Wine, enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.

 

Scotland

Wine, Cuisine, History, Whisky, Gin, Golf and Culture

CLICK HERE FOR A TRIP to New Zealand & S. Australia Feb 22, 2020  

11 Days - October 4 to 14, 2020

All-Inclusive accompanied tour to Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Inverness, Fort William and Islay

FAQ | Register | Price | Itinerary

Join Steve Thurlow in the fall of 2020 on a trip to Scotland to see some magnificent scenery, visit some ancient landmarks, and learn about the history of the country.

We will visit a few of the famous malt whisky distilleries, learn about making gin and have the opportunity to play on some historical golf courses. [Golf would be an optional extra on 4 days with alternative activities for the non-golfers.]

 

We will naturally be tasting and drinking wines from all over the world plus some local beers during the many included group meals.

We will meet in Edinburgh for a few days of sightseeing before heading northwards to St Andrews, which as many will know, is the home of golf.

Imagine staying at the famous Old Course Hotel within sight of the Swilken Bridge. This famous small stone bridge on St Andrews Links golf course is estimated to be 700 to 800 years old and lies between the first and eighteenth fairways on the Old Course.

 

 

Historic Urquart Castle on Loch Ness is just one of the many ancient sites we will see on our travels. Our itinerary will include several distilleries that date from the C19th and have been producing whisky for over 100 years.

 

 

Garden lovers will enjoy time spent at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and the Inverness Botanic Gardens.

There will be a royal aspect to the trip since we will visit The Palace of Holyrood House, the Queen's official residence in Scotland, as well as touring the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is now a museum attraction near Edinburgh.

 

In early October you can expect mostly warm sunny days. Scotland has a mild maritime climate and often experiences an Indian summer at that time of the year. But it does rain from time to time.

In Edinburgh daily highs are typically 13-15°C and overnight lows are 7-9°C. On October 10, 2018 the high was 18°C and the overnight low was 13°C.

It is a great time to see Scotland's spectacular autumn colours and most of the visitor sites are a little less crowded.

There are indoor swimming pools at three of our hotels and all have fitness centres.

There will be time, as usual on my tours, for individual exploration, finding pubs, wine bars and restaurants in the cities and small towns we will visit as well as shopping and relaxing at the hotels or wandering in the streets.

 

     

Register

If you are interested in joining this tour in October 2020 send an...

Email to Steve Thurlow steve@stevethurlow.com

and he will send you a registration form.

Price

The price for the all-inclusive 11 day trip is $6995 per person. Single supplement on request.

A non-refundable deposit of C$800 per guest is required to secure a place on this tour.

Final payment for the trip is required 120 days prior to departure. Guests are advised to take trip cancellation insurance, which we are happy to provide. Please request a quotation when registering for the trip.

The trip price assumes double occupancy in twin/double rooms and includes all land transportation, the group flight from Islay to Glasgow, hotels, breakfasts, visits and tastings, and 13 meals with wines/beers all led by Steve Thurlow.

 

 

The trip price does not include any of the costs for playing golf. Estimated green fees for the 4 courses mentioned in the plan total £475 per golfer.

Guests are required to make their own travel arrangements to the hotel in Edinburgh and home from Glasgow airport. There are many ways of flying to Scotland from North America.

Air Canada started a limited direct service to Edinburgh this year which they plan to expand next year. They offer connecting flights from Glasgow, so flights can be booked using Aeroplan points which may be of interest to some.

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2020 Itinerary

(Included meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner)

Day 1: Sunday October 4, 2020 Edinburgh

The group will meet in central Edinburgh at the Radisson Blu Hotel, a castle hotel in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town on the Royal Mile.

The hotel is within easy walking distance of the major city center attractions. Walk to the iconic Edinburgh Castle, National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament, and Edinburgh's famous shopping thoroughfare, Princes street.

The hotel is also within easy reach of Holyrood Palace and Holyrood Park with its extensive gardens.

We will stay here for three nights before leaving for nearby St. Andrews to allow some time for seeing the city and its many attractions.

 

It might be worth arriving a few days before the trip to explore the city or if you are a keen golfer to play one of the several historic courses close to the city.

 

 

 

We will gather in the hotel bar before leaving for a group dinner in a nearby restaurant. (D)

Day 2: Monday - Edinburgh

For the golfers on the tour, this is the first day of golf at a course to be arranged, but probably one of the links courses to the east of Edinburgh in Gullane or North Berwick.

