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17 Day Highlands and Islands of Scotland

With the Spectacular Scottish Highlands, the Island of Mull,

Iona, Skye, Orkney and Shetland.

May 31st - June 16th, 2024

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Nothing captures the Romantic wonder of Scotland more than the Highlands and Islands. If you have never experienced the Isles of Scotland, I cannot do them justice in just words! I have been doing this tour for as long as I have been doing tours and we almost always offer it twice a year, once in spring in once in autumn. I am often asked which time of year that I prefer it and my answer is always the same, whenever I am there! My family comes from the Islands, which is part of the draw for me, but you can't help but be drawn into the history and wild beauty that abounds at every turn. Please join us on one of these amazing Highland and Island adventures.

This tour is designed to accommodate only 12 people for a more personal experience to allow you to get the most of your Scottish holiday. Keeping the tour size small gives us the opportunity to veer from the beaten path and take advantage of accommodations, restaurants and sightseeing venues that would not be available to larger groups. You may find yourself staying in a delightful city guest house, a small country house hotel, a comfortable farmhouse and an old coaching Inn all in the same visit. We hope to show you the real Scots people and some of the wonderful sights to be seen all over this beautiful country. You will not feel rushed and we spend as little time on the bus as possible.

Tour includes all accommodation in Scottish Tourist Board Approved accommodations. Full Scottish breakfast each morning, all meals listed in itinerary. Porterage of one suitcase per person. Minibus travel including tour guide. Knowledgeable guide for all tourist venues. All sightseeing as indicated in itinerary including any entrance fees. All taxes and service charges.

 

$9495 per person.

$1495 single supplement.

$1000 per person deposit to reserve.

This tour is now sold out!


Our Islands tours are ever changing as ferry crossings may be delayed or cancelled or venues change times or dates. We try to keep to the itinerary exactly as it is, but sometimes things out of our control happen. If you are not able to easily go with the flow or have problems with changes that may come up suddenly, this may not be the tour for you. Although we provide the very best level of accommodation available, we are sometimes limited for choice when we are out in the Hebridian, Orkney and Shetland Islands.

 

Pre Tour - May 30th - Arrive into Glasgow International Airport and spend the day getting rested up at our airport accommodation before the tour starts the following morning.

 

Day 1 - May 31st - This morning you will be met at our Glasgow Airport Accommodation and then we make our way northward and into the Highlands. Our drive will take us through the Trossachs National Park with a few photo op stops along the way including the Bonny, Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond. We will also stop at St. Conan's Kirk, spectacularly sited over Loch Awe. You will fall in love with this wee Romanesque Church! Designed and built by Walter Douglas Campbell, the kirk is unique in having an example of almost every style of church architecture. Highlights include the Norman Doorway, the Gothic Flying Buttresses, a Celtic Cross, the Arts and Crafts Carvings, the Saxon Tower and even a Stone Circle. After some exploring we Stop for Lunch and then make our way to Oban, known as the Gateway to the Isles. It has a lovely seafront with great shops and lovely walks. We will take some time to explore before we get settled into our accommodation just a short way up the road. After we get settled into our rooms we will gather for a Welcoming Dinner. Dinner and Overnight Oban. (B,L,D)

 

Day 2 - June 1st - This morning we take a Wildlife Sea Journey sailing across Oban Bay past Dunollie Castle and Hutcheson's Monument on the Isle of Kerrera to the Seal Colony in the Firth of Lorne with open views of Mull and Lismore. Along the way there's an abundance of wildlife to spot with many sea birds such as White-Tailed Sea Eagles, Common Cormorants and many other species, and of course seals basking in their natural unspoiled surroundings. You will also be able to see a local Salmon Farm just behind Kerrera, and you might even see Otters and maybe even Dolphins - all set in the beautiful and stunning scenery of the Scottish West Coast. We will make a seaside stop for lunch while on our cruise then after lunch we visit Dunstaffnage Castle, one of Scotland’s Oldest Stone Castles. This mass of masonry guards the seaward approach from the Firth of Lorn to the Pass of Brander – and thereby the heart of Scotland and it still overawes everyone! The castle was built around 1240 by Duncan MacDougall, son of Dubhgall, Lord of Lorn, and grandson of the great Somerled, King of the Isles. The King of Scots won control of the region in 1266, but Dunstaffnage continued to see plenty of action during the Wars of Independence (1296–1356). King Robert the Bruce famously besieged the mighty fortress around 1308, after his victory over the MacDougalls at the Pass of Brander. Dinner and Overnight Oban. (B,L,D)

