Scotland Active Adventure
May 14 - 23, 2020
B- Breakfast, L- Lunch, D - Dinner
Scotland Daily Itinerary
Tuesday, May 14 – Arrive Edinburgh; City Tour; Mary Kings Close; Welcome Dinner (D)
Arrive at Edinburgh airport and transfer to hotel. You have free time today to relax or begin exploring the city. Tour begins this afternoon at 2:00 pm in lobby of hotel where we will meet before heading out for a guided city tour. After the tour we will take a tour of the underground alley’s in Mary Kings Close followed by our welcome dinner in a traditional Scottish pub.
Wednesday, May 15 – Edinburgh Castle; Royal Mile (B)
Today we begin our adventure with a tour of Edinburgh Castle. You will visit the Palace as well as the Crown Room, home of the Crown Jewels. For kings and queens the palace was a richly decorated and furnished place of comfort. The rooms witnessed key events in their lives and Scotland’s history. Queen Mary of Guise, last defender of the Auld Alliance with France and champion of the Catholic faith against the Protestant Reformation, died there in 1560. It was here too that her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, gave birth to James VI in in 1566. This was the start of a remarkable life, as he became king of Scotland soon after his first birthday in 1567 and united the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603. Charles I was the last sovereign to stay at the palace, sleeping there on 19 June, 1633, the night before his Scottish coronation.
The crown jewels of Scotland are a breathtaking sight. Known as The Honors of Scotland they are displayed in the Crown Room and are surrounded by a special exhibition. The scepter was presented to James IV by Pope Alexander VI in 1494 while the crown was first worn for the coronation of James V’s wife Mary of Guise in 1540. They were first used together for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543. Their past has been turbulent. They were removed and hidden from 1651-60 to keep them from Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army. In 1707 they were locked in a chest and sealed away after the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland In 1818 they were rediscovered by the novelist Sir Walter Scott and with them a mysterious silver wand.
The remainder of the day is free to explore the famous Royal Mile, where you can choose to visit a historic underground neighborhood, partake in a whiskey making experience, stroll through the palace and gardens of Holyroodhouse (Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth II) or visit the gothic cathedral of St Giles. The Royal Mile has many shops where you can find genuine Scottish wares and scores of restaurants and pubs.
Thursday, May 16 – Falconry; White Water Rafting (B, D)
After breakfast we will visit Dalhousie Castle. Brimming with over 700 years of history, Dalhousie Castle is the kind of place that could have been plucked from the pages of a fairy-tale. It was once the seat of the Ramsay Clan and boasts an illustrious guest list that includes King Edward I, Sir Walter Scott, Oliver Cromwell and Queen Victoria. We will begin our adventure by learning all about falconry. You will learn to handle and fly owls, and either a Harris' Hawk, Common Buzzard or Kestrel. The hawk will fly free and will follow you wherever you walk, swooping back onto your fist when called; the owl will fly gracefully from arranged perches and trees to your fist. After our falconry lesson we head north to the Scottish Highlands.
We will stop in Aberfeldy for a quick lunch and to start our next adventure, white water rafting on the River Tay. The River Tay acts as an excellent introduction to white water rafting. It is also very scenic due to the stunning landscape around Highland Perthshire and Aberfeldy. In whitewater rafting rivers are graded from 1 to 5, one being flat and five being hardcore. The River Tay has grade two and three rapids, which are fun and bouncy. After our exciting river rafting experience we will continue our journey northward where we will be staying in a fine Scottish Manor House in Inverness. Tonight we will have dinner together at our hotel.
Friday, May 17 – Cruise Loch Ness; Urquhart Castle; Guided Tour of Inverness (B, D)
After breakfast we will be taking a cruise on Loch Ness. Your journey takes you along Thomas Telford’s famous Caledonian Canal and onto the world-famous waters of Loch Ness. Here, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Highlands, Aldourie Castle and Bona Lighthouse. What’s more, you’ll disembark to take in the stirring sights and stories of Urquhart Castle, with two hours to have a good nosey around this once mighty stronghold and enjoy a bite to eat in the café.
Next we travel just a few miles to Inverness to meet our guide for a private walking tour. The tour contains lots of local history, beautiful scenery, architecture and romantic (yet sometimes bloody) tales which have over time, shaped Inverness into the thriving city that stands today. Enjoy a leisurely walk alongside the River Ness whilst taking in the sights and listening to tales of times gone by. You will find out more about the short but final confrontation of the Jacobite Rising, The Battle of Culloden in 1746, in which the fate of between 1500 and 2000 Jacobite’s was sealed by a poor decision and a hostile terrain. Learn more of the Jacobite Rising along with Bonnie Prince Charlie and his questionable motives. Your tour guide will fascinate you with references to Outlander along with life in 18th century Inverness including crime, punishment and trades of the day along with sharing stories of clan history, myths and legends. Tonight we will finish our day in a local restaurant.
Saturday, May 18 – Horseback Riding; The Big Burn Walk; Dunrobin Castle (B, D)
This morning we will take a scenic drive further north into the Highlands to the town of Tain, where we will experience a pony trek that includes riding through fields, forests and sand dunes and a long beach ride. After our ride we will have lunch in the charming village of Dornoch, after which we will take the Big Burn Walk a spectacular short walk up a gorge crisscrossed by footbridges and ending in a waterfall. Then we will visit Dunrobin Castle, the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, home to the Earls and later, the Dukes of Sutherland. This evening we will have dinner together in Inverness before returning to our hotel.
Sunday, May 19 – Culloden Moor; Eilean Donan Castle; Isle of Skye; Portree (B)
This morning we will stop to visit the battlefield at Culloden Moor. Here on 16 April 1746, the final Jacobite Rising came to a brutal head in one of the most harrowing battles in British history. Jacobite supporters, seeking to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British thrones, gathered to fight the Duke of Cumberland’s government troops. It was the last pitched battle on British soil and, in less than an hour, around 1,600 men were slain – 1,500 of them Jacobites. You will visit the Culloden Visitor Centre, which stands beside the battlefield, featuring artefacts from both sides of the battle and interactive displays that reveal the background to the conflict.
Next we head towards the Isle of Skye. On our way we will stop to explore Eilean Donan Castle. One of the most beautifully situated of all Scottish castles, Eilean Donan Castle consists of a 13th-century wall surrounding a courtyard. In one corner of the courtyard stands a strong 14th-century tower of three stories and a gabled garret. Adjoining ranges of outbuildings and fortifications were added in later centuries. Alexander III gave the lands to Colin Fitzgerald, son of the Irish Earl of Desmond and Kildare, for his help in defeating King Haakon and the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs in 1263. The family changed their name to Mackenzie, and Eilean Donan became their main stronghold. Robert the Bruce was sheltered here in 1306. William Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth, had it garrisoned with Spanish troops during the Jacobite rising of 1719, but three frigates battered it into submission with cannon, and it was blown up from within. Although quite ruinous, it was completely rebuilt in the 20th century.
We will continue over the land bridge to the Isle of Skye to our hotel in the town of Portree. This charming town sits on the coast and has an array of shops and restaurants. Tonight dinner is on your own.
Monday, May 20 – Tour of Skye; Island Museum; Hike & Picnic in the Quiriang (B, L, D)
Today we will travel the coast of the island stopping to admire some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland. The island is known for its diverse and beautiful countryside including soaring mountains and seaside waterfalls. We will visit the Museum of Island Life, for a chance to see thatched roof crofts and other artifacts used by early island dwellers. We will go for a hike and have a picnic lunch in the Quiriang, a beautiful national park and visit a roaring waterfall tumbling down the mountains and into the sea.This afternoon we will have some free time in Portree and enjoy an evening meal together.
Tuesday, May 21 – Dunvegan Castle, Ferry to Mallaig, GlenFinnan, Gondola Ride, Fort William (B, D)
As we leave Skye, we will stop to visit Dunvegan Castle and gardens. This castle is one the greatest Hebridean castles and the only one which has been continuously occupied by the same family for 800 years. The castle collection contains many beautiful paintings and important heirlooms such as the Fairy Flag and Sir Rory Mor’s ceremonial drinking horn. Dunvegan Castle’s five acres of formal gardens began life in the 18th century. In stark contrast to the barren moor land and mountains that dominate Skye’s landscape, the gardens are a hidden oasis featuring an eclectic mix of plants, woodland glades, shimmering pools fed by waterfalls and streams flowing down to the sea.
After our visit to the castle we continue to the ferry landing in Armandale. Here you will board the ferry to the charming fishing village of Malliag where we will have lunch before continuing our journey to Glenfinnan, a beautiful hamlet in the Scottish Highlands. In 1745 the Jacobite rising began here when Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard on the shores of Loch Shiel. Visit the iconic monument honoring the fallen Jacobite clansmen, framed by spectacular Highland scenery. Raise your bonnet to the lone, kilted highlander who stands on top of the monument. Enjoy the panoramic views of Loch Shiel, the dramatic mountains and, especially for 'Harry Potter' fans, the Glenfinnan viaduct and the Jacobite steam train.
Later this afternoon we arrive in Fort William, at the base of the Nevis mountain range and home to the tallest mountain in Scotland, Ben Nevis. We will stop to take a Gondola ride up Aonach Mor, the 8th highest mountain in Britain for magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. After checking in to our hotel we will head out for dinner in the lovely Fort William old town square.
Wednesday, May 22 – Glencoe Walk, Oban Distillery, Farewell Dinner Glasgow (B, D)
This morning we head over to Glencoe, Scotland’s most famous and most scenic Highland glen. We will go for an invigorating walk following trails through ornamental woodland at the foot of Glencoe. Following our walk we will head to the shores of Loch Linnhe to the quaint village of Oban where we will have lunch and tour the famous distillery to learn how Scotch Whiskey is made. After departing Oban we will drive through the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park on our way to Glasgow. After checking in to our hotel and resting a bit, we will enjoy our farewell dinner together and reminisce about our trip to bonnie Scotland!
Thursday, May 23 – Depart for Home (B)
Today we say goodbye to each other and to bonnie Scotland as we depart for home!