The western highlands of Scotland stretch from the banks of Loch Lomond to the Isle of Mull, taking in some of the most beautiful scenery our country has to offer. We hopped on a Graylines highlands of Scotland tour for an exhilarating roller-coaster ride through the lands of Clan Campbell, visiting the iconic Doune and Kilchurn Castles and the lochside town of Inveraray and finding gorgeous highland coos around every corner…
Coos, Castles and Clans – heading out on a Scotland Tour
Now I’d never been on a coach trip before and didn’t really know what to expect; but we were picked up right on time and were soon on the road north, with our driver happily chatting away about the scenery as we were passing. Our first stop on the tour was to be Doune Castle by Stirling, which if you are either a) a Monty Python or b) a Game of Thrones or c) an Outlander fan, you will quickly recognise. Today it is a spectacular ruin and is managed by Historic Scotland.
However, whilst Doune is rather special, our next stop at Kilchurn Castle on the banks of Loch Awe must be one of Scotland’s most picturesque…
Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe
Built in 1420 as the main seat of one of Scotland’s most controversial clans, the Campbell’s of Glenorchy, the castle has a turbulent history. From a long running feud which ended with the chief of Clan Campbell, Grey Colin, cutting off the head of the chief of clan McGregor in front of his wife… to the castle’s use as a barracks for 200 soldiers, as part of the clan’s support of the British government against the Jacobite uprisings.
It is not really surprising that Clan Campbell gained a reputation as the bad guys of the Scottish highlands! The castle has now been restored to allow public access and is also managed by Historic Scotland. However, the main seat of Clan Campbell’s is now just down the Loch in Inveraray. The castle was built in 1750 – so it looks a lot more modern and is actually still lived in! Downton Abbey fans might recognise the castle from the Christmas episode.
Inveraray Castle, Inveraray
We had a wander around Inveraray which is the county town of Argyll, and had freshly cooked fish & chips on the banks Loch Fyne, which is Scotland’s longest sea loch and famous for its oysters and seafood. In the bay of Inveraray lie two ships, The Arctic Penguin, a 3-masted schooner and The Vital Spark, the last working Clyde Puffer. The boat’s real name is actually Auld Reekie, the name Vital Spark was given to her for the Para Handy TV series, Scotland’s first ever sitcom.
However, I mentioned Coos didn’t I?
Traffic jams in the highlands are a little more unusual that those in the city… and much cuter!
Journeying home from the highland’s is pretty spectacular. The ‘rest and be thankful’ is probably the western highland’s most famous viewpoint; it was named by the soldiers building the military road which runs straight up Glen Croe.
For scale you can see the tiny cars to the left slowly crawling up the hillside on the new A83 road. Whilst the military road at Glen Croe wasn’t built by the famous General Wade (he’d retired) his military roads and bridges are ubiquitous – paving the way for British soldiers to enter the highlands to bring down the Jacobites.
(Btw if you are on the Jacobite side, take a look at my Outlander posts!)
Our final stop was the pretty village of Luss where we headed out onto Loch Lomond itself… completing our tour of Clan Campbell country and Argyll.
Love from Scotland x
We did the Western Highlands of Scotland tour which was great. We had a central pick up & drop up, a very jolly and knowledgeable driver who regaled us with stories all day, an air-conditioned coach (with a loo!) and plenty of time at the places we visited, as well as stops for coffee and the option to change our itinerary based on what we all wanted to do. We decided on the boat trip rather than longer in Inveraray, for example. It was a really great way for us as locals to see a large part of Scotland in one day. Thanks to Grayline Tours who hosted B and I for the day.