Think you can take 10 days of it? All the creepy castles, all the crazy history and all the eye-bursting beauty? Yes? Then be brave and do the Compass Buster. It spans Scotland from pub to mountain, from beach to monster and all the best bits in-between. Be awestruck by the crystal blue waters of the Western Isles, blown away by the history and heritage of Orkney and stunned by the magic and beauty of the Isle of Skye. And if that wasn't enough, you’ll get to absorb a tonne of knowledge from our legendary Guides. So be bold, be smart and take our most complete tour of Scotland.
We leave the city behind at 8.15am and begin the adventure by passing the famous Forth Bridge. We stop at the picturesque town of Dunkeld with its Gothic Cathedral, right in the heart of Macbeth country. An area steeped in history. Travelling north, we pass through the natural beauty of the Cairngorms National Park and Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, before arriving in Ullapool on the far north-west coast of Scotland. We board the ferry here and travel by sea to the remote Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Lewis. As you travel, your local Guide will enlighten you about the strong Gaelic tradition and culture that make these Isles so special.
We visit Scotland's most westerly whisky distillery, Abhainn Dearg, for a taste of Scotland’s national drink ‘The Water of Life’. It’s certainly an interesting way to wake you up in the morning! Our next stop is at the stunning Callanish Standing Stones, Neolithic in age dating back more than 4,000 years, their meaning remains a mystery. Perhaps an ancient calendar? A site of worship? Who knows!? But these are considered to be some of the most impressive of the ancient stones in Britain, no wonder they were used as a model for the fictional stone circle of Craigh na Dun in Outlander. Visit a traditional Blackhouse village for a unique insight into the island’s approach to life – here you will find the home of a traditional tweed maker, a fabric exclusive to the islands but now considered very trendy! We end our day with a windy walk at the Butt of Lewis with its isolated lighthouse and stunning ocean views before warming ourselves up again in a local pub!
In the morning we explore the surprising beaches of the Isle of Harris. You will find some of the world’s most beautiful beaches on this little Scottish island. No, really you will. You will be mesmerised when you see the clear, crystal blue waters, magnificent mountain backdrops and traditional crofting culture. Nobody will believe you when you try to tell them about the beauty you were surrounded by, so make sure your camera is charged so you can take some evidence with you when you leave. Today is all about enjoying this beautiful remote place so prepare for beach games and sandcastle building or simply sit back and enjoy the views. These islands are also home to the Clan MacLeod who have lived here for centuries. After exploring the wonders of Harris, we leave their homeland and cross the sea by ferry to the magical Isle of Skye where we spend the night.
The Isle of Skye has it all. Ruined castles, breathtaking views and faerie stories. You will hear all about the legendary MacLeod and MacDonald Clans, as well as the Celtic myths and Viking legends from the past millennia. This mystical island has stories to tell for a lifetime. Take to foot as your Guide leads you to the best spots for the classic panoramic views you see in travel magazines. Skye packs an amazing array of stunning scenery from dramatic mountain ranges and rugged coastlines to soaring waterfalls. You’ll return to the mainland past the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle, the most photographed castle in Scotland and on to your home for the night, Morag’s Lodge on the banks of Loch Ness. Here you can head to the bar and be sure to find some traditional Scottish hospitality.
Today we travel through the rugged North Coast to the tip of the British mainland, where a ferry carries us over choppy seas from John O'Groats to St Margaret’s Hope in Orkney. Home to more archaeological ruins in one area than anywhere else in Europe, Orkney has over 9000 years’ worth of stories to tell. We visit the Tomb of the Eagles, a Stone Age burial chamber that was filled with thousands of human bones and the remains of sea eagles many millennia ago. Enjoy the night in the town of Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney. Don’t forget to check out the magnificent St. Magnus Cathedral that dominates the skyline, before searching out a cosy pub with some traditional music to dance along to!
First stop today is at the incredible Skara Brae. Throw yourself back in time once more and explore this Stone Age village dating back to the late Neolithic period; inhabited between 3,200BC and 2,200BC, some of the buildings even have some original furniture! Your guide will passionately bring Orkney to life with traditional tales and stories of the past. Visit the magnificent standing stones at the Ring of Brodgar and stop for a photo at the Italian Chapel built by 550 Italian POW's in the Second World War. Maybe end the day with a Clan dinner in the cosy social area of the hostel or in one of the tasty restaurants to be found in Kirkwall.
We bid Orkney farewell and make the ferry crossing back to the mainland, journeying south through Scotland’s rugged terrain. We travel through the sparsely populated wilderness of Sutherland and Caithness, via glens left deserted as a result of the Highland Clearances. Our journey takes us past the dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle along the length of Loch Ness whilst we monster spot! We return to Morag's Lodge in Fort Augustus, our home away from home, and as there’s the chance for a wee lie in tomorrow, get yourself ready for a legendary Tartan Toga Party in Mo's Bar tonight!
You have a free day to explore the charming village of Fort Augustus on the banks of Loch Ness and take advantage of one (or more) of the many activities the area has to offer. From canoeing on Loch Ness - an excellent way to get closer to the unique wildlife in the area (Nessie!), mountain biking along the Great Glen Way and Caledonian Canal, to an exhilarating RIB trip on the loch, there is something for everyone! Of course there’s the option of going for a wee walk in the wild but whatever you choose to do, don’t miss the opportunity to explore this fabulous part of Scotland.
Harry Potter fans, your day has come. Jump aboard the famous Jacobite Steam Train, better known these days as the ‘Hogwarts Express’ and travel through the dramatic Highland scenery. Alternatively, stay with the coach and take the winding 'Road to the Isles' to view the Glenfinnan Monument where Bonnie Prince Charlie began his claim to the throne of Scotland back in 1745. From Fort William, we pass under the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain and on to Oban, known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’ because of its spectacular views over to Mull. Treat yourself to some super fresh seafood before heading along to a traditional Ceilidh for your chance to join in with a proper Highland Fling. It’s one of the best nights out on tour and a great way to spend your last night with your group.
Our first stop for the day is in the haunting Glencoe. This place is awe-inspiring and you can see why it has featured in movies such as Harry Potter, Braveheart, Rob Roy and more recently Skyfall. As well as beauty, we have history too. Standing surrounded by mountains your Guide will tell the tale of the 1692 massacre of the MacDonald Clan. Glencoe is guaranteed to give you goosebumps. We cross the wilds of Rannoch Moor towards the Lowlands and on past Doune Castle seen in Outlander and Game of Thrones. As we pass historic Stirling, your local Guide will speak passionately about both William Wallace and Rob Roy MacGregor, undoubtedly two of Scotland’s most heroic figures. Your tour ends back in Edinburgh at approximately 5pm, so take the time to say a fond farewell to your Guide and the friends that you have undoubtedly made for life.
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Trip Name: Compass Buster
Duration: 10 Days
From Price: $859
Supplier Tour ID: H19/159607
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