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Exploring Scotland in Midsummer

Destination: Edinburgh, Central Highlands, and Mull

Midsummer is an amazing time in Scotland: days are very long and wildlife is abundant. On this trip we divide our time between three very different area of Scotland: Edinburgh, Scotland's most charming city; the Central Highlands, specifically the Cairngorms and Loch Ness; and the Atlantic West Coast. We spend the last three days in the charming seaside town of Plockton, visiting the Knoydart Peninsula and the Isle of Skye, spending the final day kayaking along the coast, and listening to traditional Scottish music at least one night. Taken all together our trip will give you a taste of the human and natural history, the exquisite beauty, and the diversity of Scotland. Maximum group size: 13

Highlights

  • Seeing the sights that Edinburgh is famous for and having time to explore on your own
  • Hiking the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Parks
  • Listening to live Scottish music
  • Hiking on the Isle of Skye and Scotland's West Atlantic Coast
  • Learning about Scottish history and savoring the excellent Scottish cuisine, especially fresh seafood

Departures and Prices

Inclusions

  • 2 local guides and an AGC guide for more than 8
  • Nine nights double occupancy accommodation
  • Minivan transportation within Scotland
  • All activities on the itinerary
  • All meals from dinner on June 9 through breakfast on June 18 except for one lunch
  • Tipping of local day guides

Not included: transportation to Edinburgh, beverages at dinner, guide gratuities, anything not on the itinerary, items of a personal nature

Details

This trip has lots of activity, interspersed with time for sightseeing, and our days can be enjoyed by any active and fit woman in good health who has a good level of physical conditioning, loves being outdoors, and wants to see Scotland. This trip is rated 3, which requires aerobic conditioning such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes 3 - 4 days a week. Rating: 1 2 [3]4 5.

This is primarily a hiking trip, designed to introduce you to the varied Scottish landscape. We have chosen moderate hikes on established paths. We will also be learning about Scottish history and culture.