For the non-golfers this is a free day for visiting Edinburgh's shops and its many attractions like the Castle. It is a day for wandering the streets of the Old Town or experiencing the Georgian architecture of the New Town.

There are 14 major art galleries and museums in the centre of the city.

The grande dame of Edinburgh's museums, The National Museum of Scotland has recently reopened after a three-year, £47m refurbishment, with 16 new galleries and 8,000 objects, 80% of which are being viewed for the first time. Entry is free.

The Scottish National Gallery is also free to visit to see its extensive collection of European and Scottish art.

The National Portrait Gallery also underwent a recent £18m refurbishment. The distinctive red neo-gothic building, originally modeled on the Doges Palace in Venice, has 17 new, light, airy gallery spaces and themed exhibits. Entry is also free. Cafe Portrait is a great spot for a light lunch.

 

St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral, the mother church of  catholicism in Scotland, is just one of the many chuches to visit in the centre of the city.

In the evening we will leave the centre of the city for the peace and quiet of South Queensferry to see the three bridges that cross the Firth of Forth.

Construction of the bridge began in 1882 and it was opened on 4 March 1890 by the Duke of Rothesay, the future Edward VII. The bridge spans the Forth between the villages of South Queensferry and North Queensferry and has a total length of 8,094 feet (2,467 m).

When it opened it had the longest single cantilever bridge span in the world, until 1919 when the Pont du Quebec linking Quebec City to Levis was completed. It continues to be the world's second-longest single cantilever span.

We will have dinner at Harry Ramsden's Three Bridges restaurant where we will take in this view before returning to our hotel late evening. (B,D)

 

 

Garden lovers will be spending time at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden which is one of the great gardens of Britain with a history going back over 300 years. The Edinburgh site features over 13,000 different species of plants and over 3 million herbs.

   

Day 3: Tuesday - Edinburgh

We leave our hotel this morning after breakfast to walk the Royal Mile towards the Palace of Holyrood House. This is the Queen's official residence in Scotland. She and other members of the Royal Family stay here during their official visits to Scotland.

The north-west tower to the left in the image below was built in the C16th. It contains royal apartments that were occupied by Mary, Queen of Scots, from her return to Scotland in 1561 to her forced abdication in 1567. 

 

 

After the visit we return to our hotel. The evening is free. (B,L)

 

The ruined Augustinian Holyrood Abbey that is sited in the grounds was founded in 1128.

The palace was enlarged during the reign of King Charles II and it was here that Bonnie Prince Charlie held court for five weeks in September and October 1745, during the Jacobite Rising. 

We will make a tour of the palace with an audio guide.

Our bus will meet us and take us a few miles to the north of the city to the Ocean Terminal where the former Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed.

We will visit taking another audio guide. During the tour we will take lunch in the Royal Deck Tea room.

 

 

Day 4: Wednesday - St. Andrews

After breakfast we checkout of the hotel in Edinburgh and soon cross the Firth of Forth to visit the seaside town of St. Andrews.

The golfers will be eager to be on the golf course while the others will enjoy spending time in this small quaint town.

Some will visit the cathedral and the castle and others will soon realize that St Andrews is a very rewarding shopping destination.

It is refreshingly free of national outlets and chain stores, save for a few exceptions.

The town centre offers an excellent range of independent, family-run shops and businesses, where you are sure to find a unique range of goods matched by personal service.

 

 

 

We check into our hotel on arrival in the town.

The 5-star Old Course Hotel is situated next to the Old Course at St Andrews. This town is considered by many to be the "home of golf" because the sport was first played on the links at St Andrews in the early 15th century.The hotel is one of the most reputed in Scotland.

 

We take dinner at the hotel that evening maybe after posing for a group photo on the Old Course. (B,D)

 

Day 5: Thursday - Speyside and Inverness

We checkout of the hotel after breakfast and continue our journey northwards. We drive through some spectacular scenery on our way to Inverness but we will stop briefly to visit one of the historic distilleries in the Spey valley.

This valley is home to some of Scotland's most famous whisky distilleries. Glenfiddich, The Macallan, and Glenlivet are among the famous destinations in the area.

We will have lunch at one of them and will soon be at our hotel for the next two nights in the centre of Inverness.

The Palace Hotel is in the city centre and is equipped with a splendid pool and fitness centre. We arrive there late afternoon and the evening is free to explore the city and find a place for dinner. (B,L)

Day 6: Friday - Inverness and Royal Dornoch

The golfers in the group will leave early this morning in our bus to drive to the famous Royal Dornoch course about an hour away.

