In the Spotlight: Highland Platinum Tour

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. It was recently voted top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards and is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourist attraction.

This amazing tour of Scotland illustrates exactly why Highland Heritage are so uniquely placed to cover the very best areas of scenic and historic Scotland.  Over six days we are able to fan out from our central location and visit six unique areas and destinations without significant overlap, and without having excessively long days.  You may also have a day of leisure enjoying the village and the Green Welly Stop, or walk to the Cononish Gold Mine on the face of Ben Lui.

 

Edinburgh and the Forth Bridges Excursion

Our first excursion takes us to that most ancient and modern of cities, Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland and the site of endless historic treasures and medieval landmarks.We proceed through Strathfillan, Glen Dochart and the village of Crianlarich towards Glen Ogle where we descend down to Lochearnhead.  Glen Ogle is really spectacular with the old railway still clinging to the rugged rock face and fantastic views down the glen to West Perthshire.

view across the Forth Estuary to the Forth rail bridge and Road Bridge

Iconic, historic and dynamic, the spectacle of Scotland’s Forth bridges is a wonder of the modern world.

We pass through Strathyre, the land of Rob Roy MacGregor, the famous outlaw and brigand, and arrive at Kilmahog Woollen Mill where excellent catering (and retail!) facilities await. Soon we see Stirling Castle perched on a giant rock outcrop, and the Statue of William Wallace on a similar outcrop across the Forth River Valley.This is the area where all the pivotal moments of Scottish history occurred, particularly the battles of Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn.

We proceed on across the Kincardine Bridge into South Fife and soon arrive at the most glorious vista of all – the Forth River Crossings.  It is a fantastic sight!!!  We cross to the other side once more and with some luck get a few photographs from the south bank before we head to the city of Edinburgh with its stunning castle and battlements dominating Princes Street and the Princes Street Gardens.  Without a doubt the most spectacular city centre in Great Britain.

The coach will take you up to the castle, but you are free to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia, numerous art galleries, stroll in the gardens or take the open deck bus tour round the city.  Don’t spend too much time in cafés, etc, there is too much to do!

We return by the south of the Forth Estuary, passing by The Kelpies on the left hand side and proceeding home down the motorway via the Wallace Monument and the ancient village of Doune.

Glencoe and Glenfinnan Excursion

From the beginning to end this is a day of unrelenting joy as the glories of the west highlands unfold before you.  First we proceed north and cross the county march between Argyll and Perthshire.  Looking back there are superb elevated views of Ben More and Stobinian, and across Strathfillan to Crianlarich.

We immediately come upon Auch Glen and can see all the way to Blackmount and Rannoch.  Our descent to Bridge of Orchy takes us past the River Kinglas, Glen Orchy and the River Orchy.  Bridge of Orchy has a proper 18th century “hump back” bridge, and excellent hotel and pub, its own Bridge of Orchy station and Bridge of Orchy school, now closed, where the long-suffering Miss McGeachie instilled an excellent basic education into the work-shy minds of numerous bad little boys (and perfect little girls!) whose minds were elsewhere on the rivers, forests, hillsides and lochs – armed with catapults, bow & arrows, and various bits of fishing gear.

Glen Coe with mountain stream in foreground

Surrounded by towering mountains, Glencoe is one of Scotland's most spectacular places and provides outstanding opportunities for walking and climbing.

We pass by Loch Tulla, full of salmon, trout and also pike.It is home to wildlife round its banks, but not to nesting birds as pike are very naughty boys and eat the chicks as soon as they go on the water.  Keep your eyes open for ospreys out on fishing trips above the Loch.

After passing Loch Tulla, we pass Achallader Farm on the left.  Achallader Farm has an original castle which passed into the land of the clan Campbell round about 1590 after Campbell sent the King’s tax collector across Fletcher’s corn field and who was promptly shot.  Campbell arrives fortuitously and advises Fletcher to scarper before the King’s men arrive.  Campbell kept the castle title “in safekeeping” with a view to returning it to Fletcher when the problem died down.  Needless to say Fletcher did not get his castle and farm back and it remained in Breadalbane Campbell hands till the 1930s!!!

Above Achallader we stop off at Blackmount view point and look back across Loch Tulla, Blackmount Estate, Ben Achallader, Ben Doran and down Glen Orchy.  Fantastic photo opportunity!

Then we proceed across Rannoch Moor with unrelenting scenic wonders unfolding before us – numerous lochs and a landscape strewn with boulders and covered in heather.  For the amateur geologist this is heaven because they are so obviously the ancient remnants of the glacier which lay across this area in the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago.  It melted and out fell the rocks and debris it had collected for aeons past.  What an amazing sight!

Out of the glacier trail rears the Buachaille Etive Mor and the mountains of Glencoe.  The ski lift is on the left and straight ahead the Buachaille Etive Mor stands guarding Glencoe.   We have now passed from a state of wonder to one of excited amazement as Glencoe unfolds in front of us as we descend down the pass to Glencoe village and the slate mining area of Ballachulish.  Cliffs, waterfalls and huge spectacular rock formations surround us.

When we arrive down at sea level we come upon the shores of Loch Leven and pass the old slate quarries before crossing by the Ballachulish Bridge to the north and up to Fort William along the shores of Loch Linnie.  We normally pause in Fort William before heading west across the Caledonian Canal and along the shores of Loch Eil to the head of Loch Shiel and the hamlet of Glenfinnan where stands the monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie, “The Young Pretender”, who raised his standard at this spot and triggered the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.  He got as far as Derby but was chased back to Inverness where he was routed by a Hanovarian Scottish lowland army at the Battle of Culloden.  After a year on the run he got to France helped by Flora McDonald – he was disguised as her maidservant, so of warrior build and bearing he certainly was not!

