2019 Scottish Highlands & Islands


13 July, Pre-tour Arrival

Mel Cohen

14 July, Pre-tour Arrivals

Laurence Barker, Scott & Merri Plummer, Jim & Sharon Fox, Arnold & Terri Stallman, Linda Levesque

15 July: Pre-tour Arrivals and Main Group Fly from USA

Gretchen Quinn & Kelly Clark, Dale Fleishman & Ron Jenkins, Ann & Richard Adams. Alan Cutler

Day 1, 16 July: Welcome to Scotland

Greg & Judy Parks, Becky Smith & Kathie Burnside, Sharon Kelly & Rebecca Marti

Upon arrival, take the tram in from the Edinburgh Airport to the Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor Hotel. The Haymarket Tram Stop is a two-minute walk from the hotel.

3:00 Tour begins. Our guide, Andy Pleis, will meet us at the hotel for a 1/2 day walking tour of the city. Starting at the West end (where the hotel is), the tour will include St Mary’s Cathedral, New town including Charlotte Square, Princes street Gardens, Walter Scott, and the National Gallery. Then depending on how you are feeling, you can call it a day or continue up and round the Castle and back to the hotel via Heriots, Grassmarket and West End Princes Street. (This walking tour will NOT include visits inside the National Gallery or the Castle.)

Dinner at 18:30 and overnight in the Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor Hotel, Grosvenor Street Haymarket, Edinburgh, EH12 5EF, Scotland. Tel.: 00441312266001

*Please note check-in at the hotel may not be possible before 15h00

Day 2, 17 July: Edinburgh to Inverness/Grantown-on-Spey

After a full Scot breakfast at the hotel (every morning on tour), 9:00 departure to Inverness/Grantown-on-Spey.

10:30: En-route visit Stirling Castle. one of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture, Stirling Castle commands the countryside for many miles around. It towers over some of the most important battlefields of Scotland’s past including Stirling Bridge, the site of William Wallace’s victory over the English in 1297, and Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce defeated the same foe in the summer of 1314. Situated on a volcanic outcrop guarding the lowest crossing point of the River Forth, Stirling Castle is a great symbol of Scottish Independence and a source of enduring national pride. The castle’s long, turbulent history is associated with great figures from Scotland’s past, such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots. It has seen many royal dramas and witnessed the lives and deaths of almost every Scottish monarch up to the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

12:00 Time for a walking tour of Stirling and lunch (independent) before continuing on.

15:00 Free time (45 minutes) to explore Pitlochry.

17:00 Arrival and check into the Craiglynne Hotel, Woodlands Terrace, Grantown on Spey, Highlands, PH26 3JX, Scotland Tel.: 00441479872597

18:30 Dinner. Overnight, bed and breakfast at the Craiglynne Hotel.

Day 3, 18 July: North Highland Coast

9:00 Depart hotel and journey up the North Highland Coast.

11:00 Visit – Self-Guided Tour of Castle, Museum & Gardens, Dunrobin Castle, Dunrobin, Golspie, KW10 6SF, Scotland Tel.: 00441408633177. Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, home to the Earls and later, the Dukes of Sutherland. The Castle, which resembles a French château with its towering conical spires, has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry, who designed London’s Houses of Parliament, and Scotland’s own Sir Robert Lorimer. The Castle was used as a naval hospital during the First World War and as a boys’ boarding school from 1965 to 1972.

12:30 Lunch (Independent)

13:30 Continue on to Culloden Battlefield

15:00 Visit Culloden Battlefield Scene of the 1746 Battle of Culloden between the Jacobite and the British armies. As the last battle being fought on British soil, Culloden marks the beginning of the dismantlement of the structures of Highland society. In the aftermath of the battle, kilts and tartans were banned. It was here that the Jacobite army fought for a Stuart king in order to reclaim the throne of Britain from the Hanoverians. Today, 250 years on, Culloden is still a site that connects us intimately with Britain’s past. Find out why this battle lasted only one hour but still changed the course of Scotland’s history. Listen to accounts from genuine characters who were involved in the Battle, experience the battle in a 360 degrees theatre, get a bird’s eye view of the forces and tactics at play.

Continue to Inverness where we will have some free time.

18:00 Meet at the pre-arranged meeting point and walk to the restaurant.

Tonight we will experience a traditional dinner and entertainment at MacGregor’s Bar.

On arrival at MacGregor’s Bar, we will be welcomed by a Highland Piper into their private ‘Whisky Bar’ room.  Showtime will commence with an introduction to Inverness and the surrounding area followed by a 30-minute performance of Highland history, songs and music, including The Jacobite Rebellion, Battle of Culloden and the Highland Clearances.  Dinner will then be served.  After dinner, guests will be entertained by a Gaelic singer and invited to participate in a Gaelic Waulkin’ Song.  The piper will then be joined by a Highland Dancer who will perform traditional dances such as the Highland Fling and the Sword Dance.  The evening will conclude with a  group chorus of Auld Lang Syne.

Overnight bed and breakfast at the Craiglynne Hotel, Tel.: 00441479872597.

Day 4, 19 July: Speyside

9:00A departure from the hotel to first visit the Speyside Cooperage

In the heart of Scotland’s rolling hills lies Speyside Cooperage, the only working cooperage in the UK. Since 1947, the family-owned Speyside Cooperage has produced the finest casks from the best American Oak. Today the cooperage continues to work and produce the age-old product, still using traditional methods and tools. Although shipped across the world, many of the casks remain in Scotland, providing a vital ingredient in Scotland’s whisky making process. Enjoy a journey through the lifecycle of the cask, see the highly skilled coopers at work and try it for yourself with the mini casks.

Continue on to  Elgin Cathedral. Elgin Cathedral is one of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval buildings and the inspiration for many an artist. The imposing yellow sandstone ruin is also one of the most important architectural legacies from that bygone age, whose intriguingly complex building history will reward the patient visitor. The cathedral was the ecclesiastical centre, the spiritual heart, of the diocese of Moray. The bishop’s cathedral, or seat, was not always at Elgin – it had previously been at nearby Kinneddar, Birnie, and Spynie – but once it was transferred to Elgin around 1224, it remained there until the Protestant Reformation of 1560 effectively left the cathedral redundant.

Lunch on your own before continuing on to the Glen Moray Distillery

Nestling on the banks of the River Lossie, in Elgin, Glen Moray Distillery has been distilling whisky here since 1897, with a small dedicated team of craftsmen. Glen Moray is a small authentic working distillery with bags of atmosphere and real people going about their business – making whisky. The delight of Glen Moray is that your tour guide could be one of the distillery craftsmen themselves. It could be the stillman or the mashman who welcomes you and shows you around, or even the distillery manager himself – Graham Coull. The great advantage of this is the authenticity of the introduction – each guide knows the process of whisky making like the back of his hand. So, at Glen Moray, you will gain an unforgettable insight into how water and barley are transformed into ‘the water of life’.

Return to hotel, arriving at 17:00

Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Craiglynne Hotel, Tel.: 00441479872597.

Day 5, 20 July: Inverness/Grantown-on-Spey to Kirkwall

8:30 departure and journey to Scrabster at the northern tip of Scotland.

12:30 Take the ferry from Scrabster to Stromness on the Orkney Islands and continue to your hotel in the Kirkwall area.

14:30 en-route visit of  the Standing Stones of Stenness

Step back in time over 5000 years at what may be the earliest henge monument in the British Isles. The enormous Stones of Stenness are all that remains of a great stone circle on an ancient ceremonial site.

Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Kirkwall Hotel, Tel.: 00441856872232.

Day 6, 21 July: Orkney Islands

9:00A depart hotel for a tour of the Orkney Islands. Just off the north coast of Scotland, an archipelago of around 70 islands and skerries creates a glittering array of shapes set against clear blue waters. The smaller isles of Orkney offer a world of serenity on sandy white shores while the Mainland houses the majority of the population and many attractions including an arts and crafts trail. Beautiful beaches combine with heritage, culture and wonderful wildlife to make any trip to Orkney distinct and magical.

9:30 visit the Ring of Brodgar. The Brodgar Ring is part of one of the most beautiful stone circles in the world. Dating from 2,500 to 2,000 BC AD, the stone ring was built as a real circle of 104 meters wide and originally contained sixty megaliths. Today, only twenty-seven of these stones remain. The reason for the construction of the Brodgar’s Ring, which required a considerable amount of work at that time, is not known with certainty, perhaps for an astronomical observatory, a religious sanctuary or rituals. The Ring of Brodgar forms with Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe and Skara Brae the Neolithic heart of the Orkney, which was awarded the UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999.

10:30 visit Skara Brae Pre-historic Village & Skaill House. The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, lying near the dramatic white beach of the Bay of Skaill, is the best-preserved group of prehistoric houses in Western Europe. Uncovered by a storm in 1850, which blew away the sand to reveal the shapes of stone buildings, the attraction presents a remarkable picture of life around 5,000 years ago. This Neolithic village on the shores of the Bay of Skaill in Orkney’s west mainland is one of several stunning archaeological sites within the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the summer months, visitors can also access Skaill House: built in 1620 by Bishop George Graham on the site of a Norse farmstead, all 12 of its Lairds have been related and all have contributed to the history and collection in the house. Inside you can see rooms with furniture and artifacts belonging to generations of Skaill lairds and see a dinner service used by Captain James Cook on his final voyage.

Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Kirkwall Hotel.

Day 7, 22 July: Kirkwall to the Isle of Skye

9:00A depart hotel to Stromness and take the ferry to Scrabster. (Buy lunch on board.)

Continue to Inverness with en route visit of Dunrobin Castle

18:30 Check in at hotel

Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Glenmoriston Town House Hotel. Tel.: 00441463223777

Day 8, 23 July: Skye

8:30 departure for a tour of the Isle of Skye, The Isle of Skye – or “Eilean a’ Cheò”, the Misty Isle – is the second largest island in Scotland, a 50-mile-long patchwork of velvet moors, jagged mountains, sparkling lochs and towering sea cliffs. Here the stark rise of the Cuillin ridge drops to the gentle white of a soft sand beach. Inlets, bays and islands create a complex lacework pattern with the sea. From Portree, the main town on the Isle, a bustling port and thriving cultural centre, to the Trotternish peninsula, Skye is a place where time means nothing: beneath every footstep lies 500 million years of history. Discover the compelling past, the vibrant future and, through the essence of this remarkable land, capture memories to live with you forever.

Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at Kings Arms Hotel, Tel.: 00441599534109.

Day 9, 24 July: Jacobite Steam Train

9:00A departure for the journey to the south Isle of Skye and visit Armadale Castle, Gardens & Museum of the Isles

Located in Armadale, just a short walk from the ferry terminal, Clan Donald Skye is a 20,000-acre highland estate on the Sleat peninsula in south Skye. Once part of the traditional lands of Clan Donald, the Estate’s principal focal points are the restored historic gardens, and the beautiful walking trails threading through the 40 acres of woodland around Armadale Castle. In the Museum of the Isles, you will discover the history of the Highlands and Islands through the story of Clan Donald, its most powerful clan, at the award-winning museum. Six interconnecting galleries taking you through 1500 years of the history and culture of the area once known as the Kingdom of the Isles. The MacDonalds – or Clan Donald – were the Lords of the Isles and sat at the heart of the history of Gaeldom. The museum follows their story and that of the Highlands. 

12:40:  take the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig.

This afternoon enjoy a single journey from Mallaig to Fort William on the Jacobite Steam Train. Described as one of the great railway journeys of the world this 84 mile round trip takes you past a list of impressive extremes. Starting near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, it visits Britain’s most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; passes close by the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar and the shortest river in Britain, River Morar, finally arriving next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis. The train stops en route to Mallaig at the village of Glenfinnan. Beyond Glenfinnan are the beautiful villages of Lochailort, Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig. You may alight at Arisaig by request to the guard. From here, on a clear summer’s day, you can see the “Small Isles” of Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna and the southern tip of Skye. The train continues on from here passing Morar and the silvery beaches used in the films “Highlander” and “Local Hero”.

Continue to your hotel in the Glencoe area.

Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at Lodge on the Loch Hotel near Glencoe, Tel.: 00441855821238

Day 10, 25 July: Glencoe to the Isle of Mull

9:00A departure for  journey to Isle of Mull.

10:30 en-route  photo stop at Kilchurn Castle

Arbroath, settled in the 12th century fifteen miles to the northeast of Dundee, is an attractive historic harbor. With long sandy beaches and stunning sandstone cliffs stretch out on either side of the town, Arbroath is most famous for its world-famous delicacy: the Arbroath Smokie. It is line-caught haddock, smoke-cured over smoldering oak chips, and still made here in a number of family-run smokehouses tucked in around the harbor. Wander through the huddled cottages of the ‘Fit o’the Toon’ – the harbor district where the smell of Arbroath smokies usually hangs heavy in the air. At the far end of the road, a path climbs up over the red sandstone cliffs of Whiting Ness, stretching endlessly onto the horizon and eroded into a multitude of inlets, caves and arches that warrant hours of leisurely exploration.

11:30 visit Cruachan Power Station. Situated amongst some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery, lying deep within Ben Cruachan is one of the country’s most amazing engineering achievements. Hidden deep within the mountain of Ben Cruachan on the shores of Loch Awe is Cruachan Power Station. The exciting guided tours take you deep inside the Hollow Mountain, where you will see the mighty Machine Hall, and the experienced guides will tell you all about the Power Station, from its history and construction to how it works and its current role generating up to 440MW at times of peak demand on the National Grid.

14:30 tour and tasting at Inverawe Smokehouse. Inverawe Smokehouse had its origins when Robert and Rosie Campbell-Preston started smoking fish in their back garden by the banks of the River Awe more than 35 years ago. Their Scottish smoked fish is now sought after around the world. Come and see what they do best. View the smokery at work, browse around the smokery shop & tearoom or simply enjoy the flora and fauna of this beautiful corner of Argyll. Inverawe Visitor Centre is a delightful place to get away from it all! Completely unspoiled, with an abundance of both flora and birds you can just walk a nature trail through woodlands and parkland.

16:30  Continue on to Isle of Mull via ferry,

18:20 Arrive and check in at hotel. Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, Tel.: 00441680 812544.

Day 11, 26 July: Isle of Mull

9:00A Depart hotel to explore the Isle of Mull and Iona (pick up packed lunch at reception.)

10:30 Ferry to Iona

11:00 Visit Iona Abbey & Nunnery Iona is a holy isle, an enduring symbol of Christianity in Scotland. St Columba and his followers came here from Ireland in AD 563 and founded a monastery that became the heart of the early Scottish Church. As a celebrated focus for Christian pilgrimage, Iona retains its spiritual atmosphere and remains an enduring symbol of worship. The abbey church was restored at the beginning of the 20th century, whilst work on restoring the living accommodation began in 1938, following the foundation of the Iona Community. Today, the Iona Community continues the tradition of worship first established by St Columba 1450 years ago. Iona Abbey is one of Scotland’s most historic and sacred sites.

Spend free time on the island and to eat your packed lunch.

13:30 Ferry from Iona to Fionnport

15:30 visit Duart Castle. The castle dates back to the 13th century and is the seat of Clan MacLean. Today’s Duart Castle has lost none of the grandeur of an earlier age. It even retains a number of cannons as a reminder of that age, though its unmissable presence is now seen as a landmark rather than a threat by passing seafarers. Internally the castle serves as a home to the 28th Chief of the Clan and his family. From a visitor’s point of view, much of the castle is open to the public, including the wall walk around the top of the keep, which offers magnificent views. And an old byre has been attractively converted into a shop and tearoom.

Return to Oban.

Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa.

Day 12, 27 July: Oban to Glasgow

8:00A  departure from Oban and journey to Glasgow.

9:30 Ferry from Craignure to Oban.

12:00 Lunch (independent).

13:00 En-route visit Inveraray Castle. Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell and the iconic, must-see visitor attraction on the West Coast of Scotland. Most notably, Inveraray Castle featured in the television drama “Downton Abbey”. Inveraray Castle is a unique piece of architecture and was the first of its size and type to be built on the West Coast of Scotland. Visitors to the Castle will be able to explore the many historical rooms available to the public, and helpful guides will answer any questions you might have.

14:30 visit Inveraray Jail. Inveraray Jail is a living museum and visitor attraction where real people portray life in a 19th-century prison. This award-winning attraction has established itself as one of Scotland’s most exciting heritage attractions. Visitors can sit in the restored 1820s courtroom with lifelike models and listen to excerpts from trials of the past before passing on to the prisons below, and meeting with the Warder, Matron and Prison Guides, all dressed in period costumes.

17:30 arrive at the hotel. Overnight, dinner, bed & breakfast at Erskine Bridge Hotel. Tel.: 00441418120123

Day 13, 28 July: Farewell

After a final breakfast transfer to Glasgow Airport for your flight home.


Laurence Barker 7/14, UA 118, 7:50A 7/31, UA162, 9:00A
Gretchen Quinn & Kelly Clark 7/15, AA 278, 9:15A 7/28, BA6615, 10:40A
Scott & Merri Plummer 7/14, KLM1277, 7:25A 7/28, DL267, 1:00P
Greg & Judy Parks 7/16, AA 278, 9:15A 7/28. BA 2491, 7:50A
Becky Smith & Kathie Burnside 7/16, UA36, 8:05A(KB&BS) 7/28, EI3221, 8:30A(KB), UA162, 9:00A(BS)
Dale Fleishman & Ron Jenkins 7/15, UA36, 7:45A 7/28, UA162, 9:00A
Jim & Sharon Fox 7/14 Train from Glasgow 7/28, DL9538, 6:05A
Ann & Richard Adams 7/15, BA1438, 9:15A 7/28. BA1483, 12:10P
Sharon Kelly & Rebecca Marti 7/16, DL9451, 12:40 7/28, DL9538, 6:05A
Arnold & Terri Stallman 7/14, BA1442, 13:05 7/28, BA1477, 8:55A
Alan Cutler 7/15, AF1545, 15:45 7/29 Edinburgh
Mel Cohen 7/13, UA 146, 10:40A 7/29, UA162, 9:00A
Linda Levesque 7/14, BA1336, 14:35 7/29 BA