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Day One – Arrive in Dublin and Head South to Wicklow
Begin your exploration of Ireland and Scotland by flying into Dublin. At the airport, collect your rental car and hit the road for the brief journey south to your first base in Co Wicklow.
Should you wish to add a couple of nights in the City of Dublin at one of our specially chosen small hotels, we can easily arrange this for you along with transfer from the airport. You can then collect your rental car the morning of your departure to Wicklow.
Your Hotel in Co Wicklow
Drive through the gated threshold and along the sweeping, tree-lined driveway to this Victorian country mansion, set in 14 acres of mature gardens on the coast of the Irish Sea. The interior evokes a bygone era of glamour and sophistication, both in terms of service and style, each of the bedrooms individually decorated, and with its own selection of carefully curated antiques. Dining here is a rare treat, with the very finest local seafood, game and lamb served in the award-winning restaurant, accompanied by an eclectic winelist, or you may choose to take a more casual dinner in the atmospheric bar.
Day Two – Discovering Co Wicklow
Long-established as a playground for those eager to escape the bustle of Dublin city life, Co Wicklow is home to Ireland’s most extensive mountain range, perfect for bracing walks and twisting drives. Here in Ireland’s Ancient East you’ll also find Glendalough, the ‘Monastic City’ founded by St Kevin in the 6th century and a site of international significance. And garden enthusiasts will find much to delight at Powerscourt House and Garden, one of the country’s finest.
Day Three – Further South to Co Cork
Set off this morning after a leisurely breakfast and follow the coast through Wexford and Waterford, and in to Co Cork, perhaps stopping off in the fine university city of Cork for lunch. In the afternoon, continue south, joining the Wild Atlantic Way to the ancient village of Castletownshend and your next base in a wonderful castle on the coast.
Your Accommodation in Castletownshend
In a dramatic and tranquil waterside location, your base for the next two nights is a picture-perfect 17th-century castle, owned and run today by descendants of its original family creators. Crammed with period features, family art and antiques, there can be few more striking places to stay in Ireland. Guests are met at the door by the family, and immediately put at ease by the warmth of the welcome. Climb the impressive oak staircase to one of six guest bedrooms, some of which feature views of the water and each elegantly presented with a delightful selection of original furniture, coupled with sumptuous modern linens and well-equipped en-suites.
Breakfast is served in the recently created café space, hung with local art and serving light lunches to guests and visitors throughout the day. In the evening, enjoy dinner alfresco by the water under the pergola, perhaps with pizza from the outdoor wood-fired oven.
Day Four – Out and About in Co Cork
This gorgeous part of Ireland is never short places to visit, whether you like a bustling town like Skibbereen, a busy port like Baltimore or evocative coastline at Roaringwater Bay, it’s all here. Travel just a little further from Roaringwater down the Mizen peninsula to Mizen Head, the island’s southwestern extreme and home to soaring cliffs and breath-taking views. We can never get enough of this incredible corner of Ireland.
Day Five – To the Kingdom of Kerry
Bid farewell to your castle in Cork and travel along the southern coast of the island, following the Wild Atlantic Way as it takes in the ancient town of Bantry, the Sheep’s Head and Beara peninsulas, colourful Kenmare and the Iveragh peninsula, whose north coast is home to your accommodation for the next two nights.
Your Hotel in Co Kerry
A recent discovery of ours, this family owned seaside jewel features just 12 bedrooms and is set a short distance from one of Ireland’s best beaches. Rooms feature traditional and cosy comforts, while the in-house ‘Gastrobar’ serves a menu of Irish favourites – who ever can resist seafood chowder alongside a pint of the black stuff?