We spend our nights in non-chain locally owned hotels, inns, and B&Bs. We'll spend the first night at the Parliament House Hotel in Edinburgh, two nights at Crieff Murray Park Hotel Hotel, two nights at The Lovat Hotel and three nights at the Haven Guesthousein Plockton. We will spend the last night in Edinburgh in a hotel that is an easy distance to the airport (Novotel or similar). All of the rooms have ensuite bathrooms.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
We'll meet in the lobby of our hotel in central Edinburgh at 9AM. Edinburgh is undoubtedly the most popular city in Scotland and you'll quickly understand why. The mix of old and new, the intriguing political history and compelling literary history, the scenic beauty, the current arts scene - all of these combine to make Edinburgh one of the most enjoyable cities you may ever visit. We'll start with a guided tour of the city to help you get oriented: we'll begin with a short climb up Clayton Hill for a spectacular view of the city and the surrounding area. Next, we'll stroll the Royal Mile stopping to admire St Giles Cathedral, Gladstone's Land, the John Knox House, and Dunbar's Garden before crossing over into New Town for a quick taste of what that section of Edinburgh has to offer. You'll then have some free time in the afternoon to have lunch and pursue what interests you. Our guide will have lots of suggestions ranging from museums to taking on the challenge of hiking up Arthur's Seat, the high hill in Holyrood Park at the edge of downtown. Although only 700 ft high, it has surprisingly wild feeling. We'll have an early dinner tonight so that those of you feeling jet lagged can finally get to bed. Overnight Parliament Hotel, Edinburgh D
DAY 2
What a difference a good night's sleep can make! After a hearty Scottish breakfast, you'll be all set for another day of adventure! Edinburgh is a charming city but the Scottish Highlands are calling. We'll leave Edinburgh via 18th century elegant New Town, stopping to admire the amazing 100 year old Forth Bridge and the old harbor town, site of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel "Kidnapped". From there we continue to Stirling and Stirling Castle, Scotland's most significant historic castle and an excellent introduction to Scottish history and geography. After lunch and touring the castle we continue to Loch Katrine, the famous backstage to Walter Scott's ballad "Lady of the Lake" and the first major tourist pull in the Romantic period of the early 19th century. It's located in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Scotland's second national park, and the area where the Highlands geologically starts. Beautiful scenery and a lovely one to two hour stroll along the banks is the perfect way to ease into the Highlands. Overnight Crieff Murray Park Hotel. Drive: 3.5 hours, hike: 1- 2 hours B, L, D
DAY 3
This morning we'll travel from Crieff to Kenmore Hills where another fabulous hike awaits. Once arriving at the trailhead, we'll follow a hill path across the moorland through Scot pines and other native trees to a massive cairn near the summit of the hill. The view is pretty spectacular! Loch Tay can be seen, backed by towering summits of the Ben Lawer range as well as the Carn Mairg mountains above Kenmore and the cone of Schiehallion - well worth the walk! After the hike, we'll make our way down to the valley and the Iron Age Crannog - an authentic reproduction of the site of an original crannog. We'll see how the ancient Scots lived and marvel at the ingenious architecture of the crannog. We'll return to the Crieff where perhaps a walk 'up the hill' for the early evening view before dinner may in order. Overnight Crieff Murray Park Hotel. Drive time: 2-3 hours round trip via pretty Killin and Dochart Waterfalls. Hiking time: 2 - 3 hours, 3.3 miles, 720 feet elevation gain. B, L, D. Overnight Crieff Murray Park Hotel
DAY 4
Cairngorms National Park was Scotland's second national park and famous among hikers. Our hike today is a classic, a good path through the regenerating woodland of the National Nature reserve up to a small lake, nestled beneath spectacular cliffs in a spectacular amphitheater called Coire Ardair. Coires, the Scottish name for cirques, are created by ancient glaciation. We'll picnic along the way and then relax at the lake, admiring the magnificent cliffs of Creag Meagaidh before returning to our starting point. After our hike, we'll drive to Fort Augustus with a stop at the Dalwhinnie Whisky distillery tasting room if time allows (really, even if you don't like Scotch, this is Scotland!). We will be staying at the Lovat Hotel in Fort Augustus for the next 2 nights. Overnight: Lovat Hotel. Drive time: 3 hours. Hiking time: 4 hours, 7.5 miles, 1400 feet elevation gain. B, L, D
DAY 5
After enjoying another Scottish breakfast we'll travel by van for a short 30 minute ride to our hike for the day. We'll be hiking a portion of the Meall Fuar-mhonaidh trail - a name that by now will just roll off the tongue! Meall Fuar-mhonaidh may not be well known by name, but it is the most prominent summit around Loch Ness and provides a straightforward hillwalk with good views all along the trail. The number of hours we hike will depend on several factors including weather and interest but the views will be unending regardless of our mileage. Before returning to our vans we'll make a stop at a lovely cafe for a spot of tea to celebrate our hike and then return to the Lovat Hotel. Drive time: 70 mins each way. Hiking time: 4 - 5 hours, 6 miles, 1700 feet elevation gain. B, L, D
DAY 6
We start the day with a spectacular drive over the steep Ratagan Pass, which offers superb views of Knoydart, the neighboring peninsula famous for its wild landscapes. In the gentle hillside of Glen Elg we stop to visit a broch, mysterious ruinous towers left to us by the Pictish people who inhabited Scotland 2000 years ago. Driving a bit further, we arrive in the tiny and romantic village of Corran. Corran must be one of the remotest spots in Britain accessible by car; it is a very beautiful and peaceful spot on the shores of the incongruously named Loch Hourn (the Loch of Hell). Here our path takes us along a beautiful pebble beach, through heather and oak forests, always with magnificent views over to Skye and the lonely valleys of Knoydart and its big mountain, Labhar Bhein. Otters are a common sight on this hike and we'll hope to see them as they play just offshore. This is an out and back hike and we will do as much as both time and energy allow, enjoying scenery, birds, otters and the occasional challenge! Following our hike, we will drive for 30 minutes to the picturesque fishing village Plockton where we'll spend the next 3 nights. There's live Scottish folk music tonight next door at the Plockton Inn (where we'll have dinner) for anyone who's interested. Overnight: The Haven Guest House in Plockton. Driving time: 3 hours. Hiking: 2 - 4 hours, up to 5 miles and 700 feet elevation gain B, L, D
DAY 7
Today we'll head to the Isle of Skye! The beautiful isle of Skye affords us great scenery as well as an opportunity to learn more of Scotland's history. Our hike gives witness to one of the saddest periods in Scottish history: the Highland Clearances, a period of time when landowners forcibly evicted entire villages of tenant farmers and their families who had lived on the land for generations to make way for raising sheep. Today's atmospheric and wild hike takes us to one of these deserted and now ruined villages, located in a stunningly beautiful location with fabulous views of the islands Rum and Eig. The ruins left behind bear witness to a thriving community with some fine examples of dry stone walling. Sitting on the rock plateau at Boreraig, this is a fantastic place to take in the sounds of nature while contemplating the trauma of the people who were forced to move. Overnight: The Haven Guest House in Plockton. Driving time: 3 hours. Hiking: 5 Hours with breaks, 7.5 miles, 700 feet elevation gain. B, L, D
DAY 8
A change of pace is in store for us today as we give our legs a rest and spend the day kayaking. We'll learn or review the basics of sea kayaking and then develop our skills as we go on a guided coastal journey, discovering spectacular scenery and landscapes - no experience is necessary. At the end of the day, Plockton is also a great place to see seals and we'll go on a one hour seal tour. If you prefer not to kayak, this is also a charming place to spend time and you might choose just to have a relaxed day. The Plockton Inn offers live music again tonight. Overnight: The Haven Guest House in Plockton. Driving time: 0 Hiking time: 0 - just kayaking! B, L, D
DAY 9
Unfortunately we'll be returning to Edinburgh today, heading back by way of Glen Coe where we can stop for a short stroll. We'll journey south along the shores of Loch Lomond, trying hard not to sing the famous Scottish ballad "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond". We then continue on to our final hotel near the Edinburgh airport, where we'll enjoy a final farewell dinner and share our memories of everything we've packed into such a short time. Driving time: 7 hours including stops B, L, D
DAY 10
Home? Or on to other adventures...You are free to leave anytime this morning. Reception will assist in arranging transportation to the airport or to the train station if continuing your adventure! B

