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Multiple Day Excursions

Notes for Edinburgh & Glasgow Tours:
All tours are guided in English.  Lunches are not included. However you will either stop in small Highland villages, where you can  choose where you eat, or country family establishments where there is a choice to suite all budgets. These places are always chosen for their charm and character to give you the taste of Highland Hospitality.

Visitor Attractions are not included but we have negotiated reductions to some on your behalf. This is where the Rabbie's Discount card, handed out to all passengers, comes in handy. Clothing – because we believe in time off the bus and give you opportunities to take nature walks. We recommend you bring suitable clothing and footwear on your tour. Scotland can be a wet place!

Winter Tours – whilst traveling around the Highlands in winter can be the most spectacular time to do so, sometimes the routes we take are altered a little depending on the conditions and tours normally run about half and hour earlier. In winter (November to March) the castles are not open but can be viewed from outside. Tours are operated by Rabbie's Trail Burners who have achieve a gold award in the UK's leading green accreditation scheme, demonstrating their high level commitment to protecting the environment and sustainable tourism practices.
 

Two - Five day Tours Departing Edinburgh
 

Scheduled coach tours from Edinburgh
There will be no tour departures on the following dates:
 11/13 & 14, 12/25 & 26/14, 1/1 & 2, 3/12/15
Loch Ness & Iverness Highlands - 2 Days April-October Daily
November - March; Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays
Isle of Arran Adventure - 3 Days Sundays 4/27, 5/11, 6/8, 7/6, 8/31, & 9/28.
The Isle of Skye Tour - 3 Days April-October Daily
November - March except 12/24 & 31.
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays
Isle of Skye & the West Highlands 4 Days Mondays - 4/14/14 to 10/13/14
Magical Mull, Iona & the West Highlands - 4 Days Thursdays, 5/15 & 29, 6/12 & 26, 7/10 & 24, 8/7 & 21,9/4 & 18.
Highland Explorer & Isle of Skye - 5 Days Saturdays 3/8-11/1,
Wednesdays 4/23 -10/8.
Iona, Mull & Isle of Skye - 5 Days Mondays, 3/31-10/20.
     

 

Special Interest coach tours from Edinburgh
Scottish Battlefields 3 Day Saturdays, 8/2 - 9/6/14
Sundays, 5/25 - 7/27/14
English Lake District & Hadrian's Wall - 3 Days

Wednesdays weekly 4/16-10/29, except 7/16 & 7/30.

Speyside Whisky Tour - 3 Days Wednesdays weekly, 4/2-10/29,
Fridays 5/9 & 23, 6/6 & 20, 7/4 & 18, 8/1, 15 & 29, 9/12 & 26.
Islay & the Whisky Coast - 4 Days Fridays 4/18, 5/2, 9 & 16.
Weekly from 6/6 - 9/19
Mondays 4/14 & 28.
Weekly to 6/30 except 5/6. 7/14 & 28, 8/11 & 25.
Weekly to 10/6.
Scottish Castle Experience 4 Day Fridays, 5/9, 6/20, 7/11, 8/22, 9/12 & 10/03/2014
York, The Dales Lake District & Hadrian's Wall - 5 Days Mondays 5/5 & 19, 6/2, 16 & 30, 7/14 & 28, 8/11 & 25, 9/8 & 22, 10/6.
Orkney & Scotland's Northern Coast - 5 Days Fridays  - 4/18 - 10/10 except 6/20.
Tuesdays - 5/6 - 9/16.
Outer Hebrides & Isle of Skye - 6 Days Tuesdays 4/15 - 9/30 except 7/15
Sundays 5/11 & 25, 6/8 & 22, 7/6 & 20, 8/3, 17 & 31, 9/14.
Islay, Edinburgh & Speyside Whisky Holiday 8 Days Fridays, 4/18, 5/2, 9 & 16, 6/6 -  9/19/14
 

 

Scheduled coach tours from Glasgow
Loch Ness & Inverness Highlands - 2 Days Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays
4/30 - 10/31
11/1 - 3/31 on request only.
Isle of Arran Adventure - 3 Days Sundays, 4/27, 5/11, 6/8, 7/6, 8/31 & 9/28
 

Isle of Skye Tour -

3 Days Mondays, Wednesdays & Saturdays
4/1 - 10/31
11/1 - 3/31 on request only.
Islay & the Whisky Coast - 4 Days Fridays, 4/18, 5/2, 9 & 16
Weekly from 6/6 - 9/19.
 
Combination Tours
West Coast Explorer 8 Days Fridays - 4/18, 5/2, 9 & 16
Weekly from 6/6 to 9/19/14
From Edinburgh or Glasgow
Returns to Edinburgh only.
Scottish Island Highlands 9 Days Mondays 4/14 - 10/6/14
except 6/17
From Edinburgh
Escape to the Edge
Includes 1 free day in Ullapool
10 Days Friday 4/18 – 9/26/14
except 6/20 & 7/11
From Edinburgh
Scottish Whisky & Islands 12 Days Friday 4/18, 5/2, 9 & 16
Weekly 6/6 - 9/19/14 except 6/17
From Edinburgh or Glasgow
Returns to Edinburgh only.
Island Hopping Adventure
Includes 1 free day in Ullapool
14 Days Mondays  4/14 – 9/22/14
except 6/17 & 7/7
From Edinburgh
The Best of Scottish Islands
Includes 1 free day in Ullapool
17 Days Fridays - 4/18, 5/2, 9 & 16
Weekly 6/6 - 9/19/14
except 6/13 & 7/4
From Edinburgh or Glasgow
Returns to Edinburgh only.
 
 
 
iLOCH NESS  & IVERNESS HIGHLANDS

Day 1

You will depart Edinburgh and head north across the River Forth towards the Highlands. A short stop in Dunkeld is followed by a walk along the River Tay or perhaps at the nearby Hermitage, before you head for the holiday town of Pitlochry for lunch. If you take a quick lunch then there will also be the option to visit the local whisky distillery.
From here the tour now takes you past Blair Castle into the Cairngorm National Park, where you will spend some time taking in the majesty of this amazing area, deep within the ancient Caledonian Pine Forests of the Rothiemurchus Estate. You then continue north and arrive at your destination of Inverness, where you will be dropped off at your accommodation.

The evening is free for you to explore the capital of the Highlands.

Day 2
After a leisurely breakfast you will be picked up from your accommodation in Inverness and explore the surrounding countryside en route to Loch Ness. Here you have the chance to either take a boat trip along the loch with great views of Urquhart Castle or stay on shore and visit the impressive ruins of the castle, overlooking the loch. You will spend your lunchtime on the southern shore of the loch in the charming village of Fort Augustus. The Caledonian Canal, which links the lochs of the Great Glen, dominates the town and makes a great place to relax and watch the boats sail by.

You now continue south past Ben Nevis and Fort William to Glencoe. This haunting glen was the scene of a terrible massacre in 1692, where many of the Clan Macdonald were slaughtered. The return journey continues over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor and into the countryside around Stirling, before finally reaching our starting point of Edinburgh.
 
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 THE ISLE OF SKYE TOUR  

Day 1
Departure point at 207 High Street, guests are requested to check in at least 15 minutes before departure. Depart Edinburgh travelling west passing Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. We head towards Stirling with its imposing castle and views to the Wallace Monument. We pass Doune Castle, set of Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” before stopping in Callander for refreshments.

Into the Highlands now and north past Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Crianlarich and Tyndrum, stopping for lunch on the way. Continue north through Glencoe, scene of the great massacre of the Clan MacDonald. We pass Fort William and up to the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge with great views over Ben Nevis.

On the “Road to the Isles” now, through the splendour of the Five Sisters of Kintail, the mountains guarding the pass on the way to the Isle of Skye. We stop to visit the famous Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”. Crossing over the bridge to Skye, we head up to Portree stopping for dinner on the way. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening where you are free to go out and explore the town.

Overnight Isle of Skye.

Day 2
A very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide’s knowledge will come to the fore in developing the best day out. You could travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery, including Kilt Rock.

After lunch you can go over to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse that is the furthest point west on Skye. Or travelling to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod. Talisker Distillery is also on Skye, as are the famous Cuillin Hills. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the early evening. Overnight Isle of Skye.

Day 3
Onto Loch Ness for some lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie”! There is a boat trip (summer only) available here that will get you that bit closer! Heading south now through the Grampian mountains along Loch Laggan, famous now as “Monarch of the Glen Country” before passing Dalwhinnie, home to Scotland’s highest whisky Distillery, and onwards past Blair Castle stopping for refreshments before heading back to Edinburgh past Perth and over the Forth Road Bridge.

Arriving at 19.00 approximately in Edinburgh.

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image Copyright - VisitScotland/ScottishViewpoint
HIGHLAND EXPLORER & ISLE OF SKYE 

Day 1
Departure point at 207 High Street, guests are requested to check in at least 15 minutes before departure.

Your journey takes you north over the Forth Road Bridge to the charming highland village of Dunkeld on the banks of the river Tay. From here you head into the Cairngorm national park and the ancient pine forests of the Rothiemurchus estate.

After lunch you will spend time on the beautiful shores of Loch Insh before a short forest walk takes you to the ruins of Loch an Eilean castle. Panoramic views of Loch Ness follow as you travel down to the banks of the famous loch and the village of Dores where you can do some “Nessie” spotting! Then it’s on to the shores of Loch Broom where you spend two nights at Ullapool. (*on some tours it may be necessary to stay in Inverness in which case the itinerary will be subject to slight changes).

Day 2

Today you visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wildness of the mountains of Assynt with its abundance of wildlife. This area is historically famous as being the first crofting area to be bought by the local crofters, the Assynt Crofters’ Trust. You will be immersed in the history of the area and visit the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle, once the stronghold of the MacLeods of Assynt.

The day is full of amazing views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes from the stunning white sand beach at Achmelvich Bay to the traditional fishing village of Lochinver. With the chance of seeing wildlife such as whales and red deer as well, this is sure to be a memorable day. Overnight in Ullapool.

Day 3
You leave Ullapool heading south to take in the drama of the River Droma as it plunges 60m down into the Corrieshalloch Gorge. From here you travel past the mountains of the Beinn Eighe national nature reserve and along the picturesque coastline of Loch Torridon. The tranquil setting of Applecross is your destination for lunch before taking one of the highest roads in Scotland, Bealach nam Bo (meaning the Cattle Pass), with its jaw-dropping views, hairpin bends and precipitous cliffs.

In the afternoon you stop in “tropical” Plockton where you can see palm trees growing alongside Loch Carron and take time to enjoy its sheltered serenity. Then it’s over the sea to Skye and the delightful harbour town of Portree with its friendly welcome. 

