Unusual Wedding Venues
If you are looking to tie the knot, or renew your vows somewhere spectacular or simply find the ultimate location for their holiday snaps, we’re pleased to suggest a few options. In England, why not consider the stunning backdrop of Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed? In Scotland your clients may like to consider Eilean Donan Castle or a private train up the side of the Cairngorm Mountains.
Romantic Scotland Tour
Day One – Arrival into Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city
Be met at Edinburgh Airport by local chauffeur/guide who will provide unobtrusive service throughout your trip – discretely disappearing when not needed yet on hand to give the best information and of course capture those precious moments on camera. Your accommodation for two nights was originally built in 1867 as the grand baroque home of Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, and is one of Scotland’s most sought-after and romantic retreats – a winner of many accolades including regularly taking top spot as the “most romantic hotel in the UK”. Your sumptuous suite is richly decorated in dramatic reds with velvet-lined walls. It features an antique mahogany four poster bed. A collection of dramatic black Chinese lacquer furniture pieces add to the opulent and spectacular setting. Dine in the ultimate private dining location – hidden off of a stone turret stair, this glamorous and romantic opera box set just for two is perfect, with your waiter just a bellcall away.
Day Two – A Capital Romance
Head to the 650-acre Royal Park of Holyrood, with the magnificent baroque Palace and Abbey ruins at its centre. Climb the extinct volcano and whilst taking in the sweeping views, fly your very own kite, initialled and dated with your wedding. Soak up the atmosphere as you stroll hand in hand up the Royal Mile – arguably the most famous street in the world, however it was also voted the UK’s most romantic street in 2011. Visit the mighty Castle, perched high above the city. Timed to perfection arrive late afternoon, when the majority of day visitors are departing. Highlights start as soon as you step on the Esplanade of this “Defender of the Nation”. See the beautiful and small St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest part of the Castle, dating back to the 13th century and of course the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish Crown Jewels. Located deep within an historic 16th century building, enjoy dinner in what is often said to be the most atmospheric restaurant in the city. Surrounded by antique gilded candlesticks and opulent leather upholstery, it has a quite magical feel. Now in its fourth decade it is much loved by loyal locals and visitors to the city alike and provides the perfect location to spend your final evening in the city.
Day Three – A Highland Safari
Depart Edinburgh and head north to enjoy your first experience of Scotland’s famed mountains. All you need be is “armed with camera and binoculars” as you sit back and soak up the sights from the comfort of your chauffeur driven 4WD. Your Safari Ranger will bring Scotland alive as you transported to “Europe’s last wilderness” – an exclusive location 2500ft high on the hills above Loch Rannoch and Loch Tummel. Dramatic views towards Ben Nevis some 50 miles to the west. You may even be lucky enough to see the majestic Red Deer, the Famous Grouse, the elusive Mountain Hare and the soaring Golden Eagle. Here on the mountain slopes, enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch served from wicker baskets – a quite unforgettable wilderness location. Continue northwards and check into your accommodation for two nights, an award-winning luxurious boutique hotel in the heart of Inverness very much “exclusive hideaway in the centre of the city”. Your room, described as extra decadent is discreetly situated on the upper level – complete with its own balcony and a hot tub. Dining is a delight, under the esteemed leadership of Albert Roux and the menu focuses on using Scottish ingredients with a French twist.
Day Four – Riding on the Beach
Head north to the beach for a day with a difference – take to the saddle and enjoy an exhilarating pony ride at Brora Bay – a beautiful sandy beach that is almost deserted apart from seals, basking on the sands. Trek, canter or for the experienced rider, even gallop with the waves crashing against the shore. Return south, pausing at the Cromarty Firth, to Rocpool back over the Cromarty Firth, home to the most northerly colony of Bottlenose Dolphins in the world, one of only two resident populations in the UK. There are currently believed to be approximately 130 individuals with the colony and they are among the largest in the world growing up to 4m in length. Enjoy an eco-wildlife trip from on board your high speed RIB, where you will hopefully encounter these inquisitive and boisterous local residents. Also look out for Harbour Porpoise, Common and Grey Seals and the occasional Minke Whale. Note this day should be viewed as an extended day (10hrs).
Day Five – Scotland’s most famous stretch of water
There can be no better way to see Loch Ness, than from on board a luxury motor cruiser, which with a capacity for less than 10 guests, would be reserved exclusively just for you. A sumptuous buffet lunch is included and the views from on-board offer a unique view of the impressive Urquhart Castle, dating back to the 13th century. Once it was one of Scotland’s mightiest strongholds, now no more than atmospheric ruins overlooking the dark waters. Maybe during your trip, you may even get a glance of the loch’s elusive resident… Head westwards along the Great Glen towards Scotland’s highest mountain Ben Nevis for a stroll on the lower slopes. Check into your Highland accommodation for two nights, which is nestled at the foot of this mighty mountain. It’s fair to say, a more picturesque location is hard to imagine and indeed in 1873, Queen Victoria spent a week here sketching and painting where she wrote in her diaries ‘I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot’. Settle into your room, situated on the first floor it offers above generous sized accommodation – a spectacular four poster bed and a comfortable sitting area in front of a series of bay windows with views over the loch. Enjoy pre dinner drinks in the Drawing Room before a private dinner in the Library.
