Featuring Back-Roads Touring and Luxury Hotel Barge Spirit of Scotland
Enchanting lochs, haunting glens and soaring mountains: Scotland is home to many diverse treasures. On this tour of the historic Borders and scenic Central Belt, we’ll discover some of the country’s most spectacular views, fascinating stories and long-standing traditions – all of which are to be found in lesser-visited locations off the beaten track.
And after 7 days of sightseeing on your own, private tour, it will be time to board your exclusive Luxury Hotel Barge for a magical 7-day cruise along the magnificent Caledonian Canal that provides some of the best inland cruising in the world.
- Experience soul-stirring views on a Highland safari in Perthshire
- Admire the stunning natural beauty of Loch Lomond aboard a scenic cruise
- Gain a unique insight into the lives of the original Crannog dwellers at the Scottish Crannog Centre
Tour of the Tomatin whisky distillery with a private tasting | See Eilean Donan and Urquhart castles | Tour Cawdor Castle and gardens, home of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play | Extraordinary River, canal and loch cruising & excellent walking opportunities Majestic Falconry Display on the banks of Loch Ness | Visit Glencoe, scene of treachery between the Campbell and MacDonald clans
• 6 Nights’ accommodation in airconditioned, en suite cabins
• All gourmet meals aboard and ashore
• Selected regional wines
• Champagne welcome
• Open bar
• All excursions and admittance fees
• Use of bicycles
Saturday, Day 1: Edinburgh
A land of magnificent historical treasures and imagination-firing landscapes – we’ll meet in Bonnie Scotland’s picturesque capital. After settling into our hand-picked hotel, we’ll get to know one another better over a deliciously hearty welcome meal. Here’s to the incredible journey ahead! Accommodation: Eden Locke Hotel (or similar) D
Sunday, Day 2: Edinburgh to Doune to Perthshire
After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll board the mini-coach and make our way to Doune – where a visit to the imposing Doune Castle awaits. After spending some time admiring the castle interior and views from the battlements, we’ll roll through the spellbinding Sma’ Glen en route to Perthshire. A region known for its picturesque lochs, looming mountain ranges and lush forests, we’ll have the afternoon free to explore our surrounds or relax at the hotel. Accommodation: Royal George Hotel (or similar) B
Monday, Day 3: Perthshire
Today is one for the nature-lovers amongst us! After breakfast, we’ll set off to explore the vastness of the highlands with a kilted safari ranger – going off-road through wild terrain to take in the area’s spectacular mountain views. We may even be lucky enough to glimpse a golden eagle, mountain hare or grouse as we go. After an adventurous ride, we’ll move on to the Red Deer Centre – where we’ll have the opportunity to see Britain’s largest native land mammal up close. Then: we’ll return to the hotel for an afternoon of leisure time. Accommodation: Royal George Hotel (or similar) B
Tuesday, Day 4: Perthshire to Scottish Crannog Centre to Luss
Today we’ve an appointment to keep at the Scottish Crannog Centre. Walking in the footsteps of the original Crannog dwellers, we’ll immerse ourselves in a variety of craft, textile and cooking demonstrations – gaining a unique insight into Scotland’s extensive and fascinating history. Following our visit, we have a whisky tasting session to look forward to at the postcard-perfect Glengoyne Distillery. Continuing our journey, we’ll end the day along the western shore of Loch Lomond in the picturesque village of Luss – where a sumptuous group dinner awaits. Accommodation: Lodge on Loch Lomond (or similar) B, D
Wednesday, Day 5: Luss to Glencoe to Luss
More breathtaking scenery is on the cards today as we take a day trip through the magnificent Glencoe valley. Sit back and enjoy the leisurely pace as we admire the towering mountain ranges formed by volcanic eruptions and glacial movement thousands of years ago. While we’re here, we’ll visit Glencoe Visitor Centre and learn the haunting story of the Glencoe Massacre of 1692. And following that, we’ll have enough time to visit the Inverawe Scottish Oak Smokehouse – where a delicious smoked salmon tasting session is in store. After a full day of exploring, we’ll savour an evening of leisure time after returning to Luss later this afternoon. Accommodation: Lodge on Loch Lomond (or similar) B
Thursday, Day 6: Luss to New Lanark to Scottish Borders
This morning, we’ll round off our visit to Loch Lomond with a scenic loch cruise. After losing ourselves amidst the views of islands, mountains and trees, we’ll head back to dry land for the journey to the Scottish Borders. Along the way, we’ll make a pit stop in New Lanark – home of the award-winning New Lanark Visitor Centre (one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites of ‘outstanding universal value’). A region steeped in history and ancient traditions; we’ll savour a final group meal surrounded by the natural beauty of the Scottish Borders tonight. Accommodation: The Tontine Hotel (or similar) B, D
