Rabbie’s Tours: Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle
Having lived in Scotland all my life, the concept of travelling to central Scotland was totally new to me. I didn’t know what to expect and I had no recollection of any historic background knowledge of the area I intended to visit either. Rabbie’s Tours are in action every day and my first impression from their impressive website was that the places they take tours to are in one word, beautiful. From the comments tourists had made who had travelled with them before and the pictures they uploaded, the idea of visiting Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond National Park was rapidly growing on me – I was going to be a tourist in my very own country!
The journey began along the M9. The tour guide was like a walking encyclopaedia, but with humour. From dates to names, locations to statuses, everything was covered and he even recited a few lines from Robert Burns’ ‘Address to the haggis’. However, it wasn’t too much, like when you feel bombarded with information you know you won’t remember in five minutes! But informative, clear and simple it was, nothing was over complicated and all 13 of us on the tour were intrigued by the historic past of the places we were passing. We were also given a few pointers about Edinburgh as we drove through, which I found interesting even though Edinburgh has always been a part of my life.
The journey up to Stirling was relaxing. The majority of the seats were window seats, which gave most of us a great view – the traditional Scottish music, which was being played accompanied the scenic view over acres of green countryside perfectly. We were filled in on facts about all the settlements and landmarks we passed, like the River Teith and the town of Doune.
Stirling Castle itself was magnificent, I stood for about five minutes just staring, letting it all sink in. The history behind it and the amount of past pouring out of each room was truly captivating. Aberfoyle was a sweet town, filled with families and fun. We stopped there for lunch and then made our journey to Loch Lomond, with a few stops to see Highland Coos along the way. When we arrived at Balmaha, we walked along the path to Loch Lomond. I took myself on a wee adventure, following a footpath that led me to mini bays and up a crag to an incredible view of the Loch. Although I will admit, there were moments where I questioned my sense of direction.
Although the rain did start to fall in the end, it just made the experience more Scottish! The trip was an experience to remember and the photos will be treasure forever.
By Annabel Waugh