22674
Scotland

Scotland’s Highlands: A Stay at the Aigas Field Center

Experience the very best of the Scottish Highlands as you stay in the historic home of renowned naturalist Sir John Lister-Kaye.
Rating (4.93)
Program No. 22674RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
2,899
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
900
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11 days
10 nights
27 meals
9 B 9 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Glasgow, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Glasgow.
L,D
Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m.

Morning: After clearing customs and passport control, walk 300 yards from the arrival terminal to the hotel. A program representative will be on hand in the hotel to provide any assistance you may need checking in. When you have your room, take some time to freshen up and relax.

Lunch: In the hotel dining room for those arriving by lunchtime, we’ll have a light lunch with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Arrivals continue, with free time for those who have already arrived. 5:00 p.m. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Our Road Scholar Group Leader will accompany us while we are in Glasgow and during our transfers to and from Aigas, and will deal primarily with logistics. While we are at Aigas, the program is staffed with Aigas Rangers who will lecture, conduct field trips, and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. Travel and transportation for Aigas field trips will be via minibus unless noted otherwise. Sign-up sheets for visits to wildlife hides (known as blinds in America) on certain evenings are posted in a public area at Aigas, as space inside the hides is limited so it is necessary to visit in smaller groups. 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. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, attending performances or other events on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow Road Scholars. The Group Leader will always 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: In the hotel dining room, we’ll have a plated and served meal with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
3
Transfer to Aigas, Glencoe
Aigas.
B,L,D
Aigas Field Centre and House of Aigas

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 160 miles (257 kilometers), approximately 4 hours, with short rest stops at convenient and interesting places.

Breakfast: In the hotel, the full Scottish breakfast buffet include choices such as eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, yogurts, cereals, porridge, toast, jams and marmalade, milk, fruit juices, coffee, tea, and water.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach, and depart Glasgow for Aigas. We'll travel through the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond, Glencoe, and Fort William, enjoying some of Scotland's finest views. Our onboard expert will provide commentary along the way.

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 the spectacular Highland landscape, with arrival at Aigas Field Centre in time for afternoon tea, a British tradition. Then we’ll settle into our rooms and freshen up before a welcome meeting, where we'll meet Aigas family and staff and hear about procedures.

Dinner: In the baronial hall, we’ll have a 3-course dinner amid family portraits and Victorian artifacts, with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to find something in the extensively stocked library featuring human and natural history. You may also purchase drinks beside a roaring log fire.

DAY
4
Balmorality, Aigas Estate & Grounds
Aigas.
B,L,D
Aigas Field Centre and House of Aigas

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles, periods of standing. Woodland, stone and gravel paths, grass lawns. It is important to remain as quiet as possible in wildlife hides to avoid disturbing the animals.

Breakfast: In the baronial hall, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as cereals, toast, marmalade, jams, fruit and pin-mill porridge as well as milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will gather for a presentation by Sir John Lister-Kaye — noted naturalist, conservationist, author, and owner of Aigas — on the history of the Highlands and its clans, which will provide the context for our explorations. “Balmorality” refers to an idealization of Scottish traditions and culture. We’ll learn the authentic story. We’ll then explore the Aigas grounds and loch (lake), where we will see infrastructure dating back to the mid-19th century, Bronze Age archaeological remains, Aigas restoration ecology projects, and an enchanting trail through woodland.

Lunch: In the baronial hall, we’ll have a 2-course buffet lunch with coffee, tea, water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: 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.

Dinner: Plated baronial hall meal.

Evening: At leisure. Those of us who have signed up for a visit to a wildlife hide this evening will walk to the hide with an Aigas ranger to observe the diverse fauna of the Aigas estate.

DAY
5
Clava Cairns, Culloden Battlefield, Brodie Castle
Aigas.
B,L,D
Aigas Field Centre and House of Aigas

Activity note: Getting on/off a minibus; driving about 90 miles, approximately 3.5 hours. Walking approximately 3 miles, periods of standing. Paved and gravel paths, some uneven grassy areas; carpeted floors, steep steps within Brodie Castle. It is important to remain as quiet as possible in wildlife hides to avoid disturbing the animals.

