Tour Itinerary September 25 -Oct 4th, 2018
Tues Sept 25
Gather at Halifax airport. Meet your tour escort Ron MacEachen and others on the tour, who will be travelling companions over the next 10 days. Settle in for the overnight flight to Glasgow, which is just over 5 hour duration.'
Wed Sept 26
Arrive at Glasgow airport at 8 a.m. Clear customs and be escorted to your luxury motor coach. This 26-seat motor coach, specifically chosen for this tour, features extra-large leather reclining seats, bathroom, four tables, full fridge and rear wardrobe. Your comfortable home on the road as you we travel the Highlands of Scotland.
We will immediately go to Edinburgh, one of the most historic cities in Europe. Check-in at the Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel for the first two nights. This hotel is located in the old town in the famous grassmarket area close to shops ,pubs and historical landmarks. .Be sure glance up at Edinburgh Castle on your way into the hotel.
The remainder of the day is free to rest up, grab some lunch, wander the streets of the city or check out some local markets and shopping. At 5 p.m. meet Ron in the lobby of the hotel .We wlll have a welcome drink followed by dinner and then a visit to a pub with some local traditional music. Welcome Dinner included.
Thurs Sept 27
Your tour of Edinburgh¸ called Dùn-Éideann in Gaelic, begins by meeting your local tour director, Coinneach Mac Lean. For many centuries Edinburgh was a center of interest to the Gaelic-speaking population, whether through coercion or voluntary desire to visit. The wider area has strong association with the Celtic saints of the Columbian church.Your tour begins in the New Town of Edinburgh, dating only from 1767, where you will see the most important Georgian urban landscape surviving in Great Britain. Here you will see the house of the chiefs of Clan Lamont and the home of the novelist Sir Walter Scott, where many Gaelic speakers were welcomed. Close by is Milne’s bar where the Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean met in the 1960s with the likes of Hugh MacDiarmid and Edwin Muir.
Pressing on to Calton Hill and the Old Royal High School (Walter Scott was a pupil) we get good views across the Old Town, its Royal Mile and to Holyrood Palace. Along the Royal Mile are a number of locations with strong Gaelic publishing associations.Carrubers Close gives access to Old St Paul’s - the Episcopalian church most associated with the Jacobites who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie. In Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped (1886) the exploits of Alan Breck were developed from those of John Roy Stewart who was ‘out’ with the Prince in 1745. As we turn left into South Bridge we catch a glimpse on our right of Register House was paid for the sale of the forfeited estates of those Highland chiefs who were ‘out’ in 1745.
The next location passed is Greyfriars churchyard where rest the remains of Donnchadh Ban (Duncan Ban Macintyre, – the greatest nature poet born near Bridge of Orchy). He was a member of the Town Guard from 1766 and died in the City in1812. Duncan Ban, like so many Highlanders, was forced to come to the city at that time. Edinburgh’s population doubled from 1700 to 1800, when it reached 80,000. His songs are still sung among Gaels in Nova Scotia.The Gaelic Church formerly on Johnston Terrace, strongly associated with the fine Gaelic poet, Dugald Buchanan, (1716-1768), was built to provide for the needs of the Highlanders.
A little way down the street one our right is the Lawnmarket where Duncan Ban’s wife Mairi Bhàn Og had her dram shop. Continuing uphill we arrive at the Witchery at the Castle which is our lunchtime destination. This restaurant is but a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle which we will visit after lunch.
After the Castle Tour concluded around 4 p.m., you have free time for the rest of the evening. You will be left on your own to meander through the side streets, shop or have an afternoon pint. Dinner is on your own tonight. After dinner an (optional) escorted pub tour with Ron and friends. Breakfast and lunch included.
Edinburg Skyline Sandy Bells Pub
Friday Sept 28th
From Edinburgh, travelling north-westwards towards Stirling, we pass by the engineering miracle of the Forth Railway Bridge. Stirling was the pre-eminent stronghold of Scotland and became embroiled in the turbulent times of William Wallace - dramatized in the film Braveheart. It’s where Scotland’s Wars of Independence were fought and won.
We take the road west over the Flanders Moss – once a 12 foot raised bog -- and along the old cattle drove road where once thousands of small black cattle streamed to the great markets Falkirk .
. The picturesque small town of Callander is our destination for lunch and time to wander on your own.
Venturing northward we pass close to Balquidder where Rob Roy was buried and Loch Earn - Ireland’s Loch - so named by the first Gaelic speaking settlers from Eire. We travel through Strath Fillan called after the important Saint whose relics were carried before the Scottish army at Bannockburn. And beyond its lies Beinn Dorain, immortalized in song by Donnchadh Ban Mac an t-Saoir, the finest Gaelic nature poet.
