Road to the Isles
This comprehensive tour of the Scottish Highlands is the perfect balance of exploration, travel and hospitality. In just 5 days you'll get real insight into the nature, history and scenic beauty of Scotland.
Edinburgh to Oban
Departing from Edinburgh we travel westwards across Scotland to reach Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. Soon we enter the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, a natural wonder that is just waiting to be discovered. The "bonnie, bonnie banks" of Loch Lomond is a real highlight. This is Britain's largest lake and one of Scotland's loveliest. It has 30 islands, including one inhabited by a colony of wallabies!
The Argyll Forest Park is famed for it’s ancient trees, tranquil lochs and mountains. Look out for Ben Arthur, affectionately known as "The Cobbler” - it’s one of Scotland’s most popular climbs.
Soon our coach starts our ascent of the "Rest and be Thankful” mountain pass. You’ll soon realise why this road has such an unusual name when you look down on General Wade's original road that winds its way through Glen Croe all the way to the summit!
The 3rd Duke of Argyll built the "new" town of Inveraray at the head of Loch Fyne. The town sits in the shadow of his castle and, as we will discover, this pleasant town retains much of its 18th Century charm.
From Lochgilphead we enter Kilmartin Glen. This mysterious Glen has one of the most concentrated areas of prehistoric sites in Scotland including a linear cemetery – a line of burial cairns that stretch for over 2 miles. Nearby is Dunadd, a hill fort that dates from the Iron Age. Dunadd was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada so this part of Argyll has played an important part in the creation of modern Scotland!
Soon we arrive in the bustling, beautiful port of Oban, our stop for tonight. Oban is the gateway to the isles so why not take a pre-dinner stroll and admire the views over the busy harbour.
Oban to Skye (2 nights)
We bid farewell to Oban and make our way to the Connel Bridge. As we cross Loch Etive look out for the Falls of Lora below.
Glen Coe is arguably Scotland's most famous Glen partly because of it's awe-inspiring beauty and, more sinisterly, because of the infamous massacre that took place here in 1692. The sad tale will be told as we make a short diversion to explore this special place for ourselves.
Fort William's glorious setting on the banks of Loch Linnhe has made it a popular tourist destination since the arrival of the steamships in the mid-1900's. The town sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis, which, at 4,406 feet, is the tallest mountain in the UK. If the weather is kind to us we should hopefully get a good view of "The Ben" as we leave the town.
We’re now entering the Great Glen, a valley that extends from east to west through the Highlands. The famous engineer Thomas Telford ingeniously incorporated the three lochs that make the Great Glen so special when he constructed the Caledonian Canal. The canal allows boats to sail between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and we will see large parts of the canal as we travel through Lochaber.
Glen Shiel is home to the "Five Sisters", a range of five mountains of which 4 are over 3,000 feet high. Soon we will pass the site of the 1719 "Battle of Glen Shiel" which strangely involved Spanish troops and highlanders fighting on the same side!
Soon we’ll catch our first view of Skye, home to some of Scotland’s finest landscapes. From Kyle of Lochalsh we make the short drive by bridge "over the sea to Skye” brings us to the little village of Kyleakin where we will spend the next two nights.
Overnight: Kyleakin, Isle of Skye
The Magical Isle
After breakfast we board our coach for a wonderful day of exploration. From the little villages and gentle scenery of the southern part of the island the views will change dramatically as the Cuillin Hills come into sight. Considered by many to be amongst the finest hills in Britain the Cuillins present a vista that is simply unforgettable.
Set round its natural harbour the picturesque town of Portree is the island's largest community. The name of the town means the "King's Port" following a visit by King James V in 1540. Today the pretty painted houses which surround the harbour give Portree an old fashioned appeal. During our stop there will be time to explore the town and browse the interesting shops that surround Sumerled Square.
The next part of our excursion is to the famed Trotternish Peninsula. From Portree we travel northwards to the little ferry port of Uig from where ferries sail to the Outer Herbrides. At little Kilmuir there is a monument to Flora MacDonald who, famously, assisted Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape the Government Troops who were hunting for him.
We'll stop to explore The Quiraing, a dramatic terrain formed by a landslide. We'll stop so you can walk through a landscape that dates from Jurassic times! See if you can identify the rock formations thatare known asthe "Needle", "Table" and "Prison". A short drive brings us to Kilt Rock, so named because the basalt columns of this rock fall to resemble the pleats of a kilt -we will stop so you cansnap an"I was there" photograph!
Scenic Torridon and Glen Affric
We bid farewell to the Isle of Skye and return to the mainland to visit picturesque Eilean Donan Castle. This is, without doubt, one of Scotland's most iconic sights. The castle stands on a little island situated at the confluence of Loch's Alsh and Duich. We'll have time to discover the castle for ourselves during our stop here.
The dramatic scenery of Torridon is our next treat. The mountains, which offer possibly the most impressive skyline in the Highlands, attract outdoor sports enthusiasts from all over the World. The craggy peaks of Beinn Alligin, Liathach and Beinn Eighe form a wild backdrop that is sure to amaze you. Wildlife thrives in this part of Scotland so as we drive through this striking scenery keep a watch out for local residents such as red deer, golden eagles and pine martins.
Bonnie Glen Affric is considered by many to be Scotland's most picturesque Glen. It extends over some 15 miles and is the very epitome of a highland glen. Once the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest covered most of Scotland but now the largest surviving part of the forest is to be found here in Glen Affric. During our time in the glen you'll have time to walk amongst the trees and step back in time to the last Ice Age!
We overnight in a little village close to the banks of Loch Ness.
Overnight: Drumnadrochit (Loch Ness)
Loch Ness, Culloden Moor and Perthshire
After a hearty breakfast there's much to enjoy in our Highland surroundings. Why not visit the Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition to get the story of the area's most famous resident or mount a "Nessie" spotting trip of your own by taking a cruise on the loch?
A short drive will take us to Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, and then on to desolate Culloden Moor was the site of the last battle ever fought on British soil. The Jacobite troops of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the British Army under the command of the Duke of Cumberland clashed here in bloody battle. The Jacobites were routed and in the aftermath Highland life changed forever. We'll make a stop so that you can discover more about the battle andits dramatic consequences.
The Cairngorm National Park is an area of stunning natural beauty, as we will discover. As we journey through the Spey Valley the Cairngorm Mountains, which rise to over 4000 feet, provide a striking backdrop.
There are fine views of Blair Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Atholl – the only man allowed to have their own private army, The Atholl Highlanders. Wild mountain vistas surround us as we descend the Drumochter Pass, the main route into the highlands since the earliest of times. We’ll make a stop in the pretty town of Pitlochry a gloriously colourful and vibrant Victorian town surrounded by the most resplendent mountain scenery in Europe. It's fame as a holiday resort dates from the 1860s and was a popular destination with Queen Victoria. We’ll spend time here so you soak up the atmosphere of this picturesque little town.
The final part of our journey together takes us through the heart of Highland Perthshire. As we travel southwards past the twin villages of Dunkeld and Birnam you will discover why this part of Scotland is called "Big Tree Country”!! From Perth we join the highway for the short journey to Edinburgh or Glasgow.