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Scottish Pride: The Passion, the People and the Vote for Independence

Program Number: 21255RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/22/2014 - 10/1/2014;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Scotland, UK:Scotland
Price starting at: $2,896.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 20; 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

In the peaty ground outside the village of Balquhiderock in June of 1314, the fate of a nation would turn. Outnumbered by the army of King Edward II, the men of King Robert the Bruce fought one of the greatest pitched battles in history, routing the professional soldiers before them and ultimately gaining freedom for Scotland. Seven hundred years after the Battle of Bannockburn, with the wind of that famous victory behind them, the current Scottish government will hold a referendum to become an independent Scottish state once again. Come to the front lines of this historic modern struggle, visit the most famous landmarks of Scottish history, meet with politicians on both sides of the debate and feel a nation’s passion for freedom, patriotism, heroism and triumph against the odds.


• Go behind the scenes at the Scottish Parliament and join the independence debate with Scottish parliamentarians on either side of the “Yes-No” vote.
• Expert speakers from politics, history, ancestral research and clans take an in-depth look at the birth, struggle and future of this proud nation.
• On its 700th anniversary, join an expert at the site and state-of-the-art heritage center on the Battle of Bannockburn.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to 2 miles a day.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Edinburgh, 5 nights; coach to Dingwall, 1 night; coach to Edinburgh, 2 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.
1 night
Arrival Edinburgh
5 nights
Coach to Dingwall
1 night
Coach to Edinburgh
2 nights

Your first foray into Scottish history begins at arguably its most famous landmark, Edinburgh Castle. Perched atop its great rock, learn how the castle’s story shaped a nation. Journey outside Edinburgh to the Trossachs-marking, the spot where the Lowlands meets the Highlands, where the churchyard containing Rob Roy’s grave can be found. Take a private, expert-led exploration of Scotland’s Peoples Centre and the National Records Office. Meet a clan chief to learn of the clan system’s importance to the brave history of Scotland. At the National Records Office, Alistair Moffat discusses the DNA Project, which reports on the ways British DNA and Scottish DNA are changing perceptions of their shared history. Learn the story of the turning point in the history of both Scotland and England at the state-of-the-art new visitor center at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, opening to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Discover the magnificently situated ruins of Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness. Go behind the scenes at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, where you’ll have a question-and-answer session with two parliamentary candidates for opposing sides of the independence debate. Get a taste of Scottish culture at a theater performance at one of Edinburgh's fine theaters and at a tasting of the “water of life” at the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre.


The lochs and highlands of Scotland have long been a source of inspiration for folklore, poetry and song — influencing movements from the Romanticism of Robert Burns to the Kailyard school of J.M. Barrie. Through the years, Scotland has maintained a strong pride in the arts and boasts notable museums, theaters and events including the Edinburgh International Festival, an annual celebration of arts from around the world.

Edinburgh: Three-star centrally located hotel. Dingwall: 12th-century castle immaculately restored.
Meals and Lodgings
   King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
  Edinburgh., UK:Scotland 4 nights
   Tulloch Castle
  Dingwall, UK:Scotland 1 night
   King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
  Edinburgh., UK:Scotland 2 nights
 King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Located just off Princes Street a short walk from major attractions.
  Contact info: 107 Leith Street.
Edinburgh.,  EH1 3SW. UK:Scotland
phone: +44 870 333 9153.
web: www.thistle
  Room amenities: Satellite television, radio, direct dial telephone, tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer. High speed internet access.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bars, BT Openzone wireless internet.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBC For additional pre and post program accommodations, please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at (800) 241-1404 or via email to
  Check in time: 2:00 PM
  Additional nights after: TBC For additional pre and post program accommodations, please contact Road Scholar Travel Services at (800) 241-1404 or via email to
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Tulloch Castle
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Tulloch Castle dates from the 12th Century, when first the Bains and later the Clan Davidson laid claim to its lands. When you arrive, you will be met with Tulloch’s countless period features including the 250-year old panelled Great Hall. As you enter the magnificent hallways you will pass by painstakingly restored original fireplaces and ceilings.
  Contact info: Tulloch Castle Drive
Ross-Shire,  IV15 9ND UK:Scotland
phone: +44 8444 146586
  Room amenities: Direct dial telephone, TV, tea and coffee making facilities.
  Facility amenities: Turrets Restaurant, bar, lounge. Grounds. WiFi available in the entire hotel at supplemental cost.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
A light lunch is served in the hotel at lunchtime.Welcome meeting in the hotel at 5:00pm. You will be staying at King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh. that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast which ends at 10:00am. Check out is by 11:00am. Some departures may leave before breakfast. You will be staying at King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh. the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Participant Information Form completed on-line or by hard copy in the preparatory materials.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Trains and buses available.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Edinburgh.
  Nearest city or town:  Edinburgh.
  Nearest airport:  Edinburgh.
  Transportation to site: The airport is about eight miles (12km) west of the city centre. We advise taking the Airlink 100. This express bus service runs from the airport to Waverley Bridge (near Princes Street and the main rail and bus stations). It runs every 10 minutes and takes 25 minutes to Waverley Bridge. A single in 2013 was GBP3.50.
  From End of Program
  Location: Edinburgh.
  Transportation from site: Reverse first location directions.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1:
(Monday, September 22)
 In Transit Overnight: Overnight flight from North America.

