Skye and the Summer Isles
Departing by Coach
Duration 6 Days
Available Until September 2020

Can any three place names evoke the joys of Scotland’s great outdoors more succinctly than Stornoway, Skye and the Summer Isles? Stornoway, a stronghold of Gaelic culture; Skye, one of the most popular island destinations in Scotland and the Summer Isles – well, the very name says it all. Join us on tour and get to know them better.

Calming coastlines, ancient megaliths, brilliant black mountains and romantic boat rides are all there for us to enjoy first-hand, creating extraordinary 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. A circular tour of Lewis, taking in archaeological sites from the Stone Age, Iron Age brochs, Viking settlements and thatched cottages that were common just a couple of generations ago. The lush sub-tropical eden of Inverewe Gardens, where we are at leisure to admire plush rhododendrons and constellations of olearia.

Stornoway, Skye and the Summer Isles Tour Highlights:

  • Cruise to the Summer Isles, keeping an eye out for seals and cormorants
  • Boat trip to remote Handa, home to countless seabirds
  • The famous Lewis Chessmen at Lews Castle
  • Ancient and awe-inspiring standing stones at Callanish
  • Glimpses of the mist-covered Cuillin Hills as we drive across Skye

Price Includes

  • Return coach travel available from Dundee, Perth, Kinross, Dunfermline, Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • 5 nights’ hotel accommodation with dinner, bed and breakfast – 3 night’s staying at the Gairloch Hotel, Gairloch and 2 nights’ at the Cabarfiedh Hotel, Stornoway
  • 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
  • All ferry and coach transfers throughout
  • Services of a professional tour manager

Single supplements apply. Subject to availability.

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Stornoway, Skye and the Summer Isles Itinerary

Day 1

We depart from our designated pick-up points and head north, stopping for lunch en-route (not included) in Inverness.

We continue via Strathbran and Loch Maree through some spectacular mountain scenery to our comfortable hotel in Gairloch, which enjoys splendid views towards the north end of Skye with the hills of Harris and Lewis low on the horizon. Dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Gairloch Hotel, Gairloch

Day 2

After breakfast this morning we transfer to Ullapool 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 and sail past Tanera Mhor, the only inhabited island within the group, which is currently closed to visitors while undergoing extensive renovations. We will enjoy the views towards the Outer Hebrides (weather permitting) then weave our way back to Ullapool, where we will re-join our coach.

On the way back to our hotel we call in at 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, giving sudden glimpses of shimmering water through the foliage.

Dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3

Following breakfast this morning we will depart for Tarbet, 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 – please note good walking shoes or boots are advised. 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 for dinner.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Gairloch Hotel, Gairloch

Day 4

This morning following breakfast we check out of our hotel and return to Ullapool in time to catch the morning Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Stornoway, which takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. On arrival in Lewis we visit the Lews Castle and Museum where we can meet the famous Lewis Chessmen and view the Outer Hebrides as never before in a wrap-around audio-visual presentation.

Later this afternoon we will visit St Columba’s Ui Church at Point, just outside Stornoway, one of the most important archaeological sites on the Isle of Lewis. It was the main church during the medieval period and is a burial place for the Macleod chiefs and the Mackenzies who controlled the island in later years.

We will then transfer the short distance to our comfortable accommodation where dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Cabarfeidh Hotel, Stornoway

Day 5

This morning after breakfast we will travel to the west coast of Lewis for a visit to the 5,000 year old Standing Stones of Callanish. Undoubtedly the most remarkable antiquity in the Western Isles, this collection of almost 50 stones forms a well-marked megalithic avenue, comprising 19 monoliths, ending in a circle of 13 stones, with a great cairn at the centre. Entry to the Visitor Centre is included.

From here we move on to the Black Houses at Gearrannan, typical of the crofting settlements which until relatively recently were found throughout the Western Isles.

Nearby is include the exceptionally well-preserved and imposing Carloway Broch, a circular, dry-stone fortified tower, dating back some 2,000 years.

The final visit on our circular tour is the Norse Mill at Shawbost, a reconstruction of the type of grain mill used originally by Viking settlers and by islanders up until the 1930s. A short walk past a small lochan leads to two beautifully restored little thatched buildings with a fine view to the ocean beyond.

Dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Cabarfeidh Hotel, Stornoway

Day 6

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and travel south to Harris, which in contrast to the rolling moorland of Lewis is more mountainous – this is apparent within minutes of crossing the ‘border’ into Harris with a magnificent mountain vista to the right as the road climbs over the hill. We descend back to sea level at Tarbert (the Gaelic name for a narrow isthmus, which appears throughout the western Highlands and Islands) in time to catch the morning CalMac ferry to Uig on the Isle of Skye.

We then travel through Skye with brief comfort and photo stops at Portree and Sligachan, where there are views towards the imposing mountain range of the Cuillin Hills, almost invariably wreathed in mist. We cross back to the mainland via the graceful arc of the Skye Bridge and continue our homeward journey via Spean Bridge, Loch Laggan and Pitlochry.

Meals include: Breakfast

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