Scotland Itinerary

***Itinerary subject to change***

Anam Cara Tours, LLC

Scottish Highlands

Clans, Castles & Cathedrals

April 19-28, 2023
Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, Director/Guide

Transportation provided by Edinburgh Coach Lines

Adults 18+ – Land Package $3,399.00 per person, double occupancy (Travelers provide own air travel)

For more details on the Accommodations, Click Here.

Ready to sign up? Click Here for the Contract Info.

ARRIVAL DAY – Tuesday, April 18 (Free day in Edinburgh to acclimate & roam, dinner on your own, pre-paid overnight accommodations, Wednesday breakfast included.)

Overnight: Ibis Hotel Edinburgh Centre South Bridge

DAY 1 – Wednesday, April 19 – NEW MOON

After a first of many complimentary hotel breakfasts, we begin our journey traveling east to Rosslyn Chapel. It is touted as being one of the most mysterious places in Scotland, especially since the book and film, “The Da Vinci Code.” The exquisite carvings are some of the finest in the whole of Europe, and portray scenes not found in any other 15th century chapel. It has become a kind of Mecca to those interested in the mysteries of life, and contains many carvings relevant to biblical, masonic, pagan and Knights Templar themes.

Our lunch stop will be at Abbotsford House, built by author Sir Walter Scott as his grand home in the Scottish Borders. The Willow Tea Rooms offers a good choice of modern Scottish cuisine, with something for every appetite. Freshly made every day by the team of the award-winning Orde Food Co. the menu ranges from light lunches, soups and sandwiches to hearty pies and burgers.

After lunch, our next stop is Melrose Abbey, a Gothic abbey in the Borders region of Scotland, founded in 1136 and now in picturesque ruins. Few ruins can rival the completeness of the remaining structure and evoke the grandeur of what it must have looked like during the height of Melrose Abbey’s power. It is said to enshrine the heart of Robert the Bruce. Robert who was King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, and eventually led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland’s place as an independent country and is today revered in Scotland as a national hero. While you browse, be sure to look for the infamous Pink Pig!

We’ll return to Edinburgh for a complimentary dinner at our hotel.

Overnight: Ibis Hotel Edinburgh Centre South Bridge

DAY 2 – Thursday, April 20

After a hearty breakfast, today we travel by private coach to the nearby area known as East Lothian. Alexander Bloomer will be our private guide. He is an engaging story teller, filled with fun facts and little-known secrets of the area

East Lothian has a wealth of archaeological and historical remains spanning from the early prehistoric period through to, and including, Second World War structures. In 2002, the oldest hunter-gatherer house in Scotland was discovered close to Dunbar in advance of quarrying. Excavations have revealed that it dated to approximately 8300 BC, making it not only one of the earliest sites in Scotland but the oldest house ever known in the country. East Lothian can also boast a number of fantastic medieval castles and tower houses.

The area figures prominently in the annals of witch-hunting in Scotland between 1560 and 1727. The passing of the Scottish Witchcraft Act in 1563 made witchcraft, or consulting with witches, capital crimes in Scotland. Trials in 1590 were held in St. Andrew’s Auld Kirk (church) where we will step back in time while reading the names of the accused witches.

One name in particular may surprise “Outlander” fans!

The trials ran for two years and implicated 70 people. Overall, an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 people, mostly from the Scottish Lowlands, were tried for witchcraft in this period, a much higher rate than for neighboring England. The last Scottish woman to face trial for witchcraft was jailed for her crime as recently as 1944.

Three of the most pivotal characters in Shakespeare’s iconic Scottish play, “Macbeth,” are the witches, who serve in many ways as one character. Throughout the play, the witches, also known as the weird sisters, declared many curious incantations, including this familiar one, “Double, double toil and trouble.”

A visit to Scotland must include a distillery!

Popularly referred to as the ‘Home of Edinburgh Malt,’ the Glenkinchie Distillery is situated in East Lothian and was brought to life in 1837. It is surrounded by much history owing to its location and the exploits of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745 after he became one of the most powerful leaders of his time. Illegal distilleries flooded this place at a time until smaller distilleries were forced to get their license. When Glenkinchie was launched, there were more than 170 distilleries run with a license in the Scottish Lowlands, although their products then would be rejected by whisky lovers today. We will tour the distillery and enjoy tasting some impressive whiskies

We return to Edinburgh for a free evening. There are numerous pubs that feature live music. Our hotel will be helpful with suggestions.

Overnight: Ibis Hotel Edinburgh Centre South Bridge

DAY 3 – Friday, April 21

After breakfast, we’ll load our bags on to our private motor coach and travel north to Inverness. Taking the Queensferry Crossing bridge across the Firth of Forth, we emerge into the area of Scotland known as Burns country. It was the birthplace of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet and the most popular literary giant of all times.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne!

On our journey from the Lowlands to the Highlands, we’ll pay tribute to William Wallace, the legendary Scottish independence fighter in the 13th century. You may recall actor Mel Gibson playing the starring role in “Braveheart.” Folklore around the stone tells that Wallace and his fighting clans gathered here in 1297 before the Battle of Stirling Bridge, but the stone is more likely to have long been standing and took on the appropriation of history. Blind Harry, the famous Wallace follower and storyteller, first narrated these tales

“Here is no choice but either do or die.” – William Wallace (1270-1305)

We’ll travel on to Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s grandest fortresses due to its imposing position and impressive architecture. The scenery will take your breath away! Highlights include The Royal Palace, The Great Hall, The Great Kitchens, Chapel Royal and Regimental Museum. We’ll enjoy lunch on our own at the Stirling’s Unicorn Café before traveling on. (The Unicorn is the national animal of Scotland.)

We will continue on our northern route, stopping at the magical Highland Folk Museum, a site used for several episodes of “Outlander.” To access the open-air site, we take a gentle walk through a forest glen. We will enjoy a tour with a private guide—in costume. We can see firsthand what life was like in the Highlands from 1700s up until the 1960s. There are over 30 historical buildings furnished to reflect their appropriate time period.

A highlight will be a private session with the Waulking Ladies. Cloth-making was women’s work back then. The tedious chores were often enlivened by groups of carders and spinners coming together to sing while they toiled. “Outlander” followers will remember Claire doing this in the first season. Thankfully, our group will not have to provide the “liquid treatment.”

We travel on to Inverness, our home for three nights, in an elegant hotel on the banks of River Ness, which eventually flows into Loch Ness. We’ll enjoy a complimentary dinner at a nearby restaurant

Overnight: Mercure Inverness Hotel

DAY 4 – Saturday, April 22

After breakfast, we’ll spend the morning at Culloden. The course of British, European and world history was changed here at on April 16, 1746. It was here that the Jacobite army fought to reclaim the throne of Britain from the Hanoverians for a Stuart king. The British army was equally determined to stop this happening. Now, over 250 years on, Culloden is still a site that connects us intimately with our past and is a critical part of the “Outlander” books and TV saga. Our group will enjoy a one-hour private tour of the sobering battlegrounds. Volunteers are on staff at the visitor center offering help in researching clan names. If this is important to you, definitely bring ancestry paperwork to start the process. The on-site café will be our lunch stop.

Down the road we’ll process along a short path that weaves through enchanting woodlands and delivers us to St Mary’s Well. It is a little-known site of spiritual pilgrimage, past and present. Some believe it to be a triage center, staffed by local women tending those wounded at Culloden. On the first day of May, people flock to St Mary’s Well to tie “clouties” (prayer ties) to nearby trees, which, according to local lore, will ward away evil spirits for a year.

For those who wish to participate, we will experience a guided meditation designed to connect our consciousness to those who gave their lives to preserve the Clan System. You will be provided with a prayer tie for your personal offering.

We’ll then make a short drive to Clava Cairns. There we will meet up with our private guide, Lizzie McDougal. A Native Scot, she is an artist and storyteller fascinated by the pictures that stories, particularly traditional Highland stories, inspire in the mind’s eye. She has gathered stories that have been shared by generations; nature stories, historic stories and fairy stories that strengthen connections to Highland culture, nature and the environment. Lizzie will weave together for us story and lore connected to Clava Cairns

Calva Cairns is one of the best-preserved Bronze Age burial (and likely ceremonial) sites in Scotland, dating back to the late Neolithic period, similar to Newgrange in Ireland. Both were built prior to Stonehenge in England. There are three cairns here, two with passage ways aligned to the winter solstice sunset, and all with subtle features, incorporated to reflect the importance of the South-west horizon. Some of the large boulders, which make up the outer facing of the cairns, have been carved with enigmatic cup and ring markings. It is believed that this area served as Craigh Na Dun, the place where “Outlanders” traveled through time

There is a tall flat stone similar to the one that facilitates Claire’s travel forward and back in time. Who will be willing to give it a try?