Day 4
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below.

After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village..

Day 5

You travel south from Skye stopping first at the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the head of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders.

Continuing east through the rugged mountains of Kintail including the splendour of the Five Sisters, you drive down through Glen Garry past Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, then onto Fort William for lunch.

In the afternoon you will explore spectacular Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692, before stopping in Killin for refreshments beside the Falls of Dochart, arriving into Edinburgh at around 19.00h.

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image Copyright - VisitScotland/ScottishViewpoint
IONA, MULL & THE ISLE OF SKYE TOUR 

Day 1
Takes you north past Stirling castle, and then west to Scotland’s first National Park around Loch Lomond, and the bonny banks”. You will travel through the impressive mountains of the West Highlands through the magnificent white-washed 18th Century town of Inveraray, home to the Campbell Clan and the Duke of Argyll. The afternoon will be spent in the heart of Argyll exploring the area close to the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada before arriving in bustling town of Oban, the gateway to the islands, for your 2 night stay.

Day 2

Is an early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the island of Staffa (except Saturday departures in September) and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture “Fingal’s Cave”.
You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.

Day 3
Takes you north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker, and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. You then pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. You will travel through Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, where the standard was raised to start the Jacobite rebellion. Glenfinnan is also home to a 100 year old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the Harry Potter films. From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye. This beautiful coastline is formed by a series of bays where the turquoise sea is backed by the white sands of Morar. The road ends at Mallaig where you take the short ferry crossing ‘over the sea to Skye’ where you arrive on the Sleat Peninsula, commonly referred to the ‘Garden of Skye’ with great views of the Cuillin mountains. From here you travel north to the picturesque harbour town of Portree where you will be dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.

Day 4
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below. After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.

Day 5
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. You stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders, before travelling east where you will take in the stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. Onto Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie”. Heading south now through the Grampian mountains along Loch Laggan, made famous as “Monarch of the Glen Country” before passing Dalwhinnie, home to Scotland’s highest whisky Distillery, and onwards into Perthshire where we stop for refreshments before heading back to Edinburgh past Perth and over the Forth Road
Bridge. Arriving at 19.00 approx.
 

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ORKNEY & SCOTLAND'S NORTHERN COAST  
 

Day 1
Departure point at 207 High Street, guests are requested to check in at least 15 minutes before departure. Depart Edinburgh heading west towards Stirling, passing Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. You also pass Doune Castle (set of Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”) before stopping in the small town of Callander for a refreshment stop.

We now drive along the splendour of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle and Glen Dochart, as you travel north over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor into Glencoe. The stunning views and spectacular landscapes of our own super (extinct) volcano and scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. We continue north up the Great Glen to the mysterious beauty of Loch Ness, travelling the whole 23 miles of the famous Loch - plenty of time to try and spot “Nessie!” The evening in Inverness will be free for you to explore the ‘Capital of the Highlands’.

Day 2
Today sees an early start, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery, with views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as golden eagles and red deer.
Close to Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John o’ Groats, we board the ferry crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. It is a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where we stop for a visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, where we stay for 2 nights. Visit Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking Cathedral and its historic winding streets.

Day 3
Explore this fantastic ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Highlights include a visit to Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar, the standing stones of Stenness, and Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions.

Day 4
Time to leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here we travel right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coastline. You then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle.

We continue to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where you spend your last night’s stay on tour.

Day 5

Your morning includes visits to Corrieshalloch Gorge, the ancient Clava Cairns and the more recent bloody history of the Culloden battlefield, before returning south through the grandeur of the Cairngorm National Park, the ancient Caledonian pine forest and Highland Perthshire to Edinburgh.
 
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OUTER HEBRIDES & ISLE OF SKYE

Day 1
Depart Edinburgh and travel north into the Highlands. First stop will be the historic village of Dunkeld where you will take a short walk through the forest to some waterfalls. Continuing north the route passes through the Grampian Mountains to the Spey Valley where you will stop for lunch. In the afternoon you will visit the world famous Loch Ness then make a short stop in Inverness itself. There will be time for a visit to the impressive waterfalls at Corrieshalloch Gorge before you arrive in the West Coast fishing port of Ullapool for your overnight stay.
 
Day 2
Catch the morning ferry from Ullapool and the two hour sail will take you along Loch Broom, past the Summer Isles then out across the Minch to Stornoway – the main town on Lewis and capital of the Outer Hebrides. Look out for dolphins, whales and seabirds during the crossing. In the afternoon explore the North West coast from Arnol with its historic old “blackhouse”, through traditional crofting townships to Port of Ness and the very north tip of the island – the Butt of Lewis. From the lighthouse here there is nothing between you and the Americas! Overnight in Stornoway.

Day 3
Today will be spent exploring some of the prehistoric remains on the island as well as its finest beaches. The fascinating circular stone fort, or Broch, at Carloway will be our first stop followed by more traditional crofting communities such as Gearrannan and Shawbost. Then it’s on to Callanish with its mysterious ancient stone circle. In the afternoon you will head for the remote district of Uig with its fine, sandy beaches at Bhaltos, dramatic sea cliffs and rugged hills. This is the wilderness of the Western Isles at its finest. Overnight again in Stornoway.

Day 4
Travelling south today from the wild moorlands of Lewis to the more mountainous Harris – almost but not quite an island on its own. Famous for the locally produced cloth, Harris Tweed, it is also home to the highest mountains in the Outer Hebrides and the stunning white sands of Luskentyre. After a morning of exploring South Harris you will stop for lunch in the small port of Tarbet from where you will catch the late afternoon ferry to Skye and continue on to your overnight stay in the picturesque village of Plockton.

Day 5
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example: heading west towards the 13th century home of the Clan Macleod - Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale or the dramatic sea-cliffs and lonely lighthouse at Neist Point. In the afternoon the tour may concentrate on the south
of the island. Spend time heading down to Elgol for seascapes and views of the Cuillin, or Talisker and its beautiful Bay or indeed Glenbrittle and its famed waterfalls. Return to Plockton for the evening.

Day 6
Departing from Plockton the return journey to Edinburgh has many highlights – a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William and the dramatic scenery and dark history of Glencoe. Travelling back south through the Central Highland the last stop of the day will be in Killin beside the Falls of Dochart before returning to Edinburgh.
 

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ISLAY & THE WHISKY COAST 
4 Day tour from Edinburgh or Glasgow

Monday departures offer the chance to see more whisky production as all the distilleries are in operation on weekdays. We recommend the Monday departures as the best choice for real enthusiasts and we try to fit in additional tastings where possible.

Friday departures of this tour can pickup/drop off in Glasgow. The following itinerary is based on Friday departures. On Monday departures days 1 and 4 will be reversed.



Day 1

Leaving Edinburgh at 08.30 you will head west through Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, along Loch Lomond then west through the mountains to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. Here you can perhaps sample some of the local seafood for lunch or just explore the historic town itself. After lunch you will then travel through Argyll and into the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. There are more than 350 prehistoric monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin. You will stop here to see the mysterious stone circles and standing stones and visit the community museum. From here it is a short drive to Kennacraig where you catch the early evening ferry to Islay. The sail is just over 2 hours and you should look out for wildlife such as dolphins, whales and seabirds. On arrival on Islay it is a short drive to Bowmore for your 3-night stay.

Day 2
A full day exploring Islay. The itinerary today is quite flexible with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches, short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies renowned for their strong peaty flavours and nurtured by the salty sea air. In the morning you will take the short drive to the west of the island via Saligo Bay for a visit to Kilchoman Distillery (the newest and smallest on the island) with the option of a coastal walk to Machair Bay for any non-whisky lovers. After lunch you will explore the tiny harbour illage of Portnahaven (look out for seals) before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to Bowmore. You will have the chance to visit Bowmore distillery or just relax and explore the village.

Day 3
Another day in paradise! Today you will explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. You will visit Ardbeg for a tour, tasting and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy local produce as well as some unique whisky. You then follow that up with a visit to Laphroaig or a visit to the ruins of Kildalton church with its famous 8th Century Celtic cross. Alternatively we may stop in Bridgend where you could visit the community craft producers at Islay House Square or take a walk through the woods along the nearby River Sorn.

Day 4
This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel up the coast to Oban – a busy harbour town and the main ferry port for the islands. Here we will drop off anyone who is continuing on the Mull, Iona and Isle of Skye extension. The others will have some free time to explore the town, have a late lunch or even pop into Oban Distillery before departing for the return trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Return time approx. 20.00.

Please note – No children under the age of 18 are allowed on this tour.
On this tour we have pre-booked a number of rooms in the beautiful Bowmore Distillery Cottages. These are self- catering cottages in the grounds of the distillery itself and offer a unique accommodation experience. The cottages have between 3 and 6 bedrooms and these are all en-suite but are NOT serviced during your stay. The kitchen and lounge facilities are shared and self-service continental breakfast ingredients will be provided.

PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO THE SHARED NATURE OF THE ACCOMMODATION INDIVIDUAL BEDROOMS DO NOT HAVE LOCKABLE DOORS. When these rooms are full we will use nearby B&Bs. There is also a limited number of 3* hotel rooms available on this tour..
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ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT & HADRIAN'S WALL   

Day 1
Depart Edinburgh at 09.00 and travel South into the Scottish Borders stopping at the world famous Scott’s view with stunning views over the River Tweed and the Cheviot hills that form the border between Scotland and England. You continue on to take a short walk to the William Wallace statue, the first ever statue erected to Scotland’s most feared warrior. Stopping briefly for refreshments by the ruins of Jedburgh Abbey you continue your journey towards the border crossing at Carter Bar. You follow the old Roman Road known as Dere Street into Northumberland and continue over the moors to follow the route of Hadrian’s wall, built by Emperor Hadrian to keep the Scots out of the Roman Empire. After lunch you can take the opportunity to explore some of the Roman remains and walk in the footsteps of the Roman Centurians who patrolled this desolate frontier of the Empire. You head South West and travel over Hartside Pass, at over 1900ft - on a clear day the hills and mountains of Scotland and the English Lake District are clearly visible. You follow the route of the old sheep drovers road towards the lively market town of Keswick where you will be dropped off at your accommodation and are then free to explore this charming town.
(**In July this tour may stay in Windermere instead).

