1804 | Argyll, Isle of Skye & the Atlantic Coast

A scenic adventure across Argyll, the Isle of Skye and along the Atlantic coast

Welcome to Scotland's stunning west coast, truly one of the world's most scenic coastlines. This tour, an eight-day adventure, explores a wide-range of the west coast's glorious gardens, its history and its fascinating heritage; all this, together with the warmth of traditional Scottish hospitality, superb food and some of the freshest, most delicious seafood ever!

We have been operating tours on and along Scotland's west coast since May 2007 and, although all our tours differ from one another, this tour is quite different - and much improved upon - from our first adventure in these parts!

This is truly the Highlands - as much a mindset as it is a landscape - and a little understanding of its history, especially of the Highland Clearances, one of its seminal events, won't go amiss.

We explore an ever-changing landscape from Argyll, a county with a longer coastline than that of France, in the south to Ross-shire in the north. And, whilst our focus remains on gardens, we are constantly in touch with the landscape's history and heritage, and the various communities' art and culture.

Garden & Other Attractions
We have taken this opportunity to look afresh at Argyll's attractions and, by re-routing our first day's journey, we are able to visit Helensburgh and two of its jewels - the garden at Glenarn and Charles Rennie Mackintosh's The Hill House, a masterpiece of its time. Otherwise we will take you to those gardens which have proved their worth year-after-year, and we do so unhurriedly, at our own pace. The charitable organisation, Scotland's Gardens, has a useful website and I remain indebted to Kenneth Cox and his wonderful book Scotland for Gardeners.

Sleeping & Eating
Besides our first night in Paisley, we spend the first three nights of the tour on the southern shore of Loch Fyne, Scotland's longest sea loch, at the very comfortable Creggans Inn, a hotel we have enjoyed using for some years and, the second four nights, in the wonderfully picturesque fishing village of Plockton, at the Plockton Inn, where we have stayed since our first Highlands & Islands tour in 2007.

We dine out on three evenings, firstly, on Loch Fyne at either Inver, a newcomer on the restaurant scene, or at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, a long-time favourite, and then, further north, at the ever-wonderful Plockton Shores and at the ever-remote Applecross Inn.

Please let us know if any of the website links become dysfunctional. Thank you.

At a glance
2-centre scenic adventure
14 gardens & attractions inc:
West Highland Railway Line
Inveraray Castle
Guided tour of Mount Stuart
3-nights on Loch Fyne
Arduaine Gardens
Private tour of Attadale with family
4-nights Plockton
Dunvegan Castle
Glenelg & Glenelg Brochs
Superb food
Inverewe Gardens
Fully escorted
Day 0 | Monday, 7 May

A Highland gathering!

We ask that you to join us at Ashtree House, checking-in at any time of the day, so that we may make a reasonable start tomorrow morning. We have included this additional night's accommodation in the price of the tour, but we have not included dinner, not least because you may want an early night, or you are not arriving until late, or you fancy a night on the tiles in Glasgow! Whatever the reason, we shall meet at breakfast on Tuesday morning.

And don't worry if you don't see the minibus outside, Tim doesn't usually arrive until about 9pm and then heads straight for bed.

Please let us know if you cannot be at Ashtree House until Tuesday, 8 May.

Ashtree House is 10 minutes from Glasgow Airport by taxi and 10-to-20 minutes from central Glasgow by train, it's a great place to stay and we have been using it for several years.

NB. Monday, 7 May is a Public Holiday across the United Kingdom and banks and larger stores may be closed or limit their hours of business, and public transport may be operating a 'Sunday' or restricted service.

Monday, 7 May
Rhododendron blooms, Benmore Botanic
Day 1 | Tuesday, 8 May

Across the mighty Clyde and into Argyll

We set off after breakfast, crossing the mighty River Clyde to Helensburgh, a handsome Victorian holiday resort on the River Clyde, developed by wealthy Victorian Glasgow merchants, to visit Glenarn, a private garden established by the Gibson family in the 1920s and 30s and famous for its collection of species rhododendrons.

From Glenarn we drive to nearby The Hill House, for lunch and the early afternoon at this iconic Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece. Built for the publishing magnate, Walter Blackie, Mackintosh and his wife, the artist Margaret Macdonald, designed and created almost everything, from the house itself to the furniture and textiles. Mid-afternoon, we leave Helensburgh behind us and head to Loch Fyne where, if time permits us, we shall have a brief visit to Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, for a walk amongst some magnificent trees and flowering shrubs.

