Before getting into the main topic of this post I just have to say that today was definitely the best group outing that we have had on this trip thus far (although all of the other outings were pretty awesome as well)! Today we went on the free Hairy Coo Highlands Tour! Yes–that’s right. A FREE tour (the tour guide just gets paid in tips so please make sure you give a tip if they are super amazing!) You get to do several different things while on the tour: Visit the iconic Firth of Forth bridge in Queensferry, the William Wallace memorial, get a glimpse of Stirling castle, feed some Hairy Coos, and experience the highland Trossachs. We also got to take a boat across Loch Katrine–and not just any boat–we got to ride the “Sir Walter Scott” that was built in 1899!
Our tour guide, Andrew was extremely knowledgable and told us various stories about Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace, the Highland clearances, and the tensions between England and Scotland during The Middle Ages. He was also very funny and he definitely kept us all entertained throughout our journey through the Scottish highlands! The highlands were absolutely gorgeous and I actually had to fight back tears just because how beautiful it was. The mountainous landscape seemed to go on for miles and miles. It was so lush green and appeared to be left untouched. The lochs were magnificent and I was really shocked when Andrew stated that there are over 2000 different lochs in Scotland!
Although the whole tour was amazing, one of my favorite stops was definitely Doune Castle. Several TV shows and films were filmed at this 14th century castle such as: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, and most recently, Outlander. Due to this, the castle is left empty. It costs £5.50 in order to venture around inside of this castle and personally I think it’s worth it! While inside, I felt as if I was back in the 14th century. This was because of how empty it was; it was not a museum/tourist type of castle with a million different plaques, display cases, and signs. There was only one room in the entire castle that had display cases and signs. The rest of the castle simply had a small plaque that told you what room you were in such as the chamber room or the main hall. You can also get audio guides that will give you more information about the castle.
My favorite part of the castle was the roof where you can see the most beautiful views of the surrounding highlands.
All in all, I most definitely recommend visiting Dounes castle and–more importantly–the free Hairy Coo Highlands tour! You can learn more about this tour by going to their website here.
— Chelsea Ray-Dye
All photos taken by me.