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Experience staggering Highland and island scenery, from Islay to the Isles of Skye and Lewis, topped with the islands’ most cossetting accommodation
Beginning on the ‘whisky island’ of Islay, home to arresting landscapes and wildlife, head north along the roller-coast of Argyll to an acclaimed private-island retreat, before discovering the acute contrasts of southern and northern Skye. Finally, cross the Minch to Harris and snake your way to Stornoway on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides for three nights in a hilltop castle.
Set off on your journey north and mere moments after leaving Glasgow behind you’re immediately in road-trip heaven. Join the famous A82 as it skirts the banks of Loch Lomond, before spearing left to cross the ‘Arrochar Alps’, and circle Loch Fyne to the ancient village of Inveraray. Keep going as the route rises to Lochgilphead and falls to the classic fishing village of Tarbert at the head of the Kintyre peninsula, just a few miles north of the ferry port at Kennacraig. Soon, you’ll be sailing out of West Loch Tarbert on a relaxing crossing to the Isle of Islay.
Your accommodation on Islay is an independently owned jewel, in a superb position overlooking Laggan Bay. With it’s own 18-hole links golf course, high-end restaurant and beautifully designed spa offering a deluxe series of treatments – not to mention the spectacular nearby beach – you will never be at a loss of things to do.
A day to explore this southernmost Hebridean island; just along the coast from your hotel, island ‘capital’ Bowmore appears unchanged since its 18th century construction, its main street falling steeply towards the water, drum-shaped Killarow Church overseeing all. Around the banks of Loch Indaal, pass atmospheric Bruichladdich on the way to the island’s westernmost point for views of the gleaming lighthouse.
At lunchtime, you’re in for a treat on an exclusive private guided tour of Islay’s newest distillery, during which you’ll hear the story of its inception and see its impressive production facilities. Tour over, enjoy a guided tasting/ food pairing of four whiskies and four dishes, specially created for you by the in-house chefs. Drivers will be pleased to hear their drams are available to take away to enjoy later.
Return to Kintyre by ferry this morning, then back on the ribbon of tarmac that carries you north, through ancient Kilmartin Glen, twisting onwards to the west-coast fishing port of Oban. Perhaps stretch the legs here and enjoy a seafood lunch, or choose to press on the further 30 minutes to your next luxurious stop.
Reached by traversing the shortest of bridges, the island of Eriska is given over entirely to the pleasure of guests of the retreat hotel found here. Once a fine baronial mansion, this hotel is a model of elegance and understatement. There are just 16 bedrooms in the main house, plus both fine-dining and more relaxed dining experiences available – not to mention world-class spa facilities.
A web of challenging driving routes through vast scenery emanates from the island, but we have to admit we’d be tempted to take a day off from driving simply to wallow in the beauty and tranquillity of Eriska. Largely flat, the whole island is easy to explore on foot, with simply navigable trails all around, and views across Loch Linnhe to Lismore, with Mull and the Ardnamurchan peninsula in the distance. Work up an appetite in the sports hall or on the golf course, or allow yourself to be pampered with a treatment in the calming spa with indoor swimming pool.
A great day on the road today. Wave ‘goodbye for now’ to Eriska (you’ll be back…) and just a short distance from the island take the tiny car ferry across Loch Linnhe to Ardnamurchan. Here, in this overwhelming wilderness, take the undulating route through a scattering of hamlets and incredible beauty on your way to joining the Road to the Isles at Lochailort. From here, follow the western spur of the famous West Highland railway line to the port of Mallaig, jumping-off point for the ferry to the legendary Isle of Skye. Once across, it’s just 10 miles along the Sleat peninsula to your base for the next two nights.
Long, long-established in the most peaceful of natural locations, your accommodation in southern Skye is a quite wonderful family owned property, as famed for its serenity of position as for its world-class dining. Almost entirely hidden from view down a long, private driveway, mountain-protected at lochside, it couldn’t be easier to forget about the outside world while here.
An island of unending contrast, Skye has everything you could want from an island. Endless, gnarled coastline, soaring intimidating peaks, often-deserted beaches, castles, gardens, history and proud culture, we simply never tire of exploring this most famous isle. We’ll provide all the information you need to make the most of your time here.
Continuing north today, you’ll roughly follow the line of the north-east coast, around lochs Ainort and Sligachan, the isles of Scalpay and Raasay rising from the water, and onwards to the island capital of Portree, whose colourful harbourside and bustling centre await the curious. Carrying on, you’ll cross bleak moorland at the foot of the Waternish peninsula on your way to your base for one night in the village of Edinbane.
Formed from the ancient structure of Skye’s oldest coaching inn, your last night on Skye is something of a hidden treat. Home to just four bedrooms, this independently owned restaurant with rooms has been awarded five gold stars by the AA and evokes the feeling of an exceptionally exclusive stay. Dinner here is an outstanding tasting menu, with the chef passionate about sourcing the vast majority of ingredients from the Isle of Skye itself.
A 30 minute drive around Loch Snizort Beag sees the route drop towards the ferry port of Uig, where you’ll catch the service across the North Minch to the Outer Hebrides, landing in port at Tarbert on the Island of Harris. From Tarbert, it takes just a minute or two to recalibrate as you realise the differences here on the UK’s largest offshore island. Divert first to marvel at the staggering Caribbean-esque beaches of South Harris before continuing your journey. The road climbs and climbs away from the port, soon plummeting and rising again amidst quite fantastic landscapes on the hour-long drive (all part of the same landmass so no further ferry required!) to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
Proudly standing in its raised position overlooking town, your castle accommodation in Stornoway is a welcome alternative to the norm. Recently subject to complete refurbishment, beautifully realised apartments have been skilfully integrated in to the fabric of the original building. Fitted kitchens of the highest quality, lavish bathrooms and splendid bedrooms surely make this the Outer Hebrides’ most luxurious place to stay.
Two days to explore Lewis and Harris; what a way to round off your road trip. If it were us, for example, we’d head for the breathtaking beaches at Luskentyre and Seilebost, take a guided tour of the acclaimed distillery and cross the bridge to the tiny island of Scalpay, all within easy reach of each other on Harris. While on Lewis, you won’t want to miss the awe-inspiring standing stones at Callanish, the intimidating coastline of the north-west and the lonely sunset at Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. Again, we’ll share all of the secrets you need to get the most out of these fabulous islands.
An early start today, as you board the ferry at Stornoway for your return crossing to the mainland. Finding port at the village of Ullapool, we’ll create a tailormade route for your return journey home.
This island-hopping getaway includes luxurious stays and local adventures on Islay, Eriska, Skye and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
£2925 per person April & October, £3025 for May, June & September and £3125 per person July to August.
Prices based on two adults sharing accommodation for 10 nights, four on a bed and breakfast basis, three with dinner included while on Skye and three on a self-catering basis in Stornoway, with a luxury welcome hamper included.
Ferry travel for car and two passengers is provided on a return basis to Islay, and single from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye, from Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris, and from Stornoway on Lewis to Ullapool.
A private distillery tour and four-course whisky/ food pairing on Islay is also included.
Though car rental is not included, this can be arranged on request.
We would be delighted to assist with any inbound or ongoing travel arrangements you may require, as well as extra nights’ accommodation you may wish, perhaps in Edinburgh, Glasgow or the Highlands at the beginning or end of your itinerary.
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 April to October.
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