Galloway & Argyll
This walking tour takes you to two very distinct parts of Scotland with different landscapes and historical links. The holiday is a mixture of easy walks together with visits to places of interest. This is your chance to get to know two Scotlands in just one week.
We start the holiday in southern Scotland - in Galloway, a tranquil countryside of serene hills and moors, tall woods, and long rivers. Galloway Forest Park is Britain's largest and covers an area of almost 800 square kilometres. There is also a spectacular coast of estuaries, rocky headlands, sandy beaches and cliffs with caves along the Solway Firth.
Celts, Britons, Romans, Angles, Vikings and Normans have all left their marks on the landscape, customs and traditions. Robert the Bruce began his campaign to free Scotland from English rule in Galloway. His first victory over the English was by the shores of Loch Trool in 1307. We will explore both countryside and coast and delve into the long history of this region.
The second half of the holiday will be spend in Argyll in the west Highlands. Argyll has a long and broken coast line next to rugged and rocky hills. Its deep glens are threaded by rapid rivers, and scattered with many lochs, both large and small.
The very name 'Argyll' - translated from the Gaelic as 'Heartland of the Gael' - tells of a unique cultural tradition. The names of places, hills and glens - even of people - continue to express the uniqueness of Argyll.
The programme will be subject to variables such as weather and the abilities of the group and changes may also be made to take account of lambing, deer stalking, etc. Any such alterations will always take into account the need to maintain the overall character of the holiday.
Sunday: Galloway Forest Park
We will explore Galloway Forest Park, the largest forest park in Britain. But before we go into the park we will have a short walk in the Wood of Cree, the largest remaining woodland in southern Scotland. It is thought to date back over 5000 years to the last ice age.
After this first introduction, we will travel into the heart of the forest park where we will walk around Loch Trool, the site where Robert the Bruce won the first battle over the English in 1307. Loch Trool is surrounded by the highest peaks of the Galloway Hills.
6 miles/9.5 km and 935ft/285m of ascent
Monday: Cairnholy cairns, Threave Castle and coastal walk
We will start in the Neolithic period by visiting the superb Clyde-type chambered cairns at Cairnholy. There are a substantial number of cup and ring marked rocks around the cairn.
From there, we continue to the River Dee to visit the ruins of Threave Castle which is on an island in the river. This is a massive 14th century tower built by Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway. To get to the island, we must ring the bell at the jetty and the boatman will come across from the island to ferry us to the castle.
Our afternoon walk will be a coastal walk along the Solway Firth which will take us onto high cliffs. In May and June these cliff areas are alive with nesting sea birds jostling and noisily contesting for prime sites. There are colonies of kittiwakes, fulmars and herring gulls and on the lower slopes the guillemots and razorbills make their homes. Further round there are many cormorants nesting. There will also be an abundance of wild flowers clinging to the cliffs. And if you are bored with all this natural beauty, you can gaze across the Solway Firth towards England, the Isle of Man and Ireland.
Up to 6 miles/9km, limited ascent.
Tuesday: Journey to Argyll, Benmore Gardens and Puck's Glen
Today we leave Galloway and travel to the Scottish Highlands, taking the ferry across the Clyde.
We will visit Benmore Botanic Garden for a guided tour of the garden. The garden lies in a magnificent mountainside setting on the Cowal Peninsula. Benmore’s 120 acres boast over 300 species of rhododendron; Bhutanese and Chilean plantings and a spectacular avenue of Giant Redwoods.
Today's walk will include Puck's Glen. This is one of the hidden gems of Cowal. After a ascent through an ancient pine forest, we will descent through this magical glen, which is actually a gorge filled with gushing waterfalls and enchanting rock pools. It brings you into a different world hidden in the deep, rainforest-like depths of the glen, and there is the chance to see a wealth of wildlife, including dipper and red squirrel.
Up to 4 miles/6km and up to 720ft/220m of ascent.
Wednesday: Portavadie and Castle Lachlan
Our walk near Portavadie is in a beautiful corner of the Cowal peninsula, mostly open moorland, with wide sea views to the sharp peaks on the Isle of Arran, and across Loch Fyne to Kintyre. We will start with a walk through an Atlantic oak forest to a deserted village and back along the shore. During the second walk we will explore the land, coast and bays south of Portavadie. On a bright day the views towards the dramatic peaks of the Isle of Arran are outstanding.
