2017 Scottish Clans & Castles with London 13 Days / 12 Nights
Your Scottish trip starts at 3:00 pm at your hotel in Drymen, 20 miles north of Glasgow Airport. Meet your tour director and drive a short distance to embark on a cruise aboard the historic steamboat “Sir Walter Scott” to view the natural beauty of Loch Katrine and get some fresh air after your journey. Return to your hotel where you’ll have free time to rest and relax. Chat with your tour director and fellow travelers about your trip with a welcome drink before sitting down to dinner in your hotel.
Drive east to visit Stirling Castle, a mighty stronghold that dominates the surrounding plain. A guided tour will reveal the many chambers and halls. Learn about notable people such as “Braveheart” William Wallace and Mary, Queen of Scots. Stop for photos at Doune Castle, which has featured in various movies and TV shows, including “Game of Thrones” and “Outlander.” Stop for a browse around the town of Callander and drive through the Trossachs region, often called “Scotland in Miniature” as all aspects of delightful Scottish scenery are found here. Return to your hotel in good time for dinner.
Today head up into the majestic Highlands. Journey across mysterious Rannoch Moor and through Glen Coe, often considered one of Scotland’s most spectacular and beautiful places. Stop at a woolen mill and drive alongside some of the narrow lakes in the Great Glen. Continue your journey north to visit the romantic Eilean Donan Castle. The first fortified castle was built in the 13th century, rebuilt several times and partially ruined in 1719. Check in to your charming family-owned hotel near Kyle of Lochalsh.
Today explore the Isle of Skye and its 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. Stop in Portree for a look around and view Kilt Rock, a sea cliff with huge, vertical basalt columns. Return to your hotel for free time before dinner.
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. Take a ferry to Mallaig on the mainland and transfer to a train for a fun ride through some of Scotland’s picturesque scenery. The rails run alongside the “Road to the Isles” so you may view Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument, another reminder of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The train crosses the 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct, which was featured in some of the Harry Potter movies. Re-board your coach at Fort William and drive to Inverness.
Embark on a cruise into Loch Ness to view the scenery from the water and perhaps spot “Nessie.” End at the picturesque ruins of Urquhart Castle, once Scotland’s largest castle which was destroyed in Jacobite wars. Stop at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre to learn about the battle when British Government forces defeated the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie on 16th April 1746. The Visitor Centre explains how events led to the conflict and was the end of the clan system in Scotland. Stop for photos at Clava Cairns, a prehistoric burial place with a circle of standing stones that inspired the “Outlander” books. Return to Inverness for dinner, followed by a gentle walking tour.
Drive through part of the Speyside region, where many distilleries are based close to sources of pure water from the River Spey. Visit a distillery to learn about the simple ingredients and many steps involved in whisky making. Tour the facilities and sample a “wee dram.” Explore 16th century Brodie Castle, set in spacious grounds with its fairytale towers and turrets. The house contains fine furnishings, a collection of paintings and a library with over 6,000 volumes. Return to Inverness and relax before dinner in your hotel.
Drive south through majestic Highland scenery to Leault Farm where dogs obey commands to round up sheep. Head through the high peaks of the Grampian Mountains and stop for a look around the town of Pitlochry before continuing to St Andrews, the “Home of Golf,” on the east coast. 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. Drive south to your manor house hotel close to Edinburgh. Enjoy a Scottish Evening in your hotel where dinner is enhanced by lively music of a ceilidh band.
This morning, take a sightseeing tour of Edinburgh and discover the old and new towns with Princes Street in between. See how the medieval townhouses along the Royal Mile in the heart of the Old Town are in stark contrast to the Georgian mansions of the 200-year old New Town. Learn about many prominent Scottish inventors, doctors and writers for whom Edinburgh is famous. Tour the impressive Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official Scottish residence of The Queen, and walk through the majestically furnished chambers. The balance of the day is free. On July 27 to August 17 departures enjoy the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at the Castle esplanade.
Transfer to the train station in central Edinburgh and enjoy a comfortable ride to London, a journey of about 5 hours. As you travel south, admire panoramic views of the Scottish and English scenery and towns. On arrival in London, transfer to your hotel. The evening is free for dining on your own and there is no shortage of great restaurants.
Today explore London at your own pace on an open-top bus tour to see the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and more. You may also take a walking tour and a cruise on the River Thames. Visit the Tower of London to view the magnificent Crown Jewels, guarded by Beefeaters in distinctive Tudor uniforms and visit some of the historic towers where important historic events have taken place. You may prefer to visit Kensington Palace, home of Princess Diana.
Spend a full day for exploring this great city further as your hop-on, hop-off voucher is valid for 48 hours. You may use your voucher for the Tower of London or Kensington Palace today. Be adventurous and take an excursion outside the city to some of the many famous places within easy reach.
Your tour ends after breakfast so transfer to Heathrow Airport for your flight home.
B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner