To Loch Lomond and Inveraray then cross to Mull to take in the sights of enchanted Iona and colourful Tobermory. Hop across to Ardnamurchan and the Isle of Skye where Dunvegan Castle, Neist Point Lighthouse, the iconic Old Man of Storr and The Three Chimneys restaurant await you.
Duration: 5 days (starting in Edinburgh or Glasgow).
Day 1: Edinburgh or Glasgow to Oban - overnight Oban
Day 2: Oban to Mull - overnight Mull
Day 3: Mull to Skye - overnight Skye
Day 4: Tour Skye - overnight Skye
Day 5: Skye to Edinburgh or Glasgow
Travel north to Stirling, once known as the 'Key to Scotland', with its imposing position in the centre of the country, to Stirling Castle. For centuries this was the most important castle in Scotland and the views from the top make it easy to see why. Stirling Castle played an important role in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. She spent her childhood in the castle and Mary's coronation took place in the Chapel Royal in 1543. From the ramparts you can see the Wallace Monument, perched high on the Abbey Craig around where Wallace camped before his heroic battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, built in 1869 to commemorate Scotland’s hero.
Continue west to Killin and the beautiful Falls of Dochart which run through the small town within the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Located at the western end of Loch Tay, the famous white waters of the Falls of Dochart can be viewed from the village’s bridge and from here you can admire the misty spray rising in the air as the waters of the river crash into the rocks then flow around the Islands of Inchbuie, known as the traditional and ancient burial place of Clan MacNab. Continue over Rannoch Moor to reach the most scenically beautiful of all the glens, Glencoe, stopping at the visitors centre. This area is steeped in history, and you will hear about the infamous 1692 massacre of Clan MacDonald.
Turn south and travel down the banks of Loch Linnhe past Castle Stalker, a renowned Scottish landmark, and originally a fortified building dating from 1320 and belonging to the MacDougalls and a stronghold of the Stewarts of Appin for many years. Finally reach Oban where the skyline is dominated by McCaig’s Tower, a coliseum-style monument which celebrated its centenary in 1997. You may wish to browse the shops or stroll on the promenade with views out over the harbour before retreating to your overnight accommodation at The Manor House Hotel overlooking the bay.
After breakfast you will catch the ferry in Oban across to Mull where your first stop on your tour of the island will be Duart Castle, from the Gaelic words "Dubh Ard" (black point), the ancestral home of the Clan Maclean. Standing proudly on a cliff top guarding the Sound of Mull, Duart enjoys one of the most spectacular and unique positions on the West Coast of Scotland.
Take in the scenery as you travel to Fionnphort where you may wish to take a short ferry crossing to Iona to spend a few hours on the tranquil Isle of Iona, steeped in history and the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland. Follow in the footsteps of St Columba and 14 centuries of pilgrims by visiting Iona Abbey. Iona boasts impossibly turquoise waters, dazzling beaches, hidden coves and monumentally sacred sites. Turn towards the north of the island and take the coastal route towards your overnight destination in Tobermory, a fishing port in the late 18th century it is now the main village on Mull and a picture-postcard of a place with the brightly painted buildings along the main street to the pier and the high wooded hills surrounding the bay.
Your destination today is Skye or in Scots Gaelic 'Eilean A Cheo' meaning Misty Isle. It has a wild mountainous interior where the peaked, ridges and pinnacles of the Cuillin Hills are among the most breathtaking in Europe and the coastline, with all its coves and inlets, is said to stretch a thousand miles. From Tobermory over to Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan and then travel north towards Mallaig. Take a small detour east passing Loch Eilt to the Glenfinnan Monument, where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in 1845. You will also see from here the Glenfinnan viaduct used in the Harry Potter films, then return to reach the White Sands of Morar and onto Mallaig to catch the ferry to Skye.
