Summary : Scotland’s magnificent Highlands are a beautiful region of mountains, lochs, glens and stately castles. Highlands and Islands of Scotland introduces travelers to the wonders of the Highlands from the vantage of the inland waterway that links Scotland’s famed lochs. Plus, explore the remote and beautiful islands of the Inner Hebrides. Voyage through this scenic countryside in spectacular style aboard the 48-guest luxury yacht Lord of the Glens. Hike, bike, kayak, take nature walks and visit atmospheric pubs in Scottish ports—all your senses will be immersed in Scotland’s distinct history and culture.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography
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$7,570 to $8,640
Depart the US and fly overnight to Inverness, Scotland.
Arrive in Inverness and embark Lord of the Glens. Tonight, enjoy a reception and dinner on board, with a special after-dinner performance in the lounge by a local troupe of junior Scottish dancers. (D)
This morning visit Culloden, the infamous battlefield where “Bonnie” Prince Charlie’s Jacobite forces were defeated on April 16, 1746. The battle was brief but bloody and decisive, with as many as 2,000 Jacobites killed or wounded. It had drastic consequences for the Highlands of Scotland, and was followed by the infamous Highland Clearances that saw the mass expulsion of Catholic clansmen from their homes and in many cases from their country. Your visit includes both the battlefield and the award-winning visitor center, the National Trust for Scotland’s flagship site. Then continue to the evocative 4,000-year-old burial chambers and standing stones of Clava Cairns, dating from the early Bronze Age. The impressive structures of this sacred site were developed for over a thousand years.
Set sail this afternoon on the Caledonian Canal, built between 1803 and 1822 to connect the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean along the slip-fault of the Great Glen. This afternoon sail across Loch Ness, the largest body of fresh water in Britain, deeper than any part of the North Sea. Midway across the loch cruise past the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle, a Norman castle on an Iron Age site. Learn about the legendary Loch Ness Monster, which is said to inhabit the loch in this vicinity. Moor this evening at Fort Augustus, with a chance to kayak in Loch Ness itself in the late afternoon or take an exploratory hike through the surrounding countryside. An on-board whisky tasting rounds off the day. (B,L,D)
Ascend an impressive flight of locks that runs through the heart of Fort Augustus. Seeing the process of getting the ship through the locks is always exciting, and Lord of the Glens is purpose-built to fit in the locks’ narrow confines. The ship is always an object of curiosity among local residents and other visitors as we make our transit. Then glide along the tree-lined canal known as Laggan Avenue. Depart Laggan Locks and sail across picturesque Lochs Oich and Lochy. Then continue along the canal to the village of Banavie, nestled in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Great Britain’s highest mountain. In the afternoon we travel to beautiful Glenfinnan, along Loch Sheil and surrounded by mountains, where “Bonnie” Prince Charlie first raised the Jacobite standard on mainland Britain in 1745. There are fine walking options here, with dramatic views of the Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct on the West Highland Railway line, made famous more recently in the Harry Potter movies—a late Victorian construction with 21 arches. (B,L,D)
Lord of the Glens descends Neptune’s Staircase, a set of eight interconnected locks dropping 64 feet to the sea lock at Corpach. We sail out into Loch Aber and continue through Loch Linnhe to the bustling town of Oban, set on a picturesque bay on the Firth of Lorn. In the afternoon, have time to explore the town on foot and to visit its famous whisky distillery, built in 1799 and still occupying its original premises. If you wish, walk all the way up to McCaig’s Tower, a monument on a hill overlooking the town and bay that was inspired by the Roman Colosseum. It’s a great vantage point, with fine views of the town and the waterfront. (B,L,D)
This morning sail across the Sound of Mull, at the edge of the Atlantic, to Craignure on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. Drive across Mull, then cross to Iona by ferry to explore this picturesque island, which is of vital historic importance. St. Columba arrived here in 563 with twelve followers. They built a church and began the process of converting the peoples of the area to Christianity. Iona became famous as a place of learning and as a pilgrimage site. Visit the medieval abbey ruins and the rebuilt abbey church, and learn about the ecumenical movement based here since the 1930s. Stroll through St. Oran’s Chapel and the royal graveyard, burial site of generations of Scottish kings (including Macbeth), the Lords of the Isles, and High Kings of Norway. Have a home-cooked lunch in the St. Columba Hotel.
