Bookings close May 8! Take advantage of our Last Minute Booking Offer!*
Book a room to share with a partner, friend, family member, etc. and save $600 EACH! Use code "LASTMIN2" when registering.
Or book one bed in a room and receive $500 off! Use code "LASTMIN1" when registering.
Plus! This departure is now open to all, so invite the guy in your life to join you on this unforgettable trip!
Join us for a fantastic itinerary through the heart of Scotland!
We start in Edinburgh, then drive our way through beautiful landscapes to Oban on the West Coast. Next we head North with a stop in Fort William, and finally end in Inverness. We have 15 included activities to enjoy together as we experience so much of what Scotland has to offer!
There maximum of 6 travelers and we will have a Scottish Driver Guide who is STGA Blue Badge (top rank) certified with us for five days as she shares her knowledge and lived experiences with us. We also have an amazing Optional Add-On day trip to the Isle of Staffa to see Fingal's Cave and the Isle of Lunga to see puffins up close (literally you're about 10 feet away)!
Our first night is May 23 in Edinburgh, May 22 is the start date for anyone who needs to travel overnight to get to Scotland.
*Conditions for Last Minute Booking Offer: New bookings only. Cannot be combined with certificates.
Our Guide Alison!
I'm Alison (Ali) Motion and I'm a Scot who loves to tell stories about this land of ours, particularly about its wildlife, its landscape and how it looks now, and why. From the forests and the waters, to the fabulous food and drink we produce, and the farmers and crofters that produce it. I'll be introducing you to some of my favourite places,with their great stories to tell of Scotland now, and Scotland past.
I've a degree in Cultural History which draws me to the history of the people, and how we live, and lived. I'm an outdoors person and like to introduce people to gentle walks that open up areas of Scotland that you may not otherwise see. I've lived and worked in the four largest cities in Scotland, and have family all up the East Coast, and other family and friends all up the West Coast, including many of our islands.
I can't wait to meet you and to help you immerse yourself in this brilliant land.
Edinburgh Hotel: Apex City
- 4 stars
- Free pool access at sister hotel next door
- Sits at the foot of Edinburgh Castle
- Centrally located and surrounded by some of the top attractions in the city
- Restaurant and bar/lounge
- Breakfast available
Family-owned Oban hotel: The Scot
Our hotel in Oban for the nights of 5/25 - 5/27.
- 3 star
- Centrally located
- Restaurant and bar/lounge
- Breakfast and box lunches available
Family-owned Fort William Hotel: Nevis Bank
- 4 star hotel
- Included breakfast
- Restaurant (one of the most popular in town) and bar/lounge
- Centrally located
Inverness Hotel: Radisson River Ness
Our hotel in Inverness for the nights of 5/28 - 5/30.
- 3.5 star
- Centrally located
- Restaurant and bar/lounge
- Breakfast available
Our Trip Leader: Kate
I'm Kate - Founder & CEO of Detailed Journeys! As your Trip Leader I will be accompanying you during the trip and taking photos to help you capture the memories of your time in Scotland!
I've had a strong passion for travel from an early age, finding that it often teaches lessons we don't gain in a classroom while also building life-long community & connections. That passion led me to an international studies degree and the desire to provide those experiences for others. I started organizing group travel and gatherings about 5 years ago, founding Detailed Journeys in 2018 and then registering as an LLC in February, 2020. Due to the pandemic I had to put the launch on pause, but it's here now and there are more destinations to come as well!
I'm so excited you're joining us and can't wait to experience this beautiful place with you - see you in Edinburgh!
Argaty Red Kite Project
Photo by: Lynn Bowser, Argaty Red Kite Program
Day 3 - Edinburgh
Today it's all about Edinburgh! After breakfast on our own we'll meet in the lobby for a day of group activities. this will include a self-guided tour of Edinburgh Castle, lunch, and a walking tour with Invisible Cities that covers Edinburgh's most famous street - The Royal Mile. This stretch of street is a "living witness to Scottish history since the Middle Ages". Invisible Cities is an amazing U.K.-based company that trains guides who have experienced homelessness to lead walking tours.
After a busy day, you may want to head back to the hotel to recharge, but if you're looking for more to do, may we recommend:
- A hike up Calton Hill or Arthur's Seat
- A whisky tasting at Johnnie Walker Princes Street or The Scotch Whisky Experience
- Take a stroll through the Princes Street Gardens or Deans Village
- Enjoy a whisky or grab a pint at a pub, we've bookmarked some of the best close to our hotel on the map!
