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Scotland

In the Heart of the Scottish Highlands

Program No. 20321RJ
Discover what makes the Scottish Highlands one of Europe’s most unique natural wonders, as you learn the history of ancient lochs, clan lands, castles and glens.
Length
13 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
4,649
Flights start at
1,000

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 13 - Apr 25, 2023
Starting at
4,649
Apr 27 - May 9, 2023
Starting at
4,649
May 11 - May 23, 2023
Starting at
4,749
May 25 - Jun 6, 2023
Starting at
4,749
Jun 8 - Jun 20, 2023
Starting at
4,849
Jun 22 - Jul 4, 2023
Starting at
4,849
Jul 6 - Jul 18, 2023
Starting at
4,949
Jul 20 - Aug 1, 2023
Starting at
5,049
Aug 3 - Aug 15, 2023
Starting at
5,149
Aug 24 - Sep 5, 2023
Starting at
5,149
Sep 7 - Sep 19, 2023
Starting at
5,049
Sep 14 - Sep 26, 2023
Starting at
4,949
Sep 28 - Oct 10, 2023
Starting at
4,849
Oct 5 - Oct 17, 2023
Starting at
4,649
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 13 - Apr 25, 2023
Starting at
5,559
Apr 27 - May 9, 2023
Starting at
5,559
May 11 - May 23, 2023
Starting at
5,769
May 25 - Jun 6, 2023
Starting at
5,769
Jun 8 - Jun 20, 2023
Starting at
5,849
Jun 22 - Jul 4, 2023
Starting at
5,849
Jul 6 - Jul 18, 2023
Starting at
6,029
Jul 20 - Aug 1, 2023
Starting at
6,129
Aug 3 - Aug 15, 2023
Starting at
6,279
Aug 24 - Sep 5, 2023
Starting at
6,279
Sep 7 - Sep 19, 2023
Starting at
6,129
Sep 14 - Sep 26, 2023
Starting at
6,029
Sep 28 - Oct 10, 2023
Starting at
5,849
Oct 5 - Oct 17, 2023
Starting at
5,559

At a Glance

Legend blends with history in the Scottish Highlands, where soaring peaks, low-lying glens and famous lochs set a stage for discovery. Experience this unforgettable region as you venture to some of its most noted locations, including Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Glen Affric and the misty Isle of Skye.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Light walking of up to two miles a day; some uneven terrain and stairs at historic sites.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Join historians as they offer a view into Highland Scotland’s ancient history, the downfall of Gaelic clans, the Highland Clearances and New World emigration.
  • Discover the castles, clan lands and romance of the famous Isle of Skye.
  • Step back in time at Stirling Castle, one of the largest and most historically important castles in Scotland.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
. The Scottish Nation: 1700-2000
by T.M.Devine
The Scottish Nation examines the social, political, religious and economic factors that have shaped modern Scotland. Drawing on the latest research, Devine places Scotland firmly within an international context and provides a key focus for the ongoing debate regarding Scotland's future. This new edition brings the reader up-to-date with Scotland's recent history, from the high politics of the devolved parliament to the everyday effects of huge and growing levels of social inequality.
The Highlands (Exploring Scotland's Heritage
by Joanna Close- Brooks
Glencoe
by John Prebble
Scottish Highlanders-A People and their Place
by Jim Hunter
Concise History of Scotland
by Sir Fitzroy Maclean
Scotland's Mountains: A Lanscape Photographer's View
by Joe Cornish
Scotland: The Story of a Nation
by Magnus Magnusson
Castle and Tower Houses of the Scottish Clans
by Stuart Reid
The Highland Clearances
by John Prebble
Century of the Scottish People
by T.C.Smout
A new cover reprint of the second volume of T. C. Smout’s magnificent – and indispensable – account of the Scottish people, from 1830–1950. ‘Professor Smout’s “History of the Scottish People 1560–1830” was hailed as a classic piece of social history. If you had time to read only one book on Scotland, this was it…Unfortunately, you now have to read two…“A Century of the Scottish People” is as satisfying and enlightening as its predecessor.’ John Kenyon, Observer ‘An admirable example of how academic history may yet be written for the general reader. It is deeply enjoyable, lively, packed with interesting detail, illuminating anecdote and pithy observation.’ Allan Massie, The Times
Scotland: A New History
by Michael Lynch
This full length history of Scotland is made up of 25 chapters spanning 18 centuries, from the Picts to the 1980s and is designed for the general reader. A particular feature of the book is the attention it gives to social and cultural history, including life in towns, the changing role of the nobles, and the shifting images of Scottish identity through the ages. The landmarks of Scottish history - the Wars of Independence, the Reformation, the Union of Crowns and the Union of Parliaments, the Jacobite rebellions, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, are all covered. The author is the editor of "The Innes Review", literary editor of the Scottish History Society and has written books on Edinburgh and the Reformation, Mary, Queen of Scots and the Scottish Burghs.
Scotland's Coast: A Photographer's Journey
by Joe Cornish
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13 days
12 nights
32 meals
11 B 10 L 11 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Edinburgh, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Edinburgh.
D
Crowne Plaza Edinburgh - Royal Terrace

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program is staffed with both a Group Leader, who will accompany us throughout the program and deal primarily with logistics, and a Study Leader who will lecture, conduct field trips and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel, our Study Leader will introduce the topics we will be exploring in our program’s lectures and field trips.

DAY
3
Edinburgh’s Old & New Towns, Edinburgh Castle, Holyroodhouse
Edinburgh.
B,L,D
Crowne Plaza Edinburgh - Royal Terrace

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 2 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking approximately 2.5 miles, periods of standing; paved streets, cobbled areas, hilly, steep terrain. Some steep cobbled areas at Edinburgh Castle; steps with handrails to vaults and One o’Clock Gun; Royal Apartments, David’s Tower, and prisons accessible only by steps.

Breakfast: We will enjoy a full Scottish breakfast buffet at the hotel. Select from a variety of eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, cereals, cold cuts, cheeses, juices, toast, pastries, tea, coffee, water.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and set out on a field trip through Scotland’s most famed city, including the winding cobbled streets of the Old Town, the Georgian rigor of the New Town — the model for the grid layout of American cities — and the Royal Mile. We’ll continue our field trip at the great bastion of Edinburgh Castle to discover its rich and varied history, as turbulent as it is long. The rock upon which the castle is built was fortified in the Iron Age. The oldest remaining section, St. Margaret’s Chapel, dates from the 12th century and is the oldest building in the city. Among the castle’s treasures are the Scottish regalia (crown jewels), also known as the Honours of Scotland, and the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny used in royal coronations. We’ll board the motorcoach after our field trip and ride to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Lunch: At the Palace of Holyroodhouse’s café, we’ll have vouchers allowing us to select from a range of food and beverages.

Afternoon: We’ll then explore the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Her Majesty the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, on a field trip led by our Study Leader. We'll see the fourteen state apartments and royal collections, as well as the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, all set against the backdrop of Arthur's Seat.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a 3-course plated and served dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Transfer to Strathpeffer, The Highland Folk Museum
Strathpeffer
B,L,D
Ben Wyvis Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 175 miles, approximately 4.5 hours. Walking approximately 1.5 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including paved streets, gravel paths, uneven grassy areas; low doorways and steps up/down to enter some buildings at Highland Folk Museum. Extent of walking and other activities at Dunkeld according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We'll check out of the hotel and begin our transfer by motorcoach to Strathpeffer, stopping en route at Dunkeld, one of the best-preserved historic towns in Scotland. Its cathedral dominates the skyline and is over 1,400 years old, dating from a time when Celtic monks set up the base for a mission at the confluence of two rivers. Since then, it has seen many changes and turbulent times, eventually becoming the beautiful, peaceful place of worship it is today. Our Group Leader will introduce the cathedral and town, after which we’ll have some time for independent exploration. We will board the motorcoach to continue on our transfer, with a stop for a visit to the Highland Folk Museum in the Cairngorms National Park.

Lunch: At the Highland Folk Museum’s café, we will enjoy a light lunch of soup and sandwiches with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then explore the Highland Folk Museum on a field trip led by our Study Leader. The museum transports visitors back in time to witness how human settlements have evolved in rural Scotland, from the 18th century to the present day. We’ll board the motorcoach to continue our transfer after our field trip. Arriving to Strathpeffer in the late afternoon, we'll check in to our hotel in time for dinner.

Dinner: We will enjoy a 3-course plated and served dinner at the hotel with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle
Strathpeffer
B,L,D
Ben Wyvis Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 65 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Walking approximately 3 miles, periods of standing. Paved and gravel paths, some uneven grassy areas; carpeted floors, steep steps within Cawdor Castle.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and ride east to Nairnshire, where we’ll visit the historic site of Culloden Battlefield, the last battle fought on British soil in 1746. This desperate fight changed the history of the Highlands forever. It led to the breakdown of the clan system and paved the way for the Highland Clearances and emigration to the New World. Our Study Leader will take us across the exposed heath while describing the famous battle.

Lunch: At the Culloden visitor center, we'll have a 2-course lunch with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will continue by motorcoach to fairytale Cawdor Castle, situated close to the East Highland town of Nairn. Linked with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Cawdor has been the family home of the Thanes of Cawdor since the 14th century. The castle contains a fine example of a 16th-century tower house with elegant 18th-century additions, and while presenting a strong and severe exterior it is a surprisingly intimate building that radiates a friendly, family atmosphere through its interior. Within the grounds of the castle, there are extensive nature trails and fine gardens. We will then board the motorcoach to begin our return to the hotel, stopping for dinner en route.