You may wander round the Glenfinan Interpretation Centre and Monument, and the fit can climb the Monument or go up to the observation viewpoint.  Looking northwards you can see the famous Harry Potter Glenfinnan Viaduct.  Glorious views in every direction.  We now return home for dinner and relive the experience again!

glenfinnan monument at loch shiel, scotland

North of Loch Shiel, south from the main road, is the Glenfinnan Monument and visitor centre from the National Trust for Scotland who maintains the site to the memory of the Jacobite Uprising of 1745.

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Harry Potter, Scotland

Glenfinnan Viaduct has been used as a location in several films and television series, including Ring of Bright Water, Charlotte Gray, Monarch of the Glen, Stone of Destiny, German Charlie und Louise, and four films of the Harry Potter film series.

Callander & Loch Katrine Excursion

This is a superb day trip which takes us to the heart of the Trossachs.  This area has been made famous by the poets and bards of the past, and became a “must” for Victorian tourists. 

Our point of arrival is the Trossachs Pier and you will be amazed at the size of both it and the jetties, and realise just what an attraction this place was.  Loch Katrine is the water supply for the city of Glasgow and the centrepiece is the SS Sir Walter Scott – a real old timer with a coal burning reciprocating steam engine to drive her paddle wheels – now recently converted to cleaner fuel with a lot less smoke and cinders belching from her funnel.

Sir walter Scott steam shop cruising on Loch Katrine

With over 100 years of sailings to her name, the SS Sir Walter Scott world famous steamship has captivated visitors for almost a century.

The trip “doon the loch” is both spectacular and memorable, something to treasure for years to come.  If you are lucky you may even catch sight of an Osprey.  On our journey we will also visit Drymen and Callendar for retail opportunities, tea, coffee and scones!  This takes us through some of the most scenic areas of The Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and the stomping ground of Rob Roy MacGregor.  He would enter into arrangements with local farmers not to steal their cattle if he received “black meal” (no one had cash).  This became “blackmail” over time and is now an established word in the English language.

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Callander is a bustling tourist town situated on the River Teith, near Stirling, and is often described as the gateway to the Highlands.

The MacGregor clan established their power centre in Glen Strae near Dalmally and were variously shuttled around the area as their fortunes waxed and waned.  They had a bad habit of supporting the wrong side whereas the Clan Campbell were the exact opposite – almost always on the winning side!!

 

Isle of Bute & Mount Stuart House Excursion

This amazing excursion takes us South through Inveraray and by the shores of Loch Fyne. We arrive at the ferry and cross to Bute where we firstly visit Rothesay with its ancient Castle and then on to Mount Stuart House. Mount Stuart is with out doubt one of the finest great houses in the UK.

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Britain's most astounding Victorian Gothic mansion and one of the world's great houses.

Oban & Highland Concert  Excursion

You will have two wonderful days to explore the seaport of Oban is home for the ferries to the Hebridean Islands and is a busy hub all year round.  It is fascinating to stand on the piers and watch the ships come and go.  There is also a sizeable fishing fleet and a number of craft which service the fish farming industry. The town is well served with shops, cafes, restaurants and two very interesting museums.

In the afternoon on the we gather at the Corran Halls to be regaled with songs, piping, accordionists, story tellers and even Highland dancers.  A real festival of West Highland culture.  After a glorious day, it’s home for a Highland Night candlelit dinner – an amazing day.

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Oban is the biggest hub on the west coast of Scotland giving access to all the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Oban has an uncanny way of bringing out the romantic and mystical side of its visitors. With mists which roll in, and the gentle pitter patter of the evening rain, it truly is a spiritual and special place. 

Loch Earn, Loch Tay & Famous Grouse Distillery Excursion

We cross from Strathfillan via Lix Toll and Glen Ogle to North Perthshire and visit the beautiful village of Killin sited at the head of Loch Tay.  Killin is built round an ancient watermill on the Falls of Dochart.  The Falls are a wonderful sight, especially when the river is running strong in spring as a result of the snow melting.  There are numerous salmon pools on the Falls and they can be seen jumping and running the Falls on a daily basis in season.  There are a number of shops in the village and the watermill is open for business all year round.

Moving on, we ascend above Loch Tay and proceed along the foot of Ben Lawers to Fearnan and Aberfeldy.

We arrive at Crieff which is a lovely little town.  It is famous for its cattle trysts where the Highland clans brought their cattle for sale to the Lowlanders who put them on good lowland pasture and fattened them up for sale, food and cross-breeding.  Highland cattle were hardy, lean and crossed well with other breeds to produce heavily built bullocks for the food markets.

There were a large number of taverns in Crieff and it is said that the streets would ring with the sound of revelry and sword-play on a daily basis – may I assure you it has quietened down quite a bit!

We visit the Famous Grouse Distillery which is a superb place to see the entire process of whisky production – and I can assure you the whisky is quite excellent!  The restaurant and visitor centre at The Famous Grouse Exhibition is remarkably good at all times.  Also in the town we visit the Stuart Crystal factory outlet.  Everyone enjoys Crieff, it is a great little town!

grouse whisky visitor centre Glenturret, Scotland

Nestled at the foothills of the Highlands near the scenic town of Crieff in Perthshire, Glenturret is Scotland’s oldest, most visited whisky distillery and it’s easy to see why.

The Highland Platinum tour is without doubt the best week of touring you could possibly enjoy in Scotland – come and join us!!!

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