The Seven Wonders of Scotland
There are many wonderful sights in to discover in Scotland but a recent poll highlighted the seven most popular. We have included these in our tour The Forth Bridge, Single Malt Whisky, Edinburgh Old and New Towns, Glencoe, The Prehistoric Treasures of Orkney, The Kilt, and The Cuillin Mountains of Skye.
Day 1 We begin our tour on departure from the ferry port and head north through border country to Edinburgh. With a stunning natural setting and a magnificent skyline, Edinburgh is a treasury of architectural marvels, from the cobbled labyrinth of the old walled city to elegant Georgian splendour of the New Town. Overnight in Edinburgh.
Day 2 This morning we take a fully guided tour of the city which has been described as “The Athens of the North” visiting the 200 year old new town and the medieval old town with a highlight visit to Edinburgh Castle. This afternoon we head off north crossing the Forth Bridge, one of the most recognisable structures in Scotland. Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker’s bridge is a testament to robust Victorian engineering and casts a magnificent silhouette across the waters of the Forth. We continue on to Glencoe where the towering mountains and ever-changing weather characterise the eerie glen, the scene of one of the most bloody episodes in Scottish history. Standing on the depths of the valley, one cannot fail to be overpowered by the landscape and the almost tangible presence of the past. Overnight in Ballachulish.
Day 3 Today we head west on the famous road to the Isles and to Mallaig taking the short ferry journey across to Armadale on the magical Island of Skye. Driving along the main road eastwards out of Armadale we come to the Armadale Castle Gardens and the Museum of the Isles. Together with the genealogy research study centre, there are historical exhibits and video show, plus a gift shop, restaurant and 40 acres of gardens to explore. For many people, the Cuillin, whose sharp alpine type peaks rise mirage-like from the flatness of the surrounding terrain, are Skye’s raison d’être. When the clouds finally disperse, they are the dominating feature of the island, visible from every other peninsula on Skye. We have a brief stop in Portree before heading over the Skye bridge back to the mainland and a photo stop at Eilean Donan Castle used in a number of films. We travel along the shores of Loch Ness to Inverness where we overnight.
Day 4 This morning is an early start for our day trip to the historic Island of Orkney, journeying first to John O’Groats, the most northern point on the UK mainland. After a short ferry crossing you will be taken across the Churchill Barriers which were built in the 1940s and thread five islands together to form the eastern boundary of Scapa Flow. Continue along the northern coast of Scapa Flow with beautiful views of the Hoy hills across the water. Stromness is surely one of Britain's most picturesque towns. Walk through the winding main street and visit the museum which features Orkney's connection with whaling and the early development of the Hudson's Bay Company, also photographs of the First World War German fleet. The Pier Arts Centre is also well worth a visit. Then on to the neolithic village of Skara Brae (2,500 BC) which has been hidden under sand dunes, perfectly preserved, for thousands of years and was only rediscovered 100 years ago. Our route then takes us on to a narrow tongue of land between the lochs of Harray and Stenness with a photo stop at the mystical Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. This is followed by a two hour stop at Kirkwall (pop. 7000). Kirkwall is the capital town of Orkney. See the St Magnus Cathedral founded in 1137 by Earl Rognvald, and Tankerness House Museum/Gardens. Plenty of shops, look out for woollens, jewellery, fudges, cheeses and bere bannocks. Attractive harbour nearby. On return to Burwick we stop at the Italian Chapel, beautifully decorated inside two WWII Nissen huts. A short ferry journey to John O’Groats and return to Inverness for our second night in the Highland capital.
Day 5 This morning we set off on a short journey to Culloden, an evocative place for many people. The site is of the last full-scale battle to take place on British soil, and the last stand of an ancient royal dynasty which traced its ancestry back to the Dark Age Gaelic Kingdom of Dal Riata and beyond. It is also the place where the Highland clan culture of Scotland sang its last song, as the Battle of Culloden in 1746 meant, quite simply, the end of an era for Scotland. We then take a visit to the Inverness Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre in Inverness, where you’ll enjoy a fascinating insight into the history, tradition and culture of the kilt - from its origins through to the present day. Free time in Inverness before returning for the third night.
Day 6 We head south from Inverness visiting Dalwhinnie Distillery founded in 1897and an An opportunity to sample the 'Gentle Spirit' of the glen at one of the highest distilleries in the land, Dalwhinnie is a wonderfully full-bodied, smooth and warming single malt whisky. We then continue southwards to Blair Castle Perthshire / Pitlochry and Highland Perthshire / Blair Atholl / Blair Castle the ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl and home to the Atholl Highlanders, the last remaining private army in Europe. The Castle stands proudly against the magnificent backdrop of Highland Perthshire. With collections that fill over 30 rooms, there are few historic homes in Britain that can claim to have more comprehensive family treasures than Blair Castle, which portrays Scottish life over 700 years. Overnight in Edinburgh.
Day 7 Today we set off for York renowned for its exquisite architecture, tangle of quaint cobbled streets and the iconic York Minster, York is fast developing a flourishing, cutting-edge scene. Delve into the city's vibrant café culture, take time out to enjoy some of the country's most talented street entertainers or simply watch the world go by while sipping a drink by the river. Overnight York.
Day 8 A short journey to the ferry port and departure from the UK.