Start Date: 19th May 2022
Duration: 13 nights
Day 1 We depart Edinburgh and head out across the famous Forth Rail Bridge to the rustic village of Culross in Fife, an Outlander film location (Cranesmuir, home to Geillis & Arthur Duncan) and impressive Culross Palace (Claire works in its herb garden at fictional Castle Leoch). After lunch we head for Doune Castle near Callander, one of the main Outlander film locations (Castle Leoch, home to Colum MacKenzie and his clan). Overnight nr Stirling.
Day 2 After breakfast, we journey through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park with a wide range of wildlife and breath-taking scenery of forest and woodland, rivers and lochs. We take a scenic drive around “The Duke’s Pass”, regarded as one of Britain's best drives, and leads through some of the most scenic parts of the iconic Trossachs landscape. Later we head for Glencoe. Overnight Fort William.
Day 3 This morning, we travel by ferry to explore the Ardnamurchan Peninsula by way of single-track road where the relics of ancient volcanic activity are conspicuous features. This is an area ideal for wildlife watching opportunities where we hope to spot eagles, deer and seabirds. Later, we head to Lochaber to view the Glenfinnan monument, built to honour the arrival of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. Overnight Fort William.
Day 4 Step aboard the Jacobite steam train, now famous as the Harry Potter “Hogwarts Express”, which forms part of the West Highland Railway intended to help open up this remote part of the Scottish coast. The 2-hour journey provides fantastic west coast scenery from your seats. After a lovely lunch in Mallaig and a look around the village, we take the ferry (15:00hrs) over the Sea of the Hebrides. Overnight South Uist.
Day 5 This morning 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 freshwater 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 6 Today begins with a ferry journey 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, we’ll enjoy a scenic drive along the winding ‘Golden Road’ that takes in the bays of Harris. Overnight Harris.
Day 7 After breakfast, we head out to explore the rich history of Lewis which has been inhabited by man for around 5000 years or more. The isle of Lewis boasts wonderful coastal scenery, ancient stone monuments, castles, traditional turf-roofed ‘blackhouses’ and the famous Harris tweed. We begin with visiting the ancient Calanais Standing Stones before experiencing Dun Carloway Broch. We end the day at a traditional blackhouse village and see how Harris Tweed is made at the island mill. Overnight Lewis.
Day 8 This morning allows more time to explore Lewis perhaps exploring the shops, Lews Castle and grounds, or taking in a nearby beach, before we board the ferry back to the mainland cruising past the Summer Isles to Wester Ross. This is a very old landscape, and the area is well known for its spectacular mountain scenery especially the Torridon Hills. We tour south towards Inverness and if desired, enjoy an afternoon walk in the area. Overnight nr Inverness
Day 9 After breakfast, we head into the "Capital of the Highlands", Inverness, to enjoy some free time exploring the city before we travel south along the banks of Loch Ness with fabulous scenery and picturesque villages along the way. We will be stopping at Fort Augustus on the southern shores of the loch for lunch and some sight-seeing before touring up the west side of the loch to spend the afternoon at the distillery (optional). Overnight nr Inverness.
Day 10 This morning we journey through Inverness city on our way to Linn Falls, which are a pretty two-tier waterfall reached via a woodland walk which passes the Aberlour distillery. The local museum is worth a visit here too. Next, we head north for Elgin with its ruined cathedral. Originally built in 1224, this was for a time one of the most spectacular medieval cathedrals in Scotland, earning itself the nickname the “Lantern of the North”. Our last stop is a shoreline walk to Bow Fiddle Rock, found just north of the pretty village of Portnockie. Overnight Cullen.
Day 11 We tour along the Moray Firth coast, visiting ruined castles and taking in some stunning villages and beaches. We visit Duff House, to explore the interior and admire the Georgian architecture, as well as appreciate some of the paintings and artwork on display. There are also extensive landscaped gardens to explore. Further along the coast are the picturesque coastal villages of Gardenstown, Crovie and Pennan. Later, we visit Cullykhan beach, a lovely sandy beach reached via a few minutes’ walk, and then the ruins of New Slains Castle. Overnight Aberdeen.
Day 12 After breakfast, we head south along the coast visiting the pretty harbour town of Stonehaven and view the nearby ruins of Dunnottar Castle, a dramatic and evocative cliff top fortress. The spectacular cliffs at Fowlsheugh are packed with 130,000 breeding seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. If lucky enough, you could see puffins too. Look out for grey seals, dolphins and minke whales also. Later, we head for Abroath boasting an attractive old harbour and beaches, and Dundee city. Overnight Blairgowrie.
Day 13 We head north into the Cairngorms National Park, a land of wild, high mountains, heather moorlands, and magnificent forests. Taking the Glenshee mountain road, we arrive at Balmoral Castle for a visit. Balmoral is associated with Queen Victoria, and the present Castle, gardens and much of the woodlands owe their development to her. After lunch, we travel take a walk/hike at Morrone birkwood nature reserve (1.5-2 hours). Regarded as one of the finest examples of 'downy' birchwoods in the UK and has some wonderful views into the Cairngorms. Overnight Blairgowrie.
Day 14 After breakfast, we make our way south to the city of Perth for a 1.5hr walk through this fascinating river-side city. On-route we will see the old city mill; St John's Kirk, Perth's oldest building; the river Tay; and Perth Bridge. You may wish to enjoy some refreshments here before we make our way to the Falkirk Wheel to learn more about this engineering marvel. Later, we pay a visit to the Kelpies before making our way back into Edinburgh.