If any nation is known for its rugged castles, impossibly beautiful princesses and legendary knights who fought arduously for their kingdoms, it is Scotland.
I spent much of my childhood pouring over any King Arthur and Lady Guinevere literature I could get my hands on, letting my imagination wander into an ethereal land of mist rising on deep water lakes and stark castles glistening in the crisp, clear light of the afternoon sky. All of this only to be crushed when my seventh grade teacher told me that my two heroes (mentioned above), were, in fact, fictional creatures. No castle, no knight, no round table.
How can I explain then, the extreme joy that overcame me in 2013, when historians suddenly came forward with a life-altering claim: King Arthur did exist...and he was Scottish! He genuinely sat at a round table, lived in a castle (or rather multiple ones) and literally took a sword out of a stone.
That's when I knew I had to pack my bags and sail to Scotland. But I digress.
Back to the tour: Castles, Lochs and Whisky.
Besides being famous for its countless sprawling castles with looming tales of battles behind them, Scotland is known for its malt whisky and active whisky distilleries - all 120 of them! More distilleries than any other nation in the world. There's a reason why James Bond's favorite whisky is the Scottish Macallan. It's shockingly good. Positively shocking.
Then there are the lochs. The infinitely deep, infinitely blue water bodies that supposedly sprang out of dry land, as legend has it. Ranging in size and in nuances, there's a story - a dark, fantastical story - whispered about each one. Because it's Scotland after all, and the Scots love a good story.
These three elements that are so defining of Scotland’s culture and history will make this tour absolutely unforgettable: you'll get to live in enchanted castles, explore crystal clear lochs and learn a whole lot about whisky.
Here are the three reasons why you’ll never forget this travel experience:
Lay your head to rest in treasured castles
Your first stay will be in the Sherbrooke Castle Hotel, a city hotel, set in a strikingly leafy green area of Glasgow, on its own perfectly manicured grounds. After a long day of exploring medieval cathedrals, exquisite galleries, mural-lined streets in your horse and carriage (The Hop On Hop Off Bus), you'll return to your sprawling estate, also known for its fine Baronial architecture, and enjoy a lavish evening. Disclaimer: you may never want to leave.
But alas, another castle stay awaits you my fair lady, my brave knight.
Imagine exploring towers and turrets, stables and coach houses, sprawling gardens with exotic flora and acres upon acres of woodland. You might even find rhododendrons brought all the way from the Himalayas, just for you, my highness. And instead of driving back to your hotel after the amazing discoveries, you'll head up the extravagant staircase of the castle and plop yourself down on your throne, overlooking the stunning waters of Loch Fyne.
During your stay at the Stonefield Castle, built in that celebrated Baronial architectural style, you'll undoubtedly feel like royalty - Precisely why you'll never forget it.
Come face to face with Scotland's most frightening loch monsters
Your first loch will be Loch Lomond, Scotland's largest body of water, where "the wee birdies sing and the wildflowers spring. And in sunshine the waters are sleeping”, as the 1841 traditional melody, The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond, describes it.
Set in the stunning highlands and nestled within the singing valley, this loch harbours the Loch Lomond Monster, boasts an island where mean wives were apparently shipped and hides a real life ghost story. But I won't spoil the surprise.
Next is Loch Fyne, Scotland's longest sea lock. Its shores are littered with castles, having offered princes and princesses a stunning view of the tranquil waters for ages upon ages. And during the summer months, glimpses of dolphins and sea otters!
Your room at the Sherbrooke Castle will lend you outstanding views of this vast loch. Its shores will give you the perfect place of pilgrimage as you walk and contemplate the marvels of nature: the birds, the woodland, the rolling hills, and the shadowy valleys. Loch Fyne is a body of water so precious, that King Magnus fought heartily for it... But I'll let you discover the legend that lays here for yourself.
Become a whisky connoisseur
Not only is this tour going to allow you to experience and see the best of Scotland, you're also going to learn the ancient art of whisky-making. You'll leave Scotland with your taste buds awakened, your spirit on fire (or perhaps just your throat) and your mind buzzing, full of new knowledge of this archaic practice.
“Usquebaugh", the 16th century term for whisky, (which is the anglicized version), means the "water of life."
This liquid gold doesn't bubble up in springs or well up in basins at the top of glorious mountains, it is obtained through an arduous process. The process is one that requires patience and skill, but most of all, an intrinsic knowledge of alchemy.
On this tour, you're going to visit multiple distilleries, listening to rich tales of medieval monks and modern distilling families, united by their thirst for producing the finest whisky. You'll spend time discovering the difference between clove, coconut and vanilla aromas, absorbed from oak casks.
You'll be educated on the basics, like the best glass to drink whiskey, and about matters that require finesse, such as the complex process of diluting and blending whisky. Learning this art is not for the faint-hearted, it is a grueling process with almost supernaturally delicious results.
Your classroom will be eerily dark cellars located in the most glorious locales, as you become intimately familiar with this ancient art. And you'll never forget the experience.
So, there you have it.
Your being refreshed by stays in whimsical castles, your taste for fine whisky awakened, your ears enchanted by the countless legends you've been told, and your eyes delighted by the gifts of nature you've just encountered; surely this trip is bound to be the most memorable yet. To see more of our tour, head here: https://travelous.com/location/castles-lochs-whisky.