Q & A with John Haber, Co-Founder, Walkabout Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. More than 15 years of experience providing guided walking tours and holidays in Scotland including its mainland and islands.
ARE YOUR TRIPS ALL TAKEN BETWEEN THE SPRING AND THE FALL SEASONS?
We try to run the “West Highlands Way” tour all year round, but the other tours are from April to the end of September.
ARE YOUR TOURS AFFORDABLE?
Yes! Depending on where you are from, Scotland can be a relatively expensive place to visit. So with a group tour where all meals and transport are included, we can offer some elements of affordability - certainly compared with what it would cost you on your own.
HOW MANY TRAVELLERS ARE THERE PER GROUP?
We do limit the size of groups to 4 – 8 people.
Scottish history, geology, whisky, and The Referendum.
WHICH OF YOUR TOURS ARE THE MOST POPULAR?
The “Isle of Skye Discovery” and the “Highland Railways and Hills” trips receive the most enquiries.
DO THEY ALL DEPART FROM EDINBURGH?
Yes - but sometimes we will pick up from elsewhere if arranged in advance.
DO YOU HAVE TRAVELLERS WHO COME BACK FOR A DIFFERENT TRIP?
Yes, plenty do just that, and we even have a few who have been on every holiday with us!
The islands are wildly different. Skye is the real tourist honeypot - the landscape is truly inspirational and gorgeous, but it can get busy in July and August. Orkney is amazing for the archeological sites and wildlife, links to Norway and the long summer twilight. Arran is my favourite island, it's close to home but still feels like a different country, and we have had some really fun trips there in the past.
DO YOU HAVE ANY STORIES TO SHARE FROM PAST TRIPS?
No. What goes on tour stays on tour!
Get fit! Not super fit, but take a few practice walks in the months prior to your holiday, even if it’s just 5km in the park.
ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WALKING SHOES AND SOCKS?
Yes, first of all, don't show up in brand new boots, it’s best to get them worn in a bit to avoid blisters. You can get away with walking shoes on the “West Highlands Way” journey, but for the other walks I would say boots are the better choice. As for socks, the merino type is great, they don’t pong as much at the end of the day!
DO YOU NEED WALKING POLES FOR THESE EXCURSIONS?
No - but they are handy when coming down Ben Nevis [Britain's highest mountain].
DO YOU HAVE LUGGAGE LIMITS?
Yes we do - 20 kg is the limit as everything needs to fit in our van. On the railways trip, the baggage has to be stored in the luggage racks.
Yes. We recommend that they use daypacks for carrying items like water, snacks, a sweater, and a waterproof jacket.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT MEALS AND THE OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATIONS?
We eat meals in pubs and restaurants – this gives us a chance to meet and mix with the locals. We stay overnight at small family-run B&Bs.
They learn bits of history, also develop a taste for whisky, haggis, and Irn-Bru (a local brand of soda). That and daft jokes, folk dancing. They make new friends.
IS YOUR COMPANY INVOLVED IN ANY ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES?
Not officially - but we do pick up a lot of other people's litter along the trails and take it away.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?
Someday I would like to run winter trips to Norway as I used to live there for a while.
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