ISLAND HOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA
Small Group Tour
Discover the majesty of Mull, Skye, Iona, Orkney & the Outer Hebrides on this tour from Edinburgh.
PLACES YOU EXPLORE
Oban – This Victorian harbour town offers excellent seafood and a charming intimacy.
The Islay Single Malt Whiskies – On an island known locally as ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’, there is a regal quality to the distinctly peaty style of its single malt whiskies.
Inveraray – Explore the fabulous home town of the Duke of Argyll and the stunning ancestral castle.
Loch Lomond National Park – Enjoy the dramatic splendour of one of Scotland’s most famous lochs and the beautiful national park that surrounds it.
Iona and Staffa – Visit the tiny Island of Iona, inhabited with just around 120 people.
Magical Mull – Feel the tranquillity of the unspoilt blonde beaches and explore the brightly coloured fishing village of Tobermory.
Isle of Skye – One of the world’s most stunning islands.
Eilean Donan Castle – An iconic and gorgeous 13th century castle that once warded off Viking invasions.
Orkney Isles – These beautiful islands are full of ancient history and wildlife.
Glencoe and Rannoch Moor – Be moved by the sheer beauty and tragic tales of one of Scotland’s most famous landscapes.
Loch Ness – Take a chance to go on an optional boat cruise or wander around this alluring and eerie loch.
Skara Brae and Ring of Brodgar – Learn how people used to live in ancient times at these prehistoric monuments.
Lewis and Harris – These two areas with distinct landscapes make up the biggest island in Scotland.
Explore the extremes of north-west Europe’s last great wilderness – 17 days to enjoy eight fantastic west coast islands and the prehistoric beauty and history of the northern Orkney islands, coupled with an escape to the western Isles of Lewis and breathtaking Harris.
Tour highlights include the whisky island Islay “Queen of the Isles”, 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. Ullapool, nestling on the shores of Loch Broom, is where we travel from to Lewis, and absorb ourselves in Gaelic culture, and enjoy the truly inspirational surroundings of Harris with her mountains and glorious white beaches before crossing the sea again to the drama that is the island of Skye.
WHILE YOU ARE IN EDINBURGH…
You escape the city of Edinburgh and head straight for the Highlands. Your first stop of the day is in the Trossachs national park. Here, you can admire Scotland’s scenic beauty and enjoy some local delicacies.Your driver-guide may regale you with tales from Scottish folklore as you travel through the mountainous landscapes of the Western Highlands to Oban.This port town was once the strategic heartland of great feuding clans. But today, Oban is famous for seafood sourced fresh off the boats. It also boasts its own distillery where you can sample whisky that’s been perfected for 200 years. Here, you will have time to enjoy a dram and indulge in delicious local seafood for lunch.You then venture through the Kilmartin Glen where you see standing stones and strongholds that are over 1,500 years old. At Kennacraig, you catch the evening ferry to Islay. The sail is around two hours; and if you peek out to the ocean, you may see the Paps of Jura. These mountains mark the way to Islay, Queen of the Hebrides.Once you’ve arrived on the island, you settle into your accommodation in Bowmore.
We know whisky tasting can be hard work, so you begin the day with a little sleep in. After you’ve had an ample amount of breakfast, you enjoy a tour of Bowmore, the oldest licenced distillery on the island. Your driver-guide takes you to a nice spot for a lunch of local treats before you head to Bruichladdich distillery. This forward-thinking whisky hub offers a wide-range of single-malts that celebrate the provenance of Islay’s ingredients.Your next stop of the day is at Kilchoman Distillery. This is a proud and independent whisky-maker whose tastes are as bold as their environmental ethos. You have time for a tour and whisky tasting here, before a walk down the beautiful white beach that lies close by.You head back to Bowmore where you can either stumble back to your room for the night or relax and explore the village.
Today you explore the southern side of the island, home to a few of the most famous whiskies in all of Scotland: Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg. After you’ve made it out of bed and eaten your breakfast, you visit Ardbeg. You stay here for a tour, tasting, and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy fine Scottish produce as you sip upon delightful drams. You then visit Laphroaig. This 200-year-old whisky distiller is a favourite with the British royal family and bears the seal of the Prince of Wales to prove it. Throughout the day, your driver-guide takes you to historical spots such as the ruins of Kildalton church and Dunyvaig Castle.You return to Bowmore for your last evening of the trip.
This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland and travel round the coast to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. Here you’ll join a new bus for the continuation of your tour to Oban. Your guides will help you transfer your luggage and introduce you to your new travelling companions.
Once we arrive in Oban you’ll have a free afternoon to enjoy this bustling and busy highland town. For those who are partial to some retail therapy, there are numerous shopping possibilities, or for those who wish to continue their thirst for Scottish whisky, Oban distillery is nicely situated in the heart of the town. A hike uphill will bring its own rewards with stunning views from the most photographed structure in the west, McCaig’s folly. The folly built on instruction by a local banker in 1897 resembles the coliseum in Rome, and provides magnificent vistas over the distant Firth of Lorne. You will stay in this glorious highland town for two nights.
Is 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 for an optional trip to the island of Staffa 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.
Takes you 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.
*Please note that during busy periods, your tour may stay in Portree instead of Plockton.
