An itinerary for a tour that covers Scotland all the way from the Borders to Orkney. The itinerary starts in Edinburgh and then heads south to the Border Abbeys before crossing to the Atlantic Coast. The route then heads north following the North West coast around to Thurso where we suggest a day trip to Orkney. You then return to Edinburgh via Inverness, Royal Deeside and Stirling.
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Day 1 – Arrive in Edinburgh and take in some of the city’s magical atmosphere by following our guide to its many historical, cultural, supernatural, culinary and convivial charms.
Stopover in Edinburgh
Day 2 – We propose that you spend a full day discovering the city. To help you explore Edinburgh, the guide provides directions for 3 walking routes that explore the Royal Mile and some of the capital's quieter corners.
Stopover in Edinburgh
Day 3 - Edinburgh Day Trips – There are enough attractions in Edinburgh to keep you busy for several days, but we also provide you with directions for day trips that cover:
• the nearby castles, palaces & country houses of West & East Lothian,
• a longer day trip to St Andrews and the coast of Fife,
• details of various day trips from Edinburgh by bus or train.
Stopover in Edinburgh
Day 4 – Our directions take you south with a visit to Rosslyn Chapel en route to the rolling hills of the Borders, where Sir Walter Scott was inspired to write many of his famous novels. You can visit the castle where the gates have been locked for 250 years awaiting the return of a Stuart Monarch. The route includes visits to the Border Abbeys of Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh. You also have the option of visits to some of the grand country houses of famous Border dynasties.
Stopover in the Melrose Area
Day 5 – Is a journey through the Trossachs and past several lochs to arrive on the west coast of Argyll where we will guide you to some excellent seafood restaurants for a dinner with great views of sunsets behind the islands. The route passes several interesting & lesser known castles dating from the13th, 14th & 16th centuries.
Stopover in Oban Area
Day 6 – We suggest 3 options for the journey to Skye:
1) - The classic route along the "Road to the Isles" from Fort William to the Skye ferry. This route passes Glenfinnan and some Harry Potter film set locations ,
2) - A longer route through the wilderness landscape of Sunart to join the "Road to the Isles" to the Skye ferry.
3) - An inland route through sections of the Great Glen, Glen Garry and Glen Shiel to join the west coast near the iconic Eilean Donan Castle.
You may also manage some sightseeing on the Isle of Skye. Indeed, you may prefer to exchange a day in Edinburgh for a full day on Skye, so we provide directions for a day long tour of the island.
Stopover in the Lochalsh area or Isle of Skye
Day 7 – Heading north into the mountains and lochs of Wester Ross. The route directions guide you to the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve and give you ideas for picnic spots in little coves or on some great sandy beaches. This day of driving has an optional route that takes you via the remote Applecross Peninsula. On arrival at Gairloch, we provide directions for a visit to a Botanic Garden, a walk to nearby waterfalls, a boat trip with a local fisherman or an afternoon of pony trekking.
Stopover in the Gairloch area
Day 8 – The route closely follows the coast where we direct you to some more great beaches as well as famous gardens and dramatic gorges. The journey ends in Ullapool, but we have also provided a drive that takes you through the dramatic Inverpolly Nature Reserve and onto Lochinver area.
Stopover in Ullapool / Lochinver area
Day 9 – Heading North into the real wilderness of Assynt and Sutherland, the guide takes you through the unspoilt beauty of North West Scotland and then along Scotland's northern coastline. There aren't many villages along this route, but there are some great beaches and photogenic landscapes. The journey ends in Thurso, but we also give instructions on how to get to Dunnet Head and John o' Groats.
Stopover in the Thurso area
Day 10 – A day trip to Orkney. We recommend using one of the excellent island tours provided by JOG Ferries.
Second night in Thurso area
ALTERNATIVELY: Stay on the Orkney Islands - Extend your trip with a stay on the Orkney Islands. We provide a guide that gives you all the information you need for planning a stay on these islands. The guide includes suggestions for 4 days trips to explore the Orkney Mainland and the smaller islands of Hoy and Rousay. As always, we recommend walks, picnic spots, the best value attractions and restaurants.
Day 11 – We guide you south to Inverness with a route that has opportunities for a visit to the grand castle of the Dukes of Sutherland. On the way to Inverness, we suggest some detour options to travel via the Black Isle or to visit a charming Victorian Spa Resort.
You may wish to extend your stay in Inverness to 2 nights, so we supply directions for some day trips from Inverness that take you to:
• Loch Ness for a round trip tour of the Loch,
• Glen Affric, where you can see the last remains of the Ancient Caledonian Forest,
• The Moray Coast, a historically rich landscape.
Stopover in the Inverness area
Day 12 – Our directions lead you to Culloden Battlefield, and Cawdor Castle before heading south to the Spey Valley with its famous whisky names. The route ends in the forested countryside of Royal Deeside where you may even glimpse the Queen at Balmoral, her Scottish holiday retreat. Optional routes are provided for exploring the distilleries of Speyside, OR for taking a tour of Deeside to visit some well preserved castles that are complete with furnishings.
Stopover in Royal Deeside
Day 13 – From Royal Deeside, the itinerary gives you directions for a scenic drive over a mountain pass and then onto Pitlochry where you may choose to break your journey with some distillery tours or a visit to the magnificent Blair Castle. From Pitlochry you speed south to Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument.
Stopover in the Stirling area
Day 14 – Depending on your schedule, you may wish to spend a morning visiting the attractions of Stirling OR you can simply take the short drive from Stirling to Edinburgh. The directions for the return to Edinburgh include the option of a visit to get up close to the iconic Forth Rail Bridge.