A Haggis Adventure – A Group Tour of the Scottish Highlands

Have you ever fancied a Highland Fling with fourteen complete strangers? Here’s how Love My Trips reviewer, Rachel Bates, enjoyed hers.

I’ve been to Scotland a few times before but this time things were a little different – I had joined a tour group, Haggis Adventures, for a five-day minibus ‘Highland Fling’ with fourteen complete strangers. Having never been part of a tour group before, and usually travelling on my own or with friends, this was quite a bit out of my comfort zone. Which is (partly) the reason why I decided to join in.

The Kelpies at The Helix in Falkirk, the largest equine sculptures in the world.

Beginning our ‘wild and sexy’ fling with the Highlands in Edinburgh, we travelled by minibus on a whirlwind tour out of the city towards Glencoe and on to the islands. Although we had quite a way to travel, our guide was funny, great at breaking the ice and getting people talking, and generally knowledgeable about places of interest we passed and stopped off at.

On our first night at a quirky and colourful hostel in Oban, we met our guide for the rest of the trip, Lauren, who was a bundle of happiness and fun and who definitely brought a touch of the fairy world to our group. Although we didn’t get to ceilidh the night away, we did pop across the pub and chatted the night away instead, enjoying drinks and live music.

Thatched cottages at the Skye Museum of Island Life

Isle of Skye

Our next day saw us head to the magical Isle of Skye. Wherever we stopped, Lauren was sure to know the legends and stories behind them. Skye is known as the Isle of Fairies after all. Unfortunately, the weather up until this point had been against us and we explored bits of Skye through mist and mizzle. However, it did not dampen the mood at all.

Apparently, if you dip your head under the freezing waters of the Sligachan you will have everlasting youth

Our second night on Skye was followed by another day of road-tripping around, again through mist. We couldn’t make it to the Fairy Pools as the sheer amount of rainfall meant the first lot of stepping stones over the burn was completely impassable. And, similarly, we couldn’t see the Old Man of Storr. Not to worry – I shall just have to visit Skye again at some point and hope for clearer skies… An unexpected part of the tour came in the form of a crash. We were all fine and it wasn’t the drivers’ fault; a newly passed driver took a junction too fast and bumped into the side of the bus, denting the wheel rim and writing off our trusty bus. We had a great time browsing the Isle of Skye Candle Company shop until a replacement coach arrived, where I bought a beautiful moody print of Skye. I am always reminded of that day whenever I look at it.

Heading out on an evening cruise on Loch Ness – Nessie is real!

Cruising Loch Ness

Onwards and upwards – in sunshine no less – to Fort Augustus, where we spent the next two nights and a day, enjoying a cruise on Loch Ness, planting trees with the charity, Trees for Life, and driving around the Loch. I was particularly excited to pass the house and gatehouse used for Glenbogle in Monarch of the Glen.

On our last day, we headed towards Edinburgh but we did have time for one last stop – The Hermitage near Dunkeld, where once upon a time the noble elite would wander this valley as a past time, and a man was paid to be a hermit, ‘living’ in a tiny cave in the upper reaches of the valley.

Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket Square

Edinburgh

By the time we reached Edinburgh, we were all good friends and had had such a great time. Some of us stayed in Edinburgh for a few more days so, we met up for drinks, and one afternoon we watched lads skateboarding down steep hills below Edinburgh Castle, while eating ice cream.

How was it?

I admit that I was very lucky with our tour group. Being thrown together with random people may not always work, but I would really recommend trying a trip like this, at least once. Haggis Adventures is a great company and they support Trees for Life, a charity that is aiming to restore and reforest areas within the ancient Caledonian pine forest.

Celebrating the sunshine after planting our trees

Further information

For more details about this and other trips, visit: www.haggisadventures.com

Learn more about Trees for Life at http://treesforlife.org.uk/

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