Sunday, July 16: Arrival (departures from the U.S. on July 15)
On arrival at Edinburgh airport, a complimentary transfer will take you to Norton House Hotel. In the evening you are invited to join the group for a welcome drink and canapés, followed by dinner.
Monday, July 17: Scone Palace, Perth and Whisky Distillery
Leaving Edinburgh, we head to Scone Palace, crowning place of Scottish kings including Robert the Bruce and Charles II and family home of the Earls of Mansfield. We enjoy a guided tour of the palace with its fine collections of furniture, porcelain, ivories, clocks, paintings and other objets d’art.
Afterwards, we visit the city of Perth, located on the banks of the River Tay. A former capital of Scotland, Perth has a rich and influential history that stretches back over 800 years. Due to its location, it is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’.
En-route to our next hotel, we visit a local whisky distillery where we learn about the art of whisky making with a cask tasting tour.
We check in to the Fonab Castle Hotel, our base for the next three nights. Later this evening, we enjoy an interesting lecture from a guest speaker.
Tuesday, July 18: Balmoral and JM Barrie’s Birthplace
An example of Scots Baronial architecture, Balmoral has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852. We enjoy access to the grounds and gardens of the estate as well as the Castle Ballroom where fascinating displays of art, china and artifacts are exhibited. Please note the other rooms of the castle are closed to the public.
We then pay a visit to the birthplace of JM Barrie, author and creator of the much-loved character Peter Pan. The house is now a museum dedicated to telling his story, from growing up immersed in the traditions of a small weaving community to his route to success, which we learn about on our intimate guided tour.
Wednesday, July 19: Aviemore and Strathspey Steam Railway with Afternoon Tea
We visit the charming town of Aviemore, located on the doorstep of the Cairngorms National Park and a year-round destination for outdoor activities, surrounded by stunning scenery.
From here we board a heritage train on the Strathspey Steam Railway that takes us through the picturesque mountain vistas of the Cairngorms National Park. As we enjoy our leisurely journey, we are served a delicious afternoon tea.
Thursday, July 20: Hill House and Loch Lomond Cruise
We leave Pitlochry and travel to Hill House, where we enjoy a private welcome. 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.
We continue on to the Cameron House Hotel, where we stay for the next two nights.
Friday, July 21: Holmwood House, Pollok House and Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
Built in 1857-8, Holmwood House is a unique villa described as Scottish architect Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s finest domestic design with many rooms richly ornamented in wood, plaster and marble, which we discover on our private visit here.
Our next stop is Pollok House where we enjoy morning coffee followed by a guided tour. This grand country house gives a real flavour of the upstairs, downstairs life in the 1930s. The lavish family rooms are crammed with period furniture and an outstanding collection of Spanish art while the vast servants’ quarters show the realities of running a country house.
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.
Saturday, July 22: Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh and Georgian House
We start the day with a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Here we can visit the State Apartments as well as the Queen’s Gallery which hosts a programme of changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection.
We then enjoy a guided tour of Scotland’s vibrant capital city of Edinburgh. 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.
We finish the day with a guided tour of The Georgian House, an atmospheric 18th-century townhouse situated in Edinburgh’s historic New Town. The house is part of Charlotte Square, a vision of architectural symmetry designed by Robert Adam. Houses like this offered the well-to-do of Edinburgh a means of escape from the overcrowded tenements of the Old Town.
From here we travel back to the Norton House Hotel, for the last two nights of our stay.
Sunday, July 23: Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh Castle and House of the Binns
We step aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen’s floating Royal residence for over 44 years, used not only for state visits and official receptions but also for family holidays. Our fascinating tour with audio guides includes the Bridge, the State Apartments, Royal Bedrooms, Crew’s Quarters and the Engine Room.
Next, we visit Edinburgh Castle. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, the castle has witnessed many of the defining events of Scottish history. Highlights include the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Royal Palace and the 16th-century Great Hall.
Later in the afternoon, we visit the House of the Binns, home of the Dalyell family since 1612, set in beautifully landscaped parkland. On our private after hours guided tour, we can view the fascinating collections of portraits, furniture and porcelain that reveal the lives and interests of the family.
Back at the hotel, we enjoy a farewell dinner together.
Monday, July 24: Departure – A complimentary transfer will take you back to Edinburgh airport.