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A Magical Journey

A Magical Journey from Rosslyn to Iona

September date tbc

Highlights

Griffin carvingSummer boats and beach Iona

On this 8 day tour

  • Discover and be in awe of the marvels of Rosslyn and its famous 15th century chapel, magnificent glen and castle.
  • Sample the delights of rather drinkable artisan gin, made with organic herbs in a secret garden.
  • Unearth the mysteries of an ancient yew reputed to be over 1000 years old. 
  • Discover the wonders of a remote and hidden highland glen, the longest in Scotland and its most sacred. 
  • Find out what life was like 2500 years ago at an ancient loch dwelling.
  • Walk through ancient meadows with stunning views of Highland mountains accompanied by your trusty companion, Fergus the Shetland pony on hand to provide delicious refreshments.
  • Whisky tasting at a wonderful Highland distillery.
  • Journey to three stunning Hebridean islands, the Isles of Mull, Iona and Staffa. 
  • Visit an iconic 14th century Hebridean castle, home of the Clan Maclean, one of the oldest Highland clans and meet its Chief, Sir Lachlan Maclean.  Explore castle with the clan’s storyteller who brings the whole place to life, with his wonderful tales and harp.
  • Explore an excellent example of a Neolithic stone circle in a truly magnificent setting.  Then travel on to the sacred, and much loved Isle of Iona said to be one of the “thin places”. 
  • Explore the beautiful landscape of Iona through geology and folklore. Staying in a historic building on the land of the original Iona Abbey, surrounded by summer meadows.
  • Visit the iconic Fingal’s cave on Staffa and meet the puffins.
  • Endless possibilities of wildlife spotting including otters, white tailed eagles, the elusive corncrake with its startling cry and dolphins dancing in the Sound of Iona. 
  • At journeys end visit a famous fish smokehouse and sample their delicious offerings.

The whole journey will be guided with magical highland storytelling, folklore and exploration of the land through geology making the land come alive and showing you some of the hidden secrets of these places. Your guides for this tour are Scot, a highland bard and keeper of the Clan Maclean’s stories, James Westland, and Sarah Ewing.

In all of these wonderful and ancient places you can feel a connection with the land and it is a great way to connect back to nature and therefore to yourself.

“History and legend meet here: the secular and the holy join forces, and the fabric and the geography conspire”   

Frank Delaney, A Walk to the Western Isles

 

Delicious freshly caught langoustineDuart Castle Whisky Storm Island North of Iona

Full Itinerary

Day 1

Pick up from Edinburgh and travel to our first destination Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel is a rare architectural gem with exquisitely carved stonework in beautiful sandstone hues on its external walls; it has long been associated with mystery, the Knights Templar and is even said to be home to the Holy Grail.  There we will have a guided talk about the chapel and time to explore at our leisure. 

We will then travel to a secret garden, after a lunch in their amazing glasshouse we will hear about their gin distilling practice creating crafted specialist award-winning gins, using the wonderful organic herbs they grow there. The owner will give us a guided tour of the gardens where the herbs are grown and show us the herb drying room, the smell is divine. We will be offered a gin tasting and see the gin change colour when tonic is added! The beautiful gardens are set within 7.5 acres by a stream and a very enjoyable place to wander around at your leisure.  Then onto our very comfortable accommodation and evening at your leisure, maybe with a tot of gin!

Day 2

We meet today with our guide Scot, a highland bard and folklorist who will takes us down into the mystical Rosslyn Glen and shows us some of its hidden wonders, relating some of the many tales surrounding this mysterious glen and its castle.  People are often taken aback by this magical wilderness so close to Edinburgh.  Then onto an ancient yew reputed to be over 1000 years old. The Yew is what is called a layering yew as it has laid branches down to the ground which root and send up new stems, it creates the impression of a cathedral when you stand under its branches, a powerful experience.  John Knox, the 16th century reformist is said to have preached here.  Scot’s tales very much bring the place to life!  We then travel onto our next destination the stunning Tay valley in the Highlands.  Evening at your leisure in a very pretty highland town set on the banks of the River Tay.

Rosslyn Chapel

Day 3

We meet with Scot and will spend the day exploring Glen Lyon and its mythology. Glen Lyon, is a hidden remote highland glen, the longest enclosed glen in Scotland.  Sir Walter Scott described the glen as the loveliest in Scotland.  It has a great natural beauty and a remoteness of landscape that is felt by the visitor. It was the site of the last Pictish strongholds pre 900AD, home to early Christian sites, a Fairy hill of the Celts, the last continuously kept earth Goddess shrine in Great Britain and legends and talks of Fionn MacCumhal.  It is quite a place.  We will explore these themes with Scot as we journey through the glen.  Return to your accommodation to relax in this wonderful Highland setting.

Shetland ponyMagnificent stone circle in field

Day 4

Morning visit to an ancient loch dwelling on Loch Tay and see what life was like in the area in the early Iron Age, it’s a great insight.  We then venture into the Highland meadows above the Loch to walk the land as the ancients did, with our trusty steed, Fergus the Shetland pony carrying delicious refreshments to keep us recharged.  Then onward, we travel the length of Loch Tay to the lovely highland town of Killin, an extremely picturesque place. You will have time to explore the town, before travelling to Oban, on the West coast of Scotland, it is a  bustling Victorian harbour town with an excellent distillery where we will sample some of their whiskies. Oban is known as the “Gateway to the Isles” and there is nothing more fun than watching the ferries go in and  out of the harbour on their way to the Western isles, wondering what adventures their passengers are on.    Watching the ferries makes you realize there is a whole other world beyond the mainland and its very intriguing to wonder what it is! Evening at your leisure, maybe with a dram of whisky!

Day 5

Onto the Isle of Mull with our guide Scot, who will takes us round the 14th century Duart Castle.  The Castle is one of Scotland’s most iconic and dramatically located castles sitting on a volcanic promontory overlooking the sound of Mull.  In the past it would have commanded access to the Western seaboard. The present Chief of the Clan Maclean and resident at Duart Castle is Sir Lachlan Maclean.  Sir Lachlan will meet us at the castle.  Scot is Sir Lachlan MacLean’s storyteller, a Seanachaidh – a keeper of Maclean history and Tales. He will recount stories about its long history with his harp, it very much brings the place to life. 

After a delicious lunch in the award winning tearoom, we venture onto Loch Buie. It is home to the second family of Maclean’s and scene of some ferocious battles with its ancient ruined castle, stunning coastal situation and prehistoric stone circle, we will be regaled with stories of this place with a long past.  As you stand there you just breathe in the history.  We then travel on to the beautiful Isle of Iona where we will spend the next three nights.  We stay in one of Iona’s most historic houses with outstanding views of the abbey and the islands to the North and South.  Evening at your leisure. enjoying the hospitality of one of the fine hotels on the island.

Day 6

Full day explore of Iona with a highly respected geologist James Westland.  We will walk to the South of the island exploring Columba’s Bay, where St Columba landed and where the famous Iona greenstone can be found, the smaller pebbles of which are known as St Columba’s tears.  James will help identify any pebbles you find.  Time to walk the labyrinth then onto the Iona quarry with its world famous marble and fascinating industrial history. On our Northward return if the tide is right see the spouting cave in action in its dramatic Westward setting.  Throughout the day James will explain how the landscape was formed, a fascinating insight.  Some of the rocks on Iona are over 2 million years old and so old they hold no fossils. Iona is one of those places where you feel the landscape, it is a great place to just be.

Day 7

Morning trip out to the Isla of Staffa to see the magnificent Fingal’s cave with its hexagonal basaltic columns and meet the curious and adorable puffins!

The afternoon is at your leisure with time to explore the 13th Century Iona Abbey, 12th century St Orans chapel, the oldest building on the island and the atmospheric 12th Century Nunnery, maybe do a bit of shopping in the island craft shops.  

On the final evening we will have a farewell dinner together at one of the two outstanding hotels on the Iona.

Day 8

We bid our farewells to Iona and Mull and make our way back to the mainland, with a lunchtime stop at a Highland smokehouse and a chance to see how the fish is smoked and maybe buy a few yummy bits to take home with you.  The smokehouse is set in a beautiful setting surrounded by native woodland with spectacular views over the River Awe. Then onto Edinburgh and say our goodbyes to the new friends we have made on this remarkable trip.

Also available on our days on Iona is the option of a relaxing reflexology session with a highly experienced reflexologist, a very nice way to end your week (this is at extra charge).

Power of sea be yours,
Power of land be yours,
Power of heaven

West Highland Blessing

Pricing and Booking

Coat of arms

The total cost of this 8-day tour is £1595.

