Complementing our Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides, this equally grand yet relaxing tour takes in the principal Inner Hebridean isles of Mull, Islay and Jura as well as the famous little island gems of Staffa and Iona.
We begin on the Isle of Mull, with a visit to the colourful ‘capital’ Tobermory, followed by an exciting boat trip to the tiny island of Staffa and its famous Fingal’s Cave, an amazing natural cathedral of basalt columns. A full day is given over to the wonderfully peaceful island of Iona, with its famous Abbey and beautiful beaches. A highly scenic cruise follows as we sail on the Caledonian-Macbrayne ferry from Oban, calling in briefly at Colonsay and continuing to Islay. We will explore the island, with visits to historic Loch Finlaggan, the Bowmore Distillery and the Museum of Islay Life, and we will also visit Jura, Islay’s sparsely populated and rather mysterious neighbour.
Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides Tour Highlights:
- Island hopping with visits to Mull, the Treshnish Isles, Staffa, Iona, Colonsay, Islay and Jura
- Wildlife cruise featuring dolphins, seals and basking sharks
- The amazing spectacle of Fingal’s Cave
- Moments of peaceful contemplation at Iona Abbey
- Scenic ferry sailing from Oban to Islay
- The pungent aroma of fermenting barley at Bowmore distillery
- Return coach travel available from Inverurie, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Kinross, Dunfermline, Edinburgh or Glasgow
- 6 nights’ hotel accommodation with dinner, bed and breakfast – 3 night’s at the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, Craignure and 3 nights’ at the Port Askaig Hotel, Islay
- All ferry and coach transfers throughout
- A visit to Mull’s iconic, colourful capital, Tobermory
- A wildlife cruise to the Treshnish Isles – where we’ll hopefully catch a glimpse of some Whales, Dolphins, Basking Sharks, Puffins and Sea Eagles
- Explore the massive natural cathedral known as Fingal’s Cave on Staffa
- A visit to the ‘sacred isle’ of Iona with some free time to explore the island and the Abbey
- Explore the dungeoans and state rooms of Duart Castle
- Sail from Oban along the Firth of Lorn to Colonsay before continuing to Port Askaig, Islay
- An excursion to Loch Finlaggan
- Visit to the Bowmore Distillery, where you can see how their unique whisky is made
- A visit to the Museum of Islay Life where you can enjoy lunch (not included)
- Enjoy a scenic tour of the island of Jura, a land dominated by the three mountains known as the “Paps of Jura”
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Single supplements apply. Subject to availability.
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We depart from our designated pick up points and head for the Western Highlands, stopping en route for refreshments (not included). On arrival in Oban we will board the late afternoon ferry for Craignure on the island of Mull. Our base is the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, conveniently located close to the ferry terminal with superb views of the Morvern Hills and Duart Castle. The hotel offers excellent spa and leisure facilities, including an indoor swimming pool and steam room.
This morning after breakfast we will depart for Tobermory, the island’s ‘capital’, whose multi-hued buildings lining the waterfront will be familiar from a hundred calendars. This is the starting point for our wildlife cruise to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa, during which we can expect sightings of Whales, Dolphins, Basking Sharks, Puffins and Sea Eagles. After a one-hour sail we land at the geological wonder of Staffa, which was formed by volcanic eruptions over 50 million years ago. As the basaltic lava cooled it formed an extraordinary pattern of predominantly hexagonal columns which form the faces and walls of the principal caves. We will have around an hour ashore to explore the island, in particular the massive natural cathedral known as Fingal’s Cave, following in the footsteps of illustrious tourists from Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson to Jules Verne and Queen Victoria.
We then take the short 15 minute crossing to the idyllic Isle of Lunga, the largest of the Treshnish Isles, where we will have two hours ashore to explore. Surrounded by wildflowers and stunning scenery, the main attraction that can be seen close up is the large Puffin colony nesting in burrows in the grassy hillside. These comical birds are incredibly inquisitive and will come within a few metres of you. Lunga is also a popular habitat to an ever increasing number of Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Shag, Great Skua and a Seal colony.
We sail back to Tobermory and return by coach to our hotel in time for dinner.
Today we will drive along the Ross of Mull to Fionnphort, where we cross as foot passengers to the ‘sacred isle’ of Iona. Here you have the opportunity to visit the Abbey and wander over the island, taking in the atmosphere of calm and contemplation which attracts visitors from all over the world.
Following breakfast we will visit Duart Castle, the 13th century home of the Chief of Clan MacLean. We can explore the dungeons, the state rooms and appreciate the strategic position of the castle from the top of the keep. Following our visit we will catch the lunchtime ferry back to Oban, where there will be time for a quick stroll before we board the afternoon ferry to Islay. The wonderfully scenic three-and-a-half hour passage takes us south along the Firth of Lorn, stopping briefly at the island of Colonsay before continuing to Port Askaig on Islay. Our hotel is conveniently situated next to the harbour and dinner will be served once we have checked in and freshened up.
This morning, following breakfast, our first visit will be to Loch Finlaggan which was once the centre of the ‘Lordship of the Isles’. It was here that the installation of the Lords of the Isles took place, and the western seaboard of Scotland was ruled.
We will then visit the Bowmore Distillery. This is the oldest distillery on the island and has stood on the shores of Loch Indaal since 1779. Here we will see how this unique whisky is produced by hand, by the Maltman, before maturing in Spanish and American oak casks which give it its unique flavours.
After an opportunity for lunch (not included) we will visit the Museum of Islay Life. Housed in a former church, there are over 1600 items in the main Museum collection, covering all ages from the Mesolithic (around 8000 BC) to the 1950s. The Victorian and Edwardian ages are especially well represented, with exhibits showing what it was like to live in a simple house as well as how the laird lived at the same time.
This morning, after breakfast, we travel to the neighbouring island of Jura, an island which has a record of habitation stretching back over 5000 years. The island, with approximately 200 inhabitants, is 30 miles long and 7 miles wide and is a naturalist’s paradise. It is dominated by the three mountains known as the “Paps of Jura”, the highest being 2576ft. The northern end of the island was home to George Orwell, who wrote his masterpiece 1984 while living here at Barnhill.
We will enjoy a scenic tour before having some free time in Craighouse, a lovely little village and the main settlement on the island with a shop, tearoom, and Jura’s distillery.
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and take the morning ferry to Kennacraig on the mainland. We then continue our homeward journey, stopping for refreshments (not included) in Inveraray, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.