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We’re happy to give advice on how best to get to Shannon Airport from your location, where you collect your rental car. Spend the day discovering the highlights of one of our favourite parts of Ireland, perhaps taking in the Cliffs of Moher and the mystical landscape of the Burren, the superb beach at Spanish Point and the little town of Milltown Malbay – considered by some the epicentre of Irish traditional music – on your way to Ennis and a lively place to stay on your first night in Ireland.
Long at the very centre of life here in this vivacious little town, your hotel in Ennis blends relaxing rooms with a peaceful guest lounge, alongside a popular bar, traditional restaurant and more informal bistro. Situated next to the imposing granite cathedral and within easy stroll of music-filled pubs and good shopping, this is a richly appealing place to stay.
Today you make your way south, to catch the short ferry crossing at Killimer in Co. Clare for Tarbert in Co. Kerry. From here, it’s a scenic route to the wild Kerry coast and the fishing village of Portmagee.
Another longstanding community hub, your accommodation here is a family owned pub-with-rooms, serving great seafood in a lively setting.
Within moments of your hotel is some of Ireland’s finest scenery. You’re a stone’s throw from the cute foodie-focused town of Cahersiveen, while right on your doorstep is 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.
Set off this morning after a leisurely breakfast and follow the Wild Atlantic Way through Waterville and colourful Kenmare, into Co. Cork. Continue on to the ancient village of Castletownshend and your next base in a wonderful castle on the coast.
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.
This gorgeous part of Ireland is packed to the brim with jewels 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 breathtaking views. We can never get enough of this incredible corner of Ireland.
Complete this section of the Wild Atlantic Way by touring in to the buzzing food capital of Kinsale, a fine place to wander for an hour or two. Continue to Ireland’s second city, Cork, home to the world-famous English Market and fine ancient university, before crossing on to Co. Wexford and your final Irish base by the village of New Ross.
This fairytale country house hotel has long been the domain of one of the country’s most popular chefs and his family, so there’s a distinct emphasis on dining here. Take dinner in the fine restaurant, the menu focusing on the very best local, seasonal offerings, or in the traditional in-house pub for simpler though no less delicious fayre. Accommodation is traditionally comfortable, and the perfect place to spend your last couple of days on the island.
Here at the southernmost tip of Ireland’s Ancient East, many folk will tell you this is the true cradle of Irish civilization and home to some of the country’s oldest and most fascinating. Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city, is home to several world-class museums and galleries as well as the famous crystal visitor centre.
Enjoy breakfast this morning, before the drive to Dublin 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 into 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.
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.
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.
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, breathtaking 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.
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.
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 an hour away through some quite staggering scenery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Cork and Wexford 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.
£2495 per person in March & November, £2625 per person in April & October, £2725 per person in May, £2845 per person in June & September and £2925 per person in July & 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 Dublin 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.
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This holiday can be arranged from March until October.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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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