Author Archives: CoolJason

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Aberdeen Christmas

5+ WAYS TO ENJOY A SCOTLAND TOUR DURING CHRISTMAS

Category:Tours

It may not often be the top choice of people to visit during the festive season, but Scotland has so much to offer to tourists looking for one magical holiday. And we feel sad for others who aren’t aware about the unique fun they can experience only here in the country. The one place you must visit on Christmas should you decide to go on a Scotland Tour? Inverness!

As the year draws to a close, things get pretty magical in the Highland capital. Plan a visit this winter and experience wonderful shopping options, bags of merry entertainment, and a very warm welcome!

Celebrating Christmas the Scottish Way

Although Christmas hasn’t been celebrated in the country for 400 years, sometime in the past, and could probably be the reason why it isn’t the most popular Winter Holiday destination, Scotland’s traditions already changed.

Many of Scotland’s seasonal customs at Christmas and Hogmanay are traditional in the truest sense. Not only are they very old, but they are, in the main, rather unorthodox.

Take the long-standing custom of fireball swinging in Stonehaven, the transformation of Kirkwall into a football-related battlefield, or the aptly-titled Loony Dook in the Firth of Forth (which, to be fair, isn’t actually that old, having only been set up in 1987): odd rituals such as these reveal an abundance of the sort of festive spirit that can make Hogmanay in Scotland for visitors and locals alike so enjoyable.

Scottish christmas

Scottish christmas

Hogmanay poems and songs

These never grow old in the Scotland Christmas scene. We’re sure you’ve hear the Auld Land Syne on your radios or tv sets every New Year’s celebration.

Well, a fan fact is that Auld Lang Syne, partially written by Robert Burns in 1788, is one of the bard’s most well-known and oft-recited verses. It’s a staple of Hogmanay parties across the country, and there’ll be very few who don’t know at least a verse or two.

We have more other Christmas traditions that would convince you to book a plane right away and have one or two Christmas Scotland tour packages organized. And here are some of the things you can expect in Inverness and the rest of the Highlands as we get closer and closer to Christmas:

  • Inverness’ winter festivities begin with the Christmas Lights Switch On, usually held late November.
  • The Whin Park is where the family should be for some festive frolics at the Winter Wonderland in December. Santa and his reindeers are there so your kids can get a chance for a meet and greet with them. Walk among the beautifully lit trees and enjoy the thrills of the fairground rides too. And when the snow falls in, the scenes around the park turns as magical as how White Christmas is described in books.
  • Panto is a traditional performance of rib-tickling family entertainment or Christmas show at Eden Court Theatre. You can also attend one of the carol singing services held at various venues across Inverness to enjoy a serene night that, in a way, makes you look back to the days of Jesus. And after the shows, there might just be mulled wine and mince pies you can indulge on too!

But you can celebrate your Christmas Scotland Tour in a more conventional way by:

Golfing Holiday

Scotland is the historic and original home of golf. And in honor of these origins, the country has lots of golf courses which you can visit. In the Highlands there are public golf courses which your Scotland Tour organizer can book for. Championship golf courses are the best ones to visit. You can see eve see castles in golf courses like that in the Castle Stuart Golf Links. Even if you’re not a golfer, you can walk the courses and enjoy their usually spectacular settings.

Castle Tours

Scotland’s landscapes come smattered with castles and at last count there are around 2,000 of them! When you go on a Scotland Tour, don’t miss Eilean Donan on Skye; the Dunnottar Castle perched on a dramatic headland over the North Sea; or the medieval fortress of Urquhart Castle near the mythical Loch Ness.

Speyside Whiskey

Speyside Whiskey

 

Shopping and Whisky Tasting!

The Inverness City Centre is ideal for stocking up for Christmas, thanks to its great travel links, compact main streets, and central shopping centers. There are also holiday craft fairs opening up soon. From top fashions to state-of-the-art electronics, browse over 60 stores in the Eastgate Shopping Centre.

And after shopping for a day, you should go on a whisky tour the next day! Whisky distilleries offer exclusive gift items during the holidays so you shouldn’t miss those when you go on a Christmas Scotland tour.

And if you think all these are too overwhelming, we can help arrange your Scotland tours for you. At IT Tours, we organize the best itineraries from the fine line of castles, to out of the city tours, there’s so much we can suggest so you can make the most of your Christmas holiday 2019. Book with us today!


