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Scotland

The Lochs & Waterways of Scotland: A Small Ship Adventure

Navigate the lochs and waterways of the Scottish Highlands on a timeless voyage by small ship to learn about history, whisky and incredible castles along the way.
Program No. 23493RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
5,999
Flights start at
900
Scotland

The Lochs & Waterways of Scotland: A Small Ship Adventure

Navigate the lochs and waterways of the Scottish Highlands on a timeless voyage by small ship to learn about history, whisky and incredible castles along the way.
Length
12 days
Starts at
5,999
Flights start at
900
Program No. 23493 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & PRICES

Ship Outside
Details
Accommodation Details
A cabin with a window or porthole to view the outside.

DATES & PRICES

Ship Outside
Details
Accommodation Details
A cabin with a window or porthole to view the outside.
Sep 4 - Sep 15, 2021
SOLD OUT
Ship Outside 9,499

At a Glance

What do Neolithic monuments, imposing castles and world-renowned whisky have in common? They all exist side-by-side among the lochs and ancient mountains of the Scottish Highlands. Watch the serene landscapes of the Highlands — from the Isle of Skye’s jagged peaks to the gentle shores of Loch Ness — drift by as you navigate Scotland’s lochs, rivers and canals. Beginning in Glasgow, journey into the Highlands and step aboard the only small ship that can navigate the inland waterways of the Caledonian Canal and the open sea. History, legends and culture will come alive en route to Inverness as you gaze upon the final resting place of some 50 Scottish kings and explore the legends of the Isle of Mull at Tobermory.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Discover an integral part of the Scottish heritage on expert-led visits to some of Scotland’s most renowned castles including Edinburgh Castle and Cawdor Castle — the home of the Thane of Cawdor in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
  • Learn about Scotland’s national drink at the renowned Edradour Distillery during a private-led whisky tasting and distillery exploration.
  • Navigate the tranquil waters of Loch Ness — past the ruins of Urquhart Castle — to see where the Jacobite forces fled at the Culloden battlefield and discover ancient history of the Clava Cairns.
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12 days
11 nights
28 meals
10 B 9 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Glasgow, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Glasgow.
D
The Principal Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow

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

Morning: We will transfer from the airport to our first hotel based on flight times. If you arrive before rooms are available, you may leave your luggage with the concierge and go out for a walk or relax in the hotel.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: After regrouping, we will take an expert-led panoramic motorcoach ride around the highlights of this magnificent city, including Glasgow Cathedral, St Mungo's Museum, the People's Palace, and Willow Tea Rooms. Orientation. 5:30 p.m. 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 is a Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. In addition to lectures and field trips exclusively for our Road Scholar group, you are invited to take advantage of activities and events aboard ship that are separate from the Road Scholar program. The time available in each port is set by the cruise line. Whenever possible, the Road Scholar daily schedule indicates port arrival and departure times (subject to change by the cruise line). This may mean that free time in port is limited. Regardless of the time in port, Road Scholar delivers a robust educational program. All routes, field trips, and excursions are subject to change as weather and sea conditions could affect the progress of the ship, making it run late and/or miss ports if it is not safe to dock. Because of this, the cruise itinerary should always be regarded as provisional. The operators reserve the right to change the content of field trips and excursions without prior notice. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. 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 a local restaurant we'll enjoy a served 3-course dinner with tea, coffee and water.

Evening: At leisure to unpack, relax, and prepare for the program ahead.

DAY
3
Inveraray Castle, Glencoe Visitor Center, Embark Ship
At Sea
B,L,D
Magna Carta Steamship Company’s MV Lord of the Glens

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 200 miles, approximately 5.5 hours with stops. Walking up to 2 miles, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips. Ship remains moored at Kyle of Lochalsh overnight.

Breakfast: We’ll enjoy a full Scottish breakfast in the hotel including a variety of eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, hash browns, baked beans, cereals, pastries, toast, jams and marmalade, juices, tea, coffee, milk, water.

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and set out for Kyle of Lochalsh, stopping en route at Inveraray Castle, where we’ll enjoy an expert-led visit. Located on 16 acres of parkland, the castle was built in the 18th century and has been home to each successive Duke of Argyll. We will have time to take a stroll through the formal gardens before we continue with our transfer.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy a light lunch at a local restaurant en route, with tea, coffee, and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our transfer to Kyle of Lochalsh, breaking our journey at Glencoe, 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 692 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. After arrival in Kyle of Lochalsh in the late afternoon, we will embark the ship. A safety drill will take place after boarding. This program is staffed with both a Group Leader, who will accompany us throughout the program and deal primarily with logistics, and local experts who will lecture, conduct field trips and serve as an information resource on program-related topics. Lectures aboard the ship will be available throughout the voyage, on subjects including Scottish history, the history of the Caledonian Canal, and local wildlife. The ship’s reception area includes an “activity lectern” where a copy of the next day’s activity program is posted, including navigation, shore activities and timings, and points of interest. Copies are also posted in each cabin.

Dinner: A 3-course dinner is served on board at 7:30 p.m. Tea, coffee, and water included. Additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Eilean Donan Castle, Clan Donald Centre
At Sea
B,L,D
Magna Carta Steamship Company’s MV Lord of the Glens

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 30 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking up to 2 miles, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips. Ship moors at Inverie overnight.

Breakfast: We will enjoy a full Scottish breakfast on board ship.

Morning: We’ll depart the ship at 9:00 a.m. for a field trip to the village of Plockton and Eilean Donan Castle led by our Group Leader and local experts. We’ll return to the ship at 12:00 Noon, and sail on to Armadale on the Isle of Skye via Kyle Rhea and the Sound of Sleat.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We will enjoy an expert-led visit to Armadale Castle and Gardens, home to the Clan Donald Centre and the Museum of the Isles. The castle was the last ancestral home of the MacDonalds of Sleat, Lords of the Isles until 1493. Clan Donald is the largest of the Scottish clans, with more than 40 associated tartans. Following our visit, we’ll return to the ship, and sail to the village of Inverie on Loch Nevis, where we'll moor for the night. Inverie is very much a seafarers' village—despite its location on the UK mainland, its few miles of narrow road have no connection to the main road network.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure. Inverie is home to the most remote pub in Britain.

DAY
5
Isles of Eigg & Mull, Tobermory
At Sea
B,L,D
Magna Carta Steamship Company’s MV Lord of the Glens

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips. Ship moors at Tobermory overnight.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Our ship will sail around the most westerly point of mainland Britain, Ardnamurchan Point. We’ll dock en route at the tiny isle of Eigg, home to a community of approximately 90 people and take some time ashore to explore the island, learning about its storied history and volcanic geology with our Group Leader and local experts. Returning to the ship, we’ll sail into the Sound of Mull to arrive at Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Tobermory, Mull’s capital, is instantly recognizable by the brightly-painted houses lining its quayside. This afternoon we’ll explore the town and learn about its history, intrinsically linked with the fishing and whisky industries.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Craignure, Iona, Oban
At Sea
B,L,D
Magna Carta Steamship Company’s MV Lord of the Glens

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 80 miles, approximately 3 hours in total. Ferry journeys to/from Iona approximately 1/4 hour each way. Walking up to 2 miles, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips. Ship moors at Oban overnight.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: The ship will dock this morning at Craignure, the Isle of Mull’s main port. We’ll board a motorcoach here and travel to Fionnphort on Mull's west coast. From Fionnphort, we will make the 1-mile crossing on the foot-passenger ferry to the ethereal isle of Iona—a place where they say “the veil is thin.” Iona was a center of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. We’ll explore Iona’s main settlement, Baile Mòr, on foot with our local expert. Our walk will take us to Iona Abbey, an important pilgrimage site founded by St Columba in the 6th century, and to the remains of the medieval Iona nunnery. The serenity of the island is in stark contrast to its tumultuous history; Iona was subjected to numerous Viking raids in the 8th and 9th centuries, the most brutal of which is reflected in the name of Martyrs’ Bay to the south of Baile Mòr. St Martin’s Cross, a stone Celtic cross that dates to this period, still stands outside the abbey today.

Lunch: At a local restaurant on Iona, we will enjoy a 2-course plated and served meal, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will return by ferry and motorcoach to our ship, then sail past Duart Castle, perched atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the eastern end of the Sound of Mull, and on to Oban where the ship will moor overnight. Until the foundation of the eponymous distillery in the late-18th century, Oban was home to only a few families engaged in seafaring trades. From these humble origins Oban has grown to become the “Gateway to the Isles” and the seafood capital of Scotland.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Loch Linnhe, West Highland Railway, Corpach
At Sea
B,L,D
Magna Carta Steamship Company’s MV Lord of the Glens

Activity note: Getting on/off train; travelling about 30 miles, approximately 45 minutes. Walking up to 2 miles, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips. Ship moors at Corpach overnight.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We’ll set off from Oban into Loch Linnhe, heading northeast past Fort William to the village of Corpach, where the Caledonian Canal meets the sea. We’ll join a local expert in the ship’s lounge for a lecture on a thematic subject.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: After leaving the ship in port, we will board a train at Corpach's railway station for a scenic journey on the West Highland Line to Glenfinnan, which will take us across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct that overlooks Loch Shiel. The loch is one of Scotland’s most historically significant and unspoiled natural treasures, and its 18-mile length is only accessible by boat. A 60-ft stone monument at Glenfinnan commemorates the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising here, when Bonnie Prince Charlie claimed the thrones of Scotland and England in the name of his father James Stuart. As we admire the verdant highland landscape, our local expert will explain the historical context and significance of this Jacobite Rising in detail. We’ll then return by train to the ship at Corpach.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Enter Caledonian Canal, Neptune's Staircase, Fort Augustus
At Sea
B,L,D
Magna Carta Steamship Company’s MV Lord of the Glens

