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Experience parts of Scotland that other tourists never visit.

Scotland's Hebrides Islands, off its west coast, are remote and unspoiled.  The rare Gaelic language is still heard in these places, and the empty beauty of the islands have a feeling of timelessness, belonging to no time and to all time.

 
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Detailed Day by Day Itinerary for the

2011 Scotland's Islands & Highlands Tour
 

Me - David Rowell - your hopefully friendly, helpful and possibly even intrepid tour leader, here at the Callanish Standing Stones (see Day 12).

 

Scottish Islands tour itinerary mapTour Itinerary

This tour gives you an opportunity to visit all the major islands off the west coast of Scotland.

You'll visit seven different islands, and enjoy eleven different ferry and boat rides plus two steam train rides.

There's a huge amount more to Scotland than 'just' Edinburgh and Glasgow. After this tour, you'll have a much better understanding of the diversity of this semi-independent nation.


Please click here to open up a Google Map showing the daily itinerary in summary form.  Note that this is a bit, ahem, experimental.  But hopefully it will help you understand in more detail where we'll go.

And please click here to return to the main Scotland's Islands Tour page.

Itinerary
 

Day 1  (Saturday 11 June - or earlier)  Leave the US

To arrive in Britain on Sunday, you probably need to take an overnight flight on Saturday

You should make your own arrangements to fly from the US to Britain, departing on Saturday 12 June - or earlier if you wish to spend extra time in Britain before the start of the main tour.

 

Day 2 (Sunday 12 June - or earlier) Arrive in Britain

You can fly to London or to any other convenient city in Britain

Many people will fly to London, but you can also choose other destinations in Britain such as Manchester, or even Glasgow itself.

Choose whatever British city which makes best sense for you in terms of convenience and cost.

Many of us will spend the night in London.

 

Tour Starts on Day 3 (Monday 13 June) :  Traveling to Scotland then coach to Campbeltown

Our deluxe 38 seater coach has lots of space for everyone, great views from its high seating and huge picture windows, restroom, even a video system
 
We travel alongside the Kyles of Bute this afternoon
 
The main street in Inverary
 
Campbeltown's waterfront

If you're not already there, make your way to Glasgow today, perhaps by train, and if so, likely up the beautiful West Coast Main Line from London.

The tour starts at Glasgow's Central Railway Station, where we're met at the station by our luxury coach and personal driver/guide at 12.30pm, giving people traveling from London.

We drive along the shores of Loch Lomond and through the Loch Lomond National Park before traveling around Loch Fyne and then enjoying an afternoon refreshment stop in the small town of Inverary.  Visit their jail - or perhaps the renowned Loch Fine Whisky store and stock up on some rare and wonderful whiskies.

We then continue down the Kintyre Peninsula and to Campbeltown where we spend the night in a small inn close to its harbor.  Campbeltown is the smallest of the six major whisky producing regions in Scotland.

This evening we'll have a welcome dinner and get to better know our traveling companions.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Special Features - Two ferry rides, Welcome Dinner

 

Day 4 (Tuesday 14 June) :  Ferry to the Isle of Islay

The Islay ferry nearing Port Askaig, with the Paps of Jura in the background.
 
 
The lovely small Lochside Hotel in Bowmore - one of the hotels we'll be using for our two nights on Islay

Today we travel south to Southend, at which point we're only 19 miles from the Irish Coast and - weather permitting - we may be able to enjoy a fine view both of Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre.

Southend is reputed to be where St Columba, Scotland's original missionary who brought Christianity to the country, first set foot on the mainland in Scotland in 563.  We see a stone footprint allegedly dating back to the time of his landing at Southend in 563.

We then go up the west side of the Kintyre peninsula to Kennacraig, where we then take a ferry across the Sound of Jura, and over to the Isle of Islay, famous for its distinctive peaty smoky (some would even say seaweedy) whisky.

The ferry ride lasts 2 hrs 5 minutes.

We'll visit one of Islay's famous distilleries and spend two nights in Islay's main town of Bowmore.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Ferry Ride, Isle of Islay, Distillery Tour

 

Day 5 (Wednesday 15 June) :  Sightseeing around Islay

Islay's 8th century Kildalton Cross, the best preserved of these Celtic style crosses of anywhere in Scotland
 
Lagavulin - one of the seven distilleries on Islay, and some might suggest the finest whisky of anywhere

Once the home base for the Lords of the Isles, Islay is the most southerly of the Hebrides and is known for it's rich and colorful landscape, shaped by natural forces and human influence spanning thousands of years.  We'll spend some of today touring around Islay, including a visit to Finlaggan, the historical center of the Lords of the Isles.

