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A week-long trip showcasing the highlights and contrasts of Scotland, from major sights to hidden gems.
This week long touring holiday is designed to give visitors a perfect taste of the highlights of Scotland, while also experiencing some of our favourite hidden gems. 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 such as Culross – the fictional village of ‘Cranesmuir’ and Aberdour Castle – which doubles as Sainte Anne de Beaupré’s monastery plus many more…
Begin your exploration in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, steeped in centuries of history, stories and legends. Everywhere you turn, you will be greeted by contrasts – from narrow medieval alleyways and the imposing castle to the chicest of Michelin-starred restaurants, from geological wonders and hills-to-hike to smart shops and cosy whisky bars. It’s a city we know and love. We’ll share plenty of local recommendations – that way, you’ll get to experience the real city beyond the tourist hotspots.
Conveniently located in Edinburgh’s fashionable and leafy West End, just five minutes’ walk from Princes Street, this hotel exudes contemporary urban chic, despite being housed in a traditional Victorian town house. This fusion of styles works beautifully however, with classic original features providing the perfect backdrop for collages and abstract works of art by talented Scottish artists – it’s almost like staying in a stylish modern art gallery!
The striking design values are carried through to the bedrooms, which are lavishly decorated in warm, bold colours and boast huge inviting beds piled high with cushions and throws in fabulously luxuriant fabrics.
Today you head north over the Forth Road Bridge with views of the original Forth Bridge, the spectacular diamond-shaped rail-crossing. Perhaps take a short detour to visit the National Trust town of Culross, with its palace and beautifully-preserved seventeenth century gabled houses. No wonder it has featured in Outlander. You continue through Perthshire and across the Highlands to the Cairngorms National Park. This memorable drive incorporates many other potential stopping off points, depending on your chosen route – such as fairytale Blair Castle or the royally-connected town of Ballater, just along the road from the summer residence at Balmoral.
Your first Highland bases a recently constructed, oak-framed “eco-house” with a wealth of intriguing detail throughout, formed by the owners from the shell of a Victorian-era steading.
With just three bedrooms, an impressive guest lounge featuring large picture windows affording fabulous views across Cairngorm, and the very warmest of welcomes from your gregarious hosts, we’re sure you’ll find this place difficult to leave.
This is an ideal base for exploring the National Park.
So much to see, so many choices! You could head for the whisky trail if the water of life is what drew you to Scotland. Speyside is the country’s distillery heartland, featuring both famous and lesser-known names. Let us know your favourite tipple in advance and we’ll help you book a visit – Glenfiddich, Macallan and Johnnie Walker all have their spiritual homes right here. For a more outdoors experience, head off into the hills and pine forests of the Cairngorm National Park itself, perhaps taking the Mountain Railway to the peak of Cairngorm itself.
Today’s classic route will take you through the Highland capital, Inverness, and along the shores of Loch Ness. En route you could visit Culloden Battlefield or explore the picturesque ruins of Urquhart Castle, before continuing down the Great Glen and past the sentinel Castle Stalker to the beautiful Argyll coast and your next destination.
Right by the water’s edge at the end of a dead-end single track road, this historic restaurant, with its adjacent modern residence, is a tranquil and romantic spot. Do book in for dinner – its reputation for the freshest local seafood and game is second to none.
You could choose to upgrade to stay in a Scottish castle on nights five and six – please ask us for details.
A day on or by the waters of the west coast is our recommendation. Perhaps abandon the car and hop on board the morning ferry to the small island of Lismore – well worth a day’s exploration either on foot or bike (available for hire locally). Or take a short drive into Oban for a day-trip by ferry to the Isle of Mull or simply take a seal-spotting boat trip in the Bay. If you prefer dry land, head for magnificent Glencoe, with its brooding mountains and moving human history of the Macdonald massacre.
Today your scenic route passes Loch Etive and Loch Awe, featuring photogenic Kilchurn castle, before reaching your next base in the Trossachs, the Scottish Lakeland.
Set at the head of the classic lochside village of Luss, your hotel by Loch Lomond is a relaxed and comfortable spot at which to have a final unwinding. Recently upgraded to a high standard, the owners have made great strides in improving all aspects of the hotel’s many features. Rooms are traditionally furnished, with simple, elegant grace, while the restaurant has received much recent acclaim for the quality of its menu, accompanied by a wine-list curated by a national newspaper columnist.
The village itself could not be more picturesque, and a first stroll from the hotel to the lochside, along the tiny beach and out on to the jetty to admire imposing Ben Lomond, takes the breath away.
Boat trips are available to one of the loch’s 30+ islands, and dinner at the village smokehouse, whose salmon has to be tasted to be believed, is a classic Scottish treat, perhaps for your final evening.
Return home – Edinburgh is within 90 minutes’ drive, or you can pick up the motorway network at Glasgow.
Start in Edinburgh then tours through the Highlands to the Cairngorms, then to the west coast and finally the Trossachs, Scotland’s lakeland.
£995 per person in February, March & November, £1095 per person for April & October, £1195 per person for May, June, July & September, and £1345 per person for departures in August.
Prices for this self-drive holiday are based on two people sharing a room for seven nights on a bed & breakfast basis.
We can also offer a Scottish castle as part of this tour – for days 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.
Car rental is not included, but we would be delighted to help arrange from a wide selection of vehicles on request.
We would be delighted to arrange your own driver-guide for this holiday – please ask us for a quotation when you enquire.
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 February to November.
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.
I know we wouldn't have got to see and experience as much as we did in Scotland, if we hadn't had the guidance and experience of McKinlay Kidd.Lorelee & Randy, British Columbia, Canada
The trip was beautifully planned. Everyone was very responsive leading up to the trip as well. We would highly recommend McKinlay Kidd.Laurel & Bernard, Vermont, USA