May 1 - May 13
"Once Upon a Time" in Scotland! Elegant, romantic castles and peaceful, quaint villages combine to showcase the country in times reminiscent of the simple life.
Beginning in Edinburgh we make our way to the conservation village of Falkland for a visit to Falkland Palace in the Kingdom of Fife. The palace dates to the 15th Century when it was built as a hunting lodge and country residence for the Stuart monarchs of Scotland. Extensive gardens run to the south of the Palace complete with glasshouses; the palace is also home to the first game of Royal Tennis and Britain's oldest Royal Tennis Court, built in 1539 and is still in use today.
The history of Falkland can be traced to the Middle Ages when it was the home of the Earls of Fife. In 1458, James II declared the village a Royal Burgh, entitled to elect officers for justice and to hold weekly markets. The weaving trade flourished in Falkland, and it became an important hand-loom linen weaving center. Weavers' cottages throughout the town, many with small, irregularly spaced windows, are reminders of this village industry. The Little Houses of Falkland have been restored and contain many of the village's craft and antique stores.
Far north of Falkland on the east coast, the spectacular ruined fortress of Dunnottar Castle lies on a rocky promontory 160 feet above the North Sea, protected by a deep natural cleft. Dunnottar is more of a village than a castle, with each section clearly marked as to leave plenty to your imagination. Originally the site of a Pictish fort during Dark Ages, it was also the site of one of the earliest Christian chapels. The fort was replaced by a primitive castle in the 13th Century; and what is seen today is the surviving building from the 15th and 16th Centuries.
On Scotland's Castle Trail in Aberdeenshire lies Castle Fraser, one of the Castles of Mar and the grandest of Scotland's Baronial tower houses. The castle has transitioned over centuries into a Z-plan by adding towers at opposite corners. In the early 17th Century an additional story and characteristic turrets were added, creating its fairy tale appearance. The traditional walled garden dates from 1794 and is filled with plantings of the period, including a medicinal and culinary border. Today the castle is furnished as a comfortable country house.
In the charming village of Huntly lies Huntly Castle, a well-preserved 5-story tower with a vivid history, which served as a baronial residence for five centuries. The unique architecture includes fine heraldic sculpture and inscribed stone friezes. Originally called Strathbogie, it was granted to the Gordons in the 14th Century. Although a ruin, the wooded peaceful setting gives the ancient feeling experienced by honored visitor Robert the Bruce in 1307 while he convalesced from an illness.
In the tiny village just south of Huntly lies Kildrummy Castle, which stands guard over our own castle hotel. Kildrummy Castle Gardens were created in the ancient quarry below the medieval castle, which now provides a magical back drop. The bridge spanning the garden is a replica of Aberdeen's famous Brig o' Balgownie and reflects beautifully on the largest of the four ponds, each of which provides a large range of water plants.
Charming cream-colored Brodie Castle contains art and antique collections which span centuries going back possibly as far as 1160, when Malcolm IV gave the land to the Brodie family. Tucked into peaceful parkland, Brodie is awash with color in the Spring with snowdrops, snowflakes, crocuses, and an explosion of daffodils. Major Ian Brodie, the 24th Laird, became a world-renowned breeder of daffodils.
Dornoch, an isolated village with old-world charm, has a history that dates back as far as 1000 BC as proven through excavations. This is where the last witch in Scotland was burned in 1727, where pop star Madonna was married, and where the northernmost first class golf course in the world is located. Dornoch has miles of sandy beaches, a 13th-century cathedral, and the previous Bishop's Palace which is now a well-known hotel -- Dornoch Castle.
Dunrobin Castle was built in the 13th Century on the site of an ancient broch. The castle, the largest house in northern Scotland, is the seat of Clan Sutherland -- one of Scotland's oldest and most influential aristocratic families. The castle is based on a 14th-century tower house which was vastly expanded in 1841 in French chateau style with conical roofed towers. Every room contains family portraits by artists such as Raeburn and Romney, and elaborate furnishings, art objects and family memorabilia. The inspiration for the gardens was the Palace of Versailles in Paris.
The Castle of Mey was built in the mid-16th Century for the 4th Earl of Caithness, and is best known as the home of the late Queen Mother (the current Queen Elizabeth's mother), having been bought and restored in 1956 by this most-loved of Britain's public figures. There is a walled garden, parkland, shop, cafe, and animal center.
Duncansby Head is Scotland's real "top right-hand corner," where many species of sea birds throng the dramatic cliffs. Situated alongside of John o'Groats, which got its name from a Dutchman, Jan de Groot, who established a ferry service from here to the newly acquired Orkney islands in 1496, it is home to dramatic sea stacks and rock formations.
Attadale Gardens encompasses eight gardens with waterfalls, Monet bridges, a sunken garden, woodland walks, and views of the Isle of Skye. The gardens, which were started in the late 1800s, have been transformed by owner Mrs Nicky Macpherson, a renowned artist and painter. A 35-foot sundial, carved by an Edinburgh artist, is supported by the heraldic Macpherson Cat. Our private tour of the gardens is followed by a very special luncheon at the lovely Macpherson home.
