Scotland's Top 10: Our 'Bucket List' Tour

SUMMARY:Scotland is a must for any ‘bucket list’ and we will take you to the very best that Scotland has to offer in terms of history, culture, scenery and more. Sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere of Scotland’s dramatic landscapes whilst hearing the stories of Scotland’s complex history, our most famous Scots, and even enjoy the delights of some of Scotland’s finest local cuisine. While we at Select Scotland Tours pride ourselves on creating tours to your favourite places, here is an example of some of our favourites; a Top Ten of ‘Must See’ locations for those with two weeks to explore this great country.

This is a flexible tour and can be readily modified to meet our clients’ needs and interests but we feel it covers those ‘essential’ locations in Scotland.

The starting point can also be readily changed to accommodate client requirements.

DURATION: Twelve Days but can be extended for clients wishing to spend more time in certain areas or split into several shorter trips.

HIGHLIGHTS & KEY LOCATIONS: Our suggested Top 10 includes: Edinburgh’s Old & New Towns; Sir Walter Scott and The Borders; Whisky; St Andrews & Golf; Scotland’s Mountains, Ben Nevis, Glencoe and the Trossachs; Iona; Loch Ness; The Neolithic Wonders of Orkney; The North Coast 500; and the Isle of Skye.

ITINERARY:

Day One: A full day to explore the delights of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. A walking tour around the castle and Old Town in the morning will be followed by an afternoon tour of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town which celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2017. If this is too energetic a start to your holiday why not spend the afternoon meandering through this delightful city at their own pace, or if you wish to explore the local food and drink, visits can be arranged to one of the new breed of gin distilleries or microbreweries that are flourishing across Scotland.

Day Two: Today we head south from Edinburgh to the beautiful rolling hills of the Scottish Borders and the Tweed Valley. We will spend the day exploring this beautiful area steeped in history, hearing stories of the Border Reivers and the centuries of conflict between Scotland and England. We will visit historic Abbeys and, of course, Abbotsford House, home of Sir Walter Scott. We return to Edinburgh where we spend the night.

Day Three: We leave Scotland’s capital behind and head west to her largest city, Glasgow. On arriving in Glasgow, a panoramic tour will allow us to chart Glasgow’s change from a medieval religious centre to a flourishing centre of trade and commerce in the 1700s and subsequent growth into the industrial powerhouse known as ‘Second City of The Empire’. We will also have time to view some of the buildings associated with Glasgow’s most recent reinvention, as a conference and exhibition hub before lunching at a traditional pub. Our route then take us north to Stirling, where the Scots led by William Wallace, made famous in the movie ‘Braveheart’, had his most decisive victory over the English. Overnight in the Stirling area.

Day Four: Leaving the lowlands behind us, we pass into The Highlands, over The Dukes Pass through The Trossachs to the ‘Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond’.  We then cross the desolation of Rannoch Moor before stopping in the rugged and majestic Glencoe to hear of the infamous massacre of 1692. We will have lunch at the Loch Leven Seafood café, a family run enterprise comprising everything from fishing boat to restaurant and international distribution centre. From there we will head to Oban where we will visit Oban Distillery for our first taste of Uisge Beatha, Whisky, the ‘water of life’. Overnight in Oban.

Day Five: Today we make the journey to the mystical Isle of Iona, where St Columba brought Christianity to Scotland in 563. We will visit Iona Abbey and possibly the Isle of Staffa made famous by Mendelsohn Hebridean Overture. We will return to Oban to stay overnight.

Day Six: We travel north through Fort William for photo opportunities of Ben Nevis and the Caledonian Canal, before following the Road to the Isles to catch our ferry to the Isle of Skye. En route we will stop in Glenfinnan to hear how, in 1645, Bonnie Prince Charlie started the last of the Jacobite Uprisings on the shores of Loch Shiel; we will also have time to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a feat of Victorian engineering, now most famous as the ‘Harry Potter Bridge’. We will overnight on Skye.

Day Seven: A full day exploring Skye. We will travel through the Cuillin mountains, some of Scotland’s most iconic scenery, for a morning visit to Dunvegan Castle; home to the Chief of the Clan Mcleod and the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. Skye is a centre of the artisan food industry and plethora of lunch options are available; we can make our choice between Michelin starred restaurants and open air oyster shacks, and everything in between! Following lunch, we will spend the afternoon visiting the Talisker Distillery, currently Skye’s only distillery. Our second distillery tour of the trip will allow us to appreciate the subtle differences in the processes used by different distillers, while the tasting will allow us to try a range of spirits from one year old (too young to be called whisky!) through to the most recent taste ‘expressions’. We will visit the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, a fully restored 13th-century stronghold, before turning north towards the mountains of Apple cross.

Day Eight: Today we continue north, following Scotland’s ‘Route 66’; the North Coast 500 tourist route. This newly created route through the ancient landscape of the Torridon Mountains and along the unspoilt north coast is already gaining well deserved praise from publications such as Lonely Planet and Now Travel. We will not only admire the majestic scenery, but will hearing of the poignant history behind these unpopulated areas. Overnight in Thurso.

Days Nine and Ten: We will take the short ferry crossing to Orkney where we will spend 2 days exploring these amazing islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the amazing Neolithic sites of Ring of Brodgar, Maes Howe and Skara Brae. We will also take time to visit St Magnus Cathedral and the Italian Chapel

Day Eleven: An early morning ferry ride takes us back to the Scottish mainland; we continue south on the NC500 to Loch Ness, passing through the wonderful Black Isle. No trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to Loch Ness and we will take a cruise on the famous loch, hearing stories of its myths and monsters before heading east around the city of Inverness to Culloden Battlefield. Here there is an award-winning visitor centre which provides a poignant reminder of the final confrontation in the Jacobite Risings and the last battle fought on British soil. Overnight in Inverness.

Day Twelve: We continue heading south through the beautiful central Highlands of Perthshire following the route of the mighty River Tay, Scotland’s longest river, to arrive in St Andrews in time for lunch. After lunch we will visit the Mecca of Golf, ‘The Old Course’ and enjoy a walking tour of the town. While St Andrews is internationally famous for its golf courses and university, it also provides a fascinating introduction to Scotland’s history; the ancient cathedral once housed the bones of St Andrew, the disciple of Christ, and was one of the most prestigious religious centres in Europe; Our tour will be completed by a drive round the ‘East Neuk’ of Fife before heading across the River Forth to our hotel in Edinburgh.

OVERNIGHT STOPS & ACCOMMODATION: 4* accommodation is available at all overnight locations on this tour, but we are happy to advise on a range of alternatives from family run B&Bs to restaurants with rooms.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: As you would expect on this tour there will be photo opportunities galore!! From Cities to Castles, from Islands to Mountains and lots lots more.

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