Day 1 | Saturday 20 May, 2023: Arrival day
Check-in at our stylish hotel in Fort William from 3pm. A short walk from the train station, this beautiful period building overlooking Loch Linnhe has been part of the history of Fort William since 1876 and provides traditional Scottish hospitality at its best. Arrive in time to join your leaders for a welcome drink at 6 pm in the hotel reception , review of the trip itinerary and additional trip details. Overnight: Fort William. D.
Day 2 | Sunday 21 May: 2 walks – The Lost Valley, Glencoe & Castle Stalker total of 4 miles, 800 ft ascent, 4 hours walking
A scenic 45 minute drive from Fort William along the coast, takes us to a spectacular bridge over Loch Leven and to the village of Glencoe. The next 3 miles are arguably the most dramatic scenery in Scotland. We stop at the foot of the Three Sisters, an impressive set of 3 peaks side-by-side. From the viewpoint, we descend a few metal steps to a bridge, cross and follow the river on a well-marked path with occasional rocky sections. On the ascent out of the gorge, larger rocks have steps cut into them and a rope to help on the way up when wet. A gravel track continues steeply uphill between boulders and waterfalls. After crossing a stream, we continue uphill to the Lost Valley, for our picnic lunch with fantastic views of the high peaks around. After exploring the valley, we retrace our steps and set off for Oban. Along the way we stop for an easy walk to admire the spectacular setting of Castle Stalker. Oban is set on a delightful bay with sweeping views to the islands. The famous Oban distillery has been producing single-malt whisky here since 1794. In the evening, we enjoy Scotland’s superb seafood on the port, just opposite our hotel. Overnight: Oban. B, D.
Day 3 | Monday 22 May: Mull & Iona 5 miles, +1,000 ft, 3 ½ hours
We leave Oban on the morning ferry for a 45 minute sail to the island of Mull and hop on the local bus for a 75 minute ride heading to the west coast. The road climbs through some desolate scenery before reaching the spectacular peninsula, The Ross of Mull. The most uplifting sight on Scotland’s west coast is the view of Iona from Mull on a sunny day: an emerald island set in a sparkling turquoise sea. After lunch in Fionnphort, we cross by ferry to explore Iona on foot. St Columba sailed from Ireland and landed on Iona in the year 563 in a move to establish Christianity throughout Scotland. From the quay, we head uphill to the ancient graveyard where 48 early kings of Scotland are buried. We continue towards the remains of the Abbey, the spiritual heart of Iona. A footpath directs us to the highest point on the island, with fantastic views in all directions. We descend to the beach, soaking in the views and mystical atmosphere of this sacred place, before heading back to Mull and our lovely B&B for a home-made dinner and a restful night. Overnight: Fionnphort, Mull. B, D.
Day 4 | Tuesday 23 May: Mull Wildlife Tour 3 miles, +500 ft
From the rugged ridges of Ben More (3,170ft) and the black basalt crags of Burg, to the blinding white-sand, pink granite rocks and emerald waters that fringe the Ross, Mull can lay claim to some of the finest scenery in the Inner Hebrides. Nicknamed Eagle Island, Mull is a wildlife watching paradise. Today, we explore the wilder parts of the island on a special, full-day, nature adventure. On our vehicle-based tour, we will experience Mull’s extraordinary wildlife, stopping at regular intervals for short leisure walks. Guided by a local naturalist and wildlife expert, we will be targeting the island’s star species: white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, hen harrier, otter, seals as well as birds and butterflies. The tour ends in the picturesque little fishing port of Tobermory, with brightly painted houses, our idyllic location for a couple of nights. Overnight: Tobermory, Mull. B, D.
Day 5 | Wednesday 24 May: Mull, Staffa & the Treshnish Isles 5 miles, +500 ft, 3 hours
Our tour this morning includes a 2 ½ hour boat ride encompassing the island of Staffa and the Treshnish Isles. First stop is Staffa. Felix Mendelssohn, who visited the island in 1829 was inspired to compose his Hebrides Overture after hearing waves echoing in the impressive cathedral-like Fingal’s Cave. The cave walls are composed of vertical, hexagonal basalt columns that look like pillars. Weather permitting, we land on Staffa with time to explore the cave. Then we head to the Treshnish Isles, a chain of uninhabited islands, hosting colonies of sea-birds: the charismatic puffins, shags and guillemots. Back on the mainland in the afternoon, we are dropped near Glengorm Castle and after exploring the grounds taking in the fantastic views to Ardnamurchan, Rum and the Outer Hebrides, we walk back to Tobermory, its chocolate factory and tiny distillery, before savoring dinner at a welcoming little seafood restaurant overlooking the harbor. Overnight: Tobermory, Mull. B, D.