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*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

I wanted less sights and more hikes, less riding in vans and more hikes. The first little hike was a waste. Another was cancelled due to bad weather - well, there should have been a back up hike, not a trip to a castle. I've seen enough castles round the world.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2019-6/18/2019


One of the trip highlights was going to locations not trampled by other hikers. All of the guides were great. My travel companions were great. Met my expectations.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2019-6/18/2019


My 2 favorite days were the final day of hiking along side a river and the kayaking day. I would have liked to have spent more time hiking and or kayaking. I reason I signed up for this particular trip was because it was advertised as being a trip led by Marion.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2019-6/18/2019


The trip over all was beatiiful, fabulous places to stay and great food. I was a bit disappointed with the time constraints for the hikes. I had discussed with Jan and Lisa my concern with the posibilty of being the oldest in the group so not the fastest. I spent the week before walking all over Washington D.C. 10 to 13 miles each day so feel I have endurance. Both ladies assured me that we didn’t hike in a race, but stopped to enjoy the scenery. That is why I enjoy hiking trips to beautiful places. I love the outdoors and the perfect gift of beauty in different places.. the last day I essentially felt uninvited on the last hike along with a couple of other slow ladies. I did end up hiking by myself 6 miles, they did 8, and had a great day. At this time I probably will not do another AGC trip, because I’m not up to it. I did enjoy the group and beautiful Scotland.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2019-6/18/2019


The itinerary was well organized. I was not as prepared for the hiking as I would have liked to be. Although the hiking was challenging for me, it was so worth the effort! Everyone was very supportive. Lisa was amazing and I will travel on one of her trips in the future. I would recommend however, that a disclaimer be presented prior to the trip purchase stating not that exercising and conditioning is recommended, but REQUIRED. I know that a level 3 trip was presented, but I wasn't sure how soft or firm the 3 was (subjective). Now that I know, I will prepare more responsibly next time.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2019-6/18/2019


Highlight - I always enjoy seeing a new place and meeting new people. Excellent tour in Edinburgh. On the down side, there was way too much time spent traveling in the van. Additionally there was no time to explore the little towns we stayed in, except Plockton. By the time we came back each day, everything but local restaurants were closed.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2019-6/18/2019


Yes in that the scenery was lovely, and the company of women and guides was wonderful. However, it did not meet my expectations in the amount of hiking we did each day. The trip had far more car time than I anticipated. While I understand now more about the layout of the roads and driving conditions and understand this may be unavoidable, I may have selected a different trip for my summer outdoor adventure had I known how much driving and how little hiking we actually did during the time we were in Scotland.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2019-6/18/2019


I enjoyed all of the activities and felt like the trip was well planned and had a great itinerary. I loved hiking up to the lake and the hike into the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Sky, especially, but all of the hikes were outstanding. The only disappointment I had was not being able to sea kayak in Plockton, due to not having a buoyancy vest that fit.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2019-6/18/2019


