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Secret Scotland Tours

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
18 posts
23 reviews
Secret Scotland Tours

We have just returned to New Zealand after a 2 week driving tour of Scotland. Our Itinerary was organised by Secret Scotland Tours (www.secret-scotland.com). I just wanted to post my comments on this company, who are fantastic. There is no doubt that having this itinerary was a huge benefit to us.

Originally I supplied Secret Scotland with my own ideas, and preferences. They made a few suggestions about the proposed stopover locations, and how long to spend in different places. Once we had agreed on the overall tour, I paid a very reasonable fee and they supplied a detailed itinerary (over 100 pages) with route instructions, suggested detours, suggested places to eat, comments on what was worth seeing and what was not, as well as recommended accomodation in each location. They do not handle any of the bookings (you have to do that yourself), but their advice is invaluable.

Having now completed the tour, I can report that the itinerary was outstanding, and extremely good value for money. We visited many places, and drove on many back roads that we would not have even known about without their advice. We feel that we have seen the "real Scotland".

Although their route instructions are very detailed, we also had a GPS navigation device, which ensured we stayed on track with their instructions and certainly reduced the potential stress levels !!

I very highly recommend Secret Scotland to anybody. We have had one of the best holidays ever.

Perth, Australia
Destination Expert
for Seminyak
Level Contributor
5,876 posts
119 reviews
1. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

Glad you had a good trip. What was your route? What was the traffic on the roads in the highlands like? Because of all the negatives in this regard we're wondering about sticking to the south west and borders areas.

UK
Level Contributor
49,560 posts
91 reviews
2. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

<<Because of all the negatives in this regard>>

I don't think you have any need to be concerned, I believe you have taken a couple of throw away comments way out of context, especially with regard to people with wide bodied campervans (does that apply to you?) on narrow roads, who might have to squeeze over a couple of times a day!

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
18 posts
23 reviews
3. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

We went by train from London to Youk, where we picked up our rental car (no, not a wide bodied campervan :)), and drove through teh Yorkshire Dales to the Lake District. We then went north into Scotland and had overnight stops at Ayr, Inveraray, Portree (on Skye - we stayed 2 nights on Skye), then Gairloch (North of Skye). After Gairloch, we went east across to Inverness, but in a round about route via Ullapool. We spent two nights in Inverness and spent a day going up to DunRobin Castle, which is the furthest north I have been in my life (I am from the sourth pacific). After Inverness, we went south to Ballater, but we took the back roads through the mountains (via Grantown and Tomintoul) which were spectacular. We then went on to Pitlochry and finally Edinburgh where we left the rental car and got the train back to London. As you can see we missed the South East of Scotland, which was a pity, but you have to make choices, as there is so much to see and do. We had the rental car for 12 days.

I think

In general, we travelled on back roads, some of which were only wide enough for one vehicle with passing bays. This actually worked out fine, and we didn't think the traffic was bad (we went in September, and not school holidays). The going is a bit slow, and you have to drive carefully, but we only planned to drive 2 to 3 hours a day anyway, and give ourselves plenty of time for sight seeing. The roads are all sealed and the scenery is great. There are frequent little villages with pubs and tearooms. I think by taking the back road, we saw a lot more the "real scotland".

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
18 posts
23 reviews
4. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

Oops -- looking at my last post, I said we went by train from London to Youk -- of course, I meant York.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
2,955 posts
10 reviews
5. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

Houndsoft it sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Over the course of a couple of trips I have explored Scotland and the north of England quite extensively.

TazmoPerth_WA you don't know what you are missing- I bought myself an A3 sized road map of England and Scotland and plotted my own routes- looking for all those small roads Hounsoft was sent on. Many of those routes were the highlights of my drives. I have always had a hire car- not a campervan and have never experienced any difficulties inthe one lane sections. If you just travel on the main A roads and stick to the major towms you are missing so much of Scotland.

Out of imterest Houndsoft how much did you pay Secret Scotland so that other potential tourists can use this info to weigh up when they plan a visit.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
18 posts
23 reviews
6. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

We could have bought one of their standard itineraries from their website (for example secret-scotland.com/product/… is £15.99). But I chose to get a customised tour, which meant we corresponded for a while first, and agreed the overall structure before I paid anything. The price depends on how many days the itinerary is - we paid £65 for 12 days. Considering how much everythig costs in the UK, this was a very small amount, and very much worth it.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
2,955 posts
10 reviews
7. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

Thanks for that Houndsoft- I was curious. I know I have travelled a lot independently over I have always enjoyed planning where I want to go. I also know how many hours I have spent pouring over maps and guide books planning where to visit, opening hours of attractions and plotting the routes.

65 pounds for a 12 day trip does sound reasonable to me. If people are not confident doing it themselves, are too time poor to spend planning it due to work and family commitments, or just want some added security when setting out on a new big adventure I would agree it sounds reasonable. 5 pounds a day by my calculation.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
18 posts
23 reviews
8. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

I have also always done my own planning, and in this case I actually did hours of planning, and had the itinerary basically worked out before I discovered the Secret Scotland site. From my original plan, they suggested a couple of variations (I hadn't planned to stay in either Gairloch or Pitlochry). They also gave me some more accurate indications of travel times than I was getting from Google maps, which helped decide where the overnight stays should be. In addition to that, they gave me lists of B&Bs they had actually stayed in, plus recommendations for got tearooms, reataurants and pubs to eat at. Of the various attractions they told us which were the best "must see" and which were tacky tourist traps.

I derive a huge amount of personal satisfaction from planning and organising a big trip. I know that I wouldn't personally get as much of a buzz out of a packaged tour (I've never been on one). Secret Scotland seemed to give me the best of both (expert guidance and freedom to do my own thing), and I sure don't have any doubts at all that this trip was better, more relaxing and more satisfying as a result of using their service.

9. Re: Secret Scotland Tours

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