SCOTLAND | WILD HIGHLANDS
Join us on an exploration of rural and traditional Scotland from the Jacobean castles and Victorian Walled botanic gardens to the small fishing and crofting communities of the Applecross Peninsula. We will learn about Scottish culture from the local Gaelic community while staying at the award winning luxury eco-lodge, Eagle Rock. Although there are only 238 locals in 62,000 hectares of the Applecross Peninsula, they are a vibrant and creative community of artists, musicians, artisans, craftspeople and entrepreneurs. The community lives off the land and is self sustainable. We will take botanical and foraging walks and visit local crofters and makers of textiles who raise grey Gotland sheep and Shetland cattle between the seashore and high mountains. We will also explore the ancient stone structures, impressive castles and Victorian-era creations that speak to the vibrant and changing history of the area. Our journey will take us from the fabled Loch Ness to the Isle of Skye, where we will see the famous Skye fairy pools, the magical waterfalls known for their usually vivid green and blue colors. Our Scotland experience will also include many short hikes and long walks in the stunning and wild Scottish countryside, where we see the sights but also connect to the landscape in a profound way.
Day 1 | Tuesday, August 29 | Glasgow / Applecross In the morning, meet your CCJ trip manager in central Glasgow and together we begin our day’s drive to Eagle Rock in the Applecross Pennisula. En route, we will explore two historic castles, arriving at Urquart Castle located at the site of the famous Loch Ness. We will take a boat ride on a Jacobean cruise, learning about the history and legends of the area. Then we continue onward to the coast arriving where three lochs (lakes) meet, the site of the picturesque Eilean Donan/ Dornie Castle. We will explore this a 13th century fortification, with secret passages where spies lurked at this hub of the Jacobite rebellion. From Eillen Donan Castle, you reach the eco-retreat of Eagle Rock located at the tip of the rural peninsula of Applecross. The Gaelic name of Applecross, "A' Chomraich” means 'The Sanctuary', and comes from the sanctified ground surrounding an ancient monastery. We will approach Applecross by climbing the famous Bealach na Ba, “the break in the mountains”, historically the cattle pass, as herds were shepherded from the summer grazing to the winter. When we arrive at Eagle Rock we will check in and have a moment to unpack before joining together for a welcome dinner on the deck, featuring the diverse bounty of the local seafood.
Eagle Rock is an award winning luxury eco-lodge, known for luxury and comfort and a mass of local books and viewing material - It's a deep dive into the spirit and heartbeat of the wilderness. It was built on the site where the traditionally kept vigil for viking raiders. Later it was used as a place to build coronation fires, the last being for Queen Elizabeth. Eagle Rock (L/D)
Day 2 | Wednesday, August 30 | Applecross We will start our day with a leisurely breakfast, and perhaps a hot-tub on Eagle Rock’s infinity deck which hangs over the strip of sea called The Inner Sound. Then we will enjoy a presentation on Applecross Peninsula and the surrounds of Eagle Rock itself by our host and guide, Catherine Stewart, which will tap you into spirit of the place and the people who live there. The session will help us gain a perspective on how modern rural life in the highlands works - for people who want to live in nature, in community - and make a good living, and relate authentically to the world outside. Walk 20 minutes to lunch on your own at the Michelin Star winning Applecross Inn. Enjoy an afternoon Heritage Walk featuring on of the few remaining 7th century brochs (an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled domicile). We will also see a restored Victorian-era walled garden, a Paleolithic midden, and visit Clachan, or “The Sanctuary” which shares its name with the church that is there now. Clachan is the first of many churches build by St Maelrubbe who surfed into Applecross on a 14ft stone. The church is constructed on a site where remains of pagan worship going back over 200 years of Druidic and Mithirc worship.