 

Day 3 - June 2nd - This morning we take the ferry across to the Isle of Mull. Once on Mull we make our way to the Ferry Terminal at Fionnphort on the other end of the island. Here we catch the Wee Passenger Ferry across to the small and very beautiful Isle of Iona where we will explore the 800 year Old Iona Abbey where St. Columba began his crusade in the year 563. It is said that 48 Scottish Kings are buried in the abbey graveyard. While here you will also want to visit the Nunnery and St. Oran's Chapel. Iona is very small but has an abundance of shops that offer Genuine Artisan Crafts and Eclectic Gifts along with numerous Iona produced items in the island’s stores as well as a great selection of books and literature. We then Lunch on Iona before taking the ferry back to Mull to visit Duart Castle, home of the Clan Chief of the Macleans. Standing proudly on a cliff top guarding the Sound of Mull, Duart enjoys one of the most spectacular and unique positions on the west coast of Scotland. For over 700 years, Duart Castle has dominated the view to the Sound of Mull and Loch Linnhe with its huge curtain walls and solid keep and for over 400 years this has been the base of the Clan Maclean's sea-born power. You will have some time to wander the grounds and you may want to also visit the Castle Shop before taking the ferry back across the water to Oban where you can find some dinner on your own. Overnight Oban. (B,L)

 

Day 4 - June 3rd - This morning we start our long journey to the Isle of Skye with a stop at Glencoe where we visit the site of the 1692 Massacre of the McDonalds. Against a backdrop of craggy peaks and the tumbling River Coe, the Glen offers some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery. We then travel north to Fort William and then along the 'Road to the Isles' with a stop at Glenfinnan which sits at the head of mysterious and beautiful Loch Shiel and is at the crossroads of four steep sided Glens. It was here that Prince Charles Edward Stuart or 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' as he came to be known, called for the local clansmen to assemble in August 1745 and raised the standard proclaiming the throne of Great Britain to rightfully belong to his family, the Stuarts. We will make a few more stops along the way at the picturesque Lochailort, Arisaig and Morar before ending up in Mallaig for Afternoon Tea. Mallaig is a busy fishing port and ferry terminal with services to Skye and the Small Isles. The town is a fascinating place where visitors can soak up the atmosphere of a working fishing port. After some time to walk around and explore, we take another short ferry ride across to the Isle of Skye. Once on Skye, we will continue our journey to our accommodation for the next two nights. Dinner and Overnight Skye. (B,L,D)

 

Day 5 - June 4th - This morning we journey to Dunvegan to visit Dunvegan Castle which has been the stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years and it remains their home. Built on a Rock once surrounded entirely by salt water, it isunique in Scotland as the only house of such antiquity to have retained its family and its roof throughout the centuries. You will want to visit the gardens and spend some time exploring before we make our way to the Trotternish Peninsula with a stop for Afternoon Tea on the way. Trotternish with its spectacular coastline is often a favourite of our guests and we will try to do it justice. We will stop at the grave site of Flora MacDonald at Kilmuir. Flora is best known for her brave act in helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the Battle of Culloden. We will also visit The Quiraing being one of the most exciting natural rock formations anywhere in Scotland We will also stop to see some of the other natural rock formations on the island. Next we visit Portree, meaning Port of the King. You will be able to explore this delightful harbour village before we make our way back home before dinner. Dinner and Overnight Skye. (B,L,D)

 

