Start Date: 1st October 2021
Duration: 15 nights
This is a fabulous introduction to the Scottish landscape as we explore Scotland’s first National Park. Enjoy a relaxing walk around the village of Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond before we travel into the Cowal Peninsula. Here, we’ll visit Kilfinan Church housing the Lamont vault containing interred remains of the clan’s chiefs, and the ruins of Ascog Castle (fitness and walking shoes required). Overnight Strachur.
Today is spent soaking up the history of Clan Lamont of Cowal. We will seek to meet Mary Lamb, curator of The Clan Lamont Society museum, at Inverchaolain Manse overlooking Loch Striven. We will also visit the ruins of the Lamont strongholds of Dunoon Castle and Toward Castle, which will help to string all the stories together. Overnight Strachur.
We head west for the wonderful lochside village of Inveraray and its famous Castle. Later, we will visit Auchendrain village and enjoy an incredible archaeological treat to see Kilmartin Glen with its ancient standing stones and burial cairns, often referred to as the birthplace of Scotland. We tour through to the bustling seaside town of Oban, ‘Gateway to the Isles’, before taking the ferry to Mull. Overnight Mull.
This morning we wake to the splendour of the Isle of Mull with its rugged mountain scenery and stunning seascapes. We visit the home of one of Scotland’s oldest Clans, Duart Castle, and the main town of Tobermory with its colourful frontage of painted houses. We will spend the afternoon touring the north of the island and enjoy a walk at the white sand beach at Calgary Bay. Overnight Mull.
After breakfast, we head out to explore south Mull and look for some of the island’s wildlife before taking a short ferry crossing to the small isle of Iona renowned for its tranquillity. A short and easy walk takes us to Iona Abbey which has been a vibrant centre of Christian worship since Columba arrived here in AD 563. Later we travel back to the Mull for the evening. Overnight Mull.
Today we travel by ferry to explore the sparsely populated 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. After lunch, we make our way into Lochaber for the afternoon and explore the magnificent sights around Glencoe. Overnight Fort William.
This morning you’ll step aboard the Jacobite steam train, now famous as the Harry Potter “Hogwarts Express”, and travel part of the West Highland Line, built in 1901 to help open up this remote part of the Scottish coast. You will have wonderful views across the Sound of Arisaig to the Small Isles. After lunch at the fishing village of Mallaig we cross “Over the Sea to Skye” and tour through South Skye. Overnight Uig, Skye
Today is a tour of the Isle of Skye, passing through Broadford and the Cuillin Mountains to the main settlement on the Island, Portree, with colourful houses and traditional harbour. If desired, take a tour of Dunvegan Castle. Later, we explore the north of the island and admire the scenery and views at the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock Falls, Lealt Falls and the strange landscape of the Quiraing. Overnight Uig, Skye
After breakfast, we travel by ferry from Skye to the Outer Hebrides (1hr 45min crossing) and we will spend the afternoon exploring the dramatic beauty of the Isle of Harris. On arrival, enjoy a Harris Weaving demonstration before we head off to discover today’s highlights including the twisting coastal track the ‘Golden Road’ and take a walk along stunning Luskentyre beach. Overnight Stornoway.
Today we explore the rich history of Lewis which has been inhabited by man for around 5000 years or more. Visiting the ancient Calanais Standing Stones dating from 2900-2600 BC; Dun Carloway Broch, one of the best preserved in the Hebrides dating back over 2000 years; and a traditional blackhouse village we will discover the ancient way of life. Overnight Stornoway.
This morning allows time to explore the town of Stornoway before we head back to the mainland, past the Summer Isles and venture through Wester Ross. This is a very old landscape which is well known for its mountain scenery and after taking in the town of Ullapool we visit the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, built in about 1590 by the MacLeods of Assynt. Overnight Kylesku.
After breakfast, we head out to explore the most remote north west coast with views to Hoy Island. Enjoy a beach walk at Sango Sands and explore Smoo Cave. Learn of the tragic story of the Highland Clearances, the Clan Mackay, and the story of crofting life at the Strathnaver Museum. The ancient Pictish Farr Stone is situated nearby. Overnight nr Thurso.
This morning, we 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 the town, and end the day with a tour and tasting at Highland Park Distillery. Overnight Orkney.
We head out to explore Neolithic Orkney, beginning with the Broch of Gurness, and on the way we will stop to visit the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness, and the Brough of Birsay. The highlight of the day has to be the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, one of the most outstanding examples of a prehistoric settlement. We end the day with an incredible visit to Maeshowe chambered cairn built 2800bc. Overnight Orkney.
After breakfast, we head back to the mainland of Scotland and visit Caithness where we explore Wick Heritage Museum, which has a strong focus on the herring-boom era of Wick's history. Later, we explore the ancient harbour of Whaligoe Haven and then finish the day with an afternoon walk around the highland village of Dornoch. Overnight Dornoch.
This morning takes us south to Inverness ‘Capital of the Highlands’ where we can explore Culloden Battlefield which will provide a lasting image of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite Army of 1746. Later, we tour south to explore the Cairngorms National Park, visit Carrbridge for lunch and enjoy some free time in the Victorian tourist town of Pitlochry. Crossing the Forth Bridge takes us back into Edinburgh.