12 Days in Scotland: A recommended itinerary from the Andrew Harper Travel Office.
Scotland offers some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world, punctuated by historic island castles and baronial country house hotels. In the July 2007 Hideaway Report, Andrew Harper describes how, in only a short drive, "you can go from a pastoral setting of small villages and neatly tilled fields to the vast and empty wilds of the Highlands, where craggy, heather-clad mountains are scoured by rushing peat-stained streams."
But Scotland isn't just for the nature lover or history buff. Sporting types can fly-fish in pastoral salmon streams, kayak to uninhabited islands, enjoy an afternoon of clay pigeon shooting or golf some of the greatest courses in the world where the game itself was invented.
These days, even the gourmand will be quite content; Mr. Harper calls the transformation of Scottish cuisine "little short of miraculous." And of course, venerable Scottish whisky distilleries continue to craft beautiful single malts.
Most recently, Mr. Harper explored the western Highlands, seeking to "renew [his] acquaintance with the region's brooding peaks, deep glacial valleys and magical coastline."
Following is a suggested itinerary from the Andrew Harper Travel Office showcasing some of the best this region has to offer:
Days 1-2 Arrive in Edinburgh. Spend two nights in this picturesque cultural capital, viewing storied Edinburgh Castle, the architecture of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse (former home of Mary Queen of Scots), monumental Calton Hill and the Royal Botanic Gardens. It's also possible to tour the Britannia, formerly the yacht of the Royal Family (book tickets well in advance).
Day 3 Pick up a rental car (or hire a driver/guide), and head north to Torridon on the western coast. En route, consider stopping at famed 16th-century Scone Palace, and the House of Bruar, "a shopper's paradise," according to Mr. Harper. In addition to an "astonishing" selection of Scottish country-style clothing, "You will also find an antiques emporium, a gallery of rural Scottish art and a huge food hall overflowing with Scottish goodies." The Edradour Distillery, Scotland's smallest, is also located along the way. Overnight at The Torridon.
Days 4-5 Enjoy kayaking, hiking or clay pigeon shooting at The Torridon, and make excursions into the surrounding rugged Highlands. Mr. Harper calls the scenery here "pure Highland magic."
Day 6 Take the Applecross Road, "one of the most memorable drives in Europe," and make a short detour to romantic Eilean Donan Castle, a picture-postcard ruin on a tiny island. Cross the bridge onto the Isle of Skye and drive to Isle Ornay, where Mr. Harper recommends lunching at the "captivating" Hotel Eilean Iarmain. Continue along the Sleat Peninsula, known as "The Garden of Skye" for its intensely green landscape. Take the car ferry to Mallaig and drive to Inverlochy Castle.
Day 7 Relax at Inverlochy Castle, perhaps enjoying some country walks, a round of golf or a tour of the nearby Ben Nevis Distillery.
Day 8 Detour around Loch Leven to Kinlochleven, taking full advantage of the area's scenic splendor. Pause in Glencoe, where the Campbells infamously massacred the MacDonalds. Continue south along the coast of the Isle of Eriska, a hotel set on its own 300-acre island. Spend the afternoon walking around the island and enjoying the property.
Day 9 Make an excursion to the spectacular ruins of Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe; stroll through the resort town of Inveraray; and tour the Oban Distillery. Mr. Harper notes its "gentle 'West Highlands' flavor contains just a touch of sea saltiness and a whiff of peat."
Day 10 Book a private charter and cruise to the Isle of Mull, visiting Duart Castle and the town of Tobermory. Porpoise and sea eagles should be easily visible, and you might also see whales, sharks and seals.
Day 11 Depart Isle of Eriska and drive to the famed Loch Lomond, Scotland's largest. Consider taking a cruise around the lake to see the ruins on Inchmurrin. Continue on to Glasgow, known for its well-preserved Victorian architecture and vibrant cultural scene.
Day 12 Depart Glasgow and connect to your flight home.
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