Skye, Orkney and the Highlands - 8 day tour
Skye, Orkney and the Highlands
8 day/ 7 night tour
This comprehensive tour of Scotland's Highlands and Islands is the perfect balance of discovery, travel and hospitality. A relaxed two night stay on both Skye and Orkney provides the perfect opportunity for in-depth sightseeing of these legendary isles. Back on the mainland there is much to enjoy including Loch Ness, ancient Kilmartin Glen and even, on some departures, a journey on the Jacobite Steam Train, the real Hogwarts Express!
Price range: £ 990 £1,345
Oban - enjoy an overnight stay in this bustling fishing port known as Scotland’s seafood Capital
Isle of Skye - explore the majestic scenery of this famed island including the stunning Cuillin Hills and the lunar landscape of Trotternish
North Coast 500 - experience amazing seascapes as you travel along Scotland’s Route 66
Orkney Islands - visit iconic pre-historic sites including Skara Brae, Maeshowe and the mysterious Ring of Brodgar
Culloden Moor - discover the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite rebellion
Movie locations - Harry Potter, Stardust and Made of Honour
Guest house accommodation included - hotel upgrade option available
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh - Inveraray - 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. 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! We’ll make a stop in the pretty village of Luss so you can take a stroll by the "bonnie, bonnie banks".
The Argyll Forest Park is famed for its 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 Inveraray 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.
Day 2 - Oban - Glen Coe - Isle of Skye
We bid farewell to Oban and make our way to the Connel Bridge. As we cross Loch Etive lookout for the Falls of Lora below. Glen Coe is arguably Scotland's most famous Glen partly because of its 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-1900s. The town sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis, which, at 4,406 feet, is the tallest mountain in the UK.
Here we leave our tour coach and board the Jacobite Steam Train for a journey of a lifetime on the famous West Highland Line – regarded by many as the most scenic in Britain!
From Fort William the train travels along the banks of Loch Eil then crosses the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured in the Harry Potter movies as part of the route to Hogwarts. Look out for the Glenfinnan Monument built to commemorate the ill-fated Jacobite up-rising of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. The scenic journey continues with wonderful views of Lochs Eilt, Ailort and nan Uamh before reaching the silver sands of Morar (made famous in the popular film Local Hero) and Mallaig. After some free time to enjoy the views over the Sound of Sleat to the Magical Isle we board a ferry for our crossing "Over the sea to Skye”.
A short drive brings us to Kyleakin, our home for the next two nights.
Departures of 18 May to 7 September 2020 will travel on the Jacobite Steam Train. All other departures will include a cruise on Loch Ness and admission to Urquhart Castle.
Overnight: Kyleakin, Isle of Skye (2 nights)
Day 3 - Isle of Skye Excursion
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 largest community on the Isle of Skye. 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.
Later we tour 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 that are known as the "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 can snap an "I was there" photograph!
Day 4 - Isle of Skye - Eilean Donan Castle - Loch Ness
After breakfast, we bid farewell to the Isle of Skye and return to the mainland. We stop 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.
There are wonderful views at every turn as we travel through Glen Shiel. Look out for the soaring peaks of the mountain range known as the "Five Sisters of Kintail". They make a magnificent sight.
From Invermoriston we follow the banks of enigmatic Loch Ness to the little village of Drumnadrochit. There’s an extended stop here so you can relax in this pleasant Highland village. Alternatively, you can take the opportunity of visiting Urquhart Castle, once one of the largest fortresses in the Highlands and take a short monster-spotting cruise on Loch Ness.
Later we will make our way to Fort Augustus our home for tonight.
Overnight: Fort Augustus
Day 5 - Fort Augustus - Inverness - Kirkwall (Orkney Islands)
Today we have an early start as we drive to Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands. From Inverness, we join the famous North Coast 500 route and make our way across the Black Isle across the Cromarty and Dornoch firths. From here we drive along the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery. This is some of Europe's oldest landscapes and here we have the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer.
We board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. On our arrival, it is a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where few will fail to be moved by the dedicated workmanship of the Italian prisoners of war who crafted this place of worship from a humble Nissan hut. Their story and many others will be told as we view Scapa Flow, the scene of momentous events during both World Wars.
The Viking stronghold of Kirkwall is our home for the next 2 nights.
Overnight: Kirkwall (2 nights)
Day 6 - Exploring the Orkney Islands
Orkney is home to many outstanding historic treasures and today will be a unique day of discovery. On our itinerary today are visits to Maeshowe, a magnificent tomb built almost 5,000 years ago and the Ring of Brodgar, a stone circle that once comprised of 60 megaliths. Today with 27 stones still standing, some over 5 metres tall, it takes little imagination to visualise the extent of this historic monument.
Uncovered by a storm in 1850 Skara Brae is one of the best-preserved groups of Stone Age houses in Western Europe and our visit will reveal the stone furniture, hearths and drains that present such a remarkable picture of Neolithic life.
