Trip Review: Trossachs and Breadalbane (March 2012)
Killin and Callander
It's not every day you get a sunny day three weeks in a row in Scotland. This tour was thankfully blessed with a stunning weather system. Killin is a village in the Breadalbane area of Scotland which is a tourist haven. From the walk along the lochside of the Tay to the Falls of Dochart in the centre of the village you could easily while away the hours here. Trying to keep all our students together was perhaps the hardest part of the entire day. There is so much to distract you here - and not in a bad way. It really truly is hard to leave this wonderful place.
Callander though is also a great place - for lunch there is more than enough options but it is the allure of the Bracklinn Falls at the rear of the town that catches the imagination. Sadly I've not been feeling too great over the last week so I wasn't able to enjoy myself as much as usual. Thankfully everyone else had fun for me!
Student Tours Scotland likes to show off the parts of Glasgow you don't normally just stumble upon. Behind the M8 Motorway is one of the 100 Glasgow Parks - Sighthill Park and the Glasgow Branch of the Forth and Clyde Canal. We took our wee group up behind the busy highway and into the park. The views from the stone circle and the canal wharf across the city are great. It's a real shame more people don't get up here for a visit.
The Phoenix Flowers (pictured) adorn a main thoroughfare through the city and into Cowcaddens at the north of the city centre. The tales of the destruction of most of the city centre's Anderston and Cowcaddens districts gave a lot of food for thought for our students but they were pleased to see that the council was keen on improving these areas with nice refurbishments like the flowers. Another great walk!
Our pub night celebrates it's fifteenth birthday with a wee party. But sadly it's also our last for now! The pub is changing hands so it will be a while before we come back.
However our birthday celebrations were not put on hold. Our resident Scandinavians made sure everyone had a prize and really embraced the idea. Sadly it was also their last night with us as well. Great memories though guys!
Last time I was worried about everyone loving Oban. Word spread so well amongst students in Glasgow that we had to run a second trip! Once again we brought the average age down considerably in Inveraray but it was Dunollie Castle in Oban that once again gave everyone the greatest memories. We tried to find some Irn Bru ice cream but I guess thats pretty much limited to the Isle of Bute as it was no where to be found.
Unlike last time we managed to get up to the ruins at the top of the town - McCaigs Monument. The views over the town and the bay are just awesome here. The heatwave over Scotland continued and helped make today really amazing. I don't want to leave Oban. It's like a coastal Glasgow.
Trip Review: Portpatrick and the South West (March 2012)
Rhins of Galloway
In my last role before running Student Tours Scotland I ran over fifty day trips. The best by far was Portpatrick. So you can imagine my excitement getting to do a similar trip! Portpatrick is found in the Rhins of Galloway at the very south wester corner of Scotland. In my opinion it doesn't get any better than this.
Portpatrick is a stunning wee place only a stones throw from Ireland and England but still hidden away. A coach full of students from Glasgow is a total invasion of this little town. The commanding views across the sea and the brilliant locations including Dunskey Castle ruin, the centre isle and the start of the Southern Upland Way all led to some great memories.
It's the group that makes everyones day though and this trip was no different. From the madness of the Czech guys from Strathclyde to the insanity of the Dutch from GCU we had a great mix of folk on our tour.
The fact Scotland is also in the middle of a brilliant heatwave also kind of helped make the day awesome mind you!
Student Tours Scotland Glasgow tours have been incredibly popular this semester. Our walk along the River Clyde in the city centre was so popular we had almost forty students in tow! With some history of the river given and a few myths and legends told at the IFSD (International Financial Services District) we trekked up towards Glasgow Green. Sadly the lack of daylight was against us and we had to bail. Next time we'll delve deep into the park.
Trip Review: Return to the Isle of Bute (March 2012)
Sunshine and Irn Bru Ice Cream
A second sell out trip the Isle of Bute - this is clearly a popular trip! Another ferry journey is always welcomed with Student Tours Scotland. Being loose on the sea is just such a great feeling when you spend all your time in the City of Glasgow. I love city life but being on the water is just so awesome.
Kilchattan Bay at the south of the isle is so raw and rugged that it's often unexplored by those who visit Bute. With a clear path and route around the south of the island we spread out. With some Scottish myths and legends told and some local history given everyone spent the morning sunbathing. Great place to chill in the good weather. No one to spoil the atmosphere (except ourselves) and plenty of photo opportunities.
