Nothing beats the thrill of the open road and Scotland undoubtedly has some of the most scenic and spectacular. This uniquely designed holiday encompasses mountains and glens, forests and rivers, islands and beaches, castles, gardens and even whisky
Day One - The Cairngorms
From Glasgow or Edinburgh, head north through to the Grampian mountains to reach your first base in the heart of the highlands by the Cairngorm mountain range.
Originally a sporting lodge, your elegant hotel is set amidst 10 beautiful acres of the best ‘Monarch of the Glen’ countryside within the Cairngorms National Park. Surrounded by forests and mountains, you can even glimpse an ancient castle as you stroll through the gardens or take tea on the elevated garden terrace. In a throwback to Victorian tradition, two majestic, shaggy highland cows provide a captivating focal point among the leafy trees and bushes. Recently refurbished and updated, the hotel is a wonderful blend of the traditional and modern and has become an elegant yet informal ‘boutique-style’ country house where you immediately feel at home. Dining in the impressive Victorian conservatory is quite an experience; there is an extensive and imaginative wine list and a menu focussed on the best local produce.
What to see and do
As well as being in the heart of Scotland’s whisky country, there are no shortage of other options here – with excellent salmon fishing on the Spey, 15 nearby golf courses, walking on the Speyside Way and numerous places of historic interest, from Pluscarden Abbey to romantic Cawdor Castle.
Day Three - The Isle of Skye
Your route to Skye takes you past famous landmarks such as Loch Ness and Eilean Donan castle, before crossing the Skye Bridge to reach your next base in the south of the island.
Sheltered by a gently curving bay, your charming whitewashed hotel sits right on the seashore enjoying expansive views over the Sound of Sleat to the wilderness of Knoydart. This, the most southerly part of Skye, is an area of great natural beauty, often referred to as the "Garden of Skye" thanks to its abundant bird life and profusion of wild flowers. This is a Gaelic-speaking community and the bar is a convivial meeting place for the locals, who mix happily with hotel guests - often to the accompaniment of traditional music and Gaelic song in front of the roaring log fire. Twelve bedrooms (six in the Garden House) are decorated with pretty cotton and linen chintzes and there are four new suites in the recently restored stables, each enjoying superb views across the water to the lighthouse of Isle Ornsay. Candlelit meals in the wood-panelled dining room reflect the estate’s culinary riches with wonderful shellfish and game featuring prominently on the menu.
What to see and do
On the little harbour right beside the hotel is the headquarters of "The Gaelic Whiskies", where you can sample an excellent range of connoisseur brands before browsing in the nearby craft shop. The surrounding area of hills, moorland, woodland and seashore offers endless opportunities for walking and drinking in the magnificent sea views. Don’t miss the enchanting walk to the Point of Sleat, from where you can gaze across to the small isles of Rum and Eigg and dream of future visits! On the way down to the Point of Sleat, it’s worth stopping off at the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle, with its fine arboretum and lovely garden. Further afield, in the north of the island, you’ll find historic Dunvegan Castle, and Portree, the bustling island capital.
Day Five - Loch Linnhe
Today, leave Skye by ferry to Mallaig on the mainland with time to explore the glorious sandy beaches of Arisaig, before reaching your next lochside destination.
Originally the home of Loch Linnhe’s Pier Master, this historic and award-winning restaurant, with its adjacent modern residence, really is a special place to contemplate the dramatic beauty of the west coast. The views are stunning and the once prolific steam traffic has given way to the blissful sound of silence. Mouthwatering langoustines and lobster are kept fresh off the end of the pier before being served to you by candlelight in the cosy conviviality of one of Argyll’s finest restaurants. As you contemplate the sunset over the distant Morvern hills, you may be lucky enough to glimpse otters and seals.
What to see and do
The local ferryman might tempt you to board the morning boat to Lismore – an island well worth a day’s exploration either on foot or bike (available for hire locally). Or take the short Corran ferry crossing to explore the remote wilderness of the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Meanwhile Oban is just half an hour away by car for ferries to Mull, Kerrera and other inviting islands. In this enchanted corner of Scotland, history is on your doorstep too: brooding Castle Stalker - ancient seat of the Stewarts - guards the mouth of Loch Laich, whilst to the north, the infamous valley of Glencoe conceals a legacy of bloody battles and heroic deeds. You could head south to atmospheric Kilmartin Glen, the cradle of ancient Scotland, or marvel at the legacy of the Victorian plant hunters in the wonderful National trust gardens at Arduaine or Crarae.
Day Seven - The Trossachs
Finally you turn south east, passing through the majestic Glencoe valley before a final stop in a special destination, tucked away in a highland glen.
One of our favourite destinations for nearly twenty years: it still gets better every time we visit. A beacon of welcome after a four mile drive along a windy single-track road, the traditional farmhouse and courtyard steading will surprise and delight you at every turn, as they reveal a fascinating, yet subtle, mix of old and new, rustic and chic. The restaurant has earned a superb reputation – cooking is Tom’s passion and he creates exceptionally imaginative dishes in an ever-changing menu, reflecting whatever produce he can source directly and locally. The hotel’s organic garden provides a regular supply of herbs and vegetables, whilst the breakfast scrambled eggs come courtesy of the chickens in the yard – hence their deep orange colour. With magnificent views over Loch Voil and Loch Doine, this is the perfect place to soak up the peace and tranquillity of a sprawling highland estate, where red deer and grouse roam through dramatic walking country and red squirrels scurry across your path before darting back into the undergrowth.
What to see and do
The hotel is well located for great drives throughout the Trossachs as well as along Loch Tay and around Ben Lawers, Scotland’s tenth highest mountain. Besides boasting many scenic roads, this is great walking country and is famous for its connections with the outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor – his grave is in Balquhidder churchyard. A little further afield, you can explore Stirling and its dramatic Castle and old centre, Loch Lomond and the Falkirk Wheel.
Return home - around an hour from the motorway network and your homeward journey