We depart from our designated pick up points and travel north to Kyle of Lochalsh breaking our journey with a visit to Eilean Donan Castle. This must be one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, with its impossibly romantic setting on Loch Duich. The beginnings of Eilean Donan Castle reach back into the early mists of time - evidence of a pictish fort was found in vitrified rock uncovered during excavations, some of which has been kept for visitors to see. We will have time to learn all about the castle’s dramatic past before we recommence our journey, crossing the bridge to Skye, and continuing to our hotel. Dinner is served in the evening.
After breakfast today we will make the short ferry crossing from Sconser to the island of Raasay. Just over 14 miles long, with a third of the island over 500 feet above sea level, Raasay, the ‘Roe-Isle’, has had its fair share of joy and sorrow, and paid dearly for a visit from Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746. We begin with a tour to the northern end of the island: highlights include the picturesque ruin of 15th century Brochel Castle, once an impressive structure which was impregnable from the sea, and Calum’s Road, named after the indefatigable Calum MacLeod, who planned and built the road single-handedly after the council repeatedly turned down his request for an extension to the road to his house. Completed in eight years, it is said he wore out 11 wheelbarrows and 60 pairs of boots in the process.
We will take the ferry back to Sconser where we will enjoy a stop for lunch (not included). We will then stop in Kyleakin where we will be met by a key holder to Eilean Ban, the last home of author and naturalist Gavin Maxwell. We will walk halfway back over the bridge to gain access to the island as the Skye Bridge now straddles Eilean Ban. The small house is now a museum to Gavin Maxwell with many interesting mementoes of his time spent there.
Following the visit we will return to the hotel where dinner will be served in the evening.
After our full Scottish breakfast we will depart for Dunvegan Castle, the ancient home of the chiefs of the Clan MacLeod. Amongst the many priceless relics on display is the Fairy Flag, the sacred banner which is said to bring good luck to the clan. Following our visit here we depart on a scenic drive around Trotternish, Skye’s most northerly peninsula, which contains within its narrow confines a barren, haunting environment studded with fantastic basaltic formations and ancient settlements. We will then spend some time in the island’s chief town and port, Portree. The name comes from the Gaelic for ‘king’s port’ and refers to the time in 1540 when James V sailed here to win over the Skye chieftains. White and colour-washed houses ring the harbour to create the epitome of a Hebridean port. We will also visit the Aros Centre, an arts and heritage centre with information, shops and forest walks. We will return to our hotel in time for dinner.
After breakfast we depart for the Sleat peninsula, the ‘Garden of Skye’, with a gentler, more verdant landscape than the wilder north of the island. Here we visit Armadale Castle and the Museum of the Isles (formerly the Clan Donald Visitor Centre), set in the heart of a 20,000 acre Highland estate. This estate, once part of the traditional lands of Macdonald of Sleat, was purchased by the Clan Donald Lands Trust in 1971. The 800 square metre museum is in the form of a Celtic cross. On one side of the cross design a series of galleries leads visitors through the history of the Highlands ranging from the "Pan-Celtic Europe", through "Lordship of the Isles", "Clans and Jacobites", "Landlords and feudalism", to "Emigration" and finally to “The Global Clan". The other side of the building provides a new facility for the Trust's archives, a library and reading room and an active genealogical research department. The museum has been awarded five stars by Visit Scotland.
Following our visit we will take the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig, a chance to enjoy a breath of sea air and views of the neighbouring Small Isles of Rum, Eigg and Muck. We then travel through the rugged countryside of Lochaber, past famous landmarks such as the monument and viaduct at Glenfinnan, and on through bleak Glencoe, which never fails to send a shiver down the spine, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.