Overall, Stirling Castle was our most popular tour visit in 2016, often in
combination with one or more other visits, rather than as part of the
Stirling & Trossachs tour offering. In fact personalised tours were
almost the norm in 2016, with visitors preferring
The Famous Grouse
to cherry pick what they were most interested in to construct their tour.
Visits to whisky distilleries also proved popular, with
the Glenturret Distillery (aka The Famous Grouse Experience) being the most-often requested. The
combination of the Glenturret and the Aberfeldy distilleries makes a good day tour, with lots of
beautiful Scottish scenery to be seen along the tour route.
Most of our visitors were from the USA this year, although we did have some visitors from Australia
as well, including one couple who wanted to trace their family history
in the Scottish Borders area south of Edinburgh. With this type of tour
we often pay a visit to the local post office, as well as the local
churchyard, and in this case the husband came across a local doctor
who just happened to be in the post office at that moment who actually knew his brother.
We did quite a few walking tours of Edinburgh in 2016, even,
surprisingly, in some cases where some of the members of the group
had walking difficulties. They could still manage Edinburgh Castle
because a courtesy vehicle was available to take people with walking
difficulties to the top of the Castle, but this has unfortunately now been discontinued.
Looking forward to 2017, the one event which stands out is the opening of the Queensferry
Crossing - the new road bridge across the River Forth. It will be a pleasure not to have
to navigate the endless roadworks which have been taking place during the construction of
the new bridge.
In terms of when is the best time to visit Edinburgh, I would advise
any month except August, unless you are planing to attend the military
tattoo. This is because the Edinburgh Festival, which takes place in
August, seems to get bigger every year and I have never seen the city
so crowded as it was during August 2016. And no doubt, due to the
current exchange rate weakness of the British Pound, even more
visitors will come to Scotland this year which will cause even more
overcrowding in Edinburgh during the month of August.
Quite a lot of work has been done to improve the site - a lot of it
behind the scenes - with the aim of improving the amount of information available and the ease of use.
The Google Maps have been changed to Google’s My Maps format. This
enables you to see more information, especially photos, about the tour
visits and optionals highlighted on the maps, simply by clicking on the place markers.
All the photo Albums have been upgraded from Google+ to Google
Photos which provides better full screen presentation of the whole
album and also enables viewers to add comments should they wish to do so.
Several new photo albums have been added on various pages and new
photos have been added to existing albums.
A photo gallery has been set up for each page so you can click on an
individual photo to enlarge it and you can then scroll through all the other photos on that page.
Various tour routes and itineraries have been updated or changed to
reflect developments. For example, the Glasgow tour route has been
altered because the Burrell Collection is currently closed.
Some of the page layouts have been changed to improve the
The links to other websites have all been checked and updated, or
deleted where they are no longer applicable.
Not surprisingly, St Andrews is still our most-often requested tour
destination, mainly by clients who are primarily interested in the golf,
but also for those who just want to have an enjoyable all round experience and a taste of Scotland.
Situated right on the coast, the town has a lovely character, and
possesses many historic attractions, including the ruined cathedral and
castle and the various St Andrews University buildings. There is also a
very good selection of locally-owned shops and many choices of where to have lunch around the town.
Stirling Castle and Melrose Abbey both proved popular during the year, with several
visits apiece, and a visit to The Kelpies at Falkirk now seems to have become
compulsory on any of the tours which pass by them on the way to Stirling.
Rosslyn Chapel is still maintaining its
popularity, even though the movie “The da Vinci Code”, based on the
book by Dan Brown, came out several years ago now. The chapel
guides give an interesting talk as part of your visit.
The bulk of our visitors in 2015 came from North America but we also
took visitors on tour from further much afield, for example from Australia and The Philippines.
We did a number of walking tours of Edinburgh in 2015 for various
clients, and sometimes varied the route to accommodate particular
requirements. For example, one client was interested in second-hand
bookshops so the tour route included the particular area of
The Union of South Africa pulling out of Waverley Station
Edinburgh where most of these are located.
You never quite know what you are going to
come across on a walking tour either - on one tour we just happened to be walking along
Regent Road looking down on Waverley Station when we saw a steam train billowing
clouds of steam as it departed on the newly opened Borders Railway on a special excursion
We provided several custom tours in 2015, and two in particular stood
out. The first was for a client with family connections to Admiral
Duncan, an 18th century Scottish naval hero. We visited several
places around Angus and in Dundee associated with the great man,
including his grave, which proved quite difficult to find! So if there are
any other Clan Donnachie members out there wanting to do the same, please get in touch with us.