- A visit to Greyfriars Kirk, this historical cemetery is rumored to have inspired some of the names in Harry Potter
- Pool time
This evening we'll gather in the lobby to head out to our welcome dinner nearby!
Day 4 - Adventures on the Road to Oban
First up - a visit to Doune Castle, which you might recognize from... Outlander, Game of Thrones, Monty Python, Outlaw King, Elizabeth: Golden Age, Ivanhoe, and The Bruce. It's silver-screen famous and has a lot of history, having originally been built in the 13th century.
After a tasty, included lunch we have a very unique visit to a family-owned rewilding estate to learn from the rangers about their Red Kites program. These birds of prey became extinct in Scotland back in 1879 and have been reintroduced through conservation efforts. We'll actually go into a hide where we can watch these majestic birds swoop for their food. This is both an environmental and wildlife experience that our guide Alison felt we shouldn't miss!
We'll stop into Deanston Distillery in case anyone wants to pick up some whisky to enjoy during the trip or bring home with them, then we hit the road again towards Oban, perhaps with a surprise detour or two. We wind our way through the Northeast corner of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and reach Oban in the evening. We recommend making reservations ahead for dinner while here as it is a Bank holiday weekend in the U.K. so lots of people will be traveling. If you want to take a more relaxed approach there is great takeaway fish n' chips just down from our hotel, as well as a takeaway Italian joint nearby.
Day 5 - Optional Add On, Isles of Staffa & Lunga
We hope you'll choose to join us on the most magical day trip to the Isle of Staffa to see Fingal's Cave and the Isle of Lunga to chill with the puffins up close! Both our founder/trip leader, Kate, and our Scottish driver guide, Alison, have gone on this experience and cannot recommend it enough. We will cross our fingers for gorgeous weather and a fully functioning CalMac ferry to carry us over to the Isle of Mull where we begin our trip.
Staffa is known for its basalt columns (like Giant's Causeway in Ireland and multiple locations in Iceland including the Black Beach), which line its coast and the formation of Fingal's Cave. Take some time to walk along the base of the cliff next to the water and go inside the cave! Then venture up a set of stairs to the top of the island with views for days if the weather is right. There is a chance to come across puffins here as well, but look out for other birds and wildflowers too.
As we continue towards the Treshnish Isles, keep your eyes on the water as you may spot seals, whales, and dolphins along the way. As we draw closer to the Isle of Lunga you'll start to notice black dots darting through the sky, the fast paced speed of a flying puffin can be deceiving (they can reach up to 55mph)! The cliffside is a flurry of activity with puffins racing back and forth looking for fish and enjoying the sanctuary of the island. Step carefully as we disembark, walk across the rocks, and up to the trail to the top of the cliff where BAM, hundreds of puffins are nesting along the edge. We can sit or lay down to soak in the moment a mere 10 feet away from the birds. Bring your cameras and perhaps even save your picnic lunch for this spot, because you aren't going to want to move!
Price: $120, which covers the full day tour, your ferry ticket from Oban to the Isle of Mull, van transfer across Isle of Mull, and a tip for the tour operators of this family-owned business.
You *must* wear hiking boots or hiking sneakers with a good grip for this experience due to the ground we will be walking on. We also recommend bringing a raincoat, and possibly rain pants, to wear while on the boat because waves can spray up over the side and get you wet depending on where you sit. Please don't hesitate to contact us to discuss any questions about this experience, especially regarding rigors! If you are on Instagram, head to our Scotland tour highlight to see photos that show what it is like.
There is no maximum number of participants needed, this optional add-on will go ahead even with just one traveler from our group. If you have a need to cancel this optional add-on or your entire package tour, you will receive a refund for this experience (minus any processing fees) if you do so prior to 5/12/23. If the tour operator has to cancel for any reason, you will be refunded fully, minus any processing fees. Sadly, if the tour is unable to run for any reason, there will not be an opportunity to reschedule due to our itinerary.
Please also note that in the summer of 2022, numerous islands in Scotland were closed to humans due to the Bird Flu and in June the operator had to stop offering the puffin portion of the tour for the rest of the season. As of 12/1/22 there are no Bird Flu restrictions for the 2023 season.
**Spots on this optional tour are not booked until you have paid the $120 to cover it. Due to the nature of this experience, space is limited and as of 3/6/23, only 10 spots are left. You may cancel this optional tour and receive a refund, minus any processing fees, before May 12.**
Day 6 - Highland Journeys!
