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.
16.01.15 Important note affecting departures from the 13th April to 11th May 2015.
We have been informed that due to essential upgrading work at the port in Ullapool we will be unable to use the ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway on day 10 of this tour. Instead we will travel through the West Highlands to Uig on Skye to catch the ferry from there. This will alter the itineraries on days 10 and 11 but all the main sites will still be visited.
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 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 nestling in the shadow of Ben Nevis which at 1344 meters is the highest mountain in the British Isles. We continue through the Great Glen a natural fault in the earth’s crust that runs through Scotland and on through Ireland. From here you travel north to the picturesque fishing village of Plockton. 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: heading west towards the 13th century home of the Clan Macleod - Dunvegan Castle, the emerald green valley of Glendale or the dramatic sea-cliffs and lonely lighthouse at Neist Point. In the afternoon the tour may concentrate on the south of the island. Spend time heading down to Elgol for seascapes and views of the Cuillin, or Talisker and its beautiful bay or perhaps Glenbrittle and its famed waterfalls. We return you to your accommodation in Plockton in the late afternoon for you to enjoy a free evening in the village.
Day 5 You will be collected from your accommodation for the short drive to the famous stronghold of Eilean Donan Castle, used in the film "Highlander", set at the junction of 3 lochs as protection against Viking raiders. Then you travel east taking in the stunning views over Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters of Kintail. Continue 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 it is a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where we stop for a visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, Capital of Orkney where you shall stay for 2 nights. Here you can visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral and its historic winding streets.
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 its 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 you will spend the next two nights.
Once again you will leave the group at this point and on day 10 join your new group, with whom you will stay for the rest of the tour.
Day 9 Gives you a free day in Ullapool to do as you please before joining up with your new crew the next day. There are many possibilities available in this lovely town, Options for your day include enjoying a day just to relax and absorb the highland tranquil pace of life whilst browsing the small craft boutiques nestling through the streets of the town. Or why not take the local boat, the ‘Summer Queen’ from the pier for an idyllic ‘summer Isles’ cruise. Alternatively you could head up Claypool hill for an easy two hour walk offering wonderful views over Loch Broom reaching a maximum height of 900ft. Or for the even more adventurous add to this walk by completing a three hour circuit returning to the town via Rhiddoroch estate. (Full details of all local walks can be found at the local tourist information centre). There is also a local swimming pool, and a small museum giving an informative narrative about the natural and social history of the area.
Day 10 Catch the morning ferry from Ullapool for the 2 hour sail along Loch Broom, past the Summer Isles then out across the Minch to Stornoway – the main town on Lewis and capital of the Outer Hebrides. Look out for dolphins, whales and seabirds during the crossing. In the afternoon explore the North West coast from Arnol with its historic old “blackhouse”, through traditional crofting townships to Port of Ness and the very north tip of the island – the Butt of Lewis. From the lighthouse here there is nothing between you and the Americas! Overnight in Stornoway.
Day 11 Today will be spent exploring some of the prehistoric remains on the island as well as its finest beaches. The fascinating circular stone fort, or Broch, at Carloway will be our first stop followed by more traditional crofting communities such as Gearrannan and Shawbost. Then its on to Callanish with its mysterious ancient stone circle. In the afternoon you will head for the remote district of Uig with its fine, sandy beaches at Bhaltos, dramatic sea cliffs and rugged hills. This is the wilderness of the Western Isles at its finest. Overnight again in Stornoway.
Day 12 Travelling south today from the wild moorlands of Lewis to the more mountainous Harris – almost but not quite an island on its own. Famous for the locally produced cloth, Harris Tweed, it is also home to the highest mountains in the Outer Hebrides and the stunning white sands of Luskentyre. After a morning of exploring South Harris you will stop for lunch in the small port of Tarbet. Here you will catch the late afternoon ferry to Skye and continue on to the harbour town of Portree, your base for the next two nights.
Day 13 Is a very flexible day on Skye. There are many possibilities depending on the weather and your driver/guide's knowledge will come to the fore in developing the best day out for you. 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. Or, after lunch you could 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.
Day 14 Departing from Portree the return journey to Edinburgh has many highlights – a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William and the dramatic scenery and dark history of Glencoe. Travelling back south through the Central Highland the last stop of the day will be in Killin beside the Falls of Dochart before returning to Edinburgh.
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.
Services of a professional Rabbie's driver/guide
All ferry and bridge crossings.
Meals and refreshments.
Entrance fees to all Visitor Attractions.
Your tour does not include accommodation in the price. 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 the communities you visit in the long term. Choose a hotel, B&B or a hostel and we will book it for you.
Typical prices per person per night:
Hostel £15-£20, Guest House B&B £30-£45, Hotels - more.
Based on 2 people sharing (except hostel). Single occupancy will be higher.
The accommodation prices above are for guidance only and we cannot be held responsible for any variation in the cost of accommodation, but we always do our very best to satisfy your personal requirements and have an amazing track record of providing our customers the best value and quality accommodation available. We do advise that single supplements usually apply and at times in peak season double room rates are charged for single occupancy.
Accommodation is dispersed around various towns and villages, rarely more than a 10-15 minute walk from the centre, although on occasions this can be 20-30 minutes. Taxis are available for a small fee if necessary. If you have access needs or specific requirements please let us know when booking. Late bookings and/or peak season may limit the choice and location of available accommodation.
When you go on tour your driver/guide will drop you off at your booked* accommodation and pick you up in the morning so you have no need to worry about shifting luggage or getting lost on tour. It’s a small group tour so we won’t let you get lost in the crowd.
After you’ve stayed at your accommodation you pay for it directly to your host. Cash is preferred amongst smaller B&Bs but don’t worry if you run out. There are plenty of Automatic Cash machines in the places you stay overnight.
We’ve found that this way of touring means you can really get in touch with the locals and your choices can be looked after far more effectively and you can stay in the best and most affordable places.
*Please note that if your accommodation has already been booked by Rabbie’s, as per your initial request, and you change your booking, there will be a charge for amendments. Changes to booked accommodation cannot be guaranteed and are subject to availability.
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.
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! If you have mobility problems or special requirements please let us know when booking.
Photography Credits: VisitScotland, Geoff Wong (Stromness).