A Castle on the Shores of Loch Fyne
Take in a stunning, unspoiled region by rail.
Set in idyllic, undiscovered surroundings overlooking picturesque Loch Fyne, a 19th century Baronial Castle awaits you on this magnificent tour. Cruise the open waters to the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, explore nearby Oban and Inveraray.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Standard Class rail
- 6 nights' hotel accommodations
- 12 meals including 6 dinners and 6 breakfasts, including 1 farewell dinner in Stonefield Castle
- Journey on the West Highland Line
- The Isle of Islay
- Visit to Crarae Gardens
- Excursion to Mount Stuart with afternoon tea
- Guided tour of Inveraray Castle
- Stonefield Castle on Loch Fyne
- Return luggage transfer from Glasgow to Stonefield
- The services of a professional Tour Manager
Day 1 - Meeting in Glasgow
Our tour begins in the bustling city of Glasgow at the 4-star Indigo Hotel, where you meet your Tour Manager. There is some free time to explore this city before returning to the hotel, where we have dinner tonight. (D)
Day 2 - Glasgow to Stonefield Castle
Today we enjoy a journey on one of the world's most spectacular scenic railroad lines, traveling on the West Highland Line - known as the 'Iron Road to the Isles.' We reach the coast at Oban, which is set in an idyllic bay. Here you have time at leisure. Perhaps you may wish to visit the local War & Peace Museum, detailing the history of the local area, especially its usage as an important naval port during World War Two. Alternatively, you could visit the famous McCaig's Tower, based on the design of the Roman Colosseum, the tower is the focal point of the town provides wonderful views of Oban and the harbor below. The town is built around the Oban Whiskey Distillery, which holds regular tours of its inner factories. The Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel is also within walking distance, and the vivid colors of the castle grounds and stoneworks are really something to behold. Later, we travel by coach to Stonefield Castle. We spend four nights here. (B, D)
Day 3 - Isle of Islay
This morning we sail from nearby Kennacraig to the beautiful Isle of Islay, the southernmost island in the Inner Hebrides. Islay is the fifth-largest Scottish island and the seventh-largest surrounding Great Britain. The crossing, on the Calmac Ferry, is accompanied by incredible views of the rugged coastline. On arrival in Port Ellen, we transfer through the craggy grassy plains to Bruichladdich, where we enjoy a guided tour of the Distillery. Islay is one of five whisky distilling locations in the country whose identity and heritage is protected by law and its produce has become famous the world over. Bruichladdich produces mainly single malt Scotch whisky, but has also created its own artisanal gin. Owned by Rémy Cointreau, it is one of eight working distilleries on the island. Later we continue across the heart of Islay, visiting Port Askaig for a short stop.
We then continue by ferry to Kennacraig and by coach to Tarbert. You have some free time in this Scottish village, built around an inlet to the nearby Loch Fyne. Tarbert itself is a Gaelic word for a small neck of land joining two larger pieces, similarly to how the titular village lies. While in Tarbert, you wish to visit the ruins of the ancient fort, built in the 13th century and a former home of Robert the Bruce, who looked to defend it against the fabled Lords of the Isles. (B, D)
Day 4 - Mount Stuart
Today we take the short ferry crossing to the Isle of Bute to visit one of the world's most spectacular Victorian Gothic mansions, Mount Stuart. The ancestral home of the Marquesses of Bute was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson for the 3rd Marquess of Bute in the late 1870s, replacing the earlier home which had been lost in a blaze. The house is the seat of the Stuarts of Bute, direct male-line descendants of John Stewart, the illegitimate son of King Robert II of Scotland, the first Stuart King. Through this bloodline, they are also descendants of the infamous Robert the Bruce. The main part of the house provides a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture and is rather imposing with its red stone walls. Mount Stuart's main features include the colonnaded Marble Hall and the elaborate Marble Chapel, with its spiraling spired tower.
