Start Date: 29th July 2024
Duration: 9 nights
This brilliant 10-day tour takes in all the beautiful scenery and dramatic island landscapes mixed with spectacular castle visits and easy country walks. Tour around the Isle of Skye, and then on to the wild, windswept Outer Hebridean island of Harris & Lewis, that all boast their own unique character. Around these wave-battered isles, you’ll find historic castles, awesome beaches, ancient standing stones and epic landscapes to explore. On this tour you will get a good understanding of the islands culture of crofting, fishing and whisky-making, including the world-famous Harris Tweed that can only be produced here. Enjoy visits to Glencoe, Inverness and The Cairngorms National Park.
Today we head deep into Scotland’s first National Park via the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond. This is Britain's largest freshwater loch and is also, in the opinion of many, it's most beautiful. Explore the picturesque village of Luss on the shores of the loch before we travel over the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ and into Clan Campbell territory visiting romantic Inveraray Castle on the shores of Loch Fyne.
Nearby, enjoy an afternoon walk out to the 15th century Kilchurn Castle. This is an extremely interesting site to visit, and the remains are hugely impressive.
We now head north for Glencoe where strong passions for the massacre of the Clan Donald of Glen Coe in 1692 still run deep.
After breakfast, step aboard the Jacobite Steam Train, made famous by the Harry Potter films. Travelling west to Mallaig on the “Hogwarts
Express” you will pass the head of Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument which marks the place where Prince Charles Edward Stuart, ‘Bonnie
Prince Charlie’, raised the royal standard at the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. Arriving at the seaside village of Mallaig, enjoy lunch before boarding the ferry to take us “Over the Sea to Skye”.
Spend the afternoon visiting Armadale Castle & Gardens, once the seat of the Macdonalds of Sleat, part of the mighty Clan Donald. Now a ruin, it
sits in a dramatic position overlooking the Sound of Sleat and surrounded by 40 acres of magnificent woodland gardens. Take a woodland walk here before retiring for the evening.
Wake to the excitement of a day exploring the splendid scenery of the Isle of Skye, commonly known as "The misty
Isle". First thing, enjoy a tour of Eilean Donan Castle; the 13th century sea fortress of the MacKenzies sitting where three lochs meet. Touring the island, we pass through Broadford and the Cuillin Mountains to explore the Island capital of Portree, which has an old-fashioned appeal with colourful houses and traditional harbour.
After lunch and shopping in Portree town, spend the afternoon at Dunvegan Castle & Gardens and then exploring the north of the island with fabulous scenery and seascapes including The Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock Falls and the spectacularly bizarre scenery of the Quiraing before arriving at Uig bay for the evening.
We take the ferry crossing to the Outer Hebrides, landing on Harris that is almost completely unspoilt, with numerous white sandy beaches on the west coast. We head for the most spectacular and beautiful white sand beach in the Hebrides - Luskentrye. Enjoy a stroll here before we stop for lunch. At the southern tip of Harris is St Clements Church, dedicated to Pope Clement I. Founded in the early 16th-century by Alasdair Crotach (Alexander MacLeod) of Dunvegan and Harris, 8th chief of Clan MacLeod, St Clement’s Church has been praised as ‘the grandest medieval building in the Western Isles’. We take the “Golden Road” back up to Tarbert; a winding single-track route through some of Harris’s rocky East Coast. What this road lacks in traffic it makes up for in scenery and wildlife.
Today we explore the rich history of Lewis. With a current population of 18,500, the traditional industries are crofting, fishing and weaving and
the story of the Isle of Lewis is steeped in both history and mystery.
We start the day experiencing the production of tweed at the Weaving Shed. This was
originally a cottage industry, producing an article made entirely by hand. The tweed must be hand-woven by the islanders at their home in the Outer Hebrides and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.
Later, we visit the ancient Calanais Standing Stones, Dun Carloway Broch, and discover Hebridean history and the Gaelic way of life when we visit a traditional blackhouse village at Gearannan.
This morning, relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the town of Stornoway. Originally a Viking settlement, Stornoway offers a range of local specialist shops selling handcrafted goods from the Outer Hebrides including jewellery and Harris Tweed. Enjoy a stroll around the leafy grounds of Lews Castle which houses a museum introducing life in the Outer Hebrides from prehistory to the present day with a range of Gaelic-led exhibitions including significant archaeological finds from National Museum Scotland.
This afternoon we head back to the mainland, crossing the North Minch to Ullapool. This picturesque town is nestled on the shores of Lochbroom and was founded in 1788 as a herring port by the British Fisheries Society. The region surrounding Ullapool is dominated by rugged mountains and further to the south, desolate moorland.
Enjoy a short walk when we visit nearby Rogie Falls which has a series of lovely walks on the Black Water where you can see the waterfall that is famous for salmon
After breakfast, enjoy some free time in the highland capital. Inverness is a thriving city and boasts many historic buildings in the Old Town that can be appreciated while browsing the city shops or you may enjoy the fine circular walk from Inverness Castle, along the river here you will find anglers casting long lines to leaping Atlantic salmon.
Moving on to Loch Ness, hike out to the spectacular Falls of Foyers - a photographer’s paradise, with spectacular views of Loch Ness. Take some time out in the picturesque village of Fort Augustus which lies on the southern shores before we travel along the west shores of Loch Ness towards the whisky distillery for an informative tour and some much-needed whisky tasting.
After breakfast, we will travel a short distance to nearby Culloden Moor to learn
about the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. It was at this site that following an unsuccessful Highland charge against the government lines, between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded in this brief battle. The scenery quickly changes as we meander through the Central Highlands of Scotland where the forests of the Cairngorms contain remnants of the original Caledonian pine forest and includes a rare kind of pinewood found only in Scotland and Norway. We pass through Carrbridge to admire the oldest pack horse bridge in the highlands and enjoy an afternoon walk around Loch an Eilein with its 13th century island castle. The onward journey takes us south through the Caledonian Pine Forest to picturesque Feshie Bridge
and the ruins of Ruthven Barracks.
Relax and enjoy Highland Perthshire whilst exploring the interesting shops
of Pitlochry. We travel the short distance to Loch Tummel to admire the “Queen’s View”, one of the most photographed areas in Scotland with a stunning viewpoint overlooking the loch and beyond to the iconic Schiehallion mountain. We head for the highland town of Aberfeldy to explore the town and take a circular walk at nearby Birks of Aberfeldy with mature trees and the excellent views at the roaring white water of the falls.
End the day with a visit to Blair Castle & Gardens which has been the home of the Atholl family for over seven centuries.
Enjoy a woodland walk this morning amongst the Giant Douglas Firs at ‘The Hermitage’ (roughly 1hr) and take the path to the roaring Black Linn waterfall. Nearby is the pretty village of Dunkeld, "Fort of the Caledonians", on the banks of the River Tay. Dunkeld’s medieval Cathedral dominates this picturesque village and the brightly coloured 'little houses' built in the early 1700s are fascinating. Enjoy some time taking in the historic exteriors of the buildings here.
Next, we tour south out of the Highlands and travel to South Queensferry to walk the cobbled streets through the town and view the famous Forth Rail Bridge. Enjoy a walk through the cobbled street of pretty South Queensferry that will give you stunning views of the three bridges. The Forth Bridge, a railway bridge which was completed over 125 years ago, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a spectacular feat in engineering.
Spend the afternoon visiting Rosslyn Chapel made famous by Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code. Built between 1446 and 1484, the chapel has been described as an “Architectural Wonder” and a “Library in Stone” as practically every surface of Rosslyn Chapel is covered with carvings of individual figures and scenes from this timeline.