This tour has been eagerly awaited by regulars on Country Lane Tours events and from advanced interest and the fact entry is limited to just thirty-four cars in total, it looks as though it may be oversubscribed almost immediately. Certainly at the moment there’s no intention to send this schedule out to anyone other than people who have expressed an interest and priority will, as usual, be given on the basis of receipt of entry forms. Once the thirty-four places are taken then a reserve list will be opened, but deposit cheques will not be cashed for those on that reserve list.
We will all gather for the first night’s dinner in Penrith on Saturday, September 9th before heading off west the next morning to Ardrossan and the ferry to Arran where we spend two nights, circumnavigating the island on the second day. From Arran we island hop up the west coast of Scotland, taking in Mull, Skye, Harris and Lewis before taking the last of our seven ferries from Stornaway to Ullapool on the mainland.
We stay in Ullapool for two nights and then join the famous North 500 up to Durness and across the top of Scotland via Thurso to the amazing Ackergill Tower, with its incredible views out across the North Sea.
We spend two nights at Ackergill Tower, taking a short tour on our second day to John O’Groats and the Castle of Mey, the former holiday home of the late Queen Mother.
Leaving Ackergill we hug the east coast south, still on the North 500, via Inverness and Aviemore to picturesque Pitlochry, our final destination of the tour.
For most of the event we’re using quiet rural roads where the major hazard is likely to be deer. It’s designed for you to soak up the scenery and step back in time on the islands. Some of the short ferries cannot take all the cars at one go so if you arrive and boat is full you’ll be forced to simply wait for a while, grab a coffee, and just chill!
Country Lane Tours does not usually run a support vehicle on UK events but, in view of the remoteness of some of the areas and roads there will be one this time. Of course, I will also be on hand throughout.
Finally – midges! You’ve all heard about how the Scottish midges are fearsome, and this is true. However, by September we should hopefully be safe as they are at their worst June/ July / August and tend to congregate near peatlands and bracken.
The itinerary is as follows:
Saturday, September 9th 2017. The group collects for a first night dinner and overnight halt near Penrith. The hotel is close to the M6 motorway and it gives people travelling from the south an easy run up, assuming the car park at Birmingham is avoided by taking the toll route. £5.50, but worth it! Overnight Penrith.
Sunday, September 10th 2017. Penrith – Brodick (Arran). A leisurely run though the lowlands takes us to the port of Adrossan and the ferry across to Arran, our first island on the tour.
Along the way we pass by the famous blacksmith’s forge in Gretna, stop off at the Devil’s Porridge Museum, and the Robert Burns monument in Kilmarnock.
The crossing from Adrossan to Brodick takes approximately an hour and our hotel for the next two nights is just a short distance from the port. Overnight Brodick, mileage for day – 129.
Monday, September 11th 2017. Brodick. Today you can take a scenic tour around the south of the island, simply chill out at the hotel and take advantage of the facilities, or take a walk into town. You might even decide to do all three! Overnight Brodick, mileage for day – 34 (0).
Tuesday, September 12th 2017. Brodick – Craignure (Mull). Leaving Brodick we travel the short distance to Lochranza, catch the short ferry to Cloanaig on the Kintyre Penninsula and then meander north to the bustling little port of Oban and board another ferry to Craignure on Mull. Overnight Craignure, mileage for day – 75.
Wednesday, September 13th 2017. Craignure – Mallaig. The proverb ‘the early bird catches the worm’ definitely applies today, although it doesn’t really matter, at least initially!
We follow the road from Craignure to Tobermory and catch the ferry to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, but……….the ferry can only take eighteen cars if you’re not in the first group you’ll have to chill out in one of the numerous cafés in this pretty little town, and perhaps visit the museum or the aquarium while you wait for the next boat.
Once across the water you really are in wild country, but it’s a question of driving slowly on the single track road and admiring the scenery until arriving in Mallaig and catching the ferry across the Sound of Sleat to Skye. Overnight Duisdalemore, Skye, mileage for day – 85.
Thursday, September 14th 2017. Skye. A leisurely day, with a short circular tour of the lower part of the island and a visit to the famous Talisker distillery. Overnight Duisdalemore, Skye, mileage for day – 45.