A highlight of the day will be visiting the Kildalton Cross in a very beautiful and remote part of Islay that normal tours never go to.

The farmland, woodland and peatland set below the sweeping hills support a wide variety of wildlife from many bird species, including the rare corncrake.  Chances are you'll see many different birds during our day of touring.

Later in the day, we visit a different distillery, and then we spend a second night in Bowmore.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Visit Finlaggan, Distillery Tour

 

Day 6 (Thursday 16 June) :  Ferry back to mainland, overnight in Oban

Some of the many burial slabs at the Kilmartin Church.  In the distance, in the background, are some stone circles that we'll also visit.
 
A view of Oban, with the distillery on the left and McCaig's Tower above it.

We take a 2 hr 20 minute ferry journey from Port Ellen back to the mainland this morning, and then make our way north to the town of Oban.

On the way we'll stop in the Kilmartin area where you can look at and wonder about some ancient stone circles and burial cairns, and then visit the churchyard containing the largest collection of 14th and 15th century carved burial slabs.

We arrive in Oban mid/late afternoon and spend this evening in this lovely Victorian era town, considered the gateway to the islands.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Feature - Ferry Ride

 

Day 7 (Friday 17 June) :  Ferry to the Isle of Mull

Duart Castle dominates the Sound of Mull.  We pass by this imposing structure on our ferry ride.
Pretty little Tobermory, a lovely quiet town to relax in and enjoy the view across the Sound of Mull.

This morning we travel across from Oban to Craignure on the Isle of Mull.  This is a short 45 minute crossing.

 Mull is a beautiful island with moorland, forest and mountains, and magnificent cliff scenery to the south.

Upon arriving on Mull, we'll travel by narrow gauge train to Torosay Castle and then continue by coach to the picturesque fishing village of Tobermory where we'll spend two nights.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Ferry Ride, Narrow Gauge Train Ride, Torosay Castle visit, Isle of Mull

 

Day 8 (Saturday 18 June) :  Cruise to the Isles of Iona and Staffa

Iona Abbey, a site of pilgrimage for thousands of people every year.
 
Distinctive Staffa, with Fingal's cave on the right hand side.
 

This morning we travel to the southwest tip of Mull and then take a very short passenger ferry over to the sacred Isle of Iona.

Iona is often referred to as 'The Cradle of Christianity in Scotland' as it was here that St Columba first landed after being banished from Ireland in 563AD. Once Settled on the island, Columba and his followers built a wooden monastery. This was later replaced with stone when the monastery was turned into a Benedictine Abbey around 1200. Today the abbey has been fully restored and is open to the public.

We then proceed by launch to the distinctive island of Staffa, and Fingal's cave, made famous in the overture written by Mendelssohn after a visit.  The island is composed of columnar basalt and overlying 'slaggy' basalt.  We hope to spend some time ashore if time and currents allow before returning back to Fionnphort on Mull and traveling back to Tobermory by coach.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Isles of Iona and Staffa, Ferry and boat rides

 

Day 9 (Sunday 19 June) :  A ferry, a castle and maybe a monster

The ruins of Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness

This morning we leave Tobermory and take a ferry across the Sound of Mull back to the mainland, and then travel in our coach up to Loch Ness, with another ferry ride across Loch Linnhe en route.

At Loch Ness we'll visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness.  Then we'll visit the Loch Ness Monster visitor center in the nearby tiny town of Drumnadrochit before continuing on to Fort William for the evening.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Two ferry rides, Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness Visitor Center

 

Day 10 (Monday 20 June) :  A train, a ferry, a castle and the Isle of Skye


The Jacobite Steam Train from Ft William to Mallaig
 
Eilean Donan Castle
 
The new Skye Bridge was controversial when first opened - many islanders didn't want Skye to become more accessible to mainlanders!

This morning we travel by a beautifully restored vintage steam train along the route featured in 'Harry Potter' and described as the 'Top Railway Journey in the World' by Wanderlust Magazine in 2009.

This train takes us from Fort William to Mallaig.

At Mallaig we have time for lunch and then take a ferry over the Sound of Sleat and onto Skye.  This has been listed by the American Travel Writers Guild as one of the top ten ferry rides in the world.

