May 31st - Meet at Glasgow International Airport at prearranged time and place, then enjoy our journey north alongside the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and other gorgeous scenery between lochs and mountains, stopping off for lunch in Inveraray, en route to Oban. After settling in at our lovely B&B, relax or take a walk by the sea before enjoying our “Welcome dinner” at a special place.
June 1st - After breakfast, take the ferry across to the Isle of Mull. Our first excursion is to Lochbuie stone circle in its magical setting surrounded by mountains, where sea eagles and golden eagles are often seen, and seals are often spotted on the nearby beach. We leave this idyllic setting to go on through a scenic Pass to Fionnphort where we cross the sea to the Isle of Iona. After checking in to our hotel, if the weather is good, take advantage of a boat trip to the stunning Isle of Staffa where its Basalt columns are a natural architectural masterpiece, inspiring many, including Mendelssohn, whose Hebrides Overture was inspired by the sound of the sea in Fingal's Cave. Also we will have the opportunity to observe the extraordinary puffins that breed on the island.
June 2nd – A day to explore this beautiful island, which has been celebrated as a holy place for millennia. It was inhabited by the Druids until the 6th century, when St. Columba sailed over from Ireland and established the first Christian settlement. The haunting 12th century Abbey now dominates the landscape. Also whilst on Iona, we can take an adventurous trek and a picnic to the south side of the island, where a magical hidden beach reveals its treasures of marble rocks tumbled naturally by the incessant tides.
And where the pebbles meet the grassy banks, someone has carefully built an exquisite labyrinth which provides us with a wonderful meditation tool in the perfect setting.
June 3rd - Time to leave the tranquility of our island retreat and take the ferry back to the mainland for our journey north. Travel through Fort William beside Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK, and then along the shores of Loch Ness, taking a short detour to see the Corrimony chambered cairn. Later stop off at the beautiful Corrieshalloch Falls and Gorge on our way to our B&B in Ullapool.
June 4th - This morning we take the ferry over to the Isle of Lewis. On arrival in Stornoway, stop for a quick look around and afternoon tea before heading to our B&B not far from Callenish on the west side of the island. After settling in, take our first visit to walk amongst the hauntingly beautiful Standing Stones of Callenish, where we can commune with these wonderful beings. Dinner is provided tonight.
June 5th - This morning we will have a local guide, Margaret Curtis, to take us around some of the auxiliary Callenish sites; the circles, standing stones and associated mystical places, including Margaret's own exhibit. Here we can see her short, but impressive DVD and observe her research. In the afternoon we will visit Dun Carloway Broch, one of the best preserved in Scotland, take a walk on one of the island's magical deserted sandy beaches, and visit local craft galleries on our drive to the north end of the island, where, Clach an Truiseil, or Trushel Stone, the tallest standing stone in Scotland resides. After dinner, take a last stroll around the Callenish stones. Dinner is provided tonight.
June 6th - After breakfast, drive to Harris to catch the afternoon ferry and on our way, (weather permitting) enjoy a picnic lunch on a gorgeous sandy beach where the impressive Clach Mhic Leoid standing stone presides on the headland above. Catch the ferry at Tarbert and then it’s “over the sea to Skye”, landing at the village of Uig. From here it is a short drive to our accommodation for the next couple of nights in Portree.
June 7th - Today after a quick look around Portree to see the lovely craft galleries and shops where local treasures can be found (and bought if you’re not just window shopping), we’ll spend our day exploring parts of the island like the Quiraing, which offers spectacular scenery and unusual topography. Some of the other sites are the Old Man of Storr, Lealt Falls, Kilt Rock and Fairy Glen and Dunvegan Castle, which flies the Fairy Flag. In the evening, after dinner in Portree, we can search out some fine Celtic music at one of the local pubs.
June 8th - Today we journey back to the mainland, taking the ferry over to Mallaig, on the way stopping by “Handspinners Having Fun” in Broadford and “Ragamuffin”, on the pier in Armadale, a couple of shops that sell fabulous collections of handmade knitwear and unique clothing. Drive the scenic road passing by Glenfinnan viaduct and on back to our B&B in Oban. End the day with our “Farewell dinner” at somewhere special.
June 9th – It’s goodbye to the beautiful west coast, but not before we make a special visit to the amazing Kilmartin Glen. Here is a cornucopia of ancient sites dating from Neolithic and Bronze Age; Templewood stone circle and Ballymeanoch standing stones are two of the best examples of these monuments in this area. At the head of the Glen are the great ruins of Carnassarie Castle, and at the other end of the Glen is Dunadd Fort, capital of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada, and place where kings were anointed. Around this area are the best examples of inscribed rocks and cup and ring mark stones, which we will view also, and then on to Glasgow Airport where we say our goodbyes.
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