When we were invited on a press trip to the Scottish Highlands, staying at Eagle Brae, as much as I was looking forward to the peace and quiet, I was also hoping to see more of the area.
I have always wanted to see Loch Ness and so, when Jacobite offered a guided cruise on the Loch, we all jumped at the chance.
We were booked onto the Freedom tour, a ticket which allows you a 30 minute cruise across the Loch to explore Urquhart Castle, followed by another 30 minute cruise back.
Despite us all dressing for the Arctic, the weather was absolutely beautiful and it was lovely and warm in the sunshine. The Loch was lovely and still and we were able to sit back and simply enjoy the view. And it was every bit as beautiful as I had hoped it would be.
As we approached the other side we were all poised with our cameras ready to capture the first sightings of the castle. Urquhart Castle is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions, situated on the north-western shore of Loch Ness, it offers visitors fascinating insights into its dramatic history and spectacular views over the world-famous Loch.
Written records show that a castle has stood on this site from at least the 13th Century and has seen many battles over the years. As a family we have visited countless castles, there is something so fascinating about exploring such ancient sites, and yet none have been in such a beautiful setting as this.
Despite the castle being a ruin there is an open stair case to the bottom, and the top, so you can not only explore, but enjoy the most spectacular views!
There are information points throughout the castle to share interesting historical facts, and also guided tours at regular intervals. We were happy to explore by ourselves and, of course, given the fact we are bloggers, enjoy the many photo opportunities!
After an hour exploring it was time to board the boat again. I would definitely recommend a visit to the castle and I’m sure that if we were to visit the Highlands as a family, my children would be in their element exploring the ruins!
That evening we were invited for dinner at The Kingsmill Hotel, a fabulous four star luxury hotel in Inverness. They offer a variety of luxurious rooms, impeccable dining options and good old fashioned Scottish hospitality. And they really did offer us the most warm and sincere welcome.
There we were given a guided tour where it was evident why The Kingsmill Hotel is the leading hotel in Inverness. The rooms are spacious, well designed and oozing in luxury and, with a spa, swimming pool and gym, it really is the perfect venue for those looking for hotel accommodation in the Highlands.
Whilst enjoying a glass of Prosecco and some canapés, we were introduced to Bill, the resident bag piper who had us all clapping along and feeling a real sense of the Scottish patriarchy.
My favourite part was undoubtedly being led to our private dining room, a room which Robert Burns himself had dined in, and served the most delicious, tradition Scottish, meal.
With a five course meal, consisting of Cullen Skink, followed by a Haggis Tower with a whisky cream sauce, Feather Blade of Scottish Beef, Spiced Apple and Raisin Crumble and finally coffee and Highland tablet, I don’t think I have ever been so full in my entire life!! At one point I had to unbutton my jeans, but it was entirely worth it!!
I have genuinely never experienced such impeccable service as we did at The Kingsmill hotel. We all left feeling a little like royalty having had them pull out all the stops to make us feel so welcome. I would recommend both the Hotel and the Restaurant to anyone visiting the Highlands, and that Feather Blade of Beef has gone down in history as one of my favourite meals of all time!
There are so many more things to see and do in the Highlands, all of which I hope to do in the coming years with my family. I definitely fell in love with the Highlands and, family aside, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have shared those three days with than these gorgeous ladies. Roll on our next retreat!!