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Scotland &Ireland

Real holiday stories

Scotland and Ireland on film

Photography and story competitions

Best small tour operator


McKinlay Kidd:
Unique Scottish and Irish holidays, created by the award-winning specialists
McKinlay Kidd is a company thats dedicated to helping independently-minded visitors get the best out Scotland and Ireland. Celebrating its 10th year in 2013, the company offers a range of holidays including self-drive touring, holidays using public transport and both privately guided and small group tours. However, their fully flexible approach means you can add your own personal touches to any holiday or have McKinlay Kidd create a custom-designed holiday experience thats completely unique. The companys directors, Robert Kidd and Heather McKinlay, both love exploring Scotland and Ireland. They, and other members of the team, are always discovering new holiday experiences and places to stay, and they insist that any recommendation is personally tried and tested. Its this personal approach that means every holiday is uniquely memorable. Its an approach that has won both awards and the hearts of customers.
Best small tour operator

Orkney and Shetland Trains and boats and planes Scotland on film
Best Small Tour Operator

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From the editor

What makes a holiday memorable? For some its spectacular scenery. For others its history or wildlife. Or it could be meeting and getting to know the locals. One of the best things about being in the editors chair of See Scotland & Ireland Differently is hearing the things that really stood out for people.
Its always exciting to discover what our customers have thought about the holidays that weve arranged for them in Scotland and Ireland and to be able to share their experiences with you. Many of the photographs featured were taken by our customers, and I love the way they capture our holidays. On the back page you can also see the winning entry in our photography competition, and find out how you could enter. And dont miss our Travellers Tales winning entry on page 19. Both of these competitions offer you a prize of 200! If youd like to get in touch about anything at all, wed be delighted to hear from you. Please email me at Happy reading!

Mull wildlife Private guided journey West Highland Line to Skye Island hopping New for 2013 Touring Ireland Ireland on film Travel writing competition Tailormade touring Ten years of McKinlay Kidd Photography competition

For the second year running, we were delighted to be awarded Best Small Tour Operator in the prestigious Guardian/Observer Travel Awards. We would like to thank all our customers who voted for us. As the judges said:  McKinlay Kidd scored a perfect 100% ... enticing holidays that take in the best of Scotland from its wildlife to its whisky. They continue to grow, adding new experiences that make us want to drop what were doing and hotfoot it up to Scotland. And, of course, Ireland too!

Once again, this has been an exciting year, with another win in the Guardian/Observer Travel Awards. For the second year running, we received the Best Small Tour Operator award. Were particularly delighted by this, as its voted for by people who have actually been on a McKinlay Kidd holiday which makes it even more special to us. Its a reminder that its what we do for our customers that counts. We design our holidays to get you closer to the real Scotland and Ireland as youll see from the stories in this issue. From touring Scotland with a personal driver-guide, to seeing wildlife up-close and personal, youll find it here in See Scotland & Ireland Differently.

Robert Kidd

Call 0844 873 6110 (+44 844 873 6110 from overseas) From USA/Canada call toll free 1-866 922 8538 Customer Protection McKinlay Kidd is a fully-bonded tour operator, complying with the strict Package Travel Regulations. This means customers advance payments are fully guaranteed in the unlikely event of the companys financial failure. Furthermore all air holidays including flights McKinlay Kidd arrange are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 9481. ATOL protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. In addition, McKinlay Kidd offers its own guarantee to refund its service charge if customers are not completely satisfied. McKinlay Kidd is also a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britains leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McKinlay Kidd abides by the Associations Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter which can be viewed on Visit the website to find out more about the Association or call 020 8744 9280. Email Directors: R  obert Kidd & Heather McKinlay McKinlay Kidd Ltd Suite 240 Baltic Chambers 50 Wellington St Glasgow G2 6HJ

At McKinlay Kidd, we want to make sure you have a holiday experience to remember. So if you want to really get to know Scotland or Ireland, why not visit our website or give us a call? @mckinlaykidd

Robert Kidd

Photography: McKinlay Kidd customers, Jackie Boyce, Chai Beh, Anna Brennan, Mark Harris, Jeff Ashbrook, Channel 4, VisitScotland/Scottish Viewpoint, Visit Orkney, Northlink Ferries, Tourism Ireland, Sealife Surveys/ Splashdowndirect, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, All Shore Productions, Paul Davies, Niall Kidd, Dr Sam Jones, Ardanaiseig Hotel, McKinlay Kidd
Registered in Scotland: 250017. Registered office: 7-11 Melville Street, Edinburgh EH3 7PE

Front cover: Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie, Morayshire, Scotland.


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When Fay and John Stenhouse booked a 3-week holiday touring Scotlands islands, they headed due north starting in Shetland, followed by Orkney. Coming from the other side of the world in Australia, it was a journey they sum up in one word: magical.