Day Six – Conquer Kerry
Within moments of your hotel, here on the Ring of Kerry, is some of Ireland’s finest scenery. You’re a stone’s throw north of the cute foodie-focused town of Cahersiveen, while a little further will find you on the Skellig Coast and the island of Valentia. Boat trips to Skellig Michael – recently made famous by Star Wars – are easily arranged should you wish to make the pilgrimage. Plough on a little north to the Dingle peninsula and the vibrant town of Dingle, whose selection of pubs, quirky shopping and optimistic atmosphere is unrivalled. You might even catch a glimpse of Fungie the dolphin, resident of Dingle bay for some 30 years.
Day Seven – From Kerry by Ferry to Clare
Today you make your way north, perhaps stopping off in the town of Tralee, and onwards to catch the short ferry crossing at Tarbert to Killimer in Co Clare. From here, it’s a scenic route to the coast, where you’ll pass the superb beach at Spanish Point and drive through the little town of Milltown Malbay – considered by some the epicentre of Irish traditional music. Shortly you’ll reach Lahinch (or is it ‘Lehinch’? An ever-present debate) and a real treat of a place to stay on your final night in Ireland.
Your hotel in Lahinch
Hotels seldom come more appealing or dramatically situated than this Co Clare pearl. Formed from the frame of an 18th-century clifftop house, the gleaming white hotel stands proudly over Lahinch Bay and was saved from near dereliction by the current owner, whose story of how he played here as a schoolboy, later vowing to rescue the collapsing structure would melt the hardest heart. Inside, the traditional blends seamlessly with every possible modern convenience, and guests are treated as long-lost family, free to roam, to choose a beer from the fridge at leisure or to take a stroll in the extensive grounds. Dining here is a stellar treat, the chef rearing his own animals and poultry, and working in tandem with the in-house gardener to deliver the very highest-quality produce from field to fork.
Day Eight – Scotland-bound!
Enjoy breakfast by the coast this morning, before the short drive to Shannon Airport to catch your flight to Edinburgh. Once landed in the Scottish capital, collect your rental car and cross the superb Queensferry Crossing over the Forth to enter the Kingdom of Fife. From here, wend your way north through Perthshire and in to the Highlands to your next base amidst the striking scenery of the Cairngorms National Park. This memorable drive incorporates many potential stopping-off points, including Blair Castle and the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie, before reaching your next destination.
Should you fancy a night or two in the ancient and absorbing city of Edinburgh, we’ll be happy to facilitate.
Your Accommodation in the Cairngorms
Created and built by the family owners from the bones of a centuries-old steading, your accommodation in the Cairngorms is an oak-framed wonder, crammed with the latest super-efficient, eco-friendly, hi-tech energy systems. The sun-drenched guest lounge features vast windows affording views of Strathspey and the Cairngorms’ unfolding drama, while just three en-suite bedrooms mean there’s never any danger of overcrowding.
Day Nine – Out and About in the Cairngorms
This is a perfect base to explore the National Park and the surrounding highland landscape of majestic mountains, rivers and lochs. You can enjoy a short trip on the wonderful Strathspey Steam Railway from Aviemore, or even build a sandcastle on the inland beach at Loch Morlich. Your hosts are a mine of information on local walks and excursions. The town of Aviemore is within easy reach, as are the glorious sandy beaches of the Moray coast and the myriad distilleries of Speyside if you wish to continue your whisky education.
Day 10 – To the Majesty of Loch Ness
Make your way a sort distance further north to Inverness this morning, perhaps stopping off for a stroll around the compact Highland capital. Later, head out to vast, breath-taking Loch Ness, perhaps taking the northern ‘high’ route for the best views, before dropping down to the lochside village of Fort Augustus, where the Caledonian canal descends in to the loch via a dramatic series of locks.
Your Hotel in Fort Augustus
Prominently situated overlooking the village, the traditional façade of your hotel in Fort Augustus hides a cosy and comfortable retreat, where classic and contemporary have been blended by the family owners to very appealing effect. Log fire crackles in the guest lounge, vast sofas inviting you to rest awhile, perhaps with a dram from the bar where locals trade gossip of an evening. The in-house restaurant, offering some of the finest food in the Highlands, is not to be missed.
