Several issues, all involving communication.
1) On Monday June 3 [email protected] sent an email informing us the taxi ride from Boat of Garden to Aviemore would be delayed until 17:00, and asking if that was OK. The message begins with "Matt and Lynn" but unfortunately my email address was NOT included in the email, so I never received it. The others in our group DID receive the message, but assumed I had answered because it was specifically addressed to my wife and I...they did not realize my address was not used/included.
2) On June 26th I sent an email to [email protected] asking for particulars about train tickets and general questions about transportation. I never did receive any reply to that email.
3) Supposedly our luggage was to be transferred from lodging to lodging for us--that is one of the primary reasons we used Wilderness Scotland.
"Day 1" started with a B&B booked for us by Wilderness Scotland in Inverness. "Day 2" ended with a B&B in Fochabers. The website https://www.wildernessscotland.com/adventure-holidays/self-guided/speyside-way/ specifically says
"Your luggage is transferred ahead to your accommodation. Please note the train is not included in the cost of your trip and will need to be arranged in advance."
We bought and booked train tickets ourselves, only to find that our luggage was NOT transferred from Day 1 B&B to Day 2 B&B as indicated by the website. I was charged another 95 pounds to have the luggage transferred. In our view, we should not be charged that additional fee, because the website specifically said the luggage would be transferred for us day-to-day. Either a full or partial refund would be welcomed.
4) While in Scotland, slow responses to other emails sent to Wilderness Scotland caused us (or the B&B owners) to call taxi cabs ourselves to confirm the "pre-arranged taxi service" supposedly covered by the cost of our tour.
Just an aside, and for your awareness: visitors from the USA rarely have phone plans that include phone service in Europe (we do not.) So....roaming charges are very expensive, and we try to avoid using our phones as much as possible. Email or text messages are preferable. Hikers cannot be exactly sure when they will arrive at their destination--it would be better, I think, to provide them/us with instruction on how to contact the taxi service upon arrival.
One final irritation (though I don't believe this is Wilderness Scotland's responsibility): portions of the Speyside Way trail are poorly marked, particularly as the path approaches the Spey River while walking out of Buckie and while leaving Grantown-on-Spey.
Despite all these incidents, we did enjoy the Speyside Way hike. Each of the B&B facilities you booked were great, the maps provided were first-rate, and Scotland is a wonderful place to visit.
TEAM WILDERNESS RESPONSE:
Thank you for offering your feedback about the aspects of service you felt were lacking. The easiest thing I believe is to offer a point by point explanation:
1) For not including your email address we do apologise. We originally emailed someone else in the group, advising the available taxi time. When we did not hear back (because you had not received it personally) we checked in before the start of the trip to advise the time of transfer and book it accordingly.
2) When you emailed me (David) on June 26th I was, regrettably, absent from work due to sick leave and not able to respond at the time. My auto-response did explain this and ask you to contact [email protected] for a response to any urgent matters as my colleagues in the office would have been only too happy to help either by email or phone.
3) To eliminate ambiguity I have now updated the description of Day 2 so it now reads - " "Your luggage is transferred ahead to your accommodation from this point." i.e from the start of the trail itself, rather than Inverness. I am sorry this was misinterpreted from the website, however in your personalised trip pack with luggage instructions it was clearly stated in bold, red text that you need to take your luggage on the train to the start of the trail this day. Your tour pack should always be referred to for specific instructions.
4) We are sorry that you found email responses to be slow. We do respond to all messages as quickly as possible but for immediate concerns we always advise you call since we may be working through a long list of emails on any given day.
Contact details for all taxi companies used during your trip are provided in your tour pack details.
We do appreciate your final comments that despite these points you still enjoyed your trip along the Speyside Way.
See previous comments.
Accommodation & Food
We enjoyed each of the facilities we stayed at.
As previously noted, a few spots on the Speyside Way trail are poorly marked, particularly for first-time visitors.
The Bottom Line
This is the second time we've used Wilderness Scotland, and the second hike through the Scottish countryside. We've found the maps and printed documents very helpful, but (as previously noted) we experienced communication issues during our second trip. If/when we take a similar hike, we likely will try a different agency.