Well here I am this week in The truly amazing place called Scotland. Being a Wee Scottish lad myself, I am very proud to say that is a fantastic place to come from, and I am very proud of my heritage and my own homelands. Scotland offers so much from our Ancient History, Our culture and folklore which is known worldwide, and best of all our dramatic scenery from Lowlands to Highlands.
So what can I tell you about my tour this week, well here we go prepare to be impressed.
I have been based in the very picturesque setting of Drymen on The Eastern side of one of Scotland’s most famous Lochs (Loch Lomond) Loch Lomond is Scotland’s largest Fresh Water Loch by area and the scenery surrounding it is ever-changing. Loch Lomond lies on the Highland Boundry Fault, so on one side the scenery is lush and flat, but on the other side it is Mountainous and just breathtaking ( especially this week as the mountains have been dusted with snow) we have been staying at The Winnock Hotel, with its oldest part of the building dating back to the 1700’s, formerly thatched cottages, the transformation from cottages and a milkbar to a Hotel make this an excellent location to view The Scottish Lowlands, The staff are friendly and welcoming, the food is fantastic, and the rooms are very comfortable, the hotel offers a nice relaxing atmosphere, with real coal fires and nightly entertainment, even next door is The Clachan one of the village pubs, quite often in its heyday frequented by The infamous Scottish Highlander Rob Roy Mc Gregor.
After our journey up from the South our first excursion was to the capital city of Edinburgh, we travelled by the impressive Stirling Castle and The skyscraping Wallace Monument, a very important place in Scottish History, with two significant Battles being fought here, Stirling Bridge and Bannockburn, with these Battles being led under the Kings of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, we then continued passing Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scotts before arriving in Edinburgh. On arrival I commenced with a city tour of the capital, taking in the sights of Edinburgh Castle, The Palace of Holyrood, The Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat, The Old Town, The New Town and even a bit of Harry Potter.
On day three we first of all made our way to the capital of the Trossachs by the way of The Lake of Monteith and Inchmaholme Priory, on arrival in Callender we had a wander around this splendid resort with time to visit the Rob Roy Museum to discover the life and times of the Highland Giant, who was declared an outlaw, after strolling the vibrant street that was once lined with coaching inns we departed and made our way to Kilmahog to visit Hamish, Heather and Honey, a family of Highland Cows known world-wide. (Highland cows are the oldest breed of cattle in the world) from here we took the Trossachs trail passing the three beautiful Lochs, the most well-known one of the three being Loch Katrine, inspired by Sir Walter Scott, to which the Steam Ship that has been cruising the Loch is known as The Lady of the Lake, we then climbed the infamous dukes pass in the snow (what a picture) and we stopped to view the Queen Elizabeth Forrest Park and Loch Drunkie ( yes loch drunkie is the real name, it derives from the whisky smugglers) before arriving in the old mining village of Aberfoyle for lunch. On or departure we visited Lomond Shores for a wee bit of afternoon shopping.
On day four we departed and headed for the fourth most populous city in the Scotland, the city of Dundee, Dundee is a lovely city situated on the Firth of Tay, famous for its Marmalade, Cakes and of course the Beano, with characters such as Desperate Dan, Mini the Minx and Dennis the menace, The city boasts a magnificent cathedral and The RRS Discovery the three mast ship that navigated the Antarctic expeditions, launched 1901 at Dundee and now returned home as a Museum, from here we crossed over the Tay bridge (1.4 miles long) to the University town of St Andrews most famous for its fantastic Cathedral, once the largest in Scotland, today it lies in ruins, but a magnificent sight to see. St Andrews is the home of golf and the Links there are always busy with the want to be winners of golfing competitions. The sands here ar so amazing, offering stunning views, and the film chariots of Fire was actually filmed here, of course not forgetting, this is where the romance of Prince William and Kate Middleton started during their studies at the University. On our departure we travelled through the town of Auchtermuchty the home of the famous Scottish musicians Jimmy Shand and The Proclaimers.
So I hope you like my short abbreviation of one of our fantastic Scottish Tours.
Come and join us on a Scottish Tour and I will show you the fantastic adventures that Scotland has to offer.
Steve – 18th April 2012
It is still light at 6pm, (Spring is definitely upon us) just as I am leaving the yard in the 29 seater mercedes minibus that I will be operating this mini feeder service in. The priority first is to fill up with fuel and as I arrive at the BP station at Weeley Crown Interchange, there is another coach on the other pump, so I exchange “pleasantries” that have been experienced through our day.
I get to my rendezvous point at the new Weston Colchester Football stadium ground, which is a vast area (ideal for mini coach interchange! – but maybe not on a match day/evening. This new junction too off of the A12 is ideally placed for when we want to manage passenger logistics going back to either Clacton or the other direction to Ipswich and beyond) in good time, with seven minutes spare to accept my passengers from in the inbound bus thats come up from Thurrock, but bound for Clacton. Good team work gets the luggage moved over to my bus and the passengers are comfortably seated for their onward journey home to Pakefield (near Lowestoft).
So as we rejoin the A12, we wave farewell to the passengers branching off back to Clacton, as we contiue north towards Ipswich and Lowestoft with fairly and somewhat unusally quiet traffic. As we travel along this route, the signposts remind us that we are in the beautiful, unspoilt “Constable Country” of Dedham. As we continue, we travel over the magnificant feet of engineered river Orwell Bridge, which dominates the Ipswich estuary on our left and the Walton and Felizstowe back waters on our right. We travel round numerous roundabouts, passing the Martlesham heath BT tower and science park. Lovely sunset now, to our left, which is setting over Wickham Market, signs indictate more places of natural beauty, notably Aldeburgh, Southwold (for Adnams beer brewery) Snape Maltings, all located along our route on the right. We pass through the pretty village of Yoxford, continuing on we see in the distance “The becon” the church at Blythburgh is all illuminated (it is said, is used for ship navigation too for its prominence and close proximity to the extreme east coast) and a sharp left turn brings us to the beautiful estuary setting of blythburgh. Of note here is first thing in the morning, with the early mist over the tranquile water and sunrise, an amazing photo opportunity presents. A little further on we pass the vast and diverse Benacre Park country estate of some 7,700 acres, with the sheep peacefully grazing (by now dusk) in the front grounds.
We are nearing our destination after we pass through the small village of wrentham, with another tight left turn, we contiue on and in our sights is one of the towering new wind turbines which is located close beside the A12 “in a field” and at the back of someone’s back garden! Then as we pass the newly saved and revived famous Pontins holiday camp of Pakefield, its just a couple more roundabouts to negotiate, before we arrive at our destination, in good time! of the Tramways Hotel, Pakefield.
The moral of the story is; We don’t brew beer, but if we did, it would probably be the best in the world!
Thanks for reading,
Stuart 18th April 2012.
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Being born and bred in Suffolk you would forgive me for thinking I have enjoyed all the county has to offer. I have spent many a bank holiday or weekend on the beaches of Aldeburgh and Southwold, the market towns of Woodbridge and Bury St Edmunds and the amidst the tress and tranquility of Thetford Forest.
When this past Good Friday came along I was need of inspiration for a day out for my partner and I. Fortunately I work for a holiday company so inspiration is never too far away. A location that I have been intrigued to visit since going through the production of our 2012 brochure is Flatford Mill, which is part of our Constable Country tour.
Perfectly nestled within the patchwork landscape of Suffolk it’s easy to see how the area inspired John Constable to produce some of his most famous paintings.
The atmosphere is calm, relaxed and peaceful where visitors share the grounds with the local wildlife. Our day began with a brunch in the lovely riverside tea-room. Our table was just in from the large sliding class doors. It was one of those days when the sun was out but there was a chill in the air. Our brunch consisted of a ham ploughmans, slice of carrot cake and of course a pot of tea. It goes without saying that the carrot cake was delicious, especially when eaten before the ploughmans.
After our relaxing brunch we spotted the rowing boats out on the narrow River Stour. We didn’t have to think twice about taking one out. It does seem odd to me that the action of rowing requires you not to see where you are going. At first the job of navigator was given to my partner, together we would discover all the River Stour had to offer. However this soon turned into us discovering river bank as we tackled the first bend. A tactical change was need.
I noticed the friendly gentlemen who help us aboard our wooden vessel placed in a rather small and plastic oar along with the two rugged and fearsome ones I was using to power us along. This smaller oar must be to steer. My partner was been given an honorary promotion to both Navigator and Helmsman.
All was going well, I was picking up a good pace and we watched the rolling countryside dotted with walkers, cyclists and a few dogs past us by on our starboard side. Before I could say the words ‘we are a good team’ I was launched from my seat to front of boat, barely holding on as I tried to find my balance I dropped my left ore into the river, needless to say we had crashed straight into a low lying branch of a tree.
