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Trip Location: Edinburgh
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Welcome to Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and a World Heritage Site. Edinburgh is set on a series of volcanic hills, each giving a different vantage point from which to view this beautiful city with a past rich in history. There are many places to visit by foot – Princes Street lined with quality shops and Edinburgh’s impressive castle (probably the best known of Edinburgh’s views). It has been a royal residence since the 11th century, Whilst at the Castle, visit the Scottish Crown Jewels in the Crown Room. The 16th century Great Hall with its hammerbeam roof. The 15th century Palace containing the royal apartment are also well worth a visit, so too is Arthur’s Seat overlooking Holyrood Park.
The Old Town is set on a ridge running down from the Castle Rock, contrasting with the New Town with its elegant Georgian streets and squares. Visit the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre – the best way to sample the local brew is on a pub crawl. The Outlook Tower and Camera Obscura affords a fascinating view of the City. Gladstone’s Land is a narrow six-storey tenement, typical of the buildings erected in the 17th century. The restored premises comprise of a shop with living quarters above, a good example of a 17th century town house with original painted ceilings and furnishings. The New Town (1767-1830) was laid out on a gridiron pattern, with vistas and focal points and the wealthy soon took up residence in its splendid squares (Charlotte Square where you can visit the refurbished Georgian House) and elegant streets as George Street.
Pick up your rental car and drive to St. Andrews (“home” of golf), with its imposing cathedral, castle and famous university founded in 1410. Drive on to Dundee, a busy seaport city with the Sidlaw Hills as its backdrop. A regional food specialty is its rich fruit Dundee cake. Visit Discovery Point, custom built in 1901 for scientific explorations and the pride of the city. Explore the main gun decks of the Frigate Unicorn and savor life in the Royal Navy in its golden age of sail. On to the dignified granite city of Aberdeen for your overnight stay. Walk through the medieval streets of Old Aberdeen; visit the Maritime Museum in the City Center, and the Art Gallery with its permanent Scottish Collection.
From Aberdeen drive through the area of Moray to the market town of Elgin, on the banks of the Lossie, with its main street linking the mainstays of a medieval burgh, cathedral and castle. The capital of Scotland’s famous pure malt whisky, distilled according to age-old methods, is in Dufftown with its Dallas Dhu Distillery. Continue through Grampian, renowned for its Malt Whisky distilleries as well as its castles, quaint country shops and unique wildlife – which includes men in kilts! In the pleasant village of Glamis stands Glamis Castle – the epitome of Scottish castles with its towers, turrets, and conical roof. The ghost of Lady Glamis, burnt as a witch, has literary associations with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Glamis Castle has been the home of the Lyon family (forebears of the present Queen Elizabeth’s late mother) since 1372. Standing astride the River Ness flowing from Loch Ness, is the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness, where we have arranged a two-night stay.
From Inverness set out to explore the Highlands and enjoy its spectacular scenery of heather, mountains, cliffs, moorlands and fresh water lochs. The dramatic coastline gives way to lush undulating countryside cradling large country estates and old manor houses. There are many castles in the area including Cawdor Castle, built in the 14th century by the Thanes of Cawdor (written of by Shakespeare in Macbeth). Visit the dark waters of Loch Ness, renowned the world over as the home of the elusive Nessie monster. Scotland is proud of its regional food specialties of Scottish beef and lamb, venison and grouse, and of course whisky.
From Inverness see some of the finest scenery in the region on the way to Kyle of Lochalsh, which is a busy ferry port for Skye, though many visitors now use the new road bridge. The hub of the local fishing industry, pleasure crafts also operate out of the harbor offering fishing trips and wildlife cruises. East of Kyle, on the north shore of Loch Duich, is Eilean Donan Castle. Probably featured on more Scottish calendars than any other building, it is situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet and surrounded by majestic scenery. Explore the castle and enjoy a journey through the history of the area. Ample parking at the castle is available. Today’s journey ends in Kyle of Lochalsh, where we have arranged your two-night stay.
This morning take the road bridge to the Isle of Skye and experience the mystery and enchantment of this Hebridean Isle. Crofting, tourism and forestry are the principal occupations of the islanders, the majority of whom are still Gaelic speakers. The scenic splendor of the Cuillins, a range of rocky mountains, are the island’s most famous feature. Portree is Skye’s pleasant little capital, arranged around a sheltered bay and a popular yachting center. At Kilmuir’s small churchyard, with lovely seascapes, stands a monument to Flora MacDonald who helped Bonnie Prince Charles escape (dressed as her maid) from the Hebrides to Portree, where he left for France as a lifelong exile.
Leave Skye for the Trossachs, which is one of Scotland’s most famous scenic areas, with rugged mountains and wooded slopes reflected in the waters of many lochs. From Callander and Loch Venachar in the east, to Loch Katrine and even to the shores of Loch Lomond in the west, the whole area of great scenic beauty is easily accessible. Freshwater Loch Lomond set amidst fantastic scenery, is the largest lake in mainland Britain and contains many islands. As a popular leisure destination it offers every kind of watercraft including kayaks, canoes, wind-surfers, jet skis, and cruisers. From Loch Loman it’s a short drive to Glasgow where we have arranged your overnight stay. Glasgow, an important industrial center and port, is now enjoying a growing reputation as a cultural center with many art galleries and museums worth a visit, as is Glasgow’s gothic Cathedral.
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