Highlights of Scotland, Scottish Literary Trail
6 days/5 nights beginning in Inverness & finishing in Edinburgh
Coincides with the amazing Edinburgh Festivals!
..Edinburgh International Festival..International Book Festival..Military Tattoo..Festival Fringe..
This is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes. Price based on how many travelers, your chosen package inclusions and your chosen level of accommodation.
This tour begins in Inverness and finishes in Edinburgh.
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.
LOGISTICAL NOTE: This itinerary is a 'sampler' tour visiting several regions so involves a bit more driving than the 'solo region' itineraries but is still a Small Group Touring Experience, the longer drives are broken up and balanced by ample 'off the beaten track' explorations.
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
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
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
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, same property as above
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.
NIGHTSTOP: Cumnock area, Ayrshire, same property as above
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.
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!
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 beyond our control.
Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.
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. Written in conjunction with Bruce Cherry.
This is a suggested tour itinerary and can be modified to best you your individual wishes.
Suggested tour package includes: # of touring days with vehicle & exclusive services of your driver/guide/companion, your accommodation for # nights while on the tour including full breakfasts, all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Your price also can include dinners and/or entrance fees to attractions or these items can be left out of the up front package/to be paid directly for maximum flexibility. Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, scheduled city day tours/attraction passes/transport passes or theatre/event tickets can be added to your package as you wish, subject to availability.
SGT is at your service!
The Special Group Tours Advantage is our unique and intimate understanding of what you expect traveling in the UK and Europe. We have not only visited but have spent many years living in and loving the cultures you will experience down the ‘B’ Roads and off the beaten track. We have worked with local suppliers and our guide/companion team for over a decade, creating unique special interest itineraries. Special Group Tours offers our “insider” knowledge to you.
The SGT Small Group Touring Concept is traveling with just 4 - 14 guests per departure. It is our aim to introduce you to the 'real' country and its people, not just ticking the boxes of a standardized route and treating you as an individual and not a number. Our concept allows for a leisurely touring pace and flexibility to get off the beaten track to discover hidden gems. Of course you'll see the major sites but so much more too!
At Special Group Tours, it is our priority that you have the most enjoyable holiday possible. You deserve it!