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Scotland's Hebrides Islands, off its west coast, offer a wonderful range of different sights and experiences.

Our Scotland's Islands and Highlands Tour takes you 8 islands (via 11 ferry crossings and a steam train ride), giving you a great time seeing much of the Inner and Outer Hebrides as well as time in the Highlands.

Here is one person's account of her experiences on our 2010 tour.

 
 
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Scotland's Islands & Highlands Tour Diary

Day 1 :  Glasgow to Campbeltown
 

The waterfront in Campbeltown.

Day 1 takes us from Glasgow, along Loch Lomond, and then into progressively less and less populated areas, culminating upon arrival in Campbeltown at the foot of the Kintyre Peninsula.

Part of an 11 day/page trip diary - click the links on the right hand side for the other days in this diary.

 

 

Jeanette and her husband Ken were on our 2010 Scotland's Islands and Highlands Tour, and Jeanette kept a detailed day by day diary of the tour.

She has very graciously allowed it to be re-published here, so as to allow you an unvarnished view into what the tour was all about.

The text is hers, which I've respected and not changed apart from a few subheadings and extra paragraph breaks and some Americanizations of her English spelling (they are from New Zealand).

I've sourced the pictures and their captions are also from me, not Jeanette.

You can follow along with her narration by tracking the tour on this tour itinerary page and the linked Google maps.

I hope this will encourage you to come on our 2011 Scotland's Islands and Highlands Tour.

Day 1 – Monday June 14th 2010 – Glasgow to Campbeltown, Scotland

[Note - We had an optional pre-tour night at Culcreuch Castle which Jeanette and Ken did not join us for, due to staying with friends.]

Google Touring Map for the Day

We spent last night at David & Genevieve's home in Beith, near Glasgow. We had met them on a Panama Canal Cruise from Galveston, Texas in November 2004. There were a lot of heavy rain showers on our drive north yesterday but it is dry this morning although quite cold and dark clouds threaten rain.


Our coach for the next ten days.

We left Beith at 11:30am and arrived at the Central Railway Station in Glasgow just after midday so we were in plenty of time for our coach departure at 1pm. As we had a 36 seater coach for 24 passengers there was plenty of room to spread around. We were all aboard by 1pm with our driver, Jay and Tour Manager David, even with a bicycle in the luggage section.

David told us that Glasgow, which means “The Dear Green Park”, is the largest city in Scotland while Edinburgh is the capital. The Vikings were here in this area until 1000AD. There were no National Parks until the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park was formed in 2002 and the Cairngorm National Park (the largest in Britain) formed in 2003. The Scots have a special word “Munro” for mountains that are higher than 3000ft (914 m). They are named after Sir Hugh Munro who produced the first list of such mountains in 1891. As of 2009 there are 283 Munro's with Ben Nevis being the highest with an altitude of 4,409 ft (1,344 m).

Our journey this afternoon took us across the Erskine Bridge over the Clyde River then north to Inverary before crossing to the Kintyre Peninsular and away down South to Campbeltown. We drove along the shore of Loch Lomond (in the Loch Lomond National Park) with a good view of Ben Lomond (a Munro of 3,195 ft/974 m). Our driver Jay told us that he once climbed Ben Lomond in a day and my research tells me that it is one of the most popular Munro's to climb, it even has a 'tourist route' to the summit. We were surprised to learn that the lake has 36 islands although we could not see many from the road. There were lots of large Rhododendron trees in full flower with lovely purple flowers.

We drove over the hill to Loch Long where the British Navy used to test torpedoes in World War II. This is a sea loch with open access to the sea which surprised me as I had thought a 'loch' was Scottish for a 'lake' but now know it also includes an arm of the sea when narrow or partially landlocked. By 2pm we were driving over a high pass known as the 'Rest and Be Thankful Pass', so named by soldiers who built the original Military road in 1753 because the climb out of the valley is so long and steep at the end that it was traditional to rest at the top, and be thankful that you had got to the highest point.

Over the top we left the National Park and traveled along very rugged cliffs with little streams tumbling down the valleys. Then down into the next valley to Loch Fyne where we saw many fishermen along the shore.


Loch Fyne Whiskies in Inverary - David said this is an excellent whisky shop with a huge range of rare and unusual whiskies.  Many of the people in our group took advantage of their time to sample - and buy - some whisky.

At 2:30pm the coach stopped at Inverary where Ken and I walked to the gates of Inverary Castle, the home of the Duke of Argyll, to get some lovely photos. We visited a woollen mill shop and the information shop. The Bell Tower dominates the town and contains the 2nd heaviest ring of ten bells in the world. It was a lovely picturesque town on the lake shore.

We started to drive away at 3:15pm (as planned) without 2 people. David had warned us that punctuality was most important and that the coach would leave at the defined time, whether we were all onboard or not. Fortunately Peter and the other person were walking along the main street towards us so we picked them up on our way out of the town.

David said they were not left behind as Peter had provided a defibrillator for the tour in case anyone suffered a heart attack, but that he would not be so lenient with the next late passenger.

We had a beautiful drive along Loch Fyne, passing a number of Oyster farms in this sea loch, the longest of the sea lochs in Scotland. By 4:15pm we had arrived in the fishing port of Tarbert, a popular mooring for yachts. David persuaded Jay to drive to Campbeltown down the eastern coast of the Kintyre peninsula along a single track road.

This made for an exciting ride with passing bays at frequent intervals to allow oncoming traffic to pass. At one point we slowly followed 2 sheep along the road until they took a sudden dive to the right to let us pass. We had great views of Ailsa Craig, an island in the outer Firth of Clyde where blue hone granite is quarried to make Curling stones. The now uninhabited island is formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano. It was a haven for Catholics during the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century, but is now a bird sanctuary for gannets and puffins.

After a while the road improved to a 2 lane road but was still very bumpy and twisty.


The Argyll Arms Hotel in Campbeltown - a typical smaller town Scottish hotel.

We arrived in Campbeltown at 5:40pm and checked in at the Argyll Arms Hotel (room 22). I had time to shower and wash my hair before meeting everyone for dinner at 7pm in the hotel dining room. This was our welcome dinner provided by our Travel Manager, David Rowell, the owner of the web site and travel newsletter www.thetravelinsider.info.

We sat with Billy Jo and Jeannette (with 2 n's) both from Texas, Malcolm and Ieva from Toronto Canada, David from Seattle (formerly from NZ) and our driver Jay from the Glasgow area.

Ken and I both started with Argyll Prawn Cocktail with Marie Rose sauce which was very nice. The main course we chose was local salmon with lemon parsley sauce and vegetables (carrots, potatoes – boiled and roasted, cauliflower and broccoli). The salmon was delicious and very fresh. Ken had chocolate fudge cake with ice-cream for dessert while I had a trio of ice-cream. We finished with a nice hot chocolate. There was great conversation and plenty of laughter which made the evening go very fast.

We found out that Ieva and Malcolm had a small software company, similar to our own. Malcolm had written a software package to help Ieva provide comparative statistics to her staff in a healthcare management department. This was so successful that they had made a business of it which they have just closed down now that they have both retired, Malcolm just last month.

After dinner, about 9pm, we went for a short walk down to the waterfront to see a little of the town and get some exercise. It was a lovely clear evening but getting cool. We settled in our room to watch the TV news before lights out about 10:30pm. An early night as there is no Internet access in this hotel.

Read more in the rest of Jeanette's Diary

See the links to each day of the eleven day tour/trip diary at the top right of this page.
 

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Originally published 7 Jan 2011, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 
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Scotland Trip Diary Day 1
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