From boat to foot we continued to explore the area trying to avoid any awkward confrontations with the ducks and swans. It goes without saying the title of ‘area of outstanding natural beauty ‘ is well deserved. If you pause for a moment you can really take in peaceful Dedham Vale as you will hear the sounds of the birds, the light breeze through the trees and arguably the fait sound of the A12 in the distance. As we loop back round towards the riverside tea-room we pass stunning historic thatched roof architecture. One of the finest examples is the The Granary B&B, perfectly located by river. As we walked past, and peered in, I thought to myself this would be great place for a wedding reception, I kept these thought to myself so no one got any ideas!
Before heading back to the car we take a walk around the Wild Life Garden. All the bugs and birds are really being spoilt at Flatford. They have endless acres of beautiful country at their disposable and a purpose built sanctuary / garden too! I think they deserve it, only nature could have done such as a great job in maintaining this wonderful location.
I would highly recommend a visit to Flatford Mill. The site is a real gem in Suffolk’s crown. All the family will appreciate the surroundings, architecture and nature. John Constable certainly found the perfect location to express his artistic prowess and im sure you will leave with a little bit of that inspiration and vision.
Daniel – April 12th 2012
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Well here I am again on another Tour that I have driven several times before. This year on The Pennine Explorer Tour we are based in The City of Bradford. Looking around, The city it is full of many Historical Buildings, (some 5,800) many of them looking very splendid indeed. Bradford is The City of Film and there are many theatres should you wish to take in a show, in fact there is one just neighbouring The Hotel (The Allhambra) The Hotel we are using for this season is The Jurys Inn, and I must say a fairly new Hotel only two years old and located in The City Centre, The Staff here are more than welcoming, the food is very good and the Hotel Bedrooms are very comfortable and clean.
I have had a fantastic crowd of 38 passengers here on this tour, and from the feedback I have received from my clients, they have all had a fabulous holiday.
So what can I tell you about this tour, quite a lot really, so here is what we did.
On our first day we journeyed up to Bradford with a Lunch stop in The Historic Market Town of Stamford.
On our second day we visited The Market Town of Grassington in the morning, and we then visited The Market Town of Skipton with an included Boat Trip on The Leeds to Liverpool Canal (1 hour) in the evening after dinner we went on an optional excursion to The Village of Esholt, and the original Woolpack Pub used in the filming of The Television Programme Emmerdale. ( I have attached a photo of my clients outside The Woolpack)
On our third day we took a Journey on The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, most famous for the filming of The Railway Children, from Oxenhope through to Keighley and then on to The setting of Howarth for lunch, most famed for The Bronte Sisters.
On our fourth day we visited the burgh of Pendle most famous for Pendle Hill and The Witches, we then continued into The dramatic scenery of The Forrest of Bowland, an area of natural outstanding beauty, and we had a comfort stop in the peaceful village of Slaidburn, before continuing to The former Spa town of Settle for Lunch, we then made our way back to Bradford via Oswaldtwizle Mills.
Steve – 12th April 2012
Its days (mornings like this) that’s makes life seem not so bad.
1st pick up Norwich, out on the A11, past some of the grand houses on the outskirts, then over the A47 with the sun beginning to appear in the rear view mirrors.
We pass Snetterton Race Circuit and we start to see the big trailers arriving for the weekend events.
Then onto the edge of Thetford Forest, always lovely this time of the morning. Past the numerous Pig Farms with Pigs and Piglets just rousing themselves. You don’t see this in mainland Europe.
Through the little village of Elveden with its enormous Church (Norman) where all narrows.
Now through Newmarket with the string of Race Horses on the morning Gallops (great). Always a great sight, then onto M11 Stanstead watching planes climbs into clear blue skies.
Ronnie – Good Friday
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Well this is the second time I have driven this Easter Tour to Harrogate, and I must say this is a very nice Tour. The Hotel is The Holiday Inn and it is situated in a very good location within a five-minute stroll to The Town Centre. The food at The Hotel is very good, with the staff being very helpful and efficient. The Hotel has lifts to all twelve floors and The rooms offer a great view across The Town.
Yesterday we went to The former Spa Town of Settle and then took a nice scenic drive through The Yorkshire dales via Horton in Ribblesdale and The impressive 440 ft long Ribblehead Viaduct with its 24 Arches which carries The Settle to Carlisle Railway Line. We then continued to Hawes in Wensleydale for a Lunch Break before driving through Wharfdale back to Harrogate.
All of my Clients had a great day out, with The weather also being on our side, making our trip very enjoyable.
Steve – 8th April 2012
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