Get away from it all with this tour to the Outer Hebridean Islands of Lewis and Harris, home to pre-historic stone circles of Callanish and the famous white sandy beaches of Harris. This amazing tour runs alternate Thursdays through the summer. Price includes accommodation.
Day One - Edinburgh - Glen Coe - Loch Ness
We leave Edinburgh behind and travel to Stirling where we make a photo-stop at mighty Stirling Castle. Enjoy the panorama which includes the Wallace Monument and the impressive Ochil Hills as a backdrop. From Stirling we make our way towards Doune, famed for its own castle (of Monty Python’s Holy Grail fame), then onwards to Callander. Shortly the Lowlands of Scotland give way to the spectacular scenery of the Highlands.
Our scenic drive takes us along the beautiful banks of Loch Lubnaig then on through "bonnie” Strathyre towards Glen Ogle and Glen Dochart. After climbing the "Black Mount” we reach vast wilderness of Rannoch Moor which stretches out ahead of us.
The sad story of Glen Coe is retold as we stop to view the imposing, yet sinister beauty of Scotland’s most famous glen. After leaving Fort William look out for mighty Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain before we experience the majestic grandeur of the Great Glen. As we drive through this spectacular scenery there are stories to be told of clan battles, folklore and myths that have been handed down through the generations.
Our home for tonight is in Fort Augustus, situated on the banks of mysterious Loch Ness.
Overnight Fort Augustus
Day Two - Loch Ness – Inverewe Gardens - Stornoway, Isle of Lewis (2 nights)
After breakfast we drive along the banks of enigmatic Loch Ness. As we do keep a close watch just in case 'you know who' makes an appearance! After a brief panoramic tour of Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, we enjoy grandstand views over the Moray Firth as we travel over the Kessock Bridge. After crossing the Black Isle we shall make our way through the rugged landscape of the western Highlands.
Try and spot the salmon leaping as we enjoy a walk along the Black Water to view the Rogie Falls then it’s a short drive to our next treat, lush Inverewe Gardens *. In stark contrast to the remote surroundings a wide variety of exotic plants and shrubs survive here, thanks to the efforts of the Gulf Stream.
We’ll make a stop to visit Corrieshalloch Gorge to see the dramatic Falls of Measach dropping some 150 feet into the ravine below.
The fishing port of Ullapool sits on Loch Broom and is where we board our ferry for the crossing of The Minch to reach Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis. The sailing will take 2 hours 45 minutes and our cruise-ferry boasts extensive lounge and dining facilities.
On arrival in Stornoway it is a short drive to our accommodation for the next two nights.
Day Three - Exploring Lewis and Harris
Together Harris and Lewis make Scotland’s largest island. These islands have been inhabited for over 6,000 years and there is a real sense of history as we will discover as we spend today discovering Lewis.
Our first visit of the day is to the fascinating Arnol Blackhouse Museum*. A traditional blackhouse was a combination of home, barn and stackyard and this example will give you real insight into how life was lived on these islands in times gone by. The weaving of Tweed cloth has, traditionally, been an important home-based industry for islanders so when we visit a local weaver, on our next visit, there will be an opportunity to see the fabric being hand woven in the time-honoured fashion – a truly fascinating process.
The astonishing Callanish Standing Stones is our next visit. Archaeologists believe that these 15 foot (5 m) stones were placed here by Neolithic people sometime between 3,000 and 1,000 BC and the site is rated second in importance only to Stonehenge. A short distance away is the impressive Dun Carloway Broch, an Iron Age stone fort known to have been built more than 2,000 years ago. This is one of the best preserved fortified towers in Scotland and it’s beautifully located with wonderful views over Loch Carloway and the sea beyond.
Luskentyre Beach which appears never-ending is our next stop of the day so you can enjoy some beach combing. Look out for the machairs which sit behind the beach. These green grassy plains are covered in a mass of wild flowers in the summer.
The Atlantic coast leads us to the small community of Rodel and our last visit of the day to 16thCentury St Clements Church. There’s time to stroll around the pretty harbour before we return to our accommodation in Stornoway.
Day Four - Stornoway - Butt of Lewis - Inverness
After breakfast we will make our way to the Butt of Lewis where a lighthouse stands warning passing ships of the nearby rocks. This is the most northerly point of the Outer Hebrides. Due west from here is nothing but the North Atlantic until you reach Newfoundland, Canada! We return to Stornoway for some free time so can explore this bustling port before our island interlude comes to an end and we catch the ferry back to the mainland.
Day Five - Inverness to Edinburgh
There’s time to explore Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands before travelling the short distance to visit tragic Culloden Moor *. It was here that the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was routed by Government troops in a bloody battle in 1746.
The Cairngorm National Park is Britain’s largest and contains five of Scotland’s six highest peaks. The park provides stunning backdrop to our travels through the Spey Valley then we descend through the Drumochter Pass to reach the pleasant Victorian tourist town of Pitlochry where we will stop for refreshments.
The dramatic scenery of Highland Perthshire gives way to rolling farmland as we reach the 'Fair City' of Perth then we join the motorway for our journey through the ancient Kingdom of Fife. The final part of our drive offers wonderful views of the Forth Rail Bridge as we make our way into Edinburgh.
* Admission fees extra