Day 2

After breakfast you head a short distance out of town to the mysterious Castlerigg standing stones. Thought by many to have been built over 5,000 years ago and the scene of ancient rituals. You then travel on to the shores of Ullswater described as England’s most beautiful lake where you can take a forest walk to see the mighty Aira Force waterfall. Continuing south over the narrow and winding Kirkstone Pass you stop at Lake Windermere where you have the option to take a leisurely cruise on the Lake or simply eat lunch while enjoying views of the mountains and lakes. After lunch you travel around the southern tip of Windermere and on towards Coniston Water and shortly afterwards you arrive at the picturesque conservation village of Hawkeshead, where the poet William Wordsworth attended Grammar School. After free time to explore the village you take the narrow country lanes north towards Grasmere, which Wordsworth described as “the loveliest spot that man hath found”. There is free time to visit Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage or enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden by the River Rothy. In the late afternoon you return to Keswick.

Day 3

You will be collected from your accommodation and you head for the Whinlatter Forest Park and over the Whinlatter pass and into some of the most dramatic landscapes that the Lake District has to offer. Your journey takes us through the rural village of High Lorton and past Crummock Water and Buttermere and on towards the Honister mountain pass. Stopping amongst the mountains you have the opportunity to visit the old slate workings where a small number of Cumbrians continue to make their living. Following refreshments you continue through the forests of Borrowdale, passing Derwent Water on your return to Keswick where there is free time for lunch and shopping. Following lunch you begin your return journey by heading north towards the border. After crossing into Scotland you make a stop in Moffat, one of Scotland’s oldest Spa towns. From here it is a leisurely drive through the Galloway Hills back to Edinburgh. Arrival approx 18.00.

*On day 3 you have the option to be dropped off in the afternoon at Penrith train station if you are wanting to continue on to London or other destinations south.

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LAKE DISTRICT, HADRIAN'S WALL, THE DALES & YORK

Day 1

Your tour starts by hugging the magnificent East Lothian coastline as we travel towards the walled border town of Berwick Upon Tweed. After stopping to admire the fortifications we continue to Alnwick Castle, home of the Earls and Dukes of Northumberland since 1309. This magnificent Castle and it’s gardens have appeared in many films and television programmes. Leaving Alnwick behind we travel towards the City of York on the Great North Road, a route that has carried countless Roman Legions between the remote Northern outposts and the more populous settlements of Roman Brittania. We arrive in York your base for the next two nights in the late afternoon.

Day 2
Is a leisurely day that gives you the flexibility to spend time exploring the medieval heart of York, a city whose rich history goes back to the time of the Roman’s, Vikings and the Normans before travelling to the North Sea coast of Yorkshire. Your journey begins in the late morning when you head for the magnificent North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Lunch will be in Whitby, a bustling fishing port and the inspiration for the fertile imagination of author Bram Stoker, who stayed in the Royal Hotel on the western side of Whitby while writing his famous novel Dracula. After lunch and free time in Whitby we travel to the fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay *, a perfectly preserved conservation village of winding lanes and narrow alleys before returning towards York.

* The minicoach cannot access the main village because of local restrictions. The coach will drop you at the top of the village and you must walk down (and back up!) a steep hill to reach the old village centre.


Day 3
You will be collected from your accommodation and head west into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Established in 1954, the Yorkshire Dales National Park has outstanding scenery, a range of wildlife habitats and a rich cultural heritage. It’s a special place – a fantastic outdoor arena for recreation and peaceful relaxation and a haven for wildlife. Continuing West, your route takes us through the Northern Dales an area of outstanding natural beauty that is the centre of the Dales cattle trade. Throughout the day you will have the opportunity to taste the flavours of Yorkshire when we visit the town of Masham, home to two of Yorkshires best known breweries and the cheese making centre in historic Hawes. Our final leg of today’s journey takes us high up into the remote hill of the Yorkshire Dales before descending into the lively market town of Keswick where you will be dropped off at your accommodation and are then free to explore this charming town. (**During July this tour may stay in Windermere instead).

Day 4

After breakfast you head a short distance out of town to the mysterious Castlerigg standing stones. Thought by many to have been built over 5,000 years ago and the scene of ancient rituals. You then travel on to the shores of Ullswater described as England’s most beautiful lake where you can take a forest walk to see the mighty Aira
Force waterfall. Continuing south over the narrow and winding Kirkstone Pass you stop at Lake Windermere where you have the option to take a leisurely cruise on the Lake or simply eat lunch while enjoying views of the mountains and lakes.

After lunch you travel around the southern tip of Windermere and on towards Coniston Water and shortly afterwards you arrive at the picturesque conservation village of Hawkeshead, where the poet William Wordsworth attended Grammar School. After free time to explore the village you take the narrow country lanes north towards Grasmere, which Wordsworth described as “the loveliest spot that man hath found”. There is free time to visit Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage or enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden by the River Rothy. In the late afternoon you return to Keswick.

Day 5
Leaving the Lakes behind you start your climb towards Hartside Pass, at over 1900ft - on a clear day the hills and mountains of Scotland and the English Lake District are clearly visible. We follow the route of the old sheep drovers road between England and Scotland. Stopping at Hadrians Wall, built by Emporer Hadrian to keep the Scots out of the Roman Empire there’s an opportunity to explore some of the Roman remains and walk in the footsteps of the Roman Centurions who patrolled this desolate frontier of the Empire.

Following the ancient Roman Dere Street we cross the border into Scotland and continue on to the Border town of Jedburgh for refreshments by the ruins of Jedburgh Abbey. Our final stop is at the world famous Scott’s view with stunning views over the River Tweed and the Cheviot hills that form the border between Scotland before continuing North to Edinburgh.

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SPEYSIDE WHISKY TOUR

For the Friday departures - days 1 and 3 of the itinerary will be reversed.
 
Please note – the itinerary and distillery visits are subject to variation throughout the season and may not be the same described below, However there will always be a minimum of 4 distillery visits during the tour.

No children under the age of 18 are allowed on this tour.

Day 1
Departing from Edinburgh at 09.00 your three-day Scotch Whisky adventure starts with the journey north into the Highlands. The first stop will be the historic village of Dunkeld for a short walk through the forest to some atmospheric waterfalls. After lunch in Pitlochry you will make your first distillery visit at Dalwhinnie – the highest distillery in the country and the closest to the source of the River Spey. From here you follow the river north through the Cairngorm National Park to the small town of Grantown on Spey – your base for the next two nights.

Day 2

A whole day exploring Scotland’s most famous whisky region. After a scenic drive toward the coast your first stop of the day will be at the family owned Benromach Distillery for a personalised tour. From here it is a short distance to Elgin – home to Gordon and Macphail – one of the world’s leading specialist whisky bottlers and suppliers. From here you will travel back up the Spey to Craigellachie for a visit to the Speyside Cooperage where you will see another aspect of the whisky making process. After lunch here or in nearby Aberlour you will visit Cardhu Distillery. Cardhu is the most important whisky in Johnnie Walker Black Label. From here is back to Grantown on Spey.

Day 3

Takes you through the beautiful Cairngorm Mountains on route back to Edinburgh. In the morning you will explore Glenlivet – not just a distillery but also a beautiful glen with great walks and wonderful wildlife. Later you will pass by the famous Balmoral Castle and stop in the village of Braemar in the heart of the National Park. From here the route south passes over Scotland’s highest mountain pass then through Perthshire before arriving back in Edinburgh around 18.30.
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LOCH NESS & INVERNESS HIGHLANDS

Day 1

You will depart Glasgow and head north towards the Highlands. A short stop in Dunkeld is followed by a walk along the River Tay or perhaps at the nearby Hermitage, before you head for the holiday town of Pitlochry for lunch. If you take a quick lunch then there will also be the option to visit the local whisky distillery. From here the tour now takes you past Blair Castle into the Cairngorm National Park, where you will spend some time taking in the majesty of this amazing area, deep within the ancient Caledonian Pine Forests of the Rothiemurchus Estate.

You then continue north and arrive at your destination of Inverness, where you will be dropped off at your accommodation. The evening is free for you to explore the capital of the Highlands.

Day 2
After a leisurely breakfast you will be picked up from your accommodation in Inverness and explore the surrounding countryside en route to Loch Ness. Here you have the chance to either take a boat trip along the loch with great views of Urquhart Castle or stay on shore and visit the impressive ruins of the castle, overlooking the loch.

You will spend your lunchtime on the southern shore of Loch Ness in the charming village of Fort Augustus. The Caledonian Canal, which links the lochs of the Great Glen, dominates the town and makes a great place to relax and watch the boats sail by. You now continue south past Ben Nevis and Fort William to Glencoe. This haunting
glen was the scene of a terrible massacre in 1692, where many of the Clan Macdonald were slaughtered.

The return journey continues over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor before finally reaching our starting point of Glasgow.  Arrive approx 19.00      revised 10/13.

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ISLE OF SKYE TOUR

Day 1

Depart Glasgow from outside Monteith House at George Square, guests are requested to check in at least 15 minutes before departure. 

We travel north into the majestic Highlands where the scenery changes quickly and dramatically - the flat fertile plains of the Lowlands give way to shimmering lochs, rugged mountain tops and forest-filled glens. It’s easy to forget that this was once thought of as a dangerous frontier fought over by the fiercely territorial Highland clans such as the MacGregors, made famous by the Highland folk hero, Rob Roy MacGregor.

We continue north over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor into Glencoe. This haunting glen was the scene of a great massacre in 1692 where many of the Clan MacDonald were slaughtered. We stop in this imposing mountain pass so you can enjoy the spectacular views. From here we travel past Fort William and up to the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge with great views over Ben Nevis.

On the “Road to the Isles” now through the splendour of the Five Sisters of Kintail, the mountains guarding the pass on the way to the Isle of Skye. We stop to visit the famous Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders. Crossing over the bridge to Skye, we head north to Portree. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening where you are free to go out and explore the town.

Day 2
A very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide’s knowledge will come to the fore in developing the best day out.

You could travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery, including Kilt Rock.

After lunch you can go over to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse that is the furthest point west on Skye. Or travel to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod. Talisker Distillery is also on Skye, as are the famous Cuillin Hills. Overnight Isle of Skye We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the early evening.

Day 3
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cullin Hills and back over to the mainland for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail.

Onto Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie.” Heading south now through the Grampian mountains along Loch Laggan, famous now as “Monarch of the Glen Country” before passing Dalwhinnie, home to Scotland’s highest whisky Distillery, and onwards past Blair Castle stopping for refreshments before heading back to Glasgow arriving at approx. 19:30. Revised 10/13

 
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ISLE OF ARRAN ADVENTURE

Day 1
Depart Edinburgh at 08.30 and travel west to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. From here you can visit Whitelee Wind Farm, Europe’s largest wind farm generating enough energy to power 180,000 homes. Leaving behind the very modern, we travel into Ayrshire to visit the 18th Century Culzean Castle. The Castle dates from a peaceful time in Scottish his history and has been associated with the Kennedy family since the 14th century. Enjoy its dramatic cliff top setting, fine furniture and beautiful architecture by the famous architect Robert Adam. The castle is surrounded by Culzean Country Park (entrance fee) which has nearly 600 acres of stunning countryside and paths through majestic woodlands and secluded ponds, it’s a great place to explore. There is a café for lunch or you may want to have a picnic in the castle grounds.