Friday, September 15th 2017. Skye – Harris – Lewis (Stornoway). Higher mileage today and a longer ferry as we cross from Uig to Tairbeart on the Isle of Harris.
We start with fifty miles of spectacular scenery as we travel to the north of Skye and the tiny port of Uig.
The ferry docks in Tairbeart on Harris, where Compton McKenzie wrote Whiskey Galore, based on the true story of the SS Politician which sank off Eriskay in 1941.
From Tairbert we wind our way north and onto Lewis and our final island destination of Stornaway. Overnight Stornoway, mileage for day – 90.
Saturday, September 16th 2017. Stornoway – Ullapool. Catching the mid-morning ferry puts us into Ullapool at lunchtime and leaves the afternoon free to wander around this pretty little port. Overnight Ullapool, mileage for day – 6.
Sunday, September 17th 2017. Ullapool. Today a chance to just chill, read the Sunday papers, take a walk along the waterfront, or, if the weather is good, maybe a cruise along Loch Broom. Overnight Ullapool, mileage for the day – 0.
Monday, September 18th 2017. Ullapool – Ackergill (via Durness). You’ll be pleased you had a day off to recharge your batteries, as today’s run is not only fairly long but also takes in some of the most remote and scenic roads in Scotland as we join part of the famous North 500 that crosses the very top of Scotland. You’ll need to keep on the lookout for deer!
Our hotel for the next two nights is the 5 star Ackergill Tower, just north of Wick, which has a history going back to the 1400s.
The first night dinner will be traditional Scottish, including piping in of the haggis and entertainment. Overnight Ackergill, mileage for day – 161.
Tuesday, September 19th. Ackergill – John O’Groats. A short loop today to take in John O’Groats (you have to visit once in your life!) and the Castle of Mey.
In the afternoon another chance to relax and take in the surroundings. Overnight Ackergill, mileage for day – 46.
Wednesday, September 20th. Ackergill – Pitlochry. Leaving Ackergill our route hugs the east coast south on excellent roads all the way to Pitlochry. Along the way we cross the Black Isle, traverse the bridge over the Moray Firth at Inverness, and pass by Aviemore and the Cairgorms.
Our hotel for the final two nights of the tour is the Atholl Palace, with its fairytale appearance and spectacular views down the Tummel Valley. Overnight Pitlochry, mileage for day – 188.
Thursday, September 21st. Pitlochry. A leisurely loop again today, taking in Edradour distillery (the smallest in Scotland), Blair Castle, and a working watermill before a run over the tops to Tummel Bridge and then back along Loch Tummel to the hotel and our final night’s dinner together. Overnight Pitlochry, mileage for the day – 40.
Friday, September 22nd. Departure for home. Finishing on the Friday enables people from the very south to plan a leisurely run home if they wish, as Pitlochry is on the A9 that runs into the M90, M80, M74 and then M6.
Included in the price are the following:
- Thirteen nights hotel accommodation on a B&B basis,
- Ten dinners, including traditional Scottish at Ackergill Tower with piping of the haggis and entertainment.
- Seven ferries
- Entry to various attractions
- Back up support vehicle with experienced mechanic
- Organiser present throughout to deal with any queries
- Detailed road book
- Rally plates
- Sundry extras including some meals
Space precludes a detailed description of everything you will see, so the details here are necessarily a synopsis. However, the daily mileage allows plenty of time to relax and enjoy the scenery and quiet roads as well as hotel facilities. The TOTAL mileage from Penrith to Pitlochry is approximately 975.
VERY IMPORTANT, PLEASE NOTE!!!!!!!! We are travelling to remote areas of Scotland where large hotels are not commonplace so in some locations (in particular Stornoway) the group may be split, depending on numbers joining the tour.
The usual system is to give priority for both location and room allocation in order of entry form receipt. This will apply on the Haggis Trail.
There are thirty-four rooms at Ackergill Tower, so if they are filled there will be the option to stay in Wick and be transported to the dinners on both nights.
If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to call me on 01824 790280, or via our contact form