Start Date: 10th June 2024
Duration: 9 nights
Scotland’s castles are as integral to the Scottish landscape as its pristine lochs and grand mountains. They are often formidable structures set in magnificent scenery, having played an important role in Scottish history. If you’re fascinated by them, then this is the tour for you and a fantastic way to uncover the country’s many stories and discover its natural and historical landscape. This 10-day journey takes you to some of the best castles and gardens in Scotland that you won’t want to miss, from seaside fortresses to medieval palaces that rank amongst the most iconic in the world.
This morning we head west via Scotland’s first National Park to the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond and walk the shores at the conservation village of Luss. From here we travel west over the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ mountain pass into Clan Campbell country to visit one of Scotland’s finest stately homes, Inveraray Castle & Gardens. The onward journey takes us across Rannoch Moor to the awe-inspiring scenery of Glencoe. Overnight nr Glencoe.
After breakfast, we visit the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle built around 1280 to command the southern end of the Great Glen, then take the ‘Road to the Isles’ through stunning west coast scenery. On the way we stop at Glenfinnan with superb views over Loch Shiel, arriving in the fishing village of Mallaig for lunch before boarding the ferry “Over the Sea to Skye”. Visit Armadale Castle and experience a haven of scent and colour in the magnificent gardens originally laid out by Lord Macdonald. Overnight nr Skye.
We tour of the Island of Skye, passing through Broadford and Cuillin Mountains to the Island capital, Portree, with its colourful harbour front and interesting shops. Heading north we take in the fabulous scenery and seascapes from Kilt Rock Falls, The Old Man of Storr, and the bizarre landscape of the Quiraing. Then to top off the day we visit Dunvegan Castle, one of the greatest Hebridean castles which has been occupied by the clan MacLeod for over 800 years. Overnight Skye area.
We start with a visit to iconic Eilean Donan Castle before travelling through Glen Shiel to the charming village of Fort Augustus on the shores of Loch Ness - keep a look out for Nessie! After lunch, we head for iconic Loch Ness for a relaxing cruise adventure and a visit to Urquhart Castle. Your voyage will include a one-hour cruise across the mysterious waters of Loch Ness and you’ll also hop ashore for a one-hour visit to explore historic Urquhart Castle. Overnight nr Inverness.
This morning we visit the impressive Dunrobin Castle and Gardens with its fairy-tale spires and turrets. Dunrobin is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland, dating back in parts to the early 1300s. Later venture out to explore Sutherland further before we enjoy a relaxing lunch and take in the small historic town of Dornoch set in a tranquil location on the Dornoch Firth before crossing the moor to Alness on our return trip. Overnight nr Inverness.
After breakfast, we travel to visit Cawdor Castle, home to the Cawdor family for over 600 years. Next, we take in Brodie Countryfare for some relaxing retail therapy before heading off to explore the Cairngorms National Park with towering mountain ranges and large tracts of Caledonian Pine Forest before making our way to the whisky distillery. Glenfiddich Distillery, the only distillery in Scotland to use a single source of water throughout the entire whisky-making process. Overnight Ballater.
After breakfast, we head off to visit one of the largest tower houses in the land, Castle Fraser, home of the Fraser family for more than 400 years. We tour through to the harbour town of Stonehaven on the beautiful Aberdeenshire coast for lunch and a look around before travelling through Cairngorms National Park to spend the afternoon in the heart of majestic Royal Deeside. Surrounded by glorious countryside, Ballater is a picturesque Victorian village on the River Dee. Overnight Ballater.
After breakfast we visit Balmoral Castle, one of two personal and private residences owned by The Royal Family. Enjoy a fascinating visit with privileged entry to the castle and grounds. We tour south through the rugged, heather-clad mountain slopes and summits via Braemar and Glen Shee and arrive at Glamis Castle, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Admire its stunning architecture, explore its history, and take a quiet stroll in the formal gardens. Overnight Pitlochry.
Enjoy free time this morning to explore the Victorian town of Pitlochry before we take a scenic drive out to take in the picturesque “Queens View” viewpoint. Later, take a scenic walk with fine views and roaring falls near the Highland town of Aberfeldy and spend the afternoon at Blair Castle & Gardens commanding a strategic position on the main route through the central Scottish Highlands. Overnight Pitlochry.
Today begins with an enjoyable walk around the highland village of Dunkeld with its historic Cathedral and quaint 18th century ‘little houses’. Touring south, we arrive at Crieff, a traditional Scots market town set amidst Perthshire’s stunning scenery. Nearby is Drummond Castle Gardens our final stop of the tour, Stirling Castle, for a 2-hour visit to take in the castle's long and turbulent history. We now head for the famous Forth Rail Bridge and into Edinburgh to end the tour.