Day 2: Arrival day.
(Tuesday, September 23)
 Arrive To: Edinburgh.
 Morning: Transfers from Edinburgh Airport to the hotel.
 Lunch: A light lunch is served in the hotel.
 Afternoon: Free to check in and settle into your room. Welcome meeting with your group leader at 5:00pm in the hotel.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Edinburgh's Troubled History. Edinburgh Castle and the medieval Old Town.
(Wednesday, September 24)
 Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: An expert historian on Scotland lectures on " A Troubled History" and "Edinburgh's Past."
 Lunch: In the hotel.
 Afternoon: Field trip to Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh's Medieval Old Town. Edinburgh Castle dominates Scotland's capital city from its great rock. Its story has helped shape the nation's story. Battles and sieges were fought over it, royalty lived and died within its walls, and countless generations have been and inspired by it. The castle has sheltered many Scottish monarchs. They include Queen Margaret (later St Margaret), who died here in 1093, and Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566. Her great-great-great grandson Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - captured Edinburgh but was unable to take the castle during the 1745-6 Jacobite Rising. In 1996, the Stone of Destiny, on which kings were enthroned for centuries, was returned to Scotland. It is now displayed in the Crown Room. The Old Town has preserved its medieval plan and many Reformation-era buildings. One end is closed by the castle and the main artery The High Street (or the Royal Mile) leads away from it; minor streets (called closes or wynds) bud off the main spine in a herringbone pattern. Large squares mark the location of markets or surround major public buildings such as St Giles Cathedral and the Law Courts.
 Dinner: Excluded.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: The Trossachs and Clan MacLaren.
(Thursday, September 25)
 Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Travel outside the city to the Trossachs-marking the spot where the Lowlands meets the Highlands. To the north of Callander lies the more tranquil hamlet of Balquhidder, where the churchyard containing Rob Roy’s grave can be found, etched with the stirring epitaph “MacGregor Despite Them”. Robert the Bruce defied Edward I of England, and found himself on the run through these glens. He rallied the remnants of his army and won back Scottish independance at Bannockburn in 1314. There is a Bruce Cave, above Loch Voil at Craigruie in Balquhidder glen where he reputedly hid. Balquhidder Glen is one of the best known homes of the Clan MacLaren. They had probably been there since the 9th century. In the graveyard of the church, and just south of the wall of the older parish church stands the 'MacLaren Stone', memorial to John MacLaurin who died in 1788. The stone bears not only the memorial inscription, but also a history of the Clan MacLaren. Walk up the path behind the churches to the 'Clan MacLaren meeting place' at ' Creag an Tuirc' - a vantage point with fabulous views down the glen. (10-15 mins walk). They take their name from Abbot Labhran of Auchtoomore. Their clan badge is a laurel, "labhras" in Gaelic. The clan's traditional meeting place is Creag an Tuirc, The Boar’s rock The MacLaren chief, Donald MacLaren, owns Kirkton Farm. Hear his tales of the clans and their struggles. He may pipe you in. Donald was named Chief in 1966. He is in the Diplomatic Service having served in Berlin, Moscow, Havana and Caracas. He was also the British Ambassador to the Republic of Georgia from 2004-2007.
 Lunch: Taken out.
 Afternoon: Return to Edinburgh for free time.
 Dinner: Excluded.
 Evening: Take a private tour of Scotlands Peoples Centre and the National Records Office. A speaker from the NRO such as Tristram Clake (TBC) who wrote the official guide to the records in Scotlands People Centre and the National Records of Scotland --indispensable for family historians, historians and biographers. Talk on Ancestral Research.
Accommodations: King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: National Records Office and the DNA Scotland project.
(Friday, September 26)
 Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Talk at the National Records Office by Alistair Moffat on the DNA Project in which he talks on the Project's work, results and reports on the ways in which BritainsDNA and ScotlandsDNA are changing perceptions of our shared history. Alistair Moffat-- is an award winning Writer, Journalist and former Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Director of Programmes at Scottish Television. He is the founder and Director of Borders Book Festival and Lennoxlove Book Festival and is Rector of the University of St Andrews. He has recently launched Britain's DNA, Scotland's DNA, Ireland's DNA and Yorkshire's DNA and is Co-Chairman of The Great Tapestry of Scotland and a Director of Book Nation.
 Lunch: Excluded.
 Afternoon: At leisure.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: Theatre performance at one of Edinburgh's fine theatres such as The Traverse.
