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Awesome April Springtime Private Tours

Isle of Skye tour

Isle of Skye tour

We have had a busy start to the season with tours in April to the Scottish Highlands, Isle of Skye and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The weather was very kind to us and the scenery looked great in the sunshine. We  had some great guests which made the trips lots of fun.

Follow mummy

Follow mummy

This was  followed up with an ancestry tour to the lovely East Lothian region. Tennis fans from the USA were delighted to visit the home town of Andy Murray, the world’s tennis number one, to see the tennis courts he played on as a child.

Dunblane, home of Andy Murray tennis star

Dunblane, home of Andy Murray tennis star

No matter what special interests our guests have we seem to surprise them with a few local secrets along the way.

Lambing time in Scotland

Lambing time in Scotland

Isle of Skye road trip with snow

Rainbow on Skye

Rainbow over the Isle of Skye

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Glen Coe waterfalls

Loch Ness

Loch Ness

We enjoyed a road trip around the Highlands and the Isle of Skye last week. An interesting time of year to visit since many places are getting ready for the new season.

The weather was also different – we had snow, some rain, some hail and quite windy. This is not too surprising for Scotland in the month of March so we wrapped up well and took advantage of the quieter roads. Day One took us from the capital city of Edinburgh and a  visit to Dalwhinnie Distillery in the Highlands. 

A lorry had lost its load of fish on the road but we made it with minutes to spare for the afternoon tour. This was well worth it as we had a very small group and all the fascinating processes of making a Highland malt whisky were well explained along the way. Of course at the end of the tour a wee dram was poured for all and this very special whisky was enjoyed.

Dalwhinnie Distillery

Dalwhinnie Distillery – highest in Scotland

 

After a very cosy night in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, we journeyed along famous Loch Ness. There was no sign of the monster but it was probably too cold for Nessie that day.

Next stop was stunning Eilean Donan Castle. Beautifully restored by the Macrae family in 1908 this is now one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. The springtime daffodils created a lovely scene for all the keen photographers who had come from far and wide.

Our lunch stop for today was in the old converted school house of Red Skye near the village of Broadford. Very tasty butternut squash soup and a plate of Arisaig mussels was the perfect meal to set us on our way.

The Cuillin Hills were teasing us all day as they appeared and disappeared as each wave of weather moved over the Isle of Skye.  The atmospheric scene was looking more special than when the blue summer sky offers a bright background.

Our final day took us through the iconic Glen Coe pass, through the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and with the sun shining brightly we had time for a late afternoon visit to the amazing Stirling Castle. A very busy trip across Scotland through some of the best scenery in the world. 

Scottish Ancestry Tours – find out who you are?

Scottish Ancestry Tours are always very special days for our guests. Sublime Scotland is delighted to be recognised by VisitScotland as an Ancestral Ambassador.

Welcome to Ancestry

Welcome to Ancestry

Our personalised ancestry tours are enjoyed by people from Canada, the United States and also Australia. The tours are each unique to the family, connecting each person with the landscape, history and places of their own forebears. It is a very special experience to walk in the footsteps of your own family from 200 years ago. We can help you do this by personalising your own ancestry tour.

This experience is exciting and emotional and fun to be part of.

New family

New family

 

Ancestry Research

Ancestry Research

Research your family tree

There is a great deal of expertise in Scotland to help with researching your family tree. VisitScotland can point you in the right direction with information. Local experts such as Jane Harris can help you find places and people you did not even know existed.

Historic Culross and Outlander

Culross Palace

Culross Palace

Culross

Ancient Culross street

Culross Town House

Town House, Culross

Outlander exhibition

Outlander photographic exhibition

There are many great reasons to visit the delightful historic village of Culross on the River Forth. The village has a long history with a busy coal mining and salt industry during the 16th and 17th century.

King James VI visited this mine shaft in 1595 which was on a tidal island in the middle of the River Forth. He was rather shocked at the one mile depth of the shaft beneath the sea.

Culross Palace has been extensively restored and although it was never a royal residence it is a unique example of a house belonging to a wealthy merchant of the early 17th century. A pathway known as Stinking Wynd leads uphill along a cobbled way, where the centre is slightly higher and poorer people had to walk in the gutters.

The Town House was built in 1626 with the clock tower added 150 years later. This amazing building now houses a photographic exhibition  of many of the iconic places and scenes of Scotland and is well worth a visit. A delightful café nearby is the perfect place to relax and plan the next stage of your tour.

 

Today many people visit Culross to see first hand some of the settings for the series of Outlander books and film. Behind the Culross Palace lies the setting for the herb garden at the fictional Castle Leoch. The town also lends its backdrop to the Outlander Jacobite encampment scenes.

