(mailed to you once you get back home)
per person* (Discounts for 3+ persons)
(based upon 2 persons room sharing and subject to dates,
extras and changes E&OE)
Arrive at Edinburgh Airport to be met by your Guide for the trip. After introducing himself to you he will drive you to your luxury hotel to freshen up after your flight. You can agree when he comes back to commence a tour of the historic Capital of Scotland. This will include a visit to Edinburgh Castle, which houses the Scottish Crown Jewels, Stone of Destiny plus St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh’s oldest building. Each day (except Sunday) they fire a large gun on the stroke of one o’clock, which tourists can watch. The castle sits on an ancient volcano (long dormant) and the road down the hill to the Holyrood Palace (the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland) is known as the ‘Royal Mile’. As all your trip tickets are pre-booked and paid for, you comfortably skip the queues at both attractions. Your driver then takes you back to your hotel after the day’s activities. He will recommend the best places for you to eat each evening. (Although experience has shown that it is probably better to book this in advance).
Your tour of Edinburgh continues, visiting the Old and New Towns (together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and then to the Royal Yacht Britannia. This was Her Majesty the Queen’s private yacht, and was where Charles and Diana had there honeymoon! Britannia was also named the No. 1 Attraction in the UK in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards 2014/15. It gives visitors a unique insight into the private lives of the Royals, – one not to miss! In the afternoon you will be taken on a lovely drive south of Edinburgh to the ancient Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders. This magnificent 12th. century partly ruined monastery is where King Alexander 2nd and other Scottish Kings are buried, and houses some remains of Robert the Bruce. On the journey back to Edinburgh you will visit the 15th Century Roslin Chapel, made famous by the Hollywood movie The Da Vinci Code. Still a place of worship, it has mystical associations with the Knights Templars, and freemasons make a pilgrimage from all over the world as it is held to be of great significance. Then back to Edinburgh to get ready for your exciting evening at the Taste of Scottish Show and dinner. This evening of Scottish tradition is held at the historic Prestonfield House and you will love it!
The trip to the Scottish Highlands starts today when you drive north leaving Edinburgh and crossing the iconic Forth Bridges, (a third being added in 2016). North side of the Bridges one enters into the county of Fife and on towards the home of Golf – St Andrews. Home of the first ever golf club, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. It remains today the holy grail for golf lovers everywhere, and is also has the British Golfing Museum, Cathedral and Castle. St Andrews is also the oldest University in Scotland founded in 1413, and today regarded as one of the finest seats of learning in the UK. It’s popularity is in part due to their famous alumni, Prince William and Catherine, who fell in love here. (If you want to, you can visit the cafe where they first dated!) After lunch at one of the various charming cafe/ pubs you will cross the River Tay past Dundee to Scone Palace, where for 1000 years Scots Kings were crowned. The coronation ceremonies during that time included the monarch sitting on Stone of Scone, or Stone of Destiny. Sadly this important relic was stolen by the English King Edward 1st in 1296, and taken to London and placed under the English monarch’s throne. Thankfully it has been returned and can be seen in Edinburgh Castle. You will stay overnight in the picturesque town of Pitlochry, which grew out of the it’s popularity with Victorian tourists after the railway opened in 1863.
Leaving Pitlochry we get our first glimpse of Scotland’s Highland Mountains, The Grampians. We continue north and follow the River Spey to ‘Speyside’, an area where the majority of the famous Scotch whisky brands are produced. A distillery visit awaits, the choice is yours and is vast: Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Aberlour, Cardhu…(let us know). Whisky products produced here are found in virtually every hotel bar around the world! The distillery tours are first class and very informative, plus you get to sample the results of this ancient process too!
North now to Cawdor Castle, made famous by William Shakespeare in his play Macbeth. Still a family home it has one of the loveliest gardens in the country with a maze and fascinating display of paintings and antiques. Then it’s on to Culloden battlefield. This was in 1746 the last land battle to be fought in Britain, and saw the end to the Jacobite Rebellion. The Duke of Cumberland saw off ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie and his assorted clansmen, and heralded a change to the highland way of life. He banned the Clans and also the wearing of Tartan, and constructed a large military garrison, Fort George, just north on Culloden. The wearing of tartan was only resurrected by way of the ‘Romanticism’ of the early 19th Century. Encouraged by the novels of Sir Walter Scott and Victoria and Albert’s love of Scotland tartan regained it’s popularity. After the award winning Culloden Visitor Centre we head to your hotel in Inverness, the Capital of The Highlands.
This morning you will head north to the North Eastern tip of Scotland, touring past the Cromarty and Dornoch Firths (or estuaries) along the North Sea coast to our first stop at Dunrobin Castle. This majestic Castle has been home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since 1235, and is amongst the most stunning in Scotland. The Sutherlands have been one of the most influential families in Britain, with many matrimonial and territorial alliances. The highlight of the visit is the incredible display of falconry that takes place in the beautiful gardens. Andy Hughes, their professional resident Falconer demonstrates and explains the different hunting methods used by owls, hawks and falcons in a series of fascinating aerobatic displays. Every show creates superb photographic opportunities. It is really special, and we highly recommended it. In the afternoon we continue north to Thurso and our overnight stop.