After lunch you head into the heart of Burns Country. Robert Burn’s, Scotland’s national poet, was born in Alloway. Travelling towards his birth place you can see many of the places mentioned in his poems and songs. You stop at the recently redeveloped visitor centre in Alloway where you have the opportunity to find out more about this remarkable man. Perhaps his most famous song is ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – sung on New Year’s Eve throughout the world.

You continue to Ardrossan where you catch the ferry to the Isle of Arran. You arrive into Brodick, the largest village on the island, which offers stunning views of the imposing stature of Goatfell, Arran’s highest peak and Brodick Bay. You will be dropped off at your accommodation in Brodick.

Day 2
Known as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, Arran is alive with wildlife, rugged countryside, beaches, pubs, restaurants and cottage industries. There are many options of how you can spend your time on the island, depending on the weather and the groups’ interest; your driver guide will arrange the best day out for you.

The North of the island is mountainous with the highest point on Arran - Goatfell. Measuring 874m the name is believed to mean “Mountain of Wind”. The village of Corrie and its neighboring village of Sannox sit in its shadow and are home to some of the nicest beaches on the island, inviting you to a leisurely stroll. At Lochranza you find the ruins of Lochranza Castle and also Arran Distillery, one of the last remaining independent distilleries in Scotland.

Arran is home to many stone circles and standing stones dating from the Neolithic period and the early Bronze Age. Machrie Moor has six stone circles and some of the stones are over 5 meters high! After exploring this area you travel south through the harbour villages of Blackwaterfoot - with its beautiful beach - Sliddery and Kildonan.

Travelling back to Brodick you can see The Holy Isle across the water. Owned by the Samye Ling Buddhist Community, it includes the Centre of World Peace and Health.

You might make a stop at the Arran Cheese shop for a taste of the local cheese or Arran Aromatics, a family owned business, which uses only natural ingredients to produce their luxury toiletries, their products are now famous all over the world.

Also at Brodick is Brodick Castle and in the shadow of this imposing red sandstone castle you also find Arran Brewery. This microbrewery blends naturally with its stunning surroundings, combining the islands unique water and the finest local ingredients. You can sample this ale in many of the local pubs and restaurants, a perfect way to round off your day!

Day 3
Today you return back to the mainland by taking the small ferry running between Lochranza and Claonaig. This short 30 minute crossing will take you onto the Kintyre Penninsula. You travel up this beautiful, lush green peninsula along its coastal road to the charming fishing village of Tarbert. The name Tarbert comes from the Gaelic word tairbeart. – tar meaning “across” and beir meaning “carry”. The village sits on the narrowest strip of land between the two bodies of water, forming a natural harbour. In past times ships docked in one loch, their loads were then carried across the peninsula to the other loch where they were reloaded and shipped onwards. This meant the ships avoided having to sail round the dangerous Mull of Kintyre.

From Tarbert you follow Loch Fyne toward the whitewashed village of Inveraray, with some free time to explore this lovely village and have lunch. After lunch you continue over the mountain pass The Rest and be Thankful. From here is a short drive to Luss and the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond before returning to Edinburgh at 19.15 approximately.
 

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MAGICAL MULL, IONA & THE WEST HIGHLANDS

Day 1
Depart Edinburgh and travel north past Stirling Castle to the small bustling town of Callander. From here you continue through the Queen Elizabeth forest park and the bristling terrain of the Trossachs, before reaching the wide and remote expanse of Rannoch Moor, one of the largest wildernesses left in Europe. A short drive north brings you to Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of Clan MacDonald in 1692, before you take a short ferry ride across Loch Linnhe, where you then meander through the impressive mountains of Morven. At Lochaline you take another ferry to the Hebridean island of Mull. A short drive brings you to Tobermory, the island’s capital for your 3 night stay. Tobermory, meaning ‘Well of Mary’, is one of the prettiest harbour towns in Scotland with its brightly painted houses overlooking the sea.

Day 2
This is a leisurely day, with a drive to the more remote areas of the island, you visit the pretty settlement of Dervaig, with its own festival theatre, and Kilmore church, with its round steeple. From here you will venture to the wild thrashing sandy shores of Calgary Bay. (Calgary in Canada takes its name from here). If you are lucky you might see the sea eagles that live in this area. An early afternoon return to Tobermory will allow you the chance to soak up the atmosphere of this pretty town, with a chance to peruse the small shops, and the local Tobermory Whisky Distillery.

Day 3
Today you will bask in the glory of Mull, as we head south to Fionnphort, where we take a passenger ferry to the small Island of Iona. Iona is an island of quiet charm, lapped by glorious turquoise waters, it is the cradle of Celtic Christianity, with the arrival of St Columba in 563AD. Plenty of time will be given to explore the island where you can visit the Abbey and and its museum of history and Celtic heritage. Visit the magnificent Celtic crosses and headstones, or enjoy a stroll along the peaceful sandy beaches.

In the afternoon there is the opportunity to take a small boat to the Island of Staffa, where nature enthusiasts may be able to spot the abundant marine life. Staffa, with its basalt columns of 5 and 6 sided hexagonal stepping stones, and Fingal’s cave is the most amazing tribute to the effects of nature and is known as ‘Nature’s Cathedral’ After a day in the great outdoors you return to Tobermory for the night.

Day 4
Departing Tobermory you head south to Craignure, the main ferry terminal for a short crossing to Oban, the biggest town in Argyll. From here you head to Kilmartin Glen, and a chance to explore an area known as’ the valley of ghosts’ with its standing stones and Neolithic burial chambers. Continuing west, you arrive in the white washed 18c town of Inveraray nestling on the shores of Loch Fyne. Inveraray castle is a mixture of Scots Baronial and Neo Gothic architecture and is the seat of Clan Campbell. The castle also featured in a recent episode of ‘ Downtown Abbey’. After leaving the town you arrive in the National Park of Loch Lomond and climb up more than 800 feet to the’ Rest and be Thankful’, before hugging the shores of Loch Long, and Loch Lomond itself. You continue to drive East towards Stirling, with opportunities for impressive photos of the castle, before you return to Edinburgh in the early evening.

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ISLE OF SKYE & THE WEST HIGHLANDS

Day 1
Travelling north out of Edinburgh, you head into the Central Highlands and make a stop in the historic village of Dunkeld, where you can visit the ruins of the Old Cathedral. Take a walk alongside the Braan River through the forests of the Hermitage. Continuing north, the route passes through the Grampian and Monadhliath Mountains, as we head west for a view of Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis. Travelling through the splendours of Loch Cluanie and Glen Shiel, passing Eilean Donan castle before arriving in the beautiful little village of Plockton, our base for the next two nights. You will be dropped at your accommodation and are then free to explore the village.

Day 2
Today is all about Skye. North of Portree is the Trotternish Ridge with its spectacular cliffs and rock formations, such as the famous Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and the Quiraing, the weather often adding to the atmosphere of this amazing natural scenery. Further west the scenery changes as you might venture towards the 13th Century home of the Clan MacLeod, Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale and the dramatic seacliffs of Neist Point. Here on the most westerly point on the island, you might be lucky enough to spot some whales or basking sharks. You return to Plockton for the evening.

Day 3

Today you turn your attention to the south of the island. Spend time heading down to Elgol for seascapes and views of the Cuillin, or Talisker and its beautiful Bay or indeed Glenbrittle and its famed waterfall before driving down the Sleat peninsula to Armadale.  You will take the ferry over to Mallaig, a busy little harbour on Scotland’s west coast. From here it is another breath-taking drive, passing the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct as you head to Fort William, where you will stay for the night.

Day 4

Returning to Edinburgh today, you will drive along the shore of Loch Linnhe and then take in the majestic and atmospheric Glencoe and cross the wild and remote Rannoch Moor. Following rivers, lochs and forests you will find yourselves back in the Lowlands of Scotland as you pass both Doune and Stirling Castles with maybe time for a final photo stop before reaching Edinburgh.
 
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ISLE OF ARRAN ADVENTURE - From Glasgow

Day 1

Depart Glasgow at 09.30. From here you can see Whitelee Wind Farm, Europe’s largest wind farm generating enough energy to power 180,000 homes. Leaving behind the very modern, we travel into Ayrshire to visit the 18th Century Culzean Castle. The Castle dates from a peaceful time in Scottish history and has been associated with the Kennedy family since the 14th century. Enjoy its dramatic cliff top setting, fine furniture and beautiful architecture by the famous architect Robert Adam. The castle is surrounded by Culzean Country Park (entrance fee) which has nearly 600 acres of stunning countryside and paths through majestic woodlands and secluded ponds, it’s a great place to explore. There is a café for lunch or you may want to have a picnic in the castle grounds.

After lunch you head into the heart of Burns Country. Robert Burn’s, Scotland’s national poet, was born in Alloway. Travelling towards his birth place you can see many of the places mentioned in his poems and songs. You stop at the recently redeveloped visitor centre in Alloway where you have the opportunity to find out more about this remarkable man. Perhaps his most famous song is ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – sung on New Year’s Eve throughout the world.

You continue to Ardrossan where you catch the ferry to the Isle of Arran. You arrive into Brodick, the largest village on the island, which offers stunning views over the imposing stature of Goatfell, Arran’s highest peak and Brodick Bay. You will be dropped off at your accommodation in Brodick.

Day 2

Known as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, Arran is alive with wildlife, rugged countryside, beaches, pubs, restaurants and cottage industries. There are many options of how you can spend your time on the island, depending on the weather and your groups’ interest; your driver guide will arrange the best day out for you.

The North of the island is mountainous with the highest point on Arran - Goatfell. Measuring 874m the name is believed to mean “Mountain of Wind”. The village of Corrie and its neighbouring village of Sannox sit in its shadow and are home to some of the nicest beaches on the island, inviting you to a leisurely stroll. Here we also find the ruins of Lochranza Castle and Arran Distillery, one of the last remaining independent distilleries in Scotland.

Arran is home to many stone circles and standing stones dating from the Neolithic period and the early Bronze Age. Machrie Moor has six stone circles and some of the stones are over 5 meters high! After exploring this area you travel south through the harbour villages of Blackwaterfoot - with its beautiful beach - Sliddery and Kildonan.

Travelling back to Brodick you can see The Holy Isle across the water. Owned by the Samye Ling Buddhist Community, it includes the Centre of World Peace and Health. You might make a stop at the Arran Cheese shop for a taste of the local cheese or Arran Aromatics, a family owned business, which uses only natural ingredients to produce their luxury toiletries, their products are now famous all over the world.

