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A tour to tease the palette – 8 days to immerse yourself on the world famous isle of Islay, a whisky connoisseurs dream, before enjoying a four island fest including the rolling mountains of gentle Mull, the spiritual and ever peaceful island of Iona, the extraordinary and inspiring island of Staffa and the dramatics and majesty of the island of Skye
This tour of the Scottish Highlands starts out in Glasgow and then onto Loch Lomond before going west through the mountains to the beautiful little village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. (we also offer this tour departing from Edinburgh)
Here you can perhaps sample some of the local seafood for lunch or just explore the historic town itself. After lunch you will then travel through Argyll and into the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada
There are more than 350 prehistoric monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin. You will stop here to see the mysterious stone circles and standing stones and visit the community museum. From here it is a short drive to Kennacraig where you catch the early evening ferry to Islay
The sail is just over 2 hours and you should look out for wildlife such as dolphins, whales and seabirds. On arrival on Islay it is a short drive to Bowmore for your 3-night stay.
A full day exploring Islay. The itinerary today is quite flexible with a mixture of beautiful scenery, white sand beaches, short walks and of course the famous Islay whiskies – renowned for their strong peaty flavours and nurtured by the salty sea air
In the morning you will take the short drive to the west of the island via Saligo Bay for a visit to Kilchoman Distillery (the newest and smallest on the island) with the option of a coastal walk to Machair Bay for any non-whisky lovers
After lunch you will explore the tiny harbour village of Portnahaven (look out for seals) before taking the back roads along the west coast with its lovely sandy bays, on the way back to Bowmore. You will have the chance to visit Bowmore distillery or just relax and explore the village
Another day in paradise! Today you will explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. We will visit Ardbeg for a tour, tasting and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy local produce as well as some unique whisky
We follow this up with a visit to Laphroaig and if time allows a short stop for a tasting at Lagavulin. It should also be possible to visit to the ruins of Kildalton church with its famous 8th Century Celtic cross
Alternatively we may stop in Bridgend where you could visit the community craft producers at Islay House Square or take a walk through the woods along the nearby River Sorn.
This morning you take the ferry back to the mainland then travel through Argyll along the coast to Oban – the main ferry port for the islands, and known locally as the ‘Charing Cross’ of the north
You will say goodbye to this group here, and will be collected by your new guide and group on the morning of day 5
You will have a free afternoon in Oban 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 2 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 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
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 and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. You will travel through Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, this is where the standard was raised to start the Jacobite rebellion
Glenfinnan is also home to a 100year old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the Harry Potter film
From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye, This beautiful coastline is formed by a series of white beaches and a turquoise sea, known as the white sands of Morar
The road ends at Mallaig where you take the short ferry crossing ‘over the sea to Skye’ where you arrive on the Sleat Peninsula, commonly referred to the ‘Garden of Skye’ with great views of the Cuillin mountains. From here you travel north to the picturesque harbour town of Portree. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening
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 you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye’s extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below
After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. Whatever you do we are sure you will enjoy it. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village
You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland
You 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, before travelling east for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail
Onto Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting “Nessie”. Heading south now through the Grampian mountains along Loch Laggan, made famous now as “Monarch of the Glen Country” before passing Dalwhinnie, home to Scotland’s highest whisky Distillery, and onwards into Perthshire where we stop for refreshments before heading back to Edinburgh past Perth and over the Forth Road Bridge. Arriving at 19.00 approx
This exclusive Scotland mini coach tour can be booked through our travel partners
We also offer a range of Scotland guided day and multi day tours departing from Edinburgh
The Small Group Touring Experts
Highclere Castle in Berkshire (South East England) is the real castle that plays the role of Downton Abbey. Set in 1,000 acres of parkland, this Victorian manor is home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, whose family have lived on the site since 1679. Downton Abbey author, Julian Fellowes is a longstanding family friend and had Highclere in mind while penning the series.
Britain’s favourite period drama, Downton Abbey has been taking the world by storm of late, so get your top hats and teacups at the ready, and prepare to get a taste of Edwardian-era England.
Downton Abbey: Winner of best mini-series at the 2012 Golden Globes, Downton Abbey is the most successful British period drama since Brideshead Revisited, with ratings exceeding 10 million viewers
Highclere Castle is one of England’s most beautiful Victorian Castles set amidst 1,000 acres of spectacular parkland
The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and the current Castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which in turn was built on the foundations of the medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for some 800 years Visitors follow a route through the Castle though rooms with guides in each State room happy to share anecdotes and information. Visitors can then go up the Red Stairs to view some of the Bedrooms and the Gallery before walking down the Oak staircase to the Saloon in the heart of the Castle. As well as the castle, the extensive grounds are rewarding to explore
Make a trip in 2014 when the castle is open to visitors and experience Downton life first hand: sip tea at the café, stroll the gardens and admire the sumptuous rooms, many of which are used during filming. Buy tickets and book tours in advance to avoid disappointment.
View our Downton Abbey Tours from London and book early!
Guest Travel Blogger
The Small Group Touring Experts: www.Welcome2Britain.com