Besides the amazing stones, it is said that the craggy trees and roots that meander through the site were planted by Druids.

After an early dinner on your own, we’ll be treated to a private traditional Scottish music session led by local lad, Arron Alderson. Later, since Sunday is a free day, you may want to venture out to one of the many nearby pubs for music, beverage and “craic,” the Gaelic word for fun.

Overnight: Mercure Inverness Hotel

DAY 5 – Sunday, April 23

FREE DAY to sleep in and roam about Inverness. Or you can book for yourself a day trip for golf, horse-back riding, whisky tasting, or maybe a spa visit.

Overnight: Mercure Inverness Hotel

DAY 6 – Monday, April 24

After breakfast and loading our bags onto the coach, we’ll head south along the 62-mile Glen Albyn. Following along the shores of the legendary Loch Ness, we’ll journey through some of Scotland’s most fabulous scenery; lush forests, vast heather-clad hillsides and dramatic sea lochs (lakes). Over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest, Loch Ness is the largest lake in Scotland by volume. We’ll visit the elegant and informative Visitor Centre, which includes The Nessie Shop, The Whisky Shop, Cashmere & Woolens Shop, Kilt makers, Ancestral Names Research Centre, plus a bistro and café.

Our next stop will be Fort Williams, located at the foot of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain peak at 4,400 feet. There are many lunch spots to choose from along the pedestrian-friendly High Street. We’ll also allow time to visit the small yet lavish West Highland Museum known for its nationally important collection telling the turbulent history of the West Highlands.

Not far from Fort Williams, we’ll head towards Glencoe. The journey is perhaps Scotland’s most famous and most scenic routes. Glencoe is also arguably Scotland’s most historic glen, and it was recently voted as Scotland’s most romantic glen. The village is on the site of the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692, in which 38 members of the Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by forces acting on behalf of the government of King William III following the Glorious Revolution. Glencoe is sometimes poetically referred to as “The Weeping Glen.” Native Gaelic speakers who belong to the area always refer to the village itself as A’ Chàrnaich, meaning “the place of cairns.” A cairn is a man-made pile (or stack) of stones raised for a purpose, usually as a marker or as a burial mound.

We’ll continue south towards Loch Lomond, roaming through the area of the Highlands called Argyll. There we’ll witness even more magnificent landscapes. Heard of Argyle socks? An instantly recognizable design thanks to its distinctive diamond motif, Argyle was originally derived from the tartan of Clan Campbell of Argyll in western Scotland. The tartan would have been featured on kilts, plaids and pattern socks worn by Scottish Highlanders since at least the 17th century.

Following the A85 road, we’ll pass through several more villages and hamlets. This drive will deliver us to the north end of the “Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond.” The largest lake in Scotland, (23 miles long and up to 4 miles wide) its fresh waters cross the Highland Boundary Fault, often considered the boundary between the lowlands of Central Scotland and the Highlands. It is, of course, famous for the Scottish folk song, “Loch Lomond.”

O you’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road
And  I’ll be in Scotland afore ye
But  me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

Historian Murray G. H. Pittock writes that the song “…is a Jacobite adaptation of an eighteenth-century erotic song, with the lover dying for his king, and taking only the ‘low road’ of death back to Scotland.” It is one of many poems and songs that emerged from Jacobite political culture in Scotland.

The song has been recorded by many performers over the years. The original author is unknown. One story is that the song was written by a Scottish soldier who awaited death in enemy captivity; in his final letter home, he wrote this song, portraying his home and how much he would miss it. Another tale is that during the Jacobite rising of 1745 a soldier on his way back to Scotland during the 1745–46 retreat from England wrote this song.

Dinner and evening on your own.

Overnight: Queen of the Loch Hotel

DAY 7 – Tuesday, April 25

After breakfast, we’ll make a short drive to the Tarbet pier where we’ll step aboard a small boat designed for intimate tours, operated by Cruise Loch Lomond. Discover the northern end of fjord-like Loch Lomond and sail over the deepest part of the Loch in the shadow of Ben Lomond on this one-hour circular cruise. We’ll sail around ‘Honeymoon Island’ and hear the origins of that name during the cruise. Sit back, relax and enjoy a drink and snack from the bar on board

After a casual lunch stop, we’ll visit Loch Lomond Birds of Prey for their afternoon live demonstration. The center is located within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. It is a family run center with three generations involved on a regular basis, the youngest helping out when he can. The staff is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and passionate about what they do, educating and enlightening members of the public on nature, conservation, and raptors. During our visit you will see birds in flight; a variety of Kestrels, Falcons, Hawks, Owls and Eagles. The variety depends on the time of year. The unique flying area ensures the birds are flying in close proximity in a natural setting. Some may even be flying over your head!

