Start Date: 2nd August 2020
Duration: 9 nights
This incredible journey through Scotlands wilder landscapes is a mix of sea journeys and wonderful landscapes. We will take you on the road to Scotlands ancient past in the Outer Hebrides, enjoying the wide open landscapes of Uists, Harris and Lewis. The route then leads through Wester Ross and up over the top of Scotland with a sea journey to Orkney where we explore the unique sites of Skara Brae and Maes Howe. The final leg of the journey takes us back to Inverness via Scotlands most Northerly settlement and down the East Coast with its small fishing communites. The perfect tour for those who wish to see the roads less travelled or have already visited the Western & Central Highlands and want to explore further.
Day 1 - we travel south to Loch Ness for a visit to Urquhart Castle on the shores of the Loch. Later we head to the charming and picturesque village of Cill Chuimein renamed 'Fort Augustus' after the Jacobite Rising of 1715. After lunch we travel up the coast to take the ferry (15:00hrs) over the Sea of the Hebrides. Overnight South Uist.
Day 2 - we wake to the splendour of the Outer Hebrides, known as the “long islands” as they stretch for 100 miles. Our journey takes us through South Uist and across the causeway to Benbecula dotted with fresh water lochs. North Uist is characterised by its 'drowned landscape' of peat bogs and lochans, and its string of bountiful beaches. We travel to St. Kilda Viewpoint before heading for Lochmaddy. Overnight North Uist.
Day 3 we travel by ferry to the Isle of Harris where we will visit St. Clements Church built in 1520 for the Chiefs of MacLeod of Harris. Moving on, we explore the beautiful beaches of the west coast and enjoy a walk at arguably the most stunning of them all, Luskentyre beach. If time permits, enjoy a scenic drive along the winding ‘Golden Road’. Overnight Harris.
Day 4 we head north to explore the rich history of Lewis which has been inhabited by man for around 5000 years or more. We travel north through the rugged landscape and visit the ancient Calanais Standing Stones - erected in the late Neolithic era and a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age, Dun Carloway Broch, and a traditional blackhouse village. Overnight Lewis.
Day 5 - allows time to travel to the Butt of Lewis and iconic lighthouse with uninterrupted views across the Atlantic. If time permits, explore the town of Stornoway at your leisure before we board the ferry and head back to the mainland to venture through Wester Ross. This is a very old landscape which is well known for its mountain scenery, and after taking in Ullapool we visit the ruins of Ardvreck Castle. Overnight Kylesku.
Day 6 - we head for Durness taking in Smoo Caves, Britain's largest sea cave and walk the sandy beaches at Sango Bay or Rispond. Later we learn of the tragic story of the Highland Clearances, the Clan Mackay and the story of crofting life at the Strathnaver Museum. When we are ready, we head for Dunnet Head which is the most northern point in mainland Scotland. Overnight nr Gills Bay.
Day 7 - we board the morning ferry and cross the Pentland Firth to Orkney. This archipelago of 70 islands and skerries has beautiful beaches, heritage, culture and wonderful wildlife. We cross the Churchill Barriers to visit the Italian Chapel, St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall and Kirkwall town itself - a settlement shaped by the Vikings who settled here over 1,000 years ago. Overnight Orkney.
Day 8 we head out to visit the Broch of Gurness - one of the most outstanding examples of a prehistoric settlement and then on to the stone-built Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae also called the "Scottish Pompeii". Later, we visit Maes Howe chambered cairn, the Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness, and later the Brough of Birsay to walk out and explore the Pictish, Norse and medieval remains. Overnight Orkney.
Day 9 - we enjoy a free morning to relax and explore the last of Kirkwalls streets before we head for the ferry and back to the mainland of Scotland. We land in Caithness where we tour Castle of Mey, built between 1566 and 1572 by the 4th Earl of Caithness and walk the magnificent gardens before making our way to Scotland’s most northerly village at John ‘O Groats. Overnight Wick.
Day 10 is a journey southbound to explore the ancient harbour of Whaligoe Haven, once used by local fishermen to land their catch of Herring. Later, we visit beautiful Dunrobin Castle dating back to the early 1300s before making our way south through Easter Ross and spend the afternoon taking in the small historic town of Dornoch set in a tranquil location on the Dornoch Firth. End in Inverness.