 

 

 

Those not golfing can visit Inverness Castle, the view from which is not to be missed. The £5 is well worth it on a fine day.

Retail therapy becomes that bit more interesting when you veer off the high street path, in search of something a bit different. Inverness has exactly that, with its Victorian Market which dates back to 1890.

Dozens of unique, independent businesses are cloistered within it, offering visitors a classic and alternative shopping experience. Red steel arches and lanterns line the main thoroughfare, while the old clock leads into a circuit of brightly coloured facades. You will find gift shops, tea rooms, beauty buys, and so much more.

A little further on you will find Leakey's Bookshop. It is a wonderland for book lovers with its stained glass windows. It is a magical place with hundreds of old books and an enchanting spiral staircase.

In addition to the castle, St. Andrews Cathedral, The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery are also worth a visit.

 

 

 

St. Mary's Catholic Church, which is almost next door to our hotel, is a very fine example of Victorian Gothic Revival and was built in 1837.

Garden lovers will visit the Inverness Botanic Garden which occupies the walled garden of 18th-century Bught House on the west bank of the River Ness. It is free to enter and there is a popular cafe on site.

There are lots of cafes and pubs for a light lunch before returning to the hotel from where we will leave early afternoon to pick up the golfers and then drive together to the Glenmorangie Distillery, which is an optional visit.

Some may prefer to stay in Inverness to continue exploration of the city.

We will visit the historic distillery buildings and learn about the processes used to create these famous and very exclusive whiskies.

We then return to Inverness and will take dinner together in a city centre restaurant a short walk from our hotel. (B,D)

 

 

Day 7: Saturday - Loch Ness, Fort William, Ben Nevis and Crinan

 

After breakfast we checkout of our hotel and start our journey down the Great Glen following the northern bank of Loch Ness.

 

We will soon be at the ruins of Urquart Castle.

It is from near here where most of the sightings of the alleged Loch Ness Monster of Scottish folklore have been made.

 

 

 

 

After a visit to the ruins we continue our journey and will soon be at Inverlochy Castle Hotel

 

 

 

We will stop here for a late lunch / afternoon tea in the splendid hotel lounge.

 

 

 

 

Inverlochy Castle Hotel is a beautiful C19th castle surrounded by the luscious green of the evergreen trees and the sparkling blue from the nearby loch.

 

Being in what is reputed to be Scotland's finest country hotel, you will enjoy a lovely peaceful and relaxing experience in very luxurious surroundings.

 

 

 

 

During a trip to Balmoral in 1873, Queen Victoria spent a week at Inverlochy Castle sketching and painting where she wrote in her diaries 'I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nestling in the foothills of the mighty Ben Nevis, Inverlochy Castle sits amidst some of Scotland's finest scenery.

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles at 1,345 metres (4,411 ft).

 

 

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles at 1,345 metres (4,411 ft).

We continue our journey and will soon be at our hotel for the night.

 

The Crinan Hotel is in the small fishing port of the same name. It is a beautiful peaceful spot with spectacular sea views and a reputation for amazing seafood.

 

After we check in there will be an opportunity to visit the area before we take dinner together at the hotel. (B,L,D)

 

 

Day 8: Sunday - Islay

We will have a relaxing morning at the hotel and in the town leaving late morning for the short drive to Kennancraig where we board our ferry for Islay.

 

 

 

 

 

We say goodbye to our bus driver as we board the ferry with our luggage.

The crossing to Islay takes about 2 hours during which time there will be time to take lunch on board.

You may find this video of MS Finlaggen arriving in Port Ellen on Islay of interest.

 

 

 

A bus will meet us and take us to our hotel.

We will stay 3 nights at the Machrie Hotel and Golf Links.

Set in the dunes of Islay, the hotel enjoys an enviable location, nestled beside seven miles of pristine beach.

Opened in late summer 2018 after a complete renovation and expansion, the hotel offers guests the perfect place to relax with panoramic views of The Links.

The Links course was originally designed in 1891 by Willie Campbell, and has now been fully modernised by D J Russell, former European Ryder Cup Vice Captain and PGA tour player.

 

After time to settle in to the hotel and to explore the surroundings we leave to take dinner at Islay House, a short drive from the hotel.

We return to the hotel after dinner. (B,D)

Day 9: Monday - Islay

The golfers will be up early this morning for the 4th round of golf planned for the trip. Those not playing golf may plan a late start with maybe time at the hotel's spa. Others will take a walk along the beach and explore the sand dunes.