Burns cottage, Alloway
The second unusual custom tour of note was for a client with a deep interest in Robert
Burns who organises Burns suppers back home. We spent two days visiting all the
places associated with Robert Burns during his lifetime, covering Dumfries and the
surrounding area on the first day and Ayrshire on the second day.
We also did two tours which combined a visit to Aberfeldy Distillery in
Aberfeldy with a visit to the nearby Castle Menzies. Castle Menzies is
an authentically restored castle which gives the visitor a real sense of
its history, and because it’s off the beaten path tourism-wise, you
usually have the place to yourself to explore and enjoy!
We have added new pictures taken in 2015 to various photo albums on
the site and also added some new albums, for example on the Glasgow tour page.
We have added some new links to other sites, including links to the
Edinburgh World Heritage site and the Unesco site which provides some
good background information concerning the reasons why Edinburgh
has been accorded this prestigious status.
As ever, there is always routine maintenance to be done on the site to
keep it up-to-date, usually brought about by external changes, such
as other websites changing their URLs.
Tips for visitors
To avoid disappointment, it’s always worth looking at the websites of
the various places you are planning to visit in advance, to check their
opening dates and times. Some of them, such as Falkland Palace in
Fife, now have fairly restricted opening times, which don’t necessarily
fit in with the rest of the tour itinerary, and others, such as Blair
Castle, are occasionally closed, whole or in part, on certain days for
Edinburgh Castle received more than 1.58 million visitors in 2015, a record. This is great
news for Historic Environment Scotland, the people who run the castle, but not so good
for the actual visitors, especially during the peak months of July and August, when it
gets very crowded. The queue for tickets at peak times can be very long, but you can
buy your entrance ticket online before you go and if you are with one of the official blue
badge guides, such as Tours from Edinburgh, you will be able to bypass
the queue altogether. Usually, the best time of day to visit the castle,
if you want to avoid the crush, is late afternoon.
St Andrews is still our most often-requested tour destination, but our
whisky distillery tours are also holding up well, particularly with visitors
from Scandinavian countries.
The bulk of our visitors in 2014 came from North America but we also
took visitors on tour
from further much afield, eg from Australia and Indonesia.
The Kelpies, which opened in 2014 as part of
the Helix Park development in Falkirk, are
proving increasingly popular as more people
become aware of them. It’s easy to combine
this visit with a visit to the nearby Falkirk Wheel, and it’s included on our Forth Valley tour.
The Murray Star Maze Scone Palace
One noticeable trend is that several of our
visitor attractions are turning themselves into
more of a destination by adding more things to see or do while visitors are there and
putting on more events through the summer. So visitors may want to time their visit to
take advantage of specific events and plan to
stay longer in order to enjoy all the facilities on offer.
The British Golf Museum in St Andrews, which
has been closed for the past 12 months, is re-opening in June following
its enlargement to include improved exhibition facilities and a rooftop
cafe which will have views over the nearby Old Course.
Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building is closed indefinitely due to
a disastrous fire
The Burrell Collection
in 2014 which destroyed the famous Mackintosh library.
The Burrell Collection in Glasgow is closing for
4 years in 2016 - so the best idea would be to go now, while you still can.
The Kelpies visitor centre will open in 2015,
which will include an exhibition and a cafe.
The Open golf championship takes place in St Andrews, from July 12th
- 19th. It would be advisable to avoid St Andrews during this period
unless you are visiting the Open, as the town will be unusually busy
with no parking available.
2015 has been designated as the “Year of Food and Drink” in Scotland
and the standard of catering across the country definitely continues to
improve, particularly outside of the main cities, in terms of its quality
and consistency. Several of our visitors have commented that they
have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food they have
been served, as their expectations were fairly low due to Scotland’s
poor reputation for food in the past.
All the Picasa Web Albums on the site have now been upgraded to the
Google+ Photo album format. This will provide a much improved viewing
experience when looking at the photo albums on each tour page.
Visitors will now be able to see the whole of each collection at a
glance and quickly form an impression of the particular place portrayed
. In addition, further new web albums have been added to several tour pages.
We have been busy improving the information on the tour pages to
assist our visitors in deciding which tour to take, for example by adding
more interesting facts about the areas we will visit.
Several new web albums have been added, and still more are planned.