Activity note: Full day aboard the ship. Walking alongside ship through canal at individual discretion.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Our ship will take us into the Caledonian Canal, the waterway for which the ship was specifically designed. Soon after entering the canal, we'll encounter Neptune's Staircase, Britain's longest staircase lock. Built by the canal’s engineer Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822, Neptune’s Staircase is made up of 8 individual locks and lifts vessels 103 feet. Before the mechanization of the locks, it could take half a day for a boat to traverse them, but today the process takes closer to 90 minutes. Having travelled up Neptune's Staircase, the ship will continue along the Caledonian Canal towards Fort Augustus, passing through Loch Lochy, the tree-lined stretch of canal known as Laggan Avenue, and Loch Oich.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Our journey along the Caledonian Canal continues, until we reach Fort Augustus where the canal meets Loch Ness. This village, where we will moor for the night, grew around the eponymous fort built in the wake of the 1715 Jacobite Rising.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Loch Ness, Culloden, Clava Cairns, Inverness
At Sea
B,L,D
Magna Carta Steamship Company’s MV Lord of the Glens

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 20 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking up to 2 miles, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: Setting out from Fort Augustus this morning, the ship will descend a flight of four locks and sail northeast across Loch Ness. Pausing at the loch’s halfway point, we'll be able to admire the picturesque ruins of Urquhart Castle on the western shore. Leaving Loch Ness, we’ll travel into Loch Dochfour and back into the Caledonian Canal for the final stretch of our voyage, to Inverness where the ship will moor for the night.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We’ll board a motorcoach in Inverness and travel east to Nairnshire, where we’ll visit the historic Culloden battlefield, site of the last battle fought on British soil in 1746, which brought Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite Rising to an end. This was a desperate fight which 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. We'll then travel on to Clava Cairns, three well-preserved Neolithic cairns, thought to be ritual burial chambers connected with the winter solstice and death, which show evidence of both inhumations and cremations. Two of the cairns are chambered tombs with cup-marked stones and the third is a ring cairn, which is unique to the Moray Firth Area. Our local expert will go into deeper detail on their purported significance. Following our visit we will return to the ship for dinner.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: We'll have a "farewell to the ship" reception on board as we prepare to disembark tomorrow morning.

DAY
10
Disembark Ship, Cawdor Castle, Whisky Distillery, Edinburgh
At Sea
B,L
Radisson Blu Edinburgh

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 200 miles, approximately 5 hours with stops. Walking up to 2 miles, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will disembark in Inverness and travel by motorcoach to Cawdor Castle and Gardens, where we’ll enjoy an expert-led visit. Situated close to the East Highland town of Nairn, 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. Within the grounds of the castle, there are extensive nature trails and fine gardens. After our visit, we will board our motorcoach and begin our transfer to Edinburgh, travelling south through the Cairngorms National Park.

Lunch: We'll enjoy lunch at a local pub near Pitlochry. Coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Before we continue our journey to Edinburgh, we will pay a visit to the Edradour whisky distillery. Dating back to 1825, Edradour is the smallest of Scotland’s traditional farm distilleries functioning today. Here, we will discover not only the magic of malt whisky production, but also the history of this most famous of Scottish drinks. We may even sample a “wee dram!” We’ll then continue our transfer to Edinburgh by motorcoach, and check in to the hotel with some time to settle in before dinner.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Royal Yacht Britannia, Holyrood, Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh.
B,L,D
Radisson Blu Edinburgh

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 7 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 3 miles, standing for up to 2 hours on field trips.

Breakfast: Our full Scottish breakfast in the hotel will include a variety of eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, hash browns, baked beans, cereals, pastries, toast, jams and marmalade, juices, tea, coffee, milk, water.

Morning: We will set out by motorcoach for Albert Dock at Leith, where the Royal Yacht Britannia is permanently moored. HMY Britannia served as the royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II from 1954 until 1997. Aboard the yacht, we’ll explore the bridge, grand state apartments, crew quarters and engine room, learning about life both above and below decks from local experts. We’ll return by motorcoach to Edinburgh’s historic center, where our morning continues with an expert-led visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Her Majesty the Queen's official residence in Scotland. We’ll explore the 14 state apartments and royal collections as well as the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, all set against the backdrop of Arthur's Seat, the dormant volcano in the center of the city.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we will enjoy a 2-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll travel on foot to the western end of the Royal Mile, where we’ll enjoy an expert-led visit to the iconic Edinburgh Castle, perched high over the city on volcanic rock. As our local expert introduces the site, we’ll pass through Portcullis Gate, stand on the 6-gun Argyle Battery dating back to the 18th century, and see the Royal Scots Museum, New Barracks, Governor’s House, and Battlements. Here we can take in views from the battlements north across Scotland’s capital city, the Firth of Forth, and on to Fife in the distance. Inside the Crown Room, we’ll see the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles. We will also see the iconic Stone of Destiny, used to inaugurate monarchs for centuries. Local experts wander the castle, constantly offering additional information if we wish to learn more.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a 3-course plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: Prepare for departure in the morning and get a good night’s rest.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
Edinburgh.
B

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

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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