Please note: Combination tours - These itineraries are made up of individual tours which are scheduled to link up on route without having to come back to their starting point. Clients will be able to enjoy the individual styles and stories of the different driver/guides as well as a different group of travelling companions on each part of their trip.
Day 1 Takes you north passed Stirling castle, and then west to Scotland's first National Park around Loch Lomond,and the bonny banks". You will travel through the impressive mountains of the West Highlands through the magnificent white-washed 18th Century town of Inveraray, home to the Campbell Clan and the Duke of Argyll. The afternoon will be spent in the heart of Argyll exploring the area close to the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada before arriving in bustling town of Oban, the gateway to the islands, for your 2 night stay.
Day 2 Is an early start crossing on the ferry to Mull and enjoying an island adventure exploring her dramatic coastlines and wild beauty, before taking the small ferry to the peace and tranquility of Iona - birthplace of Celtic Christianity and ancient burial ground of Scottish Kings. Here you can visit the historic abbey with its intricate carved crosses in the churchyard or explore the rocky headlands and sandy coves of this island gem. There is also an opportunity to take a small boat out to the island of Staffa (except Saturday departures in September) and view the dramatic basalt columns immortalised by Mendelssohn in his Hebridean Overture "Fingal's Cave". You then return on the ferry to Oban for your second night.
Day 3 Takes you north along the west coast around Appin, passing the impregnable Castle Stalker, and Glencoe, scene of the infamous massacre of the Clan Macdonald in 1692. You then pass through Fort William and take the historic road to the Isles to catch the ferry to Skye. You will travel through Glenfinnan, at the head of Loch Shiel, this is where the standard was raised to start the Jacobite rebellion. Glenfinnan is also home to a 100year old viaduct, which was made famous when the Hogwarts Express steamed across it on the way to school in the Harry Potter film. From Glenfinnan the road crosses mountains and glens before reaching Arisaig and on through a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast with fantastic views of the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Skye, This beautiful coastline is formed by a series of white beaches and a turquoise sea, known as the white sands of Morar. The road ends at Mallaig where you take the short ferry crossing ‘over the sea to Skye’ where you arrive on the Sleat Peninsula, commonly referred to the ‘Garden of Skye’ with great views of the Cuillin mountains. From here you travel north to the picturesque harbour town of Portree. You are then dropped off at your accommodation in the early evening.
Day 4 Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide will use his/her local knowledge to decide on the best day out for the group. For example you might travel north to the stunning Quiraing mountain pass and enjoy a spectacular walk through some of Skye's extraordinary geological scenery or visit the Kilt Rock, composed of basalt columns (reminiscent of the pleats in a kilt) with its waterfall cascading over the cliffs and down into the sea below. After lunch you may travel to Neist Point for a walk out to the lighthouse at the most westerly point on Skye. Alternatively a visit to Dunvegan Castle, ancient ancestral seat of the Clan McLeod, may be possible. Whatever you do we are sure you will enjoy it. We return you to your accommodation in Portree in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.
Day 5 You will be collected from your accommodation and travel south through the Cuillin Hills and back over to the mainland. You will stop to visit the famous stronghold Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film "Highlander", set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders, before travelling east for stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. On to Loch Ness for lunch and the possibility of spotting "Nessie".
Half an hour south of Loch Ness you will stop in the village of Spean Bridge and join a new bus for the continuation of your tour to Orkney. Your guides will help you transfer your luggage and introduce you to your new travelling companions.
With your new crew you will continue north following the Great Glen travelling the entire 23 miles of the famous Loch passing by Urquhart castle. You can expect to arrive in Inverness, the Highland capital, and the place of our overnight stay at approx 18.30 where you will be dropped off at your pre booked accommodation.
Day 6 Is an early start, leaving behind the 'Capital of the Highlands', crossing over the Black Isle, and past Andrew Carnegie's Skibo Castle. From here you drive through the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery, and enjoy amazing views of some of Europe's oldest landscapes and the chance to see wildlife such as Golden Eagles and red deer. Onwards through Scotland's most northerly mainland village, John o' Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, crossing the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. From here you have a short drive to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney, where you can visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral, and where you shall stay for 2 nights.
Day 7 Is your chance to explore this fantastic, ancient island; a land of contrasts where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and Atlantic ocean. You will visit the 5000 year old village of Skara Brae (older than the Pyramids of Egypt!), the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. We stop in Stromness - one of Scotland's most picturesque seaboard villages and then travel onto Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then it’s back to Kirkwall for our 2nd night after what is sure to be a memorable day.
Day 8 Is a relaxed start to the day, as you leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here you travel the old road right across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of our northern coastline. We then visit the far northwest highlands and the grandeur, expanse and wilderness of the mountains of Assynt before stopping to view the 15th century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. From here we travel to Ullapool, situated at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where we spent our last night's stay on tour.
Day 9 Leaving Ullapool behind you, you take in the drama of the River Dorma as it plunges 60m down into Corrieshalloch Gorge, before taking in the beautiful Loch Glascarnoch, on the way past the 'Capital of the Highlands' Inverness. You can then visit Culloden Moor, the site of The Battle of Culloden in 1746, one of the bloodiest events in our history and the last battle to have been fought on the British mainland, before taking a short drive to the ancient standing stones at Clava Cairns. This stunning prehistoric and Bronze Age burial ground is one of the oldest in Scotland. From here you travel through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, hugging the Cairngorm mountain range. Lunch will be spent in these beautiful surroundings before travelling through big tree country of Perthshire, through the Kingdom of Fife, and back to Edinburgh around 19.00.
Rabbie's Café, 6 Waterloo Place, EH1 3EG. 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.
Forced air ventilation as standard.
Services of a professional Rabbie's driver/guide
All ferry crossings except optional trip to Staffa.
Lunch and refreshments.
All Visitor Attractions.
The tour price does not include accommodation but this gives you an opportunity to choose your budget and the type of accommodation you wish to stay in and we will book it for you - Hostel, B&B or Hotel - please refer to the booking form on this web site for prices.
Please note that in the case of late bookings accommodation availability and choice may be restricted and we cannot guarantee to find your first choice. There is usually a supplement for single rooms. By giving you a choice of accommodation it allows you to choose your budget, stay in smaller places and get closer to the local people. This also means you help to sustain their communities in the long term.
For more information click here
*NB On occasions, when villages we stay in have events on, accommodation can be scarce and expensive so we may use other locations for your accommodation on the tour. We will always inform you of this when this is necessary.
Students, Seniors over 60 and 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. Scotland can be a wet place!! Accommodation on this tour is dispersed around Oban and Portree which are small but hilly. If you have mobility problems or special requirements please let us know when booking. Because there is so much to see and do on the 2nd day, we catch the early ferry which means you may miss your breakfast at your accommodation.
Photography Credits: VisitScotland, Geoff Wong (Stromness), Dorcas Sinclair (Lochinver) and Flaxton at en.wikipedia (Thurso).