More pictures have been also added to the existing web albums
More suggestions for optional visits have been added - these are
places that some visitors may prefer to visit rather than what is on the
tour itinerary. Don’t forget that the proposed itinerary is really just a
suggested outline - please let us know if there is somewhere you
especially want to see and we will do our best to incorporate it.
As usual, any dead links have been removed or updated, but it seems
like you can never find them all!
The tour finder facility has been refreshed by adding new places in
several of the categories and removing some places that we never get
asked to visit.
We have been posting more pictures and tours news on Facebook, as
more and more people are using this as their means of obtaining information.
New destination added
Mike writes: ”I did a tour in 2014 where the
group visited several grand houses, which
included Drumlanrig Castle, the home of the
Duke of Buccleuch. I hadn’t been there for
many years and had forgotten how lovely it is
. I was most impressed, especially with the
interiors and the gardens, so decided to add
it as an option. I would encourage any
visitors who are interested in fine art and architecture to consider it”
The St Andrews tour was as popular as ever,
mostly with golfers wanting to visit the home
of golf, and some were lucky enough to be
able to walk on the Old Course, which is
closed for play on Sundays. We also did
several walking tours of Edinburgh and even
a couple of driving tours of the city. Whisky
distillery tours remained a perennial favourite,
with one group, from Norway, actually
managing to visit 3 distilleries in one day!
After several years of cool damp summers, in 2013 the warm and
sunny weather played a big part in the overall success of the season.
The mix of visitors was different this year, with a higher percentage
coming from Canada than the USA for the first time, and we also took
visitors on tours from places even further afield, from countries like
Vietnam and India. We even got some visitors from England as well!
Bannockburn Visitor Centre
The pleasing improvement in the quality of
Scotland’s visitor facilities continued in 2013,
a very positive trend which will also carry on
in 2014 with the opening of the new Bannockburn visitor centre in March.
More high quality places to stop for coffee
and snacks, such as the Walled Garden at
Archerfield in East Lothian, have also opened
in 2013, which provides our tour visitors with
more flexibility and a greater choice of lunch options.
Our website has been given a comprehensive makeover ready for 2014,
and various improvements have been carried out in pursuit of a higher
quality user experience. The site is now completely iPad friendly, as all
the Flash components have been removed and replaced. All the Google
maps have been updated to make use of the new Google Maps Engine,
which will make it easier to look in detail at our various tour routes.
We have improved the tour itinerary
descriptions to make it clearer where we will
go and what we will see and do on each of
the tours, and have incorporated new
developments such as the impressive new
Kelpie sculptures that have been erected at
the Forth-Clyde canal basin near Falkirk.
Nearly all the thumbnail-sized pictures on the
tour pages can now be enlarged and viewed
full-screen, and we have added several additional Picasa web albums.
We have also added some picture galleries on various topics.
We have also done quite a bit of tidying up, such as removing dead
links, making the layout more readable, correcting any errors that have
crept in over time, improving consistency, etc.
Hopefully the sum of all these improvements will make our site more
usable and provide really good, in-depth information on which to base
your tour decisions!
The St Andrews and Fife fishing villages tour continues to be our most
requested tour, and in 2012 the Rosslyn Chapel and East Lothian tour
was a close second.
Whisky distillery visits remain as popular as ever, and
we visited the Deanston Distillery near Stirling on two
occasions during the year. The staff who run the
recently-opened visitor centre are most helpful and
accommodating, and took pains to ensure that our
guests enjoyed their tour.
We were often asked to add on specific places to a
particular tour itinerary, for example to visit places
associated with the family’s history, and we are
always happy to do this wherever possible.
The new vehicle has proved to be very successful, with positive
feedback from our clients about the ride comfort, air conditioning,
luggage space, noise levels etc.
Improvements to Visitor Attractions
The standard of visitor attractions around Scotland continues to
improve, and in particular in 2012, our clients enjoyed the facilities of
the new visitor centres at both
Abbotsford Visitor Centre
Rosslyn Chapel and Abbotsford. We are
greatly looking forward to the re-opening of
Abbotsford House itself in July this year.
This upward trend looks set to continue into
the future, with a new visitor centre being
constructed at Bannockburn ready for the
700th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Bannockburn.
The overall standard of catering around
Scotland has also noticeably improved over the past few years, and
many of our visitor attractions have upgraded their restaurant facilities
and now offer their visitors a decent choice of good food at reasonable
prices in pleasant surroundings (hooray!).
