Glasgow Photo Diary: Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond + Glengoyne Distillery

Sunday, October 06, 2019
If you've been following me on instagram (@ofbeautyand) over the past couple of days then you might have seen my Instagram stories of my quick visit to Glasgow! If you want to see more photographs then check out the 'Glasgow 19' stories highlight on my instagram profile. I headed to Glasgow with one of my best friends as I was very kindly gifted a free stay at the Hallmark Hotel in Glasgow - my review will be live very soon so stay tuned. 

There are so many sites to see within Glasgow itself such as the Kelvingrove Museum and Glasgow Cathedral as well as the Museum of Modern Art, the latter we did see on our first day in Glasgow. I did also want to explore a little outside of Glasgow into the surrounding cities and sites so I booked us on a tour with Rabbies (only the hotel stay was gifted - we paid for the travel and tour with Rabbies). 
Stirling Castle 
On the first day in Glasgow we didn't see too much as we knew that the day after would be a very busy and a very long day, including a three hour train journey back to Manchester so we looked through the shops on Buchanan Street (which is such a beautiful shopping street - most of the architecture in Glasgow is gorgeous) and we looked through the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art as well as relaxing at the hotel. 

However, the second day we had a very early start to meet our Rabbies tour in George Square which was only a twenty minute walk from our hotel and thankfully we made it with time to spare. The tour I booked was 'Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond and Whisky' which is a one day tour starting in Glasgow and it returned to the same point in George Square at the end of the day so it was very handy for us as we didn't have much time. 
Before booking the train and hotel, I hadn't heard of Rabbies before but they had great reviews and the price was fantastic considering the convenience of a tour, the location and the number of places we'd visit during the day. The mini bus was ideal for our small group, there were USB ports to charge your phone, the driver/guide (our guide was Iain) was very knowledgable and it was an easy way of visiting numerous places in one day.

We heading north on the M80 to Stirling which is a place I've wanted to visit for a while, not just because of the beautiful castle and history but because a few members of my mums family were from the area. The journey to the castle was quick and we were able to get a discount on the entrance fee to the castle because we were part of a Rabbies tour which is something I didn't know before we arrived at the castle so we saved a little money on the entry to the castle and the distillery.
The drive up to the castle was quite steep but the areas of Stirling that we passed through looked utterly beautiful and the castle was even more so. As we arrived before 10am, there were very few tourists which was great as it meant that we missed the queues. The castle itself is incredibly beautiful as were the gorgeous views! We didn't go on a free tour so we didn't learn as much about the castle as we could have but it was a lovely place to explore (even if it was freezing cold and very windy).

We had just under two hours to explore the castle and I think we only looked through the main sections of the castle - there's too much to fully explore within less than two hours! My only disappointment at the castle (and of the day) was that the castle seemed to be mostly renovated so it looked new which I wasn't expecting and it didn't seem as historic (if that makes sense) as the other incredible castles and royal palaces I've vivid such as Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. We were able to get some great photographs of the castle and views, visit the three shops and rest in the cafe which did have vegan options although as our next stop was for a lunch break in the small town of Aberfoyle I didn't buy anything but I'm glad there are a couple of vegan options available!
Aberfoyle, Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond + Milarrochy Bay 
After visiting the castle we headed back on the road to the Trossachs National Park but we passed through a few beautiful villages on the way including Callander (which features a hotel were Queen Victoria stayed), Kilmahog, Balmaha and various smaller lochs in the national park such as Loch Achray, Loch Venachar and lastly Loch Lomond along the West Highland Way.

However, the first stop was for a lunch in Aberfoyle which is a small village in the county of Perthshire and the only vegan option I could find was chips but I'm from Manchester so I was not complaining! The drive from Aberfoyle through the Trossachs National Park was a bumpy one with lots of twisting, stomach turning and sometimes steep roads (so if that's something you are wary of then this might not be the tour for you - I don't get car sick but my stomach was turning).
The drive did feature some of the most beautiful scenery, from the dense woodland of the national park and the gorgeous lochs to the impressive hunters lodges and grand hotels along the route. We did make one stop before Loch Lomond and that was at Loch Achray were there were some rather cute (and also almost rather massive) highland cows!

