SCOTLAND IN SUMMER

August 16-25, 2018  ***only 4 spots left! 

August is a fabulous time to visit Scotland! Edinburgh is buzzing with festivals and out in the Highlands, the heather is in full bloom blanketing the moors in pink flowers. This 10 day Scottish adventure travels from Edinburgh, north-west into the Highlands and Loch Ness. You’ll spend a day on the Isle of Skye, ride the Jacobite Steam Train, experience the romance of Glencoe and taste whisky. Return to Edinburgh via Loch Lomond’s bonnie banks. Accompanied by Kirsty Dougherty for the entire trip, you’ll take a sunset cruise on Loch Ness, visit ancient castles and see the world famous Edinburgh Tattoo with fireworks over Edinburgh Castle!


DAY 1: THURSDAY AUGUST 16 - ARRIVAL IN EDINBURGH, WELCOME DINNER

Included meals: Dinner    Accommodation: The Principal Edinburgh George St, Edinburgh

Guests make their own way to Edinburgh and the hotel. If you arrive before August 16 and need additional accommodation, please let me know as soon as possible. August is peak month for Edinburgh and accommodation is based on availability. I do not organize fights as I find people prefer to make their own arrangements, based on using points, preferred airlines etc. Please go to Page 7 for information on flights, arriving in Edinburgh and booking assistance.

After a morning arrival into Edinburgh, Kirsty will meet you at the hotel for a welcome and orientation. Take the rest of the day to relax, catch up on lost sleep or explore! The historic Scottish capital is a beautiful blend of medieval Old Town, Georgian New Town and Victorian lanes, all over-lorded by ancient Edinburgh Castle. The Royal Mile is the main thoroughfare of Edinburgh’s Old Town, linking Edinburgh Castle to The Palace of Holyroodhouse. It’s a wonderful city to explore on foot and boasts excellent shopping, parks, restaurants and world class galleries. Edinburgh is also a major festival city hosting some of the world's biggest cultural events.  Everything from theatre and circus shows, to art installations, comedy, cabaret, military bands and fantastic fireworks displays. During your stay in Edinburgh the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Book Festival are all on: it’s a vibrant, exciting time giving the city an electric carnival atmosphere! For Harry Potter fans, Edinburgh is where JK Rowling wrote in an unassuming cafe, taking inspiration from the streets, buildings and even the names around her. 

Tonight, our group comes together for a welcome dinner at our hotel.  Your hotel for 4 nights is the Principal on George Street a beautiful hotel that has been welcoming guests since 1881. At its heart are five listed Georgian townhouses, built in 1775 as homes for Edinburgh’s most prosperous citizens. The Principal is the winner of Scottish Hotel of the Year at the 2017 Scottish Hotel Awards. Located in the ‘new’ section of Edinburgh, The Principal is an ideal base from which to explore the city. New Town stretches the meaning of "New" ever so slightly, as 2017 marks its 250th year! Building began on the beautiful and iconic Edinburgh city center area in 1767 from designs put together by young architect James Craig. The wide orderly streets of the New Town offer a stark contrast to the labyrinth of the Old Town. New Town is considered an architectural masterpiece and make up part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Edinburgh.


DAY 2: FRIDAY AUGUST 17 - EDINBURGH CITY TOUR & JUPITER ARTLAND SCULPTURE PARK

Included Meals: Breakfast & Lunch    Accommodation: The Principal Edinburgh George St, Edinburgh

After breakfast at the hotel, we join our local tour guide for a city highlights tour. Edinburgh is steeped in history and our local guide will give us plenty of insights into the city’s colorful and at times intriguing past! Visit Grassmarket, where today boutique shops thrive: in times past, Grassmarket was a lively market place and notorious place of execution. Back in the day, Edinburgh’s criminals were granted one last whisky in the Last Drop pub before being strung up near-by! See the imposing Scott’s Monument, dedicated to the famous poet and writer Sir Walter Scott and learn about Edinburgh’s most famous dog, Greyfriars Bobby. Visit the Old Town and quaint Dean Village, a backdrop for films and television productions, including Trainspotting, Sunshine on Leith, and Inspector Rebus.

Lunch is at Jupiter Artland, a world-renowned sculpture garden just outside of Edinburgh. Privately owned, Jupiter Artland showcases contemporary sculptures and landform art by celebrated and emerging artists. After lunch in the garden, we take a guided tour to see works by Andy Goldsworthy, Charles Jencks (pictured), Iain Finlay Hamilton & Anthony Gormley. Back in the city, we continue our highlights tour visiting Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park where the regal Palace of Holyroodhouse is located.

Return to our hotel for a free evening. Edinburgh has a 4-star restaurant scene and recommendations are provided.


Day 3: SATURDAY AUGUST 18 - FIFE, ST ANDREWS & EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO                                  

Included Meals: Breakfast   Accommodation: The Principal, Edinburgh

Today is all about Fife! Ancestral home of Scottish monarchs and world-famous for its golf, the Kingdom of Fife has a distinct identity. To get there we cross the Firth of Forth and see the famous Forth Railway Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Scotland’s iconic symbols. Visit East Neuk, a particularly beautiful region with historic fishing villages and stunning coastal scenery. On the Kingsbarns Estate, we visit Cambo Walled Garden, an iconic Victorian walled garden with a modern twist, now considered to be Scotland’s finest walled garden. Also on the estate is the Kingsbarn Distillery. Next is St Andrews, Fife’s jewel in the crown! As the spiritual home of golf, St Andrews is a must see for all devotees of the game. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is one of the oldest in the world. St Andrews is also home to the third-oldest University in the English-speaking world after Oxford and Cambridge. Explore, have lunch and soak in St Andrew’s historic and esteemed ambiance. On the way home, stop in Falkland, a beautiful village where time seems to have stood still. Fans of Outlander will recognize it as post-war Inverness. Browse the craft shops and visit the beautiful Falkland Palace and Gardens, one of Scotland's finest Renaissance palaces and adored by Mary, Queen of Scots.

Tonight is a tour highlight: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This unforgettable experience has nothing to do with getting a tattoo! The name “tattoo” comes from the 17 and 18th centuries when a cry of ‘doe den tap toe’ which meant ‘turn off the taps’; piping and drums signaled to soldiers that the pubs were closed and they must return to the barracks. Today, a military tattoo is a performance of music or display by the armed forces; the most famous of all is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, affectionately known in Edinburgh simply as “the Tattoo”. Staged in the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, this is truly one of the world’s most spectacular events! Our late show finishes with fireworks above the castle.


DAY 4: SUNDAY AUGUST 19 - FREE DAY IN EDINBURGH     

Included meals: Breakfast    Accommodation: The Principal Edinburgh on George St, Edinburgh

After our late night at the Tattoo, today is free to enjoy however you wish: perhaps a relaxing brunch or local church service, or the more energetic may opt for a hike up Arthur’s Seat for fantastic views over the city! Festival events are on throughout Edinburgh and I’ll make sure you have plenty of festival information. 


DAY 5: MONDAY AUGUST 20 - DRUMMOND CASTLE, EDRADOUR DISTILLERY & LOCH NESS                                        

Included meals: Breakfast & Lunch    Accommodation: The Lovat, Loch Ness

This morning, we check out of the Principal and start our exploration of the Scottish Highlands! Heading north-west to Perthshire, we arrive at Drummond Castle where the lovely folks are opening the castle early just for us. Drummond Castle gardens are Scotland’s most impressive formal garden and standing on the terrace overlooking the gardens, you will see why! It is no wonder the gardens were used as a Versailles substitute in Outlander’s second series. Lunch is a special treat – a picnic in the castle gardens!

After lunch we continue our road trip north to Edradour Distillery, a Highland single malt whisky distillery based in Pitlochry. It is the smallest traditional distillery in Scotland and lies near the Ruins of Lindores, the birthplace of Aquavite (water of life) which later became known as whisky. Edradour’s whisky tours are so fun! You’ll taste different whiskies and take a tour of this pretty distillery. There’s plenty of time to shop for a take home whisky memento!

Leaving Edradour, we head north-west through Cairngorms National Park, Britain's largest National Park and the most extensive range of high mountains in the UK. The Cairngorms are a vast, tundra-like wilderness plateau with scenery completely different to everything else you’ll see in Scotland. Our drive takes us through the south-western edge of the park. By afternoon, we’re deep in the heart of the highlands and arrive at the Scotland’ most famous lake – Loch Ness!  

Fort Augustus, our base for three nights, is a loch-side village at the southernmost tip of Loch Ness. Pretty and picturesque, Fort Augustus also forms part of the Calendonian Canal, a 60-mile canal system that connects from Fort Williams in the south to the northern city of Inverness. The man-made lochs that drop down into Loch Ness are indeed mighty to see!

Your hotel for 3 nights is the 4-star The Lovat, Loch Ness. This award winning eco-conscious hotel is a Victorian landmark. Newly refurbished and super friendly, the Lovat is a luxurious base for our Highland adventures.  The rest of the afternoon and evening is free to soak in the magnificence of Loch Ness and perhaps spot Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster!


DAY 6: TUESDAY AUGUST 21 - CAWDOR CASTLE, CULLODEN MOOR & LOCH NESS EVENING CRUISE

Included meals: Breakfast    Accommodation: The Lovat, Loch Ness

This morning, we breakfast at the Lovat then head north to Cawdor Castle. Immortalized in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Cawdor Castle is an absolute gem with three gorgeous gardens: the Walled Garden, the Flower Garden and the Wild Garden. The Walled Garden is the oldest and dates from c.1600 and later became a kitchen garden. The Flower Garden was laid out some 100 years later and was originally designed for enjoyment in late summer and autumn. The Wild Garden is the youngest, being planted in the 1960s and lies between the Castle and the stream of the Cawdor Burn. A “burn” is the Scottish Gaelic word for a small fresh water stream. Take a guided tour of the castle, explore the gardens and enjoy lunch in the Castle courtyard café.

Near Cawdor is the famous Culloden Moor, where Scottish Jacobites made their final stand against the British in 1746. We stop for a tour with our guide to learn more of this very important historical site. Leaving Culloden, we take the scenic road back along Loch Ness to Fort Augustus. Time permitting; stop at Abriarchan Garden, a woodland garden & nursery on the shores of Loch Ness.

Tonight, experience the beauty of Loch Ness from the water on a relaxing sunset loch cruise. 


DAY 7: WEDNESDAY AUGUST 22 - ISLE OF SKYE                                    

Included Meals: Breakfast    Accommodation: The Lovat, Loch Ness

Our adventure today takes us to the iconic and beautiful Isle of Skye. The Isle of Skye (an t-Eilean Sgiathanach in Gaelic) takes its name from old Norse sky-a, meaning a ‘cloud island’: a Viking reference to the often-mist-enshrouded Cuillin Hills. It’s the second-largest of Scotland’s islands, a 50-mile-long patchwork of velvet moors, jagged mountains, sparkling lochs and towering sea cliffs. Skye is accessible via bridge from the mainland, first crossing onto Eilean Bàn (White Island), the small island where Gavin Maxwell, author of "The Ring of Bright Water” lived, then over the bridge to Skye. See Eilean Donan, the iconic castle perched on a tidal island where three sea lochs meet. Experience the stunningly beautiful Cuillin Hills and Sligachan Bridge as we travel to Portree, Skye’s capital. Portree is a bustling port town and our lunch-time stop. Famous for its row of colorful houses, this little harbor town is dreamy to photograph! Harry Potter fans will recognize Portree as the home of the 'Pride of Portree' Quidditch team! We explore more of Skye then return to Fort Augustus in the late afternoon for a free evening. 


