9 Day Country Roads of Scotland – Insight Vacations
Insight Vacations Country Roads Tour starting in Edinburgh and finishing in Glasgow
Beyond Scotland’s tartan façade lies 8,000 years of history and a rich cultural heritage, while the drama and variety of her natural features never fail to impress. This tour is well paced with two-night stays in Edinburgh, Thurso and Glasgow. The driving days are of a comfortable length and have frequent stops. Arrival in to Glasgow is not until early evening, but this is compensated by the late start in Portree and time on the Jacobite steam train. The modern Marriott hotel in Glasgow and the stylish Georgian Roxburgh in Edinburgh contrast with the Highland hotels, which are much simpler establishments although typical of the region, and often family run.
Day By Day
Day 1 Welcome To Edinburgh
Welcome to Scotland – land of legend and romance, from the great cultural cities in the south, to the dramatic mountains and misty lochs of the Highlands! On arrival at Edinburgh Airport, transfers depart for your hotel at 09:00, 11:00 & 13:00. Then the rest of the day is yours to relax before joining your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception, drinks and the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other over a pleasant evening of dinner and wine. Selected departures also attend the spectacular Military Tattoo – a colourful mix of pipes and drums, dance and display, set against the floodlit backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. (WR/D) Stay: Crowne Plaza – The Roxburghe/The Carlton, Edinburgh
Day 2 Edinburgh, Athens Of The North
After a restful night’s sleep, join a local expert to see the highlights of the city. Drive along Princes Street to the ornate Scott Memorial, then tour the 18th century New Town with its classical Adam facades. Over in the Old Town, visit the castle, home of Mons Meg, the Stone of Destiny and Scotland’s crown jewels. At the bottom of the Royal Mile, stands the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official Scottish residence of the Queen. The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps research your family tartan in the Tartan Centre or visit the art treasures in the National Gallery. (FB) Stay: Crowne Plaza – The Roxburghe/The Carlton, Edinburgh
Day 3 To St. Andrews And The Highland Capital Of Inverness
Cross the Firth of Forth into Fife and make your way to St. Andrews, where golf was born on the Old Course in the 15th century. After some time to explore, cross the Tay and drive to the charming Victorian resort town of Pitlochry, famous for its salmon leap. Continue via Blair Atholl and over the Grampian Mountains to the sparkling Spey Valley. The Scottish Border Collie is world renowned for its herding abilities. Visit a working Highland farm for a personal insight into the daily life of a shepherd and his dogs. Continue to stately Inverness, where your luxury signature hotel is set within four acres of manicured grounds, offering the very best in Highland hospitality. (BB/D) Stay: Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
Day 4 By Loch Ness To Culloden & On To Thurso
Travel to Culloden Moor this morning, where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite army was finally crushed in 1746. Visit the Culloden Visitor Centre before continuing along the shores of Loch Ness. Keep your eyes peeled for the monster. Now follow the rugged coast north to the fishing port of Wick. Pause at the Old Pulteney Distillery to taste a wee dram of whisky and learn about the production of the national drink. Stay in the town of Thurso, which looks out over the Pentland Firth towards the ‘Old Man of Hoy’. (BB/D) Stay: Station Hotel/St Clair Hotel, Thurso
Day 5 A Day In The Orkney Islands
On the following morning, drive to the most northerly town on the British mainland, John O’Groats. Board the ferry to the beautiful Orkney Islands – where the hardy locals live ‘below the wind and above the water’. Sightseeing includes visits to the 5000-year-old village of Skara Brae, the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, Kirkwall and the small chapel built by Italian prisoners of war during WWII. Return to your Thurso hotel for dinner this evening. (BB/D) Stay: Station Hotel/St Clair Hotel, Thurso
Day 6 Over The Sea To Skye
Through stunning and pristine landscapes along the northern coast with its white sandy beaches, and further inland to misty valleys and glens, lochs and rushing waters. Then it’s ‘Over the Sea to Skye’ the largest and most beautiful island of the Inner Hebrides. On the way to Broadford, hear romantic tales of how young Flora MacDonald helped rescue Bonnie Prince Charlie. (BB/D) Stay: Dunollie, Broadford
Day 7 Drive Through Glencoe And The Scottish Highlands To Oban
A chance to explore this wild and beautiful island, before crossing to the Kyle of Lochalsh. Stop for a photo at remote Eilean Donan Castle, which, under a clear sky, offers a perfect reflection in its loch. Move on to the WWII Commando Memorial where there is a fine view of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. Stop a wee while in the pleasant highland town of Fort William, then back on board your coach and continue to the Valley of Glencoe, its dramatic peaks still echoing with the ghastly cries of massacred clansmen. Tonight, get together with your friends at a sumptuous grand-finalé Celebration meal. Don’t be surprised if, by the end of the evening, you’re “Toasting to the Lassies” or singing “Auld Lang Syne”. (BB/CD) Stay: Ballachulish Hotel/Isles of Glencoe/The Columba, Ballachulish
Day 8 Along The Bonnie Banks Of Loch Lomond To Glasgow
After breakfast, drive to Loch Lomond, ‘Queen of Scottish Lochs’ and the largest in Great Britain. Perhaps experience the beauty and tranquillity of the loch with an optional cruise before continuing to Glasgow. An orientation drive shows you the city’s grand public buildings, including George Square and St. Mungo’s Cathedral. Then the rest of the afternoon is at leisure. (FB) Stay: Marriott, Glasgow
Day 9 Depart Glasgow
Your tour comes to an end after breakfast. Departure transfers arrive at Glasgow Airport at 07:00 & 09:00. (FB)
Additional Included Highlights
- Edinburgh: Enjoy a guided city tour along part of the Royal Mile to Holyroodhouse Palace and over to the beautiful New Town.
