Walking Holidays in Scotland, through The Cairngorms, Orkney Islands, Wester Ross, Isle of Skye, Loch Lomond and Southern Highlands
We begin our route departing from Edinburgh. Deemed one of the most friendly cities in the world and dating back to the 11th century, our monumental tour commences amongst Neo-classical architecture, medieval alleys and regal gardens of the cities monarch.
Our striking adventure immerses you in the full realm of stunning landscapes, remarkable history and welcomes us into the heartfelt warmth and spirit that is Scotland. We travel north and enter The Cairngorms, the largest National Park in the United Kingdom. Scenes of Caledonian forests, bay granite and mountain heather make for exceptional walking. Our first accommodation is Dalmunzie Castle, a quintessential, turreted Scottish residence, standing proudly at the head of a 6500-acre estate, dating back to 1510. Dalmunzie is nestled in the heart of Glenshee and is surrounded by breathtakingly mountains, glens and little rivers all a few steps away from the front door.
Deer, highland cows and no doubt a kilt or two can be spotted along this fabled route of cattle duffers, poets and legends abound. This isolated gem is home to a mysterious dark forest beckoning us into the history drenched trails of the region’s spectacular mountain walks.
We pass through the crown of the highlands - Dunrobin Castle, the pristine residence of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland. Here we spend an afternoon enjoying the pristine gardens learning the ancient art of Falconry. Traditionally mastered to provide game for the inhabitants of the Castle we witness the spectacular acrobatic skills of owls, falcon and hawk. We continue the journey to the tip of the country and bid the shores of Scotland farewell as we enter the dark waters of the alluring north. Shipwrecks greet us as we enter the Orkney Islands. Endowed with ancient mysteries we part on the windswept archipelago of standing stones, eagle tombs and orcas.
After adventuring through Neolithic stone circles, iron age villages from 5000BC and perilous views on our coastline walk, we continue our expedition to the lonely and endless skies of the Assynt - the national scenic area. Walks carved by glaciers lead us through the breathtaking mountains to caves strewn with bones of humans and animals dating back to 40,000 years ago.
Gairloch is our next stop and hosts a fantastic array of distinctive mountain scales where we traverse both the crisp and quaint hikes of the Wester Ross’. Steep sided glens, sea lochs dashed with ewes and lambs. Here we begin to note the distinguishment of traditions of clan structure, landlords and begin to map the regions tartans consigned according to a truly fascinating kinship order.
As we drive to the far west coast we cross the bridge to the infamous Isle of Skye revealing a fascinating view of the past where drovers swam their herds of highland cattle across the sea to market on the main territory. The largest island of the inner Hebrides boasts radiating peninsulas where we walk basalt terrain of the spectacular Quiraing and The Old Man of Storr. We visit the romantic Armadale castle in the south where the first free settlers of Australia departed the beloved homelands to pioneer a new life. Here we find a museum dedicated to the emotional journey of the men and women of the area.
Our trip south-east leaves behind the dinosaur fossils, waterfalls plunging off sea cliffs, clan warfare and folklore as our iconic Celtic pilgrimage leads us to the doorway of an enchanting island castle set in the mists of the great Loch Leven. Glen Coe echoes our footsteps as we trek the mammoth valley where the stories of a haunting past are walked through its notorious and romantic glen.
Meandering our way through the ever unfolding magnificence of the Trossachs National Park we find ourselves on the bonnie banks of the peaceful and serene Lake of Menteith. A timeless oasis graced by swans and fishermen catching our evening meals as we replenish on local cuisine. Ben Lomond and its surrounds idealise our Southern Highlands adventures as we inhale the rugged beauty by ways of steamboat and walking around the esteemed waters of Loch Katrine and Loch Ard.
We are satisfied to say that we have found a truly epochal selection of hotels and Scottish cuisine that deserves a special mention for its creativity, thought and quality!
ADD-ON OPTION- Join us on our 2 or 3-day extension and discover Scotland with Scottish photographerTim Pereval on his autum photo walk. There are endless opportunities and autumn is this magic time of the year to see Scotland, one of the best countries in the world for autumn views. Price to be advised, depending on the number of days/nights.
Our Hotels and Cuisine
The first two nights we stay in the Cairngorm National Park and the Castle is built in the Valley of Glenshee. All rooms have a rich history each telling a story of the characters that once lived there or passed by its stonewalls. From cattle rustlers, to earls to poets and maidens this neo-classical castle balances a unique blend of charming humility amongst its countless roomed hallways. Our enthusiastic chef forages local delights from the surrounding mountains, treating us to some culinary surprises at the castle’s very own restaurant.
