The tour of dreams - 9 days to enjoy 5 fantastic west coast islands and the prehistoric beauty and history of the northern Orkney islands.
Tour highlights include the rolling splendour of the island of Mull, the peace and spirituality of Columba’s Iona, with an optional visit to the breathtaking and musical island of Staffa, followed by the dramatic beauty of our most famous of Islands, Skye. Let the ‘misty island’ enchant you with her incredible bounty before heading to the Orkney archipelago, rich in its archaeological treasures. Highlights also include infamous Glencoe, the national park and bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, Eilean Donan castle, and no trip would be complete without a visit to the eerie shores of Loch Ness.
DAY 1: EDINBURGH - STIRLING - LOCH LOMOND - WEST HIGHLANDS - OBAN
Taking you north passed Stirling castle, and then west to Scotland's first National Park around Loch Lomond, and the bonny banks". You will travel through the impressive mountains of the West Highlands through the magnificent white-washed 18th Century town of Inveraray, home to the Campbell Clan and the Duke of Argyll. The afternoon will be spent in the heart of Argyll exploring the area close to the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada before arriving in bustling town of Oban, the gateway to the islands, for your 2 night stay.
DAY 2: OBAN - MULL - IONA - STAFFA - OBAN
An early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the island of Staffa (except Saturday departures in September) and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture "Fingal's Cave". You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.
DAY 3: OBAN - GLENCOE - FORT WILLIAM - GLENFINNAN - POTREE (SKYE)
We go north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker, and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. You then pass through Fort William nestling in the shadow of Ben Nevis which at 1344 meters is the highest mountain in the British Isles. We continue through the Great Glen a natural fault in the earth’s crust that runs through Scotland and on through Ireland. From here you travel north to the picturesque fishing village of Plockton. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.
DAY 4: A DAY TRAVELLING AROUND SKYE
A very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and we take passengers preferences into account. For example: heading west towards the 13th century home of the Clan Macleod - Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale or the dramatic seacliffs and lonely lighthouse at Neist Point. In the afternoon the tour may concentrate on the south of the island. Spend time heading down to Elgol for seascapes and views of the Cuillin, or Talisker and its beautiful bay or perhaps Glenbrittle and its famed waterfalls. We return you to your accommodation in Plockton in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.
DAY 5: POTREE - LOCH NESS - INVERNESS
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. We will stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders. The travel east for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. Onto Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting "Nessie".
Half an hour south of Loch Ness you will stop in the village of Spean Bridge and join a new bus for the continuation of your tour to Orkney. Your guides will help you transfer your luggage and introduce you to your new travelling companions.
There is a boat trip (Summer only) available here that will get you that bit closer! At Loch Ness you will join up with the tour travelling to Orkney and the Far North. With your new crew you will continue north following the Great Glen travelling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch passing by Urquhart castle. You can expect to arrive in Inverness, the Highland capital, and the place of our overnight stay at approx 18.30 where you will be dropped off at your pre booked accommodation .
DAY 6: INVERNESS - BLACK ISLE - JOHN O'GROATS - KIRKWALL
Today is an early start, leaving behind the 'Capital of the Highlands', 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, and enjoy amazing views of some of Europe's oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer. Onwards through Scotland's most northerly mainland village, John o' Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here you have a short drive to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney, where you can visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral, and where you shall stay for 2 nights.
DAY 7: KIRKWALL - SKARA BRAE - BRODGAR - STENNESS - STROMNESS - MAESHOWE - KIRKWALL
A chance to 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. You will visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. We stop in Stromness - one of Scotland's most picturesque seaboard villages and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then its back to Kirkwall for our 2nd night after what is sure to be a memorable day.
DAY 8: KIRKWALL - JOHN O'GROATS - ARDVRECK CASTLE - ULLAPOOL
A relaxed start to the day, as you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here you travel the old road 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. We 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. From here we travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where we spent our last night's stay on tour.
DAY 9: ULLAPOOL - RIVER DORMA - CULLODEN MOOR - CLAVA CAIRNS - CAIRNGORMS - EDINBURGH
Leaving Ullapool behind you, you take in the drama of the River Dorma as it plunges 60m down into Corrieshalloch Gorge, before taking in the beautiful Loch Glascarnoch, on the way past the 'Capital of the Highlands' Inverness. You can then visit Culloden Moor, the site of The Battle of Culloden in 1746, one of the bloodiest events in our history and the last battle to have been fought on the British mainland, before taking a short drive to the ancient standing stones at Clava Cairns, made famous by Diana Gabaldon in the Outlander books. This prehistoric and stunning Bronze Age burial ground is one of the oldest in Scotland. From here you travel through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, hugging the Cairngorm mountain range. Lunch will be spent in these beautiful surroundings before travelling through big tree country of Perthshire, through the Kingdom of Fife, and back to Edinburgh around 19.00.
For departure details refer to the "Prices, Dates, and What's Included" Section...
Iona, Mull, Staffa, Skye and Orkney 9 Day Tour
Prices, Dates & What's Included:
Departs: 09:00 | Returns: 19:00 approx
Departure Point: Tour departs from Gate J & Gate K, Edinburgh Bus Station, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
Departs: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - April 1 to September 28 (except June 15, June 17, June 19 and June 21 )
Prices Per Person (including accommodation)
B&B Double/Twin Room Price From £1,118 to £1,298 (GBP)
B&B Single Room Price £1,224 to £1,408 (GBP)
Hotel Double/Twin Room Price £1,274 to £1,454 (GBP)
Hotel Single Room Price £1,510 to £1,690 (GBP)
Click Book This Tour to find pricing on specific dates
Unless otherwise notified passengers are restricted to one medium sized suitcase/bag (maximum 14 kilos / 55cm x 45cm x 25cm / 22in x 17in x 10in) and one carry-on bag per person.
**children under 5 years of age are not accepted. See below for more price notes