Day 6 - June 5th - Leaving Skye behind today, we take the Skye Bridge back across to the mainland to Loch Duich where we find Scotland's most photographed castle, Eilean Donan. Originally built in 1220 by Alexander II as a defence against the Vikings. It subsequently became a stronghold of the Mackenzies of Kintail who installed the MacRaes as Hereditary Keepers and they rebuilt the castle as you see it today. We then make the short journey to Plockton, a peaceful Highland community in the Gaelic heartland was once based on fishing and crofting but now draws artists and photographers from all over the world. We often see Highland Cows traveling through town and they are a very welcome sight! We then continue into the Applecross area, one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland. With amazing panoramas to the Outer Hebrides and South to the Kintail Mountains you will understand why they call it "the Sanctuary". This afternoon we make our way to Loch Ewe at one of the most dramatic and remote locations on the north-west coast of Scotland, with breath-taking views across the Minch to the Isle of Skye, the Shiant Isles and the Outer Hebrides. We then make our way to Ullapool to get checked into our accommodation before dinner. Dinner and Overnight near Ullapool. (B,D)

 

Day 7 - June 6th - This morning we take some time to enjoy this lovely Fishing Village of Ullapool before we start our drive north to Thurso. This is one of our favourite drives with a few amazing stops including the Evocative Ruins of Ardvreck Castle. There is not much left of the castle, but something about it captures my heart each time I see it. Our drive then takes us through the Assynt Mountains and Loch Assynt with its spectacular viewpoint. We continue through the mountains before we travel the Scenic Coastal Route to Thurso with some of the most spectacular scenery to be found anywhere in Scotland. Have your cameras ready as there will be several wonderful photo ops along the way. Once we come out of the mountains our journey will be mostly coastal and on this coastline you will see some of the most amazing Beaches and Cliffs you have ever seen including one of our very favourite, Ceannabeinne! This is a beautiful, white sandy beach with pink rocky outcrops and crystal clear water which just begs to be walked on, and so we will. After our walk we will find a cozy place to stop for lunch along the way. Much of the coastline is composed of sea lochs and kyles and including Loch Laxford, Kyle of Durness, Loch Eriboil, Loch Hope and the Kyle of Tongue. Our journey will eventually take us to the wee town of Scrabster where we take the evening ferry across to Orkney. You can find some dinner on the ferry. Overnight Orkney. (B,L)

 

Day 8 - June 7th - Our first stop this morning on Orkney mainland is the Ring of Brodgar, a stone ring built in a true circle originally containing 60 megaliths. Next we visit the Standing Stones of Stenness dating from 3,100BC making the stones complex one of the earliest stone circles in Britain. Then we make our way to Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in Western Europe. Built before 2700 BC, it was raided by the Vikings in the mid- 12th century and plundered of its 'treasures'. Maeshowe is interesting because of the various runic inscriptions carved into the walls. This is one of the best known collections and includes the Maeshowe Dragon - a very well known Orkney icon. This afternoon we visit Skara Brae a neolithic village dating from 2,500 BC which has been hidden under sand dunes, perfectly preserved, for thousands of years and was only rediscovered 150 years ago. We will also visit the Broch of Gurness, one of the most outstanding surviving examples of a later prehistoric settlement that is unique to northern Scotland. The Vikings who settled in Orkney from around 800 often used the mounds of earlier settlement sites as burial places, and this was the case at Gurness. Dinner and Overnight Orkney. (B,D)

 

Day 9 - June 8th - This morning we will take the short journey by ferry to the Isle of Hoy. Synonymous with the world famous sea stack the Old Man of Hoy, Orkney's second largest island rises dramatically from the sea. With mountainous moorland and glacial valleys, you will encounter a dramatic highland landscape. Hoy is unlike anywhere else in Orkney. Once on Hoy we visit Dwarfie Stane, a huge block of sandstone in which a Neolithic Burial Chamber has been cut. It is believed to date from around 3000 BC and the tomb was formerly sealed by the blocking stone which now lies in front of the entrance. Hoy is also famous for its birdlife, including the Much Loved Puffin! We will have a Packed Lunch Picnic before we visit Hackness Martello Tower and Battery, part of the extensive military remains on the island. The tower and battery were built in the early 19th century to provide defence for British convoys at the height of the Napoleonic War. Barrack room furniture and other military memorabilia give an idea of life at the barracks and you can stand on the tower and take in the view towards Scapa Flow. We then make our way back to the mainland where you will have some free time in Kirkwall before dinner and then before boarding the overnight ferry to the Shetlands. While here you may want to visit St. Magnus Cathedral. Begun in 1137 this cathedral built from alternating bands of local red and yellow sandstone is one of the finest and best preserved medieval cathedrals in Scotland. After dinner we board the late night ferry that will take us on an overnight voyage to Shetland. Overnight At Sea. (B,L,D)

