North Coast 500 and the Orkney Islands
5 day/4 night tour
Travel north through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs to stunning Glen Coe. Explore Loch Ness and a host of historic sites before setting sail for Orkney. Once there, wander the remains of ancient civilisations, before returning to tour the NC500 route and experience the natural wonders of Smoo Cave and Rogie Falls, the historic battle site of Culloden Moor, and the beauty of the Cairngorms.
Price range: £515-£589
Loch Ness - visit Fort Augustus to take a stroll along the banks or enjoy a “monster” cruise
Helmsdale - learn the sad tale of the Highland Clearances and see the moving Emigrants statue
Stones of Stenness - see the mighty stones that formed a giant ceremonial circle built over 5,000 years ago
North Coast 500 - experience the Scottish drive of a lifetime
Cawdor Castle - discover the exquisite interior and beautiful gardens
Movie locations - Venus Peter, Being Human and The Eagle
Guest house accommodation included
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh/Glasgow - Glen Coe - Inverness
From Edinburgh and Glasgow we set a course due north, threading our way through Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, surrounded by dramatic peaks and tranquil waters. With the bonnie, bonnie banks a-calling, we stop to admire the views and enjoy a morning coffee in the delightful village of Luss.
Stretching ahead of us next is the windswept wilderness of Rannoch Moor, one of Europe’s most unspoilt areas. Venturing through 50 square miles of nature at its rawest, we soon see the majestic mountains of Glen Coe – also known as the ‘Glen of Weeping‘ – rising before us. Such spectacular scenery deserves a closer look, so we pause for a short while before continuing to the bustling town of Fort William.
Later, we enjoy the magnificent splendour of The Great Glen; a jagged furrow carved diagonally through the Highlands. Snaking our way between its many mountains, we pass beautiful lochs fed by the many waterfalls that tumble though the pines. Fort Augustus welcomes us on our next stop beside Loch Ness, where you can take a stroll or hunt for Nessie on an afternoon cruise. From here, we explore the full length of the loch, so keep your eye peeled for its most famous resident!
Day 2 - Inverness - Golspie - Kirkwall
A hearty breakfast prepares us for the second day of our adventure, which sees us head north past Tain and the distinctive Glenmorangie distillery. Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve is our first port of call, where we can enjoy peace and quiet amongst the wildlife.
We enjoy another pause in the planned village of Golspie, before a short trip bring us to the splendid Carn Liath. Set against a stunning North Sea backdrop, the ruins of this ancient broch stir memories of a once-thriving Iron Age settlement.
Moving north, the port of Helmsdale is our next stop, where our history lesson continues. Here, there’s time to study the moving Emigrants statue and learn more about the Highland Clearances that devastated a community centuries before.
Later we head for Gills Bay, where we raise anchor and cross by ferry to the beautiful islands of Orkney. First stop is the moving Italian Chapel, lovingly crafted from a humble Nissen hut by Italian prisoners held there during World War II.
Our day ends gazing out to sea across beautiful Scapa Flow, before we retire to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, our home for the next two nights.
Overnight: Kirkwall (2 nights)
Day 3 - Exploring the Orkney Islands
A day of discovery lies ahead, so another hearty Highland breakfast is on the menu as we prepare to explore Orkney’s abundance of hidden treasures.
The magnificent Stone Age settlement at Skara Brae is our first port of call. Lying hidden for centuries, these Neolihthic homes were only revealed to the world by a storm in 1850. We duly pause awhile, glimpsing Orkney’s fascinating past among the beautifully preserved stone hearths and furniture.
Equally wondrous is our next stop – the Maeshowe cairn. Built almost 5,000 years ago, we descend into its stunning chambered tomb, complete with ancient graffiti daubed by Norse visitors in the 12th century.
Once back into the light, we make our way to one of Orkney’s most celebrated and photographed attractions – the rugged Stones of Stenness. These four proud monoliths each stand 6m tall, and were once part of a mysterious circle whose purpose is now lost to time.
Returning to Kirkwall, there’s time for a stroll around the harbour to work up an appetite before dinner.
Day 4 - Kirkwall - Smoo Cave - Ullapool
We bid farewell to the Orkneys and board our faithful ferry once again. Pulling away from the shore, our 60-minute crossing is accompanied by the many colourful seabirds who soar beside us.
Once on the mainland, it’s a short trip to Thurso, where today’s adventure begins – after a delicious Highland lunch of course. Once replenished, we turn our thoughts to the North Coast 500, on which we will enjoy some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery.
We begin our journey at Tongue and its famous causeway, with panoramic views across the Kyle under the watchful eye of Ben Loyal and Ben Hope. Just up the coast we’ll then explore Britain’s deepest sea inlet beside rugged Loch Eriboll.
Our coach then takes us onwards to the breathtaking Smoo Cave near Durness. Wander inside its 50ft high entrance and marvel at the waterfall cascading inside – a sight not to be missed.
With the scent of history in our nostrils, we continue across Kylesku Bridge to the haunting ruins of Ardvreck Castle. Here, we savour the spellbinding view across Loch Assynt, framed in the distance by the towering Assynt Hills.
From here, we wind our way to the pretty fishing port of Ullapool on Loch Broom, where a relaxing evening awaits.
Day 5 - Ullapool - Culloden Moor - Edinburgh/Glasgow
As the sun rises on our final day, we enjoy breakfast in this charming village, before our coach pulls away through the picturesque countryside of Easter Ross.
Our journey takes us through the tiny village of Garve where, just a short distance away, we can take a leisurely woodland stroll to the tumbling sprays of Rogie Falls. If you’re lucky enough, the wild salmon may even be leaping!