Lastly, we stopped at Milarrochy Bay which is only one very small area of Loch Lomond and it's one that is sometimes missed by other tour buses but I'm glad we stopped there was it was so beautiful and almost completely empty. Loch Lomond is one of the biggest and most visited lakes in Scotland and it's easy to see why; from the beautiful waters and wildlife filled woodlands to the wallaby inhabited islands (yes, there are wallabies on one of the islands in Loch Lomond) and the plethora of activities to do on and around the lake.
I did enjoy Stirling Castle and the drive through the Trossachs National Park (not so much the bumpy roads but the incredible landscape); however I think Loch Lomond and Milarrochy Bay were my highlights of the day as not only was it such a peaceful place to be but the scenery is perfect, there weren't hoards of tourists and I think I would love to go back to that area as I think the walking trials and woodlands would be perfect to explore further.

Most of my mum's family are from Scotland, for as far back as we can go and I'm definitely proud to be part of such a beautiful country. I've been lucky enough to visit various areas of Scotland such as the Isle of Arran, Mull, Oban, Fort William and Edinburgh and while Edinburgh is my favourite city in Scotland, I think that the Trossachs National Park and Loch Lomond are well worth visiting and somewhere I would love to spend much more time exploring in the future, particularly during the autumn months.
Glengoyne Distillery 
From Loch Lomond we travelled on, you guessed it, more bumpy, steep and stomach turning roads but the scenery made me queasiness worth it! There are so many areas of Scotland that remind me of the villages we have passed through in Norway - I would love to live within Scotland or Norway rather than (beautiful but) rainy Manchester! Thankfully the drive from Loch Lomond to the Glengoyne distillery was fairly quick and again when we arrived at the distillery the entrance fee was reduced as we were part of a Rabbies tour.

I have to start this section with a disclaimer, I don't really drink alcohol apart from on special occasions so I did try the whisky on the tour as it was included in the distillery tour price - you don't have to try the whisky and if you are under 18 then the tour is free (obviously you can't have any of the whisky either). The distillery is almost bordering the highlands and it seems to be in the middle of nowhere but the buildings and surroundings are unexpectedly beautiful.
Growing up, we went camping with our friends every summer to various locations around the UK including Devon, Cornwall, Llandudno and Oban and my dad would drag us around beer and whisky distilleries so it is something I've seen before but until now I've never been old enough to appreciate not only the manufacturing process and machinery involved but also the final product.

As I've said, I don't really drink and I definitely haven't tried any whisky until going on the tour, never mind twelve year old single malt Highland whisky...I did drink all of the shot of whisky and it was surprisingly enjoyable. I didn't know what to expect other than the strength of it might go to my head but it had a tingling warmth to it which definitely helped fight the cold and wind we had experienced all day!
The buildings of the distillery were so quaint and completely unexpected as I thought it would look very industrial and mechanical but it seems like such a pleasant place to work especially with the waterfall, pond and beautiful autumn scenery around it. I only have a few photographs of the distillery and mostly of the outer buildings as you couldn't take photographs inside due to a fire risk because it is a working distillery.

The smell inside the distillery was amazing, it was interesting to learn about the various process involved and how the alcohol changes as it ages. The one hour tour was less than £10 with the Rabbies discount so I'd definitely recommend it and there's a great shop on the site as well where I bought my dad a mini bottle of the whisky I'd tried because I knew that if I didn't bring one back for him to try, he'd be very disappointed!

Overall, as we only had a couple of days in Glasgow I think a tour was the perfect way to explore much more of the country than you would on your own. The tour guide was great, the scenery was incredible (especially at this time of the year when the leaves are turning), the price was fantastic considering the length of the journey and the added discount at both Stirling Castle and the Glengoyne distillery was an unexpected bonus. If you have a day or two in Glasgow then I cannot recommend this tour enough and stay tuned for my review of the fantastic Hallmark Hotel very soon.

Have you been on a Rabbies tour? Have you been to any of the places mentioned? 

10 comments

  1. Scotland is beautiful, but then I am bias lol.

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  2. So beautiful!Wish to go there one day

    https://villemo20.blogspot.com/

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  3. It's such a beautiful city! So much greenery


    Candice

    natalyaamour.com

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  4. Wow these photos are all stunning! I would love to see more of Scotland one day xx

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  5. I've never been to Scotland but I'd love to go x

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  6. Lovely photos! I think Glasgow is such an underrated city

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

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  7. Ahhh you're photos are beautiful! I've always wanted to visit Scotland. Maybe one day xx

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  8. I’d love to visit Glasgow the scenery alone is just stunning x

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  9. I've never been to Scotland but this sounds like such a great trip! x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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