2020 Daily Itinerary for the Scotland Four Corners Tour

There's something about this scene - a loch, a ruined castle, gentle rolling hillside, mist, and a lack of people, that captures the essence of Scotland.

This is the day by day itinerary for our 2020 “Scotland’s Four Corners” tour.  The blue section immediately following details the optional pre-tour extensions, the green section in the middle is the main tour, and the blue section at the bottom is the optional Edinburgh post-tour extension.

The main page explaining the tour and with the joining form is here.

Tuesday 2 June : About now, traveling to Glasgow

You can choose your preferred airline and flights to get to Scotland and join the tour.

If you are planning to enjoy the full three night optional pre-tour extension, then you should probably consider flying to Glasgow today.  Most flights to the UK from the US are overnight, so you’d leave this afternoon and arrive tomorrow.

Of course, you can fly earlier to Glasgow if you like, or to elsewhere in Scotland or Britain, and then travel on to Glasgow on Wednesday, perhaps by train, perhaps by plane, or get there any other way it suits you.

Wednesday 3 June : Arriving in Glasgow

Glasgow's cathedral and other buildings in the city center.

If you started your travels from North America or various other countries yesterday, you’ll probably arrive into Glasgow some time today.

We could arrange a meet and greet/transfer at the airport, but there’s not really a need.

Most people will choose to simply take a taxi or Uber or Airport bus from the airport to the hotel where we’ll be staying tonight (then skipping two nights, and returning back again for two more nights)

Thursday 4 June : From Glasgow to Culcreuch Castle

The nice small Glengoyne Distillery makes a very "clean" whisky.
Culcreuch Castle, the ancient seat of the clan Galbraith, is small but very "real".
Friendly locals celebrating at the pub in Fintry, a short walk from Culcreuch Castle.
The Dungeon Restaurant at Culcreuch.

We’ll meet up at Glasgow’s Central Railway Station at 1.00pm this afternoon and enjoy a scenic transfer up to Fintry, north of Glasgow, and Culcreuch Castle.

This time would allow you to arrive into Scotland this morning and meet up at the railway station, or to take an overnight sleeper train from London, or an early morning train from Edinburgh (or elsewhere) and meet up.

You could even consider flying into Glasgow early this morning.

Alternatively, and our recommendation, is to arrive into Glasgow on Wednesday, so you’ve a leisurely Thursday morning with no worries about making our departure at 1.00pm.

On our way up to Fintry we stop at the Glengoyne Distillery.  This is an unusual distillery, not just because it is one of the very few remaining family owned distilleries, but also because one half is in the highlands, and the other half (on the other side of the road) is in the lowlands.  We’ll enjoy a tour around the distillery, and sample both their 12 yr old and their special premium 18 yr old spirit.

It is a short journey the rest of the way to Culcreuch Castle.

Friday 5 June : Via Stirling and Falkirk to New Lanark

The distinctive and enormous Kelpies sculpture depicts mythical Scottish water beasts.
The amazing Falkirk Wheel and Visitor Center connects two canals.
Stirling city with the castle in the foreground.
Part of the New Lanark World Heritage site.

We hope you enjoyed your stay at the lovely historic castle last night.  Did you encounter a ghost!?

After a breakfast in the castle’s “dungeon” and cellar area (better than it sounds!) we travel southeast to see two amazing sights.  The first is the enormous (100 ft tall) twin statues of two “Kelpies” on the outskirts of Falkirk.

Then we go to the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift and the only such creation in the entire world.  We’ll actually go for a ride up and down the wheel, and then travel to Stirling for lunch.

Stirling is the smallest of Scotland’s five official cities, and in an area steeped in Scottish history.  Its castle dominates the city, not altogether unlike the way Edinburgh Castle does to Edinburgh.

After lunch we continue on to New Lanark, an industrial revolution era mill that pioneered social rights and benefits.

The mill has been restored and now is a World Heritage site.  Part has been converted into a lovely hotel where we’ll spend the night.

We’ll get there in time for you to spend some time this afternoon exploring around this fascinating site.  We include admission to the historic sites and restored mills.

Saturday 6 June : Main tour starts

Another view of New Lanark.

This morning the main tour starts in Glasgow.

After collecting people joining in Glasgow, it will then travel south and collect us from New Lanark.

Meanwhile, you have some extra time this morning to enjoy New Lanark prior to the coach arriving.

This is the end of the optional pre-tour.  Please now scroll down to Saturday 6 June in the main tour (green) section immediately below to continue the tour itinerary.

Friday 5 June (or sooner) : Travel to Glasgow

You can fly on any of the many different airlines that go to the UK.

If you are leaving from North America, and wish to arrive into Glasgow for the official tour start date on Saturday 6 June, you should start your travels today or (recommended) possibly yesterday

Note that we recommend arriving into Europe and getting close to Glasgow a day or more earlier so as to have spare/emergency time up your sleeve.  So you might choose to leave home a day or two prior to today.

Saturday 6 June : Tour starts in Glasgow (or New Lanark), South corner

Where we meet at Glasgow Central Station.
The River Nith runs through the pleasant town of Dumfries.
The southernmost portion of the Mull of Galloway and its lighthouse.

Today is the official tour start day, when we meet at Glasgow Central Train Station at 9am.  We then travel by coach down to New Lanark to collect the rest of our group.

If you were on our pre-tour (see the blue bordered section above) you’ll be collected at New Lanark mid-morning.

We all continue on down into the “Borders” region of the Scottish lowlands, getting “uncomfortably close” (if you’re Scottish) to the English border.  We pass through Lockerbie (site of the PA 103 tragedy) and then stop in Dumfries for lunch.

After lunch we continue on to the Mull of Galloway lighthouse, or as close to it as we can get, this being the official southern-most point in mainland Scotland.  We’re only 23 miles from the Isle of Man and 25 miles from Northern Ireland.

After a chance to take photos, we’ll then head up the Ayrshire Coast and return to Glasgow, where we’ll stay the next two nights.

Sunday 7 June : A Sunday Outing by Train

A ferry sailing into Rothesay's harbor.
This Art Deco era railway poster promoting Rothesay hints at the several notable Art Deco buildings in the stately town.

We recreate an experience that used to be very popular, 100 or so years ago – a day outing by train and ferry from Glasgow to the town of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.

We’ll take a pleasant 55 minute suburban rather than fast train ride to Wemyss Bay and then 35 minutes to cross over the Firth of Clyde on a large ferry to the Victorian resort town of Rothesay.

We have a sightseeing bus tour of Bute, and plenty of time to enjoy the town ourselves and have lunch, then we trace our footsteps back to Glasgow again mid/late afternoon.

Bonus points to anyone who sights the Duke of Rothesay.  He’s better known by one of his other titles – Prince Charles.

This evening we enjoy our group welcome dinner, giving us all a chance to get to know each other.

Monday 8 June : To Tobermory

The inner harbor at Oban. Red chimney is its distillery.
Duart Castle historically guarded the Sound of Mull. It is the seat of Clan MacLean.

It will be the last that most of us will see of Glasgow when we leave Scotland’s largest city this morning, heading northwest up to Oban, a nice town and major “hub” for the ferries that connect the islands off the coast (the Hebrides Islands) with the mainland.

From there we take a ferry over to the Isle of Mull.  As we reach Mull, you’ll notice a castle prominently on a hill overlooking the water.  This is Duart Castle, which we then visit.

We’ll then drive around the island to Tobermory, one of our favorite towns in all of Scotland, and where we’ll be spending the next two nights.

Tuesday 9 June : Mull touring and Iona

The well preserved abbey on Iona, considered by many to be Scotland's "holiest place".
The strange appearance of Staffa, with Fingal's Cave on the right.

This morning we head down to the southwest corner of Mull, and take the short ten minute ferry ride over to the Holy Isle of Iona. With its abbey ruins are said to be the graves of 48 Scottish kings, 8 Norwegian kings and 4 Irish kings.

In the afternoon there’s an optional tour to the Isle of Staffa, known for its unusual rock formations and birds, and for its “Fingal’s Cave”.

After that, we then travel on what we feel is the most beautiful road in all of Scotland, taking the longer but very scenic route back to Tobermory for a second night.  The road is narrow, but we’ve never seen another coach on it!

We’ll take a break on our return journey for a tutorial on Scotch Whisky and a chance to sample at least four different styles/examples of same.

Of course, if you prefer, you could spend the day enjoying the ambience and relaxing pace of life in Tobermory.

Wednesday 10 June : To Inverness via West Corner

The Ardnamurchan Lighthouse and Foghorn at Scotland's most westerly point.
We pass the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous in the Harry Potter movies, on our way to Fort William.

This morning we take a smaller ferry the short distance from Tobermory over to Kilchoan and then travel west as far as we can, hoping to reach the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse and mainland Scotland’s most westerly point.

After a chance for photos, we then travel through more spectacular countryside, and along roads that never see coaches, making our way to Fort William where we’ll stop for lunch.

After lunch, we continue on up to Inverness, known as “The Capital of the Highlands”.  We’ll take the relatively unknown road up the east side of Loch Ness, giving you a chance to see Urquhart Castle from the “other side” to that most people ever see.

We spend three nights in Inverness.

Thursday 11 June : Inverness area touring

Two of the cairns and some of the upright stones at the Clava Cairns.
Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness.
The small Highland town of Beauly, unusual for not being on a loch.

This morning we travel out of Inverness to Culloden, the site of the last battle between the Jacobite forces and the English crown in 1746.  After the decisive defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite supporters, Scotland’s hope for independence ended – well, at least until the last few decades, with the possibility of an independent Scotland now very much on the table once more.

Next we visit the mysterious ancient Clava Cairns in a beautiful woodland setting.

We then head along the Caledonian Canal and beside Loch Ness, via Drumnadrochit, to the noble ruins of Urquhart Castle, on a promontory going out into Loch Ness.  Will we see “Nessie”, the rumored sea beast that lives in the loch? Anything is possible!

We then go west to the beautiful sleepy village of Beauly, a town which makes few concessions to the 21st century, and have a chance to see their lovely ruined abbey in the center of the town.

After all this “thirsty work” we’ll take you to the Glen Ord Distillery for a tour and tasting.

If you prefer of course, you can enjoy a leisurely day doing your own thing without coming with us on tour.

Friday 12 June : North corner and John O'Groats

An earlier Travel Insider group at John O'Groats.
The lovely formal gardens at Dunrobin Castle is where the falconry display occurs.
The lighthouse and foghorn at Dunnet Head. Hoy, one of the Orkney Islands, is visible in the background.

Time for the third of our four corners.  We head north this morning up to the top of Scotland.

We go first to Dunrobin Castle.  You might wish an early lunch, and for sure, don’t miss the magnificent display of falconry birds doing their stuff, often directly over our heads.

We travel the rest of the way up to the north coast, making three stops.

One is at the northernmost point (Dunnet Head) and another at the northwestern most point (a bonus “compass point”) and the third at the well known John O’Groats, the traditional “end of the road”.

On the way back to Inverness we’ll stop in the small fishing town of Wick, occupied by the Vikings until the 1200s, for a chance to stretch our legs in this historic town.

Saturday 13 June : To Aberdeen via East Corner

Fraserburgh has a museum of lighthouses.
Alas, no lighthouse in Peterhead for the eastern most point on the Scottish mainland (it is down the coast a short distance instead).

Today sees us collect the last of our “four corners”.  We’d like to say we left the best for last, but it is actually the least remarkable of all four, in the dockyard area in Peterhead.  However, the achievement is remarkable – you’ve done something few Scots have done, themselves.

And the rest of the day is interesting, including a stop in Fraserburgh which has a museum dedicated to Scottish lighthouses, and a visit to an ancient bridge on the outskirts of Aberdeen, our destination for the day and where we’ll spend two nights.