Dinner: At an historic Highland castle, now a hotel, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After returning to the hotel by motorcoach, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
6
The Black Isle
Strathpeffer
B,L,D
Ben Wyvis Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 55 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking about 2.5 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including paved streets, some cobbled areas, gravel paths, uneven grassy areas.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: At the hotel, our Study Leader will deliver a lecture on the history and effects of the Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th centuries. After the lecture, we’ll have some time to relax and explore Strathpeffer independently.

Lunch: At the hotel, we’ll have a light lunch of soup and sandwiches with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will travel by motorcoach to the peninsula known as the Black Isle, one of the first parts of the Northern Highlands to experience the Highland Clearances. We’ll begin here with an exploration of the small town of Cromarty led by our Study Leader. We’ll then continue by motorcoach to learn about early Pictish Christian monasticism at the Groam House Museum, and encounter the 13th-century architecture and history of Fortrose Cathedral — which served as the seat of the medieval diocese of Ross until the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century. After our field trip, we’ll return by motorcoach to the hotel.

Dinner: Plated hotel meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Aigas Field Centre
Strathpeffer
B,L,D
Ben Wyvis Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 35 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking about 1.5 miles, periods of standing. Woodland, stone and gravel paths, grass lawns.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach to make the short drive to the world-renowned Aigas Field Centre. Operated by esteemed naturalist Sir John Lister-Kaye, Aigas is a facility dedicated to conserving the natural environment of the Scottish Highlands. We’ll be welcomed with tea, coffee, and homemade shortbread, after which we’ll attend a talk by a local expert introducing us to the varied conservation projects that take place at Aigas.

Lunch: At Aigas Field Centre, we will enjoy a 2-course buffet lunch consisting of various hot and cold items; coffee, tea, water included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Continuing our field trip to Aigas, Lady Lucy Lister-Kaye will show us around her garden, a much-admired labor of love. The House of Aigas is set amid beautiful gardens, with rockeries, a large pond, and an extensive arboretum. Most of the trees were planted by the estate’s Victorian-era residents more than 100 years ago, including exotics such as giant sequoia and western red cedar that have now reached considerable heights, with some native trees dating even farther back. The garden is Lady Lister-Kaye's creation, a blaze of color throughout the year, hosting a rich array of species from miniature maples to azaleas and rhododendrons and the blooms of heathers, lilies, honeysuckle, and clematis. We’ll continue by motorcoach to Beauly Priory, which was founded in the 13th century by French monks of the comparatively little known Valliscaulian Order. The priory became Cistercian in 1510 after Pope Julius II suppressed the Valliscaulian Order, but its foundation remains reflected in Beauly’s name, derived from the French “beau lieu” meaning “beautiful place.” We’ll return to the hotel by motorcoach after our field trip.

Dinner: Plated hotel meal.

Evening: We’ll enjoy a performance by a traditional Scottish bagpiper in the hotel.

DAY
8
Inverness, Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Glen Affric
Strathpeffer
B,L,D
Ben Wyvis Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 95 miles, approximately 3.5 hours. Walking about 2.5 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including paved streets, some cobbled areas, uneven grassy areas, woodland, gravel, and grass paths; steps to some areas at Urquhart Castle. Extent of walking and other activities in Inverness according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: We’ll travel by motorcoach to Inverness, where we’ll have some free time for independent exploration of this small city’s castle and museum. The motorcoach will then take us along the scenic shores of Loch Ness. Loch Ness is world-famous for its mighty monster and it’s sure to be difficult to resist scanning its waters as we drive along its wooded shores. However, our Study Leader will also tell us about the fascinating natural and cultural history of this enormous lake, so steeped in folklore. We’ll stop for a visit to the magnificently situated Urquhart Castle, on a promontory jutting into Loch Ness. Its ruinous state gives testament to the turbulence of its 500-year history as a medieval fortress.

Lunch: At Urquhart Castle, we will have vouchers allowing us to choose food and drinks from the café.

Afternoon: We’ll remain at Urquhart Castle for some time to explore independently. The visitor center contains an interpretation area, audio-visual presentation, tearoom, and toilets. Stunning views of the loch can be seen from the visitor center’s veranda. We’ll then drive west to the mountains and forests of Glen Affric, where we’ll take a gentle nature walk with our Study Leader. The last 6,000 years have witnessed the destruction of the native forests of Scotland, to the extent that there are now only small remnants of old Caledonian Pine Forest left. Glen Affric is one of the most beautiful glens in the Highlands and is managed as a National Nature Reserve. We’ll return by motorcoach to the hotel.

