As we weave our way through the Glasgow city centre traffic towards the motorway, Graham, our driver/guide has managed to point out historic buildings of note, cover Glasgow's history from medieval times to shipbuilding in the 70s and even managed a few laughs. This is quite a feat and the sign of an experienced guide, a promising start to my first Scottish tour bus trip.
I had chosen to join a Rabbie's small group day tour exploring Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond National Park & Glengoyne Whisky Distillery. Tales of romantic Scottish figures including Rob Roy, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace while travelling through some stunning scenery sounded amazing enough, the promise of a wee dram at the end was all the convincing I needed that this was the tour for me! I was not alone as eight other sightseers of various ages and nationalities from countries as diverse as Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada and Sweden had joined me for this mini Scottish adventure.
Our first stop of the day was Stirling Castle and as we arrived the cloudy sky opened up and the rain began to fall. I felt a bit disappointed as the views from the Castle are some of my favourite and it was hard to make out the landscape beyond the drizzle. Graham reminded us that Scotland needs rain to keep it looking so lush and beautiful and while this is true I was still secretly hoping the sun would suddenly appear along with the views.
Lately I have spent most of my time in Glasgow enjoying the atmosphere while the Commonwealth Games take place. However, with the glorious sunshine that we have been experiencing in Scotland this summer I really wanted to get out the city for the day and take in some of our stunning natural scenery.
Loch Lomond is only 30 minutes away and is an ideal destination for a day trip from Glasgow.
I love exploring this area all year round, however the lush green coloured coat that it puts on in summer makes the perfect contrast to the blue water and sky.
I started my trip at Inveruglas on the west shore, home of the Sloy Hydro-Electric Power Station which dominates the hillside. This is a popular stopping point and there are toilets and local information leaflets available which can help you plan out your travels in the area.
There is also a cafe which used to be very good and I would make a point to stop here when travelling north. Sadly the last couple of times I have been in I have experienced terrible service and found it overpriced and from reviews on TripAdvisor it seems I am not alone in my thoughts. I hate to find poor service anywhere but a cafe that operates within one of our National Parks and is frequented by tourists should be a shining example of the best Scotland has to offer. I really hope the next time I visit it has improved.
After Inveruglas I headed south to Firkin Point. Although busy with picnickers and sunbathers, a short walk and I had the place to myself.
Next destination was the pretty conservation village of Luss. With quaint cottages and stunning gardens bursting with summer flowers and scents it is easy to understand why tourists flock here.
A tour of a whisky distillery may be high on the list of things to do in Scotland but have you ever considered visiting a small, independent Scottish brewery? Widely available in pubs, supermarkets, farmer's markets and at events around the country, real ales and craft beer provide their own unique taste of Scotland.
If you're visiting the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond then follow the low road to the town of Alexandria where you will find the family run Loch Lomond Brewery tucked away in an unassuming industrial estate next to the whisky distillery (not open to the public).
It is unpretentious, not in the least bit touristy and offers a completely authentic experience. In Loch Lomond there are not many attractions that are still under the radar, this is the place to visit if you're looking for an original taste of Scotland, quite literally!
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