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A stylish and picturesque tour for Art Lovers

A guided tour around the exterior the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic masterpiece, is one of the highlights of this tour, especially as it came so close to being lost forever in a fire last year.

We also visit his finest domestic creation at Hill House, which enjoys fine views over the River Clyde and has an air of restrained elegance which still appeals to modern tastes. No Mackintosh tour would be complete without a visit to the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, where we will enjoy a tasty afternoon tea.


We will take a wander around the Burrell Collection, which includes medieval art, tapestries, alabasters, stained glass and European paintings, explore the lovely private gardens of Ross Priory by Loch Lomond and visit Glenarn with its superb collection of Asiatic shrubs. We also sail across the Firth of Clyde for a visit to Mount Stuart, one of the grandest High Gothic houses in Britain, which offers the perfect combination of architectural splendour and captivating gardens, along with the unique Ascog Fernery, a tiny piece of sub-tropical jungle on the Isle of Bute.


Available departure dates and prices


A stylish and picturesque tour for Art Lovers

Day 1

We depart by coach this morning from our pick-up points and head for the south side of Glasgow, where we will visit Burrell Collection. When Sir William Burrell and his wife, Lady Constance, gifted his collection of over 9000 works of art to Glasgow, the city acquired one of the greatest collections created by one person.  William Burrell had been an art collector since his teens and the collection is made up of a vast array of works of all periods from all over the world.  You can wander round important collections of medieval art, tapestries, alabasters, stained glass and English oak furniture, European paintings including works by Degas and Cézanne, an important collection of Islamic art and modern sculpture including works by Epstein and Rodin.

Later we continue to the 4-star Gleddoch House Hotel, situated within 360 acres of ground overlooking the River Clyde.

Dinner will be served In the evening.

Day 2

After breakfast this morning we cross the Erskine Bridge for a visit to Hill House, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest domestic creation which sits high above the River Clyde commanding fine views of the estuary. Commissioned in 1902 by theGlasgow publisher Walter Blackie, the house still makes a striking statement today. Blackie wanted an individual feel to his home and he asked Mackintosh to design not only the house and gardens, but much of the furniture and interiors too. Mackintosh’s wife, Margaret Macdonald, contributed fabric designs and a unique panel over the fireplace in the drawing room. The result is a daring design with an air of restrained elegance, which still appeals to modern-day tastes.

Nearby are the gardens of Glenarn, reputedly one of the best woodland gardens in Scotland. Glenarn was originally planted by the Gibson brothers, and filled with rhododendrons and other plants collected by Kingdom-Ward, Ludlow and Sheriff on their expeditions to Tibet and China. The garden had been neglected for many years when Mike and Sue Thornley acquired it in 1983 and they have spent the last ten years or so gradually restoring it. The mild, damp location supports old plants of Rhododendron tanastyllum, arboreum var. nigagiricum and Magnolia rostrata to mention but a few, and all should be at their best at this time of year. Lunch is available here (not included).

In the afternoon we travel to the private gardens at Ross Priory. The gardens are set around a house of 1693, with an 1812 Gothic addition by James Gillespie Graham, overlooking Loch Lomond. There are splendid rhododendrons, azaleas, selected shrubs and trees, along with a walled garden with glasshouses, a pergola and ornamental plantings.

We return to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.

Day 3

After breakfast we head for Wemyss Bay where we will catch the morning ferry to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Our first visit will be to the spectacular house and gardens of Mount Stuart, which is one of the largest, most spectacular High Victorian Gothic houses in Britain and yet one of the least known. The gardens were only opened to the general public for the first time in June 1995. These 300 acres of stunning woodlands and gardens are a real treasure trove for the garden enthusiast. The temperate effect of the Gulf Stream on Bute ensures that there are always many exotic plants, palm trees and Mediterranean blooms to be seen here. There is a pavilion glasshouse in the grounds which nurtures rare species from the tropical rain forests of south-east Asia while native British plants thrive in the fertile soils and mild climate. Lunch is available here (not included).