 DAY 8: THURSDAY AUGUST 23 - JACOBITE STEAM TRAIN, GLENCOE & LOCH LOMOND       

Included Meals: Breakfast    Accommodation: Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, Loch Lomond

This morning we say farewell to Loch Ness and drive south to Fort William for the Jacobite Steam Train. Made famous by Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express, the Jacobite Steam Train is one of Britain's greatest train journeys. A highlight of the journey is crossing the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct with stunning views of the Glenfinnan Monument and to Loch Shiel! At Glenfinnan station, disembark, stretch your legs and take in the impressive views of this sweeping glen. Beyond Glenfinnan are the beautiful villages of Lochailort, Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig, our final stop. Here we disembark and have lunch. Later, our guide picks us up for the drive back to Fort William. Along the way, we make a stop for a view of the train chugging over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Continuing our road trip south, we experience the romance and beauty of Glencoe, Scotland’s most famous glen. A ‘glen’ refers to a deep valley in the Highlands and this glen - with its heather covered moorland, icy lochs and craggy black tors – is stunning. It’s recognizable from many films, including Harry Potter, Rob Roy and Highlander.

Our final destination for the day is the village of Luss. Sited on the western shore of Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park, this conservation village with its identical sandstone cottages, charming gardens, sandy beach and fabulous loch views is gorgeous!

We overnight at the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, an award winning country pub with terrific food, lovely rooms and relaxing ambiance. The hotel is literally steps away from the ‘bonnie bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond!

Luss boasts great seafood dining and tonight you may choose to enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.  


DAY 9: FRIDAY AUGUST 24 - STIRLING CASTLE, THE KELPIES, EDINBURGH & FAREWELL DINNER

Included Meals: Breakfast & Dinner    Accommodation: The Principal Hotel, Edinburgh

Today we step into the turbulent times of William Wallace, whose life was dramatized in the film Braveheart, with a stop at the ancient city of Stirling. Stirling Castle is the grandest of Scotland's castles; at 250 feet above the plain on an extinct volcano, its location rivals even Edinburgh Castle's for sheer magnificence. Once the favored home of Kings and Queens, Stirling Castle drew knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors to the grandest of celebrations.  Enjoy lunch in Stirling before continuing our journey towards Edinburgh. For a change of pace, we make a stop at the Kelpies, the largest equine structure in the world and one of Scotland’s newest contemporary sculptures! Two 30-metre high (nearly 100feet) horse head sculptures are an extraordinary feat of engineering and celebrate the heavy horses that pulled local wagons, ploughs, barges and coal-ships through the surrounding water-ways. Towering over the landscapes, these sculptures are even more impressive up close! 

On return to Edinburgh, we check back into the Principal Hotel. Our final night together is a fun dinner at a local restaurant! 


DAY 10: SATURDAY AUGUST 25 - DEPARTURE                                                                              

Included meals: Breakfast

This morning we say a sad good bye to Edinburgh and make our way to the airport. If you plan to stay on in Edinburgh or are travelling to London and need bookings or assistance, please let me know.


TOUR INFORMATION

$4299* per person double/twin occupancy          

$1349* per person single supplement

A maximum of 16 guests will be accepted

*Based on an exchange rate of no more than 1.30

Inclusions:

  • Accompanied by Kirsty Dougherty for the entire trip
  • Accompanied by a private local guide for 7 days
  • 9 nights accommodation at hotels chosen for their charm and style, location, quality room standard and customer service. If you prefer a higher room category in any of the hotels, this can be arranged but is subject to availability and price adjustment. Hotels are The Principal Hotel, Edinburgh,  The Lovat, Loch Ness,  Loch Lomond Arms, Loch Lomond
  • Portage at each hotel is included at the Principal and Lovat. Loch Lomond Arms is a country style hotel and does not have lifts.
  • All transportation in private coach provided by Highland Express
  • Entrance fees & tours where indicated at Jupiter Artland, Cambo Walled Gardens, Falkland Palace & Gardens, Drummond Castle, Edradour Distillery, Cawdor Castle, Culloden Moor, Eilean Donan Castle, Stirling Castle, The Kelpies
  • Private Tours of Edinburgh, Culloden Moor, Isle of Skye
  • Tickets for Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Evening Loch Ness Cruise and the Jacobite Steam Train
  • 9 breakfasts at the hotels, 2 lunches (Jupiter Artland & picnic at Drummond Castle) & 2 dinners in Edinburgh at restaurants selected for their quality and ambiance
  • Alcohol is not included at group meals
  • Gratuities for guides, coach driver and included meals

