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Hidden Gems of Scotland – mixed fishing and touring vacations

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Here at Alba our passion for Scotland runs deep, and the conception of our mixed touring and fishing breaks was born from our desire to share the best of Scotland and act as ambassadors to this wonderful country, as well as take in some of the magnificent scenery and places to visit. You can be assured that us Scots will give you a warm welcome, great hospitality and you can rest assured, this is an incredibly safe destination, free from troubles.

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Sligachan bridge, Isle of Skye

Alba, it is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. It wasn’t the only reason for naming our company “Alba” 13 years ago. The letter “a” comes at the top of most directory listings and the text contains only 4 letters….this is pleasing to a Scotsman as its cheap on printing costs!

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The River Tay – salmon fishing day with guide as part of hidden gems tour

In 2017, Tourism (and fishing) in Scotland has seen a huge surge. I hear the same from other Scottish tour providers. At Alba we have enjoyed a busy year so far, and welcomed overseas visitors from all over the world.

May and June were busy with mixed touring and fishing vacations, we call these experiences “Hidden Gems of Scotland”. However it’s not just the Spring months that are ideal. These tours are available throughout the year. September and October are particularly beautiful, as Scotland is quieter and blessed with some beautiful Autumn light and landscapes bathed in a cacophony of golden colours.

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Founder and Head Guide Stewart

These vacations are perfect for couples (or groups of couples) who are looking for the best of both worlds, to mix fishing with touring and take in some of the less obvious secrets of Scotland (avoiding the tourists) and crowds.

As well as enjoying fishing from a varied and exclusive portfolio, Alba connect guests with unique accommodations and take all the hassle away by organising all the logistics and planning. Founder Stewart Collingswood, knows all about the importance of detail and planning… ”I am detail obsessed, coming from a military upbringing has embedded punctuality and the importance of planning. We can be obsessive when it comes to checking everything is in place and covering for every eventuality”

“We invested in a top of the range 3 litre Land Rover Discovery HSE model which is an ideal touring vehicle and can tackle anything that the Scottish terrain or weather can throw at it..with heated leather seats throughout and ample space, it’s perfect for small groups of two or three guests. For 4-6 guests we use a Mercedes people carrier, again with leather seats and ample space and comfort. For groups of 8 we use both vehicles and this allows us to split the group to fishing and non fishing activities daily. All Alba vehicles are covered by Hire and Reward insurance. This is a mandatory insurance required, for companies delivering touring options. It’s expensive for us to have put in place, but gives peace of mind that you are covered. Worryingly, smaller operators run without this type of insurance which is a huge risk to take.”

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This couple chose an Alba Hidden Gems holiday for their Honeymoon

When driving around Scotland’s magnificent landscapes, a relaxed cruising speed of 50mph allows you to relax and soak up the majestic scenery. Safety and relaxation is Alba’s prime concern.

These vacations begin with your guide meeting the group at the airport (in a kilt of course) and usually flights from North America arrive in the morning.  We take a short drive through Edinburgh to give an overview before dropping guests at the hotel for a coffee, chance to relax and chat through the itinerary to make any last minute adjustments or factor in any special requests.

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Warm welcome at Edinburgh Airport

Alba act as the guests concierge service when guests are in Scotland. “we can pretty much find anything, within reason! Sometimes this involves making use of Amazon prime and getting items delivered to bring when I pick up the guests at the start of a day”

The rest of the first day of the tour in Edinburgh, is set aside to relax and acclimatise. We recommend restaurants that are tried and tested in Edinburgh, such as the Honours and Forage and Chatter.

Just a short drive from Edinburgh south into the Scottish Borders, you can enjoy an array of enviable fishing options. The River Tweed lodge sits in the heart of the Tweed valley and offers private 3.5km of fishing for salmon, sea trout, wild brown trout and grayling. This stretch of this world famous river, holds some specimen trout and grayling. The entire beat is accessible by land rover or Polaris vehicle and this opens up angling for those with limited mobility.

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Father and Daughter from Georgia USA enjoying some quality time on the River Tweed

Situated between the River Tweed and Edinburgh is a loch with a huge population of Scotland’s fearsome predator, the Pike. This private loch is not fished by the public and holds a very good population of fish averaging 7lb in weight. Take a look at this clip from a Belgium TV show to enjoy the scenery and fishing. Fishing on this day is from the bank or boat and you can expect a real chance at connecting with a monster. This private exclusive loch has a superb fishing lodge, to enjoy lunch in and you can drive right to the waters edge in the Land Rover for those with limited access. The action is fast and furious and these fish fight hard, watch this guest battle with a medium sized fish – check this clip out

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A Typical Pike from this exclusive loch

Time in Edinburgh is spent between fishing in nearby secret locations to touring this historic old city. Our guides are Scottish and has lived here our whole life, so we know the inside track. There are wonderful sights to see, such as the Castle, Rosslyn Chapel and the Old Town. Throughout the drive your guide will explain the history of the city. Lunch in the Canny Mans shouldn’t be missed. This traditional pub in the desirable Morningside area of the city is an emporium of antiquities hanging from walls and small booths where you would imagine secret liaisons would take place. No tourists in here, its a bit away from the centre, but if you want authenticity, to rub shoulder with the locals, and a huge array of fine malt whisky’s and artisan beers, then this hits the spot.

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Edinburgh, one of Europes most impressive cities

Crieff is the next stopping point and a few days at the superb Gamefield accommodation. This 5 star country retreat is the perfect location at the gateway to the Highlands and the west coast. Gamefield was skilfully designed by the award winning architects James Denholm and the attention to detail and style is breathtaking. With two lounge areas, heated marble floors, reliable fast wi-fi and an AGA range in the kitchen. A skilled personal chef will take care of your catering requirements using local produce and will also match and source wines according to taste.

