Edinburgh - Inveraray - Islay
We will spend today touring to the Queen of the Hebrides. From Glasgow we travel westwards past the famous ship-building town of Clydebank. There is sure to be a song in your 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 village of Tarbet.
Our ascent of the impressive Rest and be Thankful Pass will provide wonderful views of Glen Croe. We’ll stop at the summit to admire the panorama from the viewpoint. This part of Scotland has strong connections with Rob Roy MacGregor so as we travel through Glen Kinglas there are sure to be stories of cattle rustling and tales of ancient clan rivalries to be told. Soon we reach the pretty white-washed town of Inveraray which sits at the head of Loch Fyne just a short distance from the impressive castle that is home to the Dukes of Argyll. We’ll make a photo-stop so you can capture the scene.
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: Port Ellen, Isle of Islay (3 nights)
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 will enjoy 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 several 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.
Islay - Kilmartin Glen - Edinburgh/Glasgow
Sadly we board our ferry and bid a fond farewell to Islay. On our return to the mainland we will make the short drive to the attractive fishing port of Tarbert. We’ll make a stop for lunch here so you can enjoy some freshly-landed seafood.
From Lochgilphead we make a detour to visit 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!
Our return journey will take us along the banks of Loch Fyne towards Inveraray then onwards to the Argyll Forest Park and 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 Glasgow where your island adventure will end. If you wish, you can choose to end your journey in Edinburgh (please see the FAQ section below for details).