enjoyed in moderation, is a healthy food which enriches life.
Wine, Cuisine, History, Whisky, Gin, Golf and Culture
CLICK HERE FOR A TRIP to New Zealand Feb, 2023
12 Days - June 17 - 28, 2023 NOW BOOKING
|All-Inclusive accompanied tour to Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Inverness, Fort William and Islay
Join Steve Thurlow in the summer of 2023 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 famous malt whisky distilleries, learn about making gin and have the opportunity to play on some historic golf courses. [Golf is an optional extra on 4 days with alternative activities for the non-golfers.]
The Swilken Bridge is a small stone bridge on St Andrews Links golf course which is estimated to be 700 to 800 years old and lies between the first and eighteenth fairways on the Old Course.
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.
Historic Urquart Castle on Loch Ness is just one of the many ancient sites we will visit on our travels. Our itinerary will include several distilleries that date from the C19th and have been producing whisky for over 100 years.
There will be a royal aspect to the trip since we will visit The Palace of Holyrood House, the King's official residence in Scotland, as well as touring the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is now a museum attraction near Edinburgh.
In June you can expect mostly warm sunny days. Scotland has a mild maritime climate but it does rain from time to time.
In Edinburgh daily highs are typically 20-22°C and overnight lows are 10-12°C. On June 22, 2022 the high was 21°C and the overnight low was 11°C.
It is a great time to see Scotland's spectacular early summer freshness and most of the visitor sites are less crowded before the school holidays start.
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.
If you are interested in joining this tour send an...
Email to Steve Thurlow email@example.com
and he will send you a registration form.
The price for the all-inclusive 12 day trip is $7995 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 14 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 £520 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 and Westjet both fly direct to Edinburgh. Air Transat and Westjet fly direct from Glasgow and Air Canada offers a connecting service from there. So flights can be booked using Aeroplan points which may be of interest to some.
(Included meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner)
Day 1: Saturday June 17th, 2023 - Edinburgh
The group will meet in Edinburgh at the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel in the heart of the city.
This category A listed Georgian building was designed by the Scottish architect Archibald Elliot and was constructed between 1815 and 1819.
In 1898 the hotel closed and the building was turned into offices. It remained as offices for the next 120 years, until it was re-developed opening in 2009 as the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel.
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.
In the evening we will gather in the hotel bar before leaving for a group dinner in a nearby restaurant. (D)
Day 2: 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 churches 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 rail 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: Edinburgh
We leave our hotel this morning after breakfast to walk the Royal Mile towards the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is the King's official residence in Scotland. He 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 self-guided 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 using an audio guide. During the tour we will take lunch in the Royal Deck Tea room.
Day 4: 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.
Plus there are many coffee shops, pubs and restaurants for refreshments.
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. Once the golf is finished for the day we will regroup and leave for the ancient city of Dundee, about an hour's drive to the north.
Dundee is on the River Tay and our hotel for the night, the Apex City Quay Hotel and Spa is situated quayside in the centre of Dundee.
There will be time after check-in for relaxing at the Spa or taking a short stroll around the city.
We take dinner together at the hotel that evening. (B,D)
Day 5: 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 The Macallan before a tour and tasting. It is about 90 minutes from there to our hotel for the next two nights in the centre of Inverness.
The AC Marriott Hotel is a brand new hotel opening in November 2022 in the city centre close to the River Ness.
We arrive there late afternoon and the evening is free to explore the city and find a place for dinner. (B,L)
Day 6: Inverness and Castle Stuart
The golfers in the group will leave early this morning in our bus to drive to the famous Castle Stuart course about 20 minutes away.
Castle Stuart has played host four times to the Scottish Open.
Those not golfing can visit Inverness Castle, the view from which is not to be missed. The £5 entrance fee is well worth it on a fine day.
Shopping 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 and the Cathedral, The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery are also worth a visit.
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.
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.
There are lots of cafes and pubs for a light lunch before returning to the hotel from where we will leave early afternoon once the golfers have returned.
We will drive north for about an hour to Glenmorangie Distillery. This 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 more 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: Loch Ness, Fort William, Ben Nevis and Oban
After breakfast we checkout of our hotel and start our journey down the Great Glen following the northern bank of Loch Ness heading towards Oban where we will stay the night.
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 lunch 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).
After lunch we leave the hotel and continue westwards towards Oban.
Soon we will see historic Slacker Castle in the loch below our route.
It dates from the C14th and is now privately owned.
Some will recognize it since it featured prominently in the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
We will soon be in Oban and will visit the Oban Distillery in the town centre for an short optional tour and whisky tasting.
Our hotel for the night is a short walk away from the distillery on the Esplanade.
The Oban Bay Hotel has uninterrupted views of Oban Bay and is in the centre of this small town.
After we check in there will be an opportunity to visit the spa or maybe relax in the hotel bar before taking a stroll around Oban to find a bite to eat. (B,L)
Day 8: Islay
After breakfast we checkout of the hotel and head south 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 an opportunity 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 modernized 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: 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.
Dinner this evening will be at the Islay Hotel in Port Ellen, a short drive from our hotel. (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: 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 Kilchoman distillery.
They grow their own barley which is used for making their whisky.
It is in fact a farm where whisky is made as was the custom in the 18th century.
After this busy day it will be time for a rest back at the hotel before a group dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 11: Islay
The morning is free maybe time for a final round of golf before we check out of the hotel late morning.
We will take lunch at the Lochindaal Seafood Kitchen. 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.
Alternatively the whisky lovers can visit the Bruichladdich distillery for a tour and tasting.
Late afternoon after the visits we will regroup and depart for the airport for the short group flight to Glasgow.
We stay this night at the Holiday Inn at Glasgow airport to be close for early morning flights. There will be a final group dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 12: Wednesday June 28, 2023 - Glasgow
The group will disperse after breakfast. Some will take a 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 elsewhere in Scotland before heading home. (B)
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. Moreover, 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.
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 scheduled attractions led by Steve Thurlow that are 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 14 specified meals with wines/beers led by Steve Thurlow.
Fees associated with the golf courses mentioned are not included.
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. It is unlikely for there to be an increase and you are guaranteed that, if necessary, it would be less than 7%.
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:
Enterprise Travel Ltd
Agent: Steve Thurlow
TICO Registration Number: 1810380