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Issue 99 - Your Travel Guide

Scotland Magazine Issue 99
June 2018


Copyright Scotland Magazine © 1999-2018. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.

Your Travel Guide

Our pick of the very best tours, cruises, and self-catering accommodation


With so much to see and do in Scotland, building an itinerary of your own can be quite a challenge. Whether your tour is focussed on visiting historic sites, wildlife watching, or seeing those hard-to-reach views of rural landscapes, many hours of research and planning can be required in order to make dreams a reality. There are also the practicalities of physically reaching your chosen locations to consider. Will you hire a car or take the train? How about the bus? What about ferries? Thankfully there are a whole host of superb tour companies, based in both Scotland and internationally, who can help ensure your journey around this incredible nation is the best it can be.

1. Celtic Journeys

Judy Lowstuter’s career in the travel industry began in 1993 and her deep passion for Scotland led to her completion of VisitScotland’s ScotsMaster accreditation in 2003. Fuelled by her love for the country and emboldened by this accolade, she launched Celtic Journeys in 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. The Celtic Journeys team have a firm belief that to truly experience Scotland one has to meet the people, learn the history, hear the traditional music, taste the whisky, walk among the timeless archaeological monuments and experience the ever-changing scenery. Celtic Journeys was also, famously, one of the first companies to offer tours based on Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels and 2018 marks the 15th year of these most popular itineraries. Also worth noting is that a very special Hogmanay tour is offered, which allows guests to ring in the new year with the warmth and enchantment of a true Highland celebration.

Tours are available from US$3,595 / £2845 per person for seven nights, based on double occupancy. Single supplements apply.

2. CIE Tours International

CIE Tours International have been helping visitors explore their must-visit destinations for an incredible 84 years. During this time CIE has provided travellers with the highest quality holidays to Scotland, England and Ireland, and has built up an enviable reputation for security and reliability, with satisfied clients throughout the world. CIE deliver excellent holidays with state-of-the-art luxury coaches, prompt and pleasant customer service, the best hotels, and carefully chosen visits and entertainment. Their coach tours are fully inclusive with no optional extras to purchase and guests pay one set price - after a deposit is paid, the final price is guaranteed. For those who prefer to travel independently, CIE offer self-drive and luxury chauffeur-drive programs, with a wide range of popular hotel and B&Bs accommodation available to be booked in advance.

Tours are available from US$1120 / £840 per person for five days.

3. Celtic Dream Tours

Scotland is known for its amazing scenery. As guests travel around this stunning country with Celtic Dream Tours they will see beautiful mountains, stunning glens, heather-covered moors, and quaint hamlets - not to mention many historic castles and heritage sites. What's more, although people don't usually think of Scotland as having fabulous beaches, the truth is that many have sand as golden as the Caribbean. They're just not nearly as warm! Celtic Dream Tours introduce their guests to some of these pleasant surprises as they explore the nation's most spectacular coastal scenery, picturesque fishing villages and the hidden hideaways that abound in this beautiful country. All of the company's scheduled tours are limited to just 16 people, ensuring close attention for all guests, but custom group trips with bespoke itineraries can be arranged for any group size.

Group tours start from US$3395 / £2550 per person for 12 nights, based on double occupancy. Single supplements apply.


There are many places in Scotland that just have to be seen from the water. Whether you want to see the harbour distilleries of the Isle of Islay, seabird colonies on the remote St Kilda, the Great Glen from the Caledonian Canal, or any of the incredible sights that can be enjoyed along the nation’s 6200 miles of coastline, it’s safe to say that hopping aboard a ship will most definitely offer up an experience to remember.

4. Caledonian Discovery

Founded in 1996 by Martin Balcombe, this holiday offers some wonderful 4 or 7-day soft activity holidays, while cruising the Caledonian Canal - including the iconic Loch Ness. From one of their barges, Fingal or Ros Crana, guests are able to explore different parts of the beautiful Great Glen, between Inverness and Fort William, each day.

There are plenty of activities to choose from. Guests may walk the towpaths or surrounding countryside, cycle the local routes and forest trails, or paddle the canal and lochs by canoe. If prefered, they can simply stay aboard and watch the scenery drift by as the accommodation moves forward along the scenic canal. Each barge provides six cleverly designed en-suite cabins, a lounge area and a large dining area where the resident chef, who caters for all dietary requirements, serves delicious meals using only the freshest and finest of ingredients.

Cruising with Caledonian Discovery offers a wonderful opportunity to discover the Great Glen and enjoy the peace and adventure on offer.

Cruises start from US$685 / £515 per person.

5. Red Moon Cruises

Many thousands of visitors tour Skye every year. Yet, few get the opportunity to appreciate its grandeur, beauty and remote places from the most vivid of vantage points: the surrounding sea. But that’s exactly what Red Moon Cruises can offer!

Up to four guests may join Scott and Mary aboard the Red Moon and enjoy a private cruise of Skye’s most remote and intimate coves. Take in stunning vistas and explore historic landscapes from the comfort of this ‘nautically themed luxury country cottage’, before enjoying delightful meals on board. It’s a real treat!

The Red Moon sails to isolated locations where guests are most likely to spot the wealth of fauna inhabiting the waters off Skye and the coastline north and south of the Kyle of Lochalsh. Whether it’s dolphins playing in Red Moon’s bow wave, the arrowing wake of an otter crossing a sea loch, seals basking on the shore, red deer on the hills, or a golden eagle soaring overhead - anything is possible. Red Moon Cruises can help bring the past to life while cruising to the lands where those who came before lived, laughed and loved.

