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- Loch Lomond
- Kilchurn Castle
- Glen Coe
- Jacobtie steam train and the Glenfinnan Viaduct
- Ferry to the Isle of Skye
- Isle of Skye day tour
- Bealach na Ba mountain pass
- Beaches and mountains of the North West Highlands
- Smoo Cave
- Highland capital of Inverness
- Boat trip on Loch Ness
- Both of Scotland's National Parks
After leaving Edinburgh we head west to Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow. You’ll learn about its industrial heritage and why it was once known as the ‘second city’ of the British Empire. Fabulous views unfold as we head north along the ‘Bonnie Bonnie Banks’ of Loch Lomond.
This is Scotland’s largest loch, taking its name from the mountain Ben Lomond on the eastern shore. We’ll make a short stop at the conservation village of Luss, with its quaint houses and stunning views across the loch. This is also Rob Roy Country and, as we leave the loch and wind our way up into the Highlands, your guide will entertain you with tales of cattle rustling and ancient Highland Clans.
Next we stop to admire the fantastic view at the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’, so named because of the words inscribed on a stone at the top of the hill after weary soldiers built the road in 1753. Lunch is in the picturesque village of Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne, world renowned for its seafood. Our scenic drive along the banks of Loch Awe takes us to Kilchurn Castle for a short afternoon walk. This ancestral home of Clan Campbell, with its dramatic location, is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. Our final stop of the day will be St Conan’s Kirk before reaching Oban where we stay for one night.
Example accommodation: www.dunheanish.com
After leaving Oban a short drive take us to Connell for a photo stop at Dunstaffnage Castle with superb views towards the Connel Bridge and Falls of Lora. Next is a coffee break at the spectacular Castle Stalker. Continuing north we visit the most famous of all Scotland’s glens – Glen Coe. This spectacular, narrow valley is where the bloody massacre of the MacDonalds took place in 1692, one of the most notorious acts in Scotland’s long and violent history. Driving along Loch Linnhe we reach ‘the outdoor capital of the UK’, Fort William.
Time for lunch, perhaps some shopping and photos of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain.
Today there’s an option to board the famous Jacobite steam train (own expense) for the outstanding journey to Mallaig (the alternative is to drive this incredibly scenic road with your driver/guide).
Regarded as one of the greatest railway journeys in the world, the 42 mile trip will take you over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, as seen in several of the Harry Potter movies, as well as providing spectacular views to the Small Isles and Skye.
On arrival into the picturesque fishing village of Mallaig, you’ll meet your driver and board the ferry (own expense) for a short journey ‘Over the Sea’ to Skye. On landing at Armadale, enjoy the beautiful scenery of the ‘Misty Isle’ whilst journeying to the island’s small capital of Portree for the next two nights.
Example accommodation: www.rockviewskye.co.uk
Depending on the weather there are several touring options available on Skye. Wet weather alternatives include Talisker Distillery and Dunvegan Castle but normally the day begins with a scenic drive alongside the dramatic Trotternish Ridge and includes stops at Lealt Waterfall and the Kilt Rock.
After a walk at the Quiraing amongst the unique and unusual rock architecture we drive to Uig for a short break. After coffee we explore the magic of the Fairy Glen, a delightful miniature Highland landscape and legendary home of the ‘wee people’!
We endeavour to eat lunch somewhere typically Scottish; our favourite stops being Jann’s Cakes or the Red Roof Café. After lunch we drive to the most westerly point on Skye for a walk to Neist Point Lighthouse. On a clear day there are spectacular views to the Western Isles. We’ll also see some of the most dramatic sea cliffs in Scotland, plenty of sea birds and maybe even whales! We return to Portree in the early evening.
This morning we say goodbye to Portree. After a quick stop at Sligachan, for the famous view of the Cuillin Mountains, it’s only a short drive to the Skye Bridge and a return to the mainland. Next is the ‘tropical’ village of Plockton where, bizarrely, palm trees line the main street due to the proximity of the Gulf Stream to this part of the Scottish coast. Afterwards we follow one of the most famous roads in the country, the Bealach na Ba, a 2000 foot mountain pass to the village of Applecross.
Weather permitting the views from here to Skye and the Outer Hebrides are sensational. We continue via the rugged mountains of Torridon.
This area is well-known to climbers, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts and lovers of wild places. Mountains like Liathach and Beinn Eighe rise steeply from the road adding to the drama of this Wester Ross scenery. Our last stop of the day is the dramatic Corrieshalloch Gorge before reaching Ullapool where we stay for one night.
Example accommodation: www.theceilidhplace.com
A trip to Assynt and the Coigach peninsula will live with you forever as an area of outstanding natural beauty encompassing hundreds of lochs, beautiful coastline, and native woodlands all set against the stunning backdrop of some remarkable mountains. This dramatic Highland landscape has inspired many from all over the world. We head north out of Ullapool in to the unique landscape of Assynt and the Inverpolly Nature Reserve. Famous mountains such as Suilven and Stac Pollaidh are never far from view. There can be few more scenic roads in the country than that from Badnagyle to Lochinver, where we pause for coffee.
It’s then onto stunning Achmelvich beach to enjoy the wild coastline and beautiful sands. Our drive continues to the ruins of 15th century Ardvreck Castle on the shores of Loch Assynt.
Leaving Coigach we head into stunning Sutherland. We drive through the North West Highland Geopark, famed for having some of the oldest rocks in the world. Lunch is in the village of Durness at Scotland’s northwestern tip. A visit here wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the incredible Smoo Cave or one of the stunning beaches near the village. In the afternoon we drive along the north coast past Ben Hope, the most northerly of all Scotland’s large mountains, before heading south for a break in Lairg on the shores of Loch Shin. Our final stop is the Highland capital of Inverness where we’ll be based for the last two nights of the tour.
Example accommodation: www.ayestay.com
Today is a relaxing one with the opportunity for some Inverness sightseeing, souvenir shopping or a boat trip on Loch Ness (bus-boat tours depart Inverness city centre on a regular basis).
In the afternoon you may want to visit the nearby Fort George, an impressive 18th century fortress. One of Europe’s fastest growing cities, Inverness has an attractive riverside location and boasts a number of historic buildings in the Old Town.
There is a great selection of places to eat and drink with peaceful areas close to the city centre for relaxing. Inverness is small, compact, easy to get around with many riverside restaurants as well as a wide range of specialist retailers in the historic Old Town and Victorian Market.
First stop on our final day is Culloden Moor where the Jacobites were finally defeated by government soldiers in 1746, the last battle to be fought on British soil. You will have time to walk on the battlefield and learn more about this tragic event that killed 700 Highland clansmen in three minutes. From there we visit one of Scotland’s most evocative and sacred prehistoric sites, the nearby 4000 year old stone circles and burial mounds at Clava Cairns.
As we drive south through the Cairngorms National Park you’ll hear about the flora and fauna of this wonderful wilderness which was officially protected in 2003 and is the largest national park in the British Isles.
We arrive at the lively Highland town of Pitlochry with the option to visit the Blair Athol Distillery where you can take a guided tour of the distillery and, of course, sample the ‘water of life’ for yourself. Alternatives include a short walk to the famous hydro-electric dam and salmon ladder or Black Spout waterfall. Our final stop is a gentle riverside walk through Big Tree Country at Dunkeld, a beautiful way to finish your ‘grand tour’ all seasons of the year.
Looking for a shorter tour that still takes in iconic locations? Book the Mary Queen of Scots History and Mystery tour.