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Scotland

Scotland and Its Islands: Exploring Old Worlds

Program No. 23030RJ
All aboard for this voyage back in time to Scotland’s ancient roots. Discover some of Europe’s oldest monuments, while learning about the islands’ protected wildlife.

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At a Glance

Scotland is arguably most famous for its craggy highlands, but it’s the country’s colorful port towns and dramatic islands where the Scottish character really shines. Pack your favorite tartan and board our expedition ship for a voyage along Scotland’s coasts. Learn about breathtaking landscapes, unique wildlife and some of the continent’s oldest monuments, dating back to the Stone Age. Along the way, meet Gaelic-speaking natives who will happily tell you stories of legends and lore while tracing traditions of the original settlers who first made their homes here hundreds of years ago.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
I like to spend much of the day exploring. Whether walking through historic neighborhoods at a moderate pace or out and about on a coach, I prefer to keep my days full. Stairs don’t bother me, and I love to keep up with the group.
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…

  • Travel back to the Stone Age through the most extensive collection of prehistoric megalithic structures in western Europe.
  • Experience the largest gannet colony in Britain, located among the cliffs of St. Kilda.
  • Enhance your knowledge with unique access to Adventure Canada’s seasoned onboard staff.

General Notes

The itinerary is subject to change based on weather conditions. The program is limited to 24 participants and the Ocean Endeavour holds 198 passengers.
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.
Mingulay: An Island and Its People
by Ben Buxton
Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon
Historical Atlas of the Viking World
by Angus Konstam
The Vikings: Lords of the Seas
by Yves Cohat
Robert the Bruce: King of Scots
by Ronald McNair Scott
Waverley (1814)
by Walter Scott
Vikings: Life and Legend
by Williams, Pentz, Wemhoff
Trainspotting
by Irvine Welsh
How the Scots Invented Canada
by Ken McGoogan
The World of the Vikings
by Richard Hall
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings
by Peter Ayer ed.
Sunset Song
by Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Scotland: a New History
by Michael Lynch
Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas
by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough
The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings
by John Haywood
The Last Stonghold: Scottish Gaelic Traditions in Newfoundland
by Margaret Bennett
The Wasp Factory
by Iain Banks
St. Kilda: Island on the Edge of the World
by Charles Maclean
A History of the Vikings
by Gwyn Jones
The Viking Saga
by Peter Schledermann
The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life
by Anu Partanen
Norse Mythology: a Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs
by John Lindow
No Gods and Precious Few Heroes (Vol 8: Scotland, 1914-80)
by Christopher Harvie
Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before History
by Alistairi Moffat
The King of Vinland's Saga
by Stuart Mirsky
Scotland: the Story of a Nation
by Magnus Magnusson
The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns
by Robert Burns
Independent People
by Halldor Laxness
How the Scots Invented the Modern World
by Athur Herman
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16 days
15 nights
41 meals
14 B 13 L 14 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In flight
DAY
2
Arrive Glasgow, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Glasgow
D
Hilton Glasgow

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

Afternoon: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date programs schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions.

Dinner: At the hotel.

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

DAY
3
Explore Glasgow
Glasgow
B,L,D
Hilton Glasgow

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will begin the day with a panoramic overview of Glasgow via coach. Sights will include George Square, Glasgow Science Centre, Glasgow University, Botanical Gardens and Kelvingrove Park. We will visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Continue exploring Glasgow. This afternoon we will visit Glasgow Cathedral.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Glasgow to Greenock, Embarkation
Greenock
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning we will board our motorcoach and ride to the Glasgow Marriott Hotel to meet for a mandatory briefing with Adventure Canada. Here we will meet Resource Staff and fellow travelers as we learn about the embarkation process. Immediately following the briefing we will make our way to Greenock where we will meet the Ocean Endeavor.

Lunch: We will stop at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Greenock, we'll embark on the Ocean Endeavour. While on board, rotating members of the ship's resource staff will offer educational presentations on a variety of topics. Many are active researchers with expertise in areas such as history, paleontology, geology, and biology. At each expedition port of call, you will have a choice of field trips that will vary by location such as nature activities (minimal walking), short walks (about .5 - 1.5 miles), longer walks (2-3 miles) and photography sessions led by resource staff. 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. Updates will be provided aboard ship. Thank you for your understanding. Expedition ships — more rugged than traditional sailing vessels — are designed to venture into remote landscapes, enabling us to seek opportunities for getting up close to nature and wildlife. These educational adventures have flexible schedules. The itinerary may change daily based on weather, sailing conditions, and potential wildlife sightings. There may also be serendipitous occasions to experience something unexpected. Due to the remote location of the ports, each embarkation and disembarkation will be done via zodiac rafts. Staff will be available for assistance. Should you require medication during the day, please ensure you keep this with you.

Dinner: Aboard the ship, meals onboard consist of a 3-course a la carte menu with meat, seafood, and vegetarian options, incorporating local delicacies when possible, plus water, coffee, and tea. Additional beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. With lively talks, presentations, trivia nights, concerts, and movie nights, there’s certainly no shortage of evening activities!

