Take in a stunning, unspoilt region by rail
Set in idyllic, undiscovered surroundings overlooking picturesque Loch Fyne, a 19th century Baronial Castle awaits you on this magnificent tour. Cruise the open waters to the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, explore nearby Oban and Inveraray.
Our tour begins in the bustling city of Glasgow at the 4-Star Indigo Hotel, where we also have dinner tonight.
Today we enjoy a journey on one of the world's most spectacular scenic railway lines, travelling on the West Highland Line - known as the 'Iron Road to the Isles'. We reach the coast at Oban, which is set in an idyllic bay. Here you have time at leisure. Perhaps you may wish to visit the local War & Peace Museum, detailing the history of the local area, especially its usage as an important naval port during World War Two.
Alternatively, you could visit the famous McCaig's Tower, based on the design of the Roman Colosseum, the tower is the focal point of the town provides wonderful views of Oban and the harbour below. The town is built around the Oban Whiskey Distillery, which holds regular tours of its inner factories. The Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel is also within walking distance and the vivid colours of the castle grounds and stoneworks are really something to behold. Later, we travel by coach to Stonefield Castle. We spend four nights here.
This morning we sail from nearby Kennacraig to the beautiful Isle of Islay, the southernmost island in the Inner Hebrides. Islay is the fifth-largest Scottish island and the seventh-largest surrounding Great Britain. The crossing, on the Calmac Ferry, is accompanied by incredible views of the rugged coastline. On arrival in Port Ellen, we transfer through the craggy grassy plains to Bowmore, where we enjoy a guided tour of the Distillery.
The Distillery is one of the oldest of its kind in Scotland. Islay is one of five whiskey distilling locations in the country whose identity and heritage is protected by law and its produce has become famous the world over. Those distilleries on the south island produce a whiskey renowned for its strong, peaty flavour, whilst those on the north are known for their lighter malts. Bowmore itself is said to have opened in 1779 and is one of only eight remaining active factories on the island. Later we continue across the heart of Islay, visiting Port Askaig for a short stop.
We then continue by ferry to Kennacraig and by coach to Tarbert. You have some free time in this Scottish village, built around an inlet to the nearby Loch Fyne. Tarbert itself is a Gaelic word for a small neck of land joining two larger pieces, similarly to how the titular village lies.
Whilst in Tarbert, you wish to visit the ruins of the ancient fort, built in the 13th century and a former home of Robert the Bruce, who looked to defend it against the fabled Lords of the Isles.
Today we take the short ferry crossing to the Isle of Bute to visit one of the world's most spectacular Victorian Gothic mansions, Mount Stuart. The ancestral home of the Marquesses of Bute was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson for the 3rd Marquess of Bute in the late 1870s, replacing the earlier home which had been lost in a blaze.
The house is the seat of the Stuarts of Bute, direct male-line descendants of John Stewart, the illegitimate son of King Robert II of Scotland, the first Stuart King. Through this bloodline, they are also descendants of the infamous Robert the Bruce. The main part of the house provides a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture and is rather imposing with its red stone walls. Mount Stuart's main features include the colonnaded Marble Hall and the elaborate Marble Chapel, with its spiraling spired tower.
Two other parts of the home are quite different in style, and reflect more of a Georgian era of architectural design. Much of the interiors and garden areas were redesigned by one Robert Wier Schultz in the first years of the 20th century. Interestingly, Mount Stuart was the first house of any kind to contain an indoor heated pool and was also the first home in Scotland to experience electrical power. We enjoy an afternoon tea here, relaxing in the charming grounds of this heritage home.
On today's excursion we enjoy a scenic drive to Inveraray Castle, the imposing, turreted ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll. During our guided tour we explore the lavish stately rooms and learn about the folklore and legends that have shaped this region of Scotland. Mid 18th century neo-Gothic in design, the castle is surrounded by 16-acres of verdant gardens and boasts an estate of 60,000. The castle has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell since the 17th century.
The Duke and his family currently live in private residence set between the castle's two circular towers whilst the remaining wings are open to the public, resplendent in their neo-classical design, originally made for the 5th Duke by Robert Mylne. We then have some free time in the nearby town of Inveraray. Situated on the western shore of the mighty Loch Fyne. Here you could visit the Georgian Inveraray Jail, a 19th century prison that is now a replica museum.
Perhaps you may like to wander down to the peer to view the vast iron Arctic sailing ships that are moored here, before they set off on their voyages to the poles. The Bell Tower dominates the town and contains the second-heaviest ring of ten bells in the world. The bells are rung at regular intervals and the tower itself is open to the public. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the nearby Argyll Folk Museum and learn a little of what life was like for the inhabitants of the region in years gone by.
The town of Inveraray itself was completely rebuilt from scratch in the 18th century and is one of the best examples of a new town from that time period in Scotland, with the vast majority of properties in the town now considered worthy of protection status due to their ancient architectural significance. In the afternoon, we take a coach to Arduaine to visit the famous Arduaine Gardens. Tonight, we enjoy a final farewell dinner together.
Today we transfer by coach to Oban at the edge of the Highlands. From here we retrace our route to Glasgow, enjoying another spectacular journey on the West Highland Line. After breakfast on Day 7, the tour concludes, and you are free to depart at leisure.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 19 verified reviews
It was wonderful, Stonefield Castle and all the sites we visited. Would have liked more explanations of things along our journeys, there were standing stones, etc., knew nothing about. some of the others seemed to complain about the service, food, etc., and it was somewhat bothersome, I go with the flow and really didn't care if the veggies made it out of the kitchen in a timely manner. The place was lovely and the service and food fine, rooms very clean and staff friendly and accommodating. It's a bit to get 39 people all fed at once, and it was supposed to be relaxing dinners. Too much complaining from some of them.
My overall view of this holiday was that of very good Glasgow hotel, a good Loch Fyne hotel having problems with its evening dining , and too packed a programme. There was not enough free time and constant travel became tiring.
It was a most enjoyable tour, led by an excellent manager, Sandra Neep
A long trip to Islay and a very rushed trip around the distillery quite Abit of the holiday seemed to be rushed our tour manager was wonderful cannot speak highly enough also an excellent helpful coach driver great hotel in Glasgow
No problems with travel, excursions and accommodation.
Our guide Christine was very good, she cared for everyone, made sure we arrived safe and sound. Every day a smile.
Lovely hotel, interesting outings and good tour leader
We were happy with the holiday in all respects
I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday, and I would happily take it again. Jackie our guide is the best so far, she was caring, well prepared and ideal for the job.
Midges aside an excellent hotel. But and it wasn't your managers fault, too much rushing to meet ferry times. Seemed that whoever had timed the journeys hadn't taken single track, winding roads into account. Lights out at the distillery was made up by opening a bottle of the best ! The cruel group member who asked the guide about Margaret MacDonald will live as a highlight. Love my longer sailings and this one was great.
Take in a stunning, unspoilt region by rail