Evening is free with dinner on your own.

Overnight: Queen of the Loch Hotel

DAY 8 – Wednesday, April 26

After a delicious breakfast, we’ll board our private coach and make a short drive to Glasgow, population of 633,120. Glasgow (pronounced GLAZZ-go) is considered the business capital of Scotland. It grew from a small rural settlement on the River Clyde to become the largest seaport in Scotland.

Mid-morning we’ll visit St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art. The museum is named after Glasgow’s patron saint who brought the Christian faith to Scotland in the 6th century. It is built on the site of the medieval Bishops’ Castle and is designed in its style. The galleries are full of displays, objects and stunning works of art that explore the importance of religion in peoples’ lives across the world and across time. The venue aims to promote understanding and respect between people of different faiths and those of none and offers something for everyone.

We can relax in the popular cafe which opens out to the first Zen Garden in Britain.

Just across the road is Lordship, which is the oldest house in Glasgow, and alongside the Glasgow Cathedral. It is the oldest cathedral in mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow. The first stone was laid at Glasgow Cathedral was dedicated in the presence of King David I in 1136. The present building was consecrated in 1197. Since that same period the Cathedral has never been unroofed and the worship of God has been carried out within its walls for more than 800 years. The Episcopal church continues to have an active congregation.

In “Outlander,” Glasgow Cathedral’s crypt was used in season 2 as the inside of the L’Hopital des Anges. This is where Claire volunteers as a nurse and eventually gives birth to her stillborn baby girl

After lunch on your own, we’ll be treated to an up close and personal demonstration of the Scottish Bagpipe. At the Museum of Piping at The National Piping Centre, we will explore 300 years of musical history, and try the bagpipes for ourselves!

Dinner and evening on your own.

Overnight: Maldron Glasgow City Hotel

DAY 9 – Thursday, April 27

Enjoy breakfast at your leisure with a free morning to explore the area of Glasgow near our hotel.

We will then enjoy a complimentary lunch at the Art Lover’s Café, Bellahouston. There we will meet up with our afternoon guide, Maggi Sales, known as Grandmother of the Burning Hearth. The café combines the amazing setting of a Mackintosh inspired house with fresh ingredients from the best local suppliers. Their stated lunch menu consists of pea risotto, fillet of hake, chicken breast, house beef burger, and a variety of side dishes, including salad. Their homemade desserts must be tried!

After lunch we’ll travel by coach to Glasgow’s Govan Old Church.

Maggi, a fun, knowledgeable native Scots woman, will introduce us to The Govan Stones. We’ll discover the unique collection of early medieval stones carved in the 9th-11th centuries to commemorate the power of those who ruled the Kingdom of Strathclyde. One of Glasgow’s most important historical and cultural assets, there are 31 monuments within the beautiful setting of Govan Old Church. Besides the Viking and Roman influences, historians know that people first inhabited the Govan area over 5,000 years ago. What will the stones reveal to you?

After dinner on our own, we’ll meet up at the hotel for a Farewell Session for our driver. You’ll have to wait until we’re in Scotland to learn the details!

Overnight: Maldron Glasgow City Hotel

DAY 10 – Friday, April 28 – Return to Edinburgh

After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll load our bags and make the short drive back to Edinburgh. There you will have the afternoon free to wander, shop and pack for departure on Saturday.

We’ll close our adventure with a rousing evening of complimentary dining, imbibing, music and dance at The Spirit of Scotland Show. The show is a rip-roaring evening of traditional Scottish song and dance accompanied by a great selection of quality Scottish food to delight your pallet. The resident band and traditional Scottish Dancers provide breathtaking performances for their audience and never fail to entertain.

We’ll say our farewells back at our hotel, savoring the magic of the past 10 days.

Overnight: Ibis Hotel Edinburgh Centre South Bridge

DEPARTURE Day – Saturday, April 29 (at traveler’s expense)

Anam Cara Tours LLC
Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, Director/Guide
14850 SW Hidden Hills Road
McMinnville, OR 97128 USA


For more details on the Accommodations, Click Here.

Ready to sign up? Click Here for the Contract Info.