Dinner: Plated hotel meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Transfer to Kyle of Lochalsh, Loch Ness Study Cruise
Kyle of Lochalsh
B,L,D
Tingle Creek Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 100 miles, approximately 3 hours. Getting on/off a boat; study cruise duration approximately 1 hour. Minimal walking.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board the motorcoach to begin our transfer to Kyle of Lochalsh. We’ll stop en route at Fort Augustus, at the southwestern end of Loch Ness, where we’ll board a comfortable boat for a study cruise on the famed waters. As we sail past the tiny Cherry Island — the only island in the loch — we’ll be able to keep an eye on happenings beneath the surface on the boat’s sonar display, with informative commentary by a local expert.

Lunch: We’ll have packed lunches including a sandwich, a snack, and a drink, provided by the hotel.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our gentle drive to our hotel overlooking the Isle of Skye, the misty isle to which Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped after the Battle of Culloden and the impenetrable stronghold of the Lords of the Isles for centuries. We’ll check in to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel, we'll have a 3-course plated and served dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
North Skye, The Cuillins
Kyle of Lochalsh
B,L,D
Tingle Creek Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 110 miles, approximately 3.5 hours. Walking about 2 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including gravel paths, grass lawns, paved streets; steps to some areas at Dunvegan Castle. Extent of walking and other activities in Portree according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: We'll journey by motorcoach to the Isle of Skye, where the majestic peaks of the Red and Black Cuillins loom in front of us as they lead down to sandy shores. Here we will visit Dunvegan Castle, built on a rocky outcrop, on the Isle of Skye. Dunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. The castle is home to a magnificent art collection and artifacts associated with clan history. The formal gardens lead down to the banks of Loch Dunvegan and their lush variety of plantings stands in contrast to the foreboding landscape of Skye's moorlands.

Lunch: At Dunvegan Castle, we will have vouchers allowing us to choose food and drinks from the café.

Afternoon: Our field trip continues to Portree, where we will have some time for independent exploration of this picturesque town, before we wend our way back to the hotel by motorcoach.

Dinner: Plated hotel meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
South Skye, Armadale, Eilean Donan
Kyle of Lochalsh
B,L,D
Tingle Creek Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 65 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking about 2 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including gravel and woodland paths, grass lawns, uneven stone floors; steps to some areas at Eilean Donan Castle.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: We will journey by motorcoach to the South of Skye, the most famous of the Hebridean islands. The soil in this area is rich in lime, leading to the most diverse habitats on the island — a mixture of woodland, open moorland, and jagged coastline. The dominant land use is crofting, with many typical crofting and small fishing communities scattered throughout the peninsula. Sleat is in the territory of the MacDonald Clan, and we will visit their clan seat at Armadale Castle, which has an excellent interpretation center and gentle walks in the extensive castle grounds.

Lunch: At Armadale Castle’s visitor center we’ll have a light lunch of soup, sandwiches, and cake with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We'll visit one of the most famous sights in Scotland, Eilean Donan, a castle surrounded by three sea lochs. Although the castle was first inhabited in the 6th century, episodes of feudal fighting have led to it being repeatedly rebuilt. Our Study Leader will outline the important moments of Scotland's history as we visit its many rooms. We’ll return by motorcoach to the hotel.

Dinner: Plated hotel meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Glencoe, Stirling Castle
Edinburgh.
B,L,D
DoubleTree by Hilton Edinburgh - Queensferry Crossing

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 200 miles, approximately 5.5 hours. Walking about 2 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including tarmac and gravel paths, wooden boardwalks with handrails, some uneven grassy areas; at Stirling Castle, cobbled paths and courtyards, some sloping areas; step free access to all areas except Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Museum, Great Kitchens, Elphinstone Tower.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Today we will transfer by motorcoach to Edinburgh, via Glencoe. Glencoe is part of the National Scenic Area of Ben Nevis. The spectacular and, at times, grim glen features high mountain peaks, ridges, rushing rivers and waterfalls and site of the 1692 massacre in the aftermath of the Jacobite Uprising. At the National Trust for Scotland’s visitor center, we will learn more of the dark and turbulent history of the area. A viewing platform gives photographic views of the area created by millions of years of geological processes.

Lunch: At the Glencoe visitor center, we’ll have a light lunch of soup and sandwiches with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Our journey continues through bleak Rannoch Moor and down to Stirling Castle where our Study Leader will point out the important historical and architectural features of this strategically significant castle. We’ll have personal audio devices allowing us to explore at our own pace. Stirling Castle symbolizes Scottish pride and independence and was home to many 15th-century kings and queens. We'll continue to Edinburgh for a late afternoon check-in to our hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we'll have a 3-course plated and served dinner with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure to prepare for departure in the morning and get a good night’s rest.

DAY
13
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Full Scottish breakfast buffet in the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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