SCOTLAND |Wild Highlands Heart, Soul & Spirit
Flexible dates June - September 2021
$3,995 / pp
limited to 12 travelers
Single supplement: $650
Watch a video about the amazing geology around Eagle Rock!
This itinerary offers deep connection with the beating heart of Scottish culture and a unique encounter with the soul of the wild highlands. Our journey takes us from the famed Edinburgh Festival – the biggest arts festival in the world – to an immersive experience with one of the six remaining master weavers in Great Britain: On a remote, working croft on the West Coast. Tom Kilbride and his clan produce tartan tweed the old way – from sheep and Gotland goats – to coats! We visit the magical Isle of Skye, with its green-blue Fairy Pools, castles drenched in historical drama, a whisky distillery tour, and endless views of hills and lochs that will take your breath away.
Our ‘highland home’ – the award-winning, eco-luxury Eagle Rock lodge – is situated in the small village of Applecross, a six thousand year old sanctuary. The lodge is reached by traversing the world famous mountain pass, the Bealach na Ba. Eagle Rock’s infinity hot tub hangs over the deepest sea-loch in Scotland and the mountain and sea views are spectacular from every room. There is local ale on tap – and many gorgeous nooks to enjoy a wee dram and a chin wag.
Although there are only 238 locals in 62,000 hectares of the Applecross Peninsula, this vibrant and creative Gaelic community of artists, musicians, artisans, craftspeople and entrepreneurs enjoy two Michelin recommended eating spots: The Applecross Inn, which won best pub in Scotland and the Potting Shed Café in the Walled Garden. There is a botanical and foraging walk to understand the relationship between highlanders and their flora. We’ll explore ancient stone structures and a number of shorter walks on good paths are optional to experience countryside, where we see the sights but also connect to the landscape through people who love and live in it. IF the weather allows, we sea kayak in the hopes of spotting some wildlife, and there is an evening of entertainment by a professional bard, who brings her clarsach, or traditional harp.
Day 1 | Arrive in Edinburgh, explore on your own and settle in to your hotel. Dinner on your own. Airport pickup can be arranged. Edinburgh Hotel.
Day 2 | Edinburgh TATTOO Festival (August only) features music, dance and precision display with the Massed Pipes and Drums, the Massed Military Bands, cultural troupes, singers and the poignant refrain of the Lone Piper against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo celebrates musicians and performers from all around the world and opens Scotland’s arms to welcome spectators from near and far to join in the fun. It is dedicated to putting on a spectacular performance each and every year with an annual audience of around 220,000. You’re in for an extraordinary performance that you will never forget!
Day 3 | Edinburgh In the morning, meet your CCJ trip manager in central Edinburgh. Together we begin our day’s drive to Eagle Rock in the Applecross Peninsula. Driving up the stunning West Coast, we reach the site of the picturesque Eilean Donan (Dornie Castle), where 3 lochs meet. We will explore this 13th century fortification, with secret passages where spies lurked during the Jacobite rebellion.
From Eilean Donan Castle, you reach the luxury eco-lodge of Eagle Rock located at the tip of the rural Applecross peninsula. The Gaelic name of Applecross, "A' Chomraich” means 'The Sanctuary', and comes from the sanctified ground surrounding an ancient monastery. We climb the famous Bealach na Ba, “the pass of the cattle”, named by National Geographic as one of the 10 most spectacular drives in the world at the perfect time for sunset photos.
After check-in at Eagle Rock we will have a moment to unpack before joining together for an informal welcome dinner on the deck, featuring local seafood and organic fare.
Eagle Rock is an architectural award-winning luxury eco-lodge built on common grazing land, gifted to the owner by local crofters. It is known for its light and warmth, low-key comfort, handcrafted interior, phenomenal views, and a mass of local books and viewing material. It’s a perfect place to take a deep dive into the spirit and heartbeat of the wilderness and is a popular spot for small celebrations and creative retreats. The sound systems are stellar: Eagle Rock has a recording studio. The large rock which gives the house its name marks a viking raider watchfire site and, later, coronation fires, the last being for Queen Elizabeth II. Eagle Rock (L/D)
Day 4 | Applecross We 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. Afterwards, a presentation on Applecross Peninsula and the surrounds of Eagle Rock itself by our host and guide, Catherine Stewart, will tap you into the 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, make a good living, and relate authentically to the wider world. Walk 20 minutes to lunch on your own at the Michelin-Starred Applecross Inn. Enjoy an afternoon Heritage Walk featuring one of the few remaining 7th century brochs (an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled dwelling). 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 restored church. Clachan is the first of many churches build by St Maelrubbe who is believed to have surfed into Applecross on a 14-foot stone. The church is constructed on a site with remains of pagan worship going back over 2000 years of Druidic and Mithric practices.
We will enjoy a locally-sourced Scottish supper at Eagle Rock – perhaps haggis in Drambuie, or local venison, as well as special local ‘squat lobster’ – and finish it all off with a traditional Scottish dessert called Cranachan, made with a mixture of whipped cream, whisky, honey, fresh raspberries and toasted oatmeal. After dinner, we have a whisky tasting with a local connoisseur. You will sample 6 very different whiskies, learn to distinguish between east and west coast malts, sample 12-year and 18-year versions of the same malt, learn the effects of the aging process, and much more. To understand Scotland, it’s important to know a little about the ‘amber liquid’ so dear to the heart of any true Scot! Eagle Rock (B/D)
Day 5 | Applecross After 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.
In the evening, we return to Eagle Rock for a light, catered dinner. Eagle Rock (B/L/D)
Day 6 | 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 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 7 | Applecross After an early breakfast we will head out for a day trip to the Isle of Skye, visiting the Talisker distillery, the famous Skye Fairy Pools – magical waterfalls known for their vivid green and blue colors. Then to the bustling port and cultural centre of Portree, to wander the shops and see the rhythms of daily life. Lunch will be on your own in the stunning garden of the Cullin Hills Hotel which overlooks the picturesque Portree harbor. If the weather is inclement, or if the group prefers, we visit Dunvegan Castle, seat of the Clan McLeod instead of the Fairy Pools. In the late afternoon we will return to the Applecross Peninsula for dinner at the pub. Eagle Rock (B/D)
Day 8 | Applecross Today we head to the ocean, kayaking solo or in tandem for a 2-hour round trip to a small island to observe the grey seals and sea otters that feed, play and mate along the rocky shore. Qualified international outdoor guides always put safety first. We will have a guided walk on a spectacular beach made from crushed white coral. 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 and time with Claire the bard. Eagle Rock (B/L/D)
Day 10 | Applecross>Edinburgh Following breakfast we bid farewell to Eagle Rock and the Applecross Peninsula to drive back to Edinburgh (5 hours), where we will say goodbye for flights home or continuing adventures. (B)
Flexible dates June - September 2021
$3,995 / pp
limited to 12 travelers
Single supplement: $650
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, 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 protection insurance.
TRAVEL PROTECTION: Cross Cultural Journeys recommends that you purchase a travel insurance plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected.
For your convenience, we offer travel protection through Travelex Insurance Services. Insurance plans offered by Travelex include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more. For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click here or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 47-0272. Please advise Travelex that Cross Cultural Journeys is the travel company for this trip.
Travelex Insurance Services, Inc CA Agency License #0D10209. Travel Insurance is underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. 55Y