Jim Glendinning’s Scotland
Off the Beaten Path

Spiritual landmarks, Historic Castles, Ancient Glens, local Guides.

September 6-17, 2010

Scotland - heather and thistle to be sure as well as the sights of Edinburgh and Glasgow. But there’s also the Scotland of small hotels and coaching inns, the islands of Iona, Mull and Skye, the ancient ruins of Eilach na Naiombh on a private island in the Firth of Lorne. Visit castles and abbeys, gardens and ancient monuments, including Iona where Christianity arrived in Scotland and Lindisfarne (Holy Isle) in the North Sea built by monks in the 11th century. Attend a Highland Games. Visit a farmhouse distillery, Scotland’s smallest. Meet with ordinary Scots folk. Travel in a small group led by an expert - Scots-born, Edinburgh-educated Jim Glendinning.

Monday, September 6. Leave Midland Airport at 10.45 a.m. and fly via Houston and Newark, overnight to Glasgow, arriving 7.30 a.m.

Tuesday, September 7. We are met by our driver/guide Stuart Campbell and drive 45 miles to Edinburgh. We head for Calton Hill, at the end of famous Princes Street, for an overview of Scotland’s capital and then a brief stop for refreshments. Then we drive south 50 minutes to our hotel, Park Hotel, in the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Peebles, a delightful small town on the banks of the River Tweed. Check-in and light lunch. In the afternoon we visit Traquair House dating to the 15th century and rich in history of Scottish kings; we tour the house, get lost in the maze in the garden, and perhaps purchase the ale from Traquair’s brewery. Return to Peebles for dinner.

Wednesday, September 8. We head south through the scenic Scottish Lowlands of wooded hills and small towns, crossing into England. At Beal in Northumberland we drive across a causeway and sand flats to Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island. Missionaries from Iona settled here in the 7th century. With a local guide, we tour the ruins of the 11th century Benedictine priory and a small 16th century castle. We have lunch on the island, watch for seals offshore and enjoy the teeming bird life. Returning to Scotland, we pause briefly in the village of Braxton, the site of one of the bloodiest battles on English soil, Flodden Field, where Scotland’s King James IV and thousands of Scottish soldiers died in 1513. We stop in Melrose and tour the abbey (built in 1136) where the heart of Robert the Bruce, Scotland’s hero king, is buried. Return to the Park Hotel for dinner and overnight.

Thursday, September 9. A full day in Edinburgh, starting with a tour of the principal sights: Princes Street, Holyrood Palace, the new Scottish Parliament building; the Royal Mile, the Museum of Scotland and the New Town. Lunch in a pub. In the afternoon there is the option of visiting Edinburgh Castle and the Museum of Scotland; or strolling down the Royal Mile including a visit to St. Giles Cathedral followed by a guided tour of Roslyn Chapel, founded in 1444. The movie The DaVinci Code brought international attention to this small chapel already famous for its astonishing array of sculptures and symbols, and the tomb of a Knight Templar. Return to Park Hotel.

Friday, September 10. Leaving Edinburgh, we head across the Forth Road Bridge to the beautiful county of Perth. Near Perth we visit Scone Palace, previously an abbey, where early Scottish kings were crowned on the famous Stone of Destiny. After lunch we drive to Glen Lyon deep in the southern Highlands, one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland. With our guide we’ll see the megalithic standing stones which date from prehistoric times. And we’ll view the holy mountain of Schiehallion, translated from the Gaelic as “The fairy hill of the Caledonians” and a chapel with remarkable heraldic mural. We continue to Pitlochry, a delightful holiday resort set in beautiful wooded hill country, famous for its salmon dam and its summer theatre. We stay at Fishers Hotel, dating from 1830 and recently renovated, in the center of town. Dinner and overnight.

Saturday, September 11. We pay an early visit to nearby Edradour Distillery, the smallest in Scotland, dating (legally, at least) to 1823. Here the age-old whisky production is done by hand in a delightful country setting. We return to Pitlochry for the Pitlochry Highland Games, one of the last games of the summer, which were founded in 1836. Starting with the massed pipe bands marching in procession from town to the park where the Games take place, the Games offer a continuous program of sporting events, highland dancing, and band competition a day of variety, color and movement. Tents around the park perimeter sell souvenirs and Scottish snack foods. At this festive place it’s easy to chat with everyone. Later in the afternoon, we head west to Oban, the gateway to the isles. After enjoying a typical Scottish meal at McTavish’s restaurant and being entertained by dancing and music, we board the last ferry for the 45-minute crossing to the Isle of Mull. Continue to the Pennyghael Hotel, where in your room “a wee decanter of Tobermory malt awaits your attention.”

