Issue 59, Spring 2024

In this issue our featured photograph is of Oban, one of the most popular destinations for Lochs and Glens guests since the very earliest days of our company.

Until the late 19th century Oban was just a small fishing port with a distillery, but with the arrival of the railway in 1880, it quickly became a fashionable resort for the well heeled and many of the fine Victorian buildings that quickly appeared along the seafront can still be seen today and, despite all of the changes, the town still retains an enduring charm.

Unless the weather is particularly unkind, there is always plenty to do. Often overlooked is the opportunity of visiting the charming island of Kerrera, (shown in the foreground of the above photo), just 15 minutes away via a launch from the North Pier. For the more energetic, a climb up to McCaig’s Tower or Pulpit Hill is well rewarded with superb views or one can simply wander along the pier watching the bustle of the island ferries coming and going and the fishing trawlers unloading their catch. Visits to Oban during the coming season are included in many of the hotel itineraries.

Lochs and Glens Holidays started life in the early 1980’s when we had just two hotels. Back then we were at the mercy of big companies like Wallace Arnold to bring us customers, and although they were good to work with, we couldn’t rely on them to bring us sufficient business to survive. We decided to independently arrange our own holidays by directly hiring coaches and placing small adverts in local newspapers. We were astonished at the instant success. This was probably due to the fact that, as our costs were very much lower, we were able to offer significantly better value for money. We gradually extended until we were operating throughout the country, always bearing in mind that success depended not only on consistently providing high quality holidays, but on being able to successfully advertise them.

A lot has changed since those early years and that includes advertising. Sadly, many of the local papers that were so much a part of our early success have closed, so now we are venturing into the realm of TV advertising. I confess to being rather pleased that video scenes that I have obtained from my drone over the years are to be used in the adverts. When I was in my mid-seventies, my son Neil helped me master the complexities of drone flight and consequently it became a bit of an obsession - keeping an eye on the forecast for the ideal weather conditions to get that perfect shot. Although you can see these videos on our website, I hope that you might see some of them on your TVs soon.

However, despite all of the above, we have always appreciated that by far and away the most successful advertising has been by word of mouth and we are eternally grateful to those guests who have enjoyed their holidays with us sufficiently to recommend them to friends. Thank you.

Michael Wells OBE, Chairman

The Kyle Line

The railway journey between Dingwall and the Kyle of Lochalsh must surely be one of the most dramatic and scenic routes in the world. It is simply spectacular, but it was built, and has subsequently survived, against almost overwhelming odds.

The final 12 miles of track between Stromeferry and the Kyle of Lochalsh was very nearly it’s undoing. It took a gang of 80 navvies four years to complete. The slow progress was due to the many sections that had to be cut through solid rock that had a degree of hardness never before encountered by railway engineers. It was finally completed in 1897 at an average cost of £20,000 per mile, an immense sum in those days. The line’s problems were not over, as during the 1960’s and 1970’s, it was twice scheduled for closure and was only reprieved after determined local opposition.

So we are delighted to announce that during 2024, a journey along this special line will, once again, be included in some Highland Hotel itineraries. Our guests will join the train in the market town of Dingwall, at the head of the Cromarty Firth, then travel along the 63 miles of single track, before finally arriving at the Kyle of Lochalsh, the transport and shopping centre of the area.

Here, the scenery is no less dramatic with the graceful Skye Bridge in the foreground and the mighty Cuillin mountains in the distance. There will be time to explore the town before boarding the coach for the journey back to the hotel to complete a truly memorable day.


2024 is a special year for the City of Stirling as it is the year when it celebrates its 900th anniversary. However, there has been a fortress on top of the volcanic crag where the castle now stands since prehistoric times.

The centre of Stirling is remarkably compact and, for the reasonably fit, it is a comfortable walk along the cobbled streets winding through beautifully preserved buildings right up to the castle, a building that has had a long and turbulent history and is well worth a visit. It has survived several sieges, particularly during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with the last being in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle.

Return to the city centre via the Old Town being sure to visit the remarkable Church of the Holy Rude, which has been the Parish Church of Stirling since its inception and is the only church still in active use, apart from Westminster Abbey, to have hosted a coronation.

Day excursions to Stirling have been arranged during the coming season in a number of the hotel itineraries.

READER’S VIEWS - A selection of your letters and photos

My 80th birthday cake made by my daughter as I am such a regular Lochs and Glens customer. She also treated me to this wonderful holiday at Loch Tummel. Thanks to her and all at Lochs and Glens from the office staff to the operational team who look after us so well.

William Strannigan

Just thought I would take a moment to give some positive feedback on our recent stay at Loch Achray. Our room at the hotel was warm and had been recently re-furbished. Food was lovely with enough choice, all served by friendly staff.

We woke up the next morning to snow and by the afternoon you wouldn’t believe how beautiful the weather was as we sailed across Loch Lomond to the Inversnaid Hotel for lunch. See picture attached.

