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The Lonely Planet has just name The highlands and Islands of Scotland as one of the best top ten holiday destination. It talks about the route 500.and 250 the scenery and natural beauty. Whilst you can not argue against this article, you need to remember that the advertising for the route 500 has made this area busy, you need to make sure you have booked accommodation in advance and know where the refreshment places are.
The Southern Highlands and Islands are just as stunning and off the ‘beaten track’
Whatever you do don’t look at the map and think ‘we’ve only got 80 miles to drive today, we’ll have loads of time’.
The roads are slow and difficult to navigate and you’ll inevitably get stuck behind a RV, caravan or two. Once you factor in endless stops for unmissable photos, side-trips to museums, beaches and a wee hike, time for lunch, a little tea break by the roadside and spontaneous detours to places you see signposted off the route, it will be 7 p.m. before you know it and you’ll only have driven 60 miles! https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-45940644#_=_
The on-line travel agencies made up of companies like Expedia, Bookingdotcom, Priceline Group, TripAdvisor, airB&B and increasingly, Ctrip et al, have been trying to corner the market and have done a really good job of selling the idea that they give the best deals.
A new movement , Book Direct, has been set up lead by global players like Hilton, Ritz and Marriott chains as well as many small independent business to explain that booking direct is the cheapest way to book your stay.
At the Old Manse, Kilmartin we tend not to use these agencies, having people booking direct via our website, thus keeping the prices down for our customers and ourselves.
A great local event is the World Stone Skimming contest on Easdale island, this year its on Sunday 23 September 2018, with a restriction on 350 entrants. The event was started in 1983 and resurrected in 1997. Contestants hail from around the world and the championships now attract over 300 participants and many spectators. Anyone of any age and any level of skill can enter.
Official Rules of the World Stone Skimming Championships are:
Skimming stones must be no more than 3 inches in diameter and formed naturally of Easdale slate
To qualify, the stone must hit the water 3 times and sink within the designated lane as marked by the buoys
Skims are judged on the distance thrown rather than the number of bounces
Competitors hitting the back wall are entered into a ‘Three Stone Toss-Off’ which is judged by the cumulative distance of their three tie-break throws.
The UK government is looking into booking websites and its about time. In our experience these sites are nothing but ripoffs and we are trying to stay away from them, however there dominance in the market is making it hard to ignore them.
At The Old Manse in Kilmartin we presently do not use Booking.com, Expedia, trip advisor etc we only deal with direct bookings except from our airb&B entry. Air B&B charge us a % so guest coming to us through them are paying 9% more than people who book directly via our website. On trip advisor we now come fairly low on the list of recommended places to stay in Kilmartin, not because of the reviews but because we are not on their booking system and they get no commission from us.
We made enquiries regarding charges from booking.com its 18%, and expedia was 20%, with trip advisor being 21% these fees get added to your bill. The following article explains the situation quite well. article
At the Old Manse our booking system is called Free to Book its a small private company that supplies us with the means of an online calendar that we can show on our website and allow customers to book directly, we pay £1 per booking for this service. We also have an addon app to the system that allows us to take credit and debit cards online and at the the guest house.
Di, & myself went on a day trip on the Waverley Paddle Steamer, the last ocean going paddle steamer. The trip was a round trip from Oban taking in four lochs and the Corryvreckan whirlpool. The trip traveled from Oban to Crinan loch, so we were able to see local landmarks from a different perspective. The journey through the straights of corryvreckan was calm and there was no sign of the whirlpool than can make the trip through it spectacular. Crinan was lovely with views of Duntroon castle, at this point we were four miles from home. The trip back up included visits to loch Craignish, around the Craignish point, past Craobh Haven, to Arduaine Gardens and into Loch Melford. Traveling around the island of Luing, we then headed north with Easdale island on our right, through the Sound of Kerrera, back to Oban.
It was a great day out that we really enjoyed. The Waverley do other trips from different ports near the Old Manse throughout the summer season
The Crinan Canal is known as Britians most beautiful shortcut
The Crinan Canal starts at Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne, and ends nine miles away at Crinan on the Sound of Jura. It was designed to provide a quick link between the west coast and islands at one end and the Clyde Estuary at the other, and so avoid the long voyage around the south end of the Kintyre peninsula, which is featured in Paul McCartneys song Mull of Kyntyre.
In the nine miles from Ardrishaig to Crinan there are 15 locks and the canal reaches a height of 65 feet above sea level. The summit reach of the canal is relatively short and every time a boat goes through the locks about 300,000 litres of water are used. No fewer than seven reservoirs feed the summit to ensure that the Canal does not run dry.