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Scotland's Highlands and Islands

Scotland's Highlands and Islands

At a glance

Duration: 9 Days, 8 Nights

Coverage: Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

From: $7,570

Season: June - August

Activities: Culture, History, Photography, Zodiacs

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Lindblad Expeditions in partnership with National Geographic

Selected as a National Geographic Traveler magazine "Tour of a Lifetime" for its authenticity, immersion, sustainability, and connection, our Highlands and Islands expedition offers the most encompassing way to explore Scotland. The 48-guest Lord of the Glens is the only ship that allows you to:

  • Sail through the heart of Scotland via the Caledonian Canal that bisects the country, plus explore remote and beautiful islands of the Inner Hebrides
  • Kayak Loch Ness, see the storied battlefield of Culloden, beautiful Glenfinnan, the historic Isle of Iona, and the isles of Mull, Eigg, and Skye
  • Travel to hauntingly beautiful moorlands, grand castles, sacred abbeys, and sweeping mountains.

The only expedition of its kind, you’ll explore Scotland as few people have on an enchanting Highland tour of Scotland. Purpose-built for these waters, our gracious ship, Lord of the Glens is able to fit through narrow canals and stepped locks in the heart of the country and also navigate among the islands and their small communities along the coast. The result is a panoramic voyage, a rare expedition that offers an immersive, in-depth experience at a comfortable pace.

You’ll walk among ancient stone monuments, weave your way through ruins of fantastic castles, and stroll through a sacred abbey. Learn the legacy of 1,300-year-old clans and visit the cemetery of Scottish monarchs. Experience the charm of modern Scotland through live music on board and a special visit to the tiny Isle of Eigg, home to about 90 souls.

Explore under the sure guidance of a veteran expedition leader, a historian, and a naturalist. Their knowledge and passion for Scotland is the key to your once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Each Scottish Highlands tour aboard Lord of the Glens is crafted to offer a holistic, panoramic experience of the sweep of Scottish history and the beauty of its moorlands and islands. Flexibility is the hallmark of a Lindblad-National Geographic expedition, and our daily itineraries will sometimes adjust to take advantage of unique opportunities.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

Day 1 - Depart for Inverness, Scotland

Day 2 - Inverness

Arrive in Inverness and embark Lord of the Glens. Tonight, enjoy a reception and dinner on board, with a special after-dinner performance in the lounge by a local troupe of junior Scottish dancers. (D)

Day 3 - Culloden / Clava Cairns / Loch Ness

This morning visit Culloden, the infamous battlefield where “Bonnie” Prince Charlie’s Jacobite forces were defeated on April 16, 1746. The battle was brief but bloody and decisive, with as many as 2,000 Jacobites killed or wounded. It had drastic consequences for the Highlands of Scotland, and was followed by the infamous Highland Clearances that saw the mass expulsion of Catholic clansmen from their homes and in many cases from their country. Our visit includes both the battlefield and the award-winning visitor center, the National Trust for Scotland’s flagship site. We’ll then continue to the evocative 4,000-year-old burial chambers and standing stones of Clava Cairns, dating from the early Bronze Age. The impressive structures of this sacred site were developed for over a thousand years.

We set sail this afternoon on the Caledonian Canal, built between 1803 and 1822 to connect the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean along the slip-fault of the Great Glen. This afternoon we sail across Loch Ness, the largest body of fresh water in Britain, deeper than any part of the North Sea. Midway across the loch we cruise past the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle, a Norman castle on an Iron Age site, where we learn about the legendary Loch Ness Monster, which is said to inhabit the loch in this vicinity. Moor this evening at Fort Augustus, with a chance to kayak in Loch Ness itself in the late afternoon or take an exploratory hike through the surrounding countryside. An on-board whisky tasting rounds off the day. (B,L,D)

Day 4 - Laggan Locks / Banavie / Glenfinnan

Ascend an impressive flight of locks that runs through the heart of Fort Augustus. Seeing the process of getting the ship through the locks is always exciting, and Lord of the Glens is purpose-built to fit in the locks’ narrow confines. The ship is always an object of curiosity among local residents and other visitors as we make our transit. Then glide along the tree-lined canal known as Laggan Avenue. Depart Laggan Locks and sail across picturesque Lochs Oich and Lochy. Then continue along the canal to the village of Banavie, nestled in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Great Britain’s highest mountain. In the afternoon we travel to beautiful Glenfinnan, along Loch Sheil and surrounded by mountains, where “Bonnie” Prince Charlie first raised the Jacobite standard on mainland Britain in 1745. There are fine walking options here, with dramatic views of the Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct on the West Highland Railway line, made famous more recently in the Harry Potter movies—a late Victorian construction with 21 arches. (B,L,D)

Day 5 - Loch Linnhe / Oban

Lord of the Glens descends Neptune’s Staircase, a set of eight interconnected locks dropping 64 feet to the sea lock at Corpach. We sail out into Loch Aber and continue through Loch Linnhe to the bustling town of Oban, set on a picturesque bay on the Firth of Lorn. In the afternoon, we’ll have time to explore the town on foot and to visit its famous whisky distillery, built in 1799 and still occupying its original premises. If you wish, walk all the way up to McCaig’s Tower, a monument on a hill overlooking the town and bay that was inspired by the Roman Colosseum. It’s a great vantage point, with fine views of the town and the waterfront. (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Sound of Mull / Duart Castle / Iona / Tobermory