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NORTH COAST 500

A BREATHTAKING TRIP THROUGH NORTH COAST 500

Category:Tours

In a 516-mile circular route in the north Highlands of Scotland that begins and ends at Inverness, you will find North Coast 500. A breath taking 200ft drop that is so precipitous and steep that you could barely see the roaring water below. It is spectacular! The kind of drop that makes you cling to your sides and takes your breath away. The circular route was launched in 2015 by Prince Charles to captivate and fascinate more tourists in this seldom-visited island reaches of the North Highlands.

There are an immense number of reasons to visit and drive along the North Coast 500. Mainly because you will have a chance to enjoy the road trips that will surely glorify your eye with an array of attractions, activities and remarkable landscapes. Aside from the magnificent castles, world-class golf courses, picture-perfect waterfalls, freshly harvested local seafood — you can also sail into the glassy rivers, traverse into Iron Age historical sites, lay in clear sandy beaches, be stunned in a 3 billion-year-old rocks and mesmerized in the warmth local Scottish hospitality and so much more! These are some reasons that will drive you to plan a visit to NC500. There is something for everyone along the NC500, no matter what piques your interest or what kind of journey you enjoy. It will also spark your enthusiasm to visit the place over and over again.

 

The Picturesque Scenery is one of the topmost reasons for people to drive and visit North Coast 500. The Scottish Highlands is known for its scenery and this northern part is no exception! These diversified landscapes along the routes include craggy coastline, wetlands, farmland, rivers. Apart from the magnificent bodies of water you can challenge yourself into the forests to see wildlife, sandy beaches and mingling with the mountains buried in snow. Aside from the landscape, you can also visit wildlife, numerous castles left behind by historic royalties, beautiful villages, bridges, islands, waterfalls, harbour, and other spectacular sites. The view of instagrammable places like Dunrobin Castle, Duncansby Head, Achmelvich Beach, Ben Hope, Suilven, Ullapool harbour, Corrieshalloch Gorge, and Rogie Falls will surely take your breath away and sky rocket your Instagram posts to the top of the discover page.

Wide Arrays of Outdoor Activities. Love and enjoy outdoor activities? Scotland’s North Coast 500 will surely get you covered. Activities include bird-watching, hiking, mountaineering, fishing, kayaking, golfing, zip-lining, boating, fishing, stalking, canoeing, wildlife spotting, camping and geocaching. North Coast 500 is also a gateway to many of Scotland’s Northern Islands that can be reached by ferry like the Orkney Islands, Summer Isles and the Outer Hebrides. Boredom has no place here in NC500 as it will let you stretch your legs and stay active. Whether you like outdoor pursuits like climbing mountains or gearing off at a championship golf course, you will find plenty to do here.

Fan of Whisky and Beer? Around the world, Scotland is known for its whisky — you can find a lot of it here. In North Coast 500 you will easily find a local whisky whether in a local pub, a restaurant or a whisky bar or mostly in the distillery itself, because most of the whisky distilleries can be found in northeastern parts of the route.

 

 

Lovely and Friendly Locals These are common behaviours of the people here in NC500. You will have the opportunity to meet all kinds of hospitable people. They are easy to talk to and happy people who are willing to share and give advice. While travelling, please have time to stop, meet and chat with local people. Learn from their stories and cultures. As they say, you can only appreciate the place when you talk to the locals residing there. Rest assured that the locals here will give you honest output in North Coast 500.

I hope that this will appeal to you to drive and prepare for your journey to travel to North Coast 500. Write your own travels and let your trip be a journey that creates memories of a lifetime.


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chanory point

Travel to Chanonry Point

Category:Tours

Would you reveal a truth to someone no matter how painful or inconvenient that truth may be? At what cost would it be to reveal this troublesome truth? These very quandaries were what Kenneth Mackenzie, otherwise known as Coinneach Odhar or the Brahan Seer, had to face. As a Brahan Seer Coinneach was tasked with foretelling and providing psychic assistance for the local town’s folk and in around 1675 Isabella, 3rd Countess of Seaforth, sought the seer out for his services. Seeking information as to why her husband had not arrived home on time, the countess pressed Coinneach until he ultimately professed that her husband was too busy canoodling in Paris with another woman whom he states was far more physically attractive than the countess herself. The countess did not like what she was hearing and was completely displeased with the seer’s prophesying. Because of this Coinneach Odhar was ordered to be burned to death in a barrel of tar at Chanonry Point. A stone memorial was erected in remembrance of his horrific death. The tale of Coinneach Odhar is only one of the numerous features and qualities that make Chanonry Point so fascinating to the droves of people that continue to flock there proliferating Chanonry Point’s popularity. Located at the end of Chanonry Ness, ness of course being the Scottish terminology for headland point or promontory, Chanonry Point boasts an astounding view of the coast that shows off the stunning and vast expanse of the Moray Firth. The gritty, grey, and foreboding walls of Fort George can be seen from the point as well, with its 18th century partitions still functional to this day. If a structure erected specifically for warfare is far too grim and bleak for your liking then perhaps the fact that Chanonry Point is known as the best place in Sctoland to view dolphins swimming gleefully and gracefully along the sea is exactly what you need to know. Around 200 dolphins call the Moray Firth home, and you and your family and friends can watch these cheerful sea creatures fish and play along the blustery waves of the Moray. The best part is that the viewing area to watch the dolphins is easily accessible even for those on a wheelchair. It just goes to show that everyone deserves to feel the childlike joy of dolphin watching.

