Day 01, U.S. - Edinburgh
Overnight flight from the U.S. to Edinburgh, to begin your adventure. Arrive in Edinburgh the next day.
Day 02, Arrive Edinburgh
Morning arrival in Edinburgh and transfer (included) to your pre-booked accommodations. Spend your day independently exploring Edinburgh on your own. (Please note, check-in time at most hotel's is from 2:00 pm). Overnight in Edinburgh.
Day 03, Edinburgh - Touring begins - Inverness
Make your way to the Edinburgh departure point (see departure point information below) for 8:45 am. 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. 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 splendor 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, traveling 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 04, Touring - Kirkwall
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, traveling 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 two (2) nights. Visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral and its historic winding streets.
Day 05, Touring - Kirkwall
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 06, Touring - Ullapool
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 the next two nights.
Note: You will say goodbye to your guide here - and some of the tour participants. A new guide and new group will arrive on day 07.
Day 07, Touring - Ullapool
You have 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 Rhid- doroch estate. (Full details of all local walks can be found at the local tourist information center). There is also a local swimming pool, and a small museum giving an informative narrative about the natural and social history of the area. Overnight in Ullapool.
Day 08, Touring - Stornoway
With our new guide and group, we 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 09, Touring - Stornoway
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 we 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 10, Touring - Portree
Traveling 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 harbor town of Portree.
Day 11, Touring - Portree
Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and our driver/guide's knowledge will come to the fore in developing the best day out for us. For example we 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. Or, after lunch you could 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. Whatever the day holds, it will be a breathtaking day on Skye! We return to Portree for overnight.
Day 12, Touring - Edinburgh
Departing Portree, we embark on the return journey to Edinburgh, which has many highlights. A visit to Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William and the dramatic scenery and dark history of Glencoe. Traveling 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, arriving at approx. 7:00 pm. Your tour ends at Rabbies Cafe at 6 Waterloo Place in Edinburgh, where you will make your own way back to your pre-booked hotel.
Day 13, Edinburgh - Home
After breakfast, transfer from your hotel to the Airport for your return flight to the U.S.