Our first blog post -This story begins with an email on a Thursday evening.
A small group from America, on a ship, cruising around the UK had been looking for a local minibus company to take them on a small and personal type tour of the South West of Scotland (they had already done the Loch Lomond tour previously with another tour operator booked by the ship).
At M-Line Travel we refer to the South West of Scotland as “Scotland’s Hidden Gem”.
Two or three emails later we had agreed a price for the 14-seater (10 in the group) for our South West of Scotland Tour. Picking them up from just outside the terminal building at Greenock at 8:30 am. We quickly introduced ourselves to our new best friends and they made themselves comfortable.
We made our way down part of the coast road with some toffees to chew on with views on the right to Arran, you would think we were in a totally different part to the world, blue sky and blue sea, watching the Arran Ferry making its way over the Firth of Clyde. In the distance still some snow visible on the top of Goat Fell (mountain on Arran).
First stop is Dundonald Castle, near Royal Troon very famous for its Golf. Dundonald Castle has a visitor’s centre with their own tour guide (very friendly chap). Within the group there were a few golfers so we made a small diversion to visit Royal Troon and take some pictures. This is the difference between a small personal tour rather than in a 52-seater coach tour.
On to our next stop Dumfries House and Gardens (beautiful at this time of year) purchased by Prince Charles a few years ago. Prince Charles often stays in the house. You can tell by his flag flying on one of the turrets.
As we drove in, we could see from a distance that there was a “Royal in residence”, his flag flying, much to the excitement of the group. It wouldn’t be the first time that Prince Charles has been seen walking in the gardens. We did as a group have a walk around the gardens, but unfortunately, we can’t promise a chat with Prince Charles, (it’s not possible to book this haha). So, waving goodbye to Prince Charles we set off, to our next stop.
Travelling through East Ayrshire and heading to Ayr in South Ayrshire a little village on the outsides with a beautiful quaint harbour is Dunure. Dunure, last year saw the invasion of the film crew from “Outlander” for a scene in season 3. The harbour area of the little Ayrshire village was totally transformed to a set from that era. Dunure harbour is one of those serene and tranquil places. The small fishing boats bobbing up and down, waves gently hitting the stones on the small beach. These are the type of memories to hold on to.
Just along the coast a few miles is “The Eighth Wonder of the World” in Ayrshire terms – The “Electric Brae”.
The Electric Brae is a gravity hill, where a freewheeling vehicle will appear to be drawn uphill by some mysterious attraction. When we arrived at the start, I slowed down to a virtual stop. (Remember we are in a 14-seater minibus with 10 people on board).
The minibus slowly started to go up the hill backwards. (the minibus is in neutral and I am NOT touching any pedals) there was an eerie silence for a few seconds, everyone wondering what’s going on. How can a vehicle go uphill of its own free will? It’s MAGIC!
From the Electric Brae you can see Culzean Castle and its gardens.
Culzean Castle has a strong link with President Eisenhower. The top-floor apartment was presented to him for his lifetime in recognition of his role during World War II.
You can stay in the impressive Eisenhower Apartment as a paying guest. Culzean Castle can be booked for weddings.
Last year M-line Travel brought some clients from around Ayrshire to an American couples wedding, what a great venue.
You could spend a full day in Culzean Castle but I am sorry we are on a schedule.
Turnberry Rear Entrance
Just a few miles down the road is another Famous American, Trump Turnberry Hotel. One of the best wedding venues in Ayrshire, Fantastic views in a great location. As we make our way up the long drive, we can hear the sound to the Bagpipes.
Around the back at the main entrance next to the large fountain a lone piper playing in some Wedding guests, everyone dressed in Kilts. What a spectacular day to visit. We had a quick walk around, and a visit to the washroom, time to get back on board, nearly lunch time.
Five minutes from Turnberry Hotel is a “wee hidden gem” and is a good bit cheaper than Turnberry Hotel.
Dowhill farm and gift shop is stocked full of home-grown vegetables & locally sourced goods, has a farmhouse Restaurant which features daily specials and hearty home-cooked meals.
The gift shop is a lovely place to have a wander around and pick up a small souvenir of your trip. With all our group happy and content, we jump on the minibus and start our way back.
Next stop is A. D. Rattray’s Whisky Experience, in Kirkoswald.
Located in a beautifully renovated old village school. The guy’s will guide you through your whisky experience, whether you’re a whisky lover or enjoying your first dram. Nose and taste exquisite spirits in the Tasting Room, personalise your own bottle in the Cask Room and explore some the world’s finest single malts in the shop.
If you want a personal tasting this must be pre-booked for your party. Don’t worry you can still have a wee taste in the shop. As you can imagine this was the highlight of the tour for some of our guests. Feeling a bit tipsy back on the bus again.
Making our way back up to Alloway, just south of Ayr to visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum to learn about Scotland famous poet and get some pictures on the “Brig “O” Doon.”
Burns mentioned this place in one of his poems Tam “O” Shanter. One of the ladies said, “the museum had far more in it than we expected you could easily spend an hour here, browsing.”
The Last stop off M-Line Travels South West Scotland Tour is Largs.
A traditional, old fashioned Scottish seaside town with fish and chip shops and the Famous Nardinis Ice-cream. We must sample these fine products, not the healthiest, but you can’t be good all the time and you are on holiday.
So, all back on the minibus back up to Greenock. Arriving at the terminal building in good time. I always like to give myself a good hour before the ship is due to depart.
All my passengers loved the more personal type tour and thanked me for a great day. They have been a lovely bunch of people, and that’s why I love my job. Looking forward to the next tour.
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