Scottish Highlands Garden Tour – 14 Days
August 25, 2017 TOUR DIRECTOR: MARJORIE MASON Known for its outstanding beauty, there’s no better way to experience Scotland than on this fascinating tour of the country’s gardens. Plenty of sightseeing options mean you don’t need to be a green thumb to enjoy this getaway! Scotland’s…
August 25, 2017
TOUR DIRECTOR: MARJORIE MASON
Known for its outstanding beauty, there’s no better way to experience Scotland than on this fascinating tour of the country’s gardens. Plenty of sightseeing options mean you don’t need to be a green thumb to enjoy this getaway!
Scotland’s stately castles have gardens to match. At Inverary Castle, The Policies garden dates back to the 1600s, an oasis complete with cascades and trees planted by royalty. Formally abandoned, The Castle of Mey was lovingly restored by The Queen Mother, including the gardens and the planting of her favourite fragrant rose, Albertine. The Walled Garden at Cawdor Castle is more than 400 years old and boasts a perfectly manicured holly maze. In contrast, the young Wild Garden is alive with towering old trees and shaggy plantings.
Complementing your garden tours are excursions to Highland Park Distillery, the Kelpies and Skara Brae. The Crannog Centre invites you to experience life as it was 2,500 years ago during the Iron Age with a recreated roundhouse and hands-on archaeological crafts. The Braemar Gathering is an important tradition in Scotland’s history and is sure to be a highlight!
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New: Scottish Highlands Garden Tour – 14 Days
Day 1 & 2 : Overnight flight to Glasgow, Inveraray Castle & Gardens, Oban
Board your overnight flight to Glasgow where you will be greated by your DeNureTours’ guide and travel north along the beautiful shores of Loch Lomond. Stopping for a picture opportunity at the quaint village of Luss. Continue north along the shores of Loch Fyne to Inveraray where you will visit the fairytale Inverary Castle. Your day’s journey finishes in the popular harbour town of Oban.
Inveraray Castle has been standing on the shores of Loch Fyne since the 1400s. Home of the Dukes of Argyll and the seat of the Clan Campbell, Inveraray Castle is first and foremost a family home. The castle’s very existence reflects the part played by the Campbells in the rich tapestry of Scottish and British history. Contents of the castle span many generations of the family and it will give you a glimpse of the rich heritage of the past. The garden covers sixteen acre of which around two acres are formal lawns and flowerbeds the remainder being park and woodland.
Stay: Oban Bay Hotel & Spa, Oban
Day 3: Tree Planting in Glen Coe, Rannogh Moor, Free time in Oban
A unique event awaits you today. Enjoy the landowner experience and become a Laird or Lady. ‘Laird’ is a title traditionally applied to Scottish landowners and the female equivalent is ‘Lady’. The land around Highland Titles is managed as a nature reserve so when you plant your tree you help to improve and to conserve the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The tree will grow as a remembrance of your visit.
Glencoe is perhaps Scotland’s most famous and most scenic glen. Glencoe is also Scotland’s most historic glen and was recently voted as Scotland’s most romantic glen. Enjoy your ride through this magnificent landscape with different vistas at every turn of the road. Then travel across the Great Moor of Rannoch. It is one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe. The area is a vast stretch of land composed of blanket bog, lochans, rivers, and rocky outcrops which makes it a very challenging environment that still supports varieties of flora and fauna. A wealth of plants, insect, bird and animal life can be seen here ranging from curlews and grouse to roe and red deer. Return to Oban with time to explore the town before dinner at your hotel.
Meals: B, D
Day 4: Inverewe Gardens, Ullapool
Travelling north today, you come to the idyllic Inverewe Gardens. The gardens were started in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie. A lush, sub-tropical-style oasis perched on a peninsula at the edge of Loch Ewe amid the rugged landscape of Wester Ross, the garden reaps the benefits of the Gulf stream. This world-famous historic garden is one of Scotland’s most popular botanical attractions.