Website refresh 2013
We have updated the website with new
information, pictures and maps, and have
corrected a few technical issues. We have
added some new features, such as a separate
tab for Destinations. We currently offer two
such destinations, which are Alnwick Castle &
Garden and Dumfries House, and hope to add
more in future. These have been added in
response to requests from individuals and
groups who wish to visit a specific place and
spend the day there, rather than tour around a particular area for the
Our website has been completely redesigned for 2012 and given a new
layout, a fresher look and feel, and a more visual appearance. We have
added content to make the tour descriptions more interesting, and
information on the tour pages is now laid out in a more compact and
accessible way using tabs.
After - new front page
Before - old front page
One comment that visitors often make is that they can’t decide which
tour to take, so we have added a Tour Finder on the Tours page - to
help you decide which tour to take on the basis of what kinds of things
Other improvements and additions include:
Mike’s blog - to provide more news as it happens through the
We have added an 8-day example tour and town centre maps to
the tour planning page to give you a better idea of the type of
plan you would receive
More optional visits have been added on several tours
An FAQ section
Information about your tour vehicle in a photo gallery format
Visiting Mellerstain House
After several years of sterling service and
many thousands of touring miles, the
Chrysler Grand Voyager has now been
replaced by a Volkswagen Transporter Shuttle.
The main advantage of the new vehicle is
that it is much bigger - it can seat up to 8
passengers and can accommodate a
generous amount of luggage. The high
seating position also affords good views of the countryside over walls
Most popular tours in 2011
The St Andrews and Fife fishing villages tour
continues to be our most requested tour, but
in 2011 the Rosslyn Chapel and East Lothian
tour was also surprisingly popular. The
combination of Rosslyn Chapel, made famous
by Dan Brown’s “The da Vinci Code”,
Glenkinchie Distillery and Dirleton Castle
provides a good mix of visits and some
pleasant scenery along the way, and we
usually enjoyed a good lunch at the Goblin Ha
Hotel in Gifford, where they offer a varied menu of wholesome hearty
Castle Campbell Tower
We did a couple of tours for visitors who were
interested in their Clan Campbell heritage last
year, and visited Castle Campbell near Dollar
(yes, there really is such a place) as part of
these. The castle stands in splendid isolation at
the head of the wooded Dollar Glen in the Ochil
Hills, and is an interesting castle visit, part
ruinous and part restored. You can climb up the
stairs to the top of the tower, from where you
get some great views looking out over the Forth
Valley flood plain. We have now included this as
an optional visit on the Forth Valley tour.
We have updated the site ready for the 2011 season with lots of new
pictures and improved information, to better enable our visitors to
decide which of our tours to take.
View of the new Burns Museum in
There have been some exciting new
developments over the winter, such
as the opening of the new Burns
Museum in Alloway. The new
building (pictured right) is a huge
improvement over the old Burns
Museum, and provides enough
display space to house over 5,000
Burns-related objects, including
many original letters and poems in
Burns’ own handwriting.
Together with the various other
improvements that have been made
to the facilities in the village of Alloway, this has tremendously
enhanced the visitor experience and created a superb showcase for
the story of Burns’ life, his loves and the sources of inspiration for his
Walking tour of Edinburgh added
View of Edinburgh from the Half-Moon
Battery of Edinburgh Castle
We are often asked to provide a
walking tour of the city for our
clients who are staying in Edinburgh
, which we are always more than
happy to do, so we thought it
would be useful to add this option
to the tour selection on offer here.
We can provide either a 4-hour tour
covering many of the principal
sights of the city, or a full-day tour
including visits to Edinburgh Castle,
St Giles Cathedral and Holyrood
Palace which covers the whole of
the Royal Mile, as well as a
representative sample of the NewTown
The Walking tour of Edinburgh page contains Google maps of both tour
routes and links to Google Street View images of many of the points of
interest, so you can get a really good idea of what we will see on
We have considerably updated the site with improved graphics and
additional information. We took lots of new photos of the places we
visited during 2009, and have included several new Picasa web albums
to show them off. We hope that this will give you a good feeling for
what can be seen on each of our tours and help you to decide which
tour to choose!
Falls of Dochart, Killin
Most of the thumbnail pictures on
each page can now be enlarged by
clicking on them, and you can
even view selected YouTube
videos on the Old Railways page
by clicking on the thumbnails.
Based on customer feedback, we
have also amended some of the
tours to improve the tour
experience. For example the
Perthshire East & West tour now
includes a visit to the impressive
Falls of Dochart at Killin (left) as
We look forward to welcoming new clients to Scotland in 2010 for what
we hope will be a great summer! Don’t forget that the tour itineraries
aren’t fixed and we are happy to adapt any tour to suit your own
preferences or to help you design one from scratch.