Another idea for some morning entertainment might be trying your hand at golf by playing the Wee Course. This is a six hole par-3 mini-course which can be played from a multitude of tees with just 2 or 3 clubs.

Once the golf is over we head to the Harbour Inn in Bowmore for lunch preceded by a tutored tasting of Bowmore Single Malts.

After lunch we will take a drive to see more of the island's scenery before returning to the hotel.

Dinner this evening will be at the Islay Hotel a short drive from our hotel in Port Ellen. (B,L,D)

 

We will soon be preparing to dock on Islay.

 

 

The scenery, the wildlife, the coastline, and the hotel set in the centre of one of the finest links courses in the world will be a haven of rest for all the group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10: Tuesday - Islay

After breakfast we leave late morning for the Laphraoig Distillery for a tour and tasting.

This is an optional visit since we will pass by the hotel on our way to lunch at the Kilchoman Cafe.

 

 

 

After lunch we will visit The Botanist Islay Dry Gin facility where we will learn all about gin, its history, production, and the botanicals used.

We will see the gin still and there will be a tasting and demonstration of cocktail making including two cocktails which we make for ourselves.

After this busy day it will be time for a rest back at the hotel before our final group dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)

 

 

 

Day 11: Wednesday - Islay

We leave this morning on a 9:15 group flight on Loganair to Glasgow which lands at 09:55.

The group will disperse at the airport. Some will take a connecting flight home, while others will maybe choose to spend a day or two visiting Glasgow.

The golfers may want to play one or two more games before heading home. (B)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the age range of the group?

These tours appeal to a wide range of ages, since we can love food, travel, wine, etc. at all stages of life. Typically the range is from 30 to 70 though we have had some older and younger than this join in the past.

Do you need to be a wine/beer/whisky/gin connoisseur to participate?

Absolutely not. These are tours of discovery and enjoyment of the beverages, cuisine, culture and history of the region. You will certainly return home with a greater appreciation of wine, etc. Except for the first distillery visit on Speyside, all of the distillery visits are optional.

Do you need to be a golf aficionado to participate?

Certainly not. Several on the tour will want to play all 4 courses. Some may even come earlier and/or stay later to play courses in Scotland not included on the tour. As one can see from the itinerary, parallel activities have been planned for non-golfers and the costs of the golf are not included in the trip price.

Is the trip price really all-inclusive?

Almost all costs other than souvenirs, an occasional cup of coffee and maybe a slice or two of pizza are included and a few meals. I frequently hear that there is too much food such that, during free periods, people don’t need to eat anything else.

These trips seem to be very reasonably priced, what is the catch?

I only run on average two or three trips per year to places to which I would be going anyway; so why not take a few others along with me? These trips are not a fundamental part of what I do in life and so I price them reasonably so all can afford to join. Additionally I receive sponsorship subsidies from distilleries, wine regions and wineries who are keen to show off to my guests their splendid products and services in the hope that they will spread the word.

We have never traveled with a group before; will there be enough free time?

Personally I used to dislike traveling on buses with groups and found I needed time away from the group. Consequently we have frequent stops to do stuff when we are traveling by bus plus the schedule has lots of free time built in. Moreover nothing is compulsory, people sometimes take a day off to enjoy life away from the group.

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Conditions

The above itinerary is as planned. However we reserve the right to make adjustments depending upon weather and other constraints, to substitute visits to alternative wineries/distilleries and to arrange accommodation at similar standard hotels in the resorts mentioned. Prices are for double occupancy in twin and double rooms (single supplement available on request). Hotels subject to availability.

The price for the tour covers coach transportation, hotels and entrance fees to all attractions described in the itinerary. The cost of the group flight from Islay to Glasgow is also included, as are breakfasts every day, distillery visits and tastings and the 13 specified meals with wines/beers led by Steve Thurlow.

Guests are responsible for their own transportation to the hotel in Edinburgh and from the airport in Glasgow at the end of the tour.

This price is correct at present but may change as a result of currency variations or other circumstances beyond our control. We accept credit card payments for the trip deposit but do not accept payment by credit card for the final trip payment unless special arrangements are made.

In accordance with the Ontario Industry Travel Act, below is the registered name, address and registration number of the provider of the travel services:

UNIGLOBE Enterprise Travel Ltd
34 Britain Street, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 1R6

Agent: Steve Thurlow

TICO Registration Number: 1810380