It is just a short drive along the shores of Loch Fyne to The Creggans Inn, our home-from-home for the next few days, where we will arrive in good time to check-in and relax before drinks and dinner, at Creggans.

Today's total driving is about 70 miles/110 km

Tuesday, 8 May
The restored Victorian Fernery, Benmore Botanic
Day 2 | Wednesday, 9 May

The Isle of Bute, Mount Stuart & Benmore Botanic

Our day is spent on the Cowal Peninsula, south of Creggans, firstly on the charming Isle of Bute for a guided tour of Mount Stuart, one of the most outstanding Gothic Revival buildings in Britain. Built by the 3rd Marquess of Bute, who, in his day, was one of Britain's wealthiest men, he died before his vision was completed, but you will see it in the company of some very knowledgable guides. Surrounding the house is an incredible collection of plant-life, spread across several spectacular gardens and you will have tickets to see it all.

After lunch, we return to the mainland for the afternoon at nearby Benmore Botanic Gardens. One of three outstations of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Benmore has one of the finest collections of rhododendrons in the world, to say nothing of its giant redwoods, the restored Victorian fernery, its other collections and the magnificent setting.

From Benmore we will return to Loch Fyne to dine either at Inver, a recent arrival on the shores of the loch, or at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, before returning home to Creggans Inn.

Today's total driving is about 80 miles/130 km

Wednesday, 9 May
The house, Mount Stuart
Day 3 | Thursday, 10 May

The Atlantic Coast & all along Loch Fyne

Water is the theme of today, as we spend it on the Atlantic coast and along the shores of Loch Fyne, starting at Arduaine Garden, one of Argyll's most famous gardens, a wonderful and a tranquil oasis of rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias, overlooking the sea on a beautiful stretch of coastline, we return along Loch Fyne to visit Crarae, archetypical of the Sottish west coast woodland gardens, Crarae is one of the finest gardens, with mases of rhododendrons and azaleas along its steeply-sided 'Himalayan' gorge.

From Crarae it is another short drive along Loch Fyne to Inveraray Castle, where we will spend the remains of the afternoon at the home of the Dukes of Argyll and Chiefs of the Clan Campbell. Today's fairy-tale castle is merely the latest of a succession of castles built on the shores of Loch Fyne, since the 1400s, and you will have tickets to explore the castle and its gardens.

We will return to Creggans for dinner.

Today's total driving is about 130 miles/210 km

Thursday, 10 May
The gardens, Inveraray Castle
Day 4 | Friday, 11 May

From Argyll to Plockton by road, rail & sea!

We make our way northwest, for the one-hour's drive to Crianlarich, where you board the world-famous West Highland Line to Mallaig, from where we take the early-afternoon Clamac ferry to the Isle of Skye. We land five minutes from Armadale Castle, part of the wider Clan Donald estate, where we spend most of the afternoon, exploring its grounds and gardens, the castle ruins and visiting the excellent Museum of the Isles.

From Clan Donald, it's an hour's drive north, returning to the mainland by bridge, to Plockton, where we'll arrive at the Plockton Inn in good time to check-in, relax and enjoy a wonderful dinner at the Inn.

Today's total driving is about 70 miles/110 km plus your train journey

Friday, 11 May
Dun Telve Broch, Glenelg
Day 5 | Saturday, 12 May

Over the sea to Skye, Glenelg & Attadale

We return to Skye, if only to take the Glenelg Ferry across Kyle Rhea - the stretch of water between Skye and the mainland at its narrowest point and the traditional crossing used by cattle drovers taking their cattle to market - to visit the Glenelg Brochs - Dun Telve and Dun Troddan - two of Scotland's best-preserved Iron Age Brochs.

After lunch at Glenelg Inn we return towards Plockton, stopping to take photographs of the Five Sisters of Kintail and the iconic Eilean Donan Castle, before our private guided tour of Attadale, the stunning garden of artist and gardener, Nicky Macpherson. The gardens were created, initially at least, by Baron Schroder in the late 19th century, when some 20 acres/8 ha conifers and rhododendrons were planted around the house and surrounding hillsides. However, the garden you see today is largely the work of its owner, Nicky Macpherson, when she transformed the garden after the devastating 1980 storms. Nicky's daughter, Joanna Macpherson, has taken over much of the day-to-day running of Attadale and will guide us around this wonderful garden, before we all retire to their beautiful home, for tea and biscuits.

We return to Plockton for dinner at Plockton Shores.

