Departing from Edinburgh we’ll drive across the Forth bridges at Queensferry. The famous cantilever designed Forth Rail Bridge was the world’s largest bridge when opened in 1890. It can be seen spanning the river next to the 1964 road bridge, now superseded by the 2017 Queensferry Crossing. We continue north through the Kingdom Of Fife.
Around an hour from Edinburgh we make our first stop in the Perthshire Highlands, just outside Dunkeld. This serene woodland walk follows the banks of the River Brann to a surprising viewpoint overlooking a natural waterfall. Fresh air and the natural environment abound, framed by the tallest trees in Scotland.
Dating back to 1269, Blair Castle is an impressive fortress that has been home to Stewart and Murrays of Atholl for 19 generations. The Castle was renovated in the 16th and 18th centuries and the current duke still uses it as his home. The Atholl Highlanders, the only private army in the Uk patrol the grounds.
We’ll explore the entire castle, from the grand staterooms and Banvie Hall to the formal gardens.
House of Bruar
Undoubtedly Scotland’s finest roadside stop, The House of Bruar offers a luxurious food hall and country clothing outfitter fit for a laird! With luxurious ‘cloakrooms’ (toilets) and a lobster kiosk, The House of Bruar is a premium attraction in its own right!
Continuing over the Pass of Drumochter we enter into The Cairngorm National Park and call at the highest distillery in Scotland. Built in 1897 in the location where three drovers’ roads met, Dalwhinnie Distillery has been producing whisky in this unique location for over over 180 years. Take a tour of the distillery and sample a few drams of ‘The Water of Life’.
Highland Folk Museum
Further north, the Highland Folk Museum offers a fantastic collection of historic houses and displays of Highland life including the Baile Gean Township. This fantastic recreation of a Highland crofting village is recreated as it would have been around 1700. The houses, barns and other buildings are built using traditional methods and burn peat fires. The township is brought to life with reenactors and livestock including Highland Cows roaming the village.
The Highland Folk Museum is available 1 April – 31 August
At the end of the day arrive in Inverness. After checking into the 4* Inverness Palace Hotel (with guaranteed views over the River Ness to Inverness Castle) you have free evening to enjoy the ‘Capital of the Highlands’ hospitality.
After a hearty breakfast we leave Inverness and take ‘The Great Glen’ road towards Loch Ness.
Loch Ness Cruise
Stepping onboard the Loch Ness by Jacobite Cruise boat, take a 30 minute cruise to Urquhart Castle. Hear the legends of the Loch, including the infamous Loch Ness Monster from the on-board commentary.
Arriving from the water at Urquhart Castle your guide will meet you for a full tour of this ruined highland fortress. Once one of the largest castles in Scotland, Urquhart was built around the middle of the 13th century, although there may have been an earlier large fort on the site. Sieged by Longshanks and then held alternately by Scottish and by English forces, James IV gave John Grant the castle and the lands of adjacent Glen Urquhart in 1509. During the Glorious Revolution the castle was occupied by government forces but was blown up in 1692 to prevent occupation by Jacobite rebels.
At the southern end of Loch Ness sits the picturesque town of Fort Augustus. Built around a flight of locks on the Caledonian Canal, enjoy some free time to wander through the towpaths and watch boats navigate through Thomas Telford’s engineering wonder.
At the bottom of The Great Glen sits one of the most dramatic mountain ranges in Scotland. Glencoe rises from the waters of Loch Leven in a dramatic wild landscape. After lunch at The Clachaig Inn we travel a short distance up the valley to ‘The Three Sisters of Glencoe’ where a massacre happened late in the 17th century. Learn about this dark moment in Scottish history and how it changed the highlands forever.
The vast wild expanse of Glencoe is a breathtaking landscape, offering ever changing weather and panoramic and seemingly endless views in all directions. Recently used in the James Bond movie ‘Skyfall’, we’ll stop at a number of viewpoints and spot the abundance of flora and fauna. Binoculars are provided to help you appreciate the scene and your guide will point out the highlights of the area.
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs
Walk out onto the pier at Luss and marvel at the views over Loch Lomond to Ben Lomond and MacGregor country. Luss is a conservation village with beautiful cottages and a church that has been in use since the vikings controlled the region 1000 years ago. Loch Lomond is the largest Loch (lake) in the Uk by surface area and divided by the Highland fault line where the highlands meets the lowlands.
Returning to Edinburgh at the end of the trip, you’ll have a camera full of photos, new friends and many stories to recount for years to come.