PRE-TOUR: Inverness is serviced by an airport, local non-stop air services from London and Manchester, and regular trains from Edinburgh and Glasgow. We recommend time in the ‘Capital of the Highlands.’ There are several museums, a Gothic castle, gardens, shopping, lively pubs, theatres and Orkney side trips.
This tour begins in Inverness and finishes in Edinburgh
Day 1, Monday
Depart the Inverness meeting point at 9am, today visit places on the ‘must see’ list of most visitors to Scotland, with the opportunity to also explore connections to great literature.
Culloden, site of the great 1746 Jacobite battle led by Bonnie Prince Charlie, is a poignant place, the battlefield scattered with memorials to the fallen and a fine interactive visitor centre. Culloden was quite a turning point in Scottish history. On our literary theme, the events of Culloden have been featured in numerous literary works, both literally, as Iain Crichton Smith’s poem “Culloden and After,” and figuratively, “Waverley” by Sir Walter Scott.
Cawdor Castle is a 14th century “fairy tale” castle built by the Thanes of Cawdor around a legendary holly-tree, a place that will forever be associated with Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Explore facts, fiction and legendry tales from “Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill.” Recently Liza Campbell, sister to the current Thane, wrote a novel about her experiences growing up in Cawdor Castle, perhaps a ‘must read’ prior to our visit? (“A Charmed Life.”)
Later drive through the stunning lower Highlands scenery to Fortingall, a place teeming with ancient Scottish tales, home to a legendary Yew tree, reported to be the oldest living thing on Earth, and connections to Roman centurions and Pontius Pilate. Base tonight either in this picturesque village of Fortingall or nearby on the banks of Loch Tay.
NIGHTSTOP: Fortingall/Aberfeldy area
DAY 2 Tuesday
A day of Scottish heroes! Explore part of what’s known as ‘Rob Roy Country’ and pay respects at Rob Roy Macgregor’s grave. See Stirling Castle, an imposing fortress connected to Mary Queen of Scots, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. This tour route is classical, as described in Dorothy Wordsworth’s “Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland,” a diary of her travels with her brother William and their friend Samuel Coleridge.
Next enjoy the scenic countryside of The Trossachs, the Scottish lake district. Sir Walter Scott’s “Lady of the Lake” was set here, sparking the first example of literary tourism. Works by several others, including Wordsworth and Jules Verne, are also set in this amazing terrain.
NIGHTSTOP: Loch Lomond area, Trossachs
DAY 3 Wednesday
This morning, we can linger a bit in the lovely Trossachs countryside if we wish but another exciting day awaits! Explore Ayr, the area most associated with Robert “Rabbie” Burns, Scotland’s National Poet. Visit his birthplace, setting for “Brigadoon” and other real life places connected with the 18th century poetic genius.
NIGHTSTOP: Cumnock area, Ayrshire
DAY 4 Thursday
Continue on the ‘Rabbie Burns Trail,’ a day exploring coasts and countryside. As far south as Scotland extends, the county of Dumfries & Galloway boasts stone circles, ruined abbeys and ancient battle sites. There is a wide variety of natural wonders, over 200 miles of coastline, amazing gardens and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Spend time in Wigtown, a quaint coastal town known as Scotland’s “National Book Town,” a great place for unique book shopping and amazing views.
NIGHTSTOP: Cumnock area, Ayrshire as above
DAY 5 Friday
See Rabbie Burns’ final home in Dumfries, a charming country town on the River Nith and perhaps raise a glass to him in what was his local pub. Also today, visit the birthplace cottage of Victorian author Thomas Carlyle in Ecclefechan.
The World Famous Blacksmith Shop at Gretna Green is a romantic spot where couples have eloped since 1754. Rub the Anvil for luck and peruse the local shops.
Day 6 Saturday
Sir Walter Scott made his home, Abbotsford, amid the astounding Borders scenery. Popular novels “Rob Roy” and “Ivanhoe” financed this Romantic mansion and gardens on the banks of River Tweed. Inside the home, among his personal possessions, one can feel his presence. This is a part of Scotland with turbulent past. We recommend reading the novel ‘The Candlemass Road’ by George MacDonald Frazer for a superb introduction to the area.
Also today, visit Rosslyn Chapel. This interesting church has achieved renewed prominence through Dan Brown ‘Da Vinci Code’ but the fantastic, varied architecture make it a stunning place regardless. Our tour concludes in Edinburgh by approximately 18:00. Accommodation is separate tonight, available for a supplemental fee.
SGT recommends time in Edinburgh for the rich literary heritage and, of course, to enjoy the special events of the Edinburgh Festivals. Old Edinburgh is full of literary monuments, museums and inspirations. Robert Louis Stevenson lived and was inspired here; Boswell, Dr Johnson, Rabbie Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all have Edinburgh connections plus ‘Harry Potter’ fans may find a particular café of interest too. General highlights include Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile and Prince Street shopping. There’s a vibrant nightlife full of theatres, pubs and literary walks.
EDINBURGH FESTIVALS — SGT is happy to assist with optional tickets, subject to availability. Early booking is strongly recommended!
LOGISTICAL NOTE: This ‘sampler’ tour visits several regions so involves some driving. Still a Small Group Experience, longer drives are broken up, balanced by ‘off the beaten track’ explorations.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times that we could not have been aware of at the time of loading this tour to our website.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.