Featuring Back-Roads Touring and Luxury Hotel Barge Spirit of Scotland
Towering mountains and enchanting lochs. Dramatic castles and quaint villages. Infamous battles and gripping legends. This Scottish Journey takes us from coastal cities to Hebridean islands, seeking out one-of-a-kind landscapes, mesmerising history and undeniable charm.
And after 10 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.
• Meet the Highland cattle at a local Highland beef farm
• Spend days touring the breathtaking Isle of Skye and Isle of Mull
• Uncover the intricacies behind Scottish whisky culture with a tasting experience
• Immerse yourself in the captivating history of Culloden Battlefield
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
THURSDAY, DAY 1: EDINBURGH
Majestic landscapes, scenic roads and imagination-firing landscapes: Scotland delivers on every level. After meeting the group at our hotel, we’ll get to know each other over a delicious welcome meal. Accommodation: Eden Locke (or similar) D
FRIDAY, DAY 2: EDINBURGH TO ST ANDREWS TO ROYAL DEESIDE
After breakfast, we’ll board the mini-coach and take to the scenic route. Now, the journey begins! Travelling along the coast, we’ll stop in at tiny East Neuk fishing villages before reaching St Andrews: a small town with a big reputation for world-class golf. Later today, we’ll check into our accommodation in Royal Deeside. Accommodation: The Lodge on the Loch Hotel (or similar) B
SATURDAY, DAY 3: ROYAL DEESIDE
Get ready to dive into a day of truly authentic Scottish experiences. First, we’ll take a tour of a local Highland beef farm, where we’ll meet some of the country’s famous Highland cattle and enjoy an included lunch. Then, a lesson in Scotch whisky awaits. We’ll uncover the centuries-old legends and intricate processes behind turning malted barley into ‘liquid gold’ – sampling a dram or two while we’re at it. This evening, we’ll have some free time to spend as we wish. Accommodation: The Lodge on the Loch Hotel (or similar) B, L
SUNDAY, DAY 4: ROYAL DEESIDE TO CAIRNGORMS NATIONAL PARK TO CULLODEN BATTLEFIELD TO INVERNESS
Our day will begin in dramatic fashion as we travel through the awe-inspiring scenery of Cairngorms National Park on the way to the atmospheric Culloden Battlefield. At the Visitor Centre, we’ll immerse ourselves in the fascinating history of the Highlands and gain a unique insight into the battle that took place on this vast moorland. Our final stop of the day will be Inverness, the welcoming capital of the Highlands. Tonight, we’ll come together to share stories of the day’s adventures over an included meal. Accommodation: The Kingsmills Hotel (or similar) B, D
MONDAY, DAY 5: INVERNESS
After this morning’s orientation tour, the city is your oyster. Visit Inverness Castle and Cathedral, explore the charming Victorian Market or simply hunt down a good pub to relax in. What you do today is completely up to you! For dinner tonight, why not take advantage of the array of local eateries filled with character and delicious Scottish fare. Accommodation: The Kingsmills Hotel (or similar) B
TUESDAY, DAY 6: INVERNESS TO PLOCKTON TO ISLE OF SKYE
This morning, we’ll take the scenic route via Scotland’s iconic Loch Ness – seeing if we can spot the illusive Nessie from the shore. Then: a visit to the quaint village of Plockton, where painted cottages cluster around a picturesque bay. We’ll have the opportunity to stroll the harbour and observe the passing yachts – before enjoying lunch at our leisure. The day’s final destination will be the breathtaking region of Skye: our home for the next two nights. At our hotel, we’ll share the excitement for tomorrow’s adventures over an included dinner. Accommodation: Redwood House (or similar) B, D
WEDNESDAY, DAY 7: ISLE OF SKYE
Sensational landscapes, rare wildlife and imagination-firing history – the Isle of Skye delivers on every level. This is North Highland scenery on a grand scale! We’ll spend the day taking in the island’s unique geology and jaw-dropping scenery – including the extraordinary Quiraing, Kilt Rock and Old Man of Storr. After a full day of exploring, we’ll have the evening free to dine at our leisure or relax in our idyllic surrounds. Accommodation: Redwood House (or similar) B
THURSDAY, DAY 8: ISLE OF SKYE TO ISLE OF MULL
Today we’ll continue our journey through soul-stirring Scottish scenery before taking a short ferry ride over to the breathtaking Isle of Mull. Here, the evening will be yours to spend as you please. Accommodation: The Western Isles Hotel (or similar) B
FRIDAY, DAY 9: ISLE OF MULL TO ISLE OF IONA TO ISLE OF MULL
First today, we’ll visit the grand staterooms and empty dungeons of the imposing Duart Castle – the oldest inhabited castle on the island. Then: the best way to see the Hebrides is by island hopping – and this afternoon, we’ll do just that. From Mull’s little village of Fionnphort, we’ll set sail to Iona: where the Abbey and Nunnery await us. After a busy day, we’ll return to our hotel on Mull to enjoy a final dinner together. Accommodation: The Western Isles Hotel (or similar) B, D
SATURDAY, DAY 10: ISLE OF MULL TO STIRLING TO EDINBURGH
Back to the mainland we go. It’s been a tour that’s delved deep into Scotland’s heritage, so it’s only right that we include a stop in historic Stirling. A drive through the Old Town will bring us to the magnificent hilltop castle, one of Scotland’s most impressive and significant monuments. Here, we’ll spend some time exploring the castle’s many rooms and soaking up the sweeping views from atop the castle walls before returning to Edinburgh. Accommodation: Eden Locke (or similar) B
SUNDAY, DAY 11: EDINBURGH TO SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND
Enjoy the morning in Edinburgh 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 12: 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 13: 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 14: 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 15: 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 16: 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 17: 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. The land tour is operated by Back-Roads Touring Co and is subject to their terms and conditions. Please refer to: https://www.backroadstouring.com/terms-and-conditions