Lastly but not least, we had a lovely crowd on the coach which always makes for a memorable break away. Thank you again Lochs and Glens.

Susan Lennox-Hales, Maidstone

Fireworks display at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
The loch view at the Loch Tummel Hotel

Ardgartan Sunset, Elaine Clements, Kings Lynn (Photo completion entry - so nearly a prize winner)

Just writing to say thank you for our recent stay at Ardgartan for the Edinburgh Tattoo. We were well looked after by Ian and the team at Ardgartan and Tommy kept us all in check. He is an excellent driver with lots of information to share.

We were blessed with the weather, with it raining only a couple of times and then when we were in the hotel or on the coach. The excursions were just right, with opportunity to spend time around the hotel and the beautiful surroundings, and paddling in the Loch as well as going out.

Emma Bradley, Woodborough, Nottingham

My friend and I went on your Autumn safari holiday staying at the Loch Tummel Hotel. Wow is the first expression that comes to mind. We have been on your holidays many times before and now have stayed in all of your hotels.

Loch Tummel Hotel has the most stunning outlook and Sue and I had a room overlooking the loch so were able to see dawn rise most mornings, sitting on my bed by the window cup of tea in hand watching all the magic of nature in front of us.

The food was it’s usual high standard as was the entertainment; we laughed our socks off and even won the quiz for the first time.

Rowena West, Farnham

If you have a photo taken on a Lochs and Glens Holiday that you would like to share with our readers, please email it to

Inversnaid Hotel - 140 years ago

A kindly guest recently sent me this fascinating photograph of the Inversnaid hotel staff taken in the early 1880’s that must surely rank as one of the earliest hotel staff photos. It must have been a serious affair as, apart from the girl on the far left, there is scarcely a smile to be seen.

It is interesting to speculate as to the positions held by the various individuals. I imagine the three ladies in full length white aprons are the kitchen/waiting staff with the senior cook standing next to the piper. The two stern ladies in black on the right must surely have held senior positions, the seated lady in particular would clearly not have tolerated any slacking by the youngsters. But what about the fashionable lady in a dress that gives her the appearance of having an exceedingly small waist - a receptionist possibly? Then there are two footmen/ porters standing at the back and, in the centre, a magnificent piper in full highland dress who, I imagine, would have piped all new arrivals into the hotel. Then comes the groom, probably the same gentleman who can be seen in charge of the horses in the photograph on the right - which is from the same period.

At the time when the above picture was taken there would of course, been no plumbing to the bedrooms. A washing bowl and a jug of warm water would have been delivered to each room twice daily, then later retrieved along with the used chamber pots. Could this have been the unenviable duty of the sad looking lady on the right with the frilly hat I wonder? We shall never know.

Loch Ness Visitor Centre

A picture of The Loch Ness Centre where you can walk through 500 million years of history.
A very blurry image of the Loch Ness Monster

The famous 1934 photograph that created a worldwide media sensation.

Loch Ness is 23 miles long and extends from Inverness in the North to Fort Augustus in the South. It is immensely deep, over 750 feet at its deepest, and contains more water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined.

The water is particularly murky due to the high peat content of the local soil and all of these factors have no doubt encouraged the belief that a monster exists beneath its surface. This conviction began in medieval times and over the centuries there have been so many reported sightings that it is difficult to dismiss them.

The village of Drumnadrochit is situated halfway along the western shore and is dominated by an impressive Victorian building constructed in the Scottish style which was originally used by the local laird to house the Justice of the Peace and provide accommodation for his guests during the hunting season. Some years later it became the Drumnadrochit hotel and then, a century or so after that, guests moved into more modern accommodation alongside, and the original Victorian building became the Loch Ness Centre.

During the coming season visits to this remarkable exhibition are to be included in several Highland Hotel itineraries and they promise to be an intriguing experience. The one-hour tour will allow Nessie enthusiasts to walk through 500 million years of history to explore the myths and hear scientific research surrounding the beast.

The centre features more than a thousand eyewitness accounts and recorded sightings along with unexplained evidence and artefacts. It also describes the various sonar and underwater expeditions that have been mounted by various organisations over the years.

Sightings are still regularly reported and so, if you are fortunate enough to make a visit to the centre this season, do keep a keen eye open on the waters below!

The Viperfish; The submarine created by an ex-US navy
veteran, Dan Taylor in 1969 who had long dreamed of
finding the elusive monster.

The Viperfish; The submarine created by an ex-US navy veteran, Dan Taylor in 1969 who had long dreamed of finding the elusive monster.

Lochs & Glens Holidays, School Road, Gartocharn, Dunbartonshire, G83 8RW.

t: 01389 713 713

VAT Number GB ‍415 4314 82

M F Wells Hotels Limited t/a Lochs & Glens Holidays is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their firm reference is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts.
All insurance prices include Insurance Premium Tax (IPT)

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