Highlights included meeting some wonderful women; guide in Edinburgh was very knowledgeable and entertaining - thoroughly enjoyed his tour of the city; dinners were excellent; accommodations were lovely. Failed to meet expectations: Too much time driving from one spot to another; felt rushed on some hikes; guide Antje was very gruff, scowled at me several times when I did not keep up with the front hikers; 9:30 am start each morning was late to be getting going - could have started earlier since breakfasts were generally available by around 7 or 7:30; some items of interest ended up being just drive-by or photo-ops. Others on this trip expressed similar concerns. I hope they felt comfortable sharing their thoughts.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/7/2018-6/16/2018


Hoping to actually be able to tour a few points of interest along the drives vs Picture taking stops. Enjoyed the crannog tour.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/7/2018-6/16/2018


I got to see a lot of Scotland. It was a lot of driving, but I appreciated being able to see so much of the country. Highlights- the group was great- very cohesive. I loved the guides- Jan and Antje

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/7/2018-6/16/2018


Wonderful people and place, but too much driving. Since we started late each day, it seemed most of the morning was taken with getting to the trailhead.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/7/2018-6/16/2018


Much less time hiking than on previous AGC trips. Too much wasted time in the hotels.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/7/2018-6/16/2018


It gave me an opportunity to learn about hiking and practice in some of the most beautiful spots in Scotland that were out of the way and less traveled.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/7/2018-6/16/2018


I expected a hiking trip. This was not a hiking trip. We did 4 hikes in 8 days; two were good, one was boring (no view or vistas) and one was downright unpleasant (unmaintained trail and walking on loose rocks). The overall itinerary was not designed to visit Scotland's many fantastic hiking destinations. Rather, we drove for hours to random, far-apart towns which themselves were not near good hiking venues. It seems as if the itinerary was built around the hotels and then hikes were found in relation to the hotels, rather than the other way around. I have written you a separate email about a possible explanation for this.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/7/2018-6/16/2018


Trip to Plockton, hikes, group, and food was great. History and the places off the beaten trek.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/7/2018-6/16/2018


Highlights of this trip included the gorgeous scenery and the outstanding company of my fellow travelers. The itinerary was a perfect mix of outdoor activities and sightseeing,

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2017-6/17/2017


Hiking along coast with butterfly and flower expert and the day boat trip was canceled

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2017-6/17/2017


I have a number of comments I'd like to share with Marian (or her designee) when she has time. I'm available all day Thursday and plenty ot times after that.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2017-6/17/2017


The quality of the food exceeded my expectations...if Antje chooses all the restaurants, she is to be commended. The weather was challenging and caused cancellation of some parts of the trip I was looking forward to.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2017-6/17/2017


The weather was much wetter than usual which led to several cancellations and adjustments to the itinerary. We missed bling and our final boat trip to see the Puffins and other wildlife. Our canoe trip was shortened as well. We all hung in there though and made the best of it in AGC style.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/9/2017-6/17/2017


Highlights were Stirling Castle, Isle of Mull, the puffins! Standing on Dunadd, the center of power for the DalRiata!!! (I'm fairly certain I was the only person in the group who knew who this kingdom was, but I was awestruck) and the wonderful valley of Kilmartin.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer 6/10/2016-6/18/2016


I especially liked hiking on Ben Lawer, and the time we spent on Mull. But it was all great. And Kerrera was terrific.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer #1 6/10/2016-6/18/2016


Each day was a new and different adventure. It is always great to travel with an interesting group of like minded women.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer #1 6/10/2016-6/18/2016


Walking across to basalt columns, puffins, viewing henges in a field of sheep, hiking over hills to castle remains. So much. I loved it all and didn't mind the rain. Hiking up a tall hill, feeling a bit tired, then seeing the remains of ancient or medieval ruins constantly amazed me.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer #1 6/10/2016-6/18/2016


The beautiful scenery everywhere we went. Enjoyed the Nature Preserve and old castles.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer #1 6/10/2016-6/18/2016


I gave it a 4, but I had high expectations and it met all of them. Most enjoyable: Puffins on Safford Island, the wonderful members of the group, the food.

Exploring Scotland in Midsummer #1 6/10/2016-6/18/2016


  1. Where do we eat?

    Breakfasts will be a mix of buffets and B & B offerings. Dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Lunches will either be in restaurants or picnic style.
    1. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

      If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
    2. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

      You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
      1. Will I get to try haggis and listen to Scottish music?

        You will! And you may be surprised to find out how good (and varied) haggis really is. In fact, there are even vegetarian versions.
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