Planning on traveling to Scotland? Every Scotland tour guide book will tell you that you must not miss Scotland’s romantic castles on your visit. If you like to explore castles, this Scottish Castle Experience Tour will satisfy! Welcome to Scotland, one of the most peaceful places on earth. Your Edinburgh vacation begins in the Medieval Capital. Everyone knows that castles mark the strongholds of ancient clans, villages hug the banks of coal-black lochs, and tiny cottages covered in turf dot stone-walled fields. Moor and glen, castle and cottage, loch and stream - and history abound. It is a wonderful and unique journey around Scotland.Tour Scotland on a small group tour of Scotland.
Day 1 I am sure your Scotland tour guide book mentioned the World Heritage City of Edinburgh, where you depart and travel north, crossing the Forth Road Bridge into the ancient Kingdom of Fife. Your first visit of the day will be Falkland Palace, where during a private, guided tour you will be able to discover more of this pretty Royal Palace. Built between 1502 and 1541, it is set in the heart of the unique medieval village of Falkland and has been residence and hunting lodge of eight Stuart monarchs. Many Scottish castles were transformed over time into grand residences as the need for defence was replaced by the need for comfort and the need to impress. In some cases the same building was converted and reconverted as tastes and needs changed. Highlight of the visit will be to see the Real Tennis court, built in 1539! You continue to St Andrews and during a town walk your guide will tell you more about its past and more recent history. St. Andrews has existed from prehistoric times as a fishing village and market town. Its connection to the patron Saint of Scotland, birthplace of Golf, ancient University town and matchmaker to a Royal couple – there is a lot to see!
Your afternoon visit will be at the House of Dun near Montrose. This beautiful Georgian house, overlooking Montrose Basin, was built in 1730. It features superb plasterwork and now houses the Hutchison collection of Scottish colourists and the Stirling collection of furniture, ranging from the 18th century to the 1960s. On route to Aberdeen you will make a photo stop at Dunnottar Castle, a dramatic and evocative ruined cliff top fortress in a truly stunning setting. Dunnottar is where they filmed Hamlet’s Macbeth and provided inspiration for Disney Pixar’s movie “Brave”. From here you continue to Inverness, where you will stay for 2 nights.
Day 2 Today will be spent in the Royal Deeside area, famous for its many castles.
Your first visit will be Castle Fraser, one of the grandest of the Scottish baronial tower houses. Begun in 1575, the present castle contains an evocative Great Hall, fine furniture and many Fraser family portraits. You can round the visit off with a walk through the beautiful 18th century walled garden. The tour continues to Banchory where you might be able to see salmon jumping at the Falls of Feugh. Maybe take short nature walk in Glen Tanar or the Burn o’ Vat.
Lunch stop is at Ballater before continuing with your afternoon programme. Crathes Castle, a magical turreted castle set within glorious gardens provides the highlight for the afternoon. Turrets, gargoyles and the ancient Horn of Leys given in 1323 by Robert the Bruce are just a few of the features of this historic castle. You will be free to explore the house and the stunning gardens at your own pace. The gardens stay green irrespective of the time of year, as with the ancient yew hedges that frame the upper parts of the gardens, particularly the fountain and rose gardens. Wandering through the outstanding, world-renowned June Borders, beautiful vistas of the castle can be seen through the fusion of colourful flowers.
You return back to Inverness for another overnight.
Day 3 Your tour heads further north today and starts the day with a visit to Fyvie Castle near Turriff, which will open its doors especially for our party at 9.30. Fyvie Castle dates back to the 13th century and has a fine collection of arms and armour as well as 17th century tapestries and opulent Edwardian interiors.You then continue, travelling through beautiful scenery and on to Nairn, where lunch will be taken at nearby Brodie Castle. Then you have time to explore the castle further. Dating from the 16th century, this imposing castle stands in rich Morayshire parkland. It has very unusual plasterwork and a major art collection and tells the fascinating story of the Brodie family.
In the afternoon you will be able to take the Clan Walk at the Culloden Visitor Centre. The Clan Stone Walkway is designed to commemorate the Scottish Clans and their clansmen who fought at the battle of Culloden with a special Insignia Stone. The Clans are represented with their individual Crest and personal inscription.
After the visit you continue to Forres for overight.
Day 4 Traveling to Scotland is a grand adventure! Today sees you travelling south again through some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer. Arrive in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands in time for shopping for some fine knitwear and tweeds. Crafts shops abound, filled with kilts with matching hand-knitted socks, garters called "flashies", tam o'shanters, sweaters, leather goods, or shortbread.
Travel to Kingussie for a photo stop at the Ruthven Barracks. From here you continue to Dalwhinnie Distillery. Dalwhinnie is the highest Distillery in Scotland and takes its waters right from the source of the River Spey. A tour of the distillery is included and you will also have the chance to taste the ‘Water of Life’.
After a lunch stop in Pitlochry you head to Loch Leven by Kinross. In the middle of the Loch you find Loch Leven Castle, a late 14th century tower, which was the setting for the most traumatic year in the life of Mary Queen of Scots. It was in 1567 that she was imprisoned and forced to abdicate her throne before her dramatic escape a year later.
You will enjoy a short boat ride over to the castle, following in the footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots. Then explore at your leisure the island and tower house. Travel over the Forth Road Bridge to exciting Edinburgh, arriving around 18.30. The end of your Edinburgh vacation with many memories to take back home.
Gate J & Gate K, Edinburgh Bus Station, St Andrew Square.
~Transportation by 16 seat Mercedes mini-coach.
~Air Conditioning as standard.
~Services of a professional driver/guide
~All ferry and bridge crossings.
Excludes dinners and entrance fees.
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