Sunday, September 12. After a hearty Scottish breakfast we drive to Fonnphort, leave our coach and take the passenger ferry on the 5-minute crossing to the Isle of Iona. On this tiny island, St. Columba established an abbey when he arrived from Ireland in 563 to convert Scotland to Christianity. We may choose to join the community at morning services in the Abbey. Afterwards, led by a member of the Iona Community, we’ll explore Iona following a Celtic prayer cycle around the island. It is also possible to hike independently during our visit. Due to the northern location, we have daylight hours to visit St. Oran’s Cemetery, the oldest in Scotland and the burial place for 48 Scottish kings. Return to Mull by the last ferry and drive back to Pennyghael Hotel for dinner.

Monday, September 13. We drive to Craignure, and board our charter boat with naturalist guide for an hour-long voyage to the Eilach na Naiombh (Holy Isle) Island. On route it’s likely we’ll see much of the wildlife this area is famous for minke whales, porpoise and seals as well as hundreds of seabirds. During our 90 minutes ashore, we’ll disembark on the rocks where St. Brendan landed in 542, and climb the steep stone steps to the ruins of the 6th century monastic settlement, then hike to the highest point for a panoramic view of the western islands. We’ll return to Mull for lunch, after which we cross back to the mainland at Lochaline and head for the Inn at Ardgour, a coaching inn set at the narrowest point of Loch Linnhe where the ferry crosses. Dinner and overnight.

Tuesday, September 14. We head northwest today to catch the Skye ferry at Mallaig. After a 30-minute crossing, we reach Armadale, only a short distance from the Clan Donald Center. Here we find Armadale Castle, home of the Clan McDonald and a 40-acre garden which features exotic plants from around the world. Here too, the Museum of the Isles presents the history of the clan and the Isle of Skye. All of this is set in a 20,000-acre estate. We have a late lunch at the centre before crossing back to the mainland via the new bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh, from where we continue to Fort William with a stop at Eilean Donan Castle, one of the best known and prettiest in all of Scotland. Dinner and overnight at the Inn of Ardgour.

Wednesday, September 15. Leaving the Highlands, we head south, stopping at Glencoe, known as “The Vale of Weeping”, to visit the museum which commemorates the infamous massacre in 1692. Continuing south across wild Rannoch Moor, we reach the gentle shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest and best known loch. Arriving in Glasgow, we head for the Belhaven Hotel, a restored Victorian townhouse, situated in Glasgow’s lively West End just next to the Botanic Gardens. Dinner in the West End.

Thursday, September 16. We pick up our local guide outside the monumental City Chambers, which we visit. Here, in elaborate and rich detail, is evidence of Glasgow’s wealth as a Victorian industrial city. Next, we visit the huge medieval Cathedral of St. Kentigern (1136) which stands on the site of an earlier church dating to the 7th century. We have a quick lunch in a sandwich shop, perhaps trying a bridie or sausage roll. In the afternoon we travel to The Burrell Collection (1993) evidence of the new art-connected city. We return to the West End for a farewell dinner in a traditional restaurant. Overnight at Belhaven Hotel.

Friday, September 17. Our adventure in Scotland is over. For those returning to the USA today, we leave early to catch our morning flight arriving Midland, after two plane changes, in the evening. For those wishing to stay on in Europe after the tour, Jim will be happy to suggest and book an additional itinerary.

The 10-day itinerary includes:

Guide services: Escorted throughout by Jim Glendinning - born on a farm in the border region of Scotland, educated in Edinburgh and at Oxford. World traveler, former Peace Corps volunteer, currently living in Alpine, Texas. Jim is well-known for his travel guides of Mexico and the Big Bend of Texas as well as numerous cultural and hiking trips to Mexico. This is his 4th escorted trip to Scotland in five years. Local guides: as needed for specific sites.

PRICE. $2,345 per person (land tour, sharing a room). Single supplement $225. Price based on 16 persons. If only 10 passengers sign up, the price is $2,890.

Price includes: accommodation 11 nights, including one in-flight; 10 breakfasts and dinners; transportation by Mercedes coach; visits as specified in the itinerary
Not included: air fare ($950 or more, depending on when you book - if sufficient people sign up by June 1, all flying from/to the same place on the same date, a lower group fare will be arranged), lunches, insurance, alcoholic drinks, tips to local guides.
Payments: Deposit $250 per person. Next, $1,000 by June 1. Balance of $1,095 by July 1. Cancellation by June 1, no fee. After June 1, the whole amount is forfeit unless a replacement is found.
To book: Send a check for $250 made out to Jim Glendinning’s Tour to Scotland to: Jim Glendinning, 904 North 11th Street, Alpine, TX 79830.
For information: 432.837.7320 or jimglen2@sbcglobal.net