Our Grand Tour of the Inner Hebrides tour has just got even better: with more lunches, wine at dinner, hotel porterage, and service charges all included for 2018, as well as the great hotels and expert guides you’ve already come to love, there’s never been a better time to pay a visit to the Inner Hebrides.
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.
- 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
- We’re covering more than ever in the price of your 2018 tour, including:
- All tips
- More lunches and wine served with dinner
- On-board water bottles on coach journeys
- Return coach travel available from Aberdeen, Montrose, Arbroath, Dundee, Perth, Kinross, Dunfermline, Edinburgh or Glasgow
- 6 nights’ hotel accommodation on a dinner (with wine), bed and full breakfast basis: 3 nights’ at the Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa, Craignure, and 3 nights’ at the Port Askaig Hotel, Islay
- 3 lunches includes
- All coaching and ferry transfers
- Visits to Iona, Staffa, Tobermory, Duart Castle; Jura, Loch Finlaggan Visitor Centre, Bowmore Distillery and Loch Gruinart RSPB Reserve
- Services of a tour manager
Single supplements apply. Subject to availability. Some pick-up points are subject to minimum numbers being achieved.
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.