DAY
5
Islay
Islay
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the ship, we will choose from hot and cold buffet offerings, plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: This morning we'll gather in the onboard meeting space for a lecture from one of the ship's knowledgeable resource staff.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: This afternoon we'll explore Islay by Zodiac. The Queen of the Hebrides, Islay is the southernmost of the Inner Hebrides. This island lies only forty kilometres from the Irish coast. Islay is a haven for seabirds, thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Staffa & Iona
Iona
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: This morning we'll explore the isle of Staffa, noted for its remarkable geography including basaltic formations and numerous caves like Fingal’s Cave, named for a Celtic hero and inspiring Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: St. Columba established his monastery at nearby Iona—the burial place of kings. The restored Iona Abbey complex preserves two outstanding eighth-century crosses and a splendid collection of sculpture. This afternoon, we will enjoy a Road Scholar exclusive cocktail party onboard.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Isle of Skye
Skye
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: This is a fabulous day for birders, photographers, and hikers. En route to the Isle of Skye, we sail by the cliffs at Lunga, where razorbills, guillemots, and puffins make their nests.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We will cruise the southwestern shore of Skye to visit Loch Coruisk, a freshwater loch accessed through Loch Scavaig. Here we find one of the finest mountainscapes in Britain, backed by the Cuillin Mountains. We will hike the western shore and revel in the view.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Outer Hebrides
St. Kilda
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac cruise/landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Today we'll travel by Zodiac to reach remote and uninhabited islands located off of Scotland's west coast. We'll see archaeological remains from Scottish, Pictish, and Norse cultures. The Outer Hebrides are the stronghold of Gaelic culture and language. Mingulay, however, has been uninhabited by humans since 1912. Instead, puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, shags, fulmars, razorbills, eagles, and peregrine falcons make their homes here.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We will continue to explore the Outer Hebrides via zodiac, observing looking for marine and bird life.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
St. Kilda
St. Kilda
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Today we'll make an expedition stop at St. Kilda, a World Heritage Site, home to an abundant population of seabirds, notably puffins, fulmars and the largest gannet colony in Britain. Also at home here are unique feral sheep left by the departing islanders. The archipelago known as St. Kilda was inhabited until 1930 when the population was forced to request evacuation.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We will continue to explore St. Kilda, featuring examples of houses, cleits (stone storage structures) and prehistoric remains. We will take a hike to the island’s 274-meter high cliffs, offering a stunning ocean vista.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
Lewis
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Lewis is the largest of the Hebridean Islands and a Gaelic stronghold. Harris Tweed has its headquarters on Lewis. Its product is hand woven exclusively in the Outer Hebrides by weavers working at home. We’ll visit Stornoway, the island’s capital.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We will gather in the onboard meeting space for a lecture from one of the ship's knowledgeable resource staff.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Kirkwall, Orkney
Orkney Islands
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac cruise/landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll have an early morning sail past the Old Man of Hoy, a distinctive 137-metre sea stack of red sandstone atop a plinth of igneous basalt on the west coast of the isle of Hoy. Incredibly, the crumbling monolith has separated from the nearby headland only in recent centuries.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We’ll visit the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, we’ll find the 4,000-year-old Ring of Brodgar and Maes Howe, a chambered cairn estimated to have been constructed around 2700 BC.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Papa Stour & Foula
Shetland Islands
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: This morning we'll explore Papa Stour, with its amazing caves, blowholes, and sea stacks. The island has a population of under twenty souls, though marine and bird life flourishes there. Erosion of volcanic rock has created geologic wonders here, including high cliffs, caves, sea stacks, and blowholes. There are numerous Neolithic burial sites on the island, as well as Norse ruins.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Twenty-three kilometres west of the Shetland Islands, Foula is the most remote inhabited island in the UK. Here, a few dozen folk make their homes, many preserving traditional methods of agriculture and subsistence. Arctic terns, red-throated divers, and great skuas may be found here.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Fair Isle
At Sea
B,L,D
Ocean Endeavour

Activity note: Zodiac landing; possibility of rough seas; getting in/out of Zodiac with assistance from staff. Walking distances up to 2 miles on uneven and hilly terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will gather in the onboard meeting space for a lecture from one of the ship's knowledgeable resource staff.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: This afternoon we'll board Zodiacs to transfer to Fair Isle where we'll have a chance to explore the charming community. The island has 350 species of birds, including puffins, so keep your binoculars ready for wildlife viewing. We'll have a chance to explore the local museum.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Aberdeen, Disembark, Transfer to Hotel in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
B,L,D
Crowne Plaza Edinburgh-Royal Terrace

Activity note: Getting on and off a motorcoach.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: This morning we'll disembark the ship in Aberdeen and make our way to Edinburgh via motorcoach. We will visit Scone Palace. Here we will explore collections of furniture, ceramics, paintings, and artifacts housed at the Palace, as well as acres of grounds and open gardens.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route to Edinburgh.

Afternoon: Arrive in Edinburgh and check into our hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Explore Edinburgh
Edinburgh
B,L,D
Crowne Plaza Edinburgh-Royal Terrace

Activity note: Walk up to 2 miles on paved walkways.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning we will depart via motorcoach to explore Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city. After a panoramic visit of the Georgian New Town, we will follow our local guide on foot to explore the Medieval Old Town, including a visit to Edinburgh Castle.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will visit St. Giles Cathedral, the historic city church of Edinburgh.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll have a wrap-up session to review highlights of our experiences. The rest of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
16
Program Concludes
Edinburgh
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 12:00 p.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This concludes our program. 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 rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.