Chanory Fishing

Chanonry Point is jam packed with remarkable locations and landmarks that add an indelible and evocative character and sense of personality to Chanonry. These places emphasize the aspects and facets of the point that make it so uniquely special. You can find two caravan/camping sites perfect for vacationing, or a couple’s getaway, or even for long overdue family get-togethers. Close by the camp sites is the extravagant Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club which was founded way back in 1888. There’s a ferry pier in Chanonry Point with a rich history that dates all the way back to the 1700’s. Last but not least there’s an absolutely ominous and breathtakingly gorgeous lighthouse designed by famed Scottish civil engineer Alan Stevenson. The lighthouse was first lit 1846 and to this day it is a shining beacon signifying the opulent legacy of Chanonry Point.


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Inverness Castle

Touring Around Scottish Highlands – Why Visit Inverness Castle?

Category:Tours

Inverness is often referred as the “Gateway to the Highlands” since it has the biggest international airport in the Scottish Highlands. For that reason, it serves as the start off point of any tour to the North and towns near the city like the world famous Loch Ness.

But did you know that Inverness has a lot of jewels it can boast about? Among the Scottish castles, there’s one architectural piece that holds a precious record of the country’s history. This is the Inverness Castle.

Talk about a medieval castle that’s still standing firm after being obliterated, then rebuilt, and now beaming with pride from its centuries of survival. A tour at this historic site will give you chills and shivers as you walk down through the castle grounds where a lot of important Scottish history went down.

Touring the Inverness Castle

The Inverness castle is perched atop a hill by the River Ness. There, you’ll get one of the best views of the famed river as well as the whole of Highlands.

The castle is strategically located in Inverness city center so anyone can reach it easily on foot if they don’t want to join bus tours. Enjoy spectacular views of Inverness from the lawn of this famous castle.

This Victorian-era red sandstone castle is not the original as the first structure was blown up by the Jacobites in 1746. The castle that you see today was designed by Architect William Burn and was built over the ruins of the first building in 1836.

Today, the Inverness castle serves as the Sheriff’s Court and is not open to the public. Tourists can, however, wander around the grounds and there’s the Castle Viewpoint too that accommodates guests who want to see the Highlands from a gorgeous angle.

Things to See and Do at the Inverness Castle

Whether they come in groups or solo, most tourists explore the castle grounds independently. One of the striking features of the castle that will welcome you is the statue of Flora MacDonald who’s probably the most romantic character in Scottish history.

For those who’s not familiar with Flora, she was the one who helped Prince Charles Edward Stuart escape from the Scotland after defeat of Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden. But her adventures didn’t stop there as she was witness to some more fights and during her death, the celebrated poet and critic  Samuel Johnson engraved on her bronze memorial:

“Flora Macdonald. Preserver of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Her name will be mentioned in history and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.”

There are also informational plaques on the castle grounds, detailing the historical events that happened on the site. It’s definitely a good starting point of a historical day tour before you head on to nearby sites with Jacobite connections like the Culloden Battlefield and Urquhart Castle.

The guided tours to the Inverness castle usually include the viewing of the castle exterior and photo ops with the River Ness as backdrop. Apart from that, there’s nothing really much to do at the Inverness Castle so you can finish the tour for an hour or two. It will be a great addition to a whole day Inverness city tour or a historical tour like I mentioned earlier.

The castle also serves as the starting point for an enjoyable walk along the banks of the River Ness (more famously known as the Loch Ness 360), the Caledonian Canal, and the Beauly Firth coastline.

Take a leisurely stroll past St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Ness Islands, where you may spot anglers standing in the river and fishing for Atlantic salmon.