Day Six – Your mighty neighbour
Complete with a gourmet picnic, perhaps featuring local produce such as Loch Fyne salmon, wild smoked venison sausages and Mull of Kintyre cheese, return to the mountain. Enjoy a journey, up the side of Aonach Mor, as you ascend up to 2150ft in your own private gondola, the only one of its kind in the UK. Here at the summit of the 8th highest peak in the country, venture along one of the established mountain trails to appreciate the true magnificence and ruggedness of the Highlands. Turn westwards, across Loch Eil and the mountains of Ardgour and Moidard, the Inner Hebrides may even be seen. For those with an adventurous spirit, take to a bike and cycle some of the terrain and tracks. Without a doubt, some of the best routes in the country – there are over 25 miles of trails to tackle, all set against the stunning backdrop of Ben Nevis. Return to your Highland retreat and head to the lawns for a falconry display – a quite wonderful opportunity to experience magnificent birds of prey that often include Falcons, Hawks, Owls and Eagles – in full flight they are spectacular.
Day Seven – Steam Travel to the Isle of Skye
From 1st class seats experience what is often billed as one of the greatest train journeys of the world. Relax onboard the steam train as it takes you high over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, with its impressive 21 arches, following the “Road to the Isles”. Known as the Silver Sands of Morar, this is arguably the most beautiful stretch of coastline in Scotland – sublime seascapes made up of rocky coves and white sanded beaches. On a clear day you can see the enchanting Small Isles of Muck, Eigg and Rum, and on the horizon even spot your next port of call, Skye – breath-taking. Board the local ferry for the 30-minute crossing to Skye and head south to your retreat for two nights, located in 35 acres overlooking the water and your suite with its east facing views – perfect for watching the morning sunrise. Setting Sail on Skye as the sun begins to set, return to port and perhaps enjoy an informal supper in the Chart Room, which offers wonderful views across the water. Relax in the garden hot tub before an early evening private cruise. Escorted by the owners of the property, all you need do is sit back and relax on-board the 42ft sailing yacht and hear a great introduction to this magical isle.
Day Eight – Skye by Sea
Some would say no visit to Scotland would be complete without a visit to Skye and justifiably so. Return to the water as you try sea kayaking. The scenery is so spectacular in this part of Scotland that it has been
named by the National Geographic Traveller magazine as the “10th must do trip for 2012” – the only UK-based trip to feature in the prestigious guide. See the Cuillin Mountains, which dominate the landscape and are often said to the most the most dramatic mountain range in Scotland. Pause on secluded beaches that are only accessible by means of a kayak. A likely travelling companion. Although reserved just for two travelling companions likely to make an appearance include Seals, Otters, Porpoises and diving birds such as Sea Eagles, Greylag Geese, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Cormorants will all likely make a splash.
Day Nine – to the Mainland
Return to the mainland and first see Eilean Donan Castle, situated on a small island, where three great sea lochs meet. It is now an iconic image of Scotland and one of the most popular places to hold a wedding ceremony. Pause on the white sands of Applecross for land yachting – a 3 wheeled land based craft with a fixed mast and wind surfing sail. Only the briefest of instruction is required before you speed on the sands – a quite unique and exhilarating experience in the most idyllic of locations. Continue northwards to Torridon, where some consider the dramatic and spectacular peaks to be the finest in Scotland. They are reputed to be over 300 billion years old, making them the oldest in Europe – “Old Red Torridon” towers over the loch and its most recent addition was some 200 million years ago, when a fine layer of white quartz was formed. When the sun shines, it’s stunning. Here, enjoy a private motor cruise – wonderful wildlife to be spotted including Otters, Seals and Dolphins. Stunning scenery reflected on the water make the perfect place to review the week as you sit back and look at the snapshots of your trip, all served with a glass of Champagne and locally sourced canapés. Thereafter check in to your final location for two nights, which is most definitely strictly for lovers (of rugged mountain backdrops, soft Highland air and enticing clear waters!). Like your first property it is consistently listed amongst the most romantic retreats in the UK. Your master suite, a staggering 625sqft, is impeccably furnished with Antique French pieces. It is located at the top of the house with incredible far reaching views across the salmon pool to the sea. Surrender to the seductive sound of the sea as the waves break beneath your window.
Day Ten – Scotland by Supercar
Indulge in the option of leaving your chauffeur/guide behind as you take to the wheel of a high performance Supercar. Perhaps enjoy a private visit to Scotland’s only working perfume studio. Head along Loch Maree and see the Nature Reserve, the natural habitat of Wild Cats and Deer, and where Buzzards and Eagles can be seen flying over the crags. Early evening, head to the world renowned gardens of Inverewe and be welcomed by one of the resident horticulturists for a guided visit. The gardens date back to 1862 and today provide a wonderful oasis of greenery and colour with even subtropical plants flourishing here, which is due to the warm Gulf Stream washing by Scotland’s shores – a truly beautiful and tranquil spot.
This evening, a fitting finale as you head to your very own BBQ before continuing to the beach and over supper, watch the sun set on Scotland.
Day Eleven – Homeward bound
Depart for Inverness Airport, a journey of approximately 2hrs.