Day 6 | Thursday 25 May: Glenfinnan & Mallaig 5 miles, +700 ft, 2 hours
The morning ferry (35 minute ride) takes us to Kilchoan, a scattered crofting (tenant farming) village on Ardnamurchan peninsula, best known for the ruins of 13th century Mingary Castle. We embark on a low-speed roller coaster one hour drive along a road hopefully lined with the springtime bright pink and purple blossoms of rhododendrons. We arrive at Glenfinnan, an area steeped in Jacobite history, having seen the beginning and the end of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s doomed attempt to regain the British throne. Glenfinnan monument is where the young pretender rallied the Clans on 19 August 1745. A pleasant walk leads us to a nearby hill and a viewpoint of the famous 21-arch Glenfinnan viaduct featured in the movie Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets. We will be hoping to spot the Jacobite steam train on its way from Fort William to the coast. We continue through the woods to another small hill and a glorious viewpoint of the loch. Afterwards, we head off on a 45 minute drive to our hotel in Mallaig, one of the main fishing ports on the west coast, well known for its specialty of smoked kippers. Overnight: Mallaig B, D.
Day 7 | Friday 26 May: Isle of Skye 2 walks, 6 miles, +1,000 ft, 4 hours
We take the morning ferry, a short 30 minute ride, from Mallaig to the Isle of Skye. We drive for an hour through this most beautiful island, past the amazing jagged peaks of the Cuillin mountains to the start of our walk and the enchanting fairy pools. From the edge of the pine forest, we head uphill, following and crossing the stream several times while admiring multiple waterfalls on the way. We have our picnic lunch by the water. This area is a great spot for watching eagles soaring above the hills. Next, we head to nearby Drynoch and the Talisker distillery for a tour and a taster session. In the afternoon, we head to Uig (45 minute drive) and our charming 19th century coaching inn. After dinner, we take advantage of the long evenings this far north and enjoy a magical stroll to the Fairy Glen, a Quiraing-like landslip in miniature, with castle-like rock formations, caves and stone circles. Overnight: Uig, Isle of Skye. B, D.
Day 8 | Saturday 27 May: Isle of Skye 2 walks, 7 miles, +2,300 ft, 5 hours
A grand day out on a road tour with multiple stops, exploring the most spectacular landscape on the Trotternish Peninsula, in the north of the island. The dramatic basalt escarpment of the Quiraing is the result of successive landslips. We walk alongside the high cliffs with stunning views of Staffin Bay, in search of the different rock formations with the evocative names of the Needle, the Prison or the Table. Then we head south, past a glorious waterfall, a lovely spot for our picnic lunch, before continuing towards the famous pinnacle known as the Old Man of Storr. From the car park, it is a gruelling ascent on a steep grassy slope to the foot of the pinnacle, but it is well worth the effort as we are rewarded with magnificent views of this truly unique setting. Overnight: Uig, Isle of Skye B, D.
Day 9 | Sunday 28 May: Highlands & Castles
With one last 90 minute scenic drive in the morning, we say Goodbye to the Isle of Skye. We go over the bridge and stop at Eilean Donan Castle. Set on an offshore inlet and linked to the mainland by an elegant stone-arched bridge, it is probably the most romantic and most photographed castle in the whole of Scotland. After lunch, our 75 minute drive takes us along the loch into Glen Shiel with 3,500 ft high peaks towering on both sides of the road. We arrive on the shores of deep, dark and narrow Loch Ness. Stretching for 23 miles between Fort Augustus and Inverness, these bitterly cold waters have been extensively explored in search of Nessie, the elusive Loch Ness monster. Our next stop is Urquhart Castle, repeatedly sacked and rebuilt over the centuries and commanding outstanding views of Loch Ness. Finally, we follow the Great Glen, to our comfortable modern hotel in the heart of Inverness, for our final celebratory dinner concluding our exploration of the Northwest Highlands and Islands. Overnight: Inverness. B, D.
Day 10 | Monday 29 May: Inverness
Departure after breakfast. Check out 11 am
4 trip bulletins will be provided prior to departure with more detailed and specific information to help you prepare for your adventure. If you’d like advice on your in-country travel arrangements, please do ask, we are happy to help.
Photo credit: Inner Hebrides map Hogweard, CC BY-SA 4.0