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Scotland: Western Highlands and the Isle of Skye

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The Scottish Highlands-- a vast land of raw beauty and rugged mountains, unspoiled wilderness and majestic scenery. Explore the history, Celtic folk tales, drama, and romance amongst the sparkling lochs, heather-clad hills and moody mountains of this ancient land.

On this itinerary you will spend 4 nights in the Highlands and 3 nights on the Isle of Skye, an island with a thousand magnificent sea and mountain views. While walking and hiking across this dramatic landscape with our local guide, you will enjoy these highlights:

  • Views of Ben Nevis- Britain's highest mountain
  • The Glenelg-Kylerhea ferry - the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland
  • Gairloch- Highland coastal village steeped in history with magnificent views
  • Inverewe Gardens - world-renowned tropical gardens created by Osgood Mackenzie in the 1870’s
  • Gruinard Bay with its rocky coves and pink sand
  • Dunvegan Castle - oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and ancestral home of the Chiefs of Macleod
  • Eilean Donan- one of the most iconic images in Scotland, surrounded by majestic scenery
  • Black Cuillin Mountains - the most spectacular mountain range in Britain

Our first base on the Isle of Skye includes a boat trip and walk to experience what is perhaps Britain's most dramatic and rugged landscape. Walks cover 3 to 9 miles daily, with ascents up to 1000’. The second base is the coastal town of Gairloch, which offers the outdoor visitor a unique blend of wilderness walking, remote communities steeped in Celtic and Norse history, with comfortable lodging and fine food.

Day 1 Arrive at our hotel in Fort William, which nestles at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. An orientation meeting in the early evening is followed by our Welcome Dinner. Suggested meeting time is 5:45 PM, if meeting at the hotel. (D)

Day 2 Depart in our minibus for the Kintail region of Scotland’s Western Highlands, where we stop by the shore of Loch Duich to enjoy a short walk amidst the verdant scenery of Glen Croe. We rejoin our minibus to drive via the Ratagan Pass to Glenelg, a delightful and secluded area immortalized in Gavin Maxwell’s book “Ring of Bright Water”. We continue the journey to the Isle of Skye by the romantic Glenelg-Kylerhea ferry. Overnight on Skye.
(B, L, D)  5 Miles

Day 3 Our explorations on Skye begin with a visit to Dunvegan castle, the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Macleod, said to be the oldest inhabited castle in the Highlands and Islands. We then drive to the Waternish peninsula, and enjoy a memorable hike by a coastal trail, with sea views, many ruins, wildlife and a beautiful and historic church. Return to our hotel for a second night. (B, L, D) 8 Miles

Day 4 This day gives an opportunity to become acquainted with the dramatic Black Cuillin Mountains, which are regarded by many as the finest mountain range in Britain. We drive to Glenbrittle, a remote valley nestling below the western slopes of the Cuillins. Our walk then follows a coastal route towards the seaward side of the mountains and takes in fascinating remains from the time when the Vikings first colonized this area, and before. Return to our hotel for a third night. 
(B, L, D) 7 miles

Day 5 It is time to leave the Isle of Skye to continue our explorations further north on the Scottish mainland. We drive across the Skye bridge, and enjoy visits to the most-photographed castle in Scotland, Eilean Donan, the magical Attadale Gardens and the Lochcarron Visitor Centre. After a restaurant lunch we drive on to Gairloch on Scotland’s west coast, and check in to our hotel there for the next three nights. (B, L, D)  No walk.

Day 6 We drive to Poolewe to see the ancient churchyard and Pictish symbol stone before walking the lochshore trail to Kernsary, the 1870s home of Osgood Mackenzie, the far-sighted creator of the Inverewe tropical gardens. We return along the banks of the River Ewe, where iron was once smelted at the Red Smiddy. Then we continue to the world-renowned Inverewe tropical gardens, now owned and lovingly preserved by the National Trust for Scotland. Overnight in Gairloch.  (B, L, D) Variable 7 miles

Day 7 The day begins with a visit to Gairloch’s small though fascinating Heritage Museum, where the way of life, past and present, of this part of the Western Highlands is so evocatively recreated.

Then we drive north up the coast to Gruinard Bay, and walk into the edge of the area of mountains and moors known as the “Great Wilderness”. We visit the desolate ruined village in the Glen of the Forked Shieling, and, time permitting, climb to the top of one of the surrounding hills to enjoy the views into this magnificent and remote part of the Scottish mainland. The farewell dinner on this evening will have been well earned! (B, L, D) 6 miles and ascent of 900 feet

Day 8 Departure by minibus for the train station and airport at Inverness, or beyond. (B)

(ELR reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary when deemed necessary or appropriate)

Tour prices are per person based on double occupancy. Single supplement is only applicable if you are traveling solo and/or have a room to yourself.

Price (USD)

September 1 to September 8

(4 person minimum for this tour)

$3,975.00 $425.00
Interested in a different departure date?
Consider a private tour or a self guided tour.

Your trip price includes the following. For additional information, please call or email us at and one of our exceptional Travel Advisors will be happy to share with you all kinds of details.

  • 5 scenic guided hikes
  • 7 nights' lodging in congenial Scottish hotels
  • Double-occupancy room with private bath
  • All meals, dinner on Day 1 and breakfast on Day 8
  • 7 lunches including one at a craft center
  • All sightseeing visits and admission fees
  • Luggage transported between inns

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Recommended Trip ExtensionsRecommended Reading List

“The walks and hikes were wonderful! From the lovely, craggy hills to the villages! When you work indoors at a desk job all day, it’s breathtaking (sometimes literally!).”
V Richard     Tulsa, OK

“This was our second tour with English Lakeland Ramblers. It met, and exceeded, our expectations.”
R & M Rutter     IL

“I’m so glad I heard about English Lakeland Ramblers and thoroughly enjoyed the week. For a ‘non-walker’ I was thrilled to have accomplished as much as I did.”
T Ward     VA


Best Time to Go

April to middle of October subject to weather conditions

Convenient Airport

Glasgow International Airport (GLA)

Traveling By Rail

Fort William is accessible by rail with service from Glasgow Queen Street Station. For rail information including reservations, time schedules and current fares please refer to BritRail at (800) 677-8585 or  In the UK call (08457) 484950, or visit Another useful resource is The Train Line at

Note: The journey up the West Highland line to Fort William, and on to Mallaig, is described as “one of the world’s most dramatic and scenic railway lines”. The approximate time of the journey from Glasgow to Fort William is 4 hours.


Follow this link to the Meteorological Office for information on climate and rainfall averages in Scotland.



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