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The Island Explorer Tour

8 Day Budget Tour of Scotland from £249 per person

Day One Edinburgh - Carbisdale Castle*
Heading north from Edinburgh, we drive to the world famous Highlands and Islands of Scotland! We pass through Perthshire, Dunkeld and Birnam Wood, infamous for Macbeth's battle in 1054. Lunch is in the village of Kingussie made famous by the ' Monarch of the Glen' TV show. Then it's off to Culloden Battlefield, the site of the last battle fought on British soil in 1746 and the end of the centuries old Highland way of life. We then head to the famous Loch Ness for a wee bit of monster spotting. The day ends in the haunted Highland castle of Carbisdale set deep in the forest. *n.b. Blackout dates for Carbisdale Castle may apply.

Day Two Carbisdale Castle - Stromness

We head up through the vast landscape of Sutherland and Caithness via glens cleared of people due to the Battle of Culloden and on to John 'o' Groats, Britain's most north westerly point. We then catch the ferry to the Islands of Orkney home to more archaelogical ruins in any one area than anywhere else in Europe! We visit The Tomb of the Eagles and the Italian Chapel and spend the night in the island's capital, Kirkwall. The Orkneys have only been a part of Scotland since 1490 and the islands still retain a very distinctive Scandinavian influence.

Day Three Stromness - Kirkwall

We devote an entire day to exploring these amazing islands and hearing about the naval battle of Scapa flow and a visit to Kirkwall Cathedral, burial place of Viking Kings and warriors. The highlight of the day is Skara Brae, dating from the late Neolithic period and inhabited between 3200 BC and 2200 BC. This incredible stone village is made up of eight dwellings, some still have the original furniture in them, linked together by a series of low alleyways and is a marvel of ancient building techniques. We also dance round the magnificent standing stones at the Ring of Broga.

Day Four Kirkwall - Ullapool

We say farewell to the islands and head to Thurso sailing past the 'Old Man of Hoy' a huge rock pillar standing alone in the sea, hopefully seeing some whales and dolphins on the way across. Then we drive along the North coast passing sandy beaches and stop for lunch in the lovely village of Tongue. We then travel down the North West coast to the fishing village of Ullapool, passing bleak landscapes and dramatic mountain scenery. Ullapool was once a Viking stopover and is now a bustling ferry port.

Day Five Ullapool - Stornoway

We catch the early ferry to Europe's most westerly island, Lewis, where we spend the night. Today we visit the stunning Callanish Standing Stones said to be neolithic in age and dating back to more than 5000 years ago. A ring of large stones about 12 metres in diameter encloses a huge monolith at its centre. In the centre of the ring are the remains of a chambered cairn. A lot less free of tourists than Stonehenge, these are said to be some of the most impressive and inspiring of ancient stones in Britain. These Hebridean islands are predominantly Gaelic speaking and have an unbroken culture heading back thousands of years. Tonight is your chance to hear traditional music and haunting Gaelic tunes.

Day Six Stornoway - Tarbert
Today we take the road south to the very different Island of Harris, famous for its gorgeous beaches [seriously], magnificent mountains and crofting culture. These islands are home to the Clan MacLeod and they have lived there for over 1200 years. We will tell you all about the battles with the Vikings and clan rivalry between the MacLeods and MacDonalds. We also visit Rodel church built by the warrior chief Alistair 'Crotach' MacLeod and see the pagan fertility symbol - a Shiela-nan-Gig. On a clear day we should see the islands of St. Kilda the last of the Scottish islands to be cleared of people..

Day Seven Tarbert - Kyleakin

We leave the MacLeod homeland and head to the 'winged island', the Isle of Skye, home of the Clan MacDonald. We spend the whole day exploring this magical island and if we are lucky may see a faerie or two or perhaps a Selkie! Ruined castles, awesome scenery, Viking fortresses, and home to legendary clans, immersed in Celtic myths and legends; Skye is quite simply unmissable! Tonight it's party time in the wee fishing village of Kyleakin - and after a few wee whiskies its goodbye to island culture! Slainte Mhath!

Day Eight Kyleakin - Edinburgh
We cross over to the mainland and travel through the stunning glens of the west coast - Shiel, Cluanie and Garry before passing Fort William and Ben Nevis - Britain's highest mountain. See where Braveheart was filmed and then it's off to 'The Weeping Glen', Glencoe, where we hear about the massacre of the MacDonalds. We finish the tour at the town of Stirling and the Wallace Monument where the true story of Braveheart is told, before we return to the capital city of Edinburgh!

What's Included and what's extra -
This tour is all about CHOICE and using your hard earned cash the way YOU choose. It's your trip not ours, so if you want to spend your budget in a different way to the next guy then that's cool with us - is that not what traveling is all about? This way, if you don't want to visit an attraction, you haven't paid for it - great! Accommodation is GUARANTEED on all our tours in great backpacker hostels (budget £12 - 15 per night) - simply pay as you go! If you wish to treat yourself to a twin/double room let us know prior to the day of departure and we will do our best to assist you with your request. (Please be aware, not all stops have these options and we cannot always guarantee availability). All have self-catering kitchens, most have laundry facilities and will give you a real British welcome!

Saturdays from central Edinburgh

from £249 (GBP) per person

Please note that this tour is only available to passengers aged between 18 - 35 years of age.

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