Day 11 – On and Around Loch Ness
Little can prepare you for the grandeur of Loch Ness, a body of water so great it contains more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined. It’s just a short stroll from your hotel to its southwestern tip, from where you can board a vessel for a gentle cruise wrapped up with a little Nessie-hunting, equipped, as most boats here are, with sonar, underwater cameras and friendly, informative guides. Disembark at dramatic castle Urquhart for a classic Scottish view like no other. If you’d prefer a day on the road, the Isle of Skye is a little over and hour away through some quite staggering scenery
Day 12 – To Loch Creran
Today’s classic route will take you through the Great Glen to Spean Bridge and onwards in the shadow of Ben Nevis to Fort William, curving around Loch Linnhe to the beautiful Argyll coast and your next destination – a dramatic castle on Loch Creran.
Your Castle Accommodation Hotel by Loch Creran
Accommodation doesn’t come much more arresting or authentic than this. Set on the shores of the Loch, with the splendid valley of Glencoe as a backdrop, this 16th-century castle is one of the few in Scotland at which guests can spend the night. Six rooms range from simple and comfortable to grand and opulent, with modern touches amidst original features to make your stay as cosy as possible. Dining here on Scottish classics is a fun and relaxed affair, the family owners and staff serving the chef’s creations to a backdrop of traditional music in the oak-panelled dining room.
After dinner, relax with a dram as you contemplate the sunset over Lismore, Mull and the Ardnamurchan peninsula, and you might just be lucky enough to glimpse otters and seals.
Day 13 – The Tranquillity of Argyll
Drive around Loch Creran to Port Appin, where the local ferryman might tempt you to board the morning boat to Lismore – an island well worth a day’s exploration either on foot or bike (available for hire locally). Also nearby, Castle Stalker, ancient seat of the Stuarts, stands at the mouth of Loch Laich, whilst Oban is just half-an-hour away by car for ferries to Mull, Kerrera and other islands.
Day 14 – South for Your Final Night, by Loch Lomond.
One of the UK’s most dramatic driving routes awaits this morning, as you head off from Loch Creran and in to breath-taking Glencoe – a place at which you’d be silly not to stop awhile to experience its atmosphere. Maybe even take a short detour to Glen Etive, recently made famous in the ‘cold open’ of Skyfall. Keep going across beautifully bleak Rannoch Moor and in to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and your hotel in the village of Luss.
Your Hotel by Loch Lomond
The pretty village of Luss is the setting for your final night, in a recently upgraded hotel featuring a lively bar and a first-class restaurant. Quietly placed a few minutes’ stroll from the water’s edge, the hotel has been facelifted in almost every corner, with traditionally furnished rooms a welcome and inviting haven after a day’s travelling.
The village itself has long been one of the most popular by the loch, where gardens seem to become more elaborate by the year, and from whose pier you can take a relaxing boat-trip on this most peaceful body of water. There’s even a small beach here, the perfect place for a paddle.
Day 15 – Return Home
Return home – Edinburgh Airport is a little more than 90 minutes’ drive away; you can return your rental car at the airport and make your onward journey connections.
This holiday covers Dublin, Kerry, and Connemara in Ireland. From Dublin fly to Edinburgh for a stay before venturing north to the Cairngorms, south West to Loch Linnhe finishing in the Trossachs.
£2185 per person for April & October, £2325 per person in March, June & September, £2355 per person in July and £2445 per person in August.
Prices based on two people sharing double or twin en-suite accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis at each of our specially chosen small hotels and guest houses. Rental of a small manual car is included in both Ireland and Scotland (automatics available at a surcharge). Flight for two people from Shannon to Edinburgh is also included.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
Standard of accommodation superb and we had a really enjoyable, restful holiday. McKinlay Kidd service exemplary.Sue & Kevin, Guiting Power, England
This holiday can be arranged from March until October.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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