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The other side of the world

The real islands
For Fay & John, the northerly islands offered a combination of archaeology, history, wildlife and places to wander. As Australians of Scottish origin, says Fay, Scotland was a must-see destination. The islands of Orkney and Shetland have always fascinated us. But there was one attraction that was top of her list. It was quite a simple thing, smiles Fay. I wanted to see puffins and I saw them in abundance! For the Stenhouses, what finally made them visit was the news that a friend would be visiting Lerwick on her round the world cruise. I envied her, says Fay, but realised shed spend only 6 hours in Shetland! I decided to see the islands for real, and we went off to the internet and found McKinlay Kidd.

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Gosh! How many years had we been thinking of going to Scotland to see the islands? laughs Fay. We simply had to see it for ourselves.

From the Southern hemisphere to Orkney and Shetland

I wasnt prepared for the variety of excavations on the site, recalls Fay, and the freedom you have to explore it. John and Fay found the place they stayed in Shetland was beautiful, as well as steeped in history and significance. Fay points out that for geologists, its part of the Great Glen fault and links the Shetlands to Scotland. For the tourists, she adds, this means the scenery is rugged and varied! Looking back on their hotel, they say: it was more than charming it was enchanting. The service was always cheerful and the meals were great, particularly the breakfasts. view over to the sea. The foods fresh and delicious, and the menus are innovative. The whisky room is the best Ive seen. We loved the boat trip to the Noup of Noss, adds Fay. On their trip to this spectacular headland, the commentary was excellent. There was fabulous scenery, millions of birds terns, gannets, fulmars, skuas and puffins as well as seals and dolphins. I liked being shown the underwater life in the cave. John and Fays tour of Scotland continued to Harris, North Uist, Barra, Mull and Iona as well as many other places. For them, booking through McKinlay Kidd gave them confidence. As Fay says, they appreciated the companys willingness to hear what we wanted and just make it happen. They seemed to know their destinations like locals.

Freedom and friendliness

The thing that most impressed John and Fay was the openness and friendliness of the people of the islands. Everyone seemed to have time for you. In fact, Fay recalls many memorable chats, including talking to the postmistress at Balta Sound, about knitting in the dark and the hard work of sheep shearing. While on Shetland, they wanted to visit Jarlshof, probably the islands best-known archaeological site.

Treasured rings
Fays favourite memory is a very special one indeed. My husband surprised me by taking me to Shetland Jewellery and suggesting we buy new wedding rings. The couple bought two rings in matching St Ninians treasure patterns, adapted from a brooch found hidden in a ruined chapel on St Ninians Isle. Later, we visited the chapel, she recalls. It was very touching and unexpectedly romantic!

Island wildlife
On Orkney, they found their hotel very luxurious with a four-poster bed and

I wanted to see puffins and I saw them in abundance!


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On Location

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As youll see, Scotland has provided the setting for an incredible variety of films. This rich heritage has inspired our new Local Hero and James Bond style breaks (see page 14) and of course, we can always create a tailomade holiday around any of these locations.
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Trains and boats and planes

Its not just about the destination. How you travel can make a holiday truly memorable.
On a McKinlay Kidd holiday you choose the way you want to see Scotland or Ireland. Want to be in the driving seat? We offer touring holidays in your own car, a hire car or even a classic car. With spectacularly beautiful scenery and great driving roads, its easy to see the appeal.

Right on time
But ensuring you have a smooth journey is where the expertise of McKinlay Kidd comes in. We carefully plan itineraries to make sure train and ferry timetables connect seamlessly filling the gaps with pre-booked taxi transfers. Over the years, weve developed an in-depth knowledge of timetables, so you dont have to. And there are some surprises. On flights to the Hebridean island of Barra, the timetable varies with the tides. Perhaps not surprising, as you land on the sand!

As a result, there are many place-names with ferry in various forms, even where routes have now been replaced by bridges. In one case, this has led to a road sign that always raises eyebrows, reading Stromeferry (no ferry). Another oddity is that ferries across Lough Foyle, going from Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland, do something rather surprising: they actually travel from south to north! For Robert, a personal highlight of the year was a Sunday afternoon cruise to Sanda Island on the SS Waverley. This is the worlds last sea-going paddle steamer, which still does day excursions around the Clyde complex (and quirky) schedule permitting.

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Take it easy
Alternatively, weve put together holidays based on public transport, for those whod prefer to leave the car behind instead. As youll see on page 11 for instance, taking the West Highland Line to Skye must rank as one of the worlds great journeys. And our Explore Ireland by train holiday takes you from North to South, East to West and by ferry to the lost in time Aran Islands. If public transport doesnt appeal, you can also put yourself in the expert hands of your own driver-guide.

Ferry fascination
As luck would have it, Robert Kidd is fascinated by ferries. For him, theres a romantic appeal of arriving somewhere by boat and ferries have been important in Scotland and Ireland for centuries.

