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Tick some more islands off your wish-list with this delightful extended tour.

A companion piece to our Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides, this equally grand yet relaxing tour takes in the principal Inner Hebridean isles of  Mull, Islay and Jura as well as the famous little island jewels of Iona and Staffa.

We begin on the Isle of Mull, with a visit to the colourful ‘capital’ Tobermory, followed by an exciting boat trip to the tiny island of Staffa, which offers the opportunity to view a host of wildlife including seals, dolphins, basking sharks and seabirds.

 

 

We visit Fingal’s Cave, an amazing natural cathedral of volcanic columns which is one of the wonders of the west coast. A full day is given over to the wonderfully tranquil island of Iona, with its famous Abbey and deserted beaches. After a visit to Duart Castle, we enjoy a highly scenic cruise sailing down the Firth of Lorn from Oban, calling in briefly at the little island of Colonsay and continuing to Islay.  We will explore the island including visits to the RSPB Reserve, Bowmore Distillery and the Museum of Islay Life, and also visit Jura, Islay’s sparsely populated and rather mysterious neighbour.

Available departure dates and prices

17-Aug-2014   £925.00
24-Aug-2014   £925.00
21-Sep-2014   £925.00
 
 

Tick some more islands off your wish-list with this delightful extended tour.

Day 1 - Sunday

We depart from our designated pick up points and head for the Western Highlands, stopping en route for refreshments. On arrival in Oban we will board the late afternoon ferry for Craignure on Mull. Our base is the Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, conveniently located close to the ferry terminal with superb views of the Sound of Mull, the Morvern Hills and, across the bay, Duart Castle. Please note this hotel now offers excellent spa and leisure facilities, including an indoor swimming pool, steam room, Norwegian Spruce Sauna and hydro foot spa.  A range of reasonably priced treatments is also available.

Dinner is served in the evening.

Day 2 - Monday

After our full Scottish breakfast we will depart for a tour of Mull, stopping first in Tobermory, the island’s ‘capital’. The multi-hued buildings that line the waterfront will be familiar from a hundred calendars, and it’s a wonderful place to spend a couple of hours wandering around the shops, which include local arts and crafts outlets. For many, a pint in the Mishnish is an essential part of any visit to the town.

In the afternoon we drive to the Ulva Ferry pier at Oskamull and depart on a cruise to the little island of Staffa. Sailing out of Loch na Keal beneath the towering bulk of Ben More, keep an eye open for otters, seals, porpoises, dolphins and basking sharks – these waters are rich in wildlife. There are also great numbers of seabirds, with puffins, guillemots and razorbills among the most common. The Isle of Staffa was formed by volcanic eruptions over 50 million years ago and as the basaltic lava cooled it formed an extraordinary pattern of predominantly hexagonal columns which form the faces and walls of the principal caves. We will have around an hour ashore to explore the island, in particular the massive natural cathedral known as Fingal’s Cave, following in the footsteps of illustrious tourists from Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson to Jules Verne and Queen Victoria.

(Please note a reasonable degree of mobility is required to go ashore but the less adventurous are welcome to stay on board and are usually taken on a short seabird/seal-watch cruise. There is a toilet on board) 

We sail back to Ulva Ferry pier and return by coach to our hotel in time for dinner.

Day 3 - Tuesday

Today we will drive along the Ross of Mull to Fionnphort, where we cross as foot passengers to the ‘sacred isle’ of Iona. Here you have the opportunity to visit the Abbey and wander over the island, taking in the atmosphere of calm and contemplation which attracts visitors from all over the world.

Dinner is served back at our hotel in the evening.

Day 4 - Wednesday

Following breakfast we will visit Duart Castle, the 13th century home of the Chief of Clan MacLean. We can explore the dungeons, the state rooms and appreciate the strategic position of the castle from the top of the keep. Following our visit we will catch the lunchtime ferry back to Oban, where there will be some free time to stroll around the busy harbour before we board the afternoon ferry to Islay. The wonderfully scenic three-and-a-half hour passage takes us south along the Firth of Lorn, stopping briefly at the island of Colonsay before continuing to Port Askaig on Islay. Our hotel is conveniently situated next to the harbour and dinner will be served once we have checked in and freshened up.

Day 5 - Thursday

This morning, following breakfast, we will visit the Bowmore Distillery.  This is the oldest distillery on the island and has stood on the shores of Loch Indaal since 1779.  Here we will see how this unique whisky is produced by hand, by the Maltman, before maturing in Spanish and American oak casks which give it its unique flavours.

Later we will transfer to Port Charlotte on the other side of Loch Indaal for a visit to the Museum of Islay Life whose principal aim is the conservation and display of items illustrative of life in Islay, from prehistoric to recent times. The Museum was established in 1976, housed in the former Free Church in Port Charlotte, since when it has built up a main collection of over 2700 objects as diverse as stone implements used in the Mesolithic era, Victorian and Edwardian items from the Laird's house, farming implements, everything necessary for an illicit still, relics from shipping disasters, over 1200 books, very substantial paper archives, including much unique material, and nearly 5000 photographs, some dating back more than 100 years.

Finally today we will visit the Loch Gruinart RSPB Nature Reserve where we will have an introductory talk before having free time to wander around and having the opportunity to see many bird species, including various species of geese, birds of prey and the chough, a rare type of crow.

Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.

Day 6 - Friday

This morning, after breakfast, we travel to the neighbouring island of Jura, an island which has a record of habitation stretching back over 5000 years. The island, with approximately 200 inhabitants, is 30 miles long and 7 miles wide and is a naturalist’s paradise. It is dominated by the three mountains known as the “Paps of Jura”, the highest being 2576ft. The northern end of the island was home to George Orwell, who wrote his masterpiece 1984 while living here at Barnhill.

We will enjoy a scenic tour before having some free time in Craighouse, a lovely little village and the main settlement on the island with a shop, tearoom, and Jura's distillery.

Day 7 - Saturday

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and take the morning ferry to Kennacraig on the mainland. We then continue our homeward journey, stopping for refreshments (not included) in Inveraray, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.

Included in the price

  • 6 nights’ accommodation on dinner, bed and full breakfast basis: 3 nights at the Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa, Craignure, and 3 nights at the Port Askaig Hotel, Islay. All rooms have private facilities
  • All coaching and ferry transfers
  • Visits to Iona, Staffa, Tobermory, Duart Castle; Jura, Bowmore Distillery, Loch Gruinard RSPB Reserve and the Museum of Islay Life
  • Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager

 

Not included (per person)

  • Single room supplement   £120.00
  • Insurance  £20.00 (under 65); £40.00 (65-74); £60.00 (75-90)
  • Connecting flights, rail travel and accommodation before or after the tour available on request 

Departure points and times:

Depart Return
Aberdeen (Opposite Denburn Carpark) 0600 2145
Montrose (Railway Station) 0645 2100
Arbroath (Railway Station) 0705 2040
Dundee (outside Discovery Point) 0730 2015
Perth (Bus stop on Canal Street, Tay Street end) 0800 1945
Kinross (Kinross Services) 0900 1845
Dunfermline (outside Carnegie College) 0915 1830
Edinburgh (Marriott Hotel, Glasgow Road) 0930 1815
Glasgow (Millennium Hotel, George Square) 1045 1700

                               

Please note all pick-ups are subject to minimum numbers and 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.

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

Mr and Mrs Turner

Pauline our Tour Manager was a wee star, her personality and knowledge make the Highlands come alive.

Mrs Wilson

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
 
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