International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo 35th World Vegetarian Congress
'Food for all our futures'

Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland
July 8-14, 2002
Hosted by

The Vegetarian Society
of the United Kingdom

Of congress and castles….
by Tina Fox, Chief Executive of The Vegetarian Society UK
June 2001

In May this year I was fortunate enough to visit Edinburgh, Nairn and Fort William to check out the hotels for the post congress tour and tie down more detail with Heriot Watt so I thought I would share my experiences with you together with a taste of the places that we will be visiting during the five day tour. Sadly I didn't have any time during my trip to visit any of the attractions but as I am a great fan of Scotland I have been to the majority in the past and I know they are all well worth seeing.

Once I had passed Carlisle the driving rain stopped and the land dried up to welcome me, as if by magic the atmosphere changes as you cross the border, becoming more relaxed, partly due to the greatly reduced traffic. I believe Scotland to be the most beautiful place on earth in spring ( and I'm not paid by the Scottish Tourist Board!) so the drive to Edinburgh was a pleasure even in variable weather. If you are travelling by car and not short of time the A7 route via various border towns is very attractive and the home of Sir Walter Scott on route near Melrose is worth a detour. Our stay in Edinburgh will be at the Rothesay Hotel for one night only at the end of the trip. It is an attractive Georgian building well situated only 5 - 10 minutes walk from the city centre and Sara, the manager is more than happy to make special arrangements to accommodate our group.

The next morning I crossed the Forth Bridge, gateway to the highlands, onto Nairn - on our trip we will visit the excellent Scone Palace on route and travel up through the Grampian mountains. My trip was a little less pleasant however as there had been an accident and the main road was closed, leading to a tortuous diversion. I found the drive worth it though as I received a very warm welcome at the Windsor Hotel , our stop for the next two nights. Nairn is a gentle seaside town ( famous for oat cakes) and its quiet beach can be accessed via a park at the back of the hotel. Not that you will have much time to explore as you will be whisked off to Findhorn the next day and later in the day up to Speyside for tour of a whisky distillery and a wee veggie dram. The hotel always has around 4 veggie options as standard and I found the catering to be very good, well presented, tasty and adventurous. The hotel has an owner manager who will be very keen to ensure that our group is a happy one.

The next day we will leave Nairn behind and visit the ancient burial ground and stone circle of Clava Cairns on the way to Inverness. Travelling on to Loch Ness, the afternoon will see everyone taking a short cruise on the Loch and a visit to Urquhart Castle. The initial plan was then to spend overnight at Fort William but I was not happy with the standard of the proposed hotel here so it is now likely that we will stay at Oban or Mallaig which are much nicer towns in my opinion. Mallaig is the gateway to the enchanting Isle of Skye and on the Wednesday we will take the ferry over and tour the Island, returning over the Skye Bridge for a different route home. Our final day, Thursday, will see everyone on the scenic road through Glencoe and across Rannoch Moor, visiting Stirling Castle on route to the Rothesay at Edinburgh. This is on a B & B basis to allow everyone the choice of Edinburgh's many vegetarian establishments but if there is enough demand a meal could be organised for the group - we should be ready to party by then!

By the end of June I already had 5 bookings for this tour which is most impressive considering the timescale, but nearer the time if there is room on the coach or coaches it may be possible to allow UK members who are not attending the congress to join in the holiday. Preference will obviously be given to attendees as it is hoped to give our guests from abroad and indeed those from the UK who have never visited Scotland a taste of this wonderful country. If you would like a booking form/ further details please contact Belinda Tam at the society or email congress@vegsoc.org