Scotland's Islands and Highlands Tour
A comprehensive tour of seven islands in
Scotland's Inner and Outer Hebrides plus time in the
Relax and enjoy a very
different pace of life in quaint little seaside towns such
as Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, which is just one of the
places we'll visit and stay in on our comprehensive tour of
Scotland's Hebrides Islands this June.
Enjoy 11 days of touring the islands (and some of the mainland
too) of Scotland, with visits to small uninhabited isles (Fingal's
Cave on Staffa) as well as to the largest of the islands
(Lewis/Harris and Skye) and some of the remotest (again, Lewis
We also include visits to the famously distinctive whisky
distilleries on Islay, to ancient mysterious stone circles,
castles, and in between coaching and ferry rides, we have time
for what is regarded as the world's finest railway journey on a
vintage restored steam train too.
Of course you can add anything extra you like before
and/or after the main tour activities, so you've everything you need for a
wonderful, varied and complete 2012 vacation.
Tour Dates (2012)
The tour starts on Monday 11
June at 12.30pm at the Glasgow Railway Station. We recommend you should arrive in Britain no
later than the previous
day, Sunday, 10 June.
If you're starting your
travels in the US, you'll probably take an overnight flight on
Saturday 9 June (or sooner), to arrive into Britain on Sunday
The tour ends on Thursday 21
June when we arrive first into Edinburgh and then
subsequently Glasgow in the afternoon. You can
then either return directly home or add your own arrangements as it suits
If you're traveling
immediately back to the US, you might choose to spend a night
either in your choice of Edinburgh or Glasgow or in the city
you'll be flying out of, on the Thursday night, and plan to fly
home on Friday 22 June. You'll
arrive back in the US at much the same time and on the same day
as when you leave Britain.
Large luxury coach for best
views while touring
and complete with onboard restroom for best comfort
Small group, to avoid the
crowded impersonal feeling - maximum size 24 - lots of room
and comfort for everyone on a 38 seater coach
Expert Scottish driver/guide plus
David Rowell ('The Travel Insider' himself) as dedicated tour leader
One night stay in Campbeltown
on the mainland
Two night stay in Bowmore on
the Isle of Islay
One night stay in Oban on the
Two night stay in Tobermory
on the Isle of Mull
One night stay in Fort
Augustus on the mainland
One night stay in Portree on
the Isle of Skye
Two night stay in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides
Breakfasts every morning
Feature dinners on the first
and last nights
Area touring every day
Eleven different ferry rides
through beautiful island vistas
Five different islands in the
Inner Hebrides and two different islands in the Outer
Ride on the Jacobite Steam
Train from Ft William to Mallaig
Tastings and Tours of two of
the famous Islay whisky distilleries plus visit for lunch at
Day tour to the holy Isle of
Iona and to Staffa, site of Fingal's Cave (made famous by
Visits to Eilean Donan,
Duart, Urquhart and
Visit to the Loch Ness Visitor
Visits to several stone
circles and other ancient mysterious structures
This tour gives you an opportunity to visit
all the major islands off the west coast of Scotland.
You'll visit seven different islands,
and enjoy eleven different ferry and boat rides plus two
steam train rides.
Island life is slower, more relaxed, and very different to Edinburgh and Glasgow. After this tour,
you'll have a much better understanding of the diversity of
Click here for the
detailed day by day itinerary.
Click here for a
diary written by one of the members of the 2010 tour
Because this tour is with a
small group, and because it has a substantial fixed cost (ie coach
and driver/guide), the cost
per person significantly varies based on the total number of people
Rather than choose a price
and either make an undue profit (or loss) depending on the number who participate, we're setting the price
on a variable scale, depending on the total number who sign up.
if the group size is 14 or fewer people
(Note - we had 24 people in 2010 and 14 in 2011 so hope to
exceed 14 in 2012!)
$2945 if the group size is 15 - 16
$2895 if the group size is 17 - 18
$2845 if the group size is 19
- 20 people
$2795 if the group size is 21
+ people (max group size 24)
Rates are per person, share
twin. You should plan for the
$2895 price, and hopefully enjoy a pleasant surprise if the
group size exceeds 14. We'll let you know as/when (if) the
group size grows to above 14 and the price per person falls.
A single supplement of $645
is available. We will also help to match together singles
if you'd like to share with a compatible fellow single traveler.
These prices reflect a 3% discount
A $500 per person
non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your places on
Tour does not include the
costs of travel between to and from the tour start and end
A Note about the Hotels
towns we are staying in do not have large five star hotels.
They have smaller hotels, and in some cases even a group as small
will be filling the entire hotel, or will need
to be split over two hotels in a town.
The hotels are not generic
faceless chain hotels. They are standard class
hotels, often full of unique individuality and character,
and are probably converted buildings rather than custom designed
as hotels to start with.
They are generally rated at three stars. But
they are the best that are sensibly available in the places we have
chosen, and while the rooms may be small, they are clean and
reasonably comfortable, and all rooms have their own private
The hotels are full of
character, and even the bad parts - such as they may be - will
hopefully add to
the island experiences.
We make these comments not
to apologize for bad hotels, because none of them are bad, but
simply to explain about where we'll be staying and what to
expect. I've stayed at nearly all of them myself and used
them on previous tours, and been
happy in all cases. If you, for example, look on TripAdvisor, you'll see that these hotels (and the ones we don't
use as well) tend to get a wild swing of reviews from five out
of five down to one out of five - we feel that the reason for
this is whether people have a realistic expectation and a
positive attitude or not.
For example, if you treat
the staff politely and in a friendly manner, they will be polite
and friendly back, but if you treat them rudely, they'll
probably be rude back to you! So our interpretation is
that the number of stars given by each reviewer is as much a
reflection on the reviewer as it is on the place stayed at.
Some (but not all) of the hotels have
upgraded rooms available for an extra price, and the Jacobite steam train
has first class carriages as well as standard class.
Upgraded rooms may be larger
than standard rooms, may have a higher standard of fittings and
furniture and amenities, sometimes have a bath as well as
shower, and may have better views.
We offer two upgrade options
- one is to upgrade from the standard hotel rooms to the next
category of rooms (and to first class on the train), and the
second upgrade is to upgrade, where available, up two categories
of rooms in the hotels (and to first class on the train).
To upgrade from standard to
the first level of superior category where available would be an
extra $250 per person (share twin)
To upgrade from standard to
the second level of superior category where available would be
an extra $400 per person (share twin).
What about the Air Fare?
You will save money and gain
flexible convenience if you arrange your own air travel.
These days airlines seldom give discounts to groups, and
sometimes even charge more, while also adding extra restrictions
to the tickets!
You can choose whichever
carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and
you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.
You can even cash in miles and fly on frequent flier awards.
We'll be pleased to answer
any questions you might have about arranging your air
transportation, of course.
Where in Britain Should I Fly
Most people will choose to
fly to London, because there are the most flights to London (either Gatwick or Heathrow airport is fine to choose).
It is a quick and very
pleasant 4.5 - 5 hour train journey from London to Glasgow and
from Edinburgh (or again Glasgow) back to London, with no need
to change trains on the way.
And, if you prefer - perhaps
because you can get a special low airfare, or maybe because
you're trying to cash in frequent flier miles - you can of
course fly to any other airport in Britain. Indeed, just
about all other airports are closer to Scotland than is London!
We'll help arrange trains so that you get to Glasgow by 12.30pm on
the Monday to join the group.
Joining and Leaving the Tour
Joining the tour is simple
straightforward - please be at the Glasgow Central
Railway station (note there are several railway stations in
Glasgow) by 12.30pm on Monday 11 June.
As for leaving the tour, you
can of course leave at any time and any place.
On the final day, once we
return to Ullapool (a remote place and not somewhere you'd
likely want to leave the group at!) you can get off the coach
anywhere on its route via Inverness (we stop at their main
railway station) and Pitlochry and down to
Edinburgh (we stop at the main Waverly Railway station) and on
to Glasgow (we stop at Glasgow Central station, the same place
we started the journey).
The two most convenient
places though are likely to be either Edinburgh or Glasgow, with
a third option possibly being Inverness (if you wanted to, eg, then collect a rental car and drive around some
more of the Scottish Highlands yourself).
How to Extend or Vary this Tour
There are many ways you can
extend or vary this tour.
You can spend more time
in Britain before the start of this tour, and/or anywhere else (eg
in Europe) too. We recommend that you arrive into
Britain (or anywhere else in Europe) a day or more before the Monday 13
June tour start, so as to give you a chance to unwind from the
flights and at least partially pre-adjust to the time zone
changes and jet lag.
During the tour, all of the
day touring is of course optional and you can substitute your
own activities if you prefer.
After the tour, you can
spend more time in Scotland, or travel on anywhere else in
Britain and/or Europe.
So, you have many choices
about adding extra time and sightseeing. We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as
possible, and will be pleased to help you with your pre or post
tour planning - please don't hesitate to ask.
Pre-Tour Night at Culcreuch
One very popular option in
2010 was spending Sunday night (10 June) at Culcreuch Castle, a
700+ year old castle about 30 miles north of Glasgow.
Let us know if you'd be
interested in doing this.
We recommend you should
consider travel insurance as prudent protection. Rather
than attempt to sell you some policy ourselves that may or may
not suit your needs, we recommend you go to
this insurance shopping site, which offers comparisons
between something like 100 different policies offered by 18
different insurers, giving you all the options you need.
information about travel insurance than you probably ever
thought you'd want to know, you can read our three part series
on the subject.
Need More Information?
If you've a question or need
more clarification, go ahead and ask. Click for Live
Chat Help (if we're online) or
send us an email, or feel free to call us at (206)337-2317.
Tour Terms and Conditions
standard terms and conditions
apply to this tour.
In addition, please note
these extra terms :
1. Deposit is
required within seven days of your participation being
confirmed. Full payment
is due on or before 19 March 2012.
2. US citizens require a
current passport that will not expire for at least six months
after the date of their planned return back to the US in order
to be admitted to Britain. They do not require a British
visa. Citizens of other countries should check with the
airline that will transport them to Britain to determine what
passport and visa requirements may apply.
3. Tour price is
subject to change prior to full payment being received and is based on a
UK/US exchange rate in the wholesale range between 1.53 and
1.58 and estimates of 2012 prices for hotels, ferries, etc in
Scotland. If the exchange rate varies outside of this rate
prior to final payment being received, and if our estimates need
to be updated for actual prices, the tour price will be
adjusted (either up or down - in 2010 it was reduced, in 2011 it
stayed the same) to reflect the change in the cost
of tour components. If the price of the tour increases by
more than 10%, participants will be offered a no cost, no penalty
opportunity to cancel and receive a full refund of all monies
paid. Once final payment has been received, your price is
4. Triple share
rates may be available. Ask for a quote if this is
plenty of room in the coach's luggage bays for as much luggage
as you choose to bring. But most hotels will not provide
porterage and some may have you on an upper floor with no
elevator, so you'll find it easier if you try and limit
yourself to one main suitcase and one smaller item per person.
The Travel Insider is
licensed by the State of Washington as a seller of travel -
registration number 602 036 247.
22 Jun 2011, last update
03 Jan 2012