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The Farthest Shore

In the Footsteps of our Ancestors – an exploration of the western seaboard of Scotland

June 11th – 19th 2020

Highlights

Storm Island North of IonaSunset view of Iona

On this 9 day tour

  • Travel through magnificent Highland scenery to beautiful sea lochs.
  • Feast on food at a very special award winning restaurant in a beautiful setting.
  • Visit an stunning Highland garden with a majestic hidden viewpoint of the Sound of Jura.
  • Explore through myth and tale the finest area of Bronze Age and Neolithic monuments on mainland Scotland.
  • Walk thought ancient woodlands and marvel at its diversity and be recounted tales of the woods at a poets seat.
  • Journey to the truly beautiful uninhabited Isle of the Saints, where Saint Brendan founded a monastery in 542AD.
  • Travel to the wild and stunning Isle of Mull and the sacred and much loved Isle of Iona, said to be one of the “thin places”.
  • Stay in a historic island house on the land of the original Iona Abbey surrounded by wild flower meadows and corncrakes.
  • Visit an ancient holy well, the Well of Eternal Youth on Iona’s sacred hill and connect with Saint Brigid.
  • Learn about the long maritime history of the western seaboard and Iona’s place in it.
  • Visit white sandy beaches set beside turquoise seas.
  • Chance to visit the iconic Fingal’s cave on Staffa and meet the puffins or the Hermits cell and well of the North Wind.
  • Discover the wonders of a remote and hidden highland glen, the longest in Scotland and its most sacred.
  • 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.

The whole journey will be guided with magical highland storytelling and folklore making the land come alive and showing you some of the hidden secrets of these places. Your guides for this tour are Scot AnSgeulaiche, a highland bard and keeper of the Clan Maclean’s stories and Sarah Ewing.  For more information on your guides, please see about your guides and testimonials pages and for more information on the tour, please see the full itinerary tab.

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

 

Full Itinerary

This wonderful journey will be guided with magical Highland storytelling and folklore making the land come alive and revealing to you some of the hidden secrets of the western seaboard of Scotland. Your guides for this tour are Scot AnSgeulaiche, a Highland bard and historian and storyteller for Sir Lachlan Maclean of of Duart and Morvern, 28th Chief of the Clan Maclean and Sarah Ewing.  For more information on your guides, please see about your guides and testimonials pages.

Day 1

Pick up from central Edinburgh and we head straight for the west coast and the adventure begins!  We travel along the shores of Loch Lomond and through a dramatic high mountain pass and come to one of the finest and the longest West coast sea lochs.  In a remote hidden corner of this beautiful loch lies our first destination and lunch.

On the shore overlooking the loch is a very special little restaurant.  It has wonderful views of a 15th century castle and marshes with the chance to spy sea eagles and ospreys fishing whilst we eat.  The restaurant has won many awards as a destination restaurant and the chef has just been awarded chef of the year by the Good Food Guide. The food is all locally sourced produce and dishes are a contemporary take on traditional and forgotten Scottish dishes, a perfect place to start our exploration of the west coast.

After a relaxing lunch, on through the stunning scenery of lochs and glens to a wonderful west coast garden for us to explore it’s a great beauty; the garden contains some incredible trees and beautifully designed ponds.  It boasts an amazing hidden viewpoint out over the Sound of Jura and some of Isles of the Hebrides and is next to our wonderful home for the next three nights. The views from the hotel are simply stunning and dreamy, a group dinner is organised for the evening over looking this magnificent view.

View of 15th century castleHighland garden view

Day 2

Today we meet with our guide Scot and explore the most important Neolithic and Bronze Age area on mainland Scotland, Kilmartin Glen.  We will have a full morning exploring very fine examples of stone circles, henges and standing stones, over 5000 years old.  We will visit Dun add, an Iron Age hillfort that became the centre of power for the Gaelic Kings from 500 to 800AD and see the royal inauguration stone of the early Scottish kings with it’s footprint set in the stone.

After a morning of visiting these fascinating sites we will venture on to a beautiful peninsular inhabited since ancient times. It is home to some of the oldest native woods in Europe, with rare lichens, mosses and ferns and a good place to see otters.  After a delicious lunch on the seashore we will explore the woods and go to the shore of a breathtaking sea loch and be recounted stories of old; mythology that surrounds these beautiful woods and lore about the trees.  After our magical woodland walk there will be time to visit a hidden ruined village with a holy well and discover incredible Neolithic rock art, one the most extensive and complex areas of carving in Scotland.  Then back to our overnight accommodation ready for the next adventure!

 

Standing stones hengeWaterfall

Day 3

Today we are island bound to begin to understand the geography and interconnectedness of all of the islands of the Western seaboard.  We head out with our local guide past islands and remote shorelines to a tiny uninhabited island called Isle of the Saints.  It is home to the oldest religious ruins in Scotland. In 542AD the Irish Saint, Brendan the Navigator founded a Celtic monastery here.  It is also said to have been home to St Columba’s mother Eithne.  St Columba, another Irish saint, was the founder of Christianity in Scotland with the monastery on Iona.  We will visit Eithne’s lovely simple grave set in such a tranquil setting.  St Columba would journey to the island for retreat from Iona and his duties to meditate.  There is a fascinating double beehive cell on the island used by monks for meditation. The joint cells make a figure of eight, it is the only example of its kind in Scotland. These ancient beehive cells were made in the shape of a traditional beehive, hence the name.