- St Andrews: Visit the university town and see the golf course.
- Loch Ness: Drive along the shores in search of the monster.
- Isle of Skye: See the dramatic Cuillin Hills and stay in pretty Broadford.
- Eilean Donan: Stop for a photo of this pretty castle.
- Glasgow: Enjoy an orientation drive past the civic buildings and St. Mungo’s Cathedral.
- Scenic drives: Grampians, North West Highlands, Skye, Glencoe, Loch Lomond.
Highlight Hotels And Locations
- Inverness: The signature Kingsmills Hotel comprises of a sympathetically extended 17th Century residence, presenting a seamless blend of style and substance and proud of its reputation for a warm welcome.
- Glasgow: The four-star Marriott is one of the top luxury hotels in Glasgow, within a five-minute stroll to nightlife and one of the best shopping areas outside London.
- The Highland hotels are mainly traditional and much simpler in style, although typical of the region.
- Glencoe: Your Scottish adventure culminates with the best Highland hospitality and a palate pleasing Celebration Dinner with wine or beer.
- Welcome Reception (WD), 8 full Breakfasts (FB), 4 three-course Evening Meals with choice, or buffets, plus tea or coffee (D) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD).
- Edinburgh: A hush descends and eyes turn to the castle. The skirl of the pipes rises and drums crack the night air. A tide of tunics and tartan flood from the drawbridge. For a limited time in August, you are witness to the breathtaking spectacle of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
- Edinburgh: Walk with a local expert within the walls of the majestic castle perched on its rock, to view the Scottish Crown Jewels, Stone of Destiny and Mons Meg.
- Highlands: Amidst the stunning scenery of a real working Highland farm, watch as the sheepdogs of Neil Ross are put through their paces, and meet the collie pups.
- Highlands: At the exciting Culloden Visitor Centre, discover why the Battle of Culloden lasted only an hour yet changed the Highland way of life forever.
- Wick: The Old Pulteney Distillery produces whisky with a distinctive flavour, bursting with the power and subtlety of the sea! Share a wee dram with a master distiller who imparts the age-old techniques of whisky production.
- Orkney Isles: Join a fascinating excursion of discovery on the very fringes of Britain. Strewn across the windswept Orkneys are relics that span human history; from pagan stone circles to reminders of wartime tragedy.
- An expert Insight Tour Director – at the pinnacles of their careers, will smooth your way throughout your journey. They are your ‘travelling concierges’, expert guides, consummate organisers and friends in a foreign land.
- Insight motorcoach – Enjoy the unique comfort of Insight’s luxury air-conditioned 40 seat coach with extended leg room and on-board restroom. It’s business class comfort.
- Personal radio headsets – gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights without missing any of your local expert’s fascinating insights and commentaries.
- Baggage handling everywhere – with seamless and prompt delivery to your door at every hotel.
- Hotel and restaurant tips included – you’ll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus we include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
- Complimentary WiFi – the majority of Insight hotels have free WiFi access in lobby or bedroom areas. You will also find that WiFi is generally available on most touring coaches.
- Insight Flourishes – from time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.
- Included airport transfers at scheduled times on arrival and departure days.