Later, outside Inverness, we visit Culloden Moor, site of the last battle ever fought on British soil. Close your eyes and imagine the clash of steel and smell of gunpowder on that fateful day in 1746 as Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite forces were routed by the British Army.
More history awaits at our next stop as we visit the intriguing chambers of Clava Cairns. Wander among the remains of this ancient cemetery, whose prehistoric stones inspired the Outlander books and TV show.
We continue southwards, driving through the beautifully unspoilt surroundings of the Cairngorms National Park and crossing from Highlands to Lowlands through the ancient Pass of Drumochter.
Our final stop is a fitting one as we sample the Victorian delights of Pitlochry, before meandering through the Kingdom of Fife and across the Firth of Forth back to Edinburgh.
If you started your tour in Glasgow the coach will pause at Edinburgh Waverley Station. Here you catch the express train back to Glasgow. The train operates every 30 minutes and the journey time is only 50 minutes or so. The fare is included in the cost of the tour.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Signature Multi-day Tour?
For the discerning traveller a Signature Multi-day Tour offers amazing value for money, comfortable accommodation, well-paced sightseeing and luxury travel. All of this combines to create the definitive Scottish experience. Each tour is hosted by a professional driver/guide, who has been chosen for their extensive knowledge as well as their driving skills. And being locals you are sure to get that extra insight. If you should have any problems during your stay, they’ll go out of their way to help. You will want to see as much as possible, but you don’t want to be rushed. Our tours are carefully planned to strike the right balance, and as well as comfortable mini/midicoach travel many feature memorable railway or ferry journeys. Having somewhere pleasant to stay after an exciting day of discovery is an important part of your holiday experience. Comfortable guest house accommodation with en-suite bathrooms, tv and other amenities is included in the price of all tours. On many tours you can choose to upgrade to hotel accommodation, at extra cost, if you wish. A tasty Scottish breakfast is included each morning of your stay. If you’ve got more time to spare a series of extraordinary itineraries has been created by combining one or more shorter tours. Seamless in operation these unique holidays allow you to discover even more of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. A feature of these tours is that you will travel with a different driver/guide and fellow travellers for each portion of the itinerary.
Can you tell me more about the optional extras on this tour?
To give you complete choice admission fees are not included in the cost of this tour. The tour itinerary has been designed to provide sufficient time for you to visit these attractions:
If you click on the links above they will provide you with more information on each attraction including current admission prices. In some cases a special discount is offered to tour passengers, your driver/guide will provide details if this applies.
Please note that credit/debit cards are not always accepted so it is recommended that you carry sufficient cash with you should you want to make a visit.
Tell me about my accommodation and which type of room should I choose?
The cost of accommodation in a comfortable guest house/B&B is included in the cost of your tour. The guesthouses and B&Bs are family run and offer comfortable accommodation in bedrooms that have en-suite bathrooms, tv, tea/coffee making facilities and other amenities. Bedding, towels and basic toiletries are provided. Some guesthouses and B&Bs offer enhanced facilities such as a resident’s lounge where you can relax with other guests. Accommodation is spread throughout the communities that we stay in and the guesthouses/B&Bs are seldom more than a 10/15 minute walk from the town or village centre. The coach will drop you off at or close to your accommodation each night and will pick you up in the morning, after breakfast.
Tell me more about the optional Loch Ness Cruise?
Mount your very own Nessie adventure by taking a one hour cruise to explore the deep, dark and mysterious waters of Loch Ness. The cruise boat is equipped with on-board sonar, comfortable seating inside and out as well as toilets. Refreshments are available for purchase or you can bring packed food. You can purchase a ticket from your driver/guide on the day of the tour and payment is in cash only.
What meals are included ?
A full Scottish breakfast is included from day 2 onwards. This hearty meal consists of fruit juice; a choice of cereal; bakery basket; cooked items such as eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomato and, maybe, a taste of haggis! plus tea or coffee. Vegetarian and lighter Continental options are always available. Lunch and dinner are not included in the price. During the touring day there will be a stop where you can enjoy lunch in a local pub or restaurant. Your driver/guide will be happy to suggest a conveniently located restaurant where you can enjoy good food for dinner.
- 4 nights guest house or hotel accommodation
- Location: Inverness (1): Kirkwall, Orkney Islands (2) and Ullapool (1)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (4)
- Transportation by luxury air-conditioned mini/midicoach
- Ferry to the Orkney Islands
- Live commentary in English
- Services of an experienced driver/guide
- Service charges and taxes
- Admission charges
- Meals, snacks or items of a personal nature
- Gratuity to your driver/guide
From Parish Hall Coach Tour Stop
266 George Street
Glasgow G1 1QX
Check-in: 10:00 hrs
Tour Departs: 10:15 hrs
Tour Returns: 20:30 hrs
From The Ensign Ewart
The Royal Mile
Edinburgh EH1 2PE
Check-in: 08:45 hrs
Tour Departs: 09:00 hrs
Tour Returns: 19:30 hrs
Concession discounts apply to adults aged 60 years and above; students and children aged 5 to 15 years inclusive.
We’re really sorry but children aged under 5 years cannot travel on this tour.
Photo-ID may be requested to confirm discount entitlement.
The price of this tour includes guest house accommodation with en-suite bathroom.
If booked in advance you can depart from Glasgow and return to Edinburgh. This facility is available at no extra charge! Please make your selection during the booking process
In order to give you maximum flexibility admission fees are not included in the cost of this tour.
Please see the FAQ section for more information on this tour.
Rating:07 Oct 2019
The tour was brilliant. It exceeded all our expectations. We had never been a coach tour before, but what an experience!!! Excellent 5* Great value for money, excellent accommodation too.Anne from Derby, GB