Feast your imagination and fill up your senses on our six day island hopping tour of Mull, Iona & Skye from Edinburgh.
After leaving Edinburgh on Monday morning, we call in at Glasgow and then head deep into Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The lochside village of Luss is our first destination, where tidy cottages decked in rambling roses lead to the water’s edge and a wander along the pier. For a tranquil moment why not visit the 19th century church, beautifully restored with a Scots pine ceiling and Victorian stained-glass windows. Go back in time to the Viking raids of the 13th century with a stroll around the ancient churchyard where a Viking ‘hogback’ grave still stands. From the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond we travel to the ‘Arrochar Alps’ to an iconic viewpoint the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’. These words, etched in stone, reveal the relief of soldiers who laboured on the original road in 1750.
As your small group weaves along the banks of Loch Fyne, the white outline of Inveraray springs into view. Established in 1745 by the 3rd Duke of Argyll, head of the powerful Clan Campbell, the town remains as a perfect example of Scottish Georgian architecture. As we stop for lunch you can enjoy its tourist attractions like Inveraray Castle and gardens. Our next port of call is the vibrant tourist town of Oban, known as ‘The Gateway to the Isles’, where we catch our ferry to the Isle of Mull. We spend the next three nights in Tobermory which is renowned for the multi-coloured buildings that garland its harbour.
Our first full day on Mull begins with a tranquil 10-minute ferry ride to Iona, where St Columba founded the Celtic Christian religion in 563 AD. You can visit Iona Abbey, the small stone building of St Oran’s Chapel and the graveyard Reilig Òdhrain, reputed to be the resting place of 48 ancient Scottish kings including the 11th century king Macbeth. This small island is easy to navigate by foot. It’s worth a stroll up Torr an Aba, a rocky knoll where St Columba’s writing hut is said to have stood. From Iona’s highest point at Dun I, turquoise waters stretch out to Tiree, Coll and the Treshnish Islands. On a clear day look for the Small Isles of Rhum and Eigg as well as Skye and even the coast of Ireland.
Fingal’s Cave is famous the world over for its bizarre geological shapes and its fantastic acoustics which even inspired Mendelssohn. Its hexagonal rock columns are home to puffins, razorbills, guillemots and gannets. From your perch on top of the island you might spot playful dolphins and porpoises, minke and fin whales or even the rare basking shark. There’s time to explore Tobermory’s restaurants and traditional Scottish pubs in the evening.
The quaint village of Dervaig was laid out in 1799 but nearby standing stones at Kilmore suggest a prehistoric settlement and the remains of a Highland village recall the 18th and 19th century clearances. We’ll stop to admire the wide, white sands of Calgary Bay, one of Scotland’s top beaches. A landing on the tiny Isle of Ulva offers the chance to walk on untouched shell beaches and breath in the scents of lush woodland. This is a nature-lover’s paradise and you may spot sea eagles, golden eagles and otters. The thatched ‘Sheila’s Cottage’ houses a museum and heritage centre and refreshments are served at the Boathouse café. Back in Tobermory you might enjoy a trip to the distillery for a dram of single malt whisky.
Day four sees us take two short ferry journeys onto the Morvern peninsula and the mainland where we enter unspoilt Glencoe. Scotland’s most famous glen bore witness to the Glencoe Massacre of 1692 and as you experience its splendid isolation you can almost hear the screams of the MacDonalds as they were slaughtered by the Campbells. Your small group now meets up with our Skye tour to continue our adventure to Scotland’s most romantic island. You'll travel through Fort William on the shores of Loch Linnhe. Be prepared for spectacular views of Glenfinnan and Loch Shiel as you arrive at our next photo stop. This legendary location is where Bonnie Prince Charlie claimed the throne of Great Britain and Ireland for the Stuart kings. Having raised his clansmen to arms, they were decisively defeated at the Battle of Culloden and the Glenfinnan Monument stands proud in their memory today.
We will then continue north through Glens Garry, Clunie & Shiel to Eilean Donan Castle. This is Scotland’s most photographed castle, which defiantly occupies a little island at the point where three great sea lochs join. It’s easy to see why film-makers chose it as a scenic backdrop in movies such as Highlander, The World is Not Enough and the Bollywood blockbuster Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. It's a short drive to the small village of Kyleakin where we’ll spend the next two nights.
Whatever the outdoor conditions the Isle of Skye never disappoints and your knowledgeable driver-guide has the flexibility to make sure you witness its gems. From the jagged Cuillin mountain range to the strange natural formations of the Trotternish Peninsula, there are plenty of awesome sights to fill up your camera. At Glenbrittle the glistening blue waters of the Fairy Pools entice visitors from all over the world and even make for delightful wild swimming. The busy town of Portree offers lots of lunch options before we sojourn on to the Trotternish Peninsula.
Bizarre geological shapes and formations define the landscape, such as the basalt columns of Kilt Rock that remind us of our national dress. The spectacular Quiraing has been created by a massive landslip and the Mealt waterfalls seem to tumble down the very edge of the world into the ocean below. If reachable we’ll visit the supernatural grassy mounds and ponds of Fairy Glen. The iconic geological creation, the Old Man of Storr, is another photo stop on our return to Kyleakin and an evening to yourselves
Bidding farewell to Skye, we’ll take a route less travelled by taking the Kylerhea ferry ‘over the sea from Skye’. You'll have the unique opportunity to cross over on the last manual turntable ferry in Scotland. It's a short drive to Glenelg viewpoint where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Five Sisters of Kintail mountain range and Loch Duich. Our next body of water is Scotland’s most inexplicable, Loch Ness, home to Nessie our rarely-sighted Loch Ness monster. We stop for lunch in Fort Augustus, by the side of the Caledonian Canal and its intriguing locks. For Nessie-hunters there’s an optional loch cruise. Firmly on dry land again, we drive through the Cairngorms National Park and the rolling green countryside made famous in TV show ‘Monarch of the Glen’. There’s a dram of whisky and some chocolate tasting waiting for us at Dalwhinnie Distillery before we head to Pitlochry for our final stop of the tour.
On the way, the white turrets of Blair Castle to your left are the ancient seat of the Dukes of Atholl and home to the last remaining private army of Europe, the Atholl Highlanders. Returning to Glasgow via Edinburgh, there are engineering wonders of the last 130 years to behold. As we drive over the Queensferry Crossing, opened in August 2017, the gigantic red cantilevers of the Forth Bridge can be seen rising out of the Firth of Forth. This UNESCO world heritage site is listed alongside the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
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Discover Scotland Tours 1 day trips and Multi-Day tours take you to some of the most beautiful, historic and inspiring places in Scotland. Our guests enjoy guaranteed departures, our unique hotel pick up service and a modern fleet of small luxury Mercedes coaches.
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