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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more details about this and other trips, visit: www.haggisadventures.com
Learn more about Trees for Life at http://treesforlife.org.uk/