Discover Scotland’s Castles, Gardens, and Malt Whisky Trails | Travel Research Online


Discover Scotland’s Castles, Gardens, and Malt Whisky Trails


Regular readers will be familiar with my four-word mantra of “TRAVEL LESS, SEE MORE.” This week, I’m taking you north of Hadrian’s Wall as I sow some seeds that could become the basis for a customised tour for 2-4 or 10-12 clients in the spring/summer of next year. Read on, become inspired, dream a little and then let’s exchange some emails about a plan for 2021.

Explore Scotland

To get your bearings and to begin to capture the extent and variety of what Scotland has to offer, take a few moments to discover its towns, villages, cities, iconic attractions and stunning landscapes from the comfort of your own home. They’re as varied and as diverse as they come, so no matter where you end up, you’ll be blown away by the breath-taking setting around you. It may be a small country, but it’s got a huge personality.

Amber Nectar

From peaty Islay Whiskies to golden Speyside malts, everyone has their own favourite dram. What’s yours?  List them, find a few friends and then time a tour to coincide with annual festivals like the Spirit of Speyside Distilled (end August) or the Spirit of the North Festival (end September). In 2021, topped and tailed with time in Edinburgh, plan a customised tour to coincide with The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (end April), the Highland Whisky Festival ((May) or the Edinburgh Whisky Festival (June).

Around the World in One Country

The west of Scotland is another world waiting to be explored. Harry Potter fans can hop aboard the Jacobite Steam Train – used as the Hogwarts Express – and marvel at the outstanding views as you travel across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. Don’t forget the magnificence of Glencoe and learn about the areas turbulent past and make time to take a cruise and see the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Further south discover the championship golf courses at Prestwick, Royal Troon and Trump Turnberry.

The Castles of Royal Deeside

With over 260 castles, stately homes and ruins dotting its landscape, Aberdeenshire is unsurprisingly known as ‘Scotland’s Castle Country.’  There are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK, and you can discover delight in the romance of an award-winning trail that features 19 of the most famous and dramatic castles in North East Scotland. It includes Balmoral, the Scottish home of the Royal Family since 1854, the rich complexity of Royal Lochnagar Single Malt Whisky and the famous Braemar Gathering.

Rhododendron Festival in Argyll and Bute

Swathes of bright yellows, purples, pinks and reds spread their way across Scotland, brightening up the dullest of day announcing the arrival of Spring.  This annual floral celebration takes place during April and May and is based on 20 gardens that vary in size, style and maturity, dating from the 13th to the 20th century. They are spread throughout the mainland of Argyll (north west of Glasgow) often in dramatic scenery, and across to the islands of Bute, Gigha, and Seil.

Year of Coast and Waters

In a normal year, Scotland would be celebrating its Year of Coasts & Waters through a programme of exciting events, festivals and activities. Its 10,000km of coastline, historic harbours and inland waterways has shaped its history and influenced its culture. From dramatic sea stacks to imposing castles, freshly caught seafood to craft beer and a wee dram of island malt. It’s an experience you’ll never forget and unaffected by COVID-19, it will still be there for you to fully enjoy next year.

Paull Tickner, owner of U.K-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at or email him at

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