The magical village of Plockton, which draws artists and photographers from all over the world, was laid out as a planned Highland village in 1794 and was then a working fishing village. Neat stone cottages with velvet lawns and palm trees look out across the sheltered bay dotted with pleasure boats. This charming seaside town was the location of the Scottish detective series "Hamish Macbeth" starring Robert Carlisle.
Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. Built by Alexander II in 1220 on the site of an ancient fort, it was defense against the Vikings. Over time it became the stronghold of Clan Mackenzie but was destroyed in 1719 by the English. Restored two hundred years later, the castle is now the romantic image of how a Highland castle is thought to look, and has been featured in many films including "Highlander" and "Made of Honor."
Kilmartin Museum is set in the midst of Kilmartin Glen, an area rich in prehistoric sites. Collections of artefacts found in the area are housed here, including the ancient sculpted gravestones in the churchyard. Standing stones, burial cairns, stone monuments, stone circles, and rock art dating back 5,000 years make up the Kilmartin Glen.
Kintyre Peninsula - a road circles most of the peninsula, passing through villages and hamlets, in landscape cut by wooded valleys rising to hilly moorland. The east-west routes meet in Campbeltown, which was founded in 1607. The Mull of Kintyre at the southern end is a rocky point with a lighthouse and sheer cliffs. The Mull of Kintyre was the subject of a popular song by Paul McCartney, who bought a house close by.
Isle of Arran
Known as "Scotland in Miniature" because of the diverse landscape, ranging from mountains to valleys to seascapes, Arran is divided in two by the Highland Boundary Fault that splits the mainland from northeast to southwest. Arran was inhabited by Neolithic farmers before the dawn of recorded history, as its ancient stones and burial cairns prove. With a land area of only 167 square miles and a population of about 5,000, Arran is the seventh largest Scottish island.
Brodick Castle - Home of the Dukes of Hamilton. Furnished with treasures brought to the castle in the early 1800s. The collection includes silver, porcelain, paintings, sporting pictures and trophies. The gardens and country park are unique in that this is the only island Country Park in Britain.
Killin and the Falls of Dochart - The ancient village of Killin lies astride an old bridge under which the Falls of Dochart carry the River Dochart in a tumble of falls and rapids, spilling down through the village into Loch Tay, long and deep between two ranges of hills.
Scottish Crannog Centre - A visit to the crannog centre explores the history of this ancient loch dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland from 2,500 years ago. Crannogs were built out in the water as defensive homesteads and represented symbols of power and weather.
The village of Kenmore at the head of Loch Tay was built for estate workers at Taymouth Castle in 1760 by the fourth Earl of Breadalbane and is now a conservation village. The first thing to catch your eye on approach to the twon is the lines of whitewashed cottages. The town is said to date back to 1572.
Dunkeld, "the fort of the Celts," is an old cathedral town on the banks of the River Tay, which became the stronghold of Columban monks who founded an abbey here in 729AD.
Abbotsford was the home of the prolific Scottish historic novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott for the last 20 years of his life. The house is built in Scots Baronial with ideas borrowed from many sources including a cloister from Melrose. Visitors can see his personal possessions, the rooms just as they were, and the extraordinary range of his collected treasures, including mementos of his heroes: Rob Roy, Bonnie Dundee, the Stuart kings, (including a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie's hair), Robert Burns, and the crucifix that Mary Queen of Scots carried to her execution. Scott's works include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, and The Lady of the Lake.
Tour begins and ends in Edinburgh. Additional hotel nights at start or end of the tour are available at reduced rates; booking service is complimentary. Airfare is not included but reservations, flight options, and booking service are available free of charge to tour guests.
- $4,395.00 per person, double occupancy (two sharing one room).
- Single supplement is $900.00. Single travelers have the option of sharing a room with other singles (if available) to offset this supplement, but this is solely at the discretion of the travelers and not the responsibility of Celtic Journeys.
- Deposit is $500 per person and is non-refundable.
- Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and checks payable to Celtic Journeys LLC. Balance due 60 days prior to departure on March 1, 2014
- Deluxe motorcoach transportation
- Ensuite accommodations in 4-star properties
- Full Scottish breakfast daily (Continental breakfast in Edinburgh)
- Five three-course dinners
- Ferry transportation
- Private tour of many sites listed
- Professional Blue Badge Guide throughout
- Entrance fees into all sites listed
- Tax of 20%
- Pre-tour Edinburgh The Knight Residence
- May 1, 2 Aberdeenshire Kildrummy Castle Hotel
- May 3, 4 Sutherland Dornoch Castle
- May 5 Fort William Glenspean Lodge Hotel
- May 6, 7 Isle of Arran Auchrannie Country House
- May 8, 9 Perthshire Kenmore Hotel
- May 10 Edinburgh The Knight Residence
To book your space or for additional information, contact Judy Lowstuter at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (703) 941-6455. Tour is limited to 16 guests. Once booked, tours are not cancelled.
- Cancellation insurance is available to protect against cancellation penalties:
- 60 days or more prior to tour date full refund less deposit
- 59-30 days prior to tour date 50% refund less deposit
- 29-15 days prior to tour date 25% refund less deposit
- Cancellations of 14 days or less, no refund