2005 Scotland Ireland

Scotland & Ireland Trails & Castles
September 3 – 18, 2005
On this adventure to Scotland and Ireland we hike in magnificent lush green mountains, stroll through pastoral farmland, walk along the rugged seacoast, explore romantic castles, see Iron Age archaeological settlements, visit quaint villages, and sample the local music in pubs. While in Edinburgh and Dublin explore the gay cultures. 

Our tour begins in Edinburgh, a cosmopolitan and picturesque city and the capital of Scotland. In Scotland we visit the Highlands and the Isle of Skye, beautiful mountain areas with lochs, waterfalls, moors, and fantastic hiking trails. Along the way we explore clan castles, picturesque and charming small villages, and historical sites.

Our tour to Ireland begins in the sophisticated, prosperous and charming city of Dublin. We proceed south to the Wicklow Mountains, a national park with rich farmland, rugged mountains, lakes, and small historical villages for two days of hiking. In route to Killarney National Park and the Dingle Peninsula on the west coast, we visit a woollen factory, the Waterford Crystal factory, castles, historical sites, archaeological areas, and small tourist towns. We hike for three days in the beautiful mountains of Killarney National Park and along the sea in the Dingle Peninsula. Our tour ends with a medieval banquet in the Burnratty Castle.

Day 1. Saturday (9/3). Depart USA
Day 2. Sunday (9/4). Arrive Edinburgh
Early morning arrival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Once you clear customs and immigration you will be met and transferred to the Jurys Inn on Jeffrey Street, adjacent to the historic Royal Mile, Princess Street, and within easy walking distance to Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyrood and the Parliament Building. The afternoon is free to rest or explore the city. Dinner at a local restaurant with our Scottish guide. (D)
Day 3. Monday (9/5). Travel to Glen Coe & Hike
We travel by private van for about three hours to Glen Coe, located in a spectacular mountain valley surrounded by rugged cliffs, twisting ridges and soaring conical peaks. Glen Coe is a center for outdoor activities including walking, climbing, skiing, sailing, and fishing. Glen Coe is also the site of an infamous massacre of the MacDonald Clan by their enemies, the Campbell Clan in 1692. 

From Edinburgh we head north to Stirling, passing Linlithgow Palace, former home of Mary Queen of Scots, and have great views of Stirling Castle, the (William) Wallace Monument and the region where various battles (Bannockburn, Battle of Stirling Bridge) occurred. Heading north from Stirling we pass Doune Castle, where Monty Python’s Holy Grail was filmed, and stop briefly in Callander, the last small town before we cross over the Highland Boundary Fault into true Highland scenery, a region of spectacular mountains, rivers and lochs. As we drive along the shores of Loch Lubnaig (Crooked Lake) beneath the slopes of Ben Ledi, the scenery becomes wilder and more mountainous. We stop briefly at the Falls of Dochart in the picturesque village of Killin. Our journey then takes us up and over Rannock Moor, a high, empty moorland area which once had forests with bear and wolves, but is now the haunt of red deer, small mammals, and the predatory golden eagle. Buachaille Etive Mor (Great Herdsman of Etive), the most photographed mountain in Scotland, marks the entrance to Glen Coe.

In the afternoon we hike on Buachaille Etive Mor, a mountain with a steep, craggy and forbidding face amid the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor. During our hike we will have spectacular views over Rannoch Moor and Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain. We lodge at the Sorