Discover the history of one of Scotland's greatest clans - the Macdonalds - with an extended six day tour from Inverness that includes the Isle of Skye, the West Highlands and the ancient heartland of the Macdonald Lords of the Isles on Islay.
Day 1 begins at Inverness where we visit Culloden Battlefield to explore the bloody history surrounding Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite supporters (which included the Macdonalds of Keppoch, Clanranald, Glengarry and Glencoe). We then follow the Great Glen down the banks of Loch Ness before turning west to Glen Shiel and the Five Sisters of Kintail mountains. Arriving at Eilean Donan Castle (which was involved in a 'less than successful' Macdonald uprising in the 1530s) we discover its historic past before we cross the bridge to the Isle of Skye to explore the lands of the Macdonalds of Sleat (the most powerful Macdonald branch of Clan Donald). Our late afternoon journey through the Isle of Skye takes us to Portree for our overnight stop.
Day 2 begins with a tour to the Trotternish Peninsula (ancient Clan Donald lands) including the Old Man of Storr and to Kilt Rock. Continuing north, we pass the ruins of Duntulm Castle, former clan stronghold, before arriving at the Museum of Island Life. Nearby is the grave of one of the clan's most celebrated figures - Flora Macdonald. The afternoon takes us south to the Sleat Peninsula to explore the Museum of the Isles (which tells the history of the Macdonalds) along with the ruins of Armadale Castle, the last ancestral home of the Macdonalds of Sleat. We then take the late afternoon ferry across the Sound of Sleat to Mallaig (or Arisaig) for our overnight stop.
Day 3 departs from Mallaig/Arisaig along the 'road to the isles' where we take a detour south into the remote lands of Moidart and the wonderful ruins of the fourteenth-century Castle Tioram, ancient heartland of Macdonalds of Clanranald. Located on a tidal island, it is possible to walk around the island at low tide. After a visit to Glenfinnan where the Clanranald stood with Bonnie Prince Charlie as the Standard was raised in 1745, the afternoon takes us on a breath-taking drive through the magnificent Glencoe, home of the Macdonalds of Glencoe and an infamous massacre in 1692. Leaving Glencoe we journey south to Oban for our overnight stop.
Day 4 departs from Oban as we head south through the stunning historical landscapes of Kilmartin Glen, where we explore the traditional West Highland grave slabs that were prominent during the height of the Lordship of the Isles. We continue on a scenic drive that takes us past the ancient Dunadd hill fort from where the early Gaels ruled the lands of Dalriada, before we arrive at Kennacraig where we board the afternoon ferry for a 2¼ hour sailing across to the Isle of Islay.
Day 5 is a full day on the Isle of Islay and begins with a visit to Finlaggan, the ancestral heartland of the Lords of the Isles. From Loch Finlaggan the descendants of Somerled, the chiefs of Clan Donald, ruled a lordship that at its height in the mid-fifteenth century encompassed most of the Hebrides and a large swathe of the Highlands. The afternoon takes us south to explore the ruins of Dunnyveg Castle the ancient stronghold of the Macdonalds of Dunnyveg. Before returning to our overnight accommodation there is the option to enjoy one of Islay's most famous export - whisky!
Day 6 departs from Islay as we take the early morning sailing back to the mainland. It is then a scenic drive north back toward to Oban. After a late lunch stop we head for Fort William where we visit the ruins of Inverlochy Castle (another Macdonald stronghold). Travelling back towards Inverness we pass through the lands of the Macdonalds of Keppoch before reaching Glen Garry, the ancient lands of the Macdonalds of Glengarry where we explore the ruins of Invergarry Castle.
The Hebridean Explorer (John Alasdair Macdonald) is an independent tour guide specialising in private guided tours for small groups (up to 3) from Inverness and Edinburgh covering the Scottish Highlands and Islands including the Isle of Skye, the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland along with Scotch whisky, Highland clans and history tours.
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