 

Day 10 - June 9th - This morning you wake up in Shetland, a natural world where wildlife is truly wild and where you can watch otters and seals at play and where the air is filled with the sound of seabird crowding extraordinary cliffs in huge, noisy colonies. 6,000 years of human history have endowed the islands with some of the finest archaeological sites in Europe. Our journey today will take us to the very most northerly point in the Shetlands on the Island of Unst. Our journey will take us north on Mainland Shetlands to Toft where we board a wee ferry to cross the Island of Yell. We travel northward to the top of yell to Gutcher where we board a wee ferry for the crossing to Unst. We will explore the wilds of the Shetlands and drive to the most northerly point of Unst where we can look out to Out Stack, and uninhabited island that is the last land mass before the North Pole! After a lovely days outing of exploring and amazing photo ops we make our way to our accommodation back on Mainland Shetland for dinner. Dinner and Overnight Shetland. (B,L,D)

 

Day 11 - June 10th - This morning we take in the multi-period Jarlshof Prehistoric Norse Settlement. Jarlshof lies at the most southernly tip of Mainland Shetlands and provides an insight into the way of life of the inhabitants at particularly interesting periods – the late Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish era, Norse era and the Middle Ages. It includes oval-shaped Bronze Age houses, Iron Age Broch and wheelhouses, Viking long houses, medieval farmstead and 16th century laird’s house. We will have a tour of the site before we make our way to Lerwick, the largest town in the Shetlands. Then we visit the Clickimin Broch on the shore of Clickimin Loch, an outstanding example of a sophisticated type of stone-built round house found only in Scotland. Clickimin Broch has evidence of settlement spanning over a thousand years. Once back in Lerwick we will stop for lunch and then join a Seabirds-and-Seals Boat Trip around Bressay and Noss National Nature Reserve, where you will get to enjoy more of Shetland's Abundant Seabirds and Seals. The views are awesome, giving us photographic opportunities with the awesome Noss Cliffs in the background. You won't believe how close they'll take us to the 25,000 Gannets, Thousands of Guillemots and Hundreds of Puffins, Razorbills, Black Guillemots, Gulls, Shags and Skuas! You sometimes even meet Porpoises and occasionally Whales, Otters and Dolphins! We’ll sail through the magnificent rock of the Giant’s Leg and then into the beautiful Orkneyman’s Cave. We then return home for dinner. Dinner and Overnight Shetland. (B,L,D)

 

Day 12 - June 11th - This morning we make our way to back towards Lerwick with a stop Papil in Burra for the Shetland Pony Experience. No visit to Shetland is complete without getting up close and personal with some more friendly Shetland ponies. The experience is very hands on and includes 3 separate interactive, hands on stations, where you get to handle the ponies while learning about them. Then we enter into the field with the adorable cheeky little foals (and their mums) to give them a scratch. Then we move inside the indoor station where you can pet and brush the ponies before learning how to lead them through a simple obstacle course. Finally there are plenty of picture perfect photo opportunities while you lead the ponies through the idyllic, picturesque, rugged coastal fields to a secluded beach where you can have photos taken with the ponies on your camera. Once back on land we will have lunch and then you will then have some free time to wander around Lerwick where the harbour is an excellent location to seal watch and where we will board the overnight ferry back to the mainland at Aberdeen. After boarding the ferry you will be able to find some dinner on board after settling into your cabin. Overnight at Sea. (B,L)

 