Passing over desolate Rannoch Moor we at last reach our day’s destination of Glencoe where in that haunting landscape the terrible massacre of the MacDonald Clan took place in 1692. We will also see the burial ground of Eilean Munda where the Campbell’s victims were laid to rest as well as of the execution place of James Stewart, who was wrongfully hanged for being accessory to the killing of Colin Roy Campbell. James’s body was left hanging there for eighteen months the skeletal remains being held together with chains and wire.
In the late afternoon we will check in to the Isles of Glencoe Hotel .This property is located at the head of Loch Leven in the town of Ballachulish. This hotel is known for its location with stunning views, service and hospitality. Tonight we will have dinner at the hotel and enjoy some local entertainment in the bar afterwards .On this night we will also be joined by a some seasoned whiskey tasters from the local area. Breakfast and lunch included .
Photo Isles of Glencoe Hotel , Scotland . Glencoe,Scotland.
Sat Sept 29
We travel along Loch Linne to the end of the Great Glen and the garrison of Fort William nestling below Ben Nevis, which is Britain's tallest mountain. We move up the A82 and turn of at Spean Bridge, travel to Roy Bridge and then in to Bohuntin/Glen Roy. This region has many connections to Nova Scotia, in particular Mabou and central Inverness County. Glen Roy’s rich heritage and extraordinary natural beauty make it the perfect backdrop for this excursion and a very special experience. Your guide will be local crofter (farmer), Ronnie Campbell, born and raised in Glen Roy. You will be spellbound by Ronnie’s knowledge and tales of the past.
The tour begins with a visit to Cille Choirill, the little church perched high on the hillside overlooking Glen Spean. It was built in the 15th century on a hallowed site dating back to around 600 AD when Cairell, one of St. Columba’s monks, had his cell here. On the hill behind, Tom Aingeal, many generations of Brae Lochaber people are buried. To journey through Glen Roy is to travel back in time. The narrow glen road passes Mulroy Hill (Maol Ruadh) the site of the last clan battle fought in Scotland in 1688. A roadside cairn commemorates the significant event. On to the hamlet of Bohuntin, once a township of some 200 people, but a victim of the 19th century Clearances when so many were forced to seek a new life elsewhere. Bohuntin was the main food growing area, the “bread basket” for the glen. Today it is a tranquil place but the memories and the legends remain. Half hidden in the long grass is the ancient Adamnan’s Graveyard where from time immemorial the Bohuntin people were laid to rest.
A mile or so along the road can be seen the Glen Roy Mass Stone. A fragment of a larger stone, it was used in Penal times when Catholics were forbidden to practise their faith publicly and so gathered at secret locations out in the open to celebrate Mass.
As you arrive at the view point, prepare to be amazed at the natural phenomenon that greets you. The dramatic legacy of the Ice Age lies before you – the world famous Parallel Roads. The “roads” appear at three levels on the hillsides and are the gravel beaches of an ice-dammed lake showing the levels of water as the ice receded. The glen takes on a wilder appearance now. Look out for golden eagle soaring above and for deer on the hillside. Discover the smaller treasures of the glen. See the Montrose Stone with its band of abrasive material encircling it. Legend has it that in 1645 as Montrose marched his army through Glen Roy, the troops sharpened their swords on the stone before continuing on to Inverlochy where they won an historic battle. There is a short walk to the Bishop’s well. For centuries the well was highly prized by the people of the glen for the quality of its water. In 1932, Bishop Sandy MacDonald of Victoria, B.C (formerly of Mabou) visited the well in Glen Roy and blessed it.
After the tour all will congregate at the Roy Bridge Hotel for lunch and socializing with invited locals. The very likely will be some cousins reunited on this day Departing from Roy Bridge A whisky tasting is on offer after lunch. Departing from Roy Bridge we will travel up the A84 to Kingside Aviemore and then to Inverness. Your hotel for the next two nights is Glen Mohr Hotel. This hotel is well situated on the banks of the river and only a short distance from the town centre., shopping,Inverness Castle and Eden Court. Dinner will be at the hotel and you have a free evening afterwards to explore the city . Breakfast and lunch and dinner included .
-Parallel Road Cille Choirill Church
Sun Sept 30
We will depart the hotel and travel to Clava Cairns an ancient prehistoric site on a gravel terrace above the River Nairn . Our guide today is Inverness native Roddy Mac Lean.
Next stop is the Culloden Moor Battlefield and Visitor Centre. This area is immortalized as a turning point in the history of Scotland .The interpretive center, with excellent audio visual takes you through the Jacobite rising of 1745 which ended on this moor in April 1746. Walking out on the battlefield can be a moving experience for those who trace their ancestor back to Scotland. Lunch will be taken in the restaurant at the Culloden Interpretive Centre.
