A 14-day tour of the Scottish Highlands; Edinburgh to Glasgow with heather-clad glens and purple-hued mountains in between. See the Highland Games at Braemar, walk Culloden Moor, cruise mysterious Loch Ness, sip fine whisky and become re-acquainted with the culture and social fabric of a nation whose clans touched every continent. Your tour host is Michael Quinn.
Evening departure to Glasgow.
Morning arrival at Glasgow International Airport, formerly named Abbotsinch. Here we begin our Scottish tour with a brief drive to The Kelpies, Scotland's modern engineering and artistic equine tribute before continuing on to the Falkirk Wheel for an introduction to, and demonstration of, modern Scottish technology. Lunch in Linlithgow, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots: photo-op of its Palace, and a visit to her christening chapel. Mid-afternoon hotel registration upon arrival in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital. Opportunity to refresh - perhaps "forty winks" before we walk the Royal Mile with John Knox House, the High Kirk of St. Giles and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. An early dinner in-house.
Morning guided tour of Edinburgh Castle. Sites will include the Argyle Battery, St. Margaret's Chapel, the Crown Room and the obligatory Battlements. Afterwards, the Hop On/Off city coach will provide a late morning full city orientation tour with dialogue and notable site references. Please note that the coach pass is valid for 24 hrs. and will be used the following morning.Afternoon at the National Gallery, Museum of Edinburgh, Portrait Gallery or the National Museum are highly recommended. A quick city bus to nearby Leith presents an opportunity to tour the Royal Yacht Britannia to see how the Royals lived at sea! Evening at leisure.
Following breakfast, we visit Princes Street and the neo-gothic Scott Monument. A climb for the view before continuing to New Town, fine example of 18th C city planning with elegant Charlotte Square and Moray Place. Here too, a visit to Georgian House before ending the morning at the Botanical Gardens. The afternoon dictates choice: The merits of Scotland's principal export with a visit to Glenkinchie Distillery and a tasting of Lowland whisky, a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse or a wander through the Closes of the old city. No appeal? Then a touch of retail therapy at Jenners! Dinner and evening at leisure.
Morning departure by way of the Tay Bridge and Dundee to Glamis Castle, the ancestral home of the late Queen Mother but inescapably associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth". Tour followed by lunch in the castle, then on to Fettercairn. Here at its 1854 distillery, a tasting of "Uisghe Beatha” or "water of life” introduces the Highlands nectar. A photo stop at the Keith ancestral home of Dunottar Castle, precariously perched over the North Sea, before evening arrival at our charming country residence in Huntly. Dinner in the hotel.
This morning we begin our exploration of picturesque Speyside, traveling by way of Kildrummy Castle to the Cairngorm Mountains. We encounter familiar names... Tomintoul, Ballindalloch, Glenlivet, Knockandhu and Cardhu. Highland hospitality demands simple tastings but which and where? Lunch before a touch of Canada at Craigellachie. No "Last Spike" here but rather the Speyside Cooperage with demonstrations of traditional barrel making, so fundamental and essential to whisky maturation! Late afternoon return to Castle Huntly and dinner.
We travel this morning to Deeside, by way of the Royals chapel church at Crathie and summer residence at Balmoral before arriving at Braemar where in 1715 the Stuart Standard was first raised, marking the continued family claim to the Crown and calling the clans to arms. Today the site of the world renowned Highland Games, our grandstand seats should provide excellent opportunities to see “The Royals”, enjoy pipe bands, traditional highland dancing and tossing the caber! Return to hotel and time to enjoy an aperitif before dinner.
A leisurely breakfast before we continue our Speyside exploration. Communities and sites will include Dufftown, Rothes and Keith each long associated with Glenfiddich, Glen Grant and Strathisla. Midday brings us to Cawdor Castle, one of the legendary residences referenced in Shakespeare’s "McBeth". Today still a private residence, it offers a perfect example of Scottish castle architecture adapted to 21st C living! Lunch on the grounds followed by individual tours of both the castle and the magnificent formal gardens. Before our early evening Inverness arrival, we visit the late Neolithic Clava Cairns, with their peculiar geometric patterns and burial tombs – stark clues to the Stone and Bronze Age inhabitants of the Highlands. Dinner at leisure.
Following breakfast, a short drive to Culloden Moor where in 1746, the troops of George II shattered both the Jacobite Rebellion with its Stuart ambitions and the centuries old social fabric of clan life. The memorial cairns and plaques offer mute testament to the last battle on British soil and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s quest for the Throne. Afternoon at leisure and evening in the community ...a cruise on Loch Ness, a woolen purchase (ortwo), a walk in the town or a stroll in the nearby hills.
