Day 01, Wednesday: U.S. to Scotland
Depart U.S. on overnight flight to Edinburgh.
Day 02, Thursday: Edinburgh
Arrive in Edinburgh. Transfer to your hotel is included. You are free to enjoy this beautiful city on your own. (Please note, hotel check-in is generally between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.) Spend your day independently exploring Edinburgh. Overnight in Edinburgh.
Day 03, Friday: Edinburgh - Fife - St. Andrews - Thainstone House
Depart our hotel and transfer to the departure point departing at 8:30 am. Traveling north, crossing the Forth Road Bridge into the ancient Kingdom of Fife. Our first visit of the day will be Falkland Palace, where during a private, guided tour we 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 the residence and hunting lodge of eight Stuart monarchs. Highlight of the visit will be to see the Real Tennis court, built in 1539! Continue to St. Andrews and during a town walk, our guide will tell us 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. This afternoon we visit the House of Dun near Montrose. This beautiful Georgian house, overlooking Montrose Basin, was built in 1730. It now houses the Hutchison collection of Scottish colorists and the Stirling collection of furniture, ranging from the 18th century to the 1960s. On route to Aberdeen we 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 we continue to Thainstone House Hotel where you will stay for two (2) nights.
Day 04, Saturday: Royal Deeside - Thainstone House
Today will be spent in the Royal Deeside area, famous for its many castles. Our 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. Time allowed to walk through the beautiful 18th century walled garden. The tour continues to Banchory where we 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. We stop at Ballater before continuing with our afternoon program. 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. We are free to explore the house and the stunning gardens at our 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 colorful flowers. We return back to Thainstone House Hotel for overnight.
Day 05, Sunday: Knockomie House with group dinner
Our 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 am. Fyvie Castle dates back to the 13th century and has a fine collection of arms and armor as well as 17th century tapestries and opulent Edwardian interiors. We then continue, traveling through beautiful scenery and on to Nairn, where there is time for lunch (independently) at nearby Brodie Castle. Then we 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 we are 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. We continue to Knockomie House Hotel. Dinner for our group will be held tonight in one of the private rooms.
Day 06, Monday: Knockomie House - Pitlochry - Edinburgh
Today we travel south again through some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer. We will travel to Kingussie for a photo stop at the Ruthven Barracks. We continue to Dalwhinnie Distillery, the highest Distillery in Scotland which takes its waters right from the source of the River Spey. Enjoy a tour of the distillery where we have a chance to taste the “Water of Life”. After a stop in Pitlochry we head to Loch Leven by Kinross. In the middle of the Loch we 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. We enjoy a short boat ride over to the castle, following in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots. Then explore at our leisure the island and tower house, before returning back to Edinburgh, making your way independently to your hotel.
Day 07, Tuesday: Departure
Check-out of your Edinburgh Hotel today for your return home. Transfer to the airport is included.