Also at Brodick is Brodick Castle and in the shadow of this imposing red sandstone castle you also find Arran Brewery. This microbrewery blends naturally with its stunning surroundings, combining the islands unique water and the finest local ingredients. You can sample this ale in many of the local pubs and restaurants, a perfect way to round off your day!

Day 3
Today you return back to the mainland by taking the small ferry running between Lochranza and Claonaig. This short 30 minute crossing will take you onto the Kintyre Penninsula. You travel up this beautiful, lush green peninsula along its coastal road to the charming fishing village of Tarbert. The name Tarbert comes from the Gaelic word tairbeart. – tar meaning “across” and beir meaning “carry”. The village sits on the narrowest strip of land between the two bodies of water, forming a natural harbour. In past times ships docked in one loch, their loads were then carried across the peninsula to the other loch where they were reloaded and shipped onwards. This meant the ships avoided having to sail round the dangerous Mull of Kintyre.

From Tarbert you follow Loch Fyne toward the whitewashed village of Inveraray, with some free time to explore this lovely village and have lunch. After lunch you continue over the mountain pass The Rest and be Thankful. From here is a short drive to Luss and the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond before returning to Glasgow at 18.00 approximately.  revised 10/13
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WEST COAST EXPLORER
Islay’s Whisky & Iona, Mull, Skye

A tour to tease the palette - 8 days to immerse yourself on the world famous isle of Islay, a whisky connoisseurs dream, before enjoying a four island fest including the rolling mountains of gentle Mull, the spiritual and ever peaceful island of Iona, the extraordinary and inspiring island of Staffa and the dramatics and majesty of the island of Skye.

Day 1
Leaving Edinburgh at 08.30 you will head west through Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, along Loch Lomond then west through the mountains to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. Here you can perhaps sample some of the local seafood for lunch or just explore the historic town itself. After lunch you will then travel through Argyll and into the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. There are more than 350 prehistoric monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin. You will stop here to see the mysterious stone circles and standing stones and visit the community museum. From here it is a short drive to Kennacraig where you catch the early evening ferry to Islay. The sail is just over 2 hours and you should look out for wildlife such as dolphins, whales and seabirds. On arrival on Islay it is a short drive to Bowmore for your 3-night stay.

Day 2
A full day exploring Islay. The itinerary today is quite flexible with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches, short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies - renowned for their strong peaty flavours and nurtured by the salty sea air. In the morning you will take the short drive to the west of the island via Saligo Bay for a visit to Kilchoman Distillery (the newest and smallest on the island) with the option of a coastal walk to Machair Bay for any non-whisky lovers. After lunch you will explore the tiny harbour village of Portnahaven (look out for seals) before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to Bowmore. You will have the chance to visit Bowmore distillery or just relax and explore the village.              

Day 3
Another day in paradise! Today you will explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. You will visit Ardbeg for a tour, tasting and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy local produce as well as some unique whisky. You then follow that up with a visit to Laphroaig or a visit to the ruins of Kildalton church with its famous 8th Century Celtic cross. Alternatively we may stop in Bridgend where you could visit the community craft producers at Islay House Square or take a walk through the woods along the nearby River Sorn.

Day 4
This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel through Argyll along the coast to Oban – the main ferry port for the islands, and known locally as the ‘Charing Cross’ of the north. You will have a free afternoon in Oban to enjoy this bustling and busy highland town. For those who are partial to some retail therapy, there are numerous shopping possibilities, or for those who wish to continue their thirst for Scottish whisky, Oban distillery is nicely situated in the heart of the town. A hike uphill will bring its own rewards with stunning views from the most photographed structure in the west, McCaig’s folly. The folly built on instruction by a local banker in 1897 resembles the coliseum in Rome, and provides magnificent vistas over the distant Firth of Lorne. You will stay in this glorious highland town for 2 nights.

Day 5
Is an early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the island of Staffa (except Saturday departures in September) and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture “Fingal’s Cave”. You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.

Day 6
Today takes you north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker, and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. You then pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. You will travel through Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, this is where the standard was raised to start the Jacobite rebellion. Glenfinnan is also home to a 100 year old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the Harry Potter film. From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye, This beautiful coastline is formed by a series of white beaches and a turquoise sea, known as the white sands of Morar. The road ends at Mallaig where you take the short ferry crossing ‘over the sea to Skye’ where you arrive on the Sleat Peninsula, commonly referred to the ‘Garden of Skye’ with great views of the Cuillin mountains. From here you travel north to the picturesque harbour town of Portree. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.

Day 7
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below. After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.

Day 8
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. You will stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders, before travelling east for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. Onto Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie”. Heading south now through the Grampian mountains along Loch Laggan, made famous now as “Monarch of the Glen Country” before passing Dalwhinnie, home to Scotland’s highest whisky Distillery, and onwards into Perthshire where we stop for refreshments before heading back to Edinburgh past Perth and over the Forth Road Bridge. Arriving at 19.00 approx.
10/13

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SCOTTISH ISLANDS HIGHLANDS
Iona, Mull, Skye and Orkney

The tour of dreams: nine days to enjoy five fantastic west coast islands and the prehistoric beauty and history of the northern Orkney Islands.

Tour highlights include the rolling splendour of the island of Mull, the peace and spirituality of Columba’s Iona – with an optional visit to the breathtaking and musical island of Staffa – followed by the dramatic beauty of our most famous of Islands, Skye. Let the ‘misty island’ enchant you with her incredible bounty before heading to the Orkney archipelago, rich in its archaeological treasures. Highlights also include infamous Glencoe, the national park and bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, Eilean Donan castle, and no trip would be complete without a visit to the eerie shores of Loch Ness.


Day 1
Takes you north passed Stirling castle, and then west to Scotland’s first National Park around Loch Lomond, and the bonny banks”. You will travel through the impressive mountains of the West Highlands through the magnificent white-washed 18th Century town of Inveraray, home to the Campbell Clan and the Duke of Argyll. The afternoon will be spent in the heart of Argyll exploring the area close to the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada before arriving in bustling town of Oban, the gateway to the islands, for your 2 night stay.

Day 2
Is an early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the island of Staffa (except Saturday departures in September) and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture “Fingal’s Cave”. You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.

Day 3
Takes you north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker, and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. You then pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. You will travel through Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, this is where the standard was raised to start the Jacobite rebellion. Glenfinnan is also home to a 100year old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the
Harry Potter film. From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye, This beautiful coastline is formed by a series of white beaches and a turquoise sea, known as the white sands of Morar. The road ends at Mallaig where you take the short ferry crossing ‘over the sea to Skye’ where you arrive on the Sleat Peninsula, commonly referred to the ‘Garden of Skye’ with great views of the Cuillin mountains. From here you travel north to the picturesque harbour town of Portree. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.

Day 4

Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below. After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.

Day 5
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. You will stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders,before travelling east for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. On to Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie. At Loch Ness you will join up with the tour travelling to Orkney and the Far North. With your new crew you will continue north following the Great Glen travelling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch passing by Urquhart castle. You can expect to arrive in Inverness, the Highland capital, and the place of our overnight stay at approx 18.30 where you will be dropped off at your pre booked accommodation.

Day 6
Is an early start, leaving behind the ‘Capital of the Highlands’, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery, and enjoy amazing views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer. Onwards through Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John o’ Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here you have a short drive to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney, where you can visit Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking Cathedral, and where you shall stay for 2 nights.

Day 7
Is your chance to explore this fantastic, ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic ocean. You will visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. We stop in Stromness - one of Scotland’s most picturesque seaboard villages and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then it’s back to Kirkwall for our 2nd night after what is sure to be a memorable day.

Day 8
Is a relaxed start to the day, as you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coastline. We then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. From here we travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where we spent our last night’s stay on tour.

Day 9

Leaving Ullapool behind you, you take in the drama of the River Dorma as it plunges 60m down into Corrieshalloch Gorge, before taking in the beautiful Loch Glascarnoch, on the way past the ‘Capital of the Highlands’ Inverness. You can then visit Culloden Moor, the site of The Battle of Culloden in 1746, one of the bloodiest events in our history and the last battle to have been fought on the British mainland, before taking a short drive to the ancient standing stones at Clava Cairns. This stunning prehistoric and Bronze Age burial ground is one of the oldest in Scotland. From here you travel through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, hugging the Cairngorm mountain range. Lunch will be spent in these beautiful surroundings before travelling through big tree country of Perthshire, through the Kingdom of Fife, and back to Edinburgh around 19.00.
10/13
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ESCAPE TO THE EDGE
Orkney and the Outer Hebrides

A tour to remember forever - 10 days to enjoy the archaeological wonders and prehistoric history of the northern Orkney Isles, coupled with an escape to the western Isles of Lewis and breathtaking Harris. Tour highlights include the magnificence of Orkney, with her treasure trove of ancient delights, the incredibly haunting and remote area of Sutherland where tragedy and beauty go hand in hand. Ullapool, nestling on the shores of Loch Broom, is where we travel from to Lewis, and absorb ourselves in Gaelic culture, and enjoy the truly inspirational surroundings of Harris with her mountains and glorious white beaches before crossing the sea again to the drama that is the island of Skye.


Day 1
Depart Edinburgh at 09.00 heading west towards Stirling, passing Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. You also pass Doune Castle (set of Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”) before stopping in the small town of Callander for a refreshment stop.

You now cross over the fault line into the magnificent Highlands taking in the splendour of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle and Glen Dochart, as you travel north over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor into Glencoe. The stunning views and spectacular landscapes of our own super (extinct) volcano and scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692, where many of the Clan Macdonald were slaughtered. You stop in this imposing mountain Glen so you can enjoy the spectacular views.

You continue north up the Great Glen to the mysterious beauty of Loch Ness, travelling the whole 23 miles of the famous Loch - plenty of time to try and spot “Nessie!” You arrive at your destination of Inverness at approx 18.30 where you will be dropped off at your booked accommodation. The evening is free for you to explore the ‘Capital of the Highlands’.

Day 2
Is an early start, leaving behind the ‘Capital of the Highlands’, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery, and enjoy amazing views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer. Onwards through Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John o’ Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here you have a short drive to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney, where you can visit Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking Cathedral, and where you shall stay for 2 nights.

Day 3
Is your chance to explore this fantastic, ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic ocean. You will visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. We stop in Stromness - one of Scotland’s most picturesque seaboard villages and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then its back to Kirkwall for our 2nd night after what is sure to be a memorable day.

Day 4
Is a relaxed start to the day, as you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coastline. We then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. From here we travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village.