Beehive cell

The island is incredibly beautiful and isolated; looking north you see the dramatic and mighty cliffs of Mull and west towards sacred Iona and out across the Atlantic to the Americas.  It is no wonder St Brendan the Navigator founded a monastery on the island.

En route to the islands if time allows we are going to try and catch our lunch!   Packed lunches will be provided as well, so you won’t starve!  However, if possible we are going to cook a bbq on the shores of this beautiful island or on the boat whilst at anchor and feel a million miles from anywhere, a place and moment of pure escape.  After our wonderful visit we will venture back through the Gulf of Corryvrechen infamous for its whirlpool.  Our local guide will relate some of the many tales associated with this awe-inspiring and powerful place.  During the day there will be the chance to see seals, dolphins, sea eagles and other birds of these seas. After a full day, back home perhaps for an evening tipple viewing in wonder, from our comfortable hotel, the islands and the sea in all its glorious setting.

Island viewangel carving

Day 4

A drive through more stunning scenery takes us to the Victorian harbour town of Oban; know as “Gateway to the Isles”.  We will now travel by ferry on to our next island destination, Mull and then through the wild and dramatic scenery of Mull over to Iona, our home for the next three nights.  After a busy few days, the afternoon is at your leisure to settle into your island home, relax, take in the wonderful fresh air and maybe explore one of the many white sandy beaches Iona in renowned for or visit the Abbey and its small museum, walk amongst the beautiful wild flower meadows.  Iona can feel like a slice of pure heaven and a great place to just be.  There will be a group evening dinner at one of the fine hotels on the island.

 

Day 5

A wonderful and special day with our guide Scot.  Iona has a deep association not only as the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland, but with the goddess and Saint, Brigit or Bride.  The legend goes she was carried by angels from Iona to be the midwife at the birth of Christ.

Brigid

Scot will guide us through making a St Bride’s cross from local reeds and flowers, which we will then take to the ancient and sacred Well of Eternal Youth nestling below the highest point on Iona’s holy hill.  We will bless the crosses we have made in the well for our future hopes and dreams and our ancestors. Scot will relate the stories of Brigit to us by the well, a very special moment of the trip.  We will then explore some of the other wonders of Iona. Evening at leisure.

St Columba's Bay IonaSt Orans

Day 6

Today we will have a gentle stroll to the north of the island to visit a very special award-winning island eco croft.  We will meet with the croft owner who will explain how sustainable farming practices and working in harmony with the land can enrich the landscape creating a diverse habitat, rich in wildlife.  He has won awards for diversification and Iona’s only farm woodland, a real triumph.  We will hear tales about the Western seaboard and ancient maritime traditions of the area, you will gain an understanding of how the sea is the highway of this place, right the way from Ireland in the South up to Orkney, Shetland, the Faroe Islands and on to Scandinavia in the north, giving you a different geographic perspective of this sea-bound landscape. This will all be set possibly to the backdrop of the strange cries of the elusive corncrake, hiding in the meadows! We will be served delicious cakes and the sampling of artisan food products and craft ale tasting in a beautifully rustic byre.

View from top of Iona

Then a chance to explore the stunning beaches of the North end of Iona, with incredible views out towards the islands further north and out to the Western Isles. Afternoon at your leisure, maybe take a boat out to the island of Staffa to see the puffins and the majestic Fingal’s cave or walk to St Columba’s Bay or visit the craft shops of Iona or find a nice corner to relax in.  Solo time on Iona can be a very rewarding experience.  There is a possibility of an optional walk to the Hermits Cell and Well of the North Wind for those who would like to.

Ferry to Iona from Mull Iona Beach Staffa - Fingals and Mackinnon's caves

Day 7

Today we bid farewell to our island adventures and head back to the mainland, crossing sealochs and stop for lunch on the shores of our final sealoch of the journey. Then through the dramatic highland scenery of Glencoe and across the wild expanse of Rannoch Moor an awe-inspiring experience.   We will traverse the length of beautiful Loch Tay to arrive at your home for the next two nights on the banks or the river Tay, one of the finest rivers of Scotland. Evening at your leisure ready for your final day of exploration.

Loch shore Loch view

Day 8

Located in the central Highlands is a remote hidden glen, the longest enclosed glen in Scotland, Glen Lyon.  Sir Walter Scott described the glen “as the loveliest in Scotland”.  We will meet with Scot and will spend the day exploring Glen Lyon and its mythology.  It has a great natural beauty and a remoteness of landscape that is felt by all who visit. 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 and considered very sacred.  We will explore the mythological themes with Scot as we journey through the glen.  Return to your accommodation to relax in the wonderful Highland setting and a farewell dinner with Scot.

Fairy bridge Glen LyonPraying Hands of Mary - Glen Lyon

Day 9

After this fantastic tour of some of the real wonders Scotland has to offer we head back to Edinburgh and say our fond farewells to our new friends and leave with cherished memories of this incredible journey.

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

The total cost of this 9 day tour is £1895.

This price is based on double occupancy, all rooms can either be twin or double rooms so sharing is possible, and 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 3 months  (90 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!

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Whats included in the tour?

 

  • Extremely comfortable 4 Star accommodation on the mainland 
  • On Iona accommodation in a beautiful historic island family 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
  • Artisan produce and craft ale tastings
  • 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
  • Scottish artisan food and craft ale 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, it is a family home and not four star.  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 12th March 2020.  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 12th March 2020, 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.