Thereafter we will visit Ascog Hall Fernery. In the secluded and long neglected gardens of Ascog Hall a sunken fernery with beautiful rock work and water pools was found. Even in its dilapidated state the potential was spotted and it has now been carefully refurbished with an impressive collection of ferns researched by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Open to the public only recently for the first time this unique fern house is a joy to behold.  It offers a rare opportunity to glimpse a bygone era and is a tribute to the imagination and ingenuity of Alexander Bannatyne Stuart, a former owner of Ascog Hall in Victorian times, whose passion for collecting exotic ferns inspired him in his endeavour to replicate a tiny fragment of sub-tropical jungle on a small Scottish island.

Following this, we take the afternoon ferry back to the mainland and return to the hotel. Dinner is served in the evening.

Day 4

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we will check out of the hotel and travel into Glasgow for a visit to the Glasgow School of Art, considered to be Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece. Completed in 1909 the building heralded a new style in 20th century architecture, while fulfilling its original purpose as a working art school, housing the fine art students and staff, at the heart of GSA's campus on Garnethill. On 23 May 2014 a fire damaged the west wing of the Mackintosh building including some studios, the Library and some archival stores and as a result there will be no visitor access to the interiors of the Mackintosh building whilst restoration gets underway. However, we will enjoy an hour-long external guided tour in which we will discover Mackintosh’s ideas, inspirations, education and relationships by exploring the Mackintosh Building façade along with a number of hidden architectural gems in the local area with a special connection to this celebrated architect. There will also be time to look around the 'Window on Mackintosh' Visitor Centre to discover more about the Schools rich history and browse designs by students, staff and alumni in the GSA Shop.

Following our visit we will transfer to the Willow Tea Room in Sauchiehall Street, which was the only tea room building where Mackintosh had complete control over every aspect of the design. He modelled the exterior as well as the interior of the building and even designed the cutlery and waitresses' dresses. The Willow name comes from Sauchiehall, the street where it is situated, which in Scottish Gaelic means alley of the willows and the theme of willows is featured throughout the building. Afternoon tea is included here – a traditional selection of sandwiches, scone with strawberry jam & clotted cream, delicious shortbread and choice of cake from the cake trolley, accompanied by your choice of loose leaf tea or freshly ground coffee.

Following this we will return to our original departure points.

Included in the price

  • 3 nights’ dinner, bed and full breakfast at the 4-star Gleddoch House Hotel. All rooms have private facilities
  • Comfortable coaching throughout
  • Visits to Hill House, Glenarn, Ross Priory, Mount Stuart, Ascog Fernery and the Burrell Collection; guided exterior tour of Glasgow School of Art; afternoon tea at the Willow Tea Rooms.
  • Services of a Brightwater holidays tour manager


Not included (per person)

  • Single room supplement               £75.00
  • Insurance                                    £18.50 (under 65); £37.00 (65-74); £55.50 (75-90)

Departure points and times: 

Depart Return
Aberdeen (Skene Street) 0700 2045
Montrose (Outside railway station) 0745 2000
Arbroath   (Railway station) 0805 1940
Dundee   (Outside Discovery Point) 0830 1915
Perth    (Canal Street) 0900 1845
Kinross  (Moto Services) 1000 1745
Dunfermline (Outside Fife College) 1015 1730
Edinburgh  (Edinburgh Marriott Hotel) 1100 1715
Glasgow  (Millenium Hotel) 1215 1600


Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

The same 3-night package by air from London (and other airports on request) is also available from £545.00 (single supplement £75.00)

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Jimmy the driver was impeccable and fun - his driving skills gave us great confidence on the narrow roads through Royal Deeside.

Bob Guthrie, Broughty Ferry

A superb holiday - thanks Trish the Tour Manager was very helpful and knowledgeable - the free day was a great idea.

Mr and Mrs Somerville

The staff at our hotel on Islay were young and keen, very pleasant and helpful indeed.

Mr and Mrs Turner
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