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Local knowledge Call of the wild

Joan and John Oglesby, and their friends Wendy and Mike, enjoyed a McKinlay Kidd Mull Wildlife Experience holiday. This holiday was to celebrate my birthday, explains Joan. It was up to me to choose, and the McKinlay Kidd holiday sounded like just what I was looking for.
As Joan explains, Im interested in wildlife and hoped to see eagles, puffins and perhaps an otter or whale we saw them all and loads more! The friends took a McKinlay Kidd arranged trip with knowledgeable local guide, Arthur. It really set us up for the rest of the holiday I cant count the number of conversations that started with the words According to Arthur! We learnt how to tell the difference between a golden and white tailed eagle and a seal from an otter, and got a real overview of Mull.

Joan Oglesby on getting to know Mull with an expert guide

Every day was different and had something special in it. Eating our picnic on the Cairns of Coll, watching the seals a few metres offshore watching us was amazing. It was like a tropical island without the sun, heat and palm trees. Its hard to express how tranquil it was, and how privileged I felt just to be there. Remembering her birthday itself, Joan says the cake that Mckinlay Kidd organised for my birthday was such a surprise, I was really touched. It left me feeling if this is being 60 its really not so bad!

Scenes from a private guided journey round Scotland.

watching the seals a few metres offshore watching us was amazing

The friends stayed at the Bellachroy Hotel in Dervaig. Every aspect worked perfectly, remembers Joan. We really liked the inn, the staff were all helpful and friendly and seemed a happy team. Nothing was too much trouble. Joan continues, we used to take holidays in the West Highlands, and we were amazed how much we enjoyed our return to Scotland. It was so unspoilt and stunningly beautiful, everyone we met was friendly and welcoming and the food had improved beyond recognition!
Wildlife holidays on Mull have always been our most popular holidays, and we offer a range of options from three to six nights. The island offers a unique diversity of species, in easy reach by land and sea. We also offer wildlife experiences in: the Outer Hebrides great for otters; Perthshire for photo deer-stalking; Shetland for otters and seabirds and the Cairngorm National Park, where you can see some very rare species, like capercaillie and crested tits, as well as evening badger watching, and the thrilling ospreys. You might even see pine martens! In Ireland we offer whale and dolphin watching trips in West Cork.

ends Robert recomm

On their tailormade guided private journey, Catherine Boudreau and her party from New York discovered that having their own personal driver-guide made for a holiday to remember.
Catherine and her partner Michael Herts, along with their friends Barbara and Arthur, toured Scotland, including the capital, the west coast and Mull. As well as wanting to see the country Catherine says, her husband wanted to see the fishing industry in Scotland. He does some commercial fishing in Long Island, New York State.  Continued

They felt the wildlife trips really increased their understanding of the area: We learnt where to look and what to look for, says Joan. It also meant we could identify what we saw!


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Their holiday began with a few days in Edinburgh, enjoying the many attractions of the capital while staying in a stylish boutique hotel in the heart of the city. As Catherine says, the hotel in Edinburgh had the best service we were so well taken care of, whatever our needs were.

After a nights stay on Mull, Ricki drove them back to the mainland, from where they toured north into Torridon. They had a boat trip on Loch Ness, then before going back to Edinburgh, stayed in Kingussie. It was, says Catherine, like being a favourite guest in someones lovely home. Cosy, comfortable, excellent meals and wonderful staff. Of the hotels they visited, she remembers this one particularly fondly, but as she says, they were all places we would for sure not have found on our own.

Spirit of Scotland
It was from here that they were picked up by their driver Ricki, who also acted as a guide throughout the holiday. Once I got to Scotland, I put my brain on holiday mode and let myself be taken care of, remembers Catherine. We had Mr. Kidd provide a driver and car for our holiday. What a great way to travel. Having never been to the country before, Catherine and her party wanted to get a flavour of Scotland. Catherine feels the country has without a doubt the nicest, kindest, most friendly people I have ever met. Its above and beyond anything I have ever encountered while travelling. Touring to the west coast, they stayed at the Pierhouse in Port Appin. The hotel on the water had a breathtaking view, fabulous food and, recalls Catherine, a great waiter named Rommy!

Thoroughly recommended
When she was first thinking of coming to Scotland, Catherine had read guide books and some history about the country and then exchanged emails with Robert Kidd, as he developed the trip. As she recalls, I really let him pick the specifics, after discussing the general things we wanted to do and see. He was patient, well versed in planning trips, and made very good suggestions during the planning stage. One of the things that make booking with McKinlay Kidd different is Roberts Recommendations, all suggestions that are personally tried by someone from McKinlay Kidd. As Catherine says, I took all of his suggestions as to the specifics of our trip. He got to know us, I think and designed a tour for us that we loved. The hotels he chose were wonderful, each in its own way. It was, Catherine remembers, a stress free, lovely holiday. McKinlay Kidd leaves nothing to chance. It was so thoroughly delightful. The accommodation was first rate, the food excellent and the service was beyond friendly.