Day 5
Gives you a free day in Ullapool to do as you please before joining up with your new crew the next day. There are many possibilities available in this lovely town, Options for your day include enjoying a day just to relax and absorb the highland tranquil pace of life whilst browsing the small craft boutiques nestling through the streets of the town. Or why not take the local boat, the ‘Summer Queen’ from the pier for an idyllic ‘summer Isles’ cruise.
Alternatively you could head up Claypool hill for an easy two hour walk offering wonderful views over Loch Broom reaching a maximum height of 900ft. Or for the even more adventurous add to this walk by completing a three hour circuit returning to the town via Rhiddoroch estate. (Full details of all local walks can be found at the local tourist information centre). There is also a local swimming pool, and a small museum giving an informative narrative about the natural and social history of the area.

Day 6
Catch the morning ferry from Ullapool for the 2 hour sail along Loch Broom, past the Summer Isles then out across the Minch to Stornoway – the main town on Lewis and capital of the Outer Hebrides. Look out for dolphins, whales and seabirds during the crossing. In the afternoon explore the North West coast from Arnol with its historic old “blackhouse”, through traditional crofting townships to Port of Ness and the very north tip of the island – the Butt of Lewis. From the lighthouse here there is nothing between you and the Americas! Overnight in Stornoway.

Day 7
Today will be spent exploring some of the prehistoric remains on the island as well as its finest beaches. The fascinating circular stone fort, or Broch, at Carloway will be our first stop followed by more traditional crofting communities such as Gearrannan and Shawbost. Then its on to Callanish with its mysterious ancient stone circle. In the afternoon you will head for the remote district of Uig with its fine, sandy beaches at Bhaltos, dramatic sea cliffs and rugged hills. This is the wilderness of the Western Isles at its finest. Overnight again in Stornoway.

Day 8
Travelling south today from the wild moorlands of Lewis to the more mountainous Harris – almost but not quite an island on its own. Famous for the locally produced cloth, Harris Tweed, it is also home to the highest mountains in the Outer Hebrides and the stunning white sands of Luskentyre. After a morning of exploring South Harris you will stop for lunch in the small port of Tarbet. Here you will catch the late afternoon ferry to Skye and continue on to your overnight stay in the picturesque village of Plockton.

Day 9
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example: heading west towards the 13th century home of the Clan Macleod - Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale or the dramatic seacliffs and lonely lighthouse at Neist Point. In the afternoon the tour may concentrate on the south of the island. Spend time heading down to Elgol for seascapes and views of the Cuillin, or Talisker and its beautiful Bay or indeed Glenbrittle and its famed waterfalls. Return to Plockton for the evening.

Day 10
Departing from Plockton the return journey to Edinburgh has many highlights – a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William and the dramatic scenery and dark history of Glencoe. Travelling back south through the Central Highland the last stop of the day will be in Killin beside the Falls of Dochart before returning to Edinburgh.
10/13

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SCOTTISH WHISKY & ISLANDS
Islay, Iona, Mull, Skye and Orkney

Explore the extremes of north West Europe’s last great wilderness - 12 days to enjoy 4 fantastic west coast islands and the prehistoric beauty and history of the northern Orkney islands, coupled with an escape to the western Isles of Lewis and breathtaking Harris.

Tour highlights include the whisky island Islay “Queen of the Isles”, the rolling splendour of the island of Mull, the peace and spirituality of Columba’s Iona, with an optional visit to the breathtaking and musical island of Staffa, followed by the dramatic beauty of our most famous of Islands, Skye. Let the ‘misty island’ enchant you with her incredible bounty before heading to the Orkney archipelago, rich in its archaeological treasures. Ullapool, nestling on the shores of Loch Broom is the final overnight stop and the tour finishes with a visit to Culloden Moor and the Cairngorm Mountains.


Day 1
Leaving Edinburgh at 08.30 you will head west through Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, along Loch Lomond then west through the mountains to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. Here you can perhaps sample some of the local seafood for lunch or just explore the historic town itself. After lunch you will then travel through Argyll and into the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. There are more than 350 prehistoric monuments within a six mile radius of the village of Kilmartin. You will stop here to see the mysterious stone circles and standing stones and visit the community museum. From here it is a short drive to Kennacraig where you catch the early evening ferry to Islay. The sail is just over 2 hours and you should look out for wildlife such as dolphins, whales and seabirds. On arrival on Islay it is a short drive to Bowmore for your 3-night stay.

Day 2

A full day exploring Islay. The itinerary today is quite flexible with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches, short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies - renowned for their strong peaty flavours and nurtured by the salty sea air. In the morning you will take the short drive to the west of the island via Saligo Bay for a visit to Kilchoman Distillery (the newest and smallest on the island) with the option of a coastal walk to Machair Bay for any non-whisky lovers. After lunch you will explore the tiny harbour village of Portnahaven (look out for seals) before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to Bowmore. You will have the chance to visit Bowmore distillery or just relax and explore the village.

Day 3

Another day in paradise! Today you will explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. You will visit Ardbeg for a tour, tasting and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy local produce as well as some unique whisky. You then follow that up with a visit to Laphroaig or a visit to the ruins of Kildalton church with its famous 8th Century Celtic cross. Alternatively we may stop in Bridgend where you could visit the community craft producers at Islay House Square or take a walk through the woods along the nearby River Sorn.

Day 4

This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel through Argyll along the coast to Oban – the main ferry port for the islands, and known locally as the ‘Charing Cross’ of the north. You will have a free afternoon in Oban to enjoy this bustling and busy highland town. For those who are partial to some retail therapy, there are numerous shopping possibilities, or for those who wish to continue their thirst for Scottish whisky, Oban distillery is nicely situated in the heart of the town. A hike uphill will bring its own rewards with stunning views from the most photographed structure in the west, McCaig’s folly. The folly built on instruction by a local banker in 1897 resembles the coliseum in Rome, and provides magnificent vistas over the distant Firthsof Lorne. You will stay in this glorious highland town for 2 nights.

Day 5
Is an early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the island of Staffa (except Saturday departures in September) and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture “Fingal’s Cave”. You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.

Day 6
Takes you north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker, and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. You then pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. You will travel through Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, this is where the standard was raised to start the Jacobite rebellion. Glenfinnan is also home to a 100 year old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the Harry Potter film. From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye, This beautiful coastline is formed by a series of white beaches and a turquoise sea, known as the white sands of Morar. The road ends at Mallaig where you take the short ferry crossing ‘over the sea to Skye’ where you arrive on the Sleat Peninsula, commonly referred to the ‘Garden of Skye’ with great views of the Cuillin mountains. From here you travel north to the picturesque harbour town of Portree. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.

Day 7
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below. After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.

Day 8
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. You will stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders, before travelling east for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. On to Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie”. At Loch Ness you will join up with the tour travelling to Orkney and the Far North. With your new crew you will continue north following the Great Glen travelling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch passing by Urquhart castle. You can expect to arrive in Inverness, the Highland capital, and the place of our overnight stay at approx 18.30 where you will be dropped off at your pre booked accommodation.
 
Day 9
Is an early start, leaving behind the ‘Capital of the Highlands’, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery, and enjoy amazing views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer. Onwards through Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John o’ Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here you have a short drive to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney, where you can visit Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking Cathedral, and where you shall stay for 2 nights.

Day 10
Is your chance to explore this fantastic, ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic ocean. You will visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. We stop in Stromness - one of Scotland’s most picturesque seaboard villages and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then its back to Kirkwall for our 2nd night after what is sure to be a memorable day.

Day 11
Is a relaxed start to the day, as you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coastline. We then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. From here we travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where we spent our last night’s stay on tour.

Day 12

Leaving Ullapool behind you, you take in the drama of the River Droma as it plunges 60m down into Corrieshalloch Gorge, before taking in the beautiful Loch Glascarnoch, on the way past the ‘Capital of the Highlands’ Inverness. You can then visit Culloden Moor, the site of The Battle of Culloden in 1746, one of the bloodiest events in our history and the last battle to have been fought on the British mainland, before taking a short drive to the ancient standing stones at Clava Cairns. This prehistoric and stunning Bronze Age burial ground is one of the oldest in Scotland. From here you travel through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, hugging the Cairngorm mountain range. Lunch will be spent in these beautiful surroundings before travelling through big tree country of Perthshire, through the Kingdom of Fife, and back to Edinburgh around 19.00.
10/13

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ISLAND HOPPING ADVENTURE
Iona, Mull, Skye, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides

Explore the extremes of north West Europe’s last great wilderness - 14 days to enjoy 7 fantastic west coast islands and the prehistoric beauty and history of the northern Orkney islands, coupled with an escape to the western Isles of Lewis and breathtaking Harris.

Tour highlights include the rolling splendour of the island of Mull, the peace and spirituality of Columba’s Iona, with an optional visit to the breathtaking and musical island of Staffa, followed by the dramatic beauty of our most famous of Islands, Skye. Let the ‘misty island’ enchant you with her incredible bounty before heading to the Orkney archipelago, rich in its archaeological treasures. Ullapool, nestling on the shores of Loch Broom, is where we travel from to Lewis, and absorb ourselves in Gaelic culture, and enjoy the truly inspirational surroundings of Harris with her mountains and glorious white beaches before crossing the sea again to the drama that is the island of Skye.


Day 1

Takes you north past Stirling castle, and then west to Scotland’s first National Park around Loch Lomond, and the bonny banks”. You will travel through the impressive mountains of the West Highlands through the magnificent white-washed 18th Century town of Inveraray, home to the Campbell Clan and the Duke of Argyll. The afternoon will be spent in the heart of Argyll exploring the area close to the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada before arriving in bustling town of Oban, the gateway to the islands, for your 2 night stay.

Day 2
Is an early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the island of Staffa (except Saturday departures in September) and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture “Fingal’s Cave”. You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.

Day 3
Takes you north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker, and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. You then pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. You will travel through Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, this is where the standard was raised to start the Jacobite rebellion. Glenfinnan is also home to a 100 year old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the Harry Potter film. From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye, This beautiful coastline is formed by a series of white beaches and a turquoise sea, known as the white sands of Morar. The road ends at Mallaig where you take the short ferry crossing ‘over the sea to Skye’ where you arrive on the Sleat Peninsula, commonly referred to the ‘Garden of Skye’ with great views of the Cuillin mountains. From here you travel north to the picturesque harbour town of Portree. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.

Day 4
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below. After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.

Day 5
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. You will stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders, before travelling east for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. On to Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie”. At Loch Ness you will join up with the tour travelling to Orkney and the Far North. With your new crew you will continue north following the Great Glen travelling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch passing by Urquhart castle. You can expect to arrive in Inverness, the Highland capital, and the place of our overnight stay at approx 18.30 where you will be dropped off at your pre booked accommodation.

