Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides (2018)
Gentler, lusher, and less wild than their Outer cousins, the Inner Hebrides still have more than their fair share to offer travellers — the sheer drama of sea caves and castles, the friendly warmth of locals, and more than a hint of myth and magic, to name just a few of its charms.
From rocky coasts to glassy lochs, there’s much to be discovered on a Grand Tour of this wonderful, westerly archipelago.
Attempting to sum up the appeal of a landscape in one word might seem foolhardy, but if pressed, we think that ‘inspiring’ just might cover it for the Inner Hebrides. After all, it was here that Mendelssohn was moved to write his Hebridean Overture, and it is here that countless artists, craftspeople and artisans make their living today, many selling their wares from Tobermory’s colourful seafront.
But don’t just take our word for it — on our Grand Tour, you can see it all for yourself: from the natural splendour of Fingal’s Cave to the sacred tranquility of Iona. These two sites alone speak volumes about these islands’ influence in myth and legend: while the former is named for the eponymous hero of James Macpherson’s epic poem, the latter is the burial place of the real King Macbeth, the inspiration behind Shakespeare’s Scottish Play.
But for every fantastical touch that abounds on these islands, there is just as much in the material world to delight and amaze their visitors. See wonderful wildlife — including otters, seals, puffins and guillemots — off the rocky coast of Staffa; take a guided tour of Bowmore Distillery; delve into the depths of Duart Castle, and much, much more besides.
We head for the Western Highlands, stopping en route for refreshments. On arrival in Oban we will board the late afternoon ferry for Craignure on Mull. Our base is the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, conveniently located close to the ferry terminal with superb views of the Sound of Mull, the Morvern Hills and, across the bay, Duart Castle.
Dinner is served it the hotel this evening.
We stop first in Tobermory. We take a 6-hour cruise to the little island of Staffa & the Treshnish Isles. Keep an eye open for otters, seals, porpoises, dolphins and basking sharks – these waters are rich in wildlife. There are also great numbers of seabirds, with puffins, guillemots and razorbills among the most common.
We sail back to Ulva Ferry pier and return to our hotel in time for dinner.
We travel along the Ross of Mull to Fionnphort, where we cross as foot passengers to the ‘sacred isle’ of Iona. Like an emerald teardrop off Mull's western shore, enchanting, idyllic Iona, burial ground of kings, is a magical place that lives up to its lofty reputation. Here you have the opportunity to visit the Abbey – one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. We also wander over the island, taking in the atmosphere of calm and contemplation which attracts visitors from all over the world.
Dinner is served back at our hotel in the evening.
Following breakfast, we visit Duart Castle, the 13th century home of the Chief of Clan MacLean. We can explore the dungeons, the state rooms and appreciate the strategic position of the castle from the top of the keep. Following our visit we catch the lunchtime ferry back to Oban, where there will be time for a quick stroll before we board the afternoon ferry to Islay. The wonderfully scenic three-and-a-half hour passage takes us south along the Firth of Lorn, stopping briefly at the island of Colonsay before continuing to Port Askaig on Islay.
This morning, following breakfast, our first visit is to Loch Finlaggan which was once the centre of the ‘Lordship of the Isles’. We continue to the Bowmore Distillery. This is the oldest distillery on the island and has stood on the shores of Loch Indaal since 1779. Finally, we visit the Loch Gruinart RSPB Nature Reserve, including an introductory talk before free time to wander around and see many bird species — including various species of geese, birds of prey and the chough, a rare type of crow.
Dinner will be served at the hotel this evening.
This morning, we travel to the neighbouring island of Jura, an island which has a record of habitation stretching back over 5000 years. The island, with approximately 200 inhabitants, is 30 miles long and 7 miles wide and is a naturalist’s paradise. It is dominated by the three mountains known as the “Paps of Jura”, the highest being 2576ft. The northern end of the island was home to George Orwell, who wrote his masterpiece 1984 while living here at Barnhill.
We enjoy a scenic tour before having some free time in Craighouse, a lovely little village and the main settlement on the island with a shop, tearoom, and Jura's distillery.
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and take the morning ferry to Kennacraig on the mainland. We continue our homeward journey, stopping for refreshments in Inveraray, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.
- Six nights’ dinner (with wine), bed and breakfasts: three nights at the Isle of Mull Hotel, Craignure & three nights at the Port Askaig Hotel, Port Askaig
- Three lunches included
- Comfortable coaching in Scotland
- Visits to Iona, Staffa, Tobermory, Duart Castle; Jura, Loch Finlaggan Visitor Centre, Bowmore Distillery and Loch Gruinart RSPB Reserve
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Porterage at the hotels
- Gratuities (driver and tour manager)
- Bottle of mineral water each day
Supplements per person
Single room supplement: £120.00
Connecting flights, rail travel and accommodation before or after the tour available on request
2018 Insurance Prices
As part of our booking conditions, our travellers must have adequate insurance protection for any holidays overseas but we strongly recommend that you are covered for any of our tours. Our travellers are welcome to take out their own insurance policy, providing that we have the details of this before departure. Alternatively, we can provide our own recommended single-trip travel insurance for all holidays, please see the most upto date prices below:
Under 65, from £18.00 | 65-74, from £35.00 | 75 and over, from £52.00
Under 65, from £32.00 | 65-74, from £64.00 | 75 and over, from £96.00
Prices on application