Sunday 14 June : Aberdeen and Balmoral

Aberdeen's taste for magnificent buildings saw it go bankrupt in 1817. Was it worth it? Today, it seems so!
Balmoral Castle was purchased in 1852 by Prince Albert, as a gift for his wife, Queen Victoria.

This morning we travel through some of stately Aberdeen, and then head west through the Royal Deeside region to Balmoral Castle.

This is privately owned by Queen Elizabeth, handed down through the Royal Family from when Queen Victoria was given it by Prince Albert in 1852.  It is believed to be one of her favorite places.

This evening marks our Farewell Dinner where we have a chance to relive some of our experiences over the last while, and reaffirm new friendships.

 

Monday 15 June : To Edinburgh/Glasgow, main tour ends

Traditional preparation of the wonderfully delicious "Arbroath smokies".
The exploration ship, "Discovery" that took Scott to the Antarctic, now a museum in Dundee harbour.
The famous "Old Course" at St Andrews.
The distinctive (some would dare to say ugly) Forth Rail Bridge will greet us on our arrival into Edinburgh.

Today we head south to Edinburgh.  We take the “interesting” rather than direct route south, and detour through Arbroath, known not only for its lovely smoked fish but also for a document that is generally thought to have been the inspiration, 450 years later, for the US Declaration of Independence.

We will stop in Dundee for a lunch break and with some time to explore this lovely city.

On our way on to Edinburgh we go through St Andrews, the “home of golf”.

We expect to arrive into Edinburgh shortly before 4pm.  Most of us will leave there, but if you prefer, you can stay on the coach the rest of the way back to Glasgow.

This marks the end of the main tour.

Hopefully you’ll be continuing with us for our Edinburgh extension.  Please continue reading the next section for details of our optional post-tour extension.

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2020 Scotland’s Four Corners tour, or continue reading for the optional post-tour extension in Edinburgh, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

Monday 15 June : Arrive into Edinburgh

Lovely panoramic view of Edinburgh from the Castle.

Today we’ll transfer to our Edinburgh hotel for the next three nights when we arrive into Edinburgh from Aberdeen.

Tuesday 16 June : Edinburgh City Touring

A view up to Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the cityscape.
The three different bus routes that we have two day passes for.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is rated as Scotland's finest tourist attraction. You have a chance to visit it today or tomorrow.

We have two day unlimited touring passes that give us unlimited use of three different hop-on/hop-off bus routes around Edinburgh.  This will allow you a great chance to see those parts of Edinburgh you most wish to see and experience.

If you’ve never been to Edinburgh before, you’ll probably start with one of the general tours.  If you’ve been to Edinburgh before, you can use these three routes to see some of the parts of Edinburgh you surely haven’t yet seen.

Also included is admission to three “must see” sites – the former Royal Yacht, Britannia, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and Edinburgh Castle.

Wednesday 17 June : More Touring, Rosslyn Chapel Option

Two level streets on the road up to the Royal Mile.
Mysterious Rosslyn Chapel, just south of Edinburgh.

You still have a second day of use on your touring passes, and remember the three included admissions, with priority entry (no need to book a time or wait in the normal line for tickets).

We are also offering a three hour tour to Rosslyn Chapel, which is a short distance south of Edinburgh.  This chapel was featured in the book/movie, The Da Vinci Code, and is full of mysterious symbolism and legends.  You’re unlikely to uncover answers, but you’ll appreciate a chance to see the chapel, which has been wonderfully restored in recent years.

Thursday 18 June : End of Extension

Love it or hate it? The "Victorian Gothic" style Scott Monument in Edinburgh.

While you don’t have to go home today, this is the end of our post-tour option.

You’re welcome to have us extend your stay in Edinburgh, or to have us recommend and help you with any additional travel arrangements in Scotland, Britain, or Europe in general.  We’d love to help make this as wonderful and memorable for you as possible.

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2020 Scotland’s Four Corners tour, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

Ah - what a sight! Bagpipes and kilts....
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