Accommodations: King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: The Battle of Bannockburn.
(Saturday, September 27)
 Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Guided field trip "The Birth of a Nation" to Bannockburn and Killiecrankie. On the battlefield beside the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, in June 1314, King Robert the Bruce routed the forces of King Edward II to win freedom for the Scots from English domination. Explore the state of the art new Visitor Centre at the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, opening to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and the year of Homecoming 2014. Bannockburn is the battlefield site where the fate of Scotland as a nation would turn. Here, on 23 and 24 June 1314, Robert the Bruce gathered his men to take on the professional army of King Edward II of England. Despite facing a greater number of troops, Bruce chose his ground wisely and trained his men to use it to their best advantage. The result was a rout of King Edward’s forces and a victory that would ultimately mean freedom for Scotland from the threat of oppressive English rule. The Battle of Bannockburn has become one of the greatest and most important pitched battles ever fought in the British Isles. A turning point in the history of both Scotland and England, the battle had very significant medium and long-term effects. Bannockburn was the key battle in what are now known as the Scottish Wars of Independence: battles fought by the Scots against successive acquisitive English kings and between rival claimants for the kingship of Scotland. Bannockburn is arguably the most famous battle to be fought and won by the Scots in Scotland, but it is widely acknowledged to be more than that— it continues to conjure up ideas of freedom, independence, patriotism, heroism, perseverance, and triumph against overwhelming odds. Bannockburn has inspired many works of art and literature, such as Robert Burns’s ‘Scots Wha Hae’ or the more recent ‘Flower of Scotland’ by Roy Williamson of the Corries.
 Lunch: Lunch out in a cafe such as the Bannockburn cafe.
 Afternoon: The field trip continues to Killiecrankie. Killiecrankie is a famous wooded gorge, where the Battle of Killiecrankie took place in 1689. At the visitor centre you can find out about the events in 1689, where the first of three major Jacobite uprisings took place. See where an English solider is said to have escaped from Highland rebels by making a death-defying leap across the gorge at Soldier’s Leap. The centre features interactive displays, historic weapons and seasonal information. Government troops were routed by Jacobite forces led by John Graham of Claverhouse, 'Bonnie Dundee'. Both sides suffered heavy losses and Dundee himself was killed. The Highlanders were unable to capitalise on their success, following the loss of their leader, and were decisively defeated at Dunkeld three weeks later.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure. You will be able to stow your suitcases with the concierge at the hotel so pack your overnight holdall to take to Dingwall and ensure you take medications with you.
Accommodations: King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: The Struggle of a Nation. Urquart Castle.
(Sunday, September 28)
 Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: The topic for today is "The Struggle of a Nation" as we travel north to Dingwall via Fort William, the largest town in the Highlands, for free time.
 Lunch: Taken out in or near Fort William.
 Afternoon: The field tip continues to the ruins of Urquart Castle. The magnificently situated Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness, remains an impressive stronghold despite its ruinous state. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart’s remains include a tower house that commands splendid views of the famous loch and Great Glen. Urquhart witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress and its history from the 13th to 17th centuries was particularly bloody. Following Edward I’s invasion, it fell into English hands and was then reclaimed and lost again. In the 14th century, it figured prominently in the Scots’ struggle for independence and came under the control of Robert the Bruce after he became King of Scots. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle and glen were frequently raided from the west by the ambitious MacDonald Lords of the Isles. The castle’s history and that of the noble families – Durward, MacDonald and Grant – who held it, is told in the exhibition and audio-visual display in the new visitor centre. The Centre features an outstanding array of medieval artefacts found at the castle. Continue on to the former royal burgh of Dingwall. Check in at the hotel.
 Dinner: In the Turrets Restaurant at Tulloch Castle.
 Evening: Relax with a walk in the grounds or take a drink in the Green Lady Bar after your journey today.
Accommodations: Tulloch Castle
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Culloden and Fort George.
