Afternoon Tea Tours give an award winning tour
Tours are the best way to learn about a city and Edinburgh has tours like no other! Afternoon Tea Tours in Edinburgh are award-winning and give you a real tour with a difference. Dickins owner, Louise, had heard so much about this wonderful tour that she was desperate to try one! When the chance arose, she could wait to try it an write all about this special experience.
A wonderful time with award-winning Afternoon Tea Tours in Edinburgh
I was excited about my private tour with Helen Fraser of award-winning tour company Afternoon Tea Tours. After all, how often do you get to be a tourist in your own backyard and on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon when you’d normally be sitting at your desk!
Helen arrived at precisely 12 o’clock. I knew that I was in safe hands. As I was to learn, Helen has got timing down pat. It’s one of the reasons why she’s so good as her job as it’s one of the essential components that goes into making a tour a real success.
Getting to know her clients before the tour is essential to Helen, so she can make sure that she crafts a tour which they are going to love. We’d met for a coffee and then exchanged emails. But my tour was going to be a surprise and that added to the sense of anticipation.
A tour with a personal touch
Afternoon Tea Tours are a private, personal experience. Helen, or her husband, Robert, drive clients around Scotland in their immaculate car and so the tours are perfect for single people, a couple or very small groups. In the car, there’s plenty of time to chat and get to know each other and rather than being driven around by a plain old tour guide, you feel like you are off on an adventure with a friend and not just any old friend but a friend who has brilliant knowledge and experience of Scotland.
Helen explained that when she was a girl, at the weekends her parents would take them on an adventure in the car, and she and her husband Robert did the same thing with their girls. So setting up Afternoon Tea Tours was a natural extension of what she’s been doing all her life. Normally with a tour that starts in Edinburgh, Helen would show off the Old and New Town, but as I knew those very well, we headed off to somewhere I’d never been to but Helen knew well, Lauriston Castle. Helen knows it well because she lives around the corner and had walked there many times with her children when they were in prams.
During our walk around the house (you can go on a daily tour of the house at 2pm) we took in the stunning gardens which were laid out by William Playfair, who interestingly for me also designed the street where I live in the Georgian New Town! A more recent addition is the beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden gifted by Kyoto and not at all what I was expecting when I walked into the old walled garden. The Castle is beautiful with crow step gables (I learned that phrase from Helen who loves them!) and wonderful views to Cramond Island and beyond to Fife. We met hardly a soul, which seems amazing for such a lovely house in a gorgeous setting. It’s free to wander there too (there’s a small charge for the house tour) and a perfect place for a picnic. I was so impressed that I took my boys back a few days later.
From Lauriston Castle, Helen whisked me down to Cramond where she shared some of the local history and then were headed off to Rosslyn Chapel. Everything seems so relaxed, but when we arrived at Rosslyn a perfect 10 minutes before the 2pm tour was due to start, I realised how clever Helen was to have timed it all so perfectly. As I said, she’s very good at her job.
Fascinating Rosslyn Chapel: The Bible in stone
I’d been to Rosslyn Chapel once previously and before the divine intervention of the book The Da Vinci Code which exploded visitor numbers and allowed this wonderful old building something of a rebirth. The chapel is described as the bible in stone and it has the most incredible intricate stone carvings. The 20-minute tour was fascinating. It brought the chapel and its past vividly to life and because of Helen’s experience we sat in the perfect pew to listen to all the tales.
I met William the cat. If I’d been there by myself, I’d never have realised that he wasn’t just any old cat, but a special cat called William (William St Clair built Rosslyn Chapel in the 15th century) who wanders up to the chapel from the village every day. I bought a charming book about William the Cat and the Rescue of Rosslyn Chapel, just published and written by The Countess of Rosslyn, to read to my sons that evening.
Afternoon Tea at Cringletie House Hotel
I was really enjoying being a tourist in my own backyard and was learning so much and having great chats with a complete expert. From Rosslyn, we headed off towards Peebles pulling off the road at Cringletie House Hotel. This is where Afternoon Tea Tours was born for Helen as it was the destination of her first tour. Now, whilst her tours take her across the length and breadth of Scotland and often involve multiple overnight stays (she’d just finished her longest tour to date, a 12-night tour of the Hebrides and Orkney) they don’t necessarily include an afternoon tea. As a girl who loves a cup of earl grey and a scone in the afternoon, I was delighted mine did!
Cringletie House Hotel is a wonderful Baronial castle set in lovely grounds at the end of a long drive lined in spring with daffodils and when we visited in early June, with rhododendrons. The staff here know Helen well and we received a very warm welcome. We had the perfect table in the first floor drawing room by a large window looking over the beautiful countryside. A full afternoon tea isn’t something you do every day and so it’s such a treat. Helen said that clients often say when the tea arrives that they won’t possibly be able to finish everything, but find surprisingly that all three tiers of the cake stand are empty by the time they leave. Let’s just say that we managed to polish off all three delicious tiers too!
Such a special day with Afternoon Tea Tours
Helen drove me back to Edinburgh and dropped me off at home at exactly 6pm as we’d planned. We’d never stopped chatting – Helen felt like a kindred spirit and a friend. I’m not surprised at all that in 2015 Afternoon Tea Tours was the national winner of the prestigious Scottish Thistle Awards in the Discovering Scotland Category. A tour of Scotland with Afternoon Tea Tours is special and guaranteed to make magical memories.
To experience your person Afternoon Tea Tours experience please visit http://www.afternoonteatours.co.uk!
Get the perfect home from home for your Afternoon Tea Tour!
If you’re going on an Afternoon Tea Tour and need a lovely apartment to call home in Edinburgh why not get in touch with Dickins. You can call us too on 0131 558 1108.