2014 Scottish Isles & Glens 13 Days/12 Nights
Your tour starts at Glasgow Airport with group transfers to your hotel at 8:00 am, 10:00 am or 12:00 noon. Passengers arriving later will transfer to the hotel at their own expense. At 2:30 pm take a coach tour to see Glasgow's main attractions and visit Glasgow Cathedral, dating from the 12th century. Chat with your tour director and travel companions about your itinerary over a welcome drink before dinner.
Travel into the Highlands as you drive alongside the lovely shores of Loch Lomond and embark on a short cruise to admire the scenery all around. Drive to the town of Inveraray, a planned Georgian town and spend some time there to look at the elegant buildings set long the shoreline. Continue your drive to Oban on the west coast and visit Oban Distillery to see how whisky is distilled and sample some at the end of the tour.
Take a ferry ride from Oban to the Isle of Mull, which is one of the most beautiful of the Hebrides. After a scenic drive across the mountains of Mull take another short ferry ride to the tiny, peaceful Isle of Iona. Visit Iona Abbey, Scotland's first Christian settlement, which as founded by the Irish Saint Columba in the 6th century. It is the burial place of many Scottish kings and forms an active ecumenical community today. Then enjoy some free time before returning to Oban by coach and ferry.
Travel the scenic “Road to the Isles” passing Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument. Cross by ferry to the Isle of Skye, often called the “Misty Isle” due to the showers that drift across the mountains. Visit the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle to discover the history of the clans of the region. Cross back to the mainland by bridge to your charming family-owned hotel near Kyle of Lochalsh.
Today explore more of the Isle of Skye and Bonnie Prince Charlie associations. Travel to Dunvegan Castle, stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years, making it the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. View priceless family heirlooms and stroll through formal gardens. Stop in Portree where brightly-painted houses cluster around a large bay. Return to your hotel for free time before dinner.
Tour and take photos of the romantic Eilean Donan Castle. Enjoy more Highland scenery as you drive to Inverewe Gardens, where a haven of trees and shrubs was created from 50 acres of bleak headland in 1862. The varied plantings thrive due to the warmth of the Gulf Stream. Travel to Ullapool, an active fishing and ferry port that was built in 1788, and check in to your hotel.
Today explore a remote Highland area with huge tracts of bogland, rugged mountains and coastline. Stop in Durness, one of Scotland's most remote hamlets and learn about the 18th and 19th century Highland Clearances. Stop in Bettyhill, a village built in 1814 to replace crofts destroyed by the Clearances and continue to Thurso. Visit Caithness Horizons Museum and check in to your hotel.
Take a ferry ride from the mainland to explore the largest island of Orkney. Visit Skara Brae, a 5,000-year-old village, to see remains of houses. View the Ring of Brodgar, a circle of prehistoric standing stones and see 12th century St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. Drive cross the Churchill Barriers, created during World War II to deter German submarines and see the Italian Chapel, built from two Nissen huts with elaborate paintings. Return to the mainland by ferry.
Drive along the coast to John o' Groats, the most northerly village on the British mainland. Visit Dunrobin Castle, dating to 1275 but renovated in the mid-1800's. With 189 rooms this is the largest mansion in northern Scotland. Watch a demonstration of falconry in the castle gardens to see trained birds of prey. Continue south to your hotel in Nairn, located on the Moray Firth.
Drive along the shores of Loch Ness to visit the picturesque ruins of Urquhart Castle. Stop at the Culloden Visitor Centre for a walk around the moor where Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Visit the vast ramparts at Fort George, planned in 1747 as an English army base. A Scottish Highland evening in your hotel will feature haggis, traditional foods and lively bagpipe music and dance.
Drive south past the majestic Cairngorm Mountains to Leault Farm where dogs herd sheep through various obstacles. Travel south through mountainous countryside and to the east coast to St Andrews, the “Home of Golf.” Enjoy free time to visit the British Golf Museum and browse through the medieval town with its cathedral and castle. Drive south into Edinburgh and after dinner at a popular restaurant join a local guide for a fun ghost walking tour.
This morning discover Edinburgh on a sightseeing tour. See the wide streets and elegant mansions of the 200-year-old Georgian “New Town” and walk along part of the Royal Mile, the oldest part of the city. Finish your tour at the imposing Edinburgh Castle to see historic buildings and for views of Edinburgh. On July 25 to August 10 departures enjoy the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle.
Take a transfer to arrive at Edinburgh Airport by 6:30 am or 9:00 am.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner