We meet in one of the most iconic and beautiful cities in the world, Edinburgh. We can either pick you up from the airport, or at a previously arranged location around mid-morning. Once the group is assembled, the tour will begin with us heading west, to explore one of Scotland’s oldest fortresses, Dumbarton Castle.
Overlooking the River Clyde, this stronghold is spectacularly sited on a volcanic rock formation and has libraries of stories to tell. Dumbarton Castle has witnessed much of the country’s tumultuous past, including connections to William Wallace, more universally known by Mel Gibson’s depiction of him in ‘Braveheart’, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
By late afternoon, it’ll be time for lunch. If you like oysters as much as we do, Loch Fyne and its popular seafood bars are the place to be! If you’re less inclined towards seafood, don’t worry! There’s plenty of other seasonal options for those looking for something a little less aquatic.
We’ll spend the night together in Inveraray, a charming town on the shores of Loch Fyne. Relax and unwind as you gaze over the calming, still waters of Loch Fyne and prepare for the days to follow.
After a hearty traditional breakfast, we’ll set out to uncover Scotland’s vast prehistoric history. A local guide will accompany us for a walk through Kilmartin Glen, one of the country’s most important sites of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains. We can also climb Fort Dunadd and crown ourselves amongst the ancient kings of Dál Riata. The view from the citadel is definitely worth the walk up!
For lunch we can either settle down in the cosy cafe of the Kilmartin Museum, or head to Oban, a quaint fishing village often called the “Gateway to the Western Isles”.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, the next stage of our tour should really pique your interest, as we’ll be heading to the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct. The viaduct is famously depicted in the Harry Potter films as the railway line that carries the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, you definitely don’t need to be JK Rowling’s biggest fan to enjoy the afternoon, as Glenfinnan attracts thousands of visitors from all around the world due to its stunning surroundings and the iconic Jacobite steam train that runs along it from Glenfinnan to Fort William and Mallaig. We will also take a closer look at Bonnie Prince Charlie’s story and the Jacobite Risings of 1745 at the Glenfinnan Monument Visitors Centre.
We’ll spend the night in the stunning port of Mallaig. Its remote location makes it the perfect place to relax as you enjoy wonderful views over the Mallaig harbour.
From Sea to Skye! The third day of our Nature & Castles Edinburgh trip is a beautiful one. Today we will be taking a ferry over to the truly magical Isle of Skye. Home to some of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes, you won’t be disappointed as you take in the surreal mountains and endless coastline views.
Make sure you’re wearing your sturdiest walking boots! After a scenic drive, we will explore the stunning Quiraing area by foot. A photographer’s paradise, the Quiraing was formed by a landslip which created high cliffs, hidden plateaus and pinnacles of rock. Next on our itinerary (time permitting) will be the Fairy Pools of Skye. Like something out of a fantasy novel, these aptly named natural rock pools are fed by a series of waterfalls. You won’t be able to resist the crystal-clear marine water, so be sure to bring your swimming costume with you, just in case!
In the afternoon, we will head further north to Gairloch. Of course, we will stop on the way for a photo opportunity at Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scotland‘s most iconic fortresses and, coincidentally, one of the most photographed monuments in Scotland!
After a day full of scenic highlights, we will spend the night in Gairloch, situated on the beautiful Northwest coast of Scotland. After a full day of thrilling natural beauty, you couldn’t expect it gets much better, until you’re surrounded by the awe-inspiring scenery of Wester Ross. How could you not fall into the most peaceful of sleeps after a day like that?
After breakfast overlooking stunning coastal views, we’ll head to one of the most northerly botanical gardens in the world; Inverewe Gardens. We’ll take a stroll amongst exotic flowers, while enjoying extensive views over Loch Ewe.
We’ll make a stop at the Corrieshalloch Gorge, a plunging 60-meter-deep canyon with the 46-meter cascading ‘Falls of Measach’ waterfall flowing from its mouth. Over 13,000 years old, it’s a true gem of the Highlands, and a wonder to see. If you’re feeling brave, we’ll cross the gorge over a 25-meter-long Victorian footbridge, which was constructed by Sir John Fowler; one of the designers of the iconic Forth Bridge in Edinburgh.
We will then discover the fascinating geological past of Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve; a place where you can literally bridge 500 million years of history with your bare hands! You’ll learn the aspects of this geological phenomenon in-depth on the tour. The reserve is shadowed by the iconic peak of Stac Pollaidh, so there’ll be plenty of photos to take! We’ll head off for a well-earned coffee break at the Falls of Shin Cafe, one of the best places to see wild Salmon jumping upstream.
We’ll end the day in the idyllic seaside resort of Dornoch, on the rugged east coast of Sutherland. After a good night’s rest, we hope you’ll be geared up and excited for what’s in store tomorrow!
If we’re lucky, this will be the perfect day for seal spotting! But in any case, a magical fairytale castle awaits. Dunrobin Castle is owned by the Earl of Sutherland, boasting stunning gardens and falconry show that isn’t to be missed!
Following an in-depth guided tour, it’ll be time to enjoy a well-deserved ale or scotch in the beautiful Scottish Highlands setting. And what better place for that than the Black Isle Brewery, one of Scotland’s first independent breweries dedicated to the sole use of organic products!
On our way to tonight’s accommodation, we’ll pass Cawdor, a small historic hamlet where time seems to stand still; before finally reaching Speyside, Scotland’s whisky paradise!
For all of you whisky lovers, today is going to be a real treat! Our next stop, Speyside, boasts the largest number of distilleries in the country. You’ll have the opportunity to take a private tour through Ballindalloch Distillery, where we’ll have the pleasure of sampling some of the glorious whiskies on offer.
From there, we will take some time to explore the beautiful Speyside region, before heading on to the majestic Cairngorm mountains. Once we’ve arrived at Ballater, we’ll meet with our guide, the top expert on all things Cairngorms, Ian Murray. Ian is an expert on the nearly forgotten “Folklore of the Cairngorms” and knows the area like the back of his hand. You won’t find a better guide to explore the breath-taking history of Scotland with!
As we head back to our accommodation in Aberlour for the evening, we may even manage a quick glimpse of Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the British Royal Family, which was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852.
On the penultimate day of our Nature & Castles Edinburgh trip, we’ll journey through the majestic Glenshee, home of the largest ski and snowboard terrain in Scotland, before making our way back to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.
We’ll stop in Dunkeld for lunch and pay a visit to the impressive Dunkeld Cathedral that dominates this quaint little village – whilst here you may notice a few charming, brightly coloured ‘little houses’, which are in the care of the National Trust and a Scottish treasure.
There will be opportunities for some more great snapshots on our way to Edinburgh – we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the impressive Three Forth Bridges for example!
Arriving safely in the capital, we’ll check into our accommodation, before discovering Edinburgh’s hidden corners and winding wynds (alleys) during a typical gin tour, topped off by a traditional pub crawl filled with stories about the capital’s colourful past. There’s no better way to spend the night in this gem of a city!
Our farewell dinner will be the perfect occasion to round off an exciting week exploring Scotland’s most beautiful corners. We don’t doubt that these memories will stay with you for a lifetime.
We hope that you have enjoyed our Nature & Castles Edinburgh trip and exploring the most beautiful hidden corners of Scotland, making everlasting memories and uncovering newfound friendships along the way. On departure day, we can arrange transport to the airport or, if you’ve extended your visit, we can arrange for you to be taken on to your next accommodation.