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Amanda MacDonald June 5 2014

After joining the Absolute Escapes team back in March, I was fortunate enough to experience one of the many Rabbies tours that we offer our customers, and I would have to say I chose wisely.

This day trip offered so much in so many ways…so where do I start?

  • Fantastic value for money
  • A small, personal group with a friendly and knowledgeable guide
  • So much to see, and places to visit without feeling like you’re on the bus for too long
  • Interesting stories and facts to enjoy and take with you

Normally, this tour would start with Doune Castle, which happened to be closed so we were fortunate enough to be offered a wonderful alternative – Linlithgow Palace.

Close to Edinburgh, with stunning surroundings, and on a bright sunny morning, we arrived at Linlithgow Palace which was built between 1618 and 1624 by the mason, William Wallace. As it was so sunny, the Palace looked spectacular, which created a serene and peaceful setting. After taking some lovely photos, we then set off for our next stop which was Callander in the heart of The Trossachs.

Callander was our mid-morning tea break and what a lovely place to refresh. A quaint little place with a very memorable bakery, selling mouth-watering pies and massive meringues!

Then on to Kilchurn Castle, one of my favourite places of the day, partly because of its surroundings, partly because of the pleasant walk to get there and mostly because we had our very own key to get in!

The ruins of Kilchurn Castle, built sometime before 1449 by Colin Campbell, impressively stand at the head of Loch Awe with mountains all around, many with a covering of snow, creating stunning views, character and ambience. It’s a 15-minute walk there and back (depending on how many times you stop to take photos or just take in the views!) and I would recommend decent footwear as the path can be very muddy.

Next, our longest stop of the day for lunch was the wee treasure which is Inveraray where the amazing fairytale-like castle sits. We were unable to enter the castle but there was plenty more to see and do.

Loch Fyne runs around Inveraray, and although it contains only a small high street, the interesting places were aplenty.  For example, the George Hotel really impressed me. A beautiful place to warm your bones in front of the coal fire, such character and warmth with its dim lighting, carved wood furniture, and the tastiest fresh coffee I’ve had for a long while! The Burgh Cafe served the best Cullen Skink I’ve ever had, and the Loch Fyne whisky shop had an amazing array of choices. Close by is the Scottish Soap factory which smells just wonderful, and then there’s historic Inverary Jail – an amazingly interesting place.

By now, the Scottish weather was turning and the rain had set in. But it didn’t spoil the next part of the drive, what with our wise and wonderful guide Eddie telling stories and interesting facts, playing Scottish music and taking in the beautiful scenery of the Arrochar Alps to the famous viewpoint ‘Rest and be Thankful’.

If I could advise one thing, it would be to look and listen throughout the trip as it’s over before you know it and it really is worth taking in every detail. Whether it be Highland cows, buzzards, red deer, snowy hills or the many many colourful sheep!

And then our last stop, the village of Luss – famous for its filming of ‘Take the High Road’, situated on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, with its quaint houses, colourful gardens and amazing views of the loch.

As a bonus, on the way back we stopped just beneath Stirling Castle to take some photos, which, as well as Edinburgh Castle, is famous for being built on an old volcano.

So, a highly recommended small group tour – I now want to do them all!

Amanda MacDonald

PS. Don’t forget, stay alert and look around so you never miss a trick from our stunning Scottish Highlands!

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