Once on the island you will have the chance to visit The Clan Donald Centre which incorporates Armadale Castle Gardens and the Museum of the Isles. The museum follows the Clan Donald’s story through triumph, bloodshed and trauma from the demise of the Lordship of the Isles, through the Jacobite risings, to the sweeping cultural changes where clansmen became crofters and chiefs became landlords. The Gardens is 40 acres of fascinating gardens and woodland where plants from around the world thrive in this sheltered corner.
Take in the stunningly beautiful road through Glen Suardal. You'll also see the iconic Red Cuillin Hills and, as you reach the little village of Torrin, you'll be able to enjoy views of Bla Bhein, (Blanven), considered by many to be Scotland's prettiest mountain. The road then drops to hug the banks of Loch Slappin before the steep climb over Strathaird to reach the little community of Elgol. Here you can enjoy the superb views of the Black Cuillin Hills and the stunning seascapes towards Rum and other small isles. Your final destination is Portree, the capital of the island, where you may wish to take a wander down to the harbour or visit the shops or cafes in Somerled Square before settling in at your accommodation.
Today you will get the chance to explore the island. Set off for the west coast of the island to Dunvegan Castle, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and the stronghold of the Chiefs of MacLeod for nearly 800 years. Take a tour to see important clan relics such as the famous Fairie Flag of Dunvegan which was given to the Clan who helped a Fairy Queen. It is said to help the Clan in times of need if waved but can only be used three times. So far it has been used twice. Another of the castle's great treasures is the Dunvegan Cup, a unique ‘mazer’ dating back to the Middle Ages. It was gifted by the O'Neils of Ulster as a token of thanks to one of the clan's most celebrated Chiefs, Sir Rory Mor, for his support of their cause against the marauding forces of Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1596.
If you fancy stretching your legs and enjoying a fabulous view then a trip up The Quiraing is a must. This dramatic terrain formed by a landslide is outstanding by any measure. Go on a bright and clear day for views of the Outer Hebrides and the Scottish mainland, framed by the pinnacles, cliffs and great buttresses. The outlook across the sea and Staffin Bay to the Torridon mountains, with Beinn Alligin and Slioch prominent, is magnificent. Finally as you descend on the east coast and travel back towards Portree you will reach Mealt Waterfall. The waterfall drops 300 feet into the sea often never reaching the ocean, but getting blown away by the wind. The spot is also a popular viewpoint for the Kilt Rock where columns of dolerite form what appear to be pleats, like a kilt, in the cliff.
Return to Portree passing The Storr, the highest point on the Trotternish Ridge, the longest geological landslip in Britain which has exposed the innards of an ancient landscape sculpted by volcanic activity. Below The Storr is The Sanctuary, home to the extraordinary rock pinnacles the Old Man of Storr and the Needle Rock. Travel further around the coast where in Autumn, Spring and the wet season the Mealt Waterfall drops 300 feet into the sea often never reaching the ocean, but getting blown away by the wind. The spot is also a popular viewpoint for the Kilt Rock where columns of dolerite form what appear to be pleats, like a kilt, in the cliff.
Your final day will return you to the mainland via the Skye Bridge stopping at Eilean Donan Castle, situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery. This iconic Castle has a turbulent past which left it in ruins for 200 years. Stop briefly at The Commando Memorial before travelling through some of the most stunning mountain scenery into Perthshire to the House of Bruar. Visit Queens View, generally believed to be named after Queen Victoria who took tea here in 1866. The viewpoint actually commemorates Queen Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce who ruled Scotland between 1306 and 1329.
Continue into the Highland resort town of Pitlochry to Blair Athol Distillery, established in 1798 and one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland. Join them for a distillery tour and see how they make their ‘uisge beatha’ or ‘water of life’. Finally travel past Perth and over the Forth Road Bridge to the south of the capital and Dalhousie Castle a magnificent 13th century fortress set within acres of wooded parkland on the picturesque banks of the River Esk for your last nights accommodation.
If you do not find the accommodations mentioned suitable then please do enquire about alternative choices.
This itinerary is only a guide as other historical sites can be incorporated into a tailored sightseeing tour of your own making. The Tour price does not include your entrance fees unless stated, lunches, dinners or the drivers gratuity.