Maximizing Scotland

I took a 2-week trip to Scotland. The first week, Sept. 10-16, ’05, was spent walking in the Highlands with a small group on an escorted trip arranged by a company I found on the Internet, Wilderness Scotland, Ltd. (3A St. Vincent St., Edinburgh, EH3 6SW, Scotland; phone 011 44 131 625 6635 or visit

My total cost for the land portion of the trip was $1,139, which included a single room (at no extra charge) with a private bathroom, three meals a day and guided walks every day in the Assynt area, including a hike to the top of Mt. Sullivan on the last day.

I flew from Newark, New Jersey, to Edinburgh and took a train to Inverness where I met the group, which consisted of a couple from Australia, two men from England, a Swiss couple and a girl from Holland. I was the only American. Our tour leader, Graham Uney, took by us by van from Inverness to a guest house near Ullapool where we stayed for six nights.

One of the highlights of the trip was the 3-course dinner every day. I love fish and ordered it almost every night. The salmon, haddock and shrimp were marvelous. We would have a hot breakfast at the guest house and a bagged lunch to eat while we were walking.

Every day, including the first day, we walked. Even on the last day we stopped on the way to Inverness to walk for an hour. The scenery was breathtaking and the trip was wonderful, except that it rained for a couple of days. This was my first experience walking all day in the rain.

Yes, I would go with Wilderness Scotland again. They have walking trips, sailing trips, canoeing trips, sea kayaking and bicycling trips. They even have winter walking trips.

• Following the walking experience, I went back to Edinburgh where I had arranged for a 5-day trip, Sept. 17-21, with Rabbies Trail Burners (207 High St., Edinburgh, Scotland; phone 011-44-131-226-3133 or visit After reading readers’ comments in ITN (Aug. ’04, pg. 67 & May ’05, pg. 64), I decided to try their 5-day tour. It was better than I expected.

Our guide was Catherine Caskie. She made the trip special. As she drove the van to western Scotland, where we took the ferry to Mull and then to Iona, she entertained us with stories about Scottish history. I especially loved the personal stories about her large family.

We had 14 people in our minibus. They were of all ages, and everyone got along well. Catherine was very accommodating when we wanted five more minutes to shop.

Rabbies offers you a choice of accommodations. I chose a guest house with facilities en suite. In Skye I stayed at the Rosedale Hotel. On this tour, accommodations and meals cost extra, though breakfast was always included with the room. My cost for the Rabbies tour was $342 (I even got a senior discount), and meals and guest houses, etc., added about $500. I like to eat at good restaurants for dinner, and Catherine recommended very good ones. The seafood was wonderful.

The highlight of the trip was the day in Skye. The sun came out and I used up three rolls of film in one day. Skye has mountains, lighthouses, beaches, rugged coastline and, of course, Highland cattle and sheep.

After the Rabbies experience, I spent two nights in Edinburgh before coming home. I stayed at the Auld Reekie Guest House Edinburgh (16 Mayfield Gardens, Edinburgh EH9 2BZ; phone 0131 667 6177 or visit, which cost about $80 per night for a single room. It had a good restaurant nearby and was convenient to downtown Edinburgh by bus.

Pt. Pleasant, NJ