2021 Daily Itinerary for the Scotland's 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 2021 “Scotland’s Four Corners” tour and is in three parts.

1.  The blue section immediately following details the optional pre-tour extensions that connect with the Wild Wales tour.

2.  The green section in the middle is the main tour

3.  The blue section at the bottom is the optional post-tour extension to York and on to Salisbury to connect with the Overlooked England tour.

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

Wednesday 25 August : Perhaps Arrive in Cardiff? Or Fly 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 optional pre-tour extension, you should consider arriving in Cardiff today (or earlier).

This would mean leaving the US the previous day, because most flights to the UK from the US are overnight, so you’d leave yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 24 Aug) and arrive today.

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

Thursday 26 August : From Wales/Shrewsbury to New Lanark or Glasgow

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

Today is the end of the Wild Wales tour.

You could meet up with the group in Cardiff this morning and enjoy the full day of touring, or you could meet the group after lunch in Shrewsbury, or make your own way to Glasgow or New Lanark, whatever is most convenient for you.

If you are joining us in Cardiff/Shrewsbury, we’ll travel north by coach, with a stop just north of the Scottish/English border in Gretna Green, formerly a traditional site where English people eloped to take advantage of the younger marriage age in Scotland.

After conducting any necessary weddings, we’ll continue on to New Lanark (described below) for people who wish to spend one or two nights there, and then complete our journey up to Glasgow for people wishing to spend one or two nights in Glasgow.

Friday 27 August : Either/Or/Or/Or :
(1) A day at New Lanark and second overnight (2) A day at New Lanark then transfer to Glasgow
(3) A day in Glasgow
(4) Touring from Glasgow to New Lanark

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

You’ve lots of choices today.

Options (1) and (2) :  If you chose to stay at New Lanark  New Lanark, then you’ve a lovely lazy day to walk around this beautiful and tranquil World Heritage site.  Enjoy the wonderful preserved Mill, go through the other restored buildings, wander by the river and around the grounds, and enjoy great food at the several eating choices.

At the end of the day, you can either transfer back to Glasgow or spend a second night in New Lanark.

Options (3) and (4) :  If you travelled on to Glasgow yesterday, you can either spend today in Glasgow and join the tour tomorrow morning at the Glasgow Central train station, or you can experience a lovely day of sightseeing, ending up at New Lanark for a night’s stay there, too.

The day of sightseeing goes first to the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift and the only such creation in the entire world.  We’ll actually go for a boat ride up the Wheel, through the tunnel to the canal at the other end, then back through the tunnel and down the Wheel again.

After that we move on to see the enormous (100 ft tall) twin statues of two “Kelpies” on the outskirts of Falkirk.

Then we 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 28 August : Main tour starts

Another view of New Lanark.

This morning the main tour starts in Glasgow.

After collecting people joining in Glasgow, the tour will 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 28 August in the main tour (green) section immediately below to continue the tour itinerary.

Friday 27 August (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 28 August, you should start your travels today or (recommended) yesterday or even sooner.

Note that we recommend arriving into Britain 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.

We can arrange a transfer from the airport to your Glasgow hotel, but there’s not really any need for that.  There’s an easy and convenient airport to city coach service.

Saturday 28 August : Tour starts in Glasgow (or New Lanark), down to the 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 9.00am.

If you’re flying in to Glasgow this morning, or taking a train, be sure to leave enough time to get to the starting point by 9.00am.  We then travel by coach down to New Lanark to collect the rest of our group.

If you were on our pre-tour option that had you enjoying one or two nights at New Lanark (see the blue bordered section above) you’ll be collected there 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 Pan Am 103 bombing and crash in 1988) 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 southernmost point in mainland Scotland.  We’re only 23 miles from the Isle of Man and 25 miles from Northern Ireland.  On a clear day, both might be visible.

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

Some of you may be tired if freshly arrived from other countries, so we’re deferring our welcome dinner until tomorrow, but there’ll be a welcome drink this evening.

Sunday 29 August : 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 weekend 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 train ride from Glasgow Central Station to Wemyss Bay and then enjoy 35 minutes crossing over the Firth of Clyde on a comfortable large ferry to the Victorian resort town of Rothesay.

We have a sightseeing bus tour of Bute and the island, 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 (and sadly is very seldom seen in Rothesay).

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

Monday 30 August : To Tobermory via Glencoe, Oban, and a Ferry

The lovely and colorful fishing village of Tobermory on the Island of Mull, where we'll enjoy a two night stay.
We think the "aura" of Glencoe is augmented on a soft misty day.
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.

We take an indirect path to Oban, traveling alongside “Bonnie Loch Lomond” then continuing on via the bleak Rannoch Moors before descending through the amazing and moodily evocative Glencoe valley to the visitor’s center where we learn of the terrible events that occurred here in 1692 – remembered vividly by all MacDonalds, the world over, as if it were yesterday.

We then continue on to Oban where there’s time for a stroll along the main street, and perhaps grab a quick bite of lunch.  From there we take a ferry over to the Isle of Mull.  As we reach Mull, you’ll notice Duart Castle prominently on a hill guarding the sound.

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

Tuesday 31 August : 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 1 September : 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.
Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness.

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 drive up alongside Loch Ness, giving you a chance to see Urquhart Castle and maybe spot a monster in the loch.

