2018 SCOTTISH ISLES & GLENS 12 DAYS / 11 NIGHTS
Tour begins 3:00 PM, Drymen hotel, located 20 miles (30 km) north of Glasgow. Set out for a short drive through part of the Trossachs, often called “The Highlands in Miniature”. Embark on the steamboat “Sir Walter Scott” for a short cruise on Loch Katrine to admire lovely scenery. Enjoy a welcome drink with your group before dinner.
Journey across a scenic Highland route and over the mountain pass of “Rest & Be Thankful.” Ferry to the Isle of Bute for stunning island scenery. Take a guided tour of the highly-decorated chambers of Mount Stuart House, built in the late 1870s. See the many Victorian comforts that were highly innovative for the era. Spend some time in Rothesay, the main town on the island. Enjoy free time before dinner.
Travel alongside the famous Loch Lomond, renowned for its unsurpassed beauty. Journey through Glen Coe, often considered one of Scotland’s most spectacular and beautiful places. Travel through Fort William and stop at a woollen mill for some refreshment and shopping for Scottish goods. Visit the romantic Eilean Donan Castle before heading to your charming family-owned hotel near Kyle of Lochalsh.
Explore the Isle of Skye and its Bonnie Prince Charlie associations. Tour the oldest continuously inhabited castles in Scotland -- Dunvegan Castle, stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years. View priceless family heirlooms and stroll through formal gardens. Stop in picturesque Portree with its brightly-painted houses clustered around the bay. Enjoy free time before dinner.
Take in the Highland scenery as you head 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. Continue to Ullapool, an active fishing and ferry port built in 1788.
Admire the rugged mountains, coastline and vast areas of open land of the sparsely populated northernmost section of the Highlands. Learn about the Highland Clearances, a tragic period of history when many peasants were forced off the land and emigrated to the United States, Australia and other countries. Continue to John O’Groats, the most northern place on the British mainland and take a ferry to the Isles of Orkney, enjoying dinner on board.
Today you’ll discover the Isles of Orkney starting with a drive across the Churchill Barriers, created during World War II to deter German submarines. Next, discover the charm of the tiny Italian Chapel, with its elaborate paintings. Visit Skara Brae, a 5,000-year-old village with remains of dwellings and return to Kirkwall to see 12th century St. Magnus Cathedral. Enjoy leisure time in the afternoon and evening to browse around the town and dine independently.
Ferry back to the mainland and head to Dunrobin Castle, dating to 1275 but renovated in the mid-1800s. With 189 rooms this is the largest mansion in northern Scotland. Explore chambers containing priceless artifacts, including the dining room, music room and library with over 10,000 volumes. Continue south to Inverness, the principal town in the Highlands.
Keep your camera handy as you cruise on Loch Ness to visit the picturesque ruins of Urquhart Castle, once Scotland’s largest castles which was destroyed in Jacobite wars. Stop at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre to learn about the conflict where Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated in 1746, which ended the clan system in Scotland. Walk around the moor and see monuments to the various regiments who lost men. Stop for photos at Clava Cairns, a prehistoric burial place with a circle of standing stones that inspired the “Outlander” books. Return to Inverness with time to relax, shop or walk alongside the river.
Immerse yourself in farm life at a Cairngorm Mountains farm and watch as skilled dogs obey commands to round up sheep. Go behind the scenes at Blair Athol Distillery to see how whisky is distilled and enjoy a tasting at the end of the tour. Head to Edinburgh where a festive Scottish evening with dinner and entertainment awaits.
Discover Edinburgh’s highlights including the wide streets and elegant mansions of the 200-year-old Georgian “New Town”, and the Royal Mile, the oldest part of the city where some houses reach 11 stories tall. Tour the imposing Edinburgh Castle to see the Stone of Scone and the Scottish Crown Jewels. The afternoon and evening are free. On July 28 to August 13 departures enjoy the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle.
Your tour ends after breakfast.