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above and beyond anything I have ever encountered while travelling

Over the rails to Skye

Is there any finer journey than by steam train on the world-famous West Highland Line? For Ian and Sabine Burdeyron-Dyster, this was the only way to travel to the Isle of Skye.
To Ian and Sabine, this journey meant getting a unique view of the scenery and staggering beauty of this area of Scotland. As Sabine recalls, we had driven around Rannoch Moor, but wanted to see more of this wild and beautiful place and could only do this by train. In fact, the line crossing the moor is a testament to the vision of Victorian engineers, built on marshy terrain thats often impassable in any other way. We also wanted to visit Skye and the surrounding area, she adds. And we knew we could safely follow McKinlay Kidds advice. they felt they could be sure theyd be in good hands. They initially decided on their holiday by looking in McKinlay Kidds brochure, and followed this with a couple of phone calls to clarify our lack of mobility and our plans. The company came up with what turned out to be our ideal holiday. Sabine continues, having always organised our own holidays, we were initially wary of letting a travel company do things for us. McKinlay Kidd have changed that, and they will be taking charge of our future holidays.  continued

Here they had a mornings pony trek. Standing on a hill in the highlands, says Catherine, with brilliant sunshine on our pony trek, was unforgettable. It made me very impressed and respectful of the Scottish spirit.

In good hands
Having holidayed in Scotland with McKinlay Kidd previously, Ian and Sabine knew what to expect when they booked their holiday through the company. While both have issues with mobility,

Seeing sealife

ommend c e r t r e Rob

lets you customise Our personal service on your specific your own tour, based ts history, whisky, interests, whether tha wildlife. golf, food, walking or number of We work with a small chosen for driver-guides. Carefully passion for their knowledge and yre dedicated Ireland or Scotland, the e the best to making sure you hav ence. possible holiday experi for your s ide gu e ang arr We can 1 or 2 days. whole holiday or just of our new You can also join one small groups. Escorted Journeys for te for details. bsi See page 14 or our we

From here they crossed to the green and beautiful Isle of Mull, where they took a boat trip to see the bountiful sea life around the island. The trip, which was part of their holiday, was of particular interest to Catherines husband, a professional fisherman.

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ys using train and Our selection of holida tinually growing. public transport is con the West Highland In Scotland, as well as featured here, you Line to Skye holiday night break on the can also enjoy a two West Highland Line. holidays on We offer island hopping ion of week ect sel the west coast and a d using an otl Sc long holidays touring now we d lan Ire the train network. In ek we and aks offer several short bre for ly cal cifi spe ed long holidays design y. lida ho e -fre car those whod prefer a


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Hebridean heartlands
Island adventures with everything from whale-watching to photography
Rugged scenery
As Sabine says, we hadnt been to Skye but had been on the Jacobite Steam Train this was a welcome repeat. One of the holiday extras McKinlay Kidd organised for the couples stay on Skye was a hire car. The car, which was waiting for them as they disembarked, was ideal for handling the islands inclines. Thinking back to some of the strikingly rugged but beautiful landscape of the island, Sabine recalls, we were astounded at the drive to and from the crossing of the Glenelg ferry eat your heart out, Mars! The road to Kylerhea, where the ferry lands on Skye, certainly does pass through a stark, imposing landscape. The Glenelg ferry itself is the last traditional hand-operated turntable ferry in Scotland, with a short but uniquely memorable crossing through a powerful tide-race.

My grandfather came from the Isle of Lewis, says Dan McIver. And its always been my dream to go to Scotland and see where he grew up. In fact, on their holiday, he and his wife actually got to spend time with relatives in Inverness that they never knew they had!
On their tailormade holiday, Dan Maciver and his wife Marianne, from Canada, spent three weeks taking in Mull, Barra, North Uist, Harris and Lewis as well as Skye and Glasgow. Their holiday included a whale-watching boat trip and a photography course on Mull. This was something that Dan, a photographer who has enjoyed landscape photography for over 30 years, got a lot out of it was a great way to find those out-of-the-way locations that most travellers would never see.

Family connections
The holiday also gave Dan the opportunity to explore his Scottish heritage. As he says, I was aware that my grandfather was born on the Isle of Lewis and lived in a small town called Upper Carloway but that was really all I knew. During their time on Lewis, Dan was able to locate his family history dating back to the 1700s. Through a member of the village historical society, he not only found the locations where his grandfather and great-grandmother were born they were able to meet up with a second cousin living in Inverness. As Dan says, we saw a lot of beautiful landscape, ate wonderful food and met a lot of wonderful people but finding family we never knew existed was the highlight for me.

Helpful people
The pair look back on the holiday fondly. What stands out, in addition to the wonderful scenery and the romantic train journeys is how everyone was so helpful. This included everyone from the people at their hotel who met us on Spean Bridge station and greeted us as old friends to the lady taxi driver in Mallaig, who reprimanded us for walking up from the ferry, when she could have driven down to collect us. Did they bring back souvenirs? Full tummies and wonderful memories, smiles Sabine. Oh, and the determination to return! It was like staying with friends warm, welcoming and nothing was too much trouble.

Beautiful beaches
We had never been to Scotland before, says Dan. Wed always been told that the people were friendly but we had no idea how friendly and accommodating they were. The landscape was amazing. We saw beaches that were as beautiful as those of the Caribbean if not more so. As the pair recall of their time in the islands, we had no idea we would experience such wonderful food in such a remote area. No matter what we ate, it was always fresh, always beautifully prepared and served.

Robert recommends
We offer m any island-h opping opti covering B ons arra, the U ists, Harris, Lewis & Sky e. These in clude a wee long Outer k Hebrides H opscotch, an a 10 day Jou d rney throu gh the Wes Isles, as w tern ell as holid ays includin trips to the g day poignant S t Kilda arch or landing ipelago on the San d on Barra . If you have any particu lar family connection s in Scotlan d or Ireland you would like to inve stigate, do us know an let d we will ta ke this into account wh en planning your holiday .



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Holiday ideas with a difference

A preview of whats new this year
Scottish Seafood Trail
Over the past decade, this has proved to be one of our most popular holidays, and now theres even more to enjoy for those who love seafood and shellfish. In addition to a delicious seafood cookery demonstration, and a boat trip with a creel fisherman to catch langoustines, this holiday now includes a visit to an oyster farm. Situated on the edge of a sea loch, the farm gives you an opportunity to find out more about the fascinating way these delicacies are cultivated. Here, youll learn how to shuck oysters, and even sample a few straight from the sea youll never taste anything fresher or more delicious!

At McKinlay Kidd, were always seeking out holiday ideas that create uniquely memorable experiences. And to mark our 10th anniversary, weve come up with some exciting new ways to see Scotland and Ireland differently. There are a small selection featured on this page, and many more on our website. For the latest information sign up for our e-newsletter or give us a call. Of course, as with any McKinlay Kidd holiday, in addition to the ideas featured here, we can tailormake you a holiday around any of these suggestions. Just tell us what youd like to do, and well design a unique experience for you.

Travelling together
This year, were launching Escorted Journeys a new way to see Scotland differently.
Were already experienced at planning tours for groups whether for families, friends or colleagues. Combining an expert guide, off-the-beaten-track accommodation and unique experiences, theyve proved very popular, which is why were now offering escorted journeys as a holiday option. Designed for just 6 to 16 passengers at a time, these tours start either in Glasgow or Edinburgh. You can book on a tour individually, as a couple or as your own mini group. See website for full details of itineraries, prices and departure dates.

Irish Culinary Experience

Weve joined forces with Good Food Ireland to design a new and unique self-drive tour of the far west of Ireland. All the accommodation is chosen for its excellent foodie reputation and variety highlighting the quality of the very finest Irish produce.

Local Hero Coast to Coast

The perfect way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film classic Local Hero. One of Roberts favourites, hes watched it more times than he can remember! The self-drive route of this holiday is carefully planned to cover all the main filming locations and that includes more places than you might realise. This holiday takes you from Furness (or Pennan in real life), in the East, to the expansive white sandy beaches near Arisaig in the West. Stand where Fulton Mackay, as beach owner Ben, took on the might of a US oil company. Make a call from the iconic red telephone box. Our step-by-step guide also pinpoints less obvious locations, including the pub in Banff, which was used for the interior bar scenes, and still displays photos of the stars on location.

Aston Martin 007 Weekend

The appeal of Bond is timeless. This holiday captures the style and glamour of the films, and lets you enjoy the thrills of driving a stylish Aston Martin around some key locations associated with them. Youll pass Faslane Naval Base, featured in The Spy who Loved Me, and the loch by Crinan, scene of a boat chase through the Bosphorus in From Russia with Love. And what could be more Bond than staying on a private island? Here youll learn how to make the ultimate Martini! Take a speedboat trip to Duart Castle, family seat of the real-life inspiration for 007. And who could resist powering through Glencoe, setting for the dramatic finale of Skyfall?

The carefully-planned route starts on the wild coast of Connemara, and a visit to the Smokehouse. Throughout the tour, youll enjoy delicious fresh fish and seafood, and sample the best of Ireland from ice cream parlours to bakeries, as well as great Irish pubs, of course!

Uniquely tempting accommodation

Were very excited about some superb new accommodation including a luxuriously-refitted boatshed on the edge of a loch, one of the most romantic places weve come across. Theres also a unique castle hotel in Connemara in its own wooded grounds, and an atmospheric baronial pile on the Isle of Skye. Or perhaps youd like to stay in a lovingly-restored Georgian house on the outskirts of a Scottish fishing village? We are constantly seeking out the best off-the-beaten track options to include in our holidays.

Our Whisky Explorer Journey is a week-long grand tour of Scotland. Includes Edinburgh, Speyside, Oban and Islay, with tours and tastings at six distilleries, plus dinner at the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, where you will have the chance to view the worlds most expensive private whisky collection. West Coast Whisky Journey includes a visit to Campbeltowns Springbank distillery and a tour of Islays varied distilleries, from the famous to a local farm. Return via Oban and Glengoyne, where you can blend your very own whisky. Over six days, youll also visit the renowned Mull of Kintyre and atmospheric Kilmartin Glen. McKinlay Kidds Wildlife Journey offers the opportunity to see golden eagles, white-tailed sea eagles, otters and more on the Isle of Mull. Also includes boat trips to spot whales, basking sharks and dolphins, and see a large colony of puffins. There are also escorted journey options for the Local Hero and Scottish Seafood holidays featured on this page.

This is a great year to enjoy Scotlands natural beauty. McKinlay Kidds wildlife holidays range from whale-watching to eagle-spotting, from photo deer-stalking to otter-tracking.

Ireland is having a party in 2013! Let McKinlay Kidd help you enjoy the best cultural and musical events of this year-long celebration of all things Irish.



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Heather and Brian Medhurst had heard so many good reports from friends, saying how welcoming Ireland was. Having not visited since 1963, on a one-day university trip from Bangor, they were keen to see more. Their relaxing self-drive tour gave them the freedom to really get to know the country.

Emerald explorers

Join the Medhursts on a round-Ireland road trip to remember

As Heather says, we wanted to enjoy the scenery, take life at a slow pace and to experience the legendary Irish hospitality. We had no specific ideas about where to go, where to eat and what to see, so we left it entirely to Robert Kidd. Heather and Brian were delighted by the suggestion of a tailormade self-drive tour of Ireland. McKinlay Kidds proposed itinerary covered Wexford, Kinsale, Kerry, Clare and Athlone. The Medhursts travelled by ferry from South Wales. And Brian recalls that they particularly enjoyed the Stena Plus lounge that McKinlay Kidd had arranged for them. With thoughtful touches like a choice of complimentary refreshments and daily newspapers and magazines, the trip set the tone for their visit. Our pleasure began when we boarded the ferry, says Brian, and continued throughout the holiday. In fact, Heather adds, the welcomes were bettered only by the quality of the food that was prepared for us!

Welcoming ways
Was Ireland as friendly as theyd hoped? The warmth of the welcome we received at each of the hotels Robert had chosen matched the best wed experienced anywhere else in the world from grand country house to harbour-side B&B, says Heather. We would never have found such delightful places if left to our own devices.

Best of Ireland
This was a holiday that took in so many of Irelands beautiful spots from the well-known to more out-of-the way locations. Which had made the biggest impression? The Cliffs of Moher were a real highlight, says Brian. Walking along the cliff-top paths in glorious sunshine was fantastic.

With a wonderful setting on the quiet, shores of picturesque Lough Ree, the cedar clad, log-cabin-style exterior of the hotel where they stayed is striking. Inside, theres an interior thats tasteful and modern and theres a warm, relaxed atmosphere throughout, with stunning lakeside grounds.

In the end, they say, having the itinerary prepared for us saved us an immense amount of time and allowed us to enjoy holidaying, rather than planning each day. The holiday exceeded our expectations in so many ways. McKinlay Kidds guide for the places to see and where to eat certainly enhanced our enjoyment. They must have had a great time researching these establishments and areas! In fact, when it came to following their holiday recommendations, Brian says we only digressed once, to see Avoca, because Heather is a big Ballykissangel fan.

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Robert recomm ends

These spectacular cliffs stretch along the coast for 5 miles and, towering over the sea at a height of over 200 metres, as you might imagine, the views can be breathtaking. We were delighted with the quality of accommodation we enjoyed at all the stops, adds Heather. But the place in Athlone was exceptional.

The cliff-top paths in glorious sunshine fantastic.

Helpful suggestions
Heather and Brian found the suggestions from McKinlay Kidd exceptionally useful. We followed Roberts suggestions almost to the letter at every venue and benefitted from the advice, says Heather. There was a variety of coastal and inland places giving us a good taste of Irish hospitality and scenery.

While they enjoyed looking round the village itself, Brian continues, unfortunately, the quality of food served in the pub that featured in the TV series didnt live up to expectations. Heather laughs. We should have asked Robert about it first!



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On Location

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Stunning scenery, coupled with favourable tax breaks, have made Ireland a popular location for filming, including Hollywood blockbusters. In fact, Braveheart wasnt actually filmed in Scotland at all! We can put together a tailormade tour of Ireland based on film locations, including recommendations on where to visit.
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Travellers tales
In the last issue of See Scotland and Ireland Differently, we invited readers to send us their stories from a McKinlay Kidd holiday. We were delighted with the response, and thoroughly enjoyed reading a range of different tales but for us, there was one clear winner.
We felt the story below, entitled Snapshots from a Flash Journey by Robert and Francesca Boyle captures the exhilaration of the worlds shortest scheduled flight between Westray and Papa Westray.

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August weather, huffy, fine rain spray hovering midair, a shy sunshine. The prefab that cannot be called a terminal, a strip of tarmac, a couple of trucks smeared by country muck. Aberdeen cattle watching on, slightly bemused, uninterested, twelve big eyes oozing boredom peeking over the drystone dyke. Fair Isle patterns, dungarees, heavy waterproofs. Yellow wellies and a shock of red curls. Smiles. A weathered tweed cap over salty wrinkles. An old man, a wifey with two bags of shopping, shes been for her prescriptions. A blether about the children. They have grown up now, nods the pilot. Yesterdays rain, a new ewe up at Stuarts. Giggles, laughters, sweet puffs of lilting voices. See you on Tuesday. Our diligent rucksack, a new film, a windproof jacket, neatly-folded maps that will remain tucked in our pockets. The Islander throbs upwards in a short breath of flight. Its like watching a film that we love. We soar up, foretasting, a high steady heart rate. Pull the handle in case of an emergency landing. A small window on the immensity of the seas. Flashes of blue, white, green, and land, land? As Robert and I clutch hands. With threads of clouds still tied round our necks we heave and get perched on the edge of the world.

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Congratulations, Robert & Francesca Boyle We hope you enjoy your 200 McKinlay Kidd voucher.

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Whats your story? tell us and you could win 200

What memories did you bring back from your McKinlay Kidd holiday? Perhaps its the story of someone you met, an unforgettable place you stayed, or something special that you saw.

From enchanted castles to soaring eagles, from friendly locals to breathtaking views, the things we treasure from our holidays are personal to us. But if you can make the story of your holiday come to life, you could win a 200 McKinlay Kidd holiday voucher. Were not looking for long epic stories just a short tale, well told. One that captures what made your McKinlay Kidd holiday special. And all in around 300 words. So if you have a great story, why not send It to us? In addition to the prize, well feature our favourite ones on our website and in our brochure. And of course, your holiday moment might be yet to happen so you can write about 2013 holidays too.



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We wanted to explore Ireland at our own pace

Around Ireland

A journey that began with a blank sheet of paper

Holiday highlights
Wed been to Dublin in the past and explored the surrounding area, says Susan, and in the seventies, Robert had been on business trips to Belfast, Cork and Dublin. In trying to sum up their holiday, the pair found there were almost too many highlights to name just one! But some of their favourites included visiting Drumbeg Stone Circle, Dunbrody Famine Ship and Doagh Famine Village. The village is a uniquely ambitious attempt to tell the whole story of Ireland, and ranges from prehistory through the famine, up to the Troubles and even to the current financial crisis. Its a visitor attraction that certainly stays in the memory. Seeing evidence of the Troubles in Belfast and Londonderry made a strong impression, as did walking the Garnish Loop on the Ring of Beara, and hiking along stretches of the magnificent Antrim coast, and climbing Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park.

Quirky and charming

And, remembers Robert, we were impressed by the high standard of cuisine with an emphasis on fresh local food. This was especially true of a meal they enjoyed to celebrate Susans birthday, at a hotel recommended by McKinlay Kidd. They found all the places they stayed had a warm welcome, as well as high standard of rooms and food. But one place really stood out as special with its waterside location in County Galway, and quirky and charming collection of antiques and original art.

our way
For Robert and Susan Bushell, their tailormade tour of both the North and South of Ireland was all about exploring the beauty of the country in a leisurely way.
It wasnt their first holiday with Mckinlay Kidd. As Robert explains, In 2010 we had a fantastic month driving our own car and exploring the Trossachs, the Islands of Harris, Lewis, Orkney, Shetland, Skye and Uist and also the northernmost part of mainland Scotland. So, when the Bushells decided they wanted to tour Ireland, they knew who to talk to. They simply called and said what they were looking for, and were delighted to receive suggested holiday itineraries within days of enquiring. After poring over guidebooks, Susan and Robert discussed their plans with McKinlay Kidd who worked out the itinerary they wanted.

Tried and tested

Booking with McKinlay Kidd, says Robert, meant we were able to visit all of the places we wanted to see, knowing the accommodation, and the travel times had been tried and tested and therefore we were going to have a stress-free holiday. Recalling both this holiday and their previous experience, as he puts it, we have definitely seen Scotland and Ireland differently thanks to McKinlay Kidd.

Incredible variety
Over three weeks, their completely tailormade holiday in Ireland covered Cork, Kerry, Clare, Connemara, Mayo and Donegal, as well as the Antrim Coast, Belfast and County Louth.

We wanted to explore Ireland at our own pace, says Robert. We wanted to enjoy the natural beauty of the country, its history and to sample the local hospitality.
They were struck by the incredible variety of different scenery, ranging from the sheer Cliffs of Moher to the limestone plateau of The Burren a very other-worldly landscape. Another highlight was cruising to Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands.

Robert recommends
Our personalise d tailormade serv ice is particularly po pular for anyone interested in tour ing Ireland. Why not browse through the holidays on our website to get so me initial ideas, then tell us what interests you? Well use our kn owledge and expe rience to design your un ique Irish holiday . The more you te ll us, the more we can make sure th e proposal is jus t right for you. Do let us know if yo u are celebrating a special occasio n, or if you have any specific requirem ents.



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In 2003, Robert Kidd and Heather McKinlay launched a new travel company, aimed at helping independent-minded people get the most out of their holiday. Initially their focus was on Scotland, and later they would take the same approach to Ireland. Since that day almost ten years ago, they have helped their customers to see Scotland and Ireland differently.
The McKinlay Kidd team visiting the truly impressive Titanic Belfast Visitor Experience in December 2012.