Inverness Castle Viewpoint

Can’t get enough of the view from the castle grounds? Wait ‘til you reach the Castle Viewpoint!

This side of the Inverness Castle boasts a glass viewpoint where you’ll get a fabulous 360 degree view of the Highland Capital and the surrounding scenery. The view highlights many interesting landmarks but what’s more interesting is the intriguing myths and legends you’ll learn as you climb up this tower.

Discover the tale of the Brahan Seer, the legendary 17th century Highland mystic who made many a prediction that came to pass, and learn how St. Columba met and banished the monster Loch Ness through this interesting 94-step climb to the viewdeck.

Things to Know Before Visiting the Inverness Castle

  • The castle grounds are quite vast so you might want to wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes.
  • Bring cameras to capture the scenic views and limitless photos ops.
  • The castle grounds are wheelchair accessible but not the viewpoint.

How to Get to Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle is located on the east side of the River Ness in Inverness city center. The castle is a 15-minute walk from Inverness rail station. Local buses stop at nearby Castle Street and on Castle Road. You can also hire a taxi service at Inverness Taxis to reach the castle without any hassles. Get a chance to explore the nearby tourist spots too when you hire the Inverness Taxis for a whole day tour.

When to Visit Inverness Castle

You’ll enjoy your visit at the Inverness Castle best on a clear, sunny day. So if you are planning to see this famous castle, summer is the perfect timing. The Castle Viewpoint is also open during the months of April to October from 11am to 6pm which is much longer than the rainy season where it is only open from 11:30am to 4:00pm.

The grounds are busiest during warm summer weather, but even then, crowds are rare. The setting is romantic at sunset, when the sun’s soft rays hit the surface of the River Ness.


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Highlands

Our Guide to The Highlands

Category:Tours

our beautiful scenery, renowned hospitality and iconic attractions such as the mesmerizing Loch Ness and it’s illusive lady, Nessie.

 

So you’ve booked your once in a lifetime holiday to the Highlands, but how do you make sure you don’t miss anything? Well we’re here to share with you our top attractions to visit to make sure your trip is one to remember!

 

  • The Isle of Skye (Linked to Tour) is a hub of rural landscapes and hidden gems, it’s no surprise that visitors can’t get enough of its magic. Make sure to drift off the beaten path to explore all this beautiful island has to offer.

 

  • Cawdor Castle (Linked to Tour) is full of culture and patriotic heritage. The estate covers an impressive 42000 acres, dating from the 14th century, this medieval tower is definitely not one to miss!

 

  • Loch Ness (Link to Tour) – Of course we couldn’t miss out Loch Ness! Approximately 37 miles long with more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined! The banks are the perfect location for taking mesmerising photos that last a lifetime!

 

  • Chanonry Point (Link to tour) – Another spectacular sight, with views across the beautiful landscapes of Moray Firth and Fort George. Make sure to take your camera as Chanonry point is considered the best location in Britain for dolphin spotting!

 

  • Clava Cairns (Link to Tour) – A bucket list destination for all Outlander fans! If you haven’t seen the Patriotic series however, with Clava Cairns’ incredible insight into our ancestors, the site is still a must-see for any history lovers!

 

Remember we also provide Bespoke tours for those who are looking for a more personalised experience. Click here (Link to Bespoke Tours) for more information on how you can create your own tour with us!

 

Click here (Link to TripAdvisor) to see what others have to say on our TripAdvisor listing!


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Speyside Whiskey

Speyside Whisky Trail Tour – Because Every Malt Tastes Different

Category:Tours

Scotch whisky – who hasn’t taken a zip of it at least once in their lives?

It’s strong but it’s smooth. Scotch whisky has the perfect blend of booze that kicks but gives you one pleasurable time. People get engrossed with whisky that they need to get a glass at least once a day. And why not when it has a couple of amazing benefits to the body?

whiskey

whiskey

It keeps you sexier and protected from diabetes. It reduces stress and the risks of cancer!

So for the true whisky enthusiasts, they even go to Scotland to taste the original Scotch Whisky.

Whiskies in Scotland taste very differently, and even the single malts from different parts of the country are distinctive from one another. So every taste becomes a holy grail searched in a long, exciting trail.

And if you want to experience the unique whisky-tasting that only Scotland offers, the Speyside Whisky Trail is the most popular of them all.

Speyside Whisky Trail – Things to See and Do

Scotch whisky is a national brand worth toasting and going on a whisky trail is definitely worth boasting. If you’d like to take off on a whisky-filled adventure but you don’t know where to drive to, check the IT Tours service and find the vehicle that’ll best suit your number.