To provide you with better
information on which to base your
tour selection, we have added lots
of Picasa web albums of
photographs of our tour areas and
Google maps showing key places of
interest, to several of the pages on
the site. We have also freshened up
the overall appearance of the tour
pages, and updated all the
embedded links throughout the site.
We hope you enjoy all the
improvements and find them useful!
We are pleased to offer a fourth Borders tour from Edinburgh, to the
This £10m regeneration project has
transformed Hawick’s cultural facilities
Southern Borders area, where we
visit the towns of Hawick and
Jedburgh. Hawick is best-known for
its textile industry, especially the
production of high-quality knitwear. If
you are interested in seeing how
cashmere sweaters are made, factory
tours of some of the mills are
available. Also featured are a variety of optional visits we can make,
either on the way there or the way back, as we travel through the
rolling Borders countryside.
Website Refresh 2008
We have taken the opportunity to refresh this website ready for 2008.
Apart from freshening up the site’s appearance, the changes include
adding some new photos, inserting several new links to items of
interest and updating the calendar of events for each tour. We
welcome your suggestions for additional tours or information, and
please do let us know if you spot any omissions or mistakes requiring
Outside the Scottish Parliament
The previous Chrysler Voyager
vehicle, which had given us many
trouble-free miles of service, was
replaced with a new Chrysler Grand
Voyager model. This is a larger
vehicle, which gives extra space for
our clients and their luggage. Other
features that our clients will benefit
from are the power sliding doors,
which make getting in and out
easier, and adjustable middle row
seats - great for those with long
legs! The seating arrangement can
easily be re-configured using the vehicle’s “Stow and Go” feature to
provide more luggage space as required.
We are pleased to introduce our new website, which was launched in
The website was created in response to the
many requests we receive for tour
suggestions from visitors who know they
want to go somewhere nice for the day while
staying in Edinburgh, but don’t know exactly
where they want to go.
The tour choices featured on this site are all
based on tours we have already done for
clients, so we pretty much know they work,
in terms of the timings, etc. But we don’t
want to be too rigid and we can tailor a tour for each client if asked.
For each tour we offer alternative options for visits which might have
more appeal to some potential clients than our
suggestions for the
Our aim in designing the site was to offer
visitors a wealth of information about each of
the areas where we offer tours. To do so, we
have included many links to other websites
which contain detailed information about the
places we visit, and also to galleries of
photographs taken by professional
photographers. We hope to give the site
visitor enough information to get a good feel
for each area, and what makes it interesting
and special, so they can make an informed
Our intention is to keep the site fresh and
alive by adding new links to interesting places and events as we
discover them. We also plan to add further specialist tours covering
additional areas of interest.
New tour added
We are pleased to offer our clients a new tour from
On this tour we first visit the
village of Alloway, where Robert
Burns was born, and explore the
places associated with Scotland’s
national bard. Then we travel on
to the magnificent Culzean Castle - surely one of the best stately
homes in Scotland, perched high on its cliff-edge site overlooking the
Firth of Clyde.
We have introduced the use of Google Maps on the Burns Country
page as a trial - so please let our Webmaster know your feedback.
Arniston House optional visit added
Arniston House has been added to the Tweed Valley tour as an add-on
Althea Dundas-Becker, the owner of
Arniston House, and her daughter
Henrietta recently hosted a visit
from the Edinburgh Blue Badge
Guides and kindly showed us around
their splendid home.
It is a classical William Adam
mansion house, designed for Robert
Dundas and begun in 1726. The
house is full of beautiful paintings,
including many by Henry Raeburn, of
various Dundas family members, and features exceptional stucco work
by Joseph Enzer. The dining room is a particular surprise - it has
recently been restored, and the walls have been decorated with
stunning Chinese hand-printed silk wallpaper.
The strong theme that runs through the whole house is one of Dundas
family history - not surprising when you learn that the Dundas family
has been living here on this site since 1571, when George Dundas
purchased the Arniston estate.
Althea told us the story of how, for good practical reasons, an
entrance porch was added to the front of the house in 1876, which
was felt by many to have compromised the architectural integrity of
the original house. When she inherited the housed in 1970, she was
urged to have this porch demolished. However, when it was later
discovered that the porch was actually designed by the highly
-regarded architect Robert Rowand Anderson, it has since been
regarded as an extremely worthy addition to the house!