Stay: The Dundonell Hotel, Ullapool
Meals: B, D
Day 5: Smoo Caves, Castle of Mey, Ferry to Orkney
Travelling over the “roof” of Scotland today, you will think you are on a Caribbean Island rather than the north of Scotland. The pristine beaches and blue lagoons are a sight to behold. A few stops along the way will add to the enjoyment of your travels today. Late in the afternoon a short ferry ride brings you to Orkney
Smoo Cave is located on Scotland’s most northerly coastline. Set into limestone cliffs, the Cave is 200 feet long, 130 feet wide, and 50 feet high at the entrance. It is situated at the head of a narrow inlet, Geodha Smoo, which runs inland for about 600 meters. Smoo is the largest and most dramatic coastline cave in Britain. This spectacular site has a rich archeological history and is an interesting geological formation.
The Castle of Mey is situated on the north coast of Caithness on rising ground about 400 yards from the seashore overlooking the Pentland Firth and the Orkney Islands. It was the property of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother from 1952 until 1996, when Her Majesty generously gifted it with an endowment to the Trust. Built between 1566 & 1572 it was constructed on a z-plan and its turreted aspect is very striking. The jutting towers and corbelled turrets are typical of that period of the 16th century, particularly the chequered character of the corbelling of the smaller turrets. The walled garden and parkland to the west and the east border and parkland to the east are protected by the Great Wall of Mey – 12 feet high – which gives very necessary protection from the severe gales and salt spray.
Orkney is an archipelago off the northeastern coast of Scotland. The islands encompass Neolithic sites, tall sandstone cliffs and seal colonies. The ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ is a group of 5,000-year-old sites on Mainland, the largest island.
Stay: The Stromness Hotel, Stromness
Meals: B, L, D
Day 6: Touring Orkney
Your day will be spent touring and visiting some of the many sites on the islands. Highlights include: Skara Brae, Skaill House, Ring of Brogar, Standing Stones of Stenness, Barnhouse Settlement, Kirkwall, Churchill Barriers, Italian Chaper and Highland Park Distillery tour.
Skara Brae is a preserved village with a reconstructed house, Maeshowe, a chambered burial tomb incorporating 12th-century Viking carvings.
Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital, is vibrant, busy and the islands’ largest town. With great shops, restaurants and bars, it is popular with visitors eager to experience Orkney’s unique culture, heritage and traditions.
Stromness, Orkney’s second largest town, is an architectural gem, an inspiration for artists and writers and a firm favourite with visitors.
In the West Mainland, you’ll discover a magical prehistoric landscape. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hauntingly beautiful, this is an area of ritual, mystery and great archaeological significance.
The area to the east and south east of Kirkwall is low-lying fertile farmland – it’s cattle country! It is also home to sites of historic interest, sandy beaches and charming villages, with the famous Churchill Barriers taking travellers south to the islands of Burray and South Ronaldsay.
Meals: B, D
Day 7: Yesnaby Cliffs, Ferry to main land, Dunbeath Gardens, Inverness
After a photo stop at the Yesnaby Cliffs, board the Ferry back to the mainland. You then travel south to the Highland capital of Inverness. On the way, enjoy a visit to Dunbeath Castle. Although a castle has stood here since the 15th century, the present building is of mainly 17th century origin, with 19th century extensions. A castle is first recorded on the rocky peninsula at Dunbeath in 1428 when the lands belonged to the Earl of Caithness. It is a private home not open to the public. However, the gardens are the real star. The Southerly Walled Garden was first laid out in 1860 and it has gone through a number or changes over the years. The garden is deeply conventional in its mixture of vegetable, fruit, shrub and flower growing but has managed to create a large number of garden “rooms”, each with its own feel and visual effect. The North Walled Garden, orginally the Laundry and vegetable garden, is now turned into the water and fantasy garden. This garden was created to oppose rather than compete with its neighbour and to be a place a tranquillity and amusement.