The Speyside region has a lot of scenic spots that’ll make your eyes full. You have the Millbuies Country Park to discover, the ruins of Dufus Castle to keep you in awe, and there’s the Spey Bay and Dolphin Center too where you can watch dolphins leaping playfully.

But more than these landscapes, the region is more popular for being densely populated with single malt distilleries.

Distilleries can be an hour to over an hour far from each other and some of the best might not be along the way. There are 49 distilleries in the Speyside region alone and you know that you can’t visit them all in just one day. So a well-planned itinerary can lead you the best distilleries instead.

IT Tours has no fixed itinerary to choose from since the service is rented per hour so you can enjoy every stop without having to hurry. We recommend visiting 2-3 distilleries in a day. But to give you a clue on what you might want to really see in your Speyside Whisky Trail, here’s a sample itinerary of a whisky distillery tour:

  1. GLENLIVET, CARDHU, SPEYSIDE COOPERAGE

You can start your whisky pilgrimage at The Glenlivet Distillery located at the heart of Speyside. Then later, you can drive through the River Spey to Knockando to visit Cardhu Distillery. Then end the day by heading west to Craigellachie and see how single malt is made traditionally at the Speyside Cooperage.

Stop 1 – THE GLENLIVET DISTILLERY

Enjoy a dram drawn straight from the cask at The Glenlivet Distillery in Banffshire. Your guides can give you an insight into the intriguing history of this spectacular single malt too.

Stop 2 – CARDHU DISTILLERY

13 miles from the Glenlivet Distillery, north to Knockandu is the Cardhu Distillery. This is the only malt whisky distillery pioneered by a woman. They offer here a dedicated tasting and nosing session. You can even take home a complimentary whisky glass.

Stop 3 – SPEYSIDE COOPERAGE

9 miles from Cardhu is the so-called heart of the Speyside whisky region. Here, you’ll discover the spectacular Speyside Cooperage. Here, you’ll have the unique opportunity to witness the ancient art of creating whisky barrels using traditional tools and methods. You can even make your own mini-cask.

  1. GLENFIDDICH, GLEN GRANT, STRATHISLA

Another itinerary you can check is the Dufftown distilleries. You can start at the Glenfiddich, drive a little to the Glen Grant and end the tour at the Strathisla Distillery.

Stop 1 – GLENFIDDICH DISTILLERY

Start your trip at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown. This was built by William Grant and his family over a period of 18 months. The first drops of whisky flowed from the stills on Christmas Day of 1887.

Stop 2 – GLEN GRANT DISTILLERY

In Rothes, you will see the Glen Grant Distillery. This is the only Scotch whisky distillery that is named after its founding owners. Apart from the whisky, you can explore the beautiful Victorian Garden. Of course, there will be a private tasting session to find out more about the distinctive dram.

Stop 3 – STRATHISLA DISTILLERY

About 20 minutes-drive from the Glen Grant Distillery is Keith where you’ll see the Strathisla Distillery. This is the oldest operating distillery in the Highlands which dates back to 1786. The tour can give you an insight to the art of blending as the distillery produces a range of Chivas Regal premium blended whiskies and single malt Strathisla 12-Year-Old.

  1. GLEN MORAY, BENROMACH, DALLAS DHU

 

Your third option of Speyside Whisky Trail can begin at the charming town of Elgin. Start at the Glen Moray Distillery, head west to Forres and tour Benromach Distillery, then end the tour with Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery visit.

Stop 1 – GLEN MORAY DISTILLERY

Embark on your first hour of the trail with a visit to Glen Moray Distillery in Elgin, where a warm welcome awaits you. Watch their team craft the single malt or be oriented by their very own Distillery Manager about their process of whisky-making.

Stop 2 – BENROMACH DISTILLERY

20 minutes to Forres, you’ll see the Benromach Distillery which is home to the world’s first fully certified organic single malt. Watch how Benromach create their malts with an Exclusive Manager’s Tour. You can also do hands-on bottling of their whisky.

Stop 3 – DALLAS DHU HISTORIC DISTILLERY

And in just 10 minutes of driving, you can reach the Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery. This is owned by the entrepreneur Alexander Edward. It closed production in 1983 but it’s still fascinating to look at its chequered past.

Take one or two or all of these itineraries with IT Tours and indulge in the world-renowned Scotch whisky and single malt.

Book you tours today with us!