Leaving the capital of the Highlands, we travel through Drumnadrochit to Urquhart Castle with its magnificent view of mysterious Loch Ness. Entering the Great Glen, a geological fault bisecting the Highlands through a series of natural freshwater lochs, linked by the Caledonian Canal, we continue on towards Fort Augustus and Invergarry to the quintessential poster castle of Eilean Donan. Time for a brief visit before continuing on to the Kyle of Lochalsh and the Hebridean Isle of Skye. Registration and dinner in our hotel.
A full-day tour of the island - the perfect harbour of Portree, the Storr and Quiring Ridges, Kilt Rock, the community of Kilmuir with its Museum of Island Life. After lunch, Dunvegan Castle, hereditary seat of the Clan Macleod. In the late afternoon, we return to our hotel by way of the Cuillin Hills and Colbost where Talisker is the local distiller (a wee dram here for what ails ye!!). Dinner this evening in our hotel.
An early departure from Skye by ferry to mainland Mallaig where our route aptly named The Road to the Isles,takes us to Glenfinnan and the ‘45 Memorial to the Stuart’s second attempt to acquire the Hanoverian Crown. Passing Fort William and skirting Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest peak, we approach Glencoe and visit the infamous 17th-century massacre site of Clan MacDonald members. Lunch then on to Loch Lomond and Glasgow with a brief tasting at Auchentoshan Distillary (time permitting) before registering at our centrally located Glasgow hotel. Evening orientation stroll including the Central Railway Station, the Lighthouse-CRM's first public commission, today Glasgow's Museum of Architecture and Design and the statue dominated George Square! Independent dinner...but fish & chips in a "wee poke" is the easy and only recommendation!
The morning will be our Hop On/Off city orientation tour featuring highlights such as: St. Mungo’s Cathedral, Mercat Cross, Kelvingrove Museum and Sauchiehall Street. Then before an afternoon of personal choices, consider tea or lunch in the delightfully restored Mackintosh interior of the Willows Tea Room! But don't forget our evening Auld Lang Syne dinner this evening. Afternoon optional proposals:
- Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery
- Mackintosh House well furnished with fine original pieces
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. A stunning 20th Century building that offers The Old Masters to the "Glasgow Boys"
- People's Palace
- The Tenement House
A final Scottish breakfast before a mid-morning transfer to Glasgow Airport and individual return flight to Toronto.
-Overland transportation by deluxe private coach; -Accommodation is superior tourist class (3/4 star) accommodation, based on double occupancy. Single room supplement is $1,225.00. -Daily full breakfast and 7 dinner/ lunches; -All hotel taxes and gratuities; -Porterage where available; Full guided visits and sightseeing as itinerary; -Five minimum distillery visits /tastings as specified; -All applicable admission fees as per itinerary including Grandstand G seating at Braemar Highland games. (Subject to advance tour application); -Such activities as determined locally for distillery non-participants; -Fully escorted. PLEASE NOTE: Day 4: Wednesday Sept. 4 - Glenkinchie Distillery Participants who do not wish to visit the Glenkinchie Distillery in the afternoon but would prefer Palace of Holyrood as an option are requested to check the requisite section in the Application Form. Day 7: Saturday Sept. 7 - Braemar Games As is our tradition, we will be requesting Grandstand G seating. This stand is located on a line of sight immediately across the competition field to the Royals Box. The photography opportunities have been consistently remarkable. Therefore Stand G is most popular. The games site plan is readily available through any search engine. Ticket requests world wide will be accepted by the Braemar Bureau as of the first week of November 2018. We will reserve Stand G seating at that time based on individual applications. Stand G seating will be requested for any applications received at a later date but no guarantee can be made as to availability. Please advise either by application form or telephone as soon as possible in order to be included in the initial seating request.
-Beverages & meals other than those outlined above; -All expenses & items of a personal nature; -Coach driver gratuities: approximately £50- $90.00 CAD; -Travel insurance. Please contact the office for premiums; -Contact the office if you need assistance with flights.
April 14 - 27, 2020
$4,895 from Toronto, including air, based on double occupancy
May 07 - 21, 2020
$4,295.00 from Toronto based on double occupancy
June 07 - 17, 2020
$3,895 from Toronto (including all taxes and other surcharges)