We spend three nights in our lovely new hotel on the main island of Orkney. Originally built in 1880 as a herring and pork curing store, the Storehouse is right in Kirkwalls historic centre. It has now been renovated and re-designed, recycling all the materials within the original building, mixing the old with the new. It also has one of the best eateries in town.
From our Hotel Eddrachilles at the north coast of Scotland we have the most spectacular vistas out toward the picturesque island-studded bay. The charm and character of this 200-year old building used to be a church manse, sitting in its own garden with direct access to the sea. Here we are spoiled with afternoon teas and delicious dinners.
The next 3 nights we spend at the Flodigarry Hotel on the Ilsle of Sky. It has all the modern luxuries and we have stunning views of the dramatic seascape towards the Torridons and Scottish mainland. This spectacular setting is the perfect base for exploring the Isle’s walks, townships and stunning mountains. Here we also have a fine selection of outstanding restaurants.
Our Bridge of Orchy hotel is on the way up to the west side of the central highlands. It consists of a small cluster of buildings in the surreal landscape of Rannoch Moor and the majesty of Glen Coe and beyond is the ideal place to start our walks.
Less than 30 minutes from the famous Loch Lomond, we spend the last three nights at the elegant and serene waters of Lake Mentieth. With all the country charm, including the highland cows out the back, we enjoy a peaceful atmosphere in the heart of the Trossachs. With an excellent restaurant and an award-winning menu our taste buds delight in the flavours of the region.
I'm very glad I took the chance to travel with a friend and do a trip a bit out of my usual comfort zone. I was one of the few 'non-repeaters' in the group of 14 - and the oldest - but it was a great group, and Gilles and Pascal looked after everyone beautifully. The accommodation was excellent; varied in character and location and never bland-international-hotel style. The food in our Cornwall hotels was tops; superior to the cuisine in Brittany (but, as the French friends we stayed with after the tour pointed out, Brittany has never been one of the gastronomic high spots of France, so no surprises there. And they're very good at galettes!). The coastal walks in both countries were magnificent, with the moors and the standing stones as counterpoints. We were lucky with the weather, too - only one wet day, really - and escaped the heat wave that's currently tormenting Europe. Salut to Gilles and Pascal - they did a wonderful job." Judy from Exeter, UK
We really enjoyed this walking holiday excellent accommodation and food. The walks were varied and interesting. Belle Ile was a wonderful surprise with terrific coastal walks no crowds of tourists and magnificent weather. Thank you to Gilles and Pascal for your excellent leadership of the trip." Lyn and Len from Willoughby NSW, Australia
The accommodation and food in Devon and Cornwall was superb and the walks not at all hard. It was very scenic and the weather was very kind to us. Brittany was a little hotter and the walks a little harder but the scenery spectacular." Denny and Rob from Sydney, NSW Australia
Wonderful selection of locations. Accommodation excellent. But what really made the tour was the competence and concern of both of the guides Gilles and Pascal." Ian and Margaret, Ascot, QLD Australia
Our second WGA and what an enjoyable trip!! The ever-changing, rugged scenery on this coastal walking holiday ensured each day was different and challenging. Our fellow walkers were fabulous company. Outstanding accommodation and comfortable hotel rooms, all with a view. The Citadelle Vauban on Belle Ile was our favourite for its uniqueness, atmosphere, exceptional architecture and beautiful grounds. Gilles and Dominique were a great team - thank you for sharing your knowledge, humour and enthusiasm to ensure we all had such a fabulous holiday." Cheryl, Brisbane, QLD Australia
Our 3rd trip with WGA maintained the high standards we have now come to expect. A combination of excellent leadership provided by Gilles, well coordinated planning, wonderful coastal scenery, lovely accommodations and delicious food ensured another most enjoyable trip. We can only agree with the positive comments made by our fellow travelers in the previous 3 comments, which say it all! Looking forward to booking another trip next year." Carlos from Melbourne, VIC, Australia
My first Gourmet Walkabout Adventure journey and how delighted I am that I worked up the courage to take this adventure. I thought that I was reasonably fit but by the end of the first day I wondered what I had let myself in for. Gilles and Dominique were fantastic and very encouraging, there to give a helping hand over a high style or down a very difficult path on a cliff slope. Would I like a photo taken I this fantastic spot etc. Each day got better and the sense of achievement grew and to be told at the end of the journey how well I had done was great. The accommodation was excellent and to stay in a Citadel was amazing. The food was delicious. A lovely group of fellow travelers. My family are so proud of me for undertaking such an adventure and I like to think that I will go again one day." Helen from Riverview NSW, Australia