I'm a big fan of walking tours, there is nothing better than a local guide pointing out the hidden gems and nooks and crannies of a place that are all too easy to miss if you don't know where to look. Good walking tours bring local history to life and leave you with some great stories to take home and share.
Having never been to Linlithgow as a 'tourist', I jumped at the opportunity to join a guided historic walking tour of this royal burgh with Mary's Meanders, who not only specialise in telling intriguing local tales about Linlithgow itself but are also experts on Outlander filming locations in the area.
Emma, the owner of Mary's Meanders, had invited a group of tourism specialists and travel bloggers to sample her walking tour and to showcase some of the great things that Linlithgow has to offer. It was fantastic to spend a day out with so many people passionate about Scottish tourism and of course some fab fellow bloggers!
Our knowledgeable guide for the hour was Anne who has lived in the town for 20 years. Her passion and enthusiasm for Linlithgow were obvious and her warm, down to earth personality made her the perfect group host.
As we navigated our way past characterful buildings, weathered plaques and significant statues we learned the stories behind them and some well known facts about the town such as it being the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, however I also learned plenty of new trivia, like why you are called a 'Black Bitch' if you are born in Linlithgow and which well known politician would be proud if you called them one!
Not surprisingly the tour ended up at Linlithgow Palace, which despite being a ruin, still commands impressively over the town. Anne provided an informative narrative history of this former royal retreat and as an Outlander fan I was delighted when she took us into the dark depths of the building to show us where scenes from the TV series were filmed when it was used as the interior of Wentworth Prison.
If you are an Outlander fan then you will be excited to know that Mary's Meanders will also be running Outlander tours and Taste of Outlander dinner shows this year.
Although walking is a great way to explore the town, for a tour with a difference you can hop on a colourful canal boat and enjoy the scenery of the Union Canal. Thanks to the Linlithgow Union Canal Society our group was able to experience a short but picturesque boat trip along this well engineered waterway. They run various boat trips from April to September and I really recommend joining one for a unique adventure.
After a morning of exploring I was ready to head back to the Star and Garter Hotel for lunch and as we ate and chatted the group enjoyed some traditional Scottish music from Boorach and a sword dance by a couple of Highland dancers, all of whom will be providing entertainment at the Taste of Outlander dinner show. I will be attending a full preview of the show later this month so will report back with a full review then, however I think it is fair to say the whole group were tapping and clapping along!
With time to spare in the afternoon I decided to head back to Linlithgow Palace to take in the stunning views over the town and local loch from the top, well worth the climb!
One final stop I had to make before leaving was at chocolatier Sebastian Kobelt's shop for some delicious artisan truffles. I'm not a huge chocolate eater and on the occasions I do like to indulge I am a bit fussy about only eating quality chocolate and this shop oozes cocoa excellence in a multitude of flavours. I opted for my old favourite salted caramel and the exotic sounding winter cranachan, needless to say I wasn't disappointed and will be back for another supply later this month!
I would like to thank Emma for arranging a perfect introduction to Linlithgow which is within easy reach of both Glasgow and Edinburgh. I'm already looking forward to my next visit and of course previewing the Taste of Outlander Show later this month.
As always all experiences and views are honest and my own!
To find out more about the tours available from Mary's Meanders check out their website
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