Before you depart, explore the mainland
Before you depart for your Ancient Isles: England, Ireland, and Scotland expedition, choose to add on time in Scotland first, and experience all the mainland has to offer. Over the course of 4 days discover ancient history and UNESCO sites in the Highlands, scenic drives through enchanting green landscapes, and modern towns with colorful pasts.
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Inverness.
Arrive in Inverness and transfer to your hotel. Explore the charming town at leisure this afternoon, and in the evening connect with your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner. Overnight at Kingsmills Hotel Inverness. (D)
This morning, depart for Culloden. This is the site of the last battle to be fought on British soil: the bloody Battle of Culloden in 1746 between Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Duke of Cumberland. The desolate fields where the conflict took place have scarcely changed over the past 250 years. Visit the new Culloden Heritage Center and walk the historic battlefield. Continue to Cawdor Castle, one of the Highland’s most romantic stately homes with its fine collection of rare tapestries, portraits and outside its lovely gardens and grounds. Tour the castle at your leisure and enjoy lunch. This afternoon we journey south through the magnificent Cairngorm Mountains; Idyllic and evocative Scottish scenery abounds. Stop for a wee dram of whiskey at the highest-altitude distillery in the region and learn about the traditional art of malt whisky distilling. Spend the evening in Pitlochry at the Hydro Hotel or similar. (B,L,D)
Begin the day with a scenic drive toward Stirling. From its spectacular setting, high on a volcanic rock above the River Forth, Stirling Castle has controlled one of the main routes between the Scottish Highlands and the lowlands for centuries, earning the title “key to the kingdom”. Explore the castle with your guide, before continuing to The Kelpies – the largest equine sculptures in the world. The Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, barges and coal ships that shaped the geographical layout of Falkirk. Afterward, visit the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boatlift, which is used to connect the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in central Scotland. Start your visit with a lunch and later experience the rotating boatlift for yourself.
In the afternoon, visit Rosslyn Chapel where you will learn of its fascinating history and legends. Rosslyn chapel was built in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, third and last St Clair Prince of Orkney (thought to be a Grand Master of the Knights Templar). Although the chapel’s construction was never completed, it remains a place of pilgrimage thanks to its strong links with the Knights Templar and, if speculation is to be believed, its musty, undisturbed vaults may contain fantastic holy relics, including early gospels, the Ark of the Covenant, the Stone of Destiny, even the mummified head of Christ. Afterward, travel the short journey into Edinburgh; during a brief orientation panorama of the city, see some of the main landmarks including Princes Street and the UNESCO Georgian New Town. Check into the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel and join the group for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)
A majestic landmark which dominates the capital city’s skyline just as it has dominated Scotland’s long and colourful history, Edinburgh Castle is the best known & most visited of Scotland’s historic buildings. Visit the castle and its many different architectural styles, with the oldest section dating back to the 12th century. Afterwards, walk along a portion of the Royal Mile to the magnificent National Museum of Scotland. Here, take time to explore the vast collections that cover the history of Scotland from Neolithic to the modern day. Choose to explore and have lunch at your leisure. Later this afternoon, visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Now the official residence of the Queen in Scotland, the Palace’s Royal Apartments are used for investitures and banquets whenever the Queen is in residence. This evening, join your fellow travellers for a final dinner. Overnight at the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel. (B,D)
Take an early morning flight to London, where you will transfer to the ship for embarkation in time for lunch. (B,L,D)
Extension Cost Per Person
Hotel accommodations, meals as indicated, transfers, sightseeing, one-way flight from Edinburgh to London.
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