We will enjoy a locally sourced Scottish Supper at Eagle Rock—perhaps haggis in Drambuie, or local venison, as well as special prawns—and finish it all off with a traditional Scottish desert called Cranachan, made with a mixture of whipped cream, whisky, honey, fresh raspberries and toasted oatmeal. After dinner, we have a whisky tasting with local connoisseur, Philip Buckley. You will sample 6 very different whiskies, and learn how to distinguish between east and west coast malts; sample a twelve year and an eighteen year version of the same malt and learn the effects of the aging process - and much more. Phil’s knowledge is exhaustive, and he tailors his tastings to his groups, arriving with old crates full of specially chosen bottles. Spend the evening with Philp, learning about the ‘amber liquid’ so dear to the heart of any true Scot, as the sun sets over the Cullin Mountain range. It’s really a special treat! Eagle Rock (B/D)
Day 3 | Thursday, August 31 | Applecross fter breakfast at Eagle Rock, take an easy foraging stroll through several woodland habitats with Gill Fairweather, botanist, crofter, and mum. This is a fair-weather dependent activity and will last around 2 hours. Then we will test what we learned by enjoying a foraging lunch inside a Victorian Walled Garden, augmented by their homegrown produce. In the afternoon we will head around the coast to the Kilbride croft where we have the chance to visit with crofters and makers of textiles. Lesley and Tom raise grey Gotland sheep and Shetland cattle between the seashore and high mountains. You will learn about the art of crofting, the traditional system of small farming in Scotland, and the process of dying of wools with natural plants. They live the modern crofting lifestyle. Master Weaver Tom, who creates everything on a hand operated loom, explains the joy and the challenge of keeping the art and skills of weaving alive.
After meeting the weaver and crofter, we will head to Torridon, where the surrounding mountains rise steeply to 3,500 feet. As the sun sets over the Torridon Mountains, we will sail gently around the shores of Loch Torridon on a giant chartered catamaran - the perfect way to end the day! In the evening we return to Eagle Rock for a light catered dinner. Eagle Rock (B/L/D)
Day 4 | Friday, September 1 | Applecross After breakfast at Eagle Rock, we begin a full day of nature and Scottish highland crafts and skills with incredible naturalist, Willow Lohr . She will lead us on an incredible excursion tracking highland habitats and animals, learning about highland crafts and outdoor survival. Lunch will be back at Eagle Rock and we will continue the afternoon with Willow to end with a dinner on your own at the Walled Garden, famous for locally sourced and in-house grown food. The proprietor works on a local fishing boat bringing home prawns, squat lobsters, fish for fishcakes, crab and even the occasional octopus. The Garden’s wall is 24 foot high, and so fruit trees and flowers grow in this restored Victorian Eden, that could never survive without this protection from the wind and from the deer. Eagle Rock (B/L)
Day 5 | Saturday, September 2 | Applecross After breakfast we will head out for a day trip to the Isle of Skye, visiting the famous Skye fairypools, the magical waterfalls known for their usually vivid green and blue colors. Then to the bustling port and cultural center of Portree, to wander the shops and see the rhythms of daily life. Later we head out to the beach to see some truly remarkable fossilized footprints, left by a family of dinosaurs walking across the sand, some 165 million years previously. Lunch will be on your own in the stunning garden of the Cullin Hills hotel which over looks the picturesque Portree harbor. In the late afternoon we will return to the Applecross Peninsula for dinner at the pub. Eagle Rock (B/D)
Day 6 | Sunday, September 3 | Applecross T Today we head to the ocean, kayaking out to a small island to observe the Grey seals and Sea otters that feed, play and mate among the rocky shore. We will have a guided walk on a spectacular beach made from crushed white coral. The trip will be about 2 hours long and you can choose between a single or a double kayak. Lunch will be a buffet at Eagle rock. In the afternoon, you have time at your leisure to take advantage of the many local walks and attractions that makes Applecross so unique, or even an optional tour of the local brewery and shipyard. We will end the day and our incredible journey with delightful farewell dinner. Eagle Rock (B/L/D)
Day 7 | Monday, September 4 | Applecross/ Glasgow Following breakfast we bid farewell to Eagle Rock and the Applecross Peninsula to drive back to Glasgow, where we will say goodbye for flights home or continuing adventures. (B)
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Scotland... to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category. Since many of our activities are weather dependent, and Scottish weather is notoriously unreliable/finicky, we do have alternative actives in place that will be presented in the morning, if the day proves to unsuited to long outdoor plans.
INCLUDED: All accommodations (double occupancy); full breakfast daily at the hotels, lunch and dinner as listed, local guides; guest speakers; all entrance fees on itinerary; preparation materials; bottled water on the bus, expertise of CCJ trip manager.
NOT INCLUDED: International air travel from USA to Scotland; alcoholic drinks; meals not on itinerary. Excursions not on the itinerary; tips for local guide and driver (optional, yet customary); travel cancellation and evacuation insurance (strongly recommended, info will be sent upon registration).
Cost: $4,900 (Double Occupancy)
Add: $600 (Single room)