After the second walk we will take the scenic single track road along the shore of Loch Fyne to Strathlachlan. We will finish the day with a short walk to the ruins of Castle Lachlan, once the stronghold of clan MacLachlan
Up to 6 miles/9km and up to 650ft/200m ascent.
Thursday: Ardkinglas House and Inveraray
Today, we're going west of Loch Fyne to Cairndow and Inveraray. We will have a tour of Ardkinglas House, designed and built in 1907 by Robert Lorimer one of Scotland's leading architects. Lorimer was allowed a free hand and the result is a large neo-baronial style mansion of over 80 rooms set in its own gardens with some of the tallest trees of Scotland.
Inveraray Castle is set in elegant planned grounds and, beside the equally planned and equally elegant white-painted 18th century town, has excellent walks in the estate. Perhaps the best of these - all on path and track - takes in the riverside and some varied woodland on its way to the 700 feet / 220m high top of Dun na Cuaiche. The view from the watchtower here is the very best there is of Inveraray, the castle and Loch Fyne.
Up to 6 miles/9km and up to 1150ft/350m of ascent.
Friday: West Highland Way: Inversnaid to Ardleish
We will take the passenger ferry across Loch Lomond to Inversnaid and walk one of the best sections of the West Highland Way. Leaving Inversnaid we pass through ancient oak woodland and walk past Rob Roy's Cave. The path is rough with numerous ups and downs but we will be rewarded with superb views. In Ardleish a boat will ferry us back to the west shore of the loch.
5 miles/8km and 650ft/200m of ascent
Saturday: Argyll - Glasgow
We drive across the 'Rest & Be Thankful' pass to Loch Long and along Loch Lomond back to Glasgow, where we will arrive in the late morning.
Click on the picture to enlarge.
This walking tour is an excellent introduction to hiking in Scotland for people with good basic fitness. The holiday combines walking with visits to places of interest. Daily distances won't exceed 6 miles/10km plus varying amounts of ascent, and we don't expect to hike for longer than 4 hours (plus stops). Most of the hiking will be on paths, tracks or quiet roads, although the surfaces can be wet and rough. There will be some steep sections along the way, but no climbs greater than 1200 feet/365m, even in total.
If you're still not sure whether or not you can cope after you've read this along with the details of the week's programme, please get in touch to discuss it further.
You will need to bring boots with a good tread that provide adequate ankle support, warm clothing, waterproofs (top and over-trousers) and a rucksack big enough for your spare clothes, a packed lunch and whatever else you normally like to have with you (binoculars, a camera, etc.).
Boots are especially important. They don't have to be particularly heavy, but wearing ultra lightweight ones may mean your feet get wet and trainers definitely aren't adequate nor, on some of the rougher and steeper going, however short it may be, are they safe. Trekking poles can be very useful, especially for anyone with knee problems.
This is either in carefully selected Bed & Breakfast accommodation or Guest Houses. You can rely on the quality of the accommodation that we find for you - its comfort, its food and the professionalism and welcoming nature of those who run it. The B&Bs and guest houses we use are more personal and the quality of the accommodation is as good or even better than of hotels in the same category. Double and twin rooms will have an en suite or private bathroom.
If you have particular requirements or prefer to stay in a 4-star hotel, please let us know so that we can do our best to meet them.
Details of where you will be staying will be sent to you well in advance of your holiday.
Dinner is not included in the price, but your guide will take you out for supper every evening. We usually eat in a different place each evening, giving you the opportunity to try a range of Scottish dishes and ambiences.
|Description||8 days (Saturday to Saturday), accommodation in Galloway (3 nights) and Argyll (4 nights) in carefully selected B&Bs or guest houses.|
|Walking||An attractive, well thought out walking programme; never more than 6 miles (10 km) in a day, and mostly on paths or tracks - though paths may be wet and/or rough in places. An equally attractive programme of visits to places of interest complement the walks.|
|GA61||11-18 June 2016||£840||Single room: £70 extra|
|GA62||6-13 August 2016|
|GA63||17-24 September 2016|
|Groups of 4 or more can book other dates, please ask.|
The price includes:
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For general information and booking, please click here.