Day 6
Is an early start, leaving behind the ‘Capital of the Highlands’, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery, and enjoy amazing views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer. Onwards through Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John o’ Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here you have a short drive to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney, where you can visit Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking Cathedral, and where you shall stay for 2 nights.

Day 7
Is your chance to explore this fantastic, ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic ocean. You will visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. We stop in Stromness - one of Scotland’s most picturesque seaboard villages and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then its back to Kirkwall for our 2nd night after what is sure to be a memorable day.

Day 8
Is a relaxed start to the day, as you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coastline. We then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. From here we travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village.

Day 9
Gives you a free day in Ullapool to do as you please before joining up with your new crew the next day. There are many possibilities available in this lovely town, Options for your day include enjoying a day just to relax and absorb the highland tranquil pace of life whilst browsing the small craft boutiques nestling through the streets of the town. Or why not take the local boat, the ‘Summer Queen’ from the pier for an idyllic ‘summer Isles’ cruise. Alternatively you could head up Claypool hill for an easy two hour walk offering wonderful views over Loch Broom reaching a maximum height of 900ft. Or for the even more adventurous add to this walk by completing a three hour circuit returning to the town via Rhiddoroch estate. (Full details of all local walks can be found at the local tourist information centre). There is also a local swimming pool, and a small museum giving an informative narrative about the natural and social history of the area.

Day 10
Catch the morning ferry from Ullapool for the 2 hour sail along Loch Broom, past the Summer Isles then out across the Minch to Stornoway – the main town on Lewis and capital of the Outer Hebrides. Look out for dolphins, whales and seabirds during the crossing. In the afternoon explore the North West coast from Arnol with its historic old “blackhouse”, through traditional crofting townships to Port of Ness and the very north tip of the island – the Butt of Lewis. From the lighthouse here there is nothing between you and the Americas! Overnight in Stornoway.

Day 11
Today will be spent exploring some of the prehistoric remains on the island as well as its finest beaches. The fascinating circular stone fort, or Broch, at Carloway will be our first stop followed by more traditional crofting communities such as Gearrannan and Shawbost. Then its on to Callanish with its mysterious ancient stone circle. In the afternoon you will head for the remote district of Uig with its fine, sandy beaches at Bhaltos, dramatic sea cliffs and rugged hills. This is the wilderness of the Western Isles at its finest. Overnight again in Stornoway.

Day 12

Travelling south today from the wild moorlands of Lewis to the more mountainous Harris – almost but not quite an island on its own. Famous for the locally produced cloth, Harris Tweed, it is also home to the highest mountains in the Outer Hebrides and the stunning white sands of Luskentyre. After a morning of exploring South Harris you will stop for lunch in the small port of Tarbet. Here you will catch the late afternoon ferry to Skye and continue on to your overnight stay in the picturesque village of Plockton.

Day 13
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example: heading west towards the 13th century home of the Clan Macleod - Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale or the dramatic seacliffs and lonely lighthouse at Neist Point. In the afternoon the tour may concentrate on the south of the island. Spend time heading down to Elgol for seascapes and views of the Cuillin, or Talisker and its beautiful Bay or indeed Glenbrittle and its famed waterfalls. Return to Plockton for the evening.

Day 14
Departing from Plockton the return journey to Edinburgh has many highlights – a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William and the dramatic scenery and dark history of Glencoe. Travelling back south through the Central Highland the last stop of the day will be in Killin beside the Falls of Dochart before returning to Edinburgh.
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BEST OF SCOTTISH ISLANDS
Islay, Iona, Mull, Skye, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides

Explore the extremes of North West Europe’s last great wilderness - 17 days to enjoy 8 fantastic west coast islands and the prehistoric beauty and history of the northern Orkney islands, coupled with an escape to the western Isles of Lewis and breathtaking Harris. Tour highlights include the whisky island Islay “Queen of the Isles”, the rolling splendour of the island of Mull, the peace and spirituality of Columba’s Iona, with an optional visit to the breathtaking and musical island of Staffa, followed by the dramatic beauty of our most famous of Islands, Skye. Let the ‘misty island’ enchant you with her incredible bounty before heading to the Orkney archipelago, rich in its archaeological treasures. Ullapool, nestling on the shores of Loch Broom, is where we travel from to Lewis, and absorb ourselves in Gaelic culture, and enjoy the truly inspirational surroundings of Harris with her mountains and glorious white beaches before crossing the sea again to the drama that is the island of Skye.

Day 1
Leaving Edinburgh at 08.30 you will head west through Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, along Loch Lomond then west through the mountains to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. Here you can perhaps sample some of the local seafood for lunch or just explore the historic town itself. After lunch you will then travel through Argyll and into the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. There are more than 350 prehistoric monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin. You will stop here to see the mysterious stone circles and standing stones and visit the community museum. From here it is a short drive to Kennacraig where you catch the early evening ferry to Islay. The sail is just over 2 hours and you should look out for wildlife such as dolphins, whales and seabirds. On arrival on Islay it is a short drive to Bowmore for your 3-night stay.

Day 2
A full day exploring Islay. The itinerary today is quite flexible with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches, short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies - renowned for their strong peaty flavours and nurtured by the salty sea air. In the morning you will take the short drive to the west of the island via Saligo Bay for a visit to Kilchoman Distillery (the newest and smallest on the island) with the option of a coastal walk to Machair Bay for any non-whisky lovers. After lunch you will explore the tiny harbour village of Portnahaven (look out for seals) before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to Bowmore. You will have the chance to visit Bowmore distillery or just relax and explore the village.

Day 3
Another day in paradise! Today you will explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. You will visit Ardbeg for a tour, tasting and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy local produce as well as some unique whisky. You then follow that up with a visit to Laphroaig or a visit to the ruins of Kildalton church with its famous 8th Century Celtic cross. Alternatively we may stop in Bridgend where you could visit the community craft producers at Islay House Square or take a walk through the woods along the nearby River Sorn.

Day 4
This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel through Argyll along the coast to Oban – the main ferry port for the islands, and known locally as the ‘Charing Cross’ of the north. You will have a free afternoon in Oban to enjoy this bustling and busy highland town. For those who are partial to some retail therapy, there are numerous shopping possibilities, or for those who wish to continue their thirst for Scottish whisky, Oban distillery is nicely situated in the heart of the town. A hike uphill will bring its own rewards with stunning views from the most photographed structure in the west, McCaig’s folly. The folly built on instruction by a local banker in 1897 resembles the coliseum in Rome, and provides magnificent vistas over the distant Firth of Lorne. You will stay in this glorious highland town for 2 nights.

Day 5
Is an early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the island of Staffa (except Saturday departures in September) and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture “Fingal’s Cave”. You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.

Day 6
Takes you north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker, and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. You then pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. You will travel through Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, this is where the standard was raised to start the Jacobite rebellion. Glenfinnan is also home to a 100year old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the Harry Potter film. From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye, This beautiful coastline is formed by a series of white beaches and a turquoise sea, known as the white sands of Morar. The road ends at Mallaig where you take the short ferry crossing ‘over the sea to Skye’ where you arrive on the Sleat Peninsula, commonly referred to the ‘Garden of Skye’ with great views of the Cuillin mountains. From here you travel north to the picturesque harbour town of Portree. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.

Day 7
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below. After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.

Day 8
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. You will stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders, before travelling east for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. On to Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie”. At Loch Ness you will join up with the tour travelling to Orkney and the Far North. With your new crew you will continue north following the Great Glen travelling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch passing by Urquhart castle. You can expect to arrive in Inverness, the Highland capital, and the place of our overnight stay at approx 18.30 where youwill be dropped off at your pre booked accommodation.

Day 9
Is an early start, leaving behind the ‘Capital of the Highlands’, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery, and enjoy amazing views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer. Onwards through Scotland’s most northerly mainland
village, John o’ Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here you have a short drive to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney, where you can visit Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking Cathedral, and where you shall stay for 2 nights.

Day 10
Is your chance to explore this fantastic, ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic ocean. You will visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. We stop in Stromness - one of Scotland’s most picturesque seaboard villages and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of
the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then its back to Kirkwall for our 2nd night after what is sure to be a memorable day.

Day 11
Is a relaxed start to the day, as you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coastline. We then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. From here we travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village.

Day 12
Gives you a free day in Ullapool to do as you please before joining up with your new crew the next day. There are many possibilities available in this lovely town, Options for your day include enjoying a day just to relax and absorb the highland tranquil pace of life whilst browsing the small craft boutiques nestling through the streets of the town. Or why not take the local boat, the ‘Summer Queen’ from the pier for an idyllic ‘summer Isles’ cruise. Alternatively you could head up Claypool hill for an easy two hour walk offering wonderful views over Loch Broom reaching a maximum height of 900ft. Or for the even more adventurous add to this walk by completing a three hour circuit returning to the town via Rhiddoroch estate. (Full details of all local walks can be found at the local tourist information centre). There is also a local swimming pool, and a small museum giving an informative narrative about the natural and social history of the area.


Day 13
Catch the morning ferry from Ullapool for the 2 hour sail along Loch Broom, past the Summer Isles then out across the Minch to Stornoway – the main town on Lewis and capital of the Outer Hebrides. Look out for dolphins, whales and seabirds during the crossing. In the afternoon explore the North West coast from Arnol with its historic old “blackhouse”, through traditional crofting townships to Port of Ness and the very north tip of the island – the Butt of Lewis. From the lighthouse here there is nothing between you and the Americas! Overnight in Stornoway.

Day 14
Today will be spent exploring some of the prehistoric remains on the island as well as its finest beaches. The fascinating circular stone fort, or Broch, at Carloway will be our first stop followed by more traditional crofting communities such as Gearrannan and Shawbost. Then its on to Callanish with its mysterious ancient stone circle. In the afternoon you will head for the remote district of Uig with its fine, sandy beaches at Bhaltos, dramatic sea cliffs and rugged hills. This is the wilderness of the Western Isles at its finest. Overnight again in Stornoway.

Day 15
Travelling south today from the wild moorlands of Lewis to the more mountainous Harris – almost but not quite an island on its own. Famous for the locally produced cloth, Harris Tweed, it is also home to the highest mountains in the Outer Hebrides and the stunning white sands of Luskentyre. After a morning of exploring South Harris you will stop for lunch in the small port of Tarbet. Here you will catch the late afternoon ferry to Skye and continue on to your overnight stay in the picturesque village of Plockton.

