Day 1 You depart from the World Heritage City of Edinburgh and travel north, crossing the Forth Road Bridge into the ancient Kingdom of Fife. Your first visit of the day will be Falkland Palace, where during a private, guided tour you will be able to discover more of this pretty Royal Palace. Built between 1502 and 1541, it is set in the heart of the unique medieval village of Falkland and has been residence and hunting lodge of eight Stuart monarchs. Highlight of the visit will be to see the Real Tennis court, built in 1539! You continue to St Andrews and during a town walk your guide will tell you more about its past and more recent history. Its connection to the patron Saint of Scotland, birthplace of Golf, ancient University town and matchmaker to a Royal couple – there is a lot to see!
Your afternoon visit will be at the House of Dun near Montrose. This beautiful Georgian house, overlooking Montrose Basin, was built in 1730. It features superb plasterwork and now houses the Hutchison collection of Scottish colourists and the Stirling collection of furniture, ranging from the 18th century to the 1960s. On route to Aberdeen you will make a photo stop at Dunnottar Castle, a dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress in a truly stunning setting. Dunnottar is where they filmed Hamlet’s Macbeth and provided inspiration for Disney Pixar’s movie “Brave”. From here you continue to Ardoe House Hotel, a lovely 19th century mansion house, where you will stay for 2 nights.
Day 2 Today will be spent in the Royal Deeside area, famous for its many castles.
Your first visit will be Castle Fraser, one of the grandest of the Scottish baronial tower houses. Begun in 1575, the present castle contains an evocative Great Hall, fine furniture and many Fraser family portraits. You can round the visit off with a walk through the beautiful 18th century walled garden. The tour continues to Banchory where you might be able to see salmon jumping at the Falls of Feugh. Maybe take short nature walk in Glen Tanar or the Burn o’ Vat.
Lunch stop is at Ballater before continuing with your afternoon programme. Crathes Castle provides the highlight for the afternoon. Turrets, gargoyles and the ancient Horn of Leys given in 1323 by Robert the Bruce are just a few of the features of this historic castle.
You will be free to explore the house and the stunning gardens at your own pace. The gardens stay green irrespective of the time of year, as with the ancient yew hedges that frame the upper parts of the gardens, particularly the fountain and rose gardens. Wandering through the outstanding, world-renowned June Borders, beautiful vistas of the castle can be seen through the fusion of colourful flowers.
You return back to Ardoe House later for another overnight.
Day 3 Your tour heads further north today and starts the day with a visit to Fyvie Castle near Turriff, which will open its doors especially for our party at 9.30. Fyvie Castle dates back to the 13th century and has a fine collection of arms and armour as well as 17th century tapestries and opulent Edwardian interiors.You then continue, travelling through beautiful scenery and on to Nairn, where lunch will be taken at nearby Brodie Castle. Then you have time to explore the castle further. Dating from the 16th century, this imposing castle stands in rich Morayshire parkland. It has very unusual plasterwork and a major art collection and tells the fascinating story of the Brodie family.
In the afternoon you will be able to take the Clan Walk at the Culloden Visitor Centre. The Clan Stone Walkway is designed to commemorate the Scottish Clans and their clansmen who fought at the battle of Culloden with a special Insignia Stone. The Clans are represented with their individual Crest and personal inscription.
After the visit you continue to Knockomie House Hotel. A dinner for our group will be held tonight in one of the private rooms.
Day 4 Today sees you travelling south again through some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer.
You pass Inverness and travel to Kingussie for a photo stop at the Ruthven Barracks. From here you continue to Dalwhinnie Distillery. Dalwhinnie is the highest Distillery in Scotland and takes its waters right from the source of the River Spey. A tour of the distillery is included and you will also have the chance to taste the ‘Water of Life’.
After a lunch stop in Pitlochry you head to Loch Leven by Kinross. In the middle of the Loch you find Loch Leven Castle, a late 14th century tower, which was the setting for the most traumatic year in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. It was in 1567 that she was imprisoned and forced to abdicate her throne before her dramatic escape a year later.
You will enjoy a short boat ride over to the castle, following in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots. Then explore at your leisure the island and tower house, before returning back to Edinburgh, arriving around 18.30.
Before 1st April 2014: 207 High St, Edinburgh. After 1st April 2014: 6 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh. Click here to see map.
Transportation by top of the range Mercedes minicoach for a more personal experience with a maximum of 16 passengers on tour.
We believe a small group tour with a maximum of 16 passengers really does make a big difference to your trip. It allows us to give you a more personal service and remain the only 5 Star operator to offer this personal guarantee. Touring with a maximum of 16 passengers you get more for your money, more personal attention, more time with the locals, more time off the bus, more time on the back-roads and just more of an authentic, friendly experience. The smaller groups allow you to meet people from all over the world and make friends for life.
Air Conditioning as standard.
Services of a professional Rabbie's driver/guide
All ferry and bridge crossings.
Rabbie's Discount Card - money off restaurants, shopping and attractions.
Private 3 course farewell dinner at Knockomie House.
Entrances and tours (guided and self guided) at Falkland Palace, House of Dun, Castle Fraser, Crathes Castle, Fyvie Castle, Brodie Castle, Culloden, Dalwhinnie Distillery, Loch Leven Boat trip and Castle.
Lunch and refreshments.
Dinner on the first 2 nights of the tour at Ardoe House Hotel.
Drinks during the Dinner at Knockomie House .
Accommodation in Castle and Country House Style Hotels is included with this tour. Overnight has been reserved for 2 nights at 4* Ardoe House on Bed&Breakfast basis. The third overnight of the tour is at 4* Knockomie House and includes dinner and breakfast.
Children between 5 and 16.
Because we believe in time off the bus and give you opportunities to take nature walks we recommend you bring suitable clothing and footwear for your tour. If you have mobility problems or special requirements please let us know when booking.
Creative Commons License: Brian Forbes (Falkland Castle), Bert Kaufmann (Braemar Castle), Jonathan Oldenbuck (Lochleven).