Heart of Scotland

Wednesday 10th July to Tuesday 16th July 2019
7 - Days


Prices from: £1395


Scotland is a rugged country full of scenic and cultural surprises, as you’ll discover for yourself on this highlight packed holiday tour to its wild, spectacular heart.


Departure Date: 10-Jul-2019
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Based initially in the historic city of Stirling, then in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, you’ll explore the unique cultural and natural attractions grouped around the Trossachs, the Cairngorms, and the Isle of Bute itself. Steam highlights include a trip on Loch Katrine aboard steam launch ‘Sir Walter Scott’, steam train on the Strathspey Railway and a transfer to the Isle of Bute on the iconic sea-going paddle steamer ‘Waverley’. There’s also an ascent of CairnGorm on the UK’s highest funicular railway to savour, a visit to the neo-gothic Victorian mansion Mount Stuart on Bute and wildlife discoveries in and around both of Scotland’s National Parks. With point-to-point transfers on ScotRail service trains and by private road coach to add to the convenience, this is a holiday showcasing all the uniqueness of the inspiring Scottish landscape, from unspoilt beaches to ragged coastlines, lonely inland lochs to towering mountain ranges, definitely one not to be missed!

Wednesday 10th July
London to Stirling on the ‘Highland Chieftain’
From the comfort of the First-Class Lounge at London’s King’s Cross Station you join the ‘Highland Chieftain’ passenger train for the journey north to Scotland, following the route of the scenic East Coast Main Line (ECML). A light lunch will be served at your seat as you travel First Class in relaxed, spacious comfort, as nearly the length of Britain rattles past. Your train stops at York, taking on those connecting by service train from Peterborough before continuing via Newcastle and Edinburgh to historic Stirling, where you book into the Golden Lion hotel for the next three nights. A welcome dinner is served at the hotel this evening. (L D)

Thursday 11th July
Steam Cruise on Loch Katrine and Stirling Castle
This morning you transfer by coach from Stirling along scenic roads to nearby Loch Katrine, set in the Centre of the Trossachs National Park. You’ll then enjoy a 2-hour lake cruise on the world-famous steamship ‘Sir Walter Scott’ to Stronachlachar from Trossachs Pier, taking in the inspiring landscape that influenced Sir Walter Scott, Coleridge and Wordsworth. On returning you’ll take a light lunch at the restaurant on the Pier. Afterwards you transfer by coach again to Stirling Castle for a guided tour of the grounds of one of the largest castles in Scotland, surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusive crag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. After your tour there’ll be time to look around Stirling, taking in the historic Old Town and the picturesque Back Walk footpath that encircles it. Dinner will be taken at your hotel this evening. (B L D)

Friday 12th July
Strathspey Steam Railway and Cairngorm Mountain Railway
This morning you travel on a ScotRail service train over the iconic Highland Main Line from Stirling to Aviemore before joining a steam train on the Strathspey Railway. This heritage line shares the main line railway station at Aviemore and runs to Boat of Garten and Broomhill (‘Glenbogle’ in the BBC series Monarch of the Glen). The return trip on the railway offers wonderful views of the Cairngorm Mountains. You re-join the road coach to travel from Aviemore into the heart of the nearby Cairngorms National Park and stop for a short stroll along the banks of Loch Morlich. From here it’s just a short onward journey to the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, a 2 km long funicular and Britain’s highest mountain railway. In appearance and design it’s reminiscent of the famed Alpine funiculars in Switzerland. Enjoy the magnificent views of the snow-capped Scottish mountains as the line ascends CairnGorm. After an equally enjoyable descent on the mountain railway, your road coach returns you to Stirling, where dinner will be served at your hotel. (B L D)

Saturday 13th July
Clyde Cruise and Isle of Bute aboard Paddle Steamer ‘Waverley’
After breakfast you transfer by road coach from Stirling to Glasgow. The coach drops you off at the steamboat pier and continues with your luggage by motor ferry to your next hotel at the Isle of Bute. You then enjoy an all-day cruise aboard the iconic, double-funnel steamer ‘Waverley’, the last ocean-going paddle steamer in the world. You go ‘doon the watter’ on a sail from Glasgow over the Clyde to Rothesay and Tighnabruaich. The steamer has multiple bars and galleys, and a restaurant where you can buy drinks and meals. You can watch the fully visible marine steam engine as it works, the largest of its kind still in operating condition. You can also go ashore at Tighnabruaich, a lovely coastal village dominated by grand villas built in Victorian times for wealthy merchants, for a one-hour visit before the steamer drops you off again at Rothesay, the principal town of Bute. You’ll stay at an elegant hotel here for the rest of the tour to enjoy the exotic island charm of the ‘Madeira of Scotland’. Dinner is served at your hotel this evening. (B D)

Sunday 14th July
Mount Stuart and the scenery of South Bute
Today you discover the outstanding natural and cultural highlights on the Isle of Bute south of Rothesay. Bute is only 33 miles from Glasgow and is the most accessible of the westerly isles from the Scottish Central Belt. Highlights include the impressive Victorian Gothic Revival estate at Mount Stuart and the scenic beaches and coves at Kilchattan Bay. The spirit of nineteenth-century invention is embodied in Mount Stuart, and this neo-gothic mansion was one of the most technologically advanced houses of its age. It was the first home in the world to have a heated swimming pool and be purpose-built with electric lights and central heating. Kilchattan Bay is a settlement of Victorian houses and villas that lies on the south west shore of a largely east facing bay with a mile-wide mouth offering views to the isle of Great Cumbrae, three miles to the east. After your rewarding day, dinner will again be served at your hotel in Rothesay. (B D)

Monday 15th July
Ettrick Bay, the seal colony at Scalpsie and the scenery of North Bute
Today you continue your exploration of Bute by privately chartered road coach, focusing on yet more of its scenic and cultural highlights, including the famed seal colony at Scalpsie. The reddish sand of Scalpsie Bay is set against the wonderful backdrop of the Isle of Arran, and there are two viewpoints from which you can see the area’s fascinating resident wildlife and take in the amazing landscapes. At Seal View you can watch the large colony of seals on their rocky perches, and enjoy panoramic views over to Arran, the sandy beaches at Ettrick Bay and the remote scenery of North Bute as far as Rhubodach. After another feature-packed day, dinner this evening is back at the hotel in Rothesay. (B D)

Tuesday 16th July
Ferry crossing to Wemyss Bay, train to Glasgow Central, return to London
In the morning you’ll have some leisure time in Rothesay before taking the lunchtime CalMac ferry from Rothesay to Wemyss Bay. From Wemyss Bay you take the direct ScotRail service to Glasgow Central, changing onto a Virgin Trains Pendolino and continuing in First Class luxury over the entire length of the West Coast Main Line back to London Euston. For extra excitement his route passes through outstanding scenery at the mountain summits of Beattock and Shap. You arrive back in London in the evening. (B L)


Details

Price

  • Tour Price £1395
  • Single supplement £145

All prices shown are per person.

Price Includes

  • First Class rail travel from London King’s Cross to Stirling by East Coast express train and from Glasgow Central to London Euston by Virgin Pendolino service
  • Standard Class rail on Scotrail services
  • 6 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast
  • 4 lunches and 6 dinners
  • All rail and boat trips as detailed in the itinerary
  • All road coach transfers as detailed in the itinerary
  • All seat reservations and transfers
  • The services of a tour manager

Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner

 

Map feature coming soon!