On the way back to Craignure, visit photogenic Duart Castle, the ancestral home of Clan Maclean—an impressive fortress (with a dungeon!) with dramatic views over the Sound of Mull. It was built in the 13th century and is still lived in by the Maclean family. Continue aboard Lord of the Glens to the picturesque town of Tobermory, with the whole evening free to explore this colorful village. Tobermory was established in 1788 and is famous for the brightly painted houses that line its waterfront, located at the bottom of a cliff face. Tobermory is also home to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, and one of their representatives will come aboard to give a presentation on their remarkable work in these waters. (B,L,D)
This morning, explore Tobermory’s lively quayside. Then we sail north to the Small Isles to land on Eigg, Rum, or even outermost Canna, depending on weather conditions. The islands have small populations of fewer than one hundred souls, but teem with wildlife. Look for marine animals and birdlife, including Atlantic seals, minke and humpback whales, dolphins, basking sharks and harbour porpoises and one of the largest colonies of Manx shearwaters in northern Europe. If you visit Eigg, you’ll have chances to walk around the island, which is dominated by the imposing crag of An Sgurr, and talk with the local residents. If you visit Rum, you’ll visit fanciful Kinloch Castle, completed in 1900 as the home of Sir George Bullough, who had purchased the island with money he had earned as a textile magnate. The castle is now managed by Scottish National Heritage. If conditions permit, it may be possible to visit distant Canna, the outermost of the Small Isles, which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
Sail to the tiny village of Inverie, where you can have a drink at the Old Forge, the most remote pub in the British Isles (there is no road to Inverie, which can only be reached by sea or after a 17-mile hike). The pub is a convivial place, where you can have a chat with Inverie’s residents over a pint of local ale. (B,L,D)
Sail from Inverie this morning, and spend the day on the Isle of Skye. At the Museum of the Isles, trace the legacy of the 1,300-year-old Clan Donald, the Lords of the Isles, who once ruled the west coast of Scotland. See the ruins of Armadale Castle, ancestral home of the MacDonalds, and take a walk through the beautiful woodlands and gardens. Then sail for Kyle of Lochalsh, passing through the dramatic narrow sound between Skye and the mainland, with its tidal races and currents.
Afternoon options include a guided walk in the Cuillin Hills on Skye (weather permitting), amid some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. The Cuillin Hills are much loved by Scots as having some of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere, and some of the finest hiking. Alternatively, if you prefer not to hike you can explore Eilean Donan Castle and the charming village of Plockton on the mainland. The small 13th-century castle of Eilean Donan sits on a tidal island at the confluence of three lochs, and is connected by a short bridge to the mainland. A Jacobite stronghold, it was destroyed by government forces in 1719 but restored in the early in the twentieth century in Arts and Crafts style. The charming planned fishing village of Plockton has an attractive waterfront with exuberant gardens that speak eloquently of the temperate influence of the warm North Atlantic drift in these high latitudes. It’s an enjoyable place for photography or just for an afternoon stroll.
Celebrate your Scottish voyage at a farewell dinner on board, with traditional Scottish musicians to entertain us after dinner in the lounge. (B,L,D)
Disembark in Kyle of Lochalsh and transfer to Inverness for homeward bound flights.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary: 6/25/2017, 7/23/2017, 8/6/2017, 8/20/2017 (Kyle of Lochalsh to Iverness)
Certified Photo Instructor:
On all departures, a certified photo instructor will be at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. Take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
Optional Extension: Edinburgh is offered as a pre or post-voyage extension. Prices from $1,720 per person. Contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Accommodations aboard ship; meals as indicated; coffee and tea with meals aboard ship; soft drinks and juices aboard ship; porterage; arrival and departure transfers in Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh; use of kayaks; tips to local guide and bus driver; services of your expedition staff. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation; meals not indicated; passport, visa, immigration fees; baggage/accident/travel insurance; items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages other than the first and last night aboard the ship, Internet/email, laundry; optional extensions; fuel surcharge may apply. Gratuities to ship's crew are at your discretion.
PHOTOS: © Phil Seale (Tobermory); © Stewart Cohen (Iona Abbey); © Shutterstock (Castle Duart); © Clara Natoli (Highland Cow); © Ralph Lee Hopkins (Puffin); © Stewart Aitchison (Skua); © Ralph Hammelbacher (Flowers)