Day 01, U.S. - Edinburgh
Depart the USA on overnight flight to Scotland.
Day 02, Edinburgh
Arrive Edinburgh; Transfer to your hotel is included, however. 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. If you are arriving into Edinburgh early - the hotel will be happy to hold your luggage until your room is ready).
Day 03, Edinburgh - Touring Begins
In the morning, make your way to the Edinburgh departure point (see departure point information below) for 8:45 (If you booked a departure point transfer at time of booking, your driver will collect you as noted on your voucher). Depart Edinburgh at 9:00 am. We travel north past Stirling castle, and then west to Scotland’s first National Park around Loch Lomond, and the bonny banks”. We 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 our two (2) night stay.
Day 04, Touring - Oban
It's 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 we 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 immortalized by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture “Fingal's Cave”. We then return on the ferry to Oban for our second night.
Day 05, Touring - Skye
Our tour takes us 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. We pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. We 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 we travel north to the picturesque harbor town of Portree. We are then dropped off at our accommodation in the early evening.
Day 06, A Day on Skye!
Is a very flexible day to enjoy the splendors of Skye today. Our driver/guide will bring his/her knowledge to the foreground and bring us the best of touring today. We return to our accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon. Enjoy a free evening in the village.
Day 07, Touring - Inverness
We are collected from our accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. We stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of three (3) lochs as protection against Viking raiders, before traveling 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 we will join up with the tour traveling to Orkney and the Far North.
With our new driver and crew we will continue north following the Great Glen traveling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch passing by Urquhart castle. We can expect to arrive in Inverness, the Highland capital, and the place of our overnight stay at approximately 6:30 pm where you will be dropped off at our pre booked accommodation.
Day 08, Touring - Kirkwall
It 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 we drive through the northeast Highland coastline, traveling 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 we board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here we have a short drive to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney, where we can visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral, and where we shall stay for two (2) nights.
Day 09, Touring - Kirkwall
Today is our 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. We 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 10, Touring - Ullapool
A relaxed start to the day, as we leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here we 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 11, Touring - Edinburgh
Leaving Ullapool behind, we 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. We 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 we travel through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, hugging the Cairngorm mountain range. Lunch will be spent in these beautiful surroundings before traveling through big tree country of Perthshire, through the Kingdom of Fife, and back to Edinburgh around 7:00 pm. Our tour ends at Waverly Bridge in Edinburgh, where you will make your own way back to your pre-booked hotel.
Day 12, Edinburgh - Home
After breakfast, transfer from your hotel to the Airport for your return flight to the U.S.