We spend three nights in Inverness.

Thursday 2 September : Inverness Area Touring

Two of the cairns and some of the upright stones at the Clava Cairns.
The small Highland town of Beauly, unusual for not being on a loch.
A long row of gleaming copper pot stills making the whisky.

We’ve split today’s touring in two halves, so you can choose from a day in Inverness, or half a day of touring and half a day in the city, or a full day of touring.

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 decade or two, 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 return to Inverness for lunch.  After lunch, we travel first to a really strange place – the “Clootie Well” in Munlochy, a place with alleged magical healing powers.

We then go 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, and a great traditional clothing store.

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

Friday 3 September : North Corner and John O'Groats

An earlier Travel Insider group at John O'Groats.
Thurso in the sun.
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 directly up to Thurso, the most northerly town in Scotland, getting there in time for an earlyish lunch.

After a break for lunch, we tour around the north coast, making three stops.

The first 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”.  Why not stay with us for our Overlooked England Tour to complete the journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

On the way back to Inverness we’ll stop in the small town of Dornoch for a quick stretch of our legs.  Dornoch’s claim to fame is that Madonna married Guy Ritchie in its cathedral.  But don’t go looking for her on the street – she lives in Lisbon these days.

Saturday 4 September : To Dundee via the East Corner and Aberdeen

Alas, no lighthouse in Peterhead for the eastern most point on the Scottish mainland (it is down the coast a short distance instead).
Aberdeen's Marischal Museum, now repurposed as the City Council offices.
The distinctive new building housing a branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee.

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 – by visiting all four corners, you’ve done something few Scots have done, themselves.

The rest of the day is interesting, with a visit to the oldest bridge in Scotland, on the outskirts of Aberdeen.  This is Scotland’s third largest city, with a history dating back 8,000 years, and known for its grand granite buildings, the cost of which bankrupted the city in Victorian days

We then continue on to Dundee, our destination for the day and where we’ll spend two nights.

Dundee is Scotland’s fourth largest city, a UNESCO city of design, 5th on the WSJ’s 2018 list of worldwide hot destinations, and named “the coolest little city in Britain” by GQ in 2015.

Sunday 5 September : Aberdeen, Scone Palace, Pitlochry

The exploration ship, "Discovery" that took Scott to the Antarctic, now a museum in Dundee harbour.
A traditional fish and chip shop in Pitlochry with an amusing name.
Scone Palace

You have the morning to relax and wander around Dundee, then shortly before noon, we travel to the Victorian town of Pitlochry for a lunch stop.

Pitlochry was “put on the map” by Queen Victoria, and when the rail line reached the town, it became a very popular and fashionable place to visit.

After a break for lunch, we travel to Scone Palace, where for 1,000 years, the kings of Scotland were crowned (including Macbeth), during which time it was the home of the Stone of Stone (now in Edinburgh Castle).  The palace is one of the finest examples of Georgian Gothic architecture in Scotland.

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 6 September : To Edinburgh, main tour ends

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.

This morning we head south to Edinburgh where our tour ends.

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

We expect to arrive into Edinburgh at midday.  If you are leaving us, we’ll stop at the main (Waverley) train station, it being the most central point, and also of course, where you’d take a train on elsewhere if that is your plan.

If you’re extending on, we’ll continue south after breaking for a lunch stop.

This marks the end of the main tour.

Hopefully you’ll be continuing with us for our extension down to York and on to Salisbury to connect with the Overlooked England tour.  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 2021 Scotland’s Four Corners tour, or continue reading for the optional post-tour extension down to York and on to Salisbury, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

Monday 6 September : Continuing from Edinburgh to York

Lovely panoramic view of Edinburgh from the Castle.
The ruins of Whitby Abbey tower over the town below.
A section of York's city wall and the glorious York Minster in the background.

If you are continuing on with us (and of course, we hope you are!), we’ll continue on from Edinburgh after a lunch break.

We travel down the east coast, cross the border into England, and then detour to Whitby, the one-time home of English sailor/explorer Captain James Cook, the mythical place where Dracula came ashore, and these days a nice fishing port and holiday resort, renowned for its fresh fish and chips.

We will break for dinner in Whitby then continue on the final part of our journey to York, through the amazing North York Moors National Park, in parts barren, in parts beautiful.

Tuesday 7 September : From York via Stratford upon Avon and Bladon to Salisbury

The timelessness of the medieval half-timbered buildings in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, looks very modern but was opened in 1932.
This humble village church is the final resting place of Britain's greatest 20th century statesman, Sir Winston Churchill.

We continue on to Salisbury today, with a couple of interesting stops on the way.

Our first stop is at Stratford upon Avon, one time home of William Shakespeare, and terminus of the Avon Canal.  This will be our lunching spot as well as a nice town to walk around.

After lunch we go to the small village of Bladon, where we’ll stop at the churchyard of St Martin’s Church, to see the grave of Britain’s greatest 20th century statesman (actually, he was half American – his mother was American), Sir Winston Churchill.

From Bladon it is not far on to Salisbury where we’ll then enjoy three nights.

Wednesday 8 September : Overlooked England Tour Begins

Salisbury's defining feature is, without a doubt, its glorious cathedral.

Today marks the official start of our Overlooked England Tour.

We do hope you’ll be staying on to enjoy this tour, too.

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2021 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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