2015 Scottish Dream 8 Days / 7 Nights
Your Scottish trip starts at 2:30 pm when you meet your tour director at your Glasgow hotel and set out on an introductory tour of central Glasgow. See the main attractions of Glasgow including red sandstone Victorian buildings, delightful parks, Glasgow Cathedral and the River Clyde, once famous for shipbuilding, especially during the 19th century when the city burgeoned. Visit extensive and varied art collections in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, originally opened in 1901. Chat with your tour director and your fellow travelers about your trip with a welcome drink before dinner in your hotel.
Depart Glasgow and drive north along the banks of Loch Lomond with views of Ben Lomond and other Highland peaks. At Tarbet embark on a short cruise to appreciate the beauty of this famous loch and admire panoramic views of the Highlands. Then travel across the mountains for time to browse around the town of Inveraray before visiting Inveraray Castle, which featured in Downton Abbey’s Season IV production. This imposing Campbell family home with four conical spires was built between 1746 and 1789. A guided tour will reveal the history of the family and region as you view the magnificent Armory Hall and many fine rooms with tapestries, porcelains and portraits. Journey across mysterious Rannoch Moor and through Glen Coe, a spectacular glen made famous by the Campbells’ massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692, to Ballachulish on the coast.
This morning head north via Fort William and take the “Road to the Isles” through some of Scotland’s loveliest scenery, stopping for photos at the Glenfinnan Monument. At Mallaig cross by ferry to the Isle of Skye, sometimes called the “Misty Isle” due to the many showers brought by the Atlantic breezes. Visit the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle to discover the history of the Lords of the Isles and the most powerful clan of the Isle of Skye. Drive through part of the island and return to the mainland by bridge, stopping for photos at the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle. Then drive along the beautiful shores of Loch Ness, famous for its monster. Continue to your hotel in Nairn, a manor house property set in spacious grounds near the North Sea.
A short distance from Nairn is the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. Learn about the battle which took place on 16th April 1746 when British Government forces defeated the army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, popularly named Bonnie Prince Charlie in just one hour. The Visitor Centre shows the background to this bloody battle and you can walk around the moorland to see various monuments commemorating troops. This battle changed the traditional Highland way of life amongst the clans forever. Drive south through the high peaks of the Grampian Mountains to the town of Pitlochry. Visit Blair Athol Distillery to learn about whisky making and sample a “wee dram” at the end of the tour. Check in to your gracious manor-style hotel.
Drive along the charming River Dee Valley, called Royal Deeside as it was made popular by Queen Victoria, who visited every year. Tour the grounds of the Royal Family’s Balmoral Castle and some of the rooms that are open to the public (Apr-Jul). The Royal Family still spends time here every year so when Balmoral is closed (Mar & Aug-Nov) visit Crathes Castle. This is an enchanting 16th-century tower house set in formal gardens with sculpted yew trees. With turrets and towers, winding staircases, ornate ceilings and furnishings, this makes for a great experience. Stop in Ballater, where many shops show royal warrants to indicate that the Royal Family uses their goods. Return to your hotel and enjoy free time to stroll through the spacious gardens or the nearby town before dinner.
Travel south through the lush countryside of Aberdeenshire to visit Glamis Castle, the legendary setting of “Macbeth” and childhood home of the late Queen Mother. This is a majestic building and filled with contrasting priceless artifacts and homely furnishings. Drive across the modern Tay Bridge to St Andrews, the “Home of Golf.” See the famous Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and the Old Course and enjoy free time to browse in golf specialty stores or through the medieval town with its ruined cathedral and castle. This is the location of Scotland’s oldest university. Drive south into Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and enjoy a Scottish Evening with dinner and lively singing, story-telling and step-dancing.
This morning explore Edinburgh on a sightseeing tour. Compare and contrast the wide streets and elegant mansions of the Georgian 200-year-old “New Town” with the narrow lanes and medieval townhouses along the Royal Mile, the oldest part of the city. See Princes Street, the main shopping thoroughfare that separates the two areas. Learn about many prominent Scottish inventors, doctors and writers. Finish your tour at the imposing Edinburgh Castle where you can see historic buildings and enjoy splendid views of Edinburgh. The balance of the day is free for independent exploring, shopping and dining. On August 2 to 23 departures enjoy the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at the Castle esplanade.
Your tour ends after breakfast.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner