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Daily itinerary will remain somewhat fluid and will be refined by Jason so that "high value" sites take priority to take advantage of the best light and weather conditions. Below is a list of the locations we'll be passing and the amazing photographic opportunities available in each.
- Arrive Edinburgh, Scotland: Arrive at Edinburgh Airport. If arriving from the U.S., please note that your ﬂight is overnight.
- Stirling, Scotland: Stirling is a taste of both the Lowlands and the Highlands. It is packed with castles and tales of people who are larger than life, and it is blessed with awe-inspiring, natural beauty. “ Hold Stirling and you control the entire country…” This simple strategy has ensured that a castle, or some sort of fortiﬁcation, has existed here in Scotland since prehistoric times. Stirling is associated with King Arthur and some believe it was the locale for Camelot. In recorded history, we know that Alexander I dedicated a chapel here. Below the very impressive Stirling Castle, Old Town Stirling is protected by the 16th century walls built to keep Mary, Queen of Scots, safe from Henry VIII. And, it was here, that the infant James VI was crowned in 1567. This area was also the home of Rob Roy, whose exploits still echo through the Highlands. There is something about Stirling that feels like a fairy tale. Its sense of time is similar to Edinburgh, but the hustle and bustle is turned down. The atmosphere is easy to absorb. With its winding cobblestone streets, and the old town clinging to the slopes beneath the castle, you can feel the layers of time and heroism. Take a quiet walk in the moonlight on Stirling’s magic streets. It’s an experience to be savored.
- Stirling Castle: Stirling Castle sits high on a rocky crag above the town. It is a magniﬁcent castle and is one of the ﬁnest examples of Renaissance architecture in Scotland. Stirling occupied a key position in Scotland’s battle for independence. Seven battleﬁelds can be seen from the castle, and the 220-foot Wallace Monument at Abbey Craig recalls William Wallace’s (the Scottish Hero on which the movie 'Braveheart' was based) defeat of the British in 1297 at Stirling Bridge. For generations Scotland’s royalty gathered at Stirling Castle to revel in its impressive buildings, superb sculptures, ﬁne craftsmanship andbeautiful gardens. Today Visitors can do the same. Highlights include The Great Hall, Chapel Royal, Regimental Museum of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, The Great Kitchens and Tapestry Studio. Guided tours of the castle help bring its rich and colourful past to life in vivid detail
- Wallace Monument: William Wallace (1270 – 1305) was a powerful man with bright eyes. Standing more than six and a half feet tall, he was a veritable giant in a time when most men were ﬁve-feet-tall! Wallace spent his childhood near Stirling under the supervision of his uncle, a priest. Wallace probably led a comfortable and peaceful life as a child, and must have trained in the martial arts of the time, including horsemanship and swordsmanship. When King Edward I, known as Edward "Longshanks,” came to the throne of England in 1272, a reign of tyranny and terror began to subdue the Scots and cement English rule. Life had changed, and when Wallace came of age, he fought. The 220-ft National Wallace Monument commemorates the great man and his valiant ﬁght for Scotland’s independence. Visitors will learn about Wallace’s dramatic tale in detail, as well as other national heroes like Robert the Bruce and Rabbie Burns. . Most electrifying is the “talking head’, which presents Wallace’s defense before his brutal execution in 1305. When you climb to the top, you’ll see Wallace’s amazing and massive two-handed broadsword, and the 360 degree view is extraordinary.
- Battle of Bannockburn: Stirling Castle was central to the defence of the main route into northern Scotland, and between 1296 and 1314 it changed hands ﬁve times! In 1314, the castle was held by a garrison of King Edward II’s troops, and besieged by the Scots. Edward II marched rapidly northwards to relieve the garrison and Robert the Bruce chose a site at the crossing of the Bannock Burn to stop the advance of Edward’s army. The Battle of Bannockburn was a turning point for the beleaguered Scots. Facing a thorough onslaught by the English in 1314, Robert the Bruce led the Scots to an astonishing victory. The Scots won their independence, their nation, and their pride. In 1329, in large part due to this battle, Scottish independence was ratiﬁed by the Pope. The sense of history here is tangible and Bannockburn is still a focus for Scottish pride today. You can ﬁnd out what inspired this great Scottish victory at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre. Don't miss the gripping new ﬁlm depicting the dramatic events of June 1314, as well as walking the battleﬁeld under the gaze of Robert the Bruce himself, immortalised in a statue by Pilkington Jackson
- The Stirling Highlands Hotel in Stirling, Scotland
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- St. Andrews, Scotland: Poised and well-groomed, St. Andrews is the pilgrimage site for golfers around the world. It is also Scotland’s oldest university town, founded in 1410. The town of St. Andrews is small---only three main streets and an open, airy feel with long stretches of sandy beach on either side of town. There are acres-plus of golf links in every direction. The locals are proud of their town and it has a reﬁned, old-fashioned ambience. Many original buildings have survived, and the castle and cathedral have been rebuilt to preserve their remains. The main streets and cobbled alleys are lined with crooked houses. Medieval churches line up and meet at the ruin of the 12th century cathedral. St. Andrews is a light, seaside resort that feels busier and larger than it is. More importantly, it is one of the most notable and historic towns in Scotland.
- Dundee, Scotland: Dundee is a complete change of scene. This city in Central Scotland has a buzzing-new, artsy style and a cultural quarter that’s thriving. The two bridges over the River Tay are an exceptionally ﬁne way to enter the city, and you’ll soon see an ancient fort rising from the heart of the city, the summit of Dundee Law. Scotland’s fourth largest city, Dundee is not beautiful nor is she elegant. But she is lively and smart and her position is exquisite. Set between the Sidlaw Hill and the broad River Tay, the southern exposure creates a buttery light. Dundee has been called, “Scotland’s City of Discovery.” You might bump into Desperate Dan, circle a dragon, become a polar explorer, shop to your heart’s content, test your senses, visit the theatre, go ice-skating, swimming, have a game of golf, visit several glorious castles, and hit a few cultural hot spots. Dundee has plenty to offer any traveler who is on the lookout for some authentic experiences in Scotland!
- St. Andrews Cathedral: The Cathedral of St Andrew is the largest medieval church in Scotland. Founded in 1158, it fell into disuse after the Reformation, and is currently in a ruinous state. The fact that the ruins are so impressive is testament to how amazing structure must have been in its prime. The remaining footprint of the building is over 350 feet long! Highlights of any visit to the site include: St Rules Tower – an early 12th century predecessor to St. Andrews Cathedral. The Cathedral Museum – an outstanding collection of early-Christian and medieval carved stones as well as a ﬁne collection of post-Reformation memorials. Pride of place is the St Andrews sarcophagus, a masterpiece of 8th-century sculpture. Precinct Walls – the most complete in Scotland. The Cathedral burial ground records are available to search in the visitor centre.
- St. Andrews Castle: Although in a ruinous state, the impressive St Andrews Castle is a must-visit location in the town of St. Andrews. The site was fortiﬁed from the 1100's, and from circa 1200 it was adopted as the main residence of the bishops and archbishops of St. Andrews. The Castle therefore became the principal administrative center of the Catholic Church in Scotland, and was the setting for some key events in Scottish history. Completed around 1400, the 'new' castle was the work of Bishop Trail. With steep cliffs protecting it to the north and east, thick curtain walls and rock-cut ditches on its landward side it was built to be easily defended. The Castle saw many notable visitors, including the young James I who visited in 1410. The castle also served as a strong and grim prison. An especially remarkable remnant of the prison is the bottle dungeon. This is a bottle-shaped pit, carved 22-ft into the rock below the Sea Tower and accessible only via the narrow neck opening through a trap door from the ﬂoor of tower vault. Into this prisoners could simply be lowered, or dropped & forgotten... Visitors can visit the dungeon, as well as the 'mine', an underground tunnel in which ﬁerce ﬁghting took place during the siege of 1546 - not for the claustrophobic! St Andrews Castle undoubtedly shows the scars of the centuries, and decay since its abandonment. There is however a deﬁnite sense of grandeur at the site, and the unusual features outlined above are alone worth the visit.
- Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry, Scotland: When Queen Victoria fell in love with the Highlands of Scotland, Pitlochry was a quiet village surrounded by the pine-covered hills of the Central Highlands. It became famous when she named it one of the ﬁnest resorts in Europe, and visitors began arriving to discover the magic of the Highlands. This vibrant town in the wooded valley of the River Tummel runs along a main street that’s lined with shops and eating places. It bustles with visitors, but relax and go with the ﬂow. Look behind the busy-ness, and you’ll see the charming, Highland Victorian town that is still Pitlochry. Pitlochry is farther from the sea than any other place in Scotland, and it makes a good base for exploring the surrounding scenery, which is spectacular.
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- Aberfeldy, Scotland: Aberfeldy is a small, cute market town in the Perthsire Highlands, with a population of some 2000. The town was forever immortalized in Robert Burns' poem, 'The Birks of Aberfeldy'. The entrance to the Birks of Aberfeldy – a well known gorge and scenic walk – lies on the southern outskirts of Aberfeldy on the A826. The Birks is classiﬁed as a 'Site of Special Scientiﬁc Interest' and contains many varieties of ﬂora and fauna, some of which are protected. Glen Lyon, widely regarded as one of Scotland's most stunning and least-visited valleys, lies about 5 miles from the outskirts of Aberfeldy. The town is also known for Wade's Bridge, constructed in 1733. The bridge was built by architect William Adam, father of the more famous Robert Adam.
- Blair Athol Distillery: The ﬁrst documented evidence of a distillery on the present site dates from 1798 when John Stewart and Robert Robertson founded a distillery which they named "Aldour" - after the Allt Dour - the 'burn of the otter'. Blair Athol is one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland. The distillery produces a 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, with a mellow deep-toned aroma, a strong fruity ﬂavour and a smooth ﬁnish. Blair Athol wins hearts through its contribution to the Bell's Blend, the most popular blended whisky in the U.K. A guided tour of the distillery includes a dram of Blair Athol single malt. The adult admission charge of £5.00 includes a discount voucher, redeemable in the well stocked distillery shop towards the purchase of a 70cl bottle of malt whisky. Children under 8 years are welcome but are not admitted to the production areas.
- Blair Castle: The only man in Europe still allowed to have a private army is the Duke of Atholl, who resides at Blair Castle! The sight of his magniﬁcent, white castle on the main road north will stop you in your tracks. The oldest part of the castle was built in 1269. During the Jacobite campaigns, it was designed anew, and the turrets were added. A brilliant stroke of genius. The ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl and home to the Atholl Highlanders, Blair Castle stands proudly against the magniﬁcent backdrop of Highland Perthshire. With collections that ﬁll over 30 rooms, there are few historic homes in Britain that can claim to have more comprehensive family treasures than Blair Castle, which portrays Scottish life over 700 years. After a tour of the castle you can enjoy the variety and tranquility of the grounds and gardens which form part of one of Scotland's great estates.
- Kinloch Rannoch: The main economic activities in the area of Kinloch Rannoch are tourism, forestry and farming. Local tourist activities include rafting, cycling and trekking. Near the village is a hill reputed to resemble the head, shoulders, and torso of a man. It has been given the name of "The Sleeping Giant". Local myth says that the giant will wake up only when he hears the sounds of his master's ﬂute. It also has a waterfall known as Fall of Allt Mor and there is a walkway to the hill. The village of Kinloch Rannoch is a good place from which to start exploring the Clan Trail. A series of interesting story boards have been placed at accessible points around the loch shore that tell the fascinating tales of clans prominent in the district before the 19th and 20th centuries. There is also a Crannog (artiﬁcial island) near the far west of the loch which was used in the 18th century as a base for outlawed members of the MacGregor Clan. The beautiful scenery surrounding Kinloch Rannoch (pictured), was used to good effect in the Outlander series, as the background for Claire and Frank's second honeymoon at the end of the war.
- Cairngorms National Park: Scotland’s pristine National Park, the Cairngorms, have the highest, rugged mountain range in Britain rising to 4,296 feet. This country is heaven for walkers, skiers, rock climbers & nature lovers. A number of species of rare birds are attracted to the thriving, unusual alpine ﬂora. Rock-climbers and skiers particularly love the challenge of the Cairngorms. Its craggy sides attract climbers from around the world—they practice at the Cairngorms before trips to the Himalayas! During the summer a funicular railway climbs Cairngorm. The views over the Spey Valley are spectacular. There’s also a steam railway, dating from 1863, that runs from Aviemore and Broomhila. This is a great way to get up-close to nature if you’re not into the thrills-and-chills of mountain sports! Also, many estates in the valley supplement their income by introducing visitors to the Highlands. See Britain’s only herd of reindeer and walk among them - the Cairngorm Reindeer Center is happy to take you to these lovely animals. With mixed woodlands at the base, and the summit forming a sub-polar plateau, the Cairngorms present a huge variety of ﬂora. Ancient Caledonian pines, once common in the area, still survive in Abernathy Forest. Fragile and ﬂourishing, Arctic ﬂowers thrive in the heights.
- Ballater, Scotland: Ballater is a delightful Victorian town, founded at the start of the 19th century to accommodate visitors to the nearby Pannanich Wells spa. It subsequently became the site for the railway station that serviced nearby Balmoral Castle (purchased by Queen Victoria in 1852) and Upper Deeside. For about 100 years this station was used by the Royal Family and their guests. The Old Royal Station is now a popular visitor centre - a small museum, but well worth a visit. Much of the royalty of nineteenth century Europe passed through Ballater railway station at one time or another, including the Czar of Russia in 1896. You can step inside a refurbished carriage of Queen Victoria's royal train, go inside her waiting room at the station, and
read about the history of Queen Victoria's family and the Aberdeen-Ballater railway line. It is a good place for children of all ages - the younger ones can dress up, and the older ones can listen to the narrations from life-like wax characters. (All children will be interested to see a 19th century loo as well!) After visiting the exhibits, you can watch a video about Queen Victoria's explorations of the area. The town grew steadily during the Victorian era and contains many ﬁne stone-built buildings within its conservation area.
- Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness, Scotland: Inverness is the true capital of the Highlands, and with 50,000 people, it is one of Scotland’s fastest growing cities. It is also one of the Highland’s oldest settlements. All roads still lead to the Highland’s center, Inverness. It feels like a compact town, but it has the bustle and air of a lovely city. Let your imagination run wild, and take a ghost tour led by an 18th century ghost, complete with period costume. Expect to hear tales of the city’s blood-chilling past, including ghosts, witches, murders, and spells! Stroll along the River Ness, or cruise on the Moray Firth, searching out bottlenose dolphins. It is very peaceful, especially if you’ve just been ghost-hunting... The River Ness ﬂows through Inverness, and salmon ﬁshermen come during the summer, even where the river runs right through the city’s center. High above the city is Inverness Castle, a unique Victorian built of red sandstone. Just below the castle is the museum and Art Gallery which runs exhibitions and workshops for kids. The main shopping area fans out from there in three directions, and includes a lively gathering place where pipers and other musicians get together and make music.
- Cawdor Castle: Cawdor Castle has been the home of the Thanes of Cawdor since its construction in 1370. Originally consisting only of its central tower, the current structure is a result of signiﬁcant additions in the 15th, 17th & 19th centuries. Well known for its ﬁctional association with Shakespeare's Macbeth, Cawdor is also famed for its magniﬁcent gardens, portions of which are over 300 years old. After you step inside, this other-worldly castle makes historical facts pale. Cawdor Castle fulﬁlls all Shakespearean thoughts of love and tragedy. With its original keep, built in 1454, a drawbridge, ancient yew tree and enough weapons to start an uprising, this castle is the stuff of legend. The garden and estate, complete with maze, are equally remarkable. Who could ask for anything more?
- Culloden Battlefield: Since the 1630s Britain had suffered political and religious upheaval. Civil war was a constant fear as Scotland, Ireland and England struggled to ﬁnd a way to live and prosper together. The 1745 Jacobite Rebellion against the British Government, led by the exiled Prince Charles Edward Stuart ('Bonnie Prince Charlie') had had some success. However at 1.00pm on 16 April 1746, the Culloden Battle began. Hardly an hour had passed between the ﬁrst shots and the ﬁnal ﬂight of the Prince's army. Although a short battle by European standards, it was an exceptionally bloody one, and would change the course of history in Britain. The exciting new Culloden Battleﬁeld visitor centre and exhibition opened in December 2007. Through recent archaeological and historical research the National Trust for Scotland discovered that the previous centre was sited on the third Government line of the battleﬁeld. With the Trust's resolve to return the battleﬁeld to as original a condition as possible, the centre was moved. The new centre and exhibition allows the whole Culloden story to be told in an innovative and interactive way, which appeals to all the family.
- The Black Isle: Despite its name, the Black Isle is not an island, but a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water. The description ‘Black’ is just as misleading as Isle, and no one knows where the name originated. There are however a number of theories, the most colourful relating to the practice of black arts and witchcraft in mediaeval times. About 23 miles long by 9 miles wide at its broadest point, a drive around the peninsula, particularly if spending a few nights in Inverness, is well worth the effort. One of the Isle’s highlights is the village of Cromarty, poised on the tip of the peninsula. Probably the Highlands' best preserved historic town, Cromarty offers a wealth of attractions: sandy beaches, unusual architecture, Bottlenose Dolphins, pleasant eateries, and even a multi-award winning museum. Much of the village is original 18th century design, with little inﬂuence by modern-day architecture. The small ﬁshing villages of Fortrose, Rosemarkie and Avoch are also highlights, located on the east coast of the Black Isle. Just across the water is the massive and imposing Fort George, built after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, in the hope of deterring any further unrest among the Highland Clans.
- Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness, Scotland
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- Fort Augustus, Scotland: Fort Augustus takes its name from the fort built in this location, after the defeat of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. It named after King George II's younger son, Prince William Augustus, who later became the Duke of Cumberland. The infamous "Butcher Cumberland" was responsible for repressing the Highlands and destroying the ancient clan system after the ﬁnal defeat of the 1745 Jacobite uprising at Culloden. Today, almost nothing remains of the original fort, although parts thereof were incorporated into the Benedictine Abbey (pictured) when it was built in 1876. Fort Augustus’ main attraction (aside from the natural beauty of its surrounds) is the Caledonian Canal, which bisects the town. The canal connects Corpach near Fort William with Clachnaharry in Inverness, was completed in 1822, and at 60 miles long can be regarded as one of Scotland's greatest engineering feats. To the north the canal enters Loch Ness, and within the village itself is a series of stacked locks that provide a relaxing and entertaining spectacle. Immediately next to the locks is the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre - an excellent place in which to gain an insight into the history and operation of the Canal. This area is part of a very attractive village centre, built along either side of the locks. The Clansmen Centre is another interesting diversion, where appropriately attired guides demonstrate 17th century clan weaponry, and provide insights into what clan life was really like.
- Loch Ness: Loch Ness holds more water than all the lakes and reservoirs in the U.K. put together. Is it any wonder that a monster would choose to live there? During the Ice Age, glaciers tore and deepened a trench halfway through Scotland, creating a long glen of steep, forested mountains and mysterious lochs. Castles and forts abound, bearing witness to the Great Glen’s strategic importance. There is, of course, the elusive Loch Ness monster. She still attracts scientiﬁc interest, so keep your camera ready! Loch Ness is almost 1,000 feet deep and, on most days, has unusually black water, owing to the high peat content of the surrounding soil. This is an immensely atmospheric loch that is surrounded by everything you could hope for: mountains, castles, abbey ruins, and several enchanting villages. Loch Ness is worth every ounce of its fame.
- Urquhart Castle: Wild natural beauty and 1,000 years of history - Urquhart Castle offers a taste of the Highlands at their most dramatic. Magniﬁcently sited, overlooking Loch Ness, Urquhart is one of the largest castles in Scotland, and remains an impressive stronghold despite its ruinous state. Urquhart witnessed considerable conﬂict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress and its history from the 13th to 17th centuries was particularly bloody. Following Edward I’s invasion, it fell into English hands and was then reclaimed and lost again. In the 14th century, it ﬁgured prominently in the Scots’ struggle for independence and came under the control of Robert the Bruce after he became King of Scots. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle and glen were frequently raided from the west by the ambitious MacDonald Lords of the Isles, before ultimately falling into decay in 1689. The castle’s history and that of its noble families – Durward, MacDonald and Grant - is told in the exhibition and audio-visual display in the new visitor centre. The centre features an outstanding array of medieval artefacts found at the castle. The visitor centre contains retail, interpretation area, audio-visual presentation and tearoom and toilets on one level. The centre's veranda offers stunning views of the loch.
- Eilean Donan Castle: Could there be a ﬁner setting for a castle? Possibly not. Eilean Donan is one of Scotland’s, and indeed the worlds, most photographed castles. Snuggled on an island off the hilly shores of Loch Duich, this castle was built in the 13th century. Ruined during one of the Jacobite risings in the early 18th century, it was restored to all its glory some two centuries later when Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911. He proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory. After 20 years of toil and labour the castle was re-opened in 1932, and it is now the headquarters of the Clan McRae. Today, you can explore nearly every part of the castle, and enjoy a journey through the history of the area. The Castle now has its own visitor centre, which includes the Ticket Ofﬁce, Coffee Shop, Gift Shop and toilets.
- Cuillin Hills Hotel in Isle of Skye, Scotland: “Cloud Island” is the name Norse settlers gave to the Isle of Skye. It is ﬁtting. A 50-mile-long banquet of velvet moors, jagged mountains, shimmering lochs and towering sea cliffs produce stunning scenery. If the weather turns, there are plenty of castles, crafting museums, and cozy pubs and restaurants to please anyone. Along with Edinburgh and Loch Ness, Skye is one of the places in Scotland that people enjoy visiting the most. A wild geological past has produced some of Britain’s most dramatic scenery. From rugged Northern Skye to the ice-sculpted peaks of the Cuillins, the island is riveted with many lochs. The traveler is never more than ﬁve miles from the ocean. Skye is everything we think of the Highlands to be: Wild, ﬁerce, and mesmerizing. Overnight stays on Skye are at the island's main town - Portree. The location of Bonnie Prince Charlie's ﬁnal days in Scotland in 1746, Portree today is a bustling port and Skye's cultural hub.
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- Talisker Distillery: Talisker is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye, and it occupies a wonderful location on the shores of Loch Harport, with dramatic views of the Cuillins. The distillery was originally founded by Hugh McAskillin 1830, and very quickly gained a reputation for excellence. The single malt scotch whiskies produced here are characterised by a powerful and peppery taste. They are also described as moderately peaty, with 'more than a hint of the sea'. A number of Talisker vintages are available, but the 'standard' 10 year-old Scotch bottled at 45.8% alcohol, is consistently regarded by experts as one of the very best single malt whiskies in the world. Nowadays, the Talisker Distillery strikes a great balance between traditional and modern methods of scotch creation. Distillery tours cost GB£6.00 per person, includes a dram of the famous 10 year-old and lasts approx. 50 minutes.
- Dunvegan Castle & Gardens: Any visit to the Isle of Skye is incomplete without savouring the wealth of history and clan legend on offer at Dunvegan Castle & Gardens. Built on a rock in an idyllic loch-side setting, Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scot land and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. On display are many ﬁne oil paintings and clan treasures, the most famous of which is the Fairy Flag. Legend has it that this sacred Banner has miraculous powers and when unfurled in battle, the clan MacLeod would invariably defeat their enemies. Visitors can enjoy tours of this extraordinary castle and Highland estate, delight in the beauty of its formal gardens, or take a boat trip onto Loch Dun vegan to see the seal colony. Visitors can also enjoy an appetising meal at the MacLeods Table Cafe or browse in one of its four shops.
- The Trotternish Peninsula: The Trotternish peninsula boasts some of Skye’s most bizarre & spectacular scenery. Heading north on the eastern side of the peninsula from Portree, you are immediately treated to an abundance of sheer cliffs, and rocky mountain vistas. Just 6 miles along the road, the 719 metre high The Storr dominates your view, with the distinctive 50 metre column of rock, The Old Man of Storr standing eerily in its shadow. 5 miles further along the road, Kilt Rock's 200 foot high cliffs have a tartan-like pattern, and Lealt Falls tumble sheer to the pebbled shore below. Further north still and fossilized dinosaur footprints were discovered in 1996 at Gaelic-speaking Stafﬁn, famed for its 'spotty houses'. From here, half way across the peninsula, is the awesome forest of mighty pinnacles and savage rock formations of the Quiraing. At the tip of the Trotternish peninsula are the spectacular sea stacks of Rubha Hunish - the most northerly point on Skye, and you'll soon spot the ruins of Duntulm Castle as you travel. On the west side of the peninsula, the Skye Museum of Island Life is a very worthwhile diversion in the village of Kilmuir.
- The Skye Museum of Island Life: This Skye museum is a wonderful depiction of what island life was like for crofters (Highland farmers) at the turn of century circa 1900. The museum consists of seven thatched roof cottages, each of which illustrates a different aspect of island life. The central cottage is home to the reception and gift shop, and the four closest to it are crofter cottages with recreated interiors; The Old Crofhouse, The Weaver's House, The Old Smithy & The Old Barn. The other two structures are the Ceilidh House and The Byre, which together boast a superb collection of historical material about Skye. The museum ﬁrst opened in 1965, making use of a thatched cottage (now The Old Croft House) that had been built at the beginning of the 1800s, and which had been in use as a family home until 1957.
- Cuillin Hills Hotel in Isle of Skye, Scotland
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- Glenfinnan, Scotland: This small, beautiful village has sat comfortably among the hills of Glen Finnan for centuries. The village is located within a lovely u-shaped valley that follows a north-east to south-west route with Loch Shiel in the center of the glen. Of major interest is the Glenﬁnnan Monument (pictured). The column, erected in 1815 is a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died in the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie). The raising of the Prince's Standard took place at the head of the loch on 19 August, 1745, in a last attempt to reinstate the exiled Stuarts on the throne of Great Britain and Ireland, Unfortunately for the Prince and his followers, their campaign came to a grim conclusion in 1746 on the battleﬁeld at Culloden. The nearby Glenﬁnnan Viaduct is also well worth a visit. This wonderful piece of late Victorian construction was completed in 1901, and the viaduct was the ﬁrst structure in the world to use at that time the new building material 'Mass Concrete'. Over 100 feet in height and made up of 21 arches, this viaduct is a beautiful piece of engineering and is a glorious sight. The viaduct has recently gained notoriety from its use in the Harry Potter ﬁlms, as the Hogwarts Express winds its way to Hogwarts Castle.
- Glencoe: 'Glen Coe' is probably Scotland’s most famous and scenic Highland glen – and deservedly so - it really does merit the description 'spectacular'. The best approach is from the south on the A82, one of the major routes through the Highlands. The road climbs over the bleak expanse of Rannoch Moor and drops down between the steep scree-strewn sides of Glencoe. Awesome mountains such as Buachaille Etive Mor and the Three Sisters loom on either side, with riverine scenery at the bottom of the glen. The area is a paradise for walkers and climbers in all seasons, and skiers and snowboarders in the winter. The name Glencoe means 'Valley of Weeping', and has a haunting atmosphere as a result of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. This was carried out by the British army, when the chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe had been slow to swear allegiance to William of Orange. The picturesque village of Glencoe lies at the northwest end of the glen. In the TV series Outlander, Glencoe features in the show's opening credits. It has also starred on the big screen, in Harry Potter movies, Highlander and Rob Roy.
- Ben Nevis: At 4,406 feet, Ben Nevis is not only Scotland’s, but Britain's highest, and most rugged, mountain. Just a 10-minute drive from the town of Fort William, it is set in the Highlands' most impressive glen - a classic glacial valley hemmed in by steep slopes and swathes of blue-green stones. Herds of shaggy Highland cattle graze the valley ﬂoor where a sparkling river gushes through glades of trees. With Ben Nevis, huge and imposing to the north, it’s not surprising that this valley was the location for ﬁlm scenes from many movies including Rob Roy and Braveheart. The ﬁve-mile climb to the top of Ben Nevis, along a well-beaten path, is doable for most people who are reasonably ﬁt. The summit is reached by way of Glen Nevis, often called Scotland’s most beautiful glen. The rewards of making the climb are huge. From the top you can see the Cairngorms, the Cuillin range on Skye, and the peaks of Argyllshire. On a very clear day, you may even get a glimpse of Northern Ireland. Spell-binding. Want to really get high? Take the UK’s only mountain gondola on one of the nearby peaks. Halfway up there’s a restaurant and bar, and in the winter it’s a great ski area.
- Steall Waterfall: Steall Waterfall takes its name from the gaelic 'An Steall Bàn', which means The White Spout. And quite a spectacular spout it is at almost 400 feet tall - the second highest in Scotland. It is a relatively short hike to the falls from the Lower Falls carpark - between 30 & 45 minutes each way. Serious walkers wishing to indulge in a longer hike can instead leave their cars at the Braveheart carpark. The path through Nevis Gorge is well-maintained and straight-forward, but of course good footwear is essential. The gorge is the epitome of Highland beauty, as you ﬁnd yourself surrounded by superb views, wild ﬂowers, cascading streams and most likely some grazing Highland cattle! Soon the gorge opens-up to reveal a hanging valley, into which Steall Waterfall makes its impressive drop. Walk on for another 15 minutes or so, and you'll arrive at the wire rope bridge, where one can test their nerve in pursuit of a close-up waterfall view!
- Ben Nevis Distillery: Ben Nevis Distillery is a distillery in Scotland that distills Ben Nevis 10 Years Old and Ben Nevis 21 Years Old whisky. It is located at Lochy Bridge in Fort William and sits just at the base of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, which rises to 4,406 feet above sea level. A coastal distillery in the Western Highlands, Ben Nevis draws its water from the Allt a’Mhuilinn which originates from two pools, Coire Leis and Coire na’Ciste. The distillery was founded in 1825 by 'Long John' McDonald, a 6 ft 4in descendant of a ruler of the western Scottish kingdom of Argyll (after whom the renowned blended Scotch, Long John, was named). After Long John's death in 1856, ownership was passed down to Donald McDonald, his son.
- MacDonald Forest Hotel & Spa in Aberfoyle, Scotland: Aberfoyle is a charming village on the banks of the River Forth in the magniﬁcent Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. Aberfoyle is a popular holiday location, with an attractive main street, which is well served by individual shops, cafés and restaurants. The Scottish Wool Centre relates the full story of wool, from sheep to the shops, through live sheep shows and hands-on demonstrations of spinning and working sheepdogs. The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park Visitor Centre is located to the south of Aberfoyle. The impressive visitor centre allows you to get up close to a wide range of wildlife with live CCTV viewing. The Forest Park is encompassed within Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and combines conservation and recreation with timber production. The mixed woodlands provide a beautiful setting for over 60 miles of forest walks, drives, cycle tracks and picnic and play areas.
- Loch Lomond: Loch Lomond is celebrated in literature, song and legend and it’s just a stone’s throw from Glasgow. Near, but emotionally quite a distance. Loch Lomond straddles the Highland border, and the water changes as you drive north. The southern edge of Loch Lomond is broad and dotted with small islands. It is softly shaded by woods and Lowland meadows. However, north of the town of Luss, Loch Lomond narrows. It is here that it ﬁlls a deep trench that was gouged by glaciers during the Ice Age. Very theatrical of this Loch! At the heart of Scotland’s ﬁrst National Park, Loch Lomond is the embodiment of the startling beauty of a Highland landscape. A hidden gem for centuries, Sir Walter Scott ﬁrst brought the lake, and other areas in the Trossachs, to the public’s attention in his poem, “Lady of the Lake.” Then, as now, visitors admire the park’s soft hills, islands, and seashore.
- Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park: Encompassing approx 720 square miles, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs became Scotland’s ﬁrst National Park in 2002. Originally made famous by the novels of Sir Walter Scott in the early 1800s, The Trossachs has been enjoyed as the ‘Highlands in Miniature’ by tourists ever since. For two centuries, people have come here to walk, climb, cycle and sail, to breathe fresh clean air and drink in the spectacular views. The landscapes covered by the Park range from the uplands of Breadalbane to the sea lochs of Argyll, and included within its area is the whole of Scotland's largest loch, Loch Lomond. The northern end of the loch is deep and narrow, with mountains on either side, including the iconic Ben Lomond. The southern half of the loch is much more pastoral and is home to many islands. The surrounding mountainous areas include 21 ‘Munros’ (individual mountains over 3000ft); 20 ‘Corbetts’ (individual mountains over 2,500ft); and two forest parks. To appreciate the very best of the Trossachs, we recommend the route of the Duke’s Pass from Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine.
- Doune Castle: Doune Castle has a rich and varied history, dating from the late 1300s. It's a fascinating place and visitors get a real sense of what life was like in a living, working castle. A labryrinthine collection of rooms, passageways and staircases are available to explore, and The Lord's Hall is particularly well-preserved. Many people however, visit the castle for reasons other than a history lesson! If it looks familiar, that's not surprising, as Doune regularly appears in TV shows and movies. Currently, Doune stars as Castle Leoch, the seat of Clan MacKenzie, in the acclaimed 'Outlander' TV series. The Castle is used for exterior scenes of the ﬁctional Castle Leoch, but production designers also used molds of the architecture at Doune to build sets at the studio, for interior castle shots! Doune is also the castle used in most 'castle scenes' of the cult 1975 movie 'Monty Python & The Holy Grail'. Doune is a big draw for the many fans of the Monty Python movies. More recently, Doune Castle has once again gained fame - this time on TV, for its use in the opening episode of the excellent mini-series, 'Game of Thrones'. CGI technology played a large part in transforming Doune into Winterfell, home of the Starks in George R.R. Martin's HBO series. The interior was later used for the great feast scene, when King Robert Baratheon comes to call on the Starks.
- Rob Roy's Grave: Balquhidder Kirkyard (Cemetery) is situated on the lower slopes of the north side of Balquhidder Glen. Worship is evident here for more than 4000 years, and the Celts believed it to be a ‘thin place’, where the divide between the spiritual and earthly worlds is slight. In 1734 the famous outlaw, Rob Roy MacGregor, was buried a little to the east of the Old Church. Here he still lays, with his wife and two of their sons alongside. The rail at the graves was a later addition, and wrongly reports his age at death as 70, instead of 63. The plaque mentioning his title ‘MacGregor Despite Them’ was added in 1981, and refers to the name of the Clan MacGregor being outlawed since 1603. At the time, it was a capital offence to even carry the name MacGregor, and with good reason – Rob Roy’s ancestors had twice fought and slaughtered rival clans in the glen. Rob Roy’s full fascinating story is told at The Rob Roy & Trossachs Visitor Centre, located in the heart of Callander town.
- MacDonald Forest Hotel & Spa in Aberfoyle, Scotland
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All good things must end. Transportation from Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel to Glasgow Airport.