In the afternoon we will be back in Inverness where we will take a guided tour of the Caledonian Canal and Tomnahurich . This is a comfortable walk along the town path where you’ll hear stories and the history on Inverness including the fairies of Tomnahurich. St Columba’s visit to the Pictish KingBrude and flora that have a special place in Gaelic tradition. In mid-afternoon after this walking tour is completed you have options. You can visit the Highland Archives center in Inverness, stroll through the botanical gardens or a visit to the city centre for shopping and sightseeing. In the early evening the group will assemble for dinner . Following dinner will be an after dinner visit to a local pub with traditional entertainment.
Inverness , Scotland Culloden Battlefield Main walking street , Inverness
Mon Oct 1
We bid goodbye to Inverness and drive along the banks of the Loch Ness. From our guide we will hear about the history, geology and yes the monster. There will also be a visit to the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre for some interesting insight into the story of the monster and various attempts to prove of a monster existence. Leaving the A82 we swing on to the A87 as we now travel the “Road to the Isles.” Next stop is at Mac Kenzie’s Cairn where we hear the fascinating story of Roderick MacKenzie who gave his life in an effort to assist Bonnie Prince Charlie to safely escape from Scotland after the defeat at Culloden. We will have a short stop at the area of the battle of Glenshield. Known as the little rising of 1719, it was led by the Cameron chief but was overcome by Hanoverian forces.Following our morning excursions we will stop at for lunch and a tour of Eilean Donan Castle just before we cross the bridge to the Isle of Skye. Situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery there is stories falling from its walls.
Leaving Eilean Donan Castle we cross the bridge and arrive on the Isle of Skye and proceed down to Sleat, home of Sabhal Mór Ostaig, a Gaelic language university that is an important economic asset for the region of Skye. There will be a short reception and we will hearings about the beginnings of the school.
We now move on to our home for the next two nights, Eilean Iarmain located on Isle Ornsay , Isle of Skye .This hotel described as “the most romantic hotel in the highlands,” has some bilingual staff (Gaelic and English) and is nestled on the water is a stunning location. We’ll taste their Gaelic Whiskies in their on-site pub, a popular spot for locals and visitors. This evening you can become familiar with the property, have a meal in the bar enjoy the company.
Breakfast and lunch included
Eilean Donan Castle Isle of Skye bridge Sabhal Mor Ostaig -Logo
Tues Oct 2nd.
Our day starts with a visit to the Clan Donald center. Discover the history of the Highlands and Islands through the story of Clan Donald, its most powerful clan, at this award-winning museum.Six interconnecting galleries, each with their own theme, take you through 1500 years of the history and culture of the area once known as the Kingdom of the Isles. This sea kingdom had its own unique culture and language, Gaelic. The MacDonald’s - or Clan Donald - were the Lords of the Isles and sit at the heart of the history of Gaeldom.We then head north past the town of Broadford and stop at of Portree, for lunch and some free time to either explore the town center with shopping or take a coastal walk along Portree Bay to enjoy a lovely nature setting. We then depart Portree and head through the Cullin Hills to Carbost, home to the Talisker whiskey, on the gorgeous shores of Carbost Skye. After an enjoyable tour, and tasting we head back to Eilean Iarmain for an enjoyable last dinner in the Highlands of Scotland at Eilean Iarmain’s highly regarded restaurant. The party will continue in the pub with music and laughter. Breakfast and dinner inclucded
Your home onthe Isle of Skye Talisker Whiskey Distillery The Pub at Eilean Iarmain
Wed Oct 3
We head to Armadale where will catch the ferry and a short 30 minute crossing to Mallaig .This region of the mainland holds many ties with Nova Scotia as numerous Nova Scotians and other trace their roots to Morar, Mallaig , and Arisag where we will visit Camusdarach beach . We will hear about the Gaelic history of the area as we enjoy the scenery. Then it is on to Glenfinnan House hotel for our final meal in the Highlands with lunch at the Glenfinnam House Hotel. After lunch we will visit St Finnans Catholic Church where will hear about the survival of Highland Catholicism. Our last stop will be at the Glenfinnan Visitor Center and Jacobite monument. Learn about where Bonnie Prince Charlie came ashore as he started his mission to reclaim the throne for the Stuarts.
After a full day we now settle in on our coach for our journey to Fort William and then down for overnight at a convenient Glasgow airport hotel for an overnight.
Breakfast and lunch included
Glenfinnan Monumnet Glenfinnan House Hotel -Our Farewell Luncheon The Harbor at Arisag
Thurs Oct 4th
Early Transfer to Glasgow airport for the return flight to Halifax NS. Your memorable tour of Scotland is finished. Breakfast included
Good Bye Scotland .We'll be back