Isles of Lewis and Harris, Skye and Mull, coupled with Iona and Staffa -
Brochs, Beaches, Standing Stones, Puffins and an Abbey!
This tour runs between early April and mid-October. It can be begun on any day of the week, but considering ferry times, the optimum days to begin would be a Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
Day one -
We leave Inverness and head west for the town of Ullapool. On the journey we will pass both the Whisky Dam and the Aultguish Inn (said to be the mosy haunted Inn in the Highlands).We will drop down Strathmore to Loch Broom, an ice-deepened arm of the Atlantic, and drive to Ullapool. This beautiful town, planned by the British Fisheries Society in 1788, consists of streets of trim white-painted cottages filling a headland in Loch Broom.
We'll take the morning ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, arriving just in time for lunch. During the afternoon there will be time to take a trip to the west coast of Lewis.
We will visit the world-famous sites of the Callanish Standing Stones, and the Dun Carloway Broch (a broch is an Iron-Age defensive tower unique to Scotland - and this is one of the best in the country).
There may be time to take in one or two of the other sites the west coast has to offer.
Then we return to Stornoway, largest town in the Western Isles, to stay overnight.
Day two -
We drive south through the mountains to the chief settlement on the Isle of Harris - Tarbert.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday we may visit award-winning Luskentyre Beach, have lunch, and perhaps visit the 15th century St Clements Church in Rodel. Then back to Tarbert to catch the ferry to the Isle of Skye. We will pass the Shiant Isles on our voyage - home of the mythical "Blue Men". We'll arrive in Uig with just enough time to drive round the Trotternish Peninsula, seeing the Quiraing, Kilt Rock and the Old Man of Storr, before arriving at Portree, the island capital, for overnight.
Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday ferry times mean less time on Harris and more time on Skye - so no visit to St Clement's Church, but arriving in Uig on Skye with plenty of time for lunch, and then spend the afternoon exploring Trotternish. This allows us to add the Fairy Glen and the Museum of Island Life to the other attractions of the Quiraing, Kilt Rock, and the Old Man of Storr. Our final destination is still Portree, Skye's island capital, where we will overnight.
Day three -
We will head south through Skye to Armadale. This takes us through the heart of the Black Cuillin and Red Cuillin mountain ranges - full of legends of Celtic Warriors and Goddesses, and in modern times much beloved by climbers. We drive through the Sleat Peninsula, known as the Garden of Skye, and pass the ruins of Castle Camus at Knock Bay. On the ferry ride to Mallaig we are sometimes accompanied by a pod of dolphins, swimming alongside.
Lunch will be taken in Mallaig, after which we follow the Road to the Isles to Lochailort. We will skirt the shores of Loch Ailort, passing Scotland's first fish farm and travel through the lovely woodland of the Moidart Peninsula - MacDonald of Clanranald country. Then we turn west onto Ardnamurchan - the most westerly point on the British mainland. At Kilchoan we take the ferry to Tobermory. This exquisitely pretty place is the main town on the Isle of Mull. We will spend the night in Tobermory, which was also recently made famous by a popular children's TV programme, Balamory.
Day four -
This last day of our Hebridean adventure has two different itineries to choose from:-
4a) - Take the boat tour from Tobermory to the Treshnish Isles, where, between April and August there is a good chance that you see puffins (up close and personal) during your two hours ashore on the island of Lunga. Then it is back to the boat, and on, to the island of Staffa and Fingal's Cave - the location that inspired Mendelssohn to write the overture - "The Hebrides". Fingal's Cave is an enormous sea cave, the only one in the world comprising interlocking hexagonal basaltic columns.
Finally you return to Kilchoan, and get back in our tour vehicle, to begin the journey back to Inverness. We return past Lochailort and Glenfinnan to the Great Glen. Passing Ben Nevis and the Commando Memorial. Then we will follow the route of the Caledonian Canal, driving along Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness - until our arrival in Inverness brings our Hebridean adventure to a close.
4b) - We drive down the Ross of Mull, to Fionnphort, to take the passenger ferry to Iona - an island only 3 miles long by a mile and a half wide! Iona Abbey was the cradle of Celtic Christianity and the island was home to Saint Columba. There is a couple of hours on Iona before taking a boat trip to Staffa and Fingal's cave - the location that inspired Mendelssohn to write the overture - "The Hebrides". Fingal's Cave is an enormous sea cave - the only one in the world comprising interlocking hexagonal basaltic columns.
Then we return to Fionnphort and drive to Fishnish. There we take the ferry to Lochaline, travel through Morvern and Ardgour, and take the Corran Ferry. This allows us to join the A82 south of Fort William. We will pass through the town, and also the Ben Nevis range and Commando Memorial. Then we will follow the route of the Caledonian Canal, driving along Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness - until our arrival in Inverness brings our Hebridean adventure to a close.
Total price: £1200 for six/seven passengers. (+ £180 total subsistence, to guide on tour day one).
Ferries, lodgings & admissions not included. Tour price subject to normal booking discounts.