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Our first stop is Holy Island, connected to the mainland by a causeway which leads into the quaint island village of Lindisfarne, from where there are stunning views of Lindisfarne Castle, (which dates back to 1550). Spend time wandering through the ruins of its Priory where the magnificent Lindisfarne Gospels were produced, sample some of the world-famous Lindisfarne 'Mead' brewed by Monks on the island, and enjoy the tranquility for which the island is renowned. We continue south on to the bustling market town of Alnwick, whose greatest building is the medieval Alnwick Castle*. Enjoy time in the town centre or remain at the castle complex where there is something for everyone. Home of the Percy Family for over 700 years, Alnwick Castle is considered one of the finest castles in England and proudly known as “The Windsor of the North”. Visitors can step into the unexpected in the spectacular Alnwick Garden, with its wonderful Grand Cascade and Poison Gardens. It's grounds were also used in the Harry Potter films. In the mid-afternoon we begin the drive north to cross the River Tweed into the historic border town of Coldstream. If time permits during this journey there will be a stop at Flodden Field, one of the best preserved battlefields in Northern Europe and scene of the infamous battle of 1513 which ended in victory for the English and the death of James IV, King of Scots. *Optional Extra
We leave Edinburgh, crossing the iconic Forth Bridge, into the ancient “Kingdom of Fife”. We enjoy a photo stop at Aberdour before continuing into the East Neuk of Fife. We stop in the town of Anstruther, home of the Scottish Fisheries Museum, then we travel through the villages of Pittenweem, Crail and St. Monans, once thriving fishing centres which were made prosperous by trade within the continent. We arrive in the beautiful medieval town of St. Andrews in time for lunch. Here you can enjoy a walk around the town, where Prince William met Kate, home to the oldest university in Scotland, famous Cathedral and golf course. Enjoy approximately three hours of free time to explore its medieval buildings and wonderful cobbled streets in the centre, and have lunch and refreshments. Heading homewards we travel across the Lomond hills to Falkland for a photo stop. The village was used as the setting for 1960s Inverness in the Outlander series. Then, descending to Loch Leven (scene of Mary Queen of Scot's imprisonment and escape) and on to the picturesque village of South Queensferry where we enjoy our final stop before returning to Edinburgh. *Optional Extra
Leaving Edinburgh we travel west where our first stop is the Wallace Monument* in Stirling; a towering stone testimonial to the Scottish legend William Wallace. Inside you will find fascinating exhibits leading you through the life of the real Braveheart, and most impressive of all, Wallace’s legendary 5ft 6in (1.7m) tall broadsword. We then travel north to Gleneagles Hotel Estate* – one of Scotland’s world class golf courses and site of the 2014 Ryder Cup. Enjoy a photo opportunity here and see where the international legends of golf play. We continue our journey through the pretty countryside of Perthshire to our next stop in Crieff, where we visit The Famous Grouse Experience* at Glenturret Distillery. Learn about the traditional whisky-making process, see how you measure up to the world’s largest bottle of whisky and sample some of ‘The Water of Life’ itself at the fantastic Taste Experience bar. Enjoy a range of tasty lunch options in the Glenturret Café or take a stroll in the distillery grounds. After lunch we travel through the picturesque scenery of the “Sma’Glen” until we reach the beautiful Hermitage for a short woodland walk (time permitting). Afterwards, we continue on to the town of Dunkeld, where we break for refreshments and a visit to ancient Dunkeld Cathedral. We then leave Perthshire and journey to the charming town of South Queensferry, where we make a brief stop to admire magnificent views of the Forth Bridges before returning to Edinburgh. *Optional Extra
From Edinburgh we travel west, passing the historic and imposing Stirling Castle, high on its volcanic rock, and on to a visit at the magnificent Doune Castle (which featured in the TV series Outlander & cult movie ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’). From there we drive into the Highlands, past the lovely Loch Lubnaig and up through impressive Glen Ogle, stopping nearby for lunch and beautiful views of the surrounding scenery. After lunch we drive further into the Highlands, passing one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, Kilchurn Castle, jutting into beautiful Loch Awe and stunningly framed by the surrounding mountains. Then it’s on to Inveraray, a quaint small town built in the mid-18th century, on the shore of Loch Fyne. Explore the town and pick up some Highland souvenirs, or pay an optional visit to Inveraray Castle (April to October only), the historic home of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell, which is set in large beautiful gardens overlooking Loch Fyne. We now start our homeward journey, driving over the Arrochar Alps, an attractive range of mountains, with a brief pause near the top of the Rest and Be Thankful Pass. A little later we reach enchanting Loch Lomond, where we stop at the pretty lochside village of Luss before returning to Edinburgh. *Optional Extra
From our starting point by Edinburgh Castle, we head out of the city to the village of Roslin, making our first stop at Rosslyn Chapel. Described as the "Library in Stone", the inside walls of Rosslyn Chapel are covered in thousands of ancient carvings, each with a story of its own. You can also learn of the myths and legends surrounding the chapel, including tales of the Knights Templar. Rosslyn Chapel's worldwide fame increased thanks to "The Da Vinci Code", Dan Brown's blockbusting novel. Leaving Rosslyn we continue into the heart of the Scottish Borders, an area rich in hills, valleys, rivers and moorland, as well as being the traditional home to Scottish rugby. We travel to the historic town of Melrose, birthplace of the game of Rugby Sevens and location of Melrose Abbey, founded in 660, said to be the burial place of the casket containing the heart of Robert the Bruce. Here we stop for lunch and have free time to explore Melrose and its Abbey. On our return journey, we'll travel via St. Boswells and pause for a photo stop at Scott's View, where we can enjoy glorious scenic views. Our journey north takes us to Pencaitland, where we visit the charming Glenkinchie Distillery, one of few Lowland distilleries in Scotland for a whisky tour. Here you can enjoy "a tour and a taste", learn more about "the water of life" and sample some of Glenkinchie's finest malts. Then we'll return to Edinburgh. *Optional Extra