Back in Rothesay, the main town, we invaded the castle ruin (like the Norwegians before us) and once again lounged in the sunshine. But the relaxation wasn't to last as we took off up Canada Hill and through the forested areas behind the town.
Once again the highlight of the day was Irn Bru Ice Cream and the Victorian Toilets. Not the usual tourist attractions but good ones at that!
Trip Review: Dumfries and South Scotland (March 2012)
Too Many Toads
It's not everyday that you get to see toads but we saw plenty of them all day. Caerlaverock Castle ruins in the very south of the country is full of toads. Including the cool wee pair pictured above. The ruins have some amazing history and our students really got to enjoy the ruin as no one else was around.
Dumfries itself was stunning. We clearly got lucky with the weather (Scotland is in the middle of a heatwave though which is handy). We really only got to enjoy lunch here though as we had to head to Moffat before we left for Glasgow.
Moffat is a quiet little town but it has some great walks. The riverside walk offers a relaxing alternative to the busy town nearby. With some legends and stories from the Dumfriesshire and Galloway regions everyones imagination was opened. I think the stories really add to the tours and get everyone associating the places and stories to the memories they take away. Another great day. Off to the Isle of Bute tomorrow.
Glasgow is a massive city. Few people really realise just how large the city actually is. In 2014 Glasgow will be hosting the Commonwealth Games. In preparation we took part in Commonwealth Day which this year had a Sport Your Trainers theme. Participants were asked to Sport Your Trainers by wearing them and doing something healthy. So I walked across Glasgow...which in hindsight is a mental idea.
However I really enjoyed my walk...my eight hour walk. From Carmunnock Village Green in the south of the city, through twenty parks and gardens I crossed the south, centre and west of Glasgow.
My feet want to die, I need to sleep for some time but I genuinely feel good for having Sported my Trainers across Glasgow.
There are few places in Scotland that I honestly feel like I could live in. I love my country, I really do but Glasgow has such a hold on me. Oban however, is one place I could happily live in. My aim on the first 2012 Student Tours Scotland trip to Argyll was clear - make all 57 folk fall in love with the place. No easy task. Thankfully the weather was on my side.
Inveraray is a great place to start off any trip here. We probably bring down the average age of the place quite considerably just by being there. There doesn't appear to be many people under the age of 70!
The castle looks like it was taken straight from a Disney film and the town is just so...quaint. It really does make for a great wee morning. But Inveraray was just our side salad. It was Oban I was more concerned about.
With everyone in tow we split for lunch in Oban. Which gave me time to go for a rummage around the Victorian Spa ruins and suss them out. Needless to say they are awesome but it's just the kind of place that my students would try and kill themselves in. So perhaps for now I'll keep it to Dunollie.
Dunollie Castle is a great ruin. It sits atop the outskirts of Oban with a commanding view of the Isle of Kerrera. Free to enter, it just looks amazing in the sunlight. We invaded the place and I had to keep a few loose cannons from climbing the walls but generally it went down really well.
I don't think I had to try too hard to get everyone to love the place. Oban did it all for me.
Another week and another theme. It was masks galore this week at Trader Joes. Gotta hand it to Guillaume in the pic above - he looks terrifying. Our pub nights have really gone from strength to strength over the weeks and that's all down to the people who attend them. Nothing to do with the ginger guy who organises them at all. Honest.
It's the people who come that really make the night special by mixing well with one another and getting down on the make shift dance floor. If you still haven't been along yet then you are missing out. See you next week!
Scotland's West Coast is littered with islands. Student Tours Scotland aims to take you to as many of the local islands as possible. The Isle of Bute trip is one of my personal favourites. So close to Glasgow and yet so peaceful and quiet. Unlike it's neighbours the Isle of Cumbrae and the Isle of Arran, Bute is less frequented by Scots. This is a real shame as the island offers some fantastic things to do.
Our team were on fire on this trip. With some great characters like our resident Czech duo of Tereza and Ivan you just know things will stay nice and exciting. Rothesay is the main port of call on Bute and there is plenty of excitement for a full day here alone. From the castle ruins to the heights of Canada Hill we pretty much invaded the island.
There is one main attraction for the Isle of Bute: Irn Bru ice cream. Student Tours Scotland are firm believers that everyone should try Irn Bru. A can a day is needed as far as we are concerned but we realise that not everyone agrees. Irn Bru Ice Cream is the next best thing and from the picture above you can see how happy our regular Russians are with it.