A Brit’s Education on the History of the Scottish Highlands with HAGGiS Adventures
I had only two nights and one full day to spend in Edinburgh, and I was determined that on this trip I would spend less time in the Three Sisters Pub and Bar and more time exploring the wild Highlands.
This time I was going to see the Loch Ness Monster. And to do that I would need some help from the fabulous guides at HAGGiS Adventures.
— Katie Dawes (@the_hostelgirl) August 11, 2015
Entering the Scottish Highlands with HAGGiS Adventures
Setting off bright and early from the centrally located HAGGiS HQ on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile (luckily just a five-minute walk from my hostel!), we were soon winding through the streets of Edinburgh on our way to the Highlands!
As we did so, our guide Greg began to introduce himself and the history of Scotland. I couldn’t believe how little I knew of the history of this country!
First stop: Callandar
On the way to our first (much-needed) coffee stop at the Trossachs Woollen Mill in the town of Callandar, Greg had covered topics including:
- the witch hunts of Edinburgh
- the design of the New Town
- Mary Queen of Scots
- the reasoning behind the beautiful horse statues – the Kelpies
- the battle of Stirling Bridge
- Pheeeeeew. Time for coffee. Oh and more history…
Half an hour later we are off again! This time we were headed towards Glencoe, otherwise known as the “Weeping Valley” which Greg explained referred to the Massacre of Glencoe that took place in February 1692.
This was our first real introduction to the history of clan warfare in the Highlands. The clan (or family) of the Campbells turned on their hosts, the McDonalds of Glencoe, whilst they slept and murdered them in the glen.
In fact the events are so infamous that a hotel in Glencoe still refuses to host any guests with the surname of Campbell, whilst there is a saying in the region that “Campbells will never be welcome as long as there are trees in Glencoe.” I must say that the Campbells really shot themselves in the foot here because Glencoe is…
The Commando Memorial: A Legacy in Stone
Whilst I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the Scottish Highlands time and again on this HAGGiS tour, one of the most beautiful settings we were taken to was a man-made memorial.
In the shadows of Ben Nevis stand three British Commandos. Formed in June 1940 as a specialised fighting force during World War II, the original British Commandos spent time training not far from where the memorial now stand. Their service inspired the British SAS, the SBS, and the Parachute Regiment who still serve today.
Arriving at Loch Ness: The Hunt is On
We had arrived at Loch Ness!!
With Greg’s tip that Ladbrookes offer a £1million reward to any photographed sightings of the Loch Ness Monster we marched from the bus to catch the boat tour that would be guiding around the Loch.
‘Loch’ by the way is the Gaelic term for ‘lake’ – but you won’t hear the word ‘lake’ being used by the Scots! In the words of our Scottish guide:
“If I hear anyone saying Lake Ness they will be taking a swim in Lake Ness.”
So don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Much like the rest of the Highlands, Loch Ness is a truly beautiful landscape. Despite having a full boat tour, it was relatively easy to get a full view, although the brisk wind in your hair will make you grateful for the brief interlude spent inside the boat when the crew give you an insight in to the technological methods that have been used to find the Loch Ness Monster!
Can you spot the monster in the photos below?
Well, maybe not… but there is a perfectly good explanation as to why Nessie might not have been visible that day!
Many of the larger lochs are now connected via a canal network, the development of which may have given Nessie the chance to go on holiday to a different loch every now and then by swimming through the canals.
So Nessie, I hope you enjoyed your vacation and I will be back to introduce myself at another time.
Then again… is that you?
Tips for taking the Loch Ness Hunter tour with HAGGiS Adventures
As you can see, whilst the HAGGiS tour was called the Loch Ness Hunter Tour the fabulous local guides offer so much more than just the legend of Nessie.
As I only had one day to see as much as possible on a budget, the day tour priced at £47 was the perfect opportunity to get a true introduction to the beautiful Scottish Highlands.
Were there any disadvantages?
Like any day tour, the day was long, leaving Edinburgh at 8am and arriving back around the same time in the evening. Being a bus tour it’s also quite steady going, and whilst I was hoping the boat tour on Loch Ness would be full of excitement and action, it was again a case of sitting and listening to the history of the Loch. Or taking selfies…
HAGGiS Adventures are also very well known for their fun Highland tours that give solo travellers an opportunity to meet others. As the day-tours attract a wider range of ages (probably due to no overnighters in hostels) there seemed to be less interaction between those of us on the bus, which is a shame.
Would I recommend the Loch Ness Monster Hunt?
If your time and budget are limited whilst in Scotland then I really don’t see a better way to explore than with HAGGiS Adventures. The day might be long, but my guide really knew his stuff and I was left at the end of the day feeling I knew so much more about the history of the Highlands!
However, if your time isn’t so tight, HAGGiS also offer some great multi-day trips that are also budget-friendly. In fact, Adventurous Kate took the HAGGiS “Up Helly Aa” tour and stated that “this may have been my best trip…EVER.”
Overall, HAGGiS Adventures offer the best introduction to Scottish history and landscape, and by the end of the day I felt it really had been a day well spent!
Lots of love,