Next tour date 2020 – dates to be announced shortly.

This price is based on double occupancy, some rooms are available on a single occupancy basis on request for an extra fee. 

A deposit of £500 will secure your place on this tour; reservations are accepted on a first come first serve basis.  The balance must be paid in full 2 months  (60 days) before the start date of the tour.  If the balance is not paid by this date, we reserve the right to regard the reservation as cancelled.

To book this tour please click on the link below and you will be taken to a registration form, upon completion you will be taken to the payment page and access to secure payment with PayPal.

We very much look forward to welcoming you on your special magical trip through Scotland!

Book Now

Whats included in the tour?

 

  • Extremely comfortable 4 Star accommodation on the mainland 
  • On Iona accommodation in a beautiful historic island home 
  • Intimate tour group 10 people maximum
  • Admission to all attractions listed on the tour itinerary 
  • Personal full time tour guides expert in their fields
  • Hearty Scottish breakfasts every day
  • Lunches and dinner where specified on the itinerary
  • Gin and whisky tastings
  • Smokehouse delicacies tasting
  • All transportation and all ferry fares between the islands

For more details please see the additional information page.

 

Additional Information

What is included in the tour?

  • Overnight accommodation in 4 star accommodation that has been carefully selected for high standards of comfort and beautiful locations. Fees are based on double occupancy, single occupancy at extra charge.
  • Accommodation in a historic house on Iona
  • Intimate tour group 10 people maximum
  • Hearty Scottish breakfasts
  • Lunches and dinner as noted on the tour
  • Gin and Whisky Tastings
  • Smokehouse delicacies tasting
  • Admissions to all attractions listed on the tour itinerary
  • All transportation and all ferry fares between the islands
  • Personal full-time tour guides with expert local knowledge

What is not included?

  • Airfare (we can offer guidance on best ways to book)
  • Expenses before and after the tours
  • Teas, lunches and dinners (except where specified)
  • Any side trips or excursions guest do outside of the set itinerary
  • Gifts, souvenirs, laundry, cleaning, telephone calls, telexes, faxes, cables, wines, liquors, beer, mineral water, soft drinks and incidental expenditures
  • Porterage – we carry our own bags, always
  • Tips for tour guides, hotel staff

What is the accommodation like?

All accommodation is four-star standard, the accommodation has been carefully selected for its location and comfort levels.

Iona accommodation is in a historic building on land said to have housed the original Iona Abbey.  The house is full of interesting books and original 1930’s carpet specially commissioned for the property.  It has outstanding views over the Abbey and to the islands to the North and South.  This is your home and a place for you to relax in as much as you would like, it has a wonderful kitchen with a range cooker if you fancy just staying in.  Please note there is Wifi at the property but no TV, but with so many books, the views and the atmosphere there is little need for a TV!   The double room will be allocated on a first book basis.

Weather 

Scotland is a land of sunshine, mists, wind, rain and anything else it feels like doing.  Conditions can change quickly but tours will not be cancelled due to poor weather. There might be slightly altered itineraries but tours will still go ahead.  The most important thing is to be prepared for all weather conditions to ensure you are comfortable.  Some of the most amazing photos can be taken just before or after storms the light can be incredibly intense and certainly brings you closer to nature!  Highland locals would say it is possible to experience all four seasons in one day and if you don’t like the weather – just wait 20 minutes!

What to bring

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Walking pole (if required)
  • Sturdy shoes or walking boots
  • Rucksack
  • Diary and paints if you like to record your trip
  • Swimming Costume/Trunks – yes people do swim in Scotland! Also on some of our tours, we have access to a fully heated indoor swimming pool.

What is the Cancellation Policy?

In the event of cancellation before 26th February 2019.  Your deposit will only be refunded if your place is filled by someone else, in which case it will be refunded minus an administration fee. 

In the event of cancellation on or after 26th February 2019, no refunds will be issued unless your place can be filled by someone else, in which case all monies paid will be refunded, minus an administration fee.  

All cancellations must be received in writing.

Smoking Policy

Please note all properties we stay in, follow a strict no smoking policy, no smoking is allowed on or near the properties or whilst in transit from site to site.  Scotland has strict no smoking laws.  It is now illegal to smoke in and around accommodation and public interiors. To make it comfortable for all on our tours no smoking is allowed at the tours sites either.

Travel Insurance

We recommend you take out travel insurance.