Art, culture and history await on this wonderful, four-day Scottish escape. Take a tour of the fabulous Glamis Castle, the former childhood home of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Spend time at the newly opened V&A Museum in Dundee, where the best in Scottish creativity and international design are showcased. Visit the RRS Discovery, one of the last three-masted wooden ships built in Britain. Experience the stories that shaped the city of Dundee and the surprisingly scenic surrounding countryside, as we travel from gallery to architectural marvel, and see this oft-neglected corner of Scotland in a fascinating new light.
What You’ll Love
- Admire the Meikleour Beech Hedge, an incredible living wall of beech trees
- See the ancient Birnam Oak, believed to be the last surviving remnant of Birnam Wood
- Visit The Hermitage, the wild ‘tree garden’ created by the Dukes of Atholl in the 18th century
- The original Douglas Fir at Scone Palace
- Glorious autumn colours wherever you lookReturn coach travel from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dunfermline, Kinross & Perth
- 2 nights’ hotel accommodation with dinner, bed and breakfast – staying at the Birnam Hotel, Scone
- Services of a professional tour manager
Single supplements apply – £50. Offer is subject to availability.
We will depart from our designated pick-up points and travel to Scone Palace. David Douglas, the most famous of Scotland’s plant hunters, was born at Scone and worked at the palace as a gardener. In the grounds today you can see a magnificent Douglas fir raised from the original seed he sent back from America in 1827. Nearby is a ‘pinetum’ containing spectacular conifers, many planted over 150 years ago. Avenues of towering North American giants – such as Wellingtonia, Sitka spruce, noble fir and western hemlock – form an incredible outdoor cathedral where tree lovers can worship.
We continue our journey, stopping to admire the Meikleour Beech Hedge, an incredible living wall of beech trees, 30 metres (100ft) high and 530 metres (1/3 mile) long, which at this time of year should be clothed in crisp golden hues. The trees were planted in 1745 and are now officially recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the highest hedge in the world.
We continue to Dunkeld in the afternoon. Near the famous Cathedral we will find the remaining Parent Larch. This is the sole survivor from a group of larches planted here as seedlings over 250 years ago. The young trees had been collected from the Tyrol mountains in central Europe in 1738. These trees became famous as the seed source for the large-scale larch plantings carried out by the Dukes of Atholl on the hillsides around Dunkeld. In the adjoining village of Birnam, we will see the ancient Birnam Oak, believed to be the last surviving remnant of Birnam Wood, the great oak forest made famous in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. The gnarled and ancient oak certainly looks medieval – its lower branches rest wearily on crutches and the first 3 metres (10 ft) of its trunk are hollow!
We continue to our comfortable accommodation at the nearby Birnam Hotel, built on 1850 and steeped in history, from the Great Fire in 1912, to the visits by the King of Spain and by the French Empress. The hotel boasts a fine vaulted oak beam Baronial. Dinner will be served in the evening.
This morning, after breakfast, our first visit will be to the geographical heart of Scotland, where stands the oldest living thing in Europe. The Fortingall Yew has been guesstimated at anything between 3000 and 9000 years old. What you see today are the relics and offspring of the original tree, which was recorded in 1769 as having a girth of 17 metres (65.5 ft).
We continue to Cluny House Gardens, near Aberfeldy. Wandering through this wonderful wild woodland garden we will discover rare and exotic plants from around the world. The gardens feature trees and shrubs from America, New Zealand, Japan, China and Tibet, creating the unique atmosphere of a Himalayan woodland paradise. We’ll also see Britain’s widest conifer – a giant Wellingtonia, 11 metres in girth and over 130 years old.
Our final visit to day is to the Hermitage. The waterfalls, rapids and swirling pools of the River Braan provide the focal point for this wild ‘tree garden’. Created by the Dukes of Atholl in the 18th century, it includes two romantic ‘follies’. A short nature trail takes you through varied woodland, with a good chance of seeing red squirrels. Also featured is Britain’s tallest tree, a stately Douglas fir measured at 64.5 metres (212 ft). We continue to Aberfeldy, following in the footsteps of poet Robert Burns, who wrote ‘The Birks of Aberfeldie’ here in 1787. The birks (Scots for birch trees) still cloak the steep slopes of the Moness gorge, along with oak, ash and elm. The narrow path climbs to a bridge directly above the Falls of Moness, providing spectacular views into the gorge.
Although today we must return home there is much more to see, beginning at Faskally Forest. Many of the trees in this forest are between 100 and 200 years old. A network of old estate paths lead round the small but picturesque Loch Dunmore with its timber bridge and boat house, surrounded by a glorious profusion of mixed forest.
We continue to the Pass of Killiecrankie which offers a splendid walk beside the River Garry through a densely wooded gorge with abundant wildlife. A visitor centre provides information on Killiecrankie’s natural history, as well as the battle fought here in 1689. The woodland is particularly famous for its autumn colour, with the view along the pass from the Garry Bridge being one of the most photographed in Perthshire.
We will then travel north to Blair Castle where we visit Diana’s Grove, which presents probably the best ‘big tree’ experience in this country. Most of the trees were planted over 100 years ago as specimens of newly introduced conifers, mainly from America. Recent measurements show more than 20 trees topping the 45.7 metre (150ft) mark, with several British record breakers among them. Blair Castle is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl, known as the ‘Planting Dukes’ in the 18th & 19th centuries. By 1830, the family had planted over 27 million trees around the glens and straths of the Atholl Estate.
Our final visit is to the Falls of Bruar. The woodland surrounding the Bruar gorge is a living memorial to the poet Robert Burns, who came here in 1787 to admire the waterfalls. At that time the steep slopes were bare, so Burns wrote ‘The Humble Petition of Bruar Water’ in which he urged the Duke of Atholl to plant its bleak banks with trees. When the poet died in 1796, the duke created a ‘wild garden’ in his memory, planting the riverbanks and establishing paths and bridges. After a visit to the nearby House of Bruar, dedicated to all things Scottish, we will return to our original departure points, where will arrive during the evening.