I have just returned from my very first coach holiday with Lochs and Glens in Fort William, Scotland which was surprisingly really good fun! I was hesitant at first because it's a tour company mainly aimed at the older generation and as I was going with my Granny I thought I wouldn't get any time to myself or enjoy any of it, but I couldn't have been more wrong.
The Highland Hotel is a grand Victorian hotel with open fires and wooden panellling, situated beside Loch Linnhe with views to the distant Stuart Hills and in close proximity to Ben Nevis.
It is a place to reflect on the beauty of the surrounding Scottish landscape and offers easy access to the tourist town of Fort William.
Lochs and Glens
Lochs and Glens are a holiday company which has been in operation for over 40 years. It is a family run business which own both the coaches we travelled on as well as all of the hotels within the Lochs and Glens brand.
The best part about travelling with Lochs and Glens in this way is that they can personalise each tour to the passengers they have on board as well as offer great value for money on each holiday booked.
This also allows the staff (drivers, hotel staff, etc) to give each guest that personal touch when arriving on holiday.
They have been perfecting their coach holidays for decades and tailor make each itinerary to explore all sorts of attractions.
The company itself was founded in 1979 with one hotel in Arrochar but by 1990 their portfolio included 4 hotels and many of their own coaches.
By 1999 the Loch Tummel Hotel was purpose built by Lochs and Glens, followed by the purchase of the Highland Hotel (where we stayed) in 2008 which was subsequently stripped down and renovated.
After 8 years of planning and negotiation the Ardgartan Hotel finally opened its doors in 2012, just a few miles from Arrochar where the company began so many years before.
For the past 40 years, they have continued to expand, refurbish and renovate the properites, whilst modernising their coaches and developing a broader range of exciting itineraries.
Itinerary - Highland Hotel Autumn Break 5 Days.
Day 1 - Travel Harrogate to Fort William (Friday)
Day 2 - Cruise Loch Ness (Saturday)
Day 3 - Mallaig (Sunday)
Day 4 - Glencoe, Rannoch Moor and Oban (Monday)
Day 5 - Travel Fort William to Harrogate (Tuesday)
The Highland Hotel
The situation of the Highland Hotel is just absolutely stunning. You can sit anywhere within the hotel and look out over the gorgeous Loch Linnhe which looks just as beautiful in the sunshine as it does during a dreich day.
It's located on a hill so you get a fantastic view all the way around and when you're coming back in the coach on an afternoon it looks spectacular.
Inside the hotel has been thoughtfully renovated in keeping with its history. The wooden floors and oak panelling hark back to its past and blend perfectly with its surroundings. It looks regal perched atop of the hill looking out over Loch Linnhe.
The rooms themselves are basic but adequate enough for what you need them for. My room had a double bed, desk, tea/coffee facilities, en-suite bathroom, flat-screen TV and a small window which overlooked the top of the kitchen and part of the loch.
The bed was comfortable but I personally found the pillows too thin and needed to sleep with at least two, when at home (with my new ones!) I only need the one! But I found I was comfy sitting up in bed when I wanted to watch TV. This is always one perk I love when staying in hotels, being able to watch TV in bed as at home I don't have one in my room!
The whole hotel is just beautiful and allows for quiet contemplation from almost every angle. From the dining rooms to the bar area, there are views for days which constantly change from one moment to the next, as is the nature of Scottish weather!
Day 2 - Cruise Loch Ness
After an early start (breakfast at 7:30AM!) it was on board the bus to head towards Inverness and Loch Ness to search for that ever so infamous monster! We had a boat to catch so couldn't be late but once there we realised it was definitely worth it as we pretty much had the whole boat to ourselves.
The cruise itself was blissful, the water was calm which allowed our boat to sail quietly along the foreshore, all the while keeping an eye out for mountain goats. Unfortunately I didn't see any - neither did anyone else on the boat so who knows if they were actually there!
The rain held off for our cruise and walk back to the bus where we set off for the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition and lunch at the Drumnadrochit hotel. The exhibition itself told the story of Nessy, the history surrounding this myth as well as tales from people who claim to have seen her over the years!
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Commando Memorial which is dedicated to the memory of all Commandos who gave their lives in the service of this country during the 1939-1945 War. Comrades who have died since the cessation of hostilities are also remembered here.
We then stopped by Neptune's Staircase is a staircase lock system comprising of eight locks in total and take an hour and a half to go through.
It was built by Thomas Telford between 1803-1822 and is Britain's longest staircase lock system.
We then headed back to the hotel to rest before dinner later that night.
Day 3 - Mallaig
The next morning after a more reasonable start we headed out to visit Mallaig, stopping off first at the Glenfinnen Monument which stands a reminder to those who fought in the Jacobite Risings.
There also just happens to be a very famous viaduct there which has been used for many film and TV series previously. If you're a Harry Potter fan you may recognise it from that famous scene with the flying Ford Anglia!
Mallaig is a beautiful fishing town located in Lochaber on the west coast of Scotland. We visited on a Sunday so it was fairly quiet and most of the shops were closed, so there wasn't much to see but it still made for a good morning out and photo opportunities.
It felt a bit like going back in time, to a town in which fishing was still the mainstay of many of people still living there. I even saw a fisherman fixing his nets, just next to where I took this photo. I guess still goes on no matter the weather of day of the week!
I wandered around taking photos, looked in the one shop which was open and then headed to the pub for a much needed drink!
On the way home we crossed over on the Corran ferry to save some much needed time going all the way around like we'd done in the morning!
It was only 5 minutes or so but it was fun to experience something which to the locals was just a way to get from one side of the loch to the other.
Another fantastic day out on board the Lochs and Glens coach.