September 9: Arrival (depart U.S. on 9/8)
On arrival at Glasgow airport, a private transfer will take you to the Cameron House Hotel where we stay for four nights. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink and canapés, followed by dinner.
September 10: Glasgow and Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
Our first visit is to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. Situated on the River Clyde, Glasgow has recently evolved to become a vibrant and cultural city with a mix of striking architectural styles, a rich industrial heritage and a unique Celtic charm. We enjoy a guided coach tour to see the city’s highlights. In the afternoon, we visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which houses one of Europe’s great art collections. 22 themed galleries display an astonishing 8,000 objects, ranging from Dutch Old Masters and Scottish Art to Natural History and ancient Egyptian artifacts. Later, we dine together at a restaurant in Glasgow before returning to our hotel. September 11: Hill House and Loch Lomond Cruise We start with a private morning visit at Hill House. Developed by wealthy Victorian Glasgow merchants, this exquisite building, complete with original furnishings, is renowned as the finest domestic masterpiece of the famous Scots architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. We then embark on a cruise of Loch Lomond, the largest expanse of fresh water on mainland Britain. The loch is situated amidst one of Scotland’s most idyllic and unspoilt areas in the Trossachs National Park and boasts a stunning mountain backdrop and a variety of wildlife. After dinner back at the hotel this evening, we enjoy a fascinating talk by a guest speaker.
September 12: Mount Stuart House
A special day awaits us as we catch the ferry to the Isle of Bute to visit Mount Stuart House. This magnificent 19th-century Neo-Gothic palace was the architectural fantasy of the 3rd Marquess of Bute and his architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson. A highlight of this lavishly designed house is the majestic Marble Hall with its vaulted ceiling. Mount Stuart was also one of the most technologically advanced houses of its age, being the first house in Scotland to be purpose built with electric light, central heating and a telephone system. Mount Stuart also houses the Bute Collection, one of the foremost private collections of artwork and artifacts in the UK, especially notable for its British portraiture from the 18th and 19th centuries, 16th-century Italian masterpieces and Dutch and Flemish Old Masters. Our day here includes a guided tour of the house, a private collections talk and afternoon tea. We enjoy dinner together back at our hotel tonight.
September 13: Inveraray Castle and Isle of Mull
Checking out of the hotel, we head first to Inveraray Castle. Ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell, this magnificent castle stands on the shores of Loch Fyne. Built between 1745 and 1790, the castle’s opulent interiors contain a superb armoury collection, French tapestries, fine furniture, precious artworks and family heirlooms which span the many generations of the Campbells, which we learn about on our guided tour. The castle also featured in the much-loved Downton Abbey TV series. Afterwards, we travel to Oban and board the ferry to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. We then check in to the Isle of Mull Hotel, our base for the next two nights. This classic Scottish Isles standard hotel offers a warm welcome with outstanding views. We dine together at the hotel tonight.
September 14: Duart Castle and Isle of Iona*
13th-century Duart Castle is one of the most iconic castles in the Highlands with a long and often bloody history, which we learn about on our introductory talk. Seat of the Clan Maclean, the castle stands proudly on a rocky outcrop guarding the Sound of Mull and was completely refurbished in 1911 by Sir Fitzroy Maclean. The ancient keep, battlements and dungeons contrast with the magnificent Banqueting Hall and Edwardian State Rooms. We then travel to Fionnphort to catch the ferry to the Isle of Iona. This tiny island is only 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long but is steeped in history, being the cradle of Scottish Christianity. Ancient historical sites include Iona Abbey and the picturesque ruins of Iona Nunnery. The island is also home to stunning white shell-sand beaches, turquoise waters and interesting wildlife. We return to the Isle of Mull by ferry and enjoy dinner together back at the hotel. *Please note: The visit on the Isle of Iona will be on foot and is therefore unsuitable for those with limited mobility.
September 15: Jacobite Train
We catch the morning ferry back to Oban and head to the bustling port of Mallaig. From here we board the famous Jacobite Train, featured in the Harry Potter movies, which takes us across the mountainous west coast of Scotland to Fort William, the largest town in the Highlands and known for its breathtaking location on the shores of Loch Linnhe. This iconic railway is one of the top rail journeys in the world and takes in such wonderful sights as the Glenfinnan Viaduct. We enjoy afternoon tea aboard the train. Later, we rejoin the coach and head to the Hilton Glasgow Hotel, our base for the last three nights of our tour. The evening is left free for you to make your own dinner arrangements in the city.
September 16: Edinburgh
We catch the train to Edinburgh. On arrival, we enjoy a guided walking tour of Scotland’s vibrant capital city. Most of the city’s sights can be found within the medieval Old Town and the elegant Georgian buildings of the New Town, all overlooked by the iconic castle perched high above the city. The afternoon is free to explore the city at your leisure. Back in Glasgow, the evening is left free for you to make your own dinner arrangements.
September 17: Ayr and Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
We travel to Ayr, a popular seaside resort situated on the Firth of Clyde. The resort boasts a charming seafront with an esplanade and long sandy beach plus a wide range of independent shops, bars and restaurants. Our final stop is the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. We discover the humble cottage where the famous Scottish poet was born and lived with his family, side by side with their farm animals. We also have time to explore the museum which displays the world’s most important collection of Burns’ original works and personal belongings. While here, we are led by a bagpiper to enjoy lunch of a recreation of a traditional Burns Supper featuring an address to the haggis and a whiskey toast to the Bard. The evening is left free for you to make your own dinner arrangements.
September 18: Departure
A private transfer will take you back to Glasgow airport for your return flight home.