Breakfast: Baronial hall buffet.

Morning: Our focus today is on archaeology and history. We’ll begin with an introductory talk on the importance of the Bronze Age and the Picts. We’ll then set out by minibus to see aspects of the long history of the Highlands dating back to the Neolithic age, when an ancient burial site at Clava Cairns was built. The Clava Cairns are about 4,000 years old. What we see today is only part of what was once a larger complex. As we explore, an Aigas ranger will provide expert insights. We’ll then explore Culloden Battlefield and the new and immersive Culloden Battlefield Interpretation Centre. Culloden was the last pitched battle fought on British soil, between forces of the British crown — the recently installed Hanoverians — and Jacobites— those seeking to restore the Stuart dynasty. It divided families and set clan against clan. On April 16, 1746, British forces routed the Jacobites. It was a short but bloody fight, leaving some 1,500 dead.

Lunch: At Culloden battlefield, we’ll have packed lunches including sandwiches and snacks provided by Aigas, with coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: Our field trip continues as we proceed by minibus to historic Brodie Castle. The original castle was constructed by Clan Brodie in 1567, and was rebuilt in 1645 after destruction during inter-clan feuding. The castle remained home to the Brodie family until 2003, and is a particularly well-preserved example of Scottish Z-Plan castle architecture, with distinctive Scots Baronial additions from the 19th century. Within the grounds of the castle, there are extensive gardens and an ancient Pictish monument. With our expert Aigas Ranger, we’ll explore its stately rooms, as well as its verdant grounds. We’ll return to Aigas late afternoon.

Dinner: Plated baronial hall meal.

Evening: At leisure. Those of us who have signed up for a visit to a wildlife hide this evening will walk to the hide with an Aigas ranger to observe the diverse fauna of the Aigas estate.

DAY
6
Caledonian Forest
Aigas.
B,L,D
Aigas Field Centre and House of Aigas

Activity note: Getting on/off a minibus; driving about 45 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking about 3 miles, periods of standing. Varied terrain including woodland paths, uneven grassy areas. It is important to remain as quiet as possible in wildlife hides to avoid disturbing the animals.

Breakfast: Baronial hall buffet.

Morning: Today we’ll focus on history of the ancient Caledonian Forest, beginning at Aigas with an introductory talk on crofting and Caledonian pinewoods. We’ll then board the minibus for a field trip led by an Aigas ranger, visiting some of the most scenic glens in Scotland — with landscapes redolent of the last Ice Age — and take a short walk to the spectacular Plodda Falls.

Lunch: At Plodda Falls, we’ll have packed lunches including sandwiches and snacks provided by Aigas, with coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: Our next field trip is to Guisachan, the ruins of a huge country house where Winston Churchill learned to drive and the first golden retriever was bred. We’ll return to Aigas by minibus, with the remainder of the afternoon is free time.

Dinner: Plated baronial hall meal.

Evening: At leisure. Those of us who have signed up for a visit to a wildlife hide this evening will walk to the hide with an Aigas ranger to observe the diverse fauna of the Aigas estate.

DAY
7
The West Coast
Aigas.
B,L,D
Aigas Field Centre and House of Aigas

Activity note: Getting on/off a minibus; driving about 150 miles, approximately 5 hours. Walking about 1 mile, periods of standing; varied terrain including uneven grassy areas, pebble and sandy beaches, gravel paths. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Baronial hall buffet.

Morning: We’ll take a scenic drive to the dramatic west coast of Scotland, where towering mountains drop to convoluted coastlines with ribbons of settlement along the shore. These crofting communities are unique in Britain and a special part of Highland heritage. The west is wild, dramatic and stunning — an iconic highlight of Scotland.