We then travel to the famous new Skye Bridge and drive over it back onto the mainland, where we make a short sidetrip to the renowed Eilean Donan Castle, perhaps the most instantly recognizable of all Scotland's castles.

After a visit to Eilean Donan, the clan home for the MacRae and MacKenzie clans, we return back to Skye and drive to the small town of Portree for the evening.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Jacobite Steam Train, Ferry ride, Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Skye

 

Day 11 (Tuesday 21 June) :  Ferry to the Outer Hebrides and the Isles of Harris and Lewis

The Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye
 
Dunvegan Castle and its beautiful lochside setting
 
Our hotel for two nights in the Outer Hebrides - the Royal Hotel, looking out onto the bay in Stornoway

We travel to another castle today - Dunvegan Castle on Skye, voted by the UK Sunday Times Travel Museum as offering one of the best days out in Britain.

At Dunvegan you'll have time to go on a small boat tour to see the seals and herons.

After sightseeing around the island with the famous and impressive Cuillin mountains as backdrop, we take a ferry from the tiny town of Uig over to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

We then travel by coach onto the Isle of Lewis and to our home for the next two nights in Stornoway.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Features - Dunvegan Castle, Ferry ride, Isles of Harris and Lewis

 

Day 12 (Wednesday 22 June) :  Sightseeing around the Isle of Lewis


The Butt of Lewis lighthouse, at the northwestern tip of the Hebrides.
 
The Black House is a traditional long three room house - living and sleeping rooms for people, and a room for cattle.
 
Dun Carloway is an ancient broch or small fortress more than 2000 years old.
 
The Calanais or Callanish standing stones are in an area full of such ancient mysterious constructions.

We'll enjoy a fascinating day of touring around the Isle of Lewis today.

We first go all the way up to the Butt of Lewis and the lighthouse there - this is the most northwestern point of the Hebrides.

We next visit the Black House in Arnol.  This is a traditional style thatched house.  It has a continually burning peat fire inside, but no chimney.  The peat smoke preserves the thatch.  People lived in this house until the 1960s.  Next to it is a 1920s style croft cottage which we can also visit.

We travel on to visit a tweed woolen mill - together with the adjacent Isle of Harris, this area is famous for its Harris Tweed.

Next we visit Dun Carloway, one of the best preserved broch towers in Scotland and dating to about the first century BC.

Lastly we visit the Calanais Standing Stones, a cross shaped setting of stones dating back to about 3000 BC, and from which other stone circles can be seen in the area.

We then return back to Stornoway and a farewell dinner at the hotel this evening.

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Included Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
Special Features - Visit four attractions, Farewell Dinner

 

Day 13 (Thursday 23 June) :  Ferry back to mainland and return to Edinburgh or Glasgow


The MV Isle of Lewis travels between Stornoway and Ullapool.  It steams at 18 knots and holds 123 cars and 680 passengers.  On board facilities include an observation lounge, quiet area, lift for the disabled, shop, children's play area, food service and bar.
 

The Victorian resort town of Pitlochry

An early morning start today when we take the 7.00am ferry from Stornoway back to Ullapool on the mainland.

Our coach then drives us down through the Highlands to Inverness and on to the lovely Victorian resort town of Pitlochry where we'll stop for lunch.  After lunch we continue on to Edinburgh, and finally to Glasgow.  We expect the coach to arrive in Edinburgh at about 4.15pm and into Glasgow at 5.30pm.

You are free to leave the tour in Inverness, Edinburgh or Glasgow (or anywhere else on the coach's route from Ullapool back down to Edinburgh and Glasgow).

Here's a Google map showing today's route.

2010 Tour Member Jeanette's Diary Record of this day on the 2010 tour.

Options :  You can now choose to either immediately travel on from Inverness/Edinburgh/Glasgow or to stay for some extra time in Scotland in either city.

Included Meals - Breakfast
Special Feature - Ferry Ride

For More Information

Please return to the main page for more information about our 2011 Scotland's Islands Tour.  And here's a link to jump you directly down to the booking form.

The Travel Insider is licensed by the State of Washington as a seller of travel - registration number 602 036 247.
 

Originally published 30 Jun 2010, last update 08 Jul 2017

 
 
More Information
Our Groupless Tour Philosophy
Why You Should Choose a Travel Insider Tour
Standard Terms and Conditions
Scotland's Islands Tour June 2011
Detailed Daily Itinerary for Scotland's Islands Tour June 2011
Trip Diary from the 2010 Tour
 
 
 

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