Skye and the Summer Isles
Departing by Coach
Duration 7 Days
Available Until September 2019

Can any two place names evoke the joys of Scotland’s great outdoors more succinctly than Skye and the Summer Isles? The former, where mist-covered mountain peaks punctuate the landscape, is pure drama, the latter is pure charm. Join us on tour and get to know them both.

Calming coastlines, remote reserves, brilliant black mountains and romantic boat rides are all there for us to enjoy first-hand, creating experiences and memories to last a lifetime. Take, for example, a sunlit morning cruise aboard the fittingly regal ‘Summer Queen’, with the chance of spying a shy grey seal at the surface. From the breathtaking scenery of Corrieshalloch Gorge, the thunderous Falls of Measach and the dramatic culmination of the river that carved it, to the lush sub-tropical eden of Inverewe Gardens, where we admire the wide range of exotic and native plants.

To think of Skye and the Summer Isles is to conjure up visions of vast and open landscapes, welcoming locals, blossoming gardens, and an almost limitless clarity of light. But, the beauty of these destinations goes well beyond anything words alone can describe. For a real taste of the sublime, you simply must come and visit them for yourself.

With a population of just five people between them, the Summer Isles can feel wild, isolated and utterly thrilling to the first-time visitor. Skye, while the largest of the Inner Hebrides, still revels in the sense of being far-fluing from the rest of the world. Bring both together on the same tour and you have the makings of an incredible trip.

Tour Highlights:

  • The iconic Eilean Donan Castle
  • Calum’s Road on Raasay, an inspiring example of human endeavour against the odds
  • The impressive Dunvegan Castle which sits in an idyllic loch side setting
  • The award-winning Museum of the Isles
  • Cruises to Handa and the Summer Isles

Price Includes

  • Return coach travel available from Dundee, Perth, Kinross, Dunfermline, Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • 6 nights’ hotel accommodation with dinner, bed and breakfast – 3 night’s staying on Skye and 3 nights’ at the Royal Hotel, Ullapool
  • All ferry and coach transfers throughout
  • Pay a visit to the Armadale Castle & Museum of the Isles
  • Tour around the island of Raasay
  • Visit the impressive Dunvegan Castle
  • A scenic drive to Trotternish, Skye’s most northerly peninsula
  • Explore Inverewe Gardens
  • Discover wildlife such as guillemots, razorbills, great and arctic skuas on Handa Island
  • A sailing on board MV Summer Queen for a cruise to The Summer Isles
  • Services of a professional tour manager

Single supplements apply. Subject to availability.

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Itinerary

Day 1

We depart from our designated pick-up points and head north-west, stopping for lunch en-route (not included). We continue travelling through rugged Lochaber, past landmarks such as Glencoe, Glenfinnan Viaduct and Glenfinnan Monument, before arriving in Mallaig in time to catch the 16.00hrs ferry to Armadale on Skye. On arrival we will pay a visit to the Armadale Castle & Museum of the Isles, set in the heart of a 20,000 acre Highland estate. This estate, once part of the traditional lands of Macdonald of Sleat, was purchased by the Clan Donald Lands Trust in 1971. The 800 square metre museum is in the form of a Celtic cross. On one side of the cross design a series of galleries leads visitors through the history of the Highlands ranging from the “Pan-Celtic Europe”, through “Lordship of the Isles”, “Clans and Jacobites”, “Landlords and feudalism”, to “Emigration” and finally to “The Global Clan”. The other side of the building provides a new facility for the Trust’s archives, a library and reading room and an active genealogical research department. The museum has been awarded five stars by Visit Scotland.

Following our visit we continue to our comfortable hotel on Skye. Dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Dinner

Day 2

This morning after breakfast we travel to Sconser where we make the short ferry trip to Raasay. Just over 14 miles long, with a third of the island over 500 feet above sea level, Raasay, the ‘Roe-Isle’, has had its fair share of joy and sorrow, and paid dearly for a visit from Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746. We begin with a tour to the northern end of the island: highlights include the picturesque ruin of 15th century Brochel Castle, once an impressive structure which was impregnable from the sea, and Calum’s Road, named after the indefatigable Calum MacLeod, who planned and built the road single-handedly after the council repeatedly turned down his request for an extension to the road to his house. Completed in eight years, it is said he wore out 11 wheelbarrows and 60 pairs of boots in the process.

We will take the ferry back to Sconser where we will enjoy a stop for lunch (not included), before continuing to Kyleakin where we will be met by a key holder to Eilean Ban, the last home of author and naturalist Gavin Maxwell. We will walk halfway back over the bridge to gain access to the island as the Skye Bridge now straddles Eilean Ban. The small house is now a museum to Gavin Maxwell with many interesting mementoes of his time spent there.

We return to the hotel where dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3

Following breakfast this morning we travel to Dunvegan Castle, the ancient home of the chiefs of the Clan MacLeod. Amongst the many priceless relics on display is the Fairy Flag, the sacred banner which is said to bring good luck to the clan.

Following our visit here we depart on a scenic drive around Trotternish, Skye’s most northerly peninsula, which contains within its narrow confines a barren, haunting environment studded with fantastic basaltic formations and ancient settlements. We will then spend some time in the island’s chief town and port, Portree. The name comes from the Gaelic for ‘king’s port’ and refers to the time in 1540 when James V sailed here to win over the Skye chieftains. White and colour-washed houses ring the harbour to create the epitome of a Hebridean port. We will also visit the Aros Centre, an arts and heritage centre with information, shops and forest walks.

We will return to our hotel in time for dinner this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4

This morning following breakfast we check out of our hotel and travel via Plockton and Loch Carron to Inverewe Gardens, unquestionably one of the most outstanding gardens in the country. The northern road into Inverewe is spectacular – towering mountains and breath-taking vistas. The view from above Gruinard Bay has to be seen to be believed. Famous gardens do not always live up to their reputations but it would be hard to imagine anyone failing to be excited by Inverewe, providing colour and interest throughout the year. The balmy Gulf Stream Drift Climate promotes luxurious growth and today it is a jungle of mature exotic trees and shrubs laced with winding walks, rising and falling, given sudden glimpses of shimmering water through the foliage.

Following our visit we continue towards Ullapool, where we will check-in to our hotel, the Royal Hotel, Ullapool. Dinner will be served in the hotel this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Royal Hotel, Ullapool

Day 5

Following breakfast this morning we will depart for Tarbet, some 60 miles north of Ullapool on a road that takes us through a breathtaking landscape of mountains and lochs. Upon arrival at Tarbet, we catch the little shuttle ferry Equinox for the short crossing to Handa Island, where we will be free to explore at leisure. If you have them, remember your binoculars today! There is a 6km circular path and visitors are asked to remain on the path or boardwalk at all times. As we walk round the island, look out for seabirds such as guillemots, razorbills, great and arctic skuas to name but a few. In addition to the birdlife, there are also the archaeological remains of an old village which was inhabited until 1847 and a profusion of interesting wild flowers. After spending around three hours on the island, we will catch the ferry back to Tarbet to join our coach and return to our hotel, where dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Royal Hotel, Ullapool

Day 6

After breakfast this morning we transfer the short distance to Ullapool Pier where we will board the MV Summer Queen for our Summer Isles Cruise. As we head out of Ullapool sailing down the centre of Loch Broom, keep a look out for Mussel Bay where you can often see a colony of Atlantic Seals basking on the rocks. Sailing to the Summer Isles themselves, we will visit Cathedral Cave where we can see the shags and cormorants nesting inside.

Passing through the islands, we will arrive at Tanera Mhor, the only inhabited island within the group. Here we will spend around 45 minutes, giving you the chance to go ashore and visit the café and post office where you can purchase stamps – the Summer Isles produce their own. If you are feeling energetic, you can take a short walk to the top of the hill, where on a clear day you can see Skye and the Outer Hebrides. We will then weave our way back to Ullapool, where we will re-join our coach.

The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore Ullapool before dinner is served in the hotel this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Royal Hotel, Ullapool

Day 7

This morning after breakfast we check-out of the hotel and depart for home, heading south towards the Corrieshalloch Gorge and Falls of Measach. The breath-taking mile-long gorge where the River Droma plunges 150ft over the falls is quite spectacular. There are two footpaths, one which takes a gradual climb down to the suspension bridge and over to the viewing platform. The other is a circular walk along the top of the reserve offering stunning views along Strath Broom towards Ullapool and then descends to join Lady Fowler’s Fern Walk towards the suspension bridge. Don’t forget your camera!

Following our visit we continue our journey home, and expect to arrive back at our original pick-up points in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast


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