Day 16
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example: heading west towards the 13th century home of the Clan Macleod Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale or the dramatic sea-cliffs and lonely lighthouse at Neist Point. In the afternoon the tour may concentrate on the south of the island. Spend time heading down to Elgol for seascapes and views of the Cuillin, or Talisker and its beautiful Bay or indeed Glenbrittle and its famed waterfalls. Return to Plockton for the evening.

Day 17
Departing from Plockton the return journey to Edinburgh has many highlights – a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William and the dramatic scenery and dark history of Glencoe. Travelling back south through the Central Highland the last stop of the day will be in Killin beside the Falls of Dochart before returning to Edinburgh.

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SCOTTISH CASTLE EXPERIENCE

Day 1

You depart from the World Heritage City of Edinburgh and travel north, crossing the Forth Road Bridge into the ancient Kingdom of Fife. Your first visit of the day will be Falkland Palace, where during a private, guided tour you will be able to discover more of this pretty Royal Palace. Built between 1502 and 1541, it is set in the heart of the unique medieval village of Falkland and has been residence and hunting lodge of eight Stuart monarchs.

Highlight of the visit will be to see the Real Tennis court, built in 1539! You continue to St. Andrews and during a town walk your guide will tell you more about its past and more recent history. Its connection to the patron Saint of Scotland, birthplace of Golf, ancient University town and matchmaker to a Royal couple – there is a lot to see!

Your afternoon visit will be at the House of Dun near Montrose. This beautiful Georgian house, overlooking Montrose Basin, was built in 1730. It features superb plasterwork and now houses the Hutchison collection of Scottish colourists and the Stirling collection of furniture, ranging from the 18th century to the 1960s. On route to Aberdeen you will make a photo stop at Dunnottar Castle, a dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress in a truly stunning setting. Dunnottar is where they filmed Hamlet’s Macbeth and provided inspiration for Disney Pixar’s movie “Brave”. From here you continue to Ardoe House Hotel, a lovely 19th century mansion house, where you will stay for 2 nights.

Day 2
Today will be spent in the Royal Deeside area, famous for its many castles. Your first visit will be Castle Fraser, one of the grandest of the Scottish baronial tower houses. Begun in 1575, the present castle contains an evocative Great Hall, fine furniture and many Fraser family portraits. You can round the visit off with a walk through the beautiful 18th century walled garden. The tour continues to Banchory where you might be able to see salmon jumping at the Falls of Feugh. Maybe take a short nature walk in Glen Tanar or the Burn o’ Vat. Lunch stop is at Ballater before continuing with your afternoon programme. Crathes Castle provides the highlight for the afternoon. Turrets, gargoyles and the ancient Horn of Leys given in 1323 by Robert the Bruce are just a few of the features of this historic castle. You are free to explore the house and the stunning gardens at your own pace.

The gardens stay green irrespective of the time of year, as with the ancient yew hedges that frame the upper parts of the gardens, particularly the fountain and rose gardens. Wandering through the outstanding, world-renowned June Borders, beautiful vistas of the castle can be seen through the fusion of colourful flowers. You return back to Ardoe House later for another overnight.

Day 3
Your tour heads further north today and starts the day with a visit to Fyvie Castle near Turriff, which will open its doors especially for our party at 9.30. Fyvie Castle dates back to the 13th century and has a fine collection of arms and armour as well as 17th century tapestries and opulent Edwardian interiors.You then continue, travelling through beautiful scenery and on to Nairn, where lunch will be taken at nearby Brodie Castle. Then you
have time to explore the castle further. Dating from the 16th century, this imposing castle stands in rich Morayshire parkland. It has unusual plasterwork and a major art collection and tells the fascinating story of the Brodie family.

In the afternoon you will be able to take the Clan Walk at the Culloden Visitor Centre. The Clan Stone Walkway is designed to commemorate the Scottish Clans and their clansmen who fought at the battle of Culloden with a special Insignia Stone. The Clans are represented with their individual Crest and personal inscription. After the visit you continue to Knockomie House Hotel. A dinner for our group will be held tonight in one of the private rooms.

Day 4
Today sees you travelling south again through some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer. You will travel to Kingussie for a photo stop at the Ruthven Barracks. From here you continue to Dalwhinnie Distillery. Dalwhinnie is the highest Distillery in Scotland and takes its waters right from the source of the River Spey.


A tour ofthe distillery is included and you will also have the chance to taste the ‘Water of Life’. After a lunch stop in Pitlochry you head to Loch Leven by Kinross. In the middle of the Loch you find Loch Leven Castle, a late 14th century tower, which was the setting for the most traumatic year in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. It was in 1567 that she was imprisoned and forced to abdicate her throne before her dramatic escape a year later. You will enjoy a short boat ride over to the castle, following in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots. Then explore at your leisure the island and tower house, before returning back to Edinburgh, arriving around 18.30.
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SCOTTISH BATTLEFIELDS TOUR

This tour is a collaborative project in 2014 involving Rabbie’s Small Group Tours, Mercat Tours, Historic Scotland and The National Trust for Scotland. These small group tours will be guided by one of Mercat’s experienced battlefield tour guides with transportation in a Rabbie’s Mercedes mini bus.

Famous for the beauty and grandeur of her scenery, Scotland is also proud of her warrior spirit, has a passion for her rich heritage and boasts the warm hospitality of her people. The story of Scotland is one of divided loyalties, violence and treachery.

During this tour:
- Witness the battlefield of Bannockburn where independence was secured and Scotland’s military might established.
- Journey northwards deep into the heart of Scotland’s Highlands.
- Discover divisions during the Reformation which forced Scots to defend their beliefs with passion and blood.
- Uncover challenges to our national identity which led to great cruelty and oppression.
- Trace the turmoil and torment that plagued the Stewart monarchs throughout the centuries.
- Stand on the soil that witnessed the last great civil war battle in Britain.
- Culloden field reveals the final tragedy of the Stewarts as all hope for a restoration was crushed with the Bonnie Prince’s defeat.
- Relive the extraordinary story of the Scots’ pride, passion and people.
- Travel in the footsteps of the Stewarts from the Lowlands to the Highlands - from Bannockburn to Culloden.


Day 1
You depart from Edinburgh at 9am and head north towards Stirling for a visit to the new Bannockburn Visitor Centre. From here continue on to Killikrankie and further into the Highlands.

Overnight at the Newton Hotel in Nairn.

Day 2
Today will be spent in the Inverness area with an extended visit at Culloden and Fort George.

Overnight at the Newton Hotel in Nairn.

Day 3

It is time to turn back south and you start the day with a visit at the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore with a stop later at the House of Bruar.

Arrival in Edinburgh late afternoon.

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ISLAY, EDINBURGH & SPEYSIDE WHISKY HOLIDAY

Day 1
Leaving Edinburgh at 08.30 you will head west through Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, along Loch Lomond then west through the mountains to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. Here you can perhaps sample some of the local seafood for lunch or just explore the historic town itself. After lunch you will then travel through Argyll and into the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. There are more than 350 prehistoric monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin. You will stop here to see the mysterious stone circles and standing stones and visit the community museum. From here it is a short drive to Kennacraig where you catch the early evening ferry to Islay. The sail is just over 2 hours and you should look out for wildlife such as dolphins, whales and seabirds. On arrival on Islay it is a short drive to Bowmore for your 3-night stay.

Day 2
A full day exploring Islay. The itinerary today is quite flexible with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches, short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies - renowned for their strong peaty flavours and nurtured by the salty sea air. In the morning you will take the short drive to the west of the island via Saligo Bay for a visit to Kilchoman Distillery (the newest and smallest on the island) with the option of a coastal walk to Machair Bay for any non-whisky lovers. After lunch you will explore the tiny harbour village of Portnahaven (look out for seals) before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to Bowmore. You will have the chance to visit Bowmore distillery or just relax and explore the village.

Day3
Another day in paradise! Today you will explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. You will visit Ardbeg for a tour, tasting and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy local produce as well as some unique whisky. You then follow that up with a visit to Laphroaig or a visit to the ruins of Kildalton church with its famous 8th Century
Celtic cross. Alternatively we may stop in Bridgend where you could visit the community craft producers at Islay House Square or take a walk through the woods along the nearby River Sorn.

Day4
This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel up the coast to Oban – a busy harbour town and the main ferry port for the islands where you will have some free time to explore the town, have a late lunch or even pop into Oban Distillery before departing for the return trip to Edinburgh.  Return time approx. 20.00 and overnight in Edinburgh. Clients will have to make their own way to the hotel.

Day 5
Is a free day to explore Edinburgh, the historic capital of Scotland. There are so many options available here - why not take a local open top city bus tour to familiarise yourself with the ‘old’ and ‘new’ towns of the city. No visit to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to her medieval castle. Sitting on a volcanic plug there is no other city in Europe to offer a setting quite as unique as that of the castle rising high above the majestic Princes Street gardens, to the hustle and bustle of the city’s first new town, and the main thoroughfare awash with designer shops.

Lunch is booked for you at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a private members club of whisky enthusiasts from all over the world. A 2 course lunch will be served in the excellent restaurant, following by a tasting of 2 special cask whiskies in the members rooms.

Overnight again in Edinburgh.

Day 6
This morning make your way back to the departure point at 09.00 for the next leg of your tour - a three-day Speyside Whisky adventure, starting with the journey north into the Highlands. The first stop will be the historic village of Dunkeld for a short walk through the forest to some atmospheric waterfalls. After lunch in Pitlochry you will make your first distillery visit at Dalwhinnie – the highest distillery in the country and the closest to the source of the River Spey.

From here you follow the river north through the Cairngorm National Park to the small town of Grantown on Spey – your base for the next two nights.

Day 7
A whole day exploring Scotland’s most famous whisky region. After a scenic drive toward the coast your first stop of the day will be at the family owned Benromach Distillery for a personalised tour. From here it is a short distance to Elgin – home to Gordon and Macphail – one of the world’s leading specialist whisky bottlers and suppliers. Their shop has one of the widest selection of malts you will find anywhere. After lunch in Elgin you will travel back up the Spey to Aberlour for a visit to the distillery there and time permitting make a stop at the Speyside Cooperage in nearby Craigellachie. From here is back to Grantown on Spey.

Day 8
Takes you through the beautiful Cairngorm Mountains on route back to Edinburgh. In the morning you will explore Glenlivet – not just a distillery but also a beautiful glen with great walks and wonderful wildlife. Later you will pass by the famous Balmoral Castle and stop in the village of Braemar in the heart of the National Park. From here the route outh passes over Scotland’s highest mountain pass then through the Perthshire before arriving back in Edinburgh around 18.30.

Please note – itinerary and distillery visits are subject to variation throughout the season and may not be the same described above, however there will always be a minimum of 8 distillery visits during the holiday.

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