The day will finish with a visit to beautiful St Magnus Cathedral, one of Europe’s great architectural achievements and over 800 years old.
Day 7 - Kirkwall - Dunrobin Castle - Inverness
We have a relaxed start today with free time in Kirkwall before joining the coach for the drive to South Ronaldsay where we board the ferry back to mainland Scotland. On arrival at Gills Bay, we join the scenic coastal route for our journey southwards to Inverness.
Just outside Golspie lies magnificent Dunrobin Castle, the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses. This grand chateau-like castle is the home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland and it has a commanding position overlooking the Moray Firth. We’ll make a stop so you can visit this splendid castle and tour some of its 189 rooms and take a stroll through the extensive gardens.
Later we’ll make our way to the Black Isle and across the Kessock Bridge into Inverness.
Day 8 - Inverness - Culloden Moor - Edinburgh
After breakfast, we travel the short distance to visit tragic Culloden Moor. It was here that the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was routed by Government troops in a bloody battle in 1746.
Cairngorms National Park is Britain’s largest and contains five of Scotland’s six highest peaks. The park provides a stunning backdrop to our travels through the Spey Valley then we descend through the Drumochter Pass to reach the pleasant Victorian tourist town of Pitlochry where we will stop for refreshments.
The dramatic scenery of Highland Perthshire gives way to rolling farmland as we reach the "Fair City” of Perth then we join the motorway for our journey through the ancient Kingdom of Fife. The final part of our drive offers wonderful views of the Forth Bridge as we make our way into Edinburgh.
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 maximum flexibility the cost of admission fees and other optional extras are not included in the tour price. This gives you complete freedom to choose as the mood takes you. On this tour there are optional visits to:
Following the link above will give you more information on these attractions including current admission prices. At some locations a special discount is offered to tour participants, your driver/guide will give you more information if this applies. Credit/debit cards are not always accepted so you should plan to have sufficient cash with you should you wish to make any visits.
What is the journey on the Jacobite Steam Train like?
Described as one of the great railway journeys of the world this 42 mile one-way trip takes you past a list of impressive extremes. Starting near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, it visits Britain’s most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; passes close by the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar and the shortest river in Britain, River Morar, finally arriving next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis! The train will cross the 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct (a location made famous in the Harry Potter films) which overlooks Loch Shiel and the Jacobite monument. The train may pause on the viaduct, time permitting, to allow you to take in the magnificent view. On some tours the route may be reversed.
What type of room should I choose?
There are different bedrooms types to choose from, here is what you can expect: Single room - one person sleeping in a single bed. Twin room - two people sleeping in two separate beds. Double room - two people sharing one large bed. Family room - three people sharing a room sleeping in one large bed (2 people) and one single bed (1 person). Please note that a family room can be a standard double room with either a sofa bed or a rollaway bed.
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.
- 7 nights guest house or hotel accommodation
- Location: Oban (1); Isle of Skye (2); Fort Augustus (1); Kirkwall, Orkney Islands (2) and Inverness (1)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (7)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- One way Jacobite Steam Train trip on the West Highland Railway Line (18 May to 7 September 2020 departures only)
- Admission to Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness Cruise (all other departure dates)
- Transportation by luxury air-conditioned mini/midicoach
- 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 1 Parliament Square
Royal Mile/High Street
Edinburgh EH1 1RE
Check-in: 08:15 hrs
Tour Departs: 08:30 hrs
Tour Returns: 19:00 hrs
Concession discount applies to adults aged 60 years and above; students and children aged 3 to 15 years inclusive.
We’re really sorry but children aged under 3 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. You can up-grade to hotel accommodation at extra cost during the booking process.
Please note that due to a lack of suitable hotel accommodation your stay on the Isle of Skye will be in a superior guest house.
One medium sized suitcase/bag per person (maximum weight: 15 kilos)
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.
Blogs and Guides - discover insider tips and ideas
Customer Reviews Overall Rating:
Rating:17 May 2018
Andrew was an amazing tour guide!! Very knowledgeable about everything and could very easily answer any questions we had. The tour itself was also fantastic and had the perfect amount of stops and perfect amount of time spent at each place. I would highly recommend this tour to lots of people.Madeline from Canada,
Rating:17 Sep 2017
Very nice tour and good quality service! Only comments: it was really hot this summer and the airco in the bus didn't work well; a bit more practical information in advance would be nice (for instance after 5 days we had to change to another bus and guide).from 0,
Rating:16 Sep 2017
This was one of the best tours we have been on for so many different reasons. The Guides are not only drivers they are historians and give you the scientific reasoning for the formation of different mountains and escarpments but also the local legends behind each one. We had one issue with one accommodation we had booked, it was not as advertised. I sent 1 email, and by the end of the following day we had a credit to our credit card for more than I would have accepted as being fair. On an overall basis I would highly recommend this or any other tour from this company. You will not be disappointed.Marty from Ontario,