Islay, Iona, Mull and Skye
2018 Depart Fri: 22, 29 Mar & 06 Apr to 26 Oct (except 25 May, 01 June)
Low season: 04 Apr – 30 Apr, 01 Nov-17 Dec & 03 Jan – 31 Mar 2019 (except 01 & 03 Apr)
Mid-season: 01 Apr- 03 Apr, 01 May-31 May, 01 Oct-31 Oct & 17 Dec–03 Jan 2019
High season: 01 June-30 Sep
Single supplement on request
day 01 fri Edinburgh-Glasgow-Kennacraig-Bowmore
Leaving Edinburgh at 08.30 you will head west to Loch Lomond then west through the mountains to the beautiful little town of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. 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.
day 02 sat Bowmore
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.
day 03 sun Islay-Ardbeg-Bowmore
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.
day 04 mon Bowmore-Oban
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.
day 05 tue Oban-Mull-Iona-Oban
In the early morning, take the ferry to Mull and enjoy an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquillity 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 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. B
day 06 wed Oban-Glencoe-Portree
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. B
day 07 thu Isle of Skye
Today, you have 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 west towards the 13th century home of the Clan MacLeod - Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale or the dramatic sea-cliffs and lonely lighthouse at Neist Point. 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 Talisker and its beautiful bay or indeed Glenbrittle and 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. B
day 08 fri Portree-Loch Ness-Edinburgh
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”. 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. You will arrive at approximately 20.00. B
Inclusions: twin share 3* accommodation, 4 breakfasts, coach transport, driver/guide, local taxes & service charges.
Notes: for the Islay portion of this tour, the itinerary and distillery visits are subject to variation throughout the season and may not be the same described above however there will always be a minimum of 4 distillery visits during the tour.
On this tour we have pre-booked a number of rooms in the beautiful Bowmore Distillery Cottages. These are self-catering cottages in the grounds of Bowmore distillery and offer a unique accommodation experience. The cottages have between 3 and 6 bedrooms and these are all en-suite. The kitchen and lounge facilities are shared and self-service continental breakfast ingredients will be provided. Please note that due to the shared nature of the accommodation individual bedrooms do not have lockable doors.