Not included in the tour price are airfares and all related fees; airport transfers; transfers or transport costs made outside of the group arrangements in the UK; emergency medical and trip cancellation insurance, excess baggage charges, personal items at the hotels (such as beverages, laundry, room service, & communication services); alcoholic beverages; meals not listed as ‘included’; tickets to festivals and everything else not expressly mentioned under ‘included’.

AIRFARES Please note airfares are not included in the tour price. This allows you the flexibility to make arrangements that best your own plans, to use points or a preferred airline. You are responsible for your own airfare. If you require assistance with flight reservations, please contact my travel agent Paige Bouzaglou on paige@wanderinggosling.com (or 347-834-6818). Please email flight information to Kirsty.

BOOKING To guarantee your reservation, a deposit of $1500 (of which $1000 is non-refundable) per person is due at the time of booking. This is used for hotel reservations, transport and other deposits. Final payment is due by May 16, 2018. A reminder will be set out on April 16. Late payment will incur a fee of $100 per person. Payment of the deposit is an acceptance of the Terms and Conditions. Please ensure you have read these policies. 

Please contact Kirsty Dougherty on 908.512.0600 or kirsty@noblegardentours.com to book.

PAYMENT Please pay by either :

  • check made out to ‘Noble Garden Tours’ and sent to PO Box 73, Highlands NJ 07732  or
  • credit card online via Paypal. Credit card payment incurs a 2.9% fee.

Please let Kirsty know your preferred payment method.

TRAVEL INSURANCE Things happen and at times unforeseen circumstances make it impossible to travel. For your personal safety and peace of mind, guests are required to purchase travel insurance including emergency medical and trip cancellation. This is a condition of booking.  Travel insurance is not included in the tour price and is your responsibility. You must enroll within a limited time (usually 10-21days) after paying your initial deposit. For assistance in organizing travel insurance, please contact travel agent Paige Bouzaglou (E: paige@wanderinggosling.com or T: 347-834-6818)

CANCELLATIONS A refund of monies paid, minus the nonrefundable deposit of $1000, will be made when written notice of cancellation is received by Noble Garden Tours LLC on or before May 16.  Notice of cancellation received after May but on or before June 16, will incur a cancellation fee of 75% of the total tour price. Cancellations made after June 16 or a no show will forfeit 100% of the tour price. Once the tour has commenced there can be no refunds on unused portions. You must take out trip cancellation insurance when making your reservation and forward me the policy details.

FITNESS You must be able to walk an entire day without a problem. We’ll be walking on unpaved paths, through fields, villages, on cobbled streets, through private estates and gardens, up steep stair cases in historic old buildings. This is a trip for active people. Many of the properties we visit are historic and not accessible. Please bear all of this in mind when considering this tour. If you have an injury or impairment and are not sure whether this tour is right for you, please call me to discuss – 908.512.0600

CURRENCY IN SCOTLAND The currency of Scotland is the Great British Pound - GBP Pound (£). One pound is comprised of 100 pence coins in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 denominations. Bank notes are commonly divided into £5, £10, £20 and £50 amounts. You will see ‘Scottish’ pound notes but don’t panic! Scottish banks issue their own tender which can be a little confusing at first. These notes are accepted throughout the U.K. If changing money before your trip, request Great British Pounds.

ARRIVING IN EDINBURGH Arriving at Edinburgh airport, there are plenty of taxis into the city center. The trip will take around 25 minutes depending on traffic and fares will be approximately £25. Information about taxis from Edinburgh Airport is here. You may choose to uber – Edinburgh UBER information. I will meet you at the Principal Hotel on your arrival.

Things to do in Edinburgh. Paige can assist you with booking pre-tour activities. For advice and help, please contact her on E: paige@wanderinggosling.com or T: 347-834-6818