Go beyond the mainland and discover the remote northern and western fringes of Scotland, Europe’s last great wilderness. Our ultimate trip explores an amazingly diverse range of scenery, history and cultures. From the Viking influenced Orkney Islands and the mysterious Callanish Standing Stones on Lewis to the mountains and legends of the magical Isle of Skye. This is the definitive Highlands and Islands journey.
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Departs 8.15am. From Edinburgh, we pass the famous Forth Bridge and into Perthshire, surrounded by mountains, forests and salmon packed rivers. We stop in Dunkeld, heart of Macbeth country and visit its mighty cathedral. Then it’s through the Cairngorms National park, past Inverness and onwards to the far north-west coast of Scotland for our ferry over the sea to the outer Hebrides and the Isle of Lewis.
We visit the stunning Callanish Standing Stones, Neolithic in age and dating back more than 4,000 years. Their meaning remains a mystery and these are considered to be some of the most impressive and inspiring of any of the ancient stones in Britain. These Hebridean islands are predominantly Gaelic speaking and have an unbroken culture dating back millennia. We explore the Butt of Lewis with its isolated lighthouse and stunning ocean views. Then onto a traditional blackhouse and the home of tweed makers, a fabric exclusive to the islands but considered very trendy worldwide!
In the morning we explore the amazing beaches of Harris, famous for its clear blue waters, magnificent mountain backdrop and traditional crofting culture. These islands are home to the Clan MacLeod who have lived here for centuries. After exploring the wonders of Harris, we leave their homeland and cross by ferry on our journey back to the mainland. We spend the night on Skye en-route.
Back on the mainland, today we head into the north west Highlands, some of the most remote and isolated mountain terrain in Europe. First we pass Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most iconic views in Scotland. Then it’s truly off the beaten track and into the wilds! Wester Ross, located in the north west Highlands, has some of the most pictuesque mountain views in Britain and is home to incredible wildlife, including golden eagles and stags! Inverness, the capital of the Highlands is our home for the night.
We journey further north passing over the Moray Firth, home and on to the tip of the British mainland, John O'Groats. We board the ferry to sail over the Pentland Firth to Orkney, home to more archaeological ruins in one area than anywhere else in Europe. We visit a local hidden gem, the 'Tomb of the Eagles' . A Stone Age chamber filled with thousands of human and eagle bones from many millennia ago.
Today we head off to explore Skara Brae, dating from the late Neolithic period and inhabited between 3,200BC and 2,200BC. This incredible stone village is made up of eight dwellings (some still containing original furniture) linked together by a series of low alleyways and is a marvel of ancient building techniques. Then we visit the magnificent standing stones at the Ring of Brodgar and the Italian Chapel built by 550 Italian POW's in the Second World War.
We bid Orkney farewell and make the ferry crossing back to the mainland and journey south through Scotland’s rugged terrain. We travel through the sparsely populated wilderness of Sutherland and Caithness, via glens left deserted as a result of the Highland Clearances. Our journey takes south and onto Loch Ness. We arrive in plenty of time to do some monster spotting on one of the most world's most famous bodies of water. Get ready for a great night in Mo's Bar at Fort Augustus on the shores of the famous loch.
We Stay Wild and visit HAGGiS Grove (weather permitting) to plant a tree and help restore our native forest. Then, passing Eilean Donan Castle, we head on to the Isle of Skye also known as the ‘winged isle’ or ‘Isle of Mist’. Immerse yourself in Viking myths and legends, hear tales abound with faeries and fights, and explore the windswept mountainous landscapes of this famous island.
A spectacular ferry journey from Skye back to the mainland and the chance to travel on the steam train that inspired the 'Hogwarts Express', often voted the most spectacular train journey in the world. Alternatively, travel the amazing 'Road to the Isles' past Glenfinnan Monument and see the train as it crosses the viaduct featured in the Harry Potter film. From Fort William in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, we head to Oban, known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’ because of its amazing views over to Mull. Tonight, dance your tartan pants off with some traditional dancing at a ceilidh!
We head for eerie Glencoe, home to some of Scotland’s most iconic scenery and the setting of the infamous 1692 massacre. More recently the location was used as a backdrop in the movie ‘Skyfall’. Further south we enter Rob Roy country where the landscape changes from the Highlands to the Lowlands. Our journey back to Edinburgh takes in views of magnificent Stirling Castle as we hear tales of William Wallace at the mighty Monument built in his honour. Returns approximately 5.00pm.
We know you’re travelling on a budget so you should spend your cash how you want to. Pay for your accommodation with our ‘Pay Now’ service or just ‘Pay As You Go’ directly to suppliers on arrival, subject to availability. The choice is yours.
Pre-Pay Bundle –Pay for your accommodation at the time of booking. Faster check in, easier to budget on tour and exclusive tour t-shirt.
Pay As You Go – Pay for your accommodation directly to the establishments on arrival each day. Dorm accommodation is guaranteed.
No stress, your accommodation is booked in the best hostels available!
Whether you chose to ‘Pre-Pay’ or ‘Pay As You Go’, we book hostel multi-share accommodation in small dorms (generally 4 to 6 bed dorms).
Private Room Upgrades can be selected under our ‘Pay Now’ service, and are subject to availability. The majority of private rooms are of the same standard as the hostel dorms. Some private rooms have en-suite facilities, whilst others have shared bathrooms.
Private rooms are generally accommodated within the same building as the rest of the group. Where this is not possible, you may be required to make your own way to your accommodation, which is normally located a short walk away from the main drop off point
Featured in a number of the Harry Potter movies as ‘The Hogwarts Express’, the Jacobite Steam Train is a spectacular journey through some of Scotland’s most dramatic coastal scenery. Voted as the best train journey in the world by Wanderlust magazine readers for several years, the 42 mile trip is certainly worth considering as a trip add-on!
Reserve separately at time of booking, not available locally*
No trip to Orkney is complete without a visit to Skara Brae Stone Age Village, part of a World Heritage site. A Neolithic settlement dating back 5000 years which gives a fantastic insight into prehistoric living.
Included in Pre-Pay Bundle
A unique ‘hands-on’ experience! Perched above dramatic cliffs, the Isbister Chambered Cairn is better known today as the ‘Tomb of the Eagles’! Discovered by chance by local farmer Ronnie Simison in the 1950s, the Stone Age tomb revealed an amazing collection of bones and artefacts. More than 50 years after Ronnie Simison came across these remarkable sites, his family invite you to come and enjoy these well-loved visitor attractions.
Included in Pre-Pay Bundle
You’re reading this because you’re interested in seeing more of Scotland than just the major icons like Loch Ness. Gearrannan offers a fantastic insight into traditional way of life which has changed slowly, still shapes the Western Isles today and is truly off the beaten track.
Included in Pre-Pay Bundle
*The Jacobite Steam Train has limited availability and operates seasonally from late May to September. Outside the Train operating season the route off Skye will vary and may not include the ferry or Road to the Isles