Today's total driving is about 70 miles/110 km

Saturday, 12 May
The reflection pond, Attadale
Day 6 | Sunday, 13 May

Inverewe & Applecross - a day of spectacle and adventure!

Today's journey takes us north, along Glen Carron and then by Loch Maree for lunch and a the main part of the day exploring Inverewe Gardens, the world-famous gardens overlooking Loch Ewe. Created by Osgood Mackenzie in 1862, Inverewe is one of Scotland's most popular botanical attractions and is home to the most northerly planting of the rare Wollemi pines. It is home, too, to more than 2,500 species of other exotic plants, flourishing here because of the warm currents of the Gulf Stream and the foresight of Osgood Mackenzie, who planted over 100 acres of woodland to shelter the garden.

Loch Ewe was the chief assembly anchorage for the wartime Arctic Convoys to Russia and, if time allows and you wish to, we will call in at the museum and visit the memorial to those who lost their lives serving on the convoys.

We return to Plockton via the Applecross Peninsula for dinner at the legendary Applecross Inn, the drive to which, beneath the Torridon mountains and along the coast, is spectacular, and is matched only by our drive home, over Britain's highest public road. If it all goes to plan, and if the weather is kind, we will have a glorious sunset over Skye and the Hebrides beyond.

Today's total driving is about 170 miles/275 km

Sunday, 13 May
The walled garden, Inverewe
Day 7 | Monday, 14 May

A day on Skye

We spend today on the Isle of Skye, a day of breathtaking scenery as we cross Skye, stopping for photos of the Cuillin Hills, to Dunvegan Castle, for a thorough exploration of this 800-year old ancestral home of Clan MacLeod and its treasures. We'll have plenty of time, too, for Dunvegan's interesting and ever-improving garden, which, although originally laid out in the 18th century, has undergone considerable replanting, and more than one wholesale abandonment.

After lunch, at Dunvegan, we will explore the Trotternish Peninsula, Skye's northern most peninsula, and visit the award-winning Skye Museum of Island Life, a preserved township of thatched cottages, each one depicting, as closely as possible, the conditions prevailing on the island at the close of the 19th century. We'll stop in Portree, the island's 'capital', for a cup of tea en route home to Plockton, for our end-of-tour dinner at Plockton Inn.

Today's total driving is about 150 miles/240 km

Monday, 14 May
Dunvegan Castle
Day 8 | Tuesday, 15 May

From Plockton to Glasgow via Loch Ness, Glen Coe & Loch Lomond

Our final journey takes us through the splendour of the Highlands as we return to Glasgow by way of Loch Ness and along the Great Glen, Fort William and through the majesty of Glencoe, scene of the infamous 18th-century massacre, to Loch Lomond and our final destinations.

We will stop frequently for photographs, refreshment and to stretch our legs as we wind our way toward the airport, railway stations and urban life, but we do not expect to be at Glasgow Airport before 16.00 and if you need to be at the airport significantly earlier than this, we will be happy to arrange for transport to the airport, at your expense.

We plan to drive directly to Glasgow Airport and then to Ashtree House Hotel and Glasgow city centre for Glasgow Central Station. If you are staying on in Britain and don't wish to return to Glasgow, but would rather be dropped off elsewhere, then please let us know, so that we may assist you in getting to your next destination.

Today's total driving is about 200 miles/320 km

Tuesday, 15 May
The minibus aboard the Arran ferry
General Notes

During our tours, we endeavour to be as faithful to our itineraries as possible, but sometimes changes do occur, either necessarily or unavoidably.

Need some help?
We have prepared some helpful information - under 'Essential Information', and this information is designed to enhance your holiday. The pages are, 'An Introduction', 'Additional Information', 'Booking and Paying' and 'Travel Information'.

The tour area map
Click on the Google map of the tour area, and it will open in a new window. The various tour locations are marked GREEN (for gardens), ORANGE (for other attractions), RED (for pubs, hotels and restaurants) and BLUE (for transport) - and click on these markers for more information.

Tour Information
08 - 15 May
8 days
25 800,00
Single person suplement:
4 300,00

Please ask if you wish to upgrade from Loch View rooms to Superior Loch View rooms at The Creggans Inn, but no such upgrade is available at Plockton Inn.

Available - Argyll, Isle of Skye & the Atlantic Coast
We will gather together on Tuesday, 11 July at a location yet to be confirmed in the Glasgow area.
Any specific notes regarding this tour will be disseminated nearer the time of the tour.
Click to see where we visit