Day 1 – Meeting in Glasgow
Our tour begins in the bustling city of Glasgow, where you meet
your Tour Manager at the 4-Star Indigo hotel. There is some free
time to explore this city before enjoying dinner at the Marco
Pierre White Steakhouse, located in our hotel.
Day 2 – Glasgow to Stonefield Castle
Today we enjoy a journey on one of the world’s most spectacular
scenic railway lines, travelling on the West Highland Line – known
as the ‘Iron Road to the Isles’. We reach the coast at Oban, which
is set in an idyllic bay. Here you have time at leisure. Perhaps
you may wish to visit the local War & Peace Museum, detailing
the history of the local area, especially its usage as an important
naval port during World War Two.
Alternatively, you could visit the famous McCaig’s Tower, based
on the design of the Roman Colosseum, the tower is the focal point
of the town provides wonderful views of Oban and the harbour below.
The town is built around the Oban Whiskey Distillery, which holds
regular tours of its inner factories. The Dunstaffnage Castle and
Chapel is also within walking distance and the vivid colours of the
castle grounds and stoneworks are really something to behold.
Later, we travel by coach to Stonefield Castle. We spend four
Day 3 – Islay and Bruichladdich Distillery
This morning we sail from nearby Kennacraig to the beautiful
Isle of Islay, the southernmost island in the Inner Hebrides. Islay
is the fifth-largest Scottish island and the seventh-largest
surrounding Great Britain. The crossing, made aboard the Calmac
Ferry, is accompanied by incredible views of the rugged coastline.
On arrival in Port Ellen, we transfer through the craggy grassy
plains to Bruichladdich, where we enjoy a guided tour of the
Islay is one of five whisky distilling locations in the country
whose identity and heritage is protected by law and its produce has
become famous the world over. Bruichladdich produces mainly single
malt Scotch whisky, but has also created its own artisanal gin.
Owned by Rmy Cointreau, it is one of eight working distilleries on
the island. Later we continue across the heart of Islay, visiting
Port Askaig for a short stop.
We then continue by ferry to Kennacraig and by coach to Tarbert.
You have some free time in this Scottish village, built around an
inlet to the nearby Loch Fyne. Interestingly, Tarbert is a Gaelic
word for a small stretch of land joining two larger pieces,
similarly to how the titular village lies.
Whilst in Tarbert, you may wish to visit the ruins of the
ancient fort, built in the 13th century and a former home of Robert
the Bruce, who looked to defend it against the fabled Lords of the
Day 4 – Mount Stuart
Today we take the short ferry crossing to the Isle of Bute to
visit one of the world’s most spectacular Victorian Gothic
mansions, Mount Stuart. The ancestral home of the Marquesses of
Bute was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson for the 3rd
Marquess of Bute in the late 1870s, replacing the earlier home
which had been lost in a blaze.
The house is the seat of the Stuarts of Bute, direct male-line
descendants of John Stewart, the illegitimate son of King Robert II
of Scotland, the first Stuart King. Through this bloodline, they
are also descendants of the infamous Robert the Bruce. The main
part of the house provides a stunning example of Gothic Revival
architecture and is rather imposing with its red stone walls. Mount
Stuart’s main features include the colonnaded Marble Hall and the
elaborate Marble Chapel, with its spiraling spired tower.
Two other parts of the home are quite different in style, and
reflect more of a Georgian era of architectural design. Much of the
interiors and garden areas were redesigned by one Robert Wier
Schultz in the first years of the 20th century. Interestingly,
Mount Stuart was the first house of any kind to contain an indoor
heated pool and was also the first home in Scotland to experience
electrical power. We enjoy an afternoon tea here, relaxing in the
charming grounds of this heritage home.
Day 5 – Inveraray Castle and Crarae Gardens
On today’s excursion we enjoy a scenic drive to Inveraray
Castle, the imposing, turreted ancestral home of the Dukes of
Argyll. During our guided tour we explore the lavish stately rooms
and learn about the folklore and legends that have shaped this
region of Scotland. Mid 18th century neo-Gothic in design, the
castle is surrounded by 16-acres of verdant gardens and boasts an
estate of 60,000. The castle has been the seat of the Duke of
Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell since the 17th century.
The Duke and his family currently live in private residence set
between the castle’s two circular towers whilst the remaining wings
are open to the public, resplendent in their neo-classical design,
originally made for the 5th Duke by Robert Mylne. We then have some
free time in the nearby town of Inveraray. Situated on the western
shore of the mighty Loch Fyne. Here you could visit the Georgian
Inveraray Jail, a 19th century prison that is now a replica
Perhaps you may like to wander down to the pier to view the vast
iron Arctic sailing ships that are moored here, before they set off
on their voyages to the poles. The Bell Tower dominates the town
and contains the second-heaviest ring of ten bells in the world.
The bells are rung at regular intervals and the tower itself is
open to the public. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the nearby
Argyll Folk Museum and learn a little of what life was like for the
inhabitants of the region in years gone by.
The town of Inveraray itself was completely rebuilt from scratch
in the 18th century and is one of the best examples of a new town
from that time period in Scotland, with the vast majority of
properties in the town now considered worthy of protection status
due to their ancient architectural significance. In the afternoon,
we take a coach to the Crarae Gardens. Tonight, we enjoy a final
farewell dinner together.
Days 6-7 – Return to Glasgow
Today we transfer by coach to Oban at the edge of the Highlands.
From here we retrace our route to Glasgow, enjoying another
spectacular journey on the West Highland Line. After breakfast on
Day 7, the tour concludes, and you are free to
depart at leisure.