Get ready for all the landscapes! Enjoy breakfast on your own before we pack up the van and drive up the hill to McCaig's Tower for great views of Oban Harbor as we head out of town. We have some truly epic stops planned today, so make sure your camera is charged! First up, we'll take a stroll through some gardens that not many people realize are available to the public on Saturdays.
Then we'll continue to stretch our legs in Sutherland's Grove. There are a few different trails to pick from here, but they all take you through the giant fir trees! And what would a walk be without a treat at the end? We're breaking the rules and enjoying dessert before our included lunch with ice cream from Highland Coos, who may decide they want to be photogenic that day and hang out near us as we enjoy our scoops!
Now it's into the Glens we go, taking in all the views as we drive along. We'll make multiple stops at waterfalls and overlooks so we can truly experience how powerful this scenery is as we stand among it.
Tonight, we stay in Fort William and if you're feeling the need to stretch your legs, we'd recommend an easy two mile roundtrip walk from our hotel to Old Inverlochy Castle during your free time. Dinner is on our own and if you don't want to go far - our hotel has a restaurant.
Day 7 - A Steam Train & A Monster
We'll journey from Fort William to Mallaig on The Jacobite steam train. This stretch of track was completed in 1901, but it wasn't until 1995 that the line's name was changed to The Jacobite, so dubbed because of the many Jacobite historical moments that took place in the area. The ride is beautiful, winding past lochs, waterfalls, patches of wildflowers, small villages, and important historical sites. And of course, keep your cameras ready as we approach the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous in its own right and made even more so after being a backdrop to scenes from the Harry Potter films. This curved Viaduct is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland (416 yards / 380m), and sits 100 feet high above the River Finnan.
We recommend bringing a picnic lunch today as once we arrive in Mallaig, there are limited dining options and they get swamped by train passengers, but you can always take your chances getting a table - some offer reservations. Take time to check out the working waterfront, with dozens of large fishing boats, plus the many cute local shops (yes, including Haggard Alley if you're a HP fan). There is also a great art gallery with original pieces, prints, cards, and more in town that is full of treasures.
We'll have had a chat in advance about how we'd like to depart Mallaig; either by boarding the train for our return trip or arranging for Alison to come pick us up so we can make some stops of our own along the route back. This would give us the possibility of seeing the Viaduct from the ground, as well as some other beautiful sites that aren't accessible when you're riding the train.
Whether we join Alison in Mallaig or back in Fort William, we then will continue on to one of the most famous places in all of Scotland: Loch Ness! Keep your eyes peeled for Nessie when we stop in Fort Augustus, at the southern end of the loch, to take in the views along the shore line. Then we head up the less traveled East side of the loch so we can venture to see a waterfall that feeds into it. If you're not feeling up to this short, but steep, uphill there is also a walk alongside the loch with beautiful views too!
Finally, we arrive in Inverness for the last two nights of our trip together. Our hotel is right in the center of the city, perfect for taking advantage of any free time this evening and for finding a delicious location for dinner.
Day 8 - Beautiful Inverness
It's our last day together and we're going to make the most of it! Have a bite of breakfast on your own before we gather and head to the breathtaking Reelig Glen for a one mile forest walk through fairy territory. Well, actually Fraser territory, at least for 500 years before being sold by the family in 1949 to the Forestry Commission. The Frasers planted many species of trees back in the 1800s, leading to the diversity of what we will see today.
And yes, Outlander fans, when we say Fraser, we mean the real Clan Fraser, who have been in the area for 800 years and fought on the front lines at Culloden (then mostly died in battle or were executed for treason afterwards).
Once we have allowed the magic of this beautiful place to release us, we hop back in the van to head for a local farm shop and search for goodies. We loop through North Kessock on our way back to Inverness, hopefully aligning with the right tides so we can stop and go dolphin spotting from the shore! North Kessock also provides a great landscape view of Inverness from the other side of the water.
Lunch is on our own once we return to Inverness and then you can choose between enjoying a full afternoon of free time, or mix in our optional add-on to the Culloden Battlefield and Clava Cairns with Alison. Here are some suggestions for your free time:
- River Ness & Ness Island walk (about 2 hours)
- Inverness Botanical Gardens
- Leakey’s Bookshop
- Black Isle Brewery bar
- Ness Walk Afternoon Tea
- Bad Girl Bakery, new location at the Victorian Market
- Highland Malt Whisky Experience
- The Mustard Seed restaurant
Tonight we all gather together again for our included farewell dinner!