Ten years of seeing things differently

Team Highlights
The McKinlay Kidd team is made up of a small group of people who are dedicated to making sure customers have a holiday to remember. Because everything the company recommends has to be experienced by one of the team, over the years theyve carried out lots of recce visits. Here they talk about their favourite moments, Heather, Director Going out on a whale-watching trip off the Isle of Mull in September 2005 hoping to see some minke whales, then being stunned and delighted to see two killer whales we watched them up close for over half an hour, and felt very lucky and privileged to see them. Robert, Director As an Irishman, I like to think I know a thing or two about good pubs that do brilliant live traditional music. So it was real delight when I came across the perfect Irish music bar in Donegal in 2010. Its never been bettered, yet! Jennette, PR 2004-2009 My best memory? It has to be picking up McKinlay Kidds first ever award in Edinburgh in 2007. What a great night! Michael, Carols 3-year-old son I went on the pirate ship to Balamory. (It was actually the ferry to Mull, where the kids TV programme is filmed in Tobermory but we wont let that spoil a good story!) Julie, Operations Orkney encapsulates a bit of everything. Particular highlights were Skara Brae, Maeshowe and the Ring of Brodgar but I was surprised to discover Kirkwall had a very vibrant cosmopolitan feel. The wide open spaces, big sky and dramatic coastline of the islands allow you to feel youre standing on the edge of the Earth at times.

Robert and Heather started their business from home, initially working out of the dining room in their Edinburgh terraced house. Between them, the pair had many years experience of working in the travel industry and believed they could offer people a more authentic holiday. This would be based on real local knowledge, and a policy of only recommending something theyd experienced and enjoyed themselves.

Read all about it

Since those early days, McKinlay Kidd have been featured in an ever-wider range of titles in press as diverse as the Financial Times and the Yorkshire Post, as well as publications such as Sainsburys Magazine and the Oldie, and even the back of some breakfast cereal packets! In addition to the interest in the UK, they have appeared in titles like the Sydney Morning Telegraph and the New York Times perhaps not surprising, when you consider that many of their customers are visiting from overseas.

Customer accolades
But, says Heather, for us, the two Guardian/Observer Awards weve won mean so much more. Theres a simple reason for this: the awards are voted for by customers themselves, and reflect the holiday experiences of real people. So, when last year they won the Best Small Tour Operator Award for the second year in a row, everyone at McKinlay Kidd was delighted. It seemed a great way to celebrate their first decade in business. The past ten years have certainly been exciting, reflects Robert. Weve got some great plans to offer even more holidays in future and I cant wait to find out what the next ten years bring!

Working from home

I remember we just had an iMac, our home printer and the help of a part-time assistant, says Robert. We started out by taking small classified ads in The Sunday Times. It certainly worked for us and soon we had our first customers, British people who were living in Holland. And were their first customers happy with their holiday? Well, says Heather, theyve since travelled with us again, which speaks volumes. Since then customers have often chosen to book several holidays through McKinlay Kidd with an increasing number visiting first Scotland, then Ireland.

And the winner is

Over the years, McKinlay Kidd have won a number of prestigious travel industry awards. As Robert says, its always great to win dont believe anyone who tells you otherwise! As he and Heather explain, their 2007 Thistle Award win meant a great deal to them, as it and their other Thistle nominations reflect the respect and recognition of their peers in the travel industry. In fact, they were delighted to do well once again last year, when McKinlay Kidd was chosen as a Regional Winner.

ound-up Roberts r



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A different view
We were delighted at the response when we asked to see your photographs of Scotland and Ireland and found it hard to pick a winner! If you have pictures from your holiday that show either Ireland or Scotland with a difference, wed love to see them. And if we choose your picture, youll win a 200 McKinlay Kidd voucher. To enter, simply post your photograph on our Facebook fan page or email it to (see website for terms and conditions). Competition closes 31st October 2013.
View from Sleat peninsula, Isle of Skye, by Chai Beh

Good luck!
Do you have a way with words? You can also win a 200 McKinlay Kidd voucher by telling us your travel story. See page 19 for our latest winner and for details of how to enter.
Woodstock Gardens, Co Kilkenny, by Anna Brennan

Pipe Bank Championships, by Mark Harris

WINNER: Jackie Boyce.

Jackie says: The place is Lochan, in between Ballachulish and Glencoe. A chap had built a large house there for him and his Canadian wife and imported the trees from Canada to make her feel at home but she never stayed and seemingly he was heartbroken. The house lay empty for some time and was eventually turned into a nursing home. Its now empty again, but its a lovely walk up to the house. And where the trees are, you can look over the water. A lot of the locals sit and have a quiet time fishing and chatting and go for walks round the grounds of the house. A wee sad story really for such a lovely place.
Isle of Ulva, by Jeff Ashbrook

To find out more about our holidays visit: Call 0844 873 6110 (+44 844 873 6110 from overseas) From USA/Canada call toll free 1-866 922 8538