Sunday, October 14, 2012
Tour of Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond and Glengoyne
After grabbing a quick continental breakfast at the hotel, we headed out into the pouring rain, again, to catch the bus into town. The traffic was pretty bad so we ended up having to run to catch our tour bus. But we made it on time and we were off.
The tour bus was quite small, only 12 other travellers. The first place we stopped was Stirling Castle. It is a fantastic mediaeval castle built by James IV, King of Scotland. It sits on quite a high hill in the middle of Scotland, east/west. Because of its position between two rivers, and invading armies would have had to take the castle to get to the rest of Scotland so it was quite strategically positioned. There were lots of exhibits within the castle depicting life at the time. We only had just over an hour there so we didn't get to explore it too extensively. The weather continued to be quite cold and drizzly throughout the day but at least it wasn't pouring.
Next we drove along the base of the southern Highlands. We could see the highland mountains souring up beside us. We drove by some great forests of softwood/pine trees which were imported from Scandinavia to create a huge softwood export industry.
Then we stopped at Loch Lomond where we took a nice hike through the woods beside the lake and got up to a viewing point of the lake and the highlands in the distance. It was quite dramatic and beautiful! After the hike we had a chance to eat lunch in Balmaha. I had creamy skink soup(smoked haddock and potato) and Reuben had a mozzarella and haggis panini and salad. Both were really good!
Our next stop was the Glengoyne distillery, known as the prettiest distillery in Scotland. It's right on the edge of the highlands and because the spring where they get the water for their whisky originates in the highlands they can call their whisky 'highland whisky'. It's also single (not a blend) and malt meaning it's only made with malted barley. We went on a tour and had 2 tastings. We, also, bought a bottle of 17 year old to bring back with us.
After that it was just the drive back to Edinburgh. The guide taught us a lot about Scottish history along the way. We'd recommend the Heart of Scotland tour company.
We got them to drop us at our hotel and we walked to a local grocery store to buy provisions for a light supper in our hotel room as we were quite exhausted from the day. We found some hilarious comedy on the BBC to watch.
Its been quite a good stay but the 2 things we've found with the hotel room is that it's pretty cold in the room and when we take a shower the floor in the bathroom gets soaked because they just have this totally inadequate glass half wall as a shower curtain. It's not connected to the tub but swings on an arm from the wall so water goes under the glass and over the edge of the tub on to the floor. The poor design is driving Reuben nuts!