Day One - Arrival in Scotland
We fly to Glasgow airport and check in to the Holiday Inn, situated just a two minute walk from the terminal building, where we are met by our Tour Manager and stay overnight on a bed and breakfast basis.
Day Two - Royal Burgh of Culross & Blair Athol Distillery
We leave our overnight hotel and make our way to the Royal Burgh of Culross, overlooking the Firth of Forth. This charming town is a fascinating time warp; the most complete example in Scotland of a Burgh of the 17th and 18th centuries. We enjoy an exclusive Outlander tour which takes us through cobbled streets and past historic buildings including the Town House and ochre coloured ‘Palace’, which featured in the television adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s popular novels.
Continuing northwards, we visit the Blair Athol Distillery in the picturesque town of Pitlochry. On our guided tour we see how the uisge beatha whisky is made from golden malted barley, water and yeast, distilled in traditional copper pot stills and matured in oak casks.
We then enjoy a scenic journey via the Cairngorms National Park to Inverness where we stay overnight at a selected hotel with dinner included.
Day Three - Culloden Battlefield & Dunrobin Castle
Our first visit is to Culloden Battlefield, scene of the final battle of the 1745-46 Jacobite Rising and the last hand-to-hand battle fought on British soil. This short but bloody battle changed the course of history and the state-of-the-art visitor centre puts this infamous period of Scottish history into vivid context. We also enjoy a weapons demonstration and light refreshments during our visit here.
Next we head up to Dunrobin Castle, a magnificent castle that resembles a French château with towering conical spires. One of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses; it has been home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 13th century. The grand public rooms include the opulent wood-panelled dining room and a superb library housing over 10,000 books. The French influence continues into the extensive formal gardens with parterres and fountains.
Later, we arrive in the town and former burgh of Thurso where we check in to our hotel; our base for the next two nights with dinner included.
Day Four - Castle and Gardens of Mey & John O’Groats
The most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland, the Castle of Mey was built between 1566 and 1572 with jutting towers and corbelled turrets typical of that period. The castle was saved from ruin in 1952 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother who renovated and restored it and created the beautiful gardens seen today. We enjoy these lovely surroundings where she spent many happy summers.
We finish the day in John O’Groats, famous for its ‘End of the Road’ location - the most northerly point of mainland Britain. We have time to explore this small coastal village with its craft and gift shops, harbour area and iconic sign post.
Day Five - Orkney Islands
We catch the morning ferry from Scrabster to Stromness on the Orkney Islands. We are met by a local guide who takes us on a tour of some of the islands’ highlights. The history of this picturesque archipelago of islands can be traced back some 6,000 years and the numerous archaeological sites are evidence of this fascinating past including the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae. The scenery is equally appealing with rugged cliffs and stunning beaches plus an abundance of wildlife.
After dinner in a local restaurant, we board our overnight ferry from Kirkwall and head towards the Shetland Islands.
Day Six - Shetland Islands
We arrive in the bustling capital of Lerwick on the Shetland Islands. After breakfast on board, we disembark our ferry and join the coach for our tour of the islands with a local guide. Closer to Norway than mainland Scotland, this remote archipelago has much in common with the Orkneys, with a rich heritage dating back to Neolithic settlers and Vikings who all left their mark, plus stunning coastal scenery and a rugged, untamed beauty.
In the late afternoon, we board our ferry for the overnight crossing back to the mainland. Dinner is included on the ferry tonight.
Day Seven - Scone Palace & Pollok House
After breakfast on board, we disembark our ferry in Aberdeen and head first to Scone Palace, crowning place of Scottish kings including Robert the Bruce, Macbeth and Charles II and family home of the Earls of Mansfield. We have time to explore the palace with its fine collections of furniture, porcelain, ivories, clocks, paintings and other objets d'art.
Next we visit Pollok House where we enjoy a cream tea. Set in the tranquil surroundings of Pollok Country Park, this grand country house gives a real flavour of the upstairs, downstairs life in the 1930s. The lavish family rooms are crammed with period furniture as well as an outstanding collection of Spanish art while the vast servants’ quarters show the realities of running a country house.
We arrive back at our overnight hotel at Glasgow airport this evening where we stay on a bed and breakfast basis.
Day Eight - Flight home
We check out of our airport hotel and walk across to the departures terminal for our flight home.