When my train rolled into Waverely Station in Edinburgh I realized that I had done so much research about London before my trip that I completely forgot to research anything about Edinburgh. So much so, that I had to stop in the train station, sit on top of my luggage and look up the directions to the place I was staying. After I reached my accommodations I was really eager to get out and explore so off I went. While I was walking around that first day I saw a sign for a free tour of the Scottish Highlands. This peaked my interest so I did a little bit of research on tripadvisor, the tour had great reviews so I decided to reserve a seat on the Hairy Coo.
My day started out in the rain, as most of my days in Scotland did. I met my tour guide at a cafe on the Royal Mile and began an adventure into the Highlands. This was a small group tour which was very nice, I think there was about 16 of us total. The trip ran for the full day and made many stops en-route for picture taking.
Our first stop was to see the forth bridge. The fog here worked to my advantage as I loved how the picture turned out – looks like a place that Nessie could live if she gets tired of Loch Ness.
The weather was not cooperating very well for our next two stops in Stirling, but we made the best of it. There is a steep hill to climb starting at the visitor center all the way up to the Wallace monument but there is also a shuttle, which my new friend Vilna discovered after she gave up on the hill half way up. (It’s really not that bad no matter what she says!)
We stopped in Aberfolye for lunch and while there we discovered the cutest Christmas shop, open year round. After lunch we continued on our way to the Lake of Menteith and Doune Castle which is the castle featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Our guide explained that the budget for the film was small so they could only afford to use one castle. They filmed the castle at different sides and angles to make it seem like different ones.
Lastly we hunted down some Hairy Coos and fed them their supper! This was definitely the highlight of the tour! Donald, our guide, just loves the Hairy Coos and spoke to us about the significance of this beast in Scottish heritage. And they are so cute!!
I highly recommend this tour if you do not have enough time to drive into the highlands for more then a day. Our guide was great, the locations we visited were cool and I had the opportunity to photograph a few places I knew I wouldn’t have time to visit. Plus I made a new friend on the trip that I went out for drinks with when we got back to Edinburgh.
So What’s the Catch??
Now I mentioned that this was a free tour and how that works is the tour operates on a pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth basis. Meaning there is no set price, you can pay whatever you can/want to. I was worried about this because sometimes tours that operate this way are very pushy when it comes to tips but on this tour I did not feel pressured in any way. The guide at the end of the trip did not even look at the amount of money I gave him, just shook my hand and thanked me for coming. I really felt I could have paid anything. That being said, I believe it was a well run tour and was happy to give him a generous tip.
Thanks for sharing my adventures!!