Shearings Holidays coach breaks

Isle of Bute for New Year

It is true that Scottish people know how to throw a magnificent New Year’s Eve Party and Shearings Holidays just know how to put the party on!

Our ‘party’ to the beautiful Isle of Bute started as we got on the coach at Normanton, the ‘hub’ for all the feeder coaches of Shearings Holidays going North. The organisation at Normanton is excellent. Shearings Holidays have a local pick up service from around the country and the feeder coaches bring you to the ‘hub’ to get on the coach to your chosen holiday area.

Ettrick Bay looking south along the bay Another alternative is to drive yourself to Normanton and leave your car parked in the car park for £6 per day. Shearings Holidays have now introduced the Home Connect option to pick you up from your home. Check the brochure or get in-touch with the Shearings Holidays staff about this option.

The staff at Normanton are friendly and helpful and you are informed which parking bay your coach will leave from. You will be shown the waiting area and your cases will be put on the coach and you don’t see them until they arrive in your room at the hotel – wonderful! 

Shearings Holidays have ample leg room and free Wi-Fi on their coaches, there is also a toilet on board for emergencies but with lots of comfort stops, it is a well-planned journey. Whether you travel by the Grand Tourer coaches or by air, or rail, Shearings will make your journey comfortable and enjoyable. Shearings Holidays also do river cruises with 23 stylish ships to take you to many of Europe’s finest destinations. Request a brochure at or telephone 01942 412603 for more information.

The journey to the Scottish Isles takes a long time, approximately 8 hours with breaks at Washington and Gretna Green and then on to Wemyss Bay for the ferry crossing over to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Our hotel was just five minutes from the ferry, so a short hop to get to the Glenburn Hotel.

Glyn’s Tip: Comfortable Shoes and take something to eat and drink if you wish, but the food court at Gretna Green is very good, but be prepared to wait as this is a very busy area with many stopping coaches and long queues do form.

Drink on New Year's Eve, Glenburn Hotel The Glenburn Hotel is a grand, old building, built in 1892 which stands proudly on a hill – yes, a hill so be aware that steps and a small hill is the approach to this hotel. However, the hotel does have disabled access with lifts but if you don’t fancy a walk to the small town and bay area, taxis are readily available booked from the reception.

The ambience of the hotel is warm, comfortable and very welcoming. The rooms are large and comfortable and if you ask for a sea view – which does cost a little extra but is well worth it. Many rooms have been refurbished and the hotel has an ongoing programme so that all the rooms are being upgraded.

Afternoon tea is served each day over the holiday in the spacious lounge/bar and consists of tea or coffee with cake.

The hotel has two restaurants, one mainly for the coach parties and another for self-drive visitors but if you wish to go into the smaller restaurant you can request that at the time of booking. 

Kilchattan Bay On New Year’s Eve we had a Shearing’s coach tour around the island. It is a small – 14 miles long but beautifully formed island with sweeping bays and small inlets and on a good day you can see the Isle of Aran. The wild life is a fascination for many travellers and if you are lucky you will see basking sharks, seals, sea otters, sea eagles and dolphins, but they were hiding when we visited! We did however see lots of oyster catchers on the beach – maybe next time!

We called at the local hostelry and had lunch with the seasonal Mulled Wine from the bar then back to the hotel for afternoon tea and a rest before the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Our New Year’s Eve party started early at 6.30pm with drinks with our fellow guests in the lounge/bar area. Our candle light meal was excellent and fun with hats, crackers and balloons in the restaurant.

The Hogmanay Dinner menu

Starters: Cock-a-Leekie Soup – Duo of Melon – Smoked Salmon and Prawn Salad – Lemon Sorbet or The Haggis with whisky cream sauce.
Mains: Roast Sirloin of Beef – Fillet of Salmon – Brie, Mushroom and Redcurrant Tart of Sauté of Chicken.
Desserts: Brandy Snap Basket – Tablet Cheesecake or the Cheese board.
Tea or Coffee: Served in the lounge with chocolates.

Rothesay Harbour After all that lovely food and a drink, we were ready to party – well we had to let the food digest first!!! The entertainment started about 8.30pm with Scottish Dancing, a Singing Duo, a Scottish Singer, then the Piper – what a night!

New Year’s Day and the hotel organised a late breakfast, very thoughtful. and as it was beautiful weather. We walked around the harbour to the very quiet town of Rothesay as this is a public holiday in Scotland and most places are closed. Don’t forget this is Scotland, so take lots of layers as it does get cold.

Tourism comes to the Isle from walkers and people wanting to get away from it all, but remember this is the West Coast of Scotland and in the Summer months, out come the Midges!

One tourist attraction was the singer Lena Zavaroni who grew up on the island – yes remember Lena? Fame came from Opportunity Knocks which she won for five weeks running and still today you can see the fish and chips shop that her parents ran plus other Zavaroni outlets. Another tourist attraction is the Victorian Toilets near the harbour at Rothesay. It cost 40 pence to visit this toilet but well worth the money. The men’s side is the Victorian side and the ladies less so, so why not ‘spend a penny’ whilst you are there.

Gretna Green New Year’s Day evening was a lovely night with a slower, less busy evening with a good meal plus more Scottish entertainment in the ballroom.

We had an early start the next day, 7.25am as we had to catch the earlier ferry back to the main land, but the comfort and warmth of the Shearings’ luxury coaches soon had most of the coach fast asleep until we got to our first stop at Gretna Green.

The Scottish adopted Anthem ‘Flower of Scotland’ song says “we sent them Homeward to think again!” Well we have thought again, and we are back and yes, in large numbers on Shearings’ coaches to join in the Scottish tradition of a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebrations. “Haste Ye Back”, we will.

We are sorry to advise that the Specialist Leisure Group, which includes Shearings, entered administration on 22 May 2020. If you have booked a holiday with Shearings, or you have any questions please visit the Shearings website.

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Glynis Sullivan

Traveller and writer for Silver Travel Advisor

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