Stay: l, Inverness
Meals: B, D
Day 8: Findhorn, Cawdor Castle
Within the Findhorn Ecovillage at The Park, sustainable values are expressed in the built environment through the ecological ‘houses’. These ‘houses’ incorporate innovative use of building materials (such as local stone and straw bales), the beauty in the architecture and gardens, and applied technology in the Living Machine sewage treatment facility and electricity-generating wind turbines. Sustainable values are also expressed in the community’s social, economic and educational initiatives. Learn all about this unique village and the people who live and grow there.
Discover the romantic Highland castle the 14th century home of the Thanes of Cawdor. Cawdor Castle was built around a 15th century tower house which originally belonged to Clan Cawdor before passing into the hands of Campbells in the 16th century. Although famed for its literary connection to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the actual 11th century events upon which the play is based took place many years before the castle was built. The castle does boast its own unique tale surrounding its construction. According to legend, the castle is built around a thorn tree which has since been identified as a holly dating from 1372. You can view the tree in the dungeon! Experience the castle’s sumptuous interior and see the impressive Drawing Room its walls adorned with portraits of generations of Campbells. The Tapestry Bedroom displays its precious wall hangings, the Dining Room its magnificent stone fireplace, and the Old Kitchen retains its 19th century cooking range and an array of antique cooking implements. The castle’s carefully manicured grounds three beautiful gardens and the Cawdor Big Wood are not to be missed.
Meals: B, D
Day 9: Braemar Gathering
The first Saturday in September is a special time for the town on Braemar since it’s the day of The Braemar Highland Gathering. There have been Gatherings of one sort or another at Braemar for more than nine hundred years. The Gathering is world famous for its friendship and hospitality. Every Gathering is a memorable occasion. With international athletes taking part in the “heavy” and “track” events, and pipers and dancers competing with their usual high standards, it’s a day full of the sights, sounds and tastes of the Highlands.
The bustling town of Pitlochry is a gateway to the Highlands and your home for the next 2 nights. It’s a popular town with great scenery and Edradour Distillery.
The town is a busy stop-off point for people heading into or out of the Highlands. It benefits from a lovely setting on the River Tummel backed by Ben Vrackie.
Stay: Atholl Palace Hotel, Pitlochry
Meals: B, D
Day 10: Crannog Centre, Blair Castle & Gardens, Free time in Pitlochry
The Scottish Crannog Centre features a unique reconstruction of an early Iron Age loch-dwelling. This authentic recreation is based on the excavation evidence from the 2,500 year old site of ‘Oakbank Crannog’, one of the 18 crannogs preserved in Loch Tay. Learn about the lifestyles of these ancient Loch dwellers, turn a manpowered lathe, see how to start a fire, tour the dwelling and learn more about their way of life.
Blair Castle is nestled in the dramatic landscape of Highland Perthshire and has been home to 19 generations of Stewarts and Murrays of Atholl. More than 30 rooms are on display full of Scottish cultural history, architectural design, period furnishings, family portraits, landscape paintings and a colourful military past. The castle grounds feature a magnificent nine acre walled garden recently restored to its original Georgian design. It is full of fruit trees and vegetables, complete with Chinese bridge, gothic folly and a trail of contemporary and 18th Century sculptures. A peaceful wooded grove with some of Britain’s tallest and finest trees add to the rest of the land.
Enjoy some free time to visit the town of Pitlochry. Visit Pitlochry Power Station and Dam. There is even the unusual attraction of a salmon ladder which helps the fish bypass the dam and get into Loch Faskally. Downstream is the nationally renowned Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Why not pop into Edradour Distillery for an intimate tour and a wee dram? The main street has lots of souvenir shops. And if you’re looking to stop off for something to eat, there’s a great choice of hotels and restaurants.