Two other parts of the home are quite different in style and reflect more of a Georgian era of architectural design. Much of the interiors and garden areas were redesigned by one Robert Wier Schultz in the first years of the 20th century. Interestingly, Mount Stuart was the first house of any kind to contain an indoor heated pool and was also the first home in Scotland to experience electrical power. We enjoy an afternoon tea here, relaxing in the charming grounds of this heritage home. (B, D)
Day 5 - Inveraray Castle & Crarae Gardens
On today's excursion, we enjoy a scenic drive to Inveraray Castle, the imposing, turreted ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll. During our guided tour we explore the lavish stately rooms and learn about the folklore and legends that have shaped this region of Scotland. Mid 18th century neo-Gothic in design, the castle is surrounded by 16-acres of verdant gardens and boasts an estate of 60,000. The castle has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell since the 17th century. The Duke and his family currently live in private residence set between the castle's two circular towers while the remaining wings are open to the public, resplendent in their neo-classical design, originally made for the 5th Duke by Robert Mylne. We then have some free time in the nearby town of Inveraray. Situated on the western shore of the mighty Loch Fyne. Here you could visit the Georgian Inveraray Jail, a 19th-century prison that is now a replica museum.
Perhaps you may like to wander down to the peer to view the vast iron Arctic sailing ships that are moored here before they set off on their voyages to the poles. The Bell Tower dominates the town and contains the second-heaviest ring of ten bells in the world. The bells are rung at regular intervals and the tower itself is open to the public. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the nearby Argyll Folk Museum and learn a little of what life was like for the inhabitants of the region in years gone by. The town of Inveraray itself was completely rebuilt from scratch in the 18th century and is one of the best examples of a new town from that time period in Scotland, with the vast majority of properties in the town now considered worthy of protection status due to their ancient architectural significance. In the afternoon, we take a coach to the Crarae Gardens. Tonight, we enjoy a final farewell dinner together. (B, D)
Days 6 & 7 - Return to Glasgow
Today we transfer by coach to Oban at the edge of the Highlands. From here we retrace our route to Glasgow, enjoying another spectacular journey on the West Highland Line. After breakfast on Day 7, the tour concludes, and you are free to depart at leisure. (Day 6 - B, D, Day 7 - B)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
Hotel Indigo, Glasgow
Glasgow's Hotel Indigo is a boutique 4-Star establishment based in the former Scottish Power building and decorated with the work of local artists. Hotel Indigo offers air-conditioned rooms with a telephone, an LCD satellite television, radio alarm clock with an iPod docking station, a walk-in rainfall shower, hairdryer, free Wi-Fi and a complimentary mini-bar. The hotel has a health and fitness center and the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse. The Hotel Indigo was awarded 'Glasgow Hotel of the Year' at the 2012 Scottish Hotel Awards.
Stonefield Castle Hotel, Stonefield
Stonefield Castle was built in 1837 for Mr. Charles Campbell, who - according to legend - inherited the site from the disgraced Constable of Tarbert after the previous building fell into disrepair. Little has changed since the castle was completed - its grand interiors of wood paneling, ornate ceilings, and marble fireplaces have been carefully maintained. Many of the original furnishings have also been very well preserved, and blend with the modern conveniences. The castle is also surrounded by acres of private woodland gardens, which include a private island in Loch Fyne. The wild scenery around the loch has remained unspoiled by development of any kind, and very little has changed throughout the splendid landscape.
We use the Scotrail service, traveling in Standard Class, on early tours that use the West Highland Line in Scotland. Scotrail is operated by Abellio, and links the main cities in Scotland, taking us through some of the most stunning scenery in the world. On these trains, we see some of the most famous sights in Scotland, including Loch Lomond. For customers taking the service to Fort William and Mallaig, we will travel over the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct, an incredible feat of railroad engineering that has been most famously featured in the 'Harry Potter' films. Other customers may be going west, to Oban, where you will pass the Falls of Lora and the atmospheric Kilchurn Castle on your journey.
West Highland Line
Also known as 'the Iron Road to the Isles,' a journey on the West Highland Line is an epic rail adventure that takes passengers through some of the world's most beautiful and dramatic landscapes. In fact, the line has twice been voted the world's best rail journey by readers of Wanderlust magazine.
Running from Glasgow's Queen Street station, the train runs through the city's outskirts and on to Helensburgh. From here the train begins its ascent into the famous Highlands.
Soon the train skirts the beautiful Loch Long, followed by the immense Loch Lomond, as it makes its way up the ever-increasing gradients. The journey continues alongside the Loch - Britain's largest body of inland water - while winding through pretty wooden slopes.
Continuing northward through charming isolated villages, the train then climbs more than 500 feet (150 m) in just five miles, before arriving at the tiny hamlet Crianlarich. Here the West Highland Line splits into two branches. One continues to Fort William and Mallaig, the other heads west to Oban.
Dates & Prices
Select from the packages below to view prices for this tour.
: Departs 19th May 2019 ($1,565), 2nd June 2019 ($1,635)
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