Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides
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- Sailing out of Oban Bay as the adventure begins
- Enjoying a drink in the Mishnish in Tobermory
- The amazing spectacle of Fingal’s Cave
- Moments of peaceful contemplation at Iona Abbey
- Scenic ferry sailing from Oban to Islay
- The pungent aroma of fermenting barley at Bowmore distillery
- Peace and quiet on the island of Jura
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 — it’s all out there to be discovered on a Grand Tour of this wonderful, westerly archipelago.
To attempt 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. Just these two sites speak volumes about the extent to which these islands are steeped in myth — the former is named for the eponymous hero of James Macpherson’s epic poem; the latter, the burial place of the real Macbeth, King of Scotland, who inspired Shakespeare’s Scottish Play.
But for every fantastical touch that abounds on these islands, there is just as much in which to delight in the material world. See wonderful wildlife — including otters, seals, puffins and guillemots — off the rocky coast of Staffa; enjoy a well-earned pint at the iconic, yellow-fronted Mishnish tavern; take a guided tour of Bowmore Distillery, purveyors of fine single malts; and much more besides.
We d 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 in the 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 Museum of Islay Life, before some 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.
- 3 nights at the Isle of Mull Hotel, Craignure & 3 nights at the Port Askaig Hotel, Port Askaig – dinner, bed & breakfast
- Comfortable coaching throughout
- 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
Supplements per person
- Single room supplement: £120.00
- July/August supplement: £55.00
- Insurance: £24.00 (under 65); £48.00 (65-74); £72.00 (75-90)
Connecting flights, rail travel and accommodation before or after the tour available on request
Please note all pick-ups are subject to minimum numbers and all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.
Departure points and times
(Outside railway station)
(Outside Discovery Point)
(Outside Fife College)
(Edinburgh Marriott Hotel)