Meals: B, D
Day 11: Loch of the Lowes, Scone Palace & Gardens, Kelpies, Edinburgh
Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve covers 98 hectares near Dunkeld. The star attraction is a pair of breeding ospreys who nest there over the summer. Get closer to the ospreys with binoculars, telescopes and live video footage. See red squirrels, woodpeckers and other woodland birds from the viewing windows.
Just south of Lowes is the city of Perth and Scone Palace. The Palace was the crowning place of Scottish kings where Macbeth, Robert the Bruce and Charles II were once crowned. Scone breathes history like nowhere else in Scotland. It is the family home of the Earls of Mansfield. The Palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens and peaceful woodland, perfect for a gentle stroll all under the watchful eye of the ever curious peacocks. The unique ‘tartan’ maze of 2,000 beech trees half green, half copper, designed by the world-famous Adrian Fisher was planted in the shape of the heraldic Murray Star. Enjoy exploring the grounds and the house.
No journey to the area would be complete without a visit to The Kelpies. The name reflected the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 100 horses. The Kelpies follows the lineage of the heavy horse of industry and economy which pulled the wagons, ploughs, barges and coalships that shaped the structural layout of the area. Each stands over 30 m tall and weigh over 300 tons. The stainless steel skin reflects the light of day and night making it and amazing sight in all weather.
Hilly Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city and you home away from home for the next 3 nights. The city has a medieval Old Town, and an elegant Georgian New Town, with gardens and neoclassical buildings throughout. Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park, has sweeping views of the city from its peak.
Stay: Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel, Edinburgh
Meals: B, D
Day 12: Guided tour of Edinburgh, Private gardens tour
Today learn about the history and architecture of this fascinating city as you explore it with a local guide. Then enjoy a tour of some of the hidden garden gems that are found throught the city with a private garden tour.
Meals: B, D
Day 13: Free day in Edinburgh
Today you have the whole day to spend as you wish. Some interesting sites to take in are: Holyrood Palace, HMY Britannia, Royal Botanic Gardens, Scottish National Gallery, Princes Street Gardens, St. Giles’ Cathedral, Scotch Whisky Experience. Edinburgh Castle is home to Scotland’s crown jewels, and the Stone of Destiny which traditionally was used in the coronation of Scottish rulers. The many shops on Princes street are always a big draw. More Scottish gift shops can be found on the Royal Mile. Enjoy a farewell dinner at your hotel and share your days adventures with your fellow travellers.
Meals: B, D
Day 14: Flight home
After a traditional Scottish breakfast, board your coach for the transfer to Glasgow Airport and your return flight to Toronto.
Meals: B, D
Double $6,395 / Single $7,195
Return airfare from Toronto, motorcoach transportation, 12 nights accommodation, 12 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 12 dinners, all highlights, a DeNureTours Tour Director, Connections Program and all taxes.
Prices are in Canadian dollars, are per person and include HST.
• Inveraray Castle & Gardens
• Glen Coe Tree Planting
• Moor of Rannoch
• Skipinish Ceilidh
• Inverewe Gardens
• Smoo Caves
• Castle of Mey
• Orkney: Skara Brae, Ring of Brogan, Churchhill Barriers, Italian Chapel
• Tour & tasting at Highland Park
• Dunbeath Castle Gardens
• Cawdor Castle & Gardens
• Braemar Highland Gathering
• Blair Castle & Gardens
• Crannog Centre
• Loch of the Lowes visitors centre
• Scone Palace & Gardens
• Guided tour of Edinburgh
• Private city garden tour
Oban: Oban Bay Hotel & Spa (2 nights)
Ullapool: The Dundonell Hotel (1 night)
Stromness: Mercure Inverness Hotel (2 nights)
Inverness: Mercure Hotel Inverness (2 nights)
Pitlochry: Atholl Palace Hotel (2 nights)
Edinburgh: Apex City of Edinburgh Hotel (3 nights)
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