Orkney and Scotland's Northern Coast
from EdinburghTour Highlights: Callander, Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Loch Ness, Inverness, John O’Groats, Ferry Crossing to the Orkney Islands, Kirkwall, St Magnus Cathedral, Sightseeing on Orkney, Assynt, Ullapool, Corrieshalloch Gorge, Clava Cairns and the Cairngorm National Park.
Orkney Explorer – escape to Scotland’s northern extremes. A tour to treasure for a lifetime. Discover the magical beauty and prehistoric history of the Orkney archipelago, the rugged extremes of Scotland’s northern coastline, Loch Ness and the Caledonian forests of the Cairngorm National Park.
Edinburgh to Inverness
We leave Edinburgh behind and travel towards Stirling, passing Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. You also pass Doune Castle (set of Monty Python's "Holy Grail") before stopping in the small town of Callander for a refreshment stop.
We now drive along the splendour of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle and Glen Dochart, as you travel north over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor into Glencoe. The stunning views and spectacular landscapes of our own super (extinct) volcano and scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692.
We continue north up the Great Glen to the mysterious beauty of Loch Ness, travelling the whole 23 miles of the famous Loch - plenty of time to try and spot "Nessie!" The evening in Inverness will be free for you to explore the 'Capital of the Highlands'.
Inverness to Orkney (2 nights)
Today sees an early start, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie's Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery, with views of some of Europe's oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer.
At Scotland's most northerly mainland village, John o' Groats we board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. It is a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where we stop for a visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, where we stay for 2 nights. Visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral and its historic winding streets.
Overnight: Kirkwall (Orkney)
Explore this fantastic ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Highlights include a visit to Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar, the standing stones of Stenness, and Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions.
Orkney to Ullapool
Time to leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland.
From here we travel right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coastline. You then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. We continue to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village.
Ullapool to Edinburgh
Your morning includes visits to Corrieshalloch Gorge, the ancient Clava Cairns and the more recent bloody history of the Culloden battlefield, before returning south through the grandeur of the Cairngorm National Park, the ancient Caledonian pine forest and Highland Perthshire to Edinburgh