Lunch: On a beach along the way, we’ll have packed lunches including sandwiches and snacks provided by Aigas, with coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: Our exploration of the West Coast continues, with time for independent exploration along the beach. We’ll return to Aigas with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Plated baronial hall meal.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert on whisky who will lead a tasting. When done, we’ll also know why Scots call it simply whisky and not Scotch.

DAY
8
Field Trips near Aigas, Wildcat Conservation
Aigas.
B,L,D
Aigas Field Centre and House of Aigas

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile, standing. Woodland, gravel paths. Erchless Motte: getting on/off minibus; driving about 8 miles, approximately 1/2 hour; walking about 1 mile, standing; woodland paths with steep sections. Distillery: getting on/off minibus; driving about 18 miles, approximately 1 hour; walking about 1 mile, periods of standing; paved paths, concrete floors. Iron Age hillfort: walking about 2 miles, standing; varied terrain including woodland, moorland paths, some steep, uneven sections.

Breakfast: Baronial hall buffet.

Morning: We’ll have a choice of three field trips led by Aigas rangers. At a local whisky distillery, we’ll learn about its processes and sample its delights. A field trip to Erchless Motte considers the theories surrounding this medieval earthwork located in woodlands near Aigas, which is likely to have been part of a small castle-like fortification and has been used as a cemetery in more recent centuries. A more challenging walk along nature trails on the Aigas estate leads to an Iron Age hillfort, where we’ll gain a sense of the area’s fascinating prehistory.

Lunch: Baronial hall buffet.

Afternoon: We’ll begin the afternoon with a talk by an Aigas ranger on the Scottish wildcat conservation project. Aigas has been involved since 2011 in a national effort to rescue the Scottish wildcat, often known as the “Tiger of the Highlands,” from near-extinction. This talk will teach us more about the goals and methods of the project — which was the subject of a 2017 web series — and we’ll visit the wildcat enclosure with rangers after the lecture.

Dinner: Plated baronial hall meal.

Evening: We’ll enjoy a traditional ceilidh—a Gaelic folk dance and musical performance.

DAY
9
The Black Isle
Aigas.
B,L,D
Aigas Field Centre and House of Aigas

Activity note: Getting on/off a minibus; driving about 75 miles, approximately 2.5 hours. Walking about 1.5 miles, periods of standing; varied terrain including paved streets, gravel paths, grass lawns.

Breakfast: Baronial hall buffet.

Morning: We’ll take a field trip by minibus to key sites on the Black Isle, a large fertile peninsula close to Aigas that protrudes into the North Sea. The Black Isle is rich in medieval monastic history, which we’ll explore while visiting the remains of two important Christian sites during our field trip led by an Aigas ranger. The first, Beauly Priory, 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 continue to Fortrose Cathedral, which was constructed at a similar time to Beauly Priory and served as the seat of the medieval diocese of Ross until the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century. At Fortrose, we’ll learn more about the ways in which Scotland’s religious landscape changed during this period of upheaval. We’ll return to Aigas by minibus after our field trip.

Lunch: Baronial hall buffet.

Afternoon: We’ll return to the Black Isle for a field trip to a family-run bee garden at Old Allangrange. When we return to Aigas, the remainder of the afternoon will be free.

Dinner: In the baronial hall, we’ll enjoy our last dinner together in these special surroundings.

Evening: We’ll enjoy a “Book at Bedtime” — a literary reading with our host, Sir John Lister-Kaye. Then prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
Transfer to Glasgow, Dunkeld
Glasgow.
B,L,D
Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 200 miles, approximately 4.5 hours. Extent of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Baronial hall buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out and depart Aigas. En route to Glasgow we’ll stop at Dunkeld, one of the best-preserved historic towns in Scotland. Dunkeld 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.

Lunch: At Dunkeld, we’ll have packed lunches including sandwiches and snacks provided by Aigas, with coffee, tea, water included.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our transfer to Glasgow and check into our hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have our plated and served 3-course farewell dinner and recount our favorite experiences of the program with our new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
11
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m. Walk 300 yards to Glasgow Airport.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. 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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