Art and Architecture of the Romantic West Highlands

Explore the extraordinary castles and country houses of one of Europe’s most dramatic landscapes. This exclusive tour is led by Mary Miers, a leading writer and expert on the historic houses of Scotland, and includes private access to some of the architectural gems of the West Highlands.

[please note: we have created this tour but are still working on the exact price and event dates and details – more info to follow, but do enquire by email to secure first refusal on a place!]

Tour details

Arrival day

Experience teaches us that people prefer to give themselves a full day to recover from the journey and explore a little on their own. We are therefore including two nights at a chic Bed and Breakfast close to Glasgow city centre before the full tour begins.

A taxi from Glasgow airport will cost about £25 (or £75 from Edinburgh airport).

Day 2 (Saturday)

A relaxed morning exploring Glasgow. Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art. A tour of the Merchant City. Then after lunch we meet our guide for an afternoon excursion down the Clyde. Past Formakin House, then Finlaystone with its lovely gardens, and then Ardgowan. Back to the city in time for tea and a relaxed evening, taking in some of the area’s world famous maritime heritage along the way.

Day 3 (Sunday)

A 9.15 start for our drive north past Loch Lomond and into the Highlands. We take in the internationally acclaimed Art Nouveau Hill House, Helensburgh (Charles Rennie Mackintosh) before crossing the ‘Rest and be Thankful’ Pass into Argyll.

Stop for lunch at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar before a private tour of Ardkinglas (Sir Robert Lorimer’s Arts-&-Crafts masterpiece, see photo below). We stay the night at a cozy loch-side inn nearby.

Day 4 (Monday)

Morning coffee at 18th–Century Strachur House, home of the famous war hero, author and inspiration for James Bond, Sir Fitzroy Maclean, before a visit to Inveraray Castle, HQ of Clan Campbell and residence of the Duke or Argyll.

Then a short drive through the Argyll hills to extraordinary St Conan’s Kirk overlooking Loch Awe and the picturesque ruin of Kilchurn Castle, before driving on to Oban and the ferry to the Isle of Mull, where we stay for two nights. 

Day 5 (Tuesday)

A day exploring the isle of Mull: Torosay House with Lorimer gardens superbly sited above the Firth of Lorne, Castle Duart, HQ of Clan Maclean, Tobermory, and of course the extraordinary Abbey on Iona.

Day 6 (Wednesday)

We take the morning ferry from Mull to Lochaline on the remote Morvern peninsula of the mainland West Coast. There we visit Ardtornish House and its famous gardens, plus Kinlochaline Castle (a late medieval tower house restored as a private home). Lunch in the village at nearby Lochaline (local frshly caught seafood is a menu option). Then we travel through the wild landscape of Morvern to Loch Sunart and on into Moidart to visit the unmissably romantic ruins of Castle Tioram, one of the great medieval castles of the Western seaboard and stronghold of the Macdonalds of Clanranald.

Day 7 (Thursday)

A day exploring Moidart, incuding a private tour of a nearby house - a perfectly preserved showcase of Aesthetic Movement taste. Pub lunch at Glenuig, or, if the weather is fine, a picnic and a stroll down to the poignant deserted crofting village at Smirisary by the sea, followed by afternoon visit/refreshments at Roshven House, with its important artistic connections and collection of contemporary Scottish art.

Day 8 (Friday)

Drive though the wild ‘Rough Bounds’ to Arisaig for our next adventure: a day boat trip to the mountainous - and almost deserted - Isle of Rum to visit one of Scotland’s most incongruous creations, Kinloch Castle.

We finish (if time and energy allow) with a late afternoon visit to Arisaig House, the first country house designed by Philip Webb, father of Arts-&-Crafts architecture, with a drink on the garden terrace overlooking Loch nan Uamh - the site where Bonnie Prince Charlie first set foot on the British mainland in 1745.

Day 9 (Saturday)

Over the sea to Skye. It’s not quite Bonnie Prince Charlie’s route, but the memories of the Jacobite rebellion are all around us as we make the short trip from Mallaig. A visit to Armadale Castle (and the excellent Clan Donald Museum) followed by lunch on the sea front.

Day 10 (Sunday)

A morning visit to the Himalayan glory of Larach Mor gardens, ablaze with colour in May. Then we head back along the Road to the Isles, stopping at Glenfinnan, with its beautifully sited church at the head of Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan monument.

Drive back to Glasgow through the Highlands via dramatic Glencoe.

Day 11 fly home or onward travel.

Price, Transport, Guide, Accommodation and Shopping

The cost of the tours in 2021 is GBP ££ (price on application).

The tour is priced for people travelling on their own. If you are happy to share a room, there is a reduction of GBP £150 per person.

The tour will be for a maximum of twelve people travelling in two nine seater minibuses.

Breakfast is included throughout; lunch is not included. Dinner is included on selected nights. At the other overnight stops there is a range of bar meals and more formal options.

Luggage: we suggest a medium sized case plus hand luggage for easy access at your seat. If you are continuing your trip please ask us about left luggage facilities in Glasgow. 

There will be plenty of opportunity to buy souvenirs but this is not really a tour for serious shopping!

What's Included?

  • Bed and Breakfast for ten nights
  • Dinner on selected nights
  • Services of lead tour guide and driver/guide for nine days
  • Entry to key sites
  • Entry to selected castles and houses
  • Private castle tours.

Not included:

  • Air Fares
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Dinners except for those specified
  • Trip insurance

We ask for a non refundable deposit of GBP £(price on application) per person which represents the costs of arranging the tour.

The balance is payable twelve weeks prior to the start of the tour.

Cancellation

We strongly recommend that you take out trip insurance in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Now What?

If you would like to know, more about the trip then send an email to me, Diana Gray.

OR

If you would like to go ahead and book a place, you can make your deposit of GBP ££(price on application) (Mastercard or VISA) below...

Note - please use Ref: 'ARCH'