Drummond Gardens near Crieff can be reached within a short drive. These beautiful formal gardens are one of the best in Europe. Locals were delighted when they  stood in for the Palace of Versailles in the second series of Outlander.

 

 

 

 

History, heritage and archaeology in 2017

2017 is a special year in Scotland. Designated as the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology there will be much to see. There is certainly a lot to celebrate and all the people who look after our ancient buildings will  help us enjoy this amazing heritage. Jackie is a steward at one of our castles and she tells us what she loves about her job here.

Tours

Our tours are never far away from some fantastic examples of our great castles, stately homes, and buildings such as Stanley Mills which are part of our social heritage. Just north of Perth, the visitor centre tells the story of the weaving and the people who worked in the mills. Built in 1787 we see the best example of an 18th century workplace, anywhere in the world. 200 years of cotton making with all its innovations and the impact on the local communities perfectly explained.

In 2017 we will visit more than 20 of our great castles.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is one of the most visited and tells the story of the Stewart monarchs through the 15th and 16th century. The restored Royal Palace includes the stunning Stirling Oak Heads. Characters from history wander the Castle and answer any questions about their life and times.

 

Enjoying Stirling Castle

Enjoying Stirling Castle

Further up the east coast of Scotland enjoy the stunning cliff top setting of Dunnottar Castle.

Near the charming harbour town of Stonehaven this romantic ruin tells the story of the Scottish Crown jewels. Kept for safety during the battles with the troops of Oliver Cromwell, the Scottish Honours were eventually sneaked out of the castle and kept hidden for years in a local church. These precious gems are now under high security in Edinburgh Castle. 

Engineering Heritage

Our heritage is much more than castles and history. Scotland’s great engineers have left a heritage recognised all over the world. The innovative engineering of the Forth Railway Bridge has been recognised with a UNESCO award. Still used many times each day by travellers to Edinburgh it stands as testament to the forward thinking engineers of 1882.

Forth Bridge at sunset

Forth Bridge at sunset

Many of our tours will take the route over the Forth Bridge to allow stunning views of this engineering wonder. From 2017 we will be crossing the new globally unique Queensferry crossing bridge. This is the largest to feature cables which cross mid span. Opening in May 2017 it will be an exciting crossing for all our visitors.

Whisky Distillery

New three day private tour for 2017

See the best of Scotland in a three day  private tour. No need to pack a suitcase each day! In 2017 we offer a new multi-day tour based in the bustling town of Callander in the heart of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Sublime Scotland guests will receive special discount at the excellent Abbotsford Lodge Guesthouse.

Day One

Day one will take you from Callander, through the national park, to stunning Loch Lubnaig. We  visit Crainlarich and the quirky Artisan Café for morning refreshments. We then explore the beautiful west coast villages and towns of Connell Bridge and the ferry port of Oban. Perhaps take a ferry over to the island of Lismore or Kerrera. Returning to Abbotsford Lodge you have time to explore Callander and its many pubs and restaurants in the evening.

Kerrera Ferry

Ferry to Kerrera, Argyll

Day Two

On day two be picked up from Abbotsford Lodge to head eastwards to the ancient medieval and university town of St Andrews. Visit the astounding  ruins of the 12th century  St Andrews Cathedral. This was once the largest church in Scotland and a place of pilgrimage. Enjoy the many historic sites in the medieval lanes and streets. Golf fans may book a walking tour of the famous Old Course at St Andrews. To finish the tour visit the harbour villages of the East Neuk of Fife or the beautiful Falkland Palace. Return to Callander for the evening or stay for dinner in the Old Town of Stirling.

Old Course, St Andrews

Old Course, St Andrews

 

Day Three

On the final day take a drive north into Highland Perthshire and enjoy exploring historic Dunkeld on the banks of the River Tay.  Next we visit the fairytale Blair Atholl Castle. Unique amongst Scottish castles  hear the story of its 700 year history, and enjoy the sound of the bagpiper as he plays. On this day we will may also visit Scotland’s smallest distillery near Pitlochry at Erdradour. Here you take a fascinating tour and enjoy a wee dram of whisky before heading back for your last night at Abbotsford Lodge.

This is one example of the three day tour based in Callander. Please get in touch for other options.

Susan’s  knowledge of the area is excellent.  It was a wonderful day and will be remembered for a lifetime. Jim and Mary Deviny, Washington, US

 

Scottish Highlands – visit in the autumn for glorious colour

Eilean Donnan Castle

Eilean Donnan Castle

Enjoying the sun on SkyeOur Autumn tour around the Scottish Highlands  offered many different possibilities. At this time of year the stunning castles had less  visitors, the colours on the mountains had turned golden and the lighting for photographers was soft and gentle from dawn to dusk.

