Edinburgh and Glasgow to Islay (3 nights)
We will spend today touring to the Queen of the Hebrides. From Edinburgh we travel westwards to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. There is sure to be a song in yourt heart as we make our way along the "bonnie, bonnie banks” of Loch Lomond. Enjoy the wonderful views of Ben Lomond as we travel towards the pretty little villages of Crianlarich and Tyndrum.
See the romantic ruin of Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe. For centuries the loch was the natural protection for the Campbells of Inveraray against their enemies from the north. We go through the Pass of Brander, where in 1308 Robert the Bruce routed the Clan MacDougal. Watch out for the Falls of Lora as we make our way into Oban, an attractive fishing port that it is situated on the Firth of Lorne. We will have a chance to discover the bustling community for ourselves when we make a stop for lunch.
From Ardrishaig there are fine views over Loch Fyne all the way to pretty Tarbert from where we turn towards West Loch Tarbert. At the port of Kennacraig we board our ferry for our crossing to Islay.
Overnight: Bowmore, Isle of Islay
Days Two and Three
The exact itinerary for these days will vary depending on weather, seasonal and natural attractions. Our flexible approach will ensure that you get the very best experience.
The island of Islay (pronounced "eye-la”) has always been blessed with nature's bounty - rich farmlands which each autumn witness clouds of geese arriving to winter on the mild pastures. Loch Gruinart in the north is the island's main reserve, with barnacle and white-fronted geese flying in from Greenland. Elsewhere keep your eyes open for golden eagles, seals, otters, whales, dolphins, wild geese, red deer and much more.
Peat is still cut from the mosslands which cover much of the interior, giving the unique flavour to the 'Islay malts' - world-famous whiskies such as Bowmore, Laphroaig and Ardbeg. We’ll make visits to 3 distilleries so you can watch the production process and, even better, sample their delights!
Islay has a number of traditional villages clinging to the rough Atlantic Coastline, ruined castles, golden beaches and a proud Gaelic culture that extends back over a thousand years. A visit to the Kildalton Cross will transport you back in time more than 1200 years and you will discover the ancient seat of the Lords of the Isles at Finlaggan. Bowmore, Islay's main town, has a unique, round church, said to have been designed to ensure that evil spirits had no corner in which to hide.
With two full days to explore the island, you will be spoilt for choice of things to do.
Inveraray and the Rest and be Thankful
Sadly we board our ferry and bid a fond farewell to Islay. On our return to the mainland we will retrace our steps to Lochgilphead then follow the banks of Loch Fyne to Inveraray. This pretty whitewashed town sits in the shadow of Inveraray Castle, the splendid home of the Duke of Argyll, the Chief of the Clan Campbell.
We are in Rob Roy MacGregor country now and as we travel towards the impressive Rest and be Thankful pass there will be stories of cattle rustling and ancient clan rivalries to be told. Our descent will bring us into the Argyll Forest Park and then the little village of Arrochar. A short drive will take us back to Loch Lomond. It has 30 islands and we will get a good views of some of the larger ones as we make our way southwards.
The Kilpatrick Hills will guide us towards Clydebank, the famous shipbuilding town and then Glasgow. Once we have bid farewell to our friends who are leaving us here we travel across Scotland to Edinburgh and the end of our tour.