Friday, Day 7: Scottish Borders to Edinburgh
Before we arrive back in beautiful Edinburgh today, we’ve a couple of historical stops to make. First: we’ll pay a visit to Traquair House, the oldest inhabited house in Scotland before continuing on to Melrose Abbey – the final resting place of the heart of Robert the Bruce. Accommodation: Eden Locke Hotel (or similar) B
Saturday, Day 8: Edinburgh to Inverness
This morning is yours to explore in Edinburgh before we head up to Inverness for the evening. Accommodation: Mercure Inverness Hotel (or similar) B
Sunday, Day 9: Inverness – Spirit of Scotland
Enjoy the morning in Inverness before being transferred to your Luxury Hotel Barge, Scottish Highlander, where a Champagne Welcome awaits you. Then, perhaps an early evening stroll to the sea lock with wonderful views over the Moray and Beauly Firths. Dinner on board
MONDAY, DAY 10: MUIRTOWN TO DOCHGARROCH
Our first cruise will take us up the Muirtown lock flight and through the Tomnahurich swing bridge, with an option to walk alongside River Ness to the hamlet of Dochgarroch. After lunch on board, we visit Culloden Moor, scene of the last major battle on British soil in 1746 where English Government troops faced the Highlanders of “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. Next, it’s on to Tomatin Distillery, established in 1897 in the hills south of Inverness. We are given a fascinating description of the maturing and ageing process of their whiskies, each with its distinctive characteristics, followed by our special tasting of several single malts. Dinner on board.
TUESDAY, DAY 11: DOCHGARROCH TO FORT AUGUSTUS
This morning we enjoy a visit to Cawdor Castle*, forever immortalised in Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play”, Macbeth. The picturesque gardens have been listed amongst the top 100 in the UK. The castle contains a superb collection of tapestries, pictures and furnishings and the Dowager Countess of Cawdor still lives there for part of the year. If time allows, then we take a tour of Clava Cairns, a pre-historic clan chieftain burial site dating back to 2,000 B.C and setting for the Outlander TV series. After lunch onboard, we cruise through Loch Dochfour and across Loch Ness, where en-route we pass Urquhart Castle, navigating closely beneath its spectacular 13th century ruins, before continuing our cruise to Fort Augustus. Dinner on board.
WEDNESDAY, DAY 12: FORT AUGUSTUS TO KYTRA
After breakfast, we visit the private Highland Club, a spectacular exclusive set of residences and a former 19th century Benedictine Monastery. Here we are treated to a falconry and birds of prey demonstration* on the banks of Loch Ness, and the majesty of the swooping birds against the backdrop of the sweeping Scottish Highlands is not easily forgotten. There is time to explore the pretty village of Fort Augustus before lunch on board, after which our cruise takes us up the “flight of locks” and then on to our pretty mooring at Kytra. This evening we dine ashore at a local restaurant.
THURSDAY, DAY 13: KYTRA TO LAGGAN
This morning’s cruise can be partially walked as we cross the very scenic Loch Oich, perhaps stopping en-route for a spot of fishing, and onto the pretty Laggan Avenue. As we approach Laggan, our Highland Piper may greet us with a stirring rendition of traditional Scottish music. After lunch on board we take in some of the finest scenery Scotland has to offer as we drive to one of its best known and most photographed castles, Eilean Donan, which has featured in movies such as “Highlander” and James Bond’s “The World Is Not Enough” and overlooks three sea lochs. Dinner on board.
FRIDAY, DAY 14: LAGGAN TO BANAVIE
Our final cruise today will see us cross Loch Lochy to Gairlochy, where we rejoin the canal and continue on to Moy Bridge, the last fully hand-operated bridge on the waterway. From here it is a short cruise to our mooring at Banavie beneath Ben Nevis and a stroll from Neptune’s Staircase leading down to Loch Eil. After lunch on board, our tour today takes us to the dramatic scenery and mystical battlefield of Glencoe, famed for one of the darkest days in Scottish history when soldiers of the Campbell clan massacred 30 members of Clan MacDonald. If time permits, we can also visit the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
SATURDAY, DAY 15: BANAVIE
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to their choice of location in Inverness.
*Please note, the excursion to Cawdor Castle is only possible between early May and the end of September. A visit to Fort George will replace it either side of these dates.
Note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.