Aboard Red Moon, guests can explore the history and places of Scotland’s west coast, taking in the ancestral homelands of families such as McDonald, MacLeod, Mackinnon and Mackenzie, McAskill, MacCrimmon, MacArthur, MacLennan, MacRae, Beaton, Martin, MacInnes and more.

Cruises around Scotland's west coast aboard the Red Moon are available from US$1730 / £1300, based on double occupancy for two nights.

6. Hebridean Island Cruises

The delectably small and exclusive Hebridean Princess, purpose-built for Scotland’s Western Isles and launched by Hebridean Island Cruises as a cruise ship in 1989, sails mainly from her home port of Oban. Perfectly complementing the wildly beautiful Scottish scenery through which she cruises, Hebridean Princess offers the unrivalled comfort and refined service of a floating country house, with a maximum of 50 guests, in the tradition of the halcyon days of cruising.

The welcome on board is always warm, with the congenial atmosphere of a country house party where old friends meet up, new acquaintances are quickly made and the unaccompanied need never feel alone. At the same time, guests are free to enjoy the luxury of their own private space whenever they choose.

The epitome of good taste, an understated elegance pervades the whole ship. The crewto- guest ratio, which is almost one-to-one, ensures exceptionally high standards and a five-star experience from start to finish.

Cabins available from $10,133 / £8020 per person for a 10-day cruise.

Self-Catering Accommodation

Perfect for large groups and those who like to do their own cooking, selfcatering accommodation offers a degree of flexibility that’s well-suited to early risers such as photographers and hill walkers, while also offering a degree of privacy that is perfect for couples in search of a romantic escape to the countryside.

7. Mains of Taymouth Country Estate and Golf Course

This stunning, award winning, self-catering estate at Kenmore is undoubtedly one of Perthshire’s most relaxing retreats. Located at the mouth of Loch Tay, in one of the most picturesque glens in the Highlands, Mains of Taymouth offers luxury four and five-star accommodation for couples, small groups and families.

All lodges are fully equipped with all the necessary amenities and a number of the properties are complete with private hot tubs, saunas and games rooms. What’s more, the lodges are pet friendly so are perfect for travellers who can’t be separated from their four-legged friends, which means the whole family can enjoy a holiday! From hillwalking to water sports, there’s plenty to do in the local area and the Mains of Taymouth Country Estate has superb on-site facilities including its own bar and restaurant, a nine-hole golf course, a stables and riding centre, a deli, and a gift shop. What's more, although set amidst some of Scotland’s most breathtaking scenery, the estate is just a two-hour drive from both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Accommodation ranges from beautifully furnished one-bed villas (from US$330 / £248 for a short break) to 12-bed luxury houses (from US$2740 / £2058 for a short break).

Mains of Taymouth Country Estate and Golf Course Kenmore, Perthshire, PH15 2HN

+44 (0) 1887 830 226

8. Scone Palace’s Balvaird Wing

This is the perfect place to stay for anyone who has ever dreamt of living the life of a Highland laird. Set on the edge of the city of Perth, Scone Palace has a special place in Scottish history. Around 1500 years ago, it was the capital of the Picts and, in the intervening centuries, it has been both the seat of parliaments and the crowning place of the kings of Scotland.

One of Scotland's most important stately homes, Scone Palace houses an outstanding collection of antiques, paintings and rare artefacts, while the grounds are renowned throughout the world.

Now, for the first time, guests can enjoy a unique and memorable experience when they stay overnight inside palace itself. Located in the west aspect of the palace and overlooking the parks, this magnificent, newly refurbished guest apartment provides five-star luxury accommodation.

The Balvaird Wing apartment sleeps up to six guests in three beautifully decorated, ensuite bedrooms and there are fully equipped self-catering facilities. For those who wish to dine in the city, it is only a short taxi ride to the centre of Perth, where a variety of awardwinning restaurants can be found.

From US$632 / £500 per night for rental of the entire wing, which sleeps six.

Scone Palace. Scone, Perth, Perthshire, PH2 6BD

+44 (0) 1738 552 300

9. Lagnakeil Cabins

Lagnakeil Cabins offer a truly unique and unrivalled location for a self-catering holiday near Oban. This beautiful area is replete with mountains, lochs and islands, and all can be experienced while utilising these comfortable and well-appointed cabins as a base. Situated close to sea loch Feochan, on Scotland's west coast, the Lagnakeil site is set on the hillside in Lerags Glen. The lodges are nestled throughout seven acres of scenic woodland that is only three miles from Oban, the ‘gateway to the isles’ in Argyll.

Guests have a truly great choice of accommodation as all of the chalets are equally placed in a haven of tranquillity that is guaranteed to revitalise even the most world-weary guest. Only a short walk up the glen, a country pub called The Barn can be found. This vibrant local pub serves fine home-cooked food and ales, and is a real favourite with the locals - it simply must be experienced! The Lagnakeil Highland Lodges are ideally situated for exploring the sights of rural Argyll, including the slate isle of Lismore, Castle Stalker and day-trips to the Isle of Mull. Cabins of many sizes are available and sleep between two and six people.

Cabins from US$398 / £315 to US$682 / £540 for the minimum stay of three nights, depending on the size of the cabin. Prices vary seasonally.

Lagnakeil Highland Lodges Lerags, Oban, Argyll, PA34 4SE

+44 (0) 1631 562 746

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  • In : Travel
  • Issue : 99
  • Page : 36
  • Words : 2,015

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