Today is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example: heading North towards Trotternish you may have the chance to ascend the Quiraing and be rewarded with spectacular views. 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 drink in the scenery at Loch Corruisk and Glenbrittle with 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.
*Please note that during busy periods, your tour may stay in Portree instead of Plockton.
You will be collected from your accommodation for the short drive to the famous stronghold of Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film “Highlander”, set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders. Then you travel east taking in the stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. Continue on to 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.
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.
It’s an early start, leaving behind the ‘Capital of the Highlands’, crossing over the Black Isle, and past Dunrobin 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 it is a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where we stop for a visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney where you shall stay for 2 nights. Here you can visit Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking Cathedral and its historic winding streets.
Is your 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.
It’s 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 you will spend the next two nights.
Once again you will leave the group at this point and on day 13 join your new group, with whom you will stay for the rest of the tour.
Gives you a free day in Ullapool to do as you please before joining up with your new crew the next day. There are many possibilities available in this lovely town, Options for your day include enjoying a day just to relax and absorb the highland tranquil pace of life whilst browsing the small craft boutiques nestling through the streets of the town. Or why not take the local boat, the ‘Summer Queen’ from the pier for an idyllic ‘summer Isles’ cruise. Alternatively you could head up Claypool hill for an easy two hour walk offering wonderful views over Loch Broom reaching a maximum height of 900ft. Or for the even more adventurous add to this walk by completing a three hour circuit returning to the town via Rhiddoroch estate. (Full details of all local walks can be found at the local tourist information centre). There is also a local swimming pool, and a small museum giving an informative narrative about the natural and social history of the area.
Catch the morning ferry from Ullapool for the two hour sail along Loch Broom, past the Summer Isles then out across the Minch to Stornoway – the main town on Lewis and capital of the Outer Hebrides. Look out for dolphins, whales and seabirds during the crossing. In the afternoon explore the North West coast as you wind through traditional crofting townships to Port of Ness and the very north tip of the island – the Butt of Lewis. From the lighthouse here there is nothing between you and the Americas! Overnight in Stornoway.
Today will be spent exploring some of the prehistoric remains on the island as well as its finest beaches. The fascinating circular stone fort, or Broch, at Carloway will be our first stop followed by more traditional crofting communities such as Gearrannan and Shawbost. You’ll also have the chance to gain an insight into island life at The Blackhouse in Arnol. Then it’s on to Callanish with its mysterious ancient stone circle. In the afternoon you will head for the remote district of Uig with its fine, sandy beaches at Bhaltos, dramatic sea cliffs and rugged hills. This is the wilderness of the Western Isles at its finest. Overnight again in Stornoway.
Travelling south today from the wild moorlands of Lewis to the more mountainous Harris – almost but not quite an island on its own. Famous for the locally produced cloth, Harris Tweed, it is also home to the highest mountains in the Outer Hebrides and the stunning white sands of Luskentyre. After a morning of exploring South Harris you will stop for lunch in the small port of Tarbet. Here you will catch the late afternoon ferry to Skye and continue on to the harbour town of Portree, your base for the next two nights.
Today is a flexible day on Skye; and your driver-guide ensures you take a unique route that suits the weather, the local events, and your group’s interests.You can travel north to the Trotternish Ridge and beyond. Here you find the geological wonders like Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, and the stunning mountain pass of the Quiraing. Or your guide may take you back in time and teach you about the legends and clan culture surrounding the 13th-century home of the Clan MacLeod, Dunvegan Castle.You return from to Portree in the evening.
Departing from Portree the return journey to Edinburgh has many highlights – a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William and the dramatic scenery and dark history of Glencoe. Lastly, you will travel through the mountainous Central Highlands before returning to Edinburgh in the evening.
Your tour excludes accommodation; but when you book, you can ask us to reserve local accommodation for you, or you can choose to reserve your own accommodation in the overnight locations.
You stay three nights in Islay*, two nights in Oban, two nights in Plockton**, one night in Inverness, two nights in Orkney, two nights in Ullapool, two nights in Stornoway, and two nights in Portree.
*On this part of the tour we reserve you rooms in the beautiful Bowmore Distillery Cottages.
The cottages have between three and six twin bedrooms. Due to the shared nature of the accommodation, individual bedrooms don’t have lockable doors.
The kitchen and lounge facilities are shared with other passengers, and basic self-service breakfast ingredients are provided. Full Scottish breakfasts are available at the nearby hotels if you prefer, payable locally.
Prices are £42.50 per person per night twin/double share or £75 per night for a single***. For this option, please select ‘B&B en-suite’ as your first choice when booking the tour online. When these rooms are full, we book you into a nearby B&B. Rooms at the cottages are limited and are reserved on a first come first served basis. Local B&B charges are £50 per person per night.
There’s also a limited number of 3* hotel rooms available on this tour. For this option, please select three star hotel as your first choice when booking.
We contact you afterwards to arrange payment for the accommodation.
**Please note that during busy periods, your tour may stay in Portree instead of Plockton.
*** These prices change in April 2020 to £47.50 per person per night for twin share or £82 per night per single. The rate of a family room (3 people) is £120 per night.
Weekly from 3rd of April 2020 until the 16th of October 2020