Extend your experience in Scotland by ending your sojourn with our four-night post-trip extension in the Scottish Highlands. Explore the beauty and mystery of Loch Ness and Inverness, the Highlands' capital city.
- It's Included:
- Accommodations for 3 nights in Inverness at the First-Class Kingsmills Hotel or similar and 1 night in Aberdeen at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel
- 5 meals: 4 breakfasts and 1 dinner
- Included tour: Loch Ness & Isle of Skye
- Exclusive services of a Grand Circle Program Director
- All transfers
Conclude your main England, Scotland & Wales itinerary this morning as you depart Edinburgh and head for Inverness, traveling through St. Andrews along the way. Arriving in Inverness late this afternoon, you’ll have the rest of the day to spend as you choose.
Following breakfast this morning, you’ll drive along the famed Loch Ness, a fabled lake of many moods—from the sultry to the serene. Beneath its placid surface, the occasional sturgeon has been spotted. And who hasn't heard the tale of the Loch Ness monster, often spoken of but seldom seen? The legend of "Nessie," though never proved to be real, has a long history. Its first reported "sighting" was in AD 565.
Not all the wonders of Loch Ness are beneath its surface, however. The area also hosts a vibrant bird population, acting as a flight path for sea birds migrating between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It is common to see buzzards circling above the banks of the loch, and eagles, though more rare, do make an occasional appearance. Also seen from time to time are the increasingly rare ospreys out fishing for a quick bite or two.
En route, we pass Eilan Donan, and continuing on, we cross to the Isle of Skye by bridge (this bridge opened in 1995.) The Isle of Skye is considered the jewel of the Inner Hebrides. Often referred to in Gaelic as Eilean a' Cheo (The Misty Isle), Skye beckons with its jagged mountain ridges, placid inlets and bay, and charming villages.
Natural beauty is in full abundance here, especially in the form of the Cuillin Mountains, a favorite destination of climbers and hikers alike. These commanding heights can be appreciated at a distance, too, as you journey indented coastlines that wind through verdant hills and moors and through history-rich villages. You may catch a glimpse of local wildlife, so watch for oystercatcher birds.
Today is yours to enjoy at your own pace. Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, is a thoroughly modern town with ancient roots and will no doubt entice you with its array of offerings. A visit to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery offers up a vibrant presentation of the heritage of the area, from its archaeology to its natural history. Clan Donald is said to have burned the town at least seven times, while Bonnie Prince Charlie's forces destroyed the fort here in 1745. Peace prevails today in the city's most welcoming environment.
Or, join us on an optional Historical Highlands tour to grasp a sense of the past that is so inseparable from this region's identity. We visit Culloden Moor, scene of the last major battle fought on mainland Britain. The final Jacobite uprising, and their efforts to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne, ended here on April 16, 1746, when Government forces led by the Duke of Cumberland crushed the army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. You'll see the reconstructed turf and stone dikes that played a crucial part in the battle. On site you can view the Graves of the Clans, the Well of the Dead, the Memorial Cairn, the Cumberland Stone, and the Field of the English. The Visitor Centre offers a Jacobite exhibition.
Our tour also takes us to the 14th-century Cawdor Castle, a splendid fairy-tale castle that is still home to the Cawdor family. Legend has it that in 1454, the Thane of Cawdor, drawing inspiration from a dream, fastened gold to a donkey's back and vowed to build a new castle wherever the animal lay down for the evening. The donkey rested under a holly tree, and that tree still stands within the medieval tower. The turreted castle also has literary claim, as the title character of Shakespeare's Macbeth is the Thane of Cawdor. You'll be able to view the fine tapestries, portraits, grand furniture, and decorative objects that the resident owners collected over six centuries. Follow the paths through quiet gardens and woodlands, and walk the drawbridge to experience the full history of place that pervades this storied site.
You'll pause to enjoy an included light lunch, made with fresh local produce, in the Castle's restaurant.
The evening is yours to make your own discoveries and enjoy dinner on your own.
Travel to Aberdeen through the scenic landscapes of Speyside (with more whisky distilleries than anywhere else in the world) and Royal Deeside, called “dear Paradise” by Queen Victoria. You’ll pass through the tranquil town of Ballater, which is close to Balmoral Castle—the summer residence of the British royal family—and stop en route for lunch on your own.
You’ll arrive in Aberdeen in the late afternoon, where your Program Director will lead you on a short walk through the city's Old Town. Dinner tonight is at your hotel.
This morning, your Grand Circle Program Director will see you off from the hotel for your transfer to the airport for your flight home.