As our time in Edinburgh is coming to a close we really wanted to venture outside the city and see a bit of Scottish nature. We really only had about one day to do a bit of sightseeing and our options were split between renting a car, taking the train somewhere, or booking a tour with a tour company. We chose the latter, as renting a car would have been too pricey for one day, and the train wouldn’t allow us much freedom. We ended up booking a **free** Highland Tour with the company The Hairy Coo and honestly it was amazing. I didn’t have high hopes, to be perfectly honest. It doesn’t go very far north – it truly is just a toe dip into the highlands, and I wasn’t convinced it would be exciting for a whole day. I was wrong and it ended up being the best Scottish send-off for the two of us.
First thing’s first: It’s completely free. It runs on a “pay what you think it’s worth” scheme and you have the option of handing over some cash to the driver after the tour is over. Our driver hardly mentioned it and we in no way felt pressured to pay. We did however WANT to pay, and actually would have given the driver more money had we had more cash on us. I would say that I would have paid about £35 for the tour.
The tour starts off on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, where you climb into this lovely orange bus and meet your tour guide/driver. Our guide’s name was Don, who was totally awesome. He introduced himself, got everyone checked it, and we were off! Throughout the day the driver speaks over the intercom as he’s driving and points out places of interest and general history and stuff. A few times he would stop and put on some Scottish music, particularly during stretches of difficult driving.
Our first stop was at South Queensferry to see the famous Firth of Fourth bridge.
Next we drove past Linlithgow and got a glimpse of the palace before heading to see the National Wallace Monument in Stirling. We stopped there for about 40 minutes and got to walk up to the monument and have a wee bit of sightseeing there.
Our next stop was at Doune Castle, which is a famous castle where Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Game of Thrones, and Outlander are all filmed! We had the option to go inside (for a fee) but we opted instead to walk around the outside and the nearby village a bit.
Up next we stopped for an hour to have lunch in the adorable village of Callander. We didn’t get a chance to do much exploring because we were absolutely starving by this point of this trip! We did get to see some cute shop fronts though.
Our next stop was a bit of a rogue one – the tour would typically go see the Lake of Menteith but the road there was closed that day. Instead, we pulled off the side of the road to see the stunning sites of Loch Venachar.
Next up was my personal favourite stop of the day and the truly ‘wowing’ experience. We visited Loch Katrine and had a lovely 45 minute walk around the loch. It was a very grey day (typical Scotland) but surprisingly clear and very still, which I think made it all the more beautiful.
Next up: Hairy Coos!! Or, Highland Cattle. If I’m being honest, this is the one little ‘gimmicky’ part of the tour, but fun nonetheless. And Hairy Coos are pretty darn cute.