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This was a bit of a flying highland fling of a visit, trying to pack in a varied itinerary of activities in a weekend trip. But there were some must-do’s on the itinerary wish list.

We created a two-day, small group tour from the Midlands for Carol, Phil, Marion and Les that incorporated all of this (and plenty of food and drink, of course!):

As ardent fans of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Carol and Phil were keen to explore the magical inspiration behind JK Rowling’s global literary phenomenon. Edinburgh has become a site of pilgrimage for Potterheads, where you can find hidden treasures that obviously sparked the author’s imagination, including gravestones with familiar character names and the ‘real’ Diagon Alley. You can also visit the places where the books were penned, see her hand print embedded in stone and hear tales of local legends that have weaved their way into her stories. There are lots of options for Harry Potter tours, some offered for free. We don’t think you can beat the original Pottertrail, which we incorporate as an exclusive group tour into our ‘Harry Potter Origins‘ 6-day tour itinerary.

You can’t visit Scotland without rummaging round a castle or two, so we factored in a trip to Edinburgh and Stirling Castle. Whether you choose to explore independently or opt for an expertly guided tour, nothing immerses you so wholly in a country’s bloody and battle-scarred tumultuous history than a wander within these historic structures’ walls. Castles offer a glimpse into royal life and seats of power through the ages, spanning centuries from the iron age to modern day and can spark wonder and wisdom in equal measure.

The trip to Stirling gave us the perfect opportunity for some pit-stops to see an incredible art installation and magnificent feat of engineering.

Being a photographer, we knew Carol would appreciate capturing The Kelpies. We opted for a guided tour that taught you the history of the legend behind the horse-heads (they’re actually shape-shifters), gave us information about the artist and detail on how the structures were created. We were even able to walk inside one of the Kelpie heads to get a unique view. Sited just outside Edinburgh city, we were able to catch them both in daylight on our way out – and spectacularly lit as we travelled back after our day’s adventures. These are well worth seeing after dark.

At the request of Marion and Les, we dropped in to watch the incredible sight of the Falkirk Wheel in action. You can’t help but admire man’s ingenuity and modern structural engineering skills when you see this world-first (and only) boat lift in action.

The Falkirk Wheel replaced a flight of 11 locks that once connected the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde, traversing a height difference of more than 100 feet. Now, instead of opening and closing 44 lock gates to move between the two canals, The Falkirk Wheel allows vessels to transit between the two waterways in five minutes. You can see why it’s become a major tourist attraction, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world to marvel at the working sculpture that’s actually based on ancient principles set out by Archimedes more than 2000 years ago.

There is so much more to explore in and around Edinburgh, but this is just a snapshot of what can be squeezed into a weekend.