Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct
Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct

Our First Vacation Post-Lockdown: A Report

We're delighted to tell you that we're back in business! If you've been wondering what a vacation with Brightwater might be like in a post-pandemic world, we can finally show and tell you. Why? Well, because on 7th August our beloved Classic Scottish Steam Break was able to depart, taking with it 10 very happy guests. The reason we were able to get this trip up and running is thanks to our 11-step COVID-19 initiative, which includes things such as free 'travel safe' kits for every guest, new COVID-19 protocols at places we stay and even medical training along with post-tour tracing. To fill you in about this – our first holiday back after what feels like a lifetime – we have a wonderful selection of photographs and commentary courtesy of Brightwater Holidays representative Christina Minejko. Ah, it's good to be back!

As you can see, the first port of call for any Brightwater Holidays adventure is hopping aboard one of our coaches – in this case, a lovely personalized one! This particular tour was led by our popular Tour Manager Alastair Walker, who welcomed guests and went over all the relevant procedures with regards to wearing masks and social distancing in this new era of travel, and then everyone was seated. 

If you're wondering what social distancing looks like on our coaches (and, below left, on a boat trip as part of an itinerary), just take a look at the photographs below – it was certainly very manageable and our guests felt confident as well as comfortable. The boat for the Falkirk Wheel was only filled to half capacity, so everyone was spaced out and socially distanced without any trouble at all.

During meal times for this specific vacation, each couple sat at a separate table, and Alastair, Ian (the coach driver) and Christina were placed at another table, although they were all in the same area in the corner of the dining room – their designated area for the whole trip. While this worked well, Christina mentioned that it did slightly take away from the social dining experience that guests would normally experience on a tour, which was a little bit of a shame although people were generally just happy to have been able to get away on vacation at all. Luckily, guests were still within chatting distance and everyone enjoyed the meals in spite of the new set-up!

How about a visit to a castle? Well, take this group's private tour of the stunning Inveraray Castle. Due to the road from Glasgow being closed following a landslide, the castle was closed to the public but kindly agreed to open especially for Brightwater Holidays! The guests all really enjoyed being shown round the castle and the on-site tour guide was very knowledgeable, sharing some interesting stories along the way. With it just being our group, this made it easier to stick to social distancing, but some of the interior rooms were small and it would have been more difficult had there been other members of the public in the castle also – although still not impossible. 

Journeying through magnificent countryside on a charming steam train? Very doable, even with distancing! As part of this tour, there is a ride aboard a steam train from Fort William to Mallaig, crossing the legendary Glenfinnan Viaduct. Christina explained that the train departed at 10.15am and the group spread out across the back two carriages. Due to the new protocols, there were partitions between all of the seats, which was a bit of a shame as it meant the views were slightly obstructed, however, they still managed to get some good photos of the viaduct from the windows. 

So, overall? Well, our guests were satisfied with the tour – especially now that our industry-leading COVID-19 initiative has launched, making people feel more confident while traveling in our company – and we believe that if you head off on holiday with the expectations that things will be a little different (more cautious, perhaps a bit slower and a touch less sociable), you'll still be able to have a very enjoyable and safe time.

Christina had nothing but good things to say about the vacation's experience, telling us:

"I feel that overall this tour went very well. All of the guests were very understanding and accommodating of all the new procedures, and the changes that we'd had to make as a result. From speaking to the guests, they were all just very grateful that they'd been able to get on holiday. Every guest commented on how much they had enjoyed the holiday and I didn't hear any complaints from anyone over the four days."

She went on to compliment Alastair Walker, adding: "Alastair is an excellent tour manager with a wealth of knowledge and provided very interesting and informative commentary throughout the tour."


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