This morning we sail across the Sound of Mull, at the edge of the Atlantic, to Craignure on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. Drive across Mull, then cross to Iona by ferry to explore this picturesque island, which is of vital historic importance. St. Columba arrived here in 563 with twelve followers. They built a church and began the process of converting the peoples of the area to Christianity. Iona became famous as a place of learning and as a pilgrimage site. We’ll visit the medieval abbey ruins and the rebuilt abbey church, and learn about the ecumenical movement based here since the 1930s. Stroll through St. Oran’s Chapel and the royal graveyard, burial site of generations of Scottish kings (including Macbeth), the Lords of the Isles, and High Kings of Norway. We’ll have a home-cooked lunch in the St. Columba Hotel.

On the way back to Craignure, we visit photogenic Duart Castle, the ancestral home of Clan Maclean—an impressive fortress (with a dungeon!) with dramatic views over the Sound of Mull. It was built in the 13th century and is still lived in by the Maclean family. We continue aboard Lord of the Glens to the picturesque town of Tobermory, with the whole evening free to explore this colorful village. Tobermory was established in 1788 and is famous for the brightly painted houses that line its waterfront, located at the bottom of a cliff face. Tobermory is also home to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, and one of their representatives will come aboard to give a presentation on their remarkable work in these waters. (B,L,D)

Day 7 - Tobermory / Isle of Eigg or Isle of Rum / Inverie

This morning, explore Tobermory’s lively quayside. Then we sail north to the Small Isles to land on Eigg, Rum, or even outermost Canna, depending on weather conditions. The islands have small populations of fewer than one hundred souls, but teem with wildlife. Look for marine animals and birdlife, including Atlantic seals, minke and humpback whales, dolphins, basking sharks and harbour porpoises and one of the largest colonies of Manx shearwaters in northern Europe. If we visit Eigg, we’ll have chances to walk around the island, which is dominated by the imposing crag of An Sgurr, and talk with the local residents. If we visit Rum, we’ll visit fanciful Kinloch Castle, completed in 1900 as the home of Sir George Bullough, who had purchased the island with money he had earned as a textile magnate. The castle is now managed by Scottish National Heritage. If conditions permit, it may be possible to visit distant Canna, the outermost of the Small Isles, which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

We then sail to the tiny village of Inverie, where you can have a drink at the Old Forge, the most remote pub in the British Isles (there is no road to Inverie, which can only be reached by sea or after a 17-mile hike). The pub is a convivial place, where you can have a chat with Inverie’s residents over a pint of local ale. (B,L,D)

Day 8 - Isle of Skye

We sail from Inverie this morning, and spend the day on the Isle of Skye. At the Museum of the Isles, trace the legacy of the 1,300-year-old Clan Donald, the Lords of the Isles, who once ruled the west coast of Scotland. See the ruins of Armadale Castle, ancestral home of the MacDonalds, and take a walk through the beautiful woodlands and gardens. Then sail for Kyle of Lochalsh, passing through the dramatic narrow sound between Skye and the mainland, with its tidal races and currents.

Afternoon options include a guided walk in the Cuillin Hills on Skye (weather permitting), amid some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. The Cuillin Hills are much loved by Scots as having some of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere, and some of the finest hiking. Alternatively, if you prefer not to hike you can explore Eilean Donan Castle and the charming village of Plockton on the mainland. The small 13th-century castle of Eilean Donan sits on a tidal island at the confluence of three lochs, and is connected by a short bridge to the mainland. A Jacobite stronghold, it was destroyed by government forces in 1719 but restored in the early in the twentieth century in Arts and Crafts style. The charming planned fishing village of Plockton has an attractive waterfront with exuberant gardens that speak eloquently of the temperate influence of the warm North Atlantic drift in these high latitudes. It’s an enjoyable place for photography or just for an afternoon stroll.

Celebrate your Scottish voyage at a farewell dinner on board, with traditional Scottish musicians to entertain us after dinner in the lounge. (B,L,D)

Day 9 - Kyle of Lochalsh / Inverness / Depart

Disembark Lord of the Glens in Kyle of Lochalsh and drive to Inverness for homeward-bound flights. (B)

Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.

Dates & Rates

Dates Ships 1 2 1S 2S
Jun 18, 2017 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Jun 25, 2017 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Jul 16, 2017 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Jul 23, 2017 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Jul 30, 2017 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Aug 6, 2017 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Aug 13, 2017 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Aug 20, 2017 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Jun 10, 2018 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Jun 17, 2018 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Jul 22, 2018 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Jul 29, 2018 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Aug 5, 2018 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Aug 12, 2018 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Aug 19, 2018 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960
Aug 26, 2018 Lord of the Glens $7,570 $8,640 $11,360 $12,960

*Reverse itinerary
† Photo Cruise

Map

Scotland's Highlands and Islands

Ships

Lord of the Glens

Lord of the GlensThe moment you step aboard the 48-guest Lord of the Glens you are surrounded by the rich mahogany finishes and touches of teak and brass. The ship is magnificently appointed with cozy overstuffed furnishings in its lounges and quiet corners—it brings to mind a stately country manor rather than a five-star ship. View ship details...