We fly to Glasgow airport and transfer to the Westerwood Hotel where we stay for the next two nights. Later, we enjoy a welcome drinks reception hosted by our tour manager followed by a three-course evening meal.
Monday: Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum & Glasgow Botanic Gardens
We spend the day in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. Situated on the River Clyde, Glasgow has recently evolved to become a vibrant and cultural city with a mix of striking architectural styles, a rich industrial heritage and a unique Celtic charm.
We visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which houses one of Europe’s great art collections. 22 themed galleries display an astonishing 8,000 objects, ranging from Dutch Old Masters and Scottish Art to Natural History and ancient Egyptian artefacts.
In the afternoon we visit Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1817 by distinguished Glasgow botanist Thomas Hopkirk, the gardens contain extensive temperate and tropical plant collections and the famous Kibble Palace, a magnificent glasshouse that houses the national collection of tree ferns.
This evening, we enjoy a three-course dinner back at the hotel.
Tuesday: Cardross House & Drummond Castle Gardens
Leaving Glasgow, we head to Cardross House, situated on the edge of the Scottish Highlands. The house is thought to have been built in 1598 by David Erskine, Commendator of Inchmahome Priory, on the island in the Lake of Menteith where Mary, Queen of Scots lived as a child. The estate was owned by the Erskine family until it was bought by the Orr Ewing family in 1920. We enjoy a guided tour of the house, followed by morning coffee.
Next stop is Drummond Castle Gardens, one of the finest formal gardens in Europe, where we enjoy a guided tour. Originally laid out in the 17th century, the gardens have seen many changes over the centuries, including a redesign in early Victorian times, and boast a magnificent Italian parterre with fountains, terracing and statuary plus ancient yew hedges and copper beech trees.
We continue on to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, our base for the next three nights. Later, we enjoy a three-course dinner and an interesting themed talk from a guest speaker.
Wednesday: St Andrews & Glamis Castle
We head first to the lovely coastal town of St Andrews where there’s time to explore at leisure. Famous as the home of golf, the town also offers lovely beaches, fascinating museums and historic buildings including the atmospheric ruins of St Andrews Cathedral and St Andrews Castle.
We then travel to the spectacular Glamis Castle, home to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Childhood home of the Queen Mother and the birthplace of Princess Margaret, the original 14th-century castle was extensively restored in the 17th and 18th centuries in an elaborate French château style with turrets, towers and a crenellated roofline. The story of the evolution of the castle and its legendary tales are brought to life on our guided tour.
We return to our hotel for a three-course dinner.
Thursday: Pitmuies Gardens, Kinnaird Castle & Arbroath
This morning we visit Pitmuies Gardens; beautiful semi-formal walled gardens believed to date back to the 18th century, where we enjoy a talk. Greatly enhanced and developed since the 1920s, the gardens offer an extensive and diverse collection of plants including long borders of herbaceous perennials, superb delphiniums and old-fashioned roses as well as river and lochside walks. We enjoy refreshments during our visit.
We then make our way to Kinnaird Castle, set amidst magnificent walled parkland and home to the Carnegie family since 1405. Like Glamis Castle, it has been remodelled and extended over the centuries, latterly in the Victorian baronial style. After being burnt to the ground in 1921, it was rebuilt into the magnificent château we see today with conical turrets, steep roofs and armorial decorations. Kinnaird is famed for its art collection including works by Raphael and Van Dyck.
En-route back to the hotel, we make a short stop in Arbroath, an attractive harbour town with a famous medieval abbey, where the Declaration of Scottish Independence was signed in 1320. The town is also known for the Arbroath smokie, traditionally smoke-cured haddock.
In the evening, we enjoy a three-course dinner back at the hotel.
Friday: Perth, Monzie Castle & Scone Palace
Leaving Dundee, we make a short stop in Perth, located on the banks of the River Tay. A former capital of Scotland, the city has a rich and influential history that stretches back over 800 years. Due to its location, it is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’.
Next we enjoy an exclusive guided tour of Monzie Castle. The oldest part of the castle is an early 17th-century tower house, while the newest is a large castellated country house built in 1795. Following a serious fire in 1908, the mansion was restored by leading Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer and boasts interiors featuring rich plasterwork, carved panelling and marble fireplaces.
We then head to Scone Palace, crowning place of Scottish kings including Robert the Bruce and Charles II and family home of the Earls of Mansfield. We enjoy a guided tour of the palace with its fine collections of furniture, porcelain, ivories, clocks, paintings and other objets d'art.
We continue our journey south, checking in to the Hallmark Hotel or Glynhill Hotel, where we enjoy a three-course dinner.
We check out of the hotel and transfer to Glasgow airport for our return flight home.
Please note: This tour involves a fair amount of walking on sometimes uneven surfaces and may not be suitable for those with limited mobility.