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Gamefield – unique luxury accommodation in Perthshire

Gamefield is an ideal location to explore the majestic scenery and secrets of Perthshire. Why not take the opportunity to fish for Atlantic Salmon on the world famous River Tay. You can learn or fine tune Spey casting with our guides and try to catch these powerful fish. Take a look at this clip showing how to play and land a fish on the fly. At the end of a day, whatever you do, why not relax in the hot tub and soak up the views!

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Woodland Walk Perthshire

From Crieff, onwards to the West Coast, a quick stop at the falls of Dochart and on up through the iconic Glencoe, a beautiful glen (valley) formed by glaciers and shrouded by dramatic mountains and scenery. It was the setting for many Scottish movies such as Highlander, Braveheart and the Outlander series. Glencoe is beautiful and we know the best spots for photos and view points (the Land Rover helps here) Lunch at the award winning Clachaig Inn, voted recently as one of Britains top ten pubs.

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Good binoculars will help you enjoy frequent sightings of wildlife

The views from your table as you enjoy lunch are stunning. Plenty of local artisan beers to try and good honest tasty food.

Overnight would be either the Isle of Eriska, a 5 star hotel and spa on its own island with stunning views over Loch Loch Linnhe and the Morven mountains, or in the charming Barcaldine Castle, built in 1609 by “Black” Duncan Campbell and retired in 1897. Many guests rate Barcaldine as one of the most unique and charming accommodations they have ever stayed in.

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Overnight in the castle for these American guests

When in this area, guests would get numerous photographic opportunities and at Alba. Nikon DSLR camera users can borrow from a range of prime lenses, such as our 70-200 f 2.8, 20mm f1.8 or the 105mm f.2.8 micro to capture this perfect memories. We carry high quality binoculars as well, there are frequent sightings of otters and deer. If you fancy trying to catch a salmon, its worth a day on the River Orchy. There’s also Loch Awe, aptly named in size and scenery. Alba guides holds powerboat certificates so we can hire a small boat and explore the hidden graveyard on a remote island with Knights templar gravestones, a beach for lunch and surrounded by wonderful pike fishing.

Easily one of the best seafood restaurants in Scotland, The Lochleven Seafood cafe. You can enjoy an array of the freshest sea produce here under the canopy of the Pap of Glencoe looking over the sea loch. The food is simple, fresh and downright delicious. Recent guests from Colorado commented “the best seafood they had eaten anywhere in the world!” praise indeed.

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Shellfish broth at the Seafood cafe

But there are also less obvious spots for a refreshment, such as the recently refurbished “Old Inn” located overlooking Castle Stalker. A converted barn, with a wood fire in the corner, subdued lighting and warm friendly staff. Locals gather here to enjoy superb quality steaks, seafood and artisan beers.

There is the option on these tours to take a few days extra to tour Skye, one of the jewels of Scotland. En route to the bridge to Skye you can stop at the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, fully restored 13th century castle used in many Scottish movies, such as Highlander.

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Eilean Donan, one of Scotlands iconic castles

Having visited Skye over a hundred times, MD of Alba Stewart Collingswood summarised his highlights as follows “ the constant magical views of the Cuillin Mountains as you drive around this Island underpin everything. Whether viewed from Elgol or Sligachan bridge, they are beautiful. The drive to Neist point and scenery there again not to be missed. It’s hard to get anywhere quickly, because your always tempted to stop and take photos. I always image a Tolkien novel when visiting the Quiraing and Old man of Stohr in the North of Skye and then there’s the shore fishing for pollock and salmon rivers. Numerous craft shops, museums and charming people. The Three Chimneys restaurant and accommodation are not to be missed…I could go on!” Collingswood has compiled a list of photographic hot spots for guests which include over 30 locations in Skye.

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Isle of Skye – another photographic stop

After a few days enjoying The Isle of Skye and the west coast, you journey north up the Great Glen following the Caledonian Canal towards Inverness. A chance to spot Nessie, and a visit the Caledonian Canal and learn about its construction and how it offered employment to the Highlanders following the clearances. A marvel of engineering masterminded by Thomas Telford. It runs 60 miles and connects the west to the east coast of Scotland.

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Summer Salmon on the River Alness

While in Inverness there’s a wealth of opportunity here, to travel north and fish some of the finest trout lochs in Scotland and enjoy sport on numerous salmon rivers like the Beauly or Alness. Loch Eye in May in truly one of Scotland’s finest trout lochs, free rising wild brown trout and a stunning loch side bothy for lunch.

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The Fishing hut at Loch Eye

We have a wildlife guide in this area and can offer wildlife days and photography opportunities – you would be likely to encounter, Red Deer, Pine Martins, Ospreys, Red Squirrels and Otters. If your interested in birdwatching or photography, you will be stunned by the area.

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Wild Brown Trout on a dry fly

There are many opportunities throughout the tour to take in a Scottish distillery, Dalwhinnie, Glenmorangie and the smallest in Scotland Edradour are all easily reached.

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Drummond Gardens in Perthshire

In summary if you are looking soak up everything that is wonderful about Scotland, capture memories and be looked after with a high level of customer focus, then this is the ideal vacation. You can even take in some fishing, and certainly we will accommodate anything you wish. What’s more, all your experiences will be complimented with photography by your guide, and a Dropbox link sent at the end of the tour with more images to preserve your memories.

For more details of the hidden gems tours, please make an enquiry visit this page or

Call us on (UK +44 7734 810 706 / USA TOLL FREE 800-972-0408) or email an enquiry to start planning your fishing experience.