect of Speyside whisky tours the following day- Speyside is home to 50 whisky distilleries all with their own unique heritage for you to discover and enjoy.
The mighty Macallan distillery was our first stop from Inverness but not before discovering Velocity Café and Bicycle Workshop in Inverness for breakfast, simply marvellous coffee and grub. The Macallan distillery and visitor centre was opened in 2018, this behemoth of Scottish whisky invested £140 million in a bold, ultra cool project and it is magnificent. Guests are absorbed into the fabric of this sensational statement of intent- the brainchild of Ian Curle, a brave step in the evolution of Scottish whisky and a truly historic moment.
Speyside has the largest concentration of whisky distilleries in Scotland with Glenfiddich next on the list, I was a little concerned that after the Macallan experience any other distillery would be less than awesome but Glenfiddich and indeed all distilleries have charm, history and great whisky to engage and excite, not to mention the subtle nuisances each and every whisky has with the charming whisky guide adding their own great story to beguile you.
To note- Balvenie distillery is very special but tours are limited meaning book well in advance. (like months!)
Whisky tasting transports you to a happy place, fixing memories with flavours, colours and processes, etched into the memories of the millions of visitors to one of Scotland’s most famous exports, Slainte.
Our final day took us east from Inverness to Balnuaran of Clava a 4,000-year-old Bronze Age site, eery and evocative this place is old (makes me feel better).
The road to St.Andrews was quiet and peaceful, my travellers deep in thought and reflection or maybe just tired but St.Andrews beckoned, vibrant all year round with bustling streets and cheery, colourful golfers roaming the lovely streets of the Auld Grey Toon.
A golfer’s mecca and one that I’m always excited to visit. My fellow travellers chilled and explored St.Andrews stopping to enjoy the best coffee at Taste- worth the wait so be patient please and enjoy the quirky students and life going by.
From St.Andrews to Edinburgh our journey ended with fond farewells and happy faces, a lot of memories hopefully for my Wisconsin folk with my photographs a small reminder of their trip.
Hope to see you guys again soon x