Our tour in October took us from the west coast of Loch Lomond, through Glencoe and along the stunning tidal sea loch of Loch Linnhe. Our overnight at Fort William let us enjoy the west coast sunset.

We visited romantic Eilean Donnan Castle along the way and then our next stop was the famous Isle of Skye. The weather was spectacular and our drive along the north coast to Kilt Rock and the waterfall into the sea was truly special.

After two days on the Isle of Skye we enjoyed a drive along famous Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle where we looked carefully for the monster! We finished the day with a walk around the Culloden Battlefield. This is the scene of the last battle fought on British soil and there is an excellent visitor centre describing the historic event in 1746.

Our tour continued with the Golden Spurtle event in the Scottish Highlands, which is the world porridge making championships! The 2016 winner was from America which pleased our Michigan guests very much!

Toasting the world porridge championships

Toasting the world porridge championships

Finally we spent two nights on the east coast of Scotland firstly at Stonehaven and then  in ancient St. Andrews. We enjoyed Crathes Castle, Dunnottar and also Glamis Castle. The special visit to Arbroath  Abbey and the connection between the Scottish Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution was a lesson to us all. Thanks Cindy and Rick for being such great company on our tour of the Scottish Highlands!

Phone box on Isle of Skye

Phone box on Isle of Skye

Private Tour of Scotland

Private Tours of Scotland – Book Now For 2017

It has been a busy September! Our Private Tours of Scotland have taken us to Stirling where we enjoyed the medieval Stirling Castle. This lovingly restored Royal  Palace was voted the best historic attraction in the UK.

We also visited  the National Wallace Monument and climbed all the 248 steps to the top to see amazing views all over the beautiful region. As part of this tour  guests can enjoy excellent service and comfort at Abbotsford Lodge, in rural Callander, near Stirling. We also visited the fantastic ruins of Linlithgow Palace where the medieval Kings and Queens  entertained 16th century guests  from all over Europe.

Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace

We travelled to the beautiful region of Argyll to visit Inveraray Castle and the island of Kerrera. This time we hiked to the defensive Gylen Castle, standing proud on the high coastal cliff since

Kerrera Ferry

Catching the ferry to Kerrera

the 12th century. From here we could see the islands of Mull, Easdale and Seil.

 

One tour this month included a Landrover safari through the majestic Glencoe mountains. Here we met with an expert countryside ranger from the National Trust for Scotland. We explored on rough tracks deep into the mountains and heard stories about the landscape and the wildlife. We even heard about the filming of Harry Potter in the Glencoe Mountains.Enjoying the island of KerreraGylen Castle - Kerrera

 

Scottish Cathedrals

There are many Scottish Cathedrals offered on our tours. This tour included Dunkeld Cathedral. It is a lovely spot on the banks of the River Tay in Perthshire. The Cathedral was the centre of the Scottish Church until this moved to St Andrews Cathedral.

In August the flower baskets around the village are stunning and add to the colour of the centre.

Portree harbour, Skye

Portree harbour, Skye

On this tour we had also been to Fort Augustus. We had seen the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness. We then drove through stunning Glen Sheil and saw the famous Five Sisters of Kintail mountain ridge. Our visit to Portree was short but very enjoyable in the summer sunshine over the harbour.

Dunkeld is an historic village where the centre was lovingly restored in the mid 20th century. It is now a lovely place to stroll through either at the end of a tour before returning to the city, or as a first stop on the way to the Highlands. Last week we had a picnic on the riverbank after a visit to Scone Palace and Huntingtower Castle.

One of the few Scottish Cathedrals untouched by the damage of the Reformation was Glasgow Cathedral and this is a must visit place on any tour of this beautiful city.

 

Islay

Islay – the land of whisky

Enjoying Loch Lomond after Islay whisky tour

At Loch Lomond after Islay whisky tour

Reindeer The whisky Island of Islay is a lovely spot for a  short visit and tasting  peaty whisky. Our guests suggested the whisky tour  after they had enjoyed a cycling vacation in Scotland. This was a perfect way to wind down and sample some of the many excellent malts on this very special island of Islay.

The choice of Lagavullin in the morning and Laphraoig in the afternoon meant no time was wasted travelling between them! We heard the stories of each 200 year history, enjoyed the samples and the trip to the peat cutting was a whole new experience.

The two hour ferry crossing makes sure you know you are going somewhere special and the friendly waves from the local people who live on the island of Islay as we drove around confirmed this…A visit to Islay can be combined with the best of the west coast of Scotland such as the ferry port of Oban or the villages and landscapes of the long, narrow Mull of Kintyre.

The icing on the cake was meeting Scotland’s long  distance cyclist Mark Beaumont who was making a documentary “Wild About Argyll” – one worth looking out for soon….

Enjoying a whisky

Wild About Argyll