2017 Scottish Dream: Special Access Backstage 8 Days / 7 Nights
Your Scottish getaway kicks off at 2:30 pm when you meet your tour director at your Glasgow hotel and set out on an introductory tour of central Glasgow. See the main sites of Glasgow including red sandstone Victorian buildings, delightful parks, Glasgow Cathedral and the River Clyde, once famous for shipbuilding, especially during the 19th century when the city burgeoned. Visit extensive and varied art collections in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, originally opened in 1901. Chat with your tour director and your fellow travelers about all that’s ahead over a welcome drink before dinner in your hotel.
The day begins with a departure from Glasgow and drive north along the banks of Loch Lomond where you’ll take in views of Ben Lomond and other Highland peaks. At Tarbet, embark on a short cruise to appreciate the beauty of this famous loch and admire panoramic views of the Highlands. While onboard, enjoy a traditional ballad performed by your guide. On land, there will be time to browse around the town of Inveraray before visiting Inveraray Castle, an imposing Campbell family home with four conical spires that was built between 1746 and 1789 - and featured in Downton Abbey’s Season IV production! A guided tour of this will reveal the history of the family and region as you view the magnificent Armory Hall and many fine rooms. After your visit, journey across the mysterious Rannoch Moor and through Glen Coe, which is often considered one of Scotland’s most spectacular and beautiful places. Continue to Ballachulish where you can check into your hotel and freshen up before dinner with your fellow travelers.
This morning, head north via Fort William and take the “Road to the Isles” through some of Scotland’s loveliest scenery, stopping for photos at the Glenfinnan Monument. At Mallaig, board a ferry to the Isle of Skye, sometimes called the “Misty Isle” due to the hazy weather brought by the Atlantic breezes. Upon arrival to Armadale, visit the Clan Donald Centre to discover the history of the Lords of the Isles and the most powerful clan of the Isle of Skye. Next, it’s time to discover some of the island by coach before crossing the bridge to return to the mainland. Continue on for photos at the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle, one most photographed castles in all of Scotland. It all wraps up with a drive along the beautiful shores of Loch Ness - famous for its monster - before heading to Nairn and checking into your hotel. Once you settle in, join your fellow travelers for dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Today, motor just a short distance to the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. Set off on a self-guided tour and learn about the battle where British Government forces defeated the army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, popularly named Bonnie Prince Charlie. Be sure to check out the monuments commemorating troops as you walk around the moorland. At the Visitor Centre discover how events led to the conflict and subsequent emigration to North America. Next continue through majestic Highland scenery to Leault Farm for a demonstration of trained dogs herding sheep before driving south through the high peaks of the Grampian Mountains to your gracious manor-style hotel near Pitlochry. After checking in, enjoy some time to relax before dinner.
After breakfast, it’s off for a short trip to Blair Castle, home of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. Dating back to 1269, the castle has been transformed through the ages, from a strong medieval fortress to a Victorian castle in the baronial style. You’ll notice that these influences can still be seen today across the 30 rooms on full display. Here, you’ll learn about Mary, Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and how Queen Victoria's famous stay led to the creation of Europe's only private army, the Atholl Highlanders. Next up, it’s a visit to the nearby Blair Athol Distillery to learn about the simple ingredients and many steps involved in whisky making. After a tour of the facilities, sample a “wee dram” before spending the afternoon at leisure exploring the gardens, hotel museum and other facilities. Or opt to browse around the town of Pitlochry, within easy walking distance. Tonight, get ready for another superb meal at your hotel restaurant.
Say goodbye to Pitlochry and travel through lush countryside to visit Glamis Castle, the legendary setting of “Macbeth” and childhood home of the late Queen Mother. This majestic building is filled with contrasting priceless artifacts and homely furnishings. After the visit, drive across the modern Tay Bridge to St Andrews, the “Home of Golf.” See the famous Royal and Ancient Clubhouse and the Old Course on a panoramic tour plus enjoy free time to browse in golf specialty stores or take a short stroll through the medieval town. Next, drive south into Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, and check into the hotel. You may wish to relax before dinner because a Scottish evening with dinner, haggis, bagpipes, kilts and Highland dancing is in store. After dinner, enjoy an informal get-together and a drink with the cast of tonight’s festive show.
This morning begins with a sightseeing tour of Edinburgh during which you’ll have the chance to compare and contrast the wide streets and elegant mansions of the Georgian 200-year-old “New Town” with the narrow lanes and medieval townhouses along the Royal Mile, the oldest part of the city. Don’t miss Princes Street, the main shopping thoroughfare that separates the two areas. You’ll also learn about many prominent Scottish inventors, doctors and writers; plus tour the imposing Edinburgh Castle where you can see historic buildings and enjoy splendid views of Edinburgh. The rest of the day is free for independent exploring, shopping and dining.
Your tour ends after breakfast.