Day 13 - June 12th - We dock this morning in Aberdeen and then make our south to Arbroath and Arbroath Abbey, founded by William the Lion in 1178, in memory of martyr Thomas Becket. Here we explore the origins of the most famous document in Scottish history – the Declaration of Arbroath. Scotland’s nobles swore their independence from England in this letter to the Pope, sent from Arbroath Abbey in 1320. The abbey remained one of the nation’s grandest monasteries for almost 400 years and much later, the Stone of Destiny had a starring role in Arbroath Abbey’s story. We will stop for Afternoon Tea before we make our way to the village of Glamis where we find Glamis Castle. The castle has been witness to a thousand years of history. Home to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne, setting for Shakespeare's Macbeth and beloved childhood home of the late Queen Mother. On a tour of the castle you will follow in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots, James V, Bonnie Dundee, the Old Jacobite Pretender to the throne James VIII, the ill- fated Janet Douglas and of course tell the story of the bitter-sweet life of Mary Eleanor Bowes. Dinner and Overnight Pitlochry. (B,L,D)

 

Day 14 - June 13th - This morning we will visit Blair Atholl to visit Blair Castle, ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl. Blair Castle is set in extensive parklands, including the recently restored Hercules Garden and Diana's Grove, and with 725 ears of history and over 30 rooms open to the public, an absolute delight to explore! We will have an introductory talk about the castle and then you will have some time on your own in the castle and on the grounds before we make our way to the House of Bruar, home of Scottish Country Clothing with an extensive range of high quality products in both the Men’s and Ladies Clothing Halls. You can also find the Finest Country Fayre of Traditional Scottish Food and Drink in the Food Halls and Delicatessen. It also houses the largest collection of Cashmere in the UK. The Country Living Shop carries plenty of choice for decorating your home, or even the perfect gift.Once we are back in Pitlochry, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore this delightful town. You may want to visit the Dam and Fish Ladder or the Heathergems Factory and Showroom or just stroll up and down the main street, shopping as you go! We then meet up for dinner before an outing to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre for a live performance. Dinner and Overnight Pitlochry. (B,L,D)

 

Day 15 - June 14th - Today we will take a day trip north to visit Culloden Battlefield and the Clava Cairns. Culloden is a desolate stretch of moorland that looks much as it did on 16th April 1746, the date of the last battle to be fought on British soil. Here Bonnie Prince Charlie made his last stand for the Stewart Cause. The battlefield is restored to as close as possible as it was when the two sides marched on that fateful day. We will find out why this battle that lasted only one hour changed the way of life of the Highlands forever. We then stop at our very favourite Tavern in Scotland for Lunch. After lunch we will visit the 4000 year old Clava Cairns, one of Scotland’s most evocative sacred prehistoric sites. The cairns are dominated by a line of three exceptionally well-preserved burial cairns, each enclosed by stone circles. We know little about who the cairn builders were, for they left no written record. The actual remains of those buried within the cairns no longer survive because of overzealous archaeological digging in the early 20th century. We will then make our way back to Pitlochry with a few more stops along the way. Once we are back to our accommodation you will have the evening free for dinner on your own. Overnight Pitlochry. (B,L)

 

Day 16 - June 15th - This morning our first stop will be Stirling and Stirling Castle, one of the finest examples of Renaissance Architecture in Scotland. Mary Queen of Scots was crowned here and the Great Hall and Chapel Royal are wonderful highlights. Here you will be able to step back into the sumptuous world of Stirling Castle’s Royal Court. An ongoing project has returned the six ground floor apartments in the castle’s Renaissance palace to how they may have looked in the mid 16th century. We will stop for Afternoon Tea before we visit to Doune Castle, a magnificent late 14th century courtyard castle and famous for the filming location of Monty Python's The Holy Grail and more recently, the Outlander TV series as Castle Leoch. This is one of my most favourite places as it gives such a wonderful glimpse into 14th Century Scottish Castle Living. Before returning to our accommodation, we will stop at the Kilmahog Woolen Mills for some shopping and also to visit Hamish Dhu and Honey, the resident Highland Cows. Once we get settle into our accommodation near Glasgow we will gather for our Farewell Dinner. Dinner and Overnight near Glasgow. (B,L,D)

 

Day 17 - June 16th - This morning we return to Glasgow International Airport for our journey home.

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