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Private Tour to Scottish Western Islands and Highlands
Tour Theme: Historic and Cultural Tours
This tour starts from: Edinburgh or Glasgow
Duration: 7 Days / 6 Nights
This is a Private Tour
This tour combines a the most breathtaking sights and scenery of Scotland's Western Isles and Central Highlands; Loch Lomond, Inverary Castle, Oban, Isles of Mull and Iona, Glencoe, Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, and Blair Castle. Our private tours are conducted by Professional Qualified Blue Badge guides accredited from the Scottish Tourist Guide Association. This tour can be customized to your preference. Below are some suggestions for a 7 day itinerary...
Day 1 The first stop off the day is on the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond. At the conservation village of Luss there are great views of the Islands and the dominating mountain of Ben Lomond. We continue our journey to the west highlands and stop for a photo break in the stunning valley, Rest and Be Thankful.
In Inverary we will have time to explore the white-harled Georgian town and visit the impressive Inverary Castle. It is home to the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell, and a great piece of Classical Architecture. Here you have the option of lunch in town, the castle cafe, Loch Fyne Oyster Bar or Fyne Ales Brewery. After lunch we drive through the ancient grounds of Kilmartin with an opportunity to explore some standing stones close up.
Continuing the tour along Loch Fyne we reach Dunnad Hill where you have a chance to walk in the foots steps of the first Kings of Dalriada. Then we will travel through the dramatic landscape of Kilmartin Glen. This is where some of Scotland's first civilization started. There are ancient stone circles and cairns scattered through out the region. We will have some time to walk around the stones at Temple Wood.
Finally reaching the Victorian seaside town of Oban, also known as the Gateway to the Western Isles. Its ferry port serves routes to a few islands of the Inner Hebrides.
Day 2 In the morning we will take an early ferry across to Craignure. Here we start our journey through the mountainous Isle of Mull. It is normally the last mountain climbed by Munro Baggers. We also pass by the 14th century Castle Duart, home to the clan Mclean.
We finally reach Fionnphort to take the short ferry to the Isle of Iona. This island houses a small community but was once the first religious centre in Scotland. In the 500s St Columba arrived to the west coast of Scotland to spread Christianity. But after many violent attacks from the Vikings they were force to move inland. Iona Abbey was rebuilt in 1938 but many of the original High Stone Crosses still surround it.
Then you will have the option to take the rocky boat ride out to the secluded Isle of Staffa. This island is a unique rock formation on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It was the inspiration for the Hebrides Overture and cave once visited by Queen Victorian. While on the island you will have a chance to climb the cliff stairs to walk on the uninhabited island. You can also make your way around the island into the famous Fingal's Cave. It is a 2 hour boat ride so if you don't feel comfortable with this we can go back to Mull and visit it's capital town of Tobermory.
Overnight in Oban
Day 3 In the morning we can either visit Oban Distillery or go to the medieval Dunstaffnage Castle which was once home to the Clan Macdougall then later the Campbells. The castle contains a huge curtain wall, 18th century New House where Flora MacDonald was held prisoner and a 13th century chapel tucked away amongst the trees. After we continue our drive up the northern coast stopping for a view of Castle Stalker, better known as Castle Arrrrrrrrrrgh from Monty Python.
After we go to the dramatic landscape of Glencoe. A very historic region, home to Clan MacDonald and a horrific massacre in 1692. Also used in movies including Bollywood’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and James Bond: Skyfall.
Ending the day in the Highland Town of Fort William. Considered the outdoor sports capital of Scotland you will see many adventurous people in town. There is not much of the fort left but when taking a stroll of the town you can explore the one remaining corner. If there is time we can visit Inverlochy Castle, sitting in ruins it is was the major stronghold along River Lochy.
Overnight Fort William
Day 4 In the morning you will take a ride on the fantastic Jacobite Steam Train. The train operated from 1901 to 1967, but then reinstated in 1984. Harry Potter style cabins are available but limited.
There is a stop at the Glenfinnan Viaduct which was used in the movie for the Hogwarts Express. The Viaduct itself was built during the construction of the rail line by Robert MacAlpine otherwise known as Concrete Bob as that was the material used. The train lets you off at the seaside town of Mallaig.
From here we take the ferry Over the Sea to Skye. It's a short 30minute crossing with, once more, opportunities to capture stunning photos to amaze your friends! In the town of Armadale is the Clan Donald centre which tells the tumultuous tale of the Clan and the island. The gardens are stunning and varied with many rare plants flourishing.
We then drive through the diverse scenery only Skye can offer. From rugged mountain to heather covered moors to sand covered shores, the drive itself is yet another highlight of this tour.
Overnight will be in Broadford or Portree
Day 5 This is a full day of discovering the Misty Isle with lots of options for places to visit. We will not be able to see all of the below but these are some options. You can discuss these options with your guide when on tour…
Northern Skye landscapes and geological formations make you feel as if you are on another planet. With some of the oldest rock in the world you will be walking in the footsteps of the dinosaurs. Take a journey up to the Trotternish Peninsula with some great photographic opportunities, places like Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and The Quiraing.
The Museum of Island Life has a display of thatched cottages as they would have been up to the 18th century. Not far is Kilmuir Cemetery, the resting place of Flora MacDonald who aided Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape the government troops over the Sea to Skye. Uig is a pretty horseshoe shaped bay where the ferries depart for the Outer Hebrides. For those with an adventurous imagination we can visit the Fairy Glen (not with coaches).
Dunvegan Castle in Waternish is one of the most continuously in habited castles in Scotland. It has been a stronghold for the Chiefs of Macleod for nearly 800 years. In the town of Dunvegan is the Giant Macaskill Museum, the past home to a real life giant of 7ft9, see the special made furniture on display. (Photo Attributes: dfritzon)
For those whisky lovers there is also an opportunity to visit Talisker Distillery. Similar to other island whiskies peat is used to give a smoky fiery flavour.
Overnight will be in Broadford or Portree (option to customise tour and have the 2nd overnight on the shores of Loch Ness)
Day 6 Crossing to the mainland over the Skye Bridge we begin a spectacular journey towards Inverness. We stop first at the 'must-see' Scottish castle Eilean Donan Castle, an iconic image of Highland Scotland and used as the backdrop for the movie Highlander. It was perfectly restored after naval bombardment in 1719.
Next the tour takes us past the five distinctly pointed summits of the Five Sisters of Kintail - a high mountain ridge rising steeply from valley floor to 3,501 feet. Here in Glen Shiel we see the site of a battle fought in the same 1719 campaign.
We then go to the famous Loch Ness where you will have a few options to explore. 1. An hour cruise from Fort Augustus on ships with sonars to hunt the monster, 2. Visit Urquhart Castle with or without 30min cruise of loch, 3.Visit Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and learn all about the research of Nessie, 4. Spend some time exploring Loch Ness by foot at Fort Augustus.
Inverness is the capital of the highlands sitting on the River Ness. A city full of history and interesting buildings. This is where we will stop for the night.
Overnight in Inverness
Day 7 Our tour today first takes us to Culloden battlefield, the moor where the last pitched battle in Britain took place. We tour the battlefield and visitor centre to learn about the battle and its bloody aftermath. This battle saw the last hopes of Bonnie Prince Charlie taking the British Throne lost forever, the aftermath changed Highland culture forever
After we then visit Blair Castle which is lays in a fairytale like setting. The castle has its origins from medieval times and was visited by Mary Queen of Scots. Later transformed into a Georgian Mansion then a Victoria Castle. The castle is open to the public during the summer months. (Photo Attributes: Bob the courier)
We then make the end part of our week long journey through the Cairngorm Mountains. We stop at Pitlochry; a pretty Victorian village on the banks of River Tummel. The last stop will be at South Queensferry for views of the magnificent Forth Bridges. Reaching Edinburgh about 6.30-7pm
Note there is also an option to start or end in Glasgow. Itinerary will be slightly altered. Enquire for details.
Private Tour to Loch Lomond, Inverary Castle, Oban, Isles of Mull and Iona, Glencoe, Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, and Blair Castle
Operated by: Go Scotland Tours Rank 8
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