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Edinburgh & Highlands Explorer

Designed to introduce first time visitors to the contrasts of Scotland

This week long holiday is designed to give first time visitors a good introduction to the contrasts of Scotland. It starts in Edinburgh, takes you to the heart of the Highlands, then on to a beautiful sea loch on the stunning west coast and finishes in a romantic glen. Once here, it won’t take you long to understand why this enchanting land inspired TV hit ‘Outlander’. You’ll be perfectly based to explore locations which have inspired the show such as Culross – the fictional village of ‘Cranesmuir’ and Aberdour Castle – which doubles as Sainte Anne de Beaupré’s monastery plus many more…

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Mar - Nov

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Day One – Edinburgh

Your holiday starts in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and one of the top city holiday destinations in the world.  Visitors from all over the world are drawn here by the wealth of historic sites, galleries and museums, shops, restaurants and bars – not to mention the spectacular sight of Princes Street and the castle rock.  Yet it’s still perfectly possible to avoid most of the crowds and find quiet cobbled streets, peaceful cafes and bars and, above all, to enjoy this most scenic of British cities.

Your accommodation

For visitors to the capital seeking both contemporary style and value for money, this unique aparthotel combines the comfort and service of a top-quality hotel with the additional space and facilities you would expect from good self-catering accommodation. There are studio and two bedroom apartments, with bathroom, lounge, dining area and fully-equipped modern kitchen, complete with microwave, washer/dryer and dishwasher.  Secure underground parking is also available for a small extra charge.

The location is another bonus: just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, you can head up the hill to the castle, or down to Holyrood Palace and the new Scottish Parliament, less than five minutes’ walk.  Just beyond this is the extraordinary wilderness of Holyrood Park – where you can escape the city completely – and Arthur’s Seat, whose easily attained summit affords superb panoramic views of the cityscape.

Day Three – Journey to the Cairngorms

Today you head north over the spectacular Forth Road Bridge, through Perthshire and across the Highlands to Speyside, famous for its whisky, castles, rivers and glens.  This memorable drive incorporates many potential stopping off points, including Blair Castle and the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie, before reaching your next destination.

Your Hotel

A recently refurbished Victorian shooting lodge, rescued from near-derelict state by its family owners, your luxury hotel in the Cairngorms National Park is one of our recent favourites. With 13 beautifully appointed rooms, its own coffee-shop and outstanding restaurant serving the finest Scottish produce, and the open-air two-tier terrace is the perfect place to spend warmer, star-filled summer evenings with a glass of something special from the extensively stocked bar.

Day Five – West Highlands

Today’s classic route will take you along the shores of Loch Ness (possibly stopping off at famous Urquhart Castle or even the Loch Ness Monster Centre at Drumnadrochit – do bring your sense of humour) and down the Great Glen, before arriving at the beautiful Argyll coast and your next destination.

Your Hotel

Originally the home of Loch Linnhe’s Pier Master, this historic restaurant, with its adjacent modern residence, really is a special place to contemplate the dramatic beauty of the west coast.  The views are stunning and the once prolific steam traffic has given way to the blissful sound of silence.  Mouth-watering langoustines and lobster are kept fresh off the end of the pier, before being served to you by candlelight in the cosy conviviality of one of Argyll’s finest restaurants.  As you contemplate the sunset over the distant Morvern hills, you may be lucky enough to glimpse otters and seals.

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 Seven – Southern Highlands

Today your scenic route passes Loch Etive and Loch Awe, before reaching your next base in the Trossachs, the Scottish Lakeland.

Your Hotel

Nestling in the heart of Rob Roy country amidst the beautiful lochs, forest and mountains of the Trossachs, this is primarily an award-winning restaurant, with the added benefit of overnight accommodation so that you can really make the most of your dining experience.  The Baronial Dining Room, with its vaulted ceiling and magnificent fireplace, is the focal point of a restored seventeenth century farmhouse and a worthy setting for the superb Franco-Scottish cuisine, which has deservedly been awarded two AA rosettes and a Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’.  An impressive wine list provides the perfect complement to your meal, after which you will not have far to stagger to your pretty bedroom – one of five featuring attractive furnishings and antiques (and one with a romantic four poster).

The hotel is well located for great drives throughout the Trossachs as well as along Loch Tay and around Ben Lawers, Scotland’s tenth highest mountain.  Besides boasting many scenic roads, this is great walking country, with several starting from the hotel itself, and is famous for its connections with Rob Roy MacGregor, the outlaw – his grave is in Balquhidder churchyard.  A little further afield, you can explore Stirling and its dramatic Castle and old centre, or take a boat trip on the beautiful Lake of Menteith (the only “lake” in Scotland!) and visit the island of Inchmahome Priory, once a hiding place for the young Mary Queen of Scots.

Day Eight

Return home – Edinburgh is within 90 minutes’ drive.


Map Edinburgh-&-Highlands

Start in Edinburgh then tours through the Highlands to the Cairngorms, then to the west coast and finally the Trossachs, Scotland’s lakeland.


£690 per person in March & November £740 per person for April & October £830 for May, June, July & September and £900 per person for departures in August.

Prices for this self-drive holiday are based on two people sharing a room for seven nights, with five on a bed & breakfast basis and two in an aparthotel in Edinburgh where breakfast supplies are included.

We can also offer a Scottish castle as part of this tour – for day five and six – for a supplement of £75 per person – ask us for more details.

The holiday also includes a 7 day Historic Scotland Explorer pass, offering free entry to Scotland’s major historic attractions, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart castles.

Ask us for a quotation for car hire – with prices from £30 per day.

Would you prefer a private driver-guide?

We would be delighted to arrange your own driver-guide for this holiday – please ask us for a quotation when you enquire.

All our touring holidays include a map of Scotland with recommended routes from your specified starting point, suggestions on places to see and visit depending on your personal interests and our expertise to help you get the most from your holiday.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

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.


Check availability for Edinburgh & Highlands Explorer

This holiday is available from February to early December.

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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