(Monday, September 29)
 Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Travel back to Edinburgh via the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite Rising of 1745. The Hanoverian victory at Culloden decisively halted the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne; Charles Stuart never mounted any further attempts to challenge Hanoverian power in Great Britain. The conflict was the last pitched battle fought on British soil. Part of a wider European religious and political conflict, the short but bloody fight changed the course of history. Today the causes and consequences of the Forty-Five are still hotly debated. Since the mid-nineteenth century the battlefield has been a place of pilgrimage for people from Scotland and throughout the world. Continue on to Fort George. Following the 1746 defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie, George II created the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest. The result, Fort George, is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe. Its garrison buildings, artillery defences bristling with cannon, and superb collection of arms – including bayoneted muskets, pikes, swords and ammunition pouches – provide a fascinating insight into 18th century military life.
 Dinner: In the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Politics and the Scottish Parliament. The 2014 Referendum on Independence.
(Tuesday, September 30)
 Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Bring history up to date with a guided field trip to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. This usually includes a visit to the Debating Chamber, the Garden Lobby and a Committee Room. They include detailed information about the work, history and procedures of the Scottish Parliament. The tour also includes information about the design and architecture of the building. The field trip is followed with a talk on "Scotland's Future" and a question and answer session with two parliamentary candidates for opposing sides of the Independence debate. First Minister Alex Salmond (SNP) announced to Parliament the introduction of the Scottish Independent Referendum Bill to be held 18 September 2014. Depending on commitments we hope to hear from Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats Member for Mid Scotland and Fife (No Vote and part of Better Together group) and Alison Johnstone of the Scottish Green Party for Lothian ( Yes Vote).
 Lunch: Included at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Field trip to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. By the time Edinburgh became the capital of Scotland in the 15th century, kings had chosen to reside at Holyrood Abbey, surrounded by parkland, rather than at the more exposed Edinburgh Castle. Eventually the royal lodgings came to eclipse those of the Abbey in both size and importance. James IV (r.1488-1513) frequently stayed at Holyroodhouse, and it was he who originally decided to convert the royal lodgings into a Palace. One of the most famous residents of the Palace of Holyroodhouse is undoubtedly Mary, Queen of Scots (r.1542-67). The daughter of James V, Mary came to live at Holyroodhouse in 1561. She married both of her Scottish husbands at the Palace: Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, in 1565 in the chapel, and James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, in 1567 in the Great Hall. The later Stuart kings showed little interest in Holyroodhouse, although Prince Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, brought the Palace to life again briefly in 1745. In an attempt to claim the throne of Great Britain for his father, James Francis Edward, son of James VII and II, he seized Edinburgh and set up court at the Palace. Holyroodhouse became the symbolic residence of the Stuart Prince in his Scottish capital. He conducted his official business in the Palace and lunched in public view. Queen Victoria (r.1837-1901) had a great deal of affection for Holyroodhouse, ever since her first visit there in 1850. The frequent visits she made over a long period helped to reinstate the Palace as Scotland’s premier royal residence. The Queen is in residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse during Holyrood week, which usually takes place from the end of June to the beginning of July. After free time in the Royal Mile take a tour of the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre. Take a whisky barrel ride through whisky production, take a wee dram and learn of whisky aromas and single malts.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner in the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: King James (formerlyThistle) Edinburgh.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Departure Day.
(Wednesday, October 1)
 Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast in the hotel.
 Morning: Transfers to Edinburgh Airport for departure flights to North America.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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