An unforgettable journey, exploring this magical land through folklore, poetry, history & geology. Sample delicious food, whisky & gin tastings, meet the Chief of a Highland Clan, stay in a historic building, travel back in time with a Shetland pony!
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Pick up from Edinburgh and travel to our first destination Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel is a rare architectural gem with exquisitely carved stonework in beautiful sandstone hues on its external walls; it has long been associated with mystery, the Knights Templar and is even said to be home to the Holy Grail. There we will have a guided talk about the chapel and time to explore at our leisure.
We will then travel to a nearby secret garden, after a lunch in their amazing glasshouse we will hear about their gin distilling practice creating crafted specialist award-winning gins, using the wonderful organic herbs they grow there. The owner will give us a guided tour of the gardens where the herbs are grown and show us the herb drying room, the smell is divine. We will be offered a gin tasting and see the gin change colour when tonic is added! The beautiful gardens are set within 7.5 acres by a stream and a very enjoyable place to wander around at your leisure. Then onto our very comfortable accommodation and evening at your leisure, maybe with a tot of gin!
We meet today with our guide Scot, a highland bard and folklorist who will takes us down into the mystical Rosslyn Glen and shows us some of its hidden wonders, relating some of the many tales surrounding this mysterious glen and its castle. People are often taken aback by this magical wilderness so close to Edinburgh. Then onto an ancient yew reputed to be over 1000 years old. The Yew is what is called a layering yew as it has laid branches down to the ground which root and send up new stems, it creates the impression of a cathedral when you stand under its branches, a powerful experience. John Knox, the 16th century reformist is said to have preached here. Scot’s tales very much bring the place to life! We then travel onto our next destination the stunning Tay valley in the Highlands. Evening at your leisure in a very pretty highland town set on the banks of the River Tay.
We meet with Scot and will spend the day exploring Glen Lyon and its mythology. Glen Lyon, is a hidden remote highland glen, the longest enclosed glen in Scotland. Sir Walter Scott described the glen as the loveliest in Scotland. It has a great natural beauty and a remoteness of landscape that is felt by the visitor. It was the site of the last Pictish strongholds pre 900AD, home to early Christian sites, a Fairy hill of the Celts, the last continuously kept earth Goddess shrine in Great Britain and legends and talks of Fionn MacCumhal. It is quite a place. We will explore these themes with Scot as we journey through the glen. Return to your accommodation to relax in this wonderful Highland setting.
Morning visit to an ancient loch dwelling on Loch Tay and see what life was like in the area in the early Iron Age, it’s a great insight. We then venture into the Highland meadows above the Loch to walk the land as the ancients did, with our trusty steed, Fergus the Shetland pony carrying delicious refreshments to keep us recharged. Then onward, we travel the length of Loch Tay to the lovely highland town of Killin, an extremely picturesque place. You will have time to explore the town, before travelling to Oban, on the West coast of Scotland, it is a bustling Victorian harbour town with an excellent distillery where we will sample some of their whiskies. Oban is known as the “Gateway to the Isles” and there is nothing more fun than watching the ferries go in and out of the harbour on their way to the Western isles, wondering what adventures their passengers are on. Watching the ferries makes you realize there is a whole other world beyond the mainland and its very intriguing to wonder what it is! Evening at your leisure, maybe with a dram of whisky!
Onto the Isle of Mull with our guide Scot, who will takes us round the 14th century Duart Castle. The Castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic and dramatically located castles sitting on a volcanic promontory overlooking the sound of Mull. In the past it would have commanded access to the Western seaboard. The present Chief of the Clan Maclean and resident at Duart Castle is Sir Lachlan Maclean. Sir Lachlan will meet with us at the castle. Scot is Sir Lachlan MacLean’s storyteller, a Seanachaidh – a keeper of Maclean history and Tales. He will recount stories about its long history with his harp, it very much brings the place to life.
After a delicious lunch in the award winning tearoom, we then venture onto Loch Buie. It is home to the second family of Maclean’s and scene of some ferocious battles with its ancient ruined castle, stunning coastal situation and prehistoric stone circle, we will be regaled with stories of this place with a long past. As you stand there you just breathe in the history. We then travel on to the beautiful Isle of Iona where we will spend the next three nights. We stay in one of Iona’s most historic houses with outstanding views of the abbey and the islands to the North and South. Evening at your leisure; enjoying the hospitality of one of the fine hotels on the island.
Full day explore of Iona with a highly respected geologist James Westland. We will walk the length of the island exploring Columba’s Bay, where St Columba landed and where Iona greenstone pebbles can be found, walk the labyrinth then onto the Iona quarry with its world famous marble and maybe see the spouting cave in action. Throughout the day James will explain how the landscape was created, a fascinating insight. Some of the rocks on Iona are over 2 million years old and so old they hold no fossils. Iona is one of those places where you feel the landscape, it is a great place to just be.
Morning trip out to the Isla of Staffa to see the magnificent Fingal’s cave with its hexagonal basaltic columns and meet the curious and adorable puffins!
The afternoon is at your leisure with time to explore the 13th Century Iona Abbey, 12th century St Orans chapel, the oldest building on the island and the atmospheric 12th Century Nunnery, maybe do a bit of shopping in the island craft shops.
On the final evening we will have a farewell dinner together at one of the two outstanding hotels on the Iona.
We bid our farewells to Iona and Mull and make our way back to the mainland, with a lunchtime stop at a Highland smokehouse and a chance to see how the fish is smoked and maybe buy a few yummy bits to take home with you. The smokehouse is set in a beautiful setting surrounded by native woodland with spectacular views over the River Awe. Then onto Edinburgh and say our goodbyes to the new friends we have made on this remarkable trip.
Also available on our days on Iona is the option of a relaxing reflexology session with a highly experienced reflexologist, a very nice way to end your week (this is at extra charge).
Power of sea be yours,
Power of land be yours,
Power of heaven
West Highland Blessing
A specialist company providing unique small-group tours to help people get a greater sense of the places they travel to; the remote, hidden, sacred and ancient sites of Scotland. The country is explored through storytelling, folklore, poetry, geology, history, art, archeoastronomy and of course its food and drink! The guides are experts in their specialist fields, passionate about their subjects with many years experience guiding. Celtic Compass prides itself on designing itineraries to give a really immersive experience and create life-long lasting memories of this majestic country.
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