First thing this morning we embark on the Northlink Ferry to cross the Pentland Firth to The Orkney Islands. This famous body of water between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea is home to the world’s first commercially functioning Wave Energy facility. During the 90min crossing you will get a fantastic view of the ‘Old Man of Hoy’, a unique geological feature, located on the west side of Hoy,(One of the Orkney Islands). From here we sail up the sound between Hoy and ‘Mainland – bring your camera! Our disembarkation point is Stromness located on the ‘Mainland’. This is the largest of the Orkney Islands and home to world famous archeological sites in this ancient place. Once ashore we start our tour beginning with The Ring of Brodgar. This Neolithic UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most photographed attractions in Orkney – particularly at sunset. The ring was built around 2500-2000BC and covering an area of almost 8,500 square metres. Next to Skara Brae. This stoneage village pre-dates the pyramids, at 3200BC (pyramids 2700BC) and lay undisturbed until a violent storm in 1850 revealed it to the local landowner, William Watt. To his, and our, amazement the village was intact down to the furnishings of the day, and with a good exhibition on site, it is a must see. Next we visit to the area around Scapa Flow and the ‘Atlantic Wall’. This area was home to the Royal Navy’s British Home Fleet in both the World Wars of the 20th century. It was here the whole German Fleet were held captured after the First World War. Their commanders decided to scuttle their battleships in 1919. Ever since their watery wrecks have proved popular with sub-aqua divers ever since. In 1939 German submarines torpedoed HMS Royal Oak here, prompting Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill to order the building of the Atlantic Wall to protect the ships. You will drive over this ‘wall’ and also visit the Italian Chapel which was lovingly constructed by Italian POW’s. Considering the scarcity of materials available to them it is a truly remarkable achievement. Your overnight stop is in the capital of the Orkneys, Kirkwall.
Today we travel across Hoy to Stromness and our ferry back to the Scottish mainland. After a drive along the coast you will arrive early at your hotel in Dornoch. Here is the location of the13th Century Dornoch Cathedral. This beautiful cathedral is where Madonna and Guy Ritchie on the 21st December 2000 had her son Rocco christened, the day before her wedding to Guy Ritchie in nearby Skibo Castle. Dornoch Cathedral is also where the US Tech pioneer Elon Musk married his actress fiancee Talulah Riley in 2010.
Skibo Castle was the Scottish home of US billionaire Andrew Carnegie, who loved the scenery of this part of Scotland.
This morning we head south towards Inverness and then along the Great Glen towards Loch Ness. It has been said that deep in it’s dark deep waters lives a monster! ‘Nessie’, as she is known, and has been sighted on occasions over the years (If you should spot her please take a photo, the National Enquirer will pay big bucks to get the ‘exclusive’!!). Who knows you might be that lucky visitor! If not, just take in the magnificent scenery surrounding this very deep loch. The Great Glen is a geological fault line from Inverness to Fort William and has a series of lochs or lakes along it’s length. The famous early 19th century Scots engineer Thomas Telford constructed a series of canals linking these lochs. This is known as the Caledonian Canal, and an impressive series of canal locks are found at the next destination, Fort Augustus. Here you will also take a trip over the loch in the hope of spotting ‘Nessie’. After the trip we continue down the ‘Great Glen’ towards our next night stop, Fort William. Before stopping we will visit the Commando Memorial, a commemoration to the men from Britain the Commonwealth who trained in this area during the Second World war. The magnificent statue honouring these brave men is in located at a viewing spot that has great views over the Highlands and also to Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
(Overnight Fort William)
After breakfast your driver/guide takes you south past the Ballachulish Bridge to Glencoe. This imposing and dramatic valley (or glen) is where in 1692 the ‘Massacre of Glencoe’ took place. A slaying of 38 members of the Clan MacDonald, brutally massacred by government backed Campbells, a result of the ill feelings during the first Jacobite rebellion of the late 17th century. After Glencoe you will traverse the windswept Rannoch Moor, an unspoilt wilderness of beautiful mountains, lochs and moorland towards Rob Roy country, the Trossachs, and the town of Callander. You must take the opportunity in this charming victorian tourist town to take afternoon tea in one of the many charming tea rooms. So British! Then to Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s most visited attractions, and the place where Mary Queen of Scot’s held her Court. This award winning venue has actors in costume (and character) throughout the castle helping to bring to life this ancient palace and fortress. You can see the ‘Stirling Heids’ and fine tapestries that adorn the rooms of the castle, making it a must for those interested in Scottish history. From Stirling you head into the Loch Lomond National Park and the loch itself. At the southern tip of the loch you will join a boat trip over the calm waters of this large loch. Once finished, your driver will take you to your hotel, on the ‘Bonne bonnie banks of Loch Lomond’.
(Overnight Loch Lomond)
Today you cross back from the Highlands to the Lowlands and head for the largest of Scotland’s cities – Glasgow. As it grew rapidly in the 19th century, it became known as the Victorian City, with extensive selections of Victorian architecture. During the early years of the 20th century this ‘second city of the Empire’ was by far the foremost shipbuilding centre in the world. In the early 1860’s ships commissioned by the Confederate States and built in Glasgow, known as ‘Blockade Runners’ helped the South temporarily survive the Union blockade and extend the American Civil War for two years. You can visit the Riverside Transport Museum that tells the story of the Blockade Runners and the rich history of Glasgow’s shipbuilding and transport past. Additionally, your driver/guide will give you a very informative and full city tour. We recommend the Kelvingrove Museum and Art gallery and also Glasgow Cathedral as must do visits. Late afternoon you will have time to get in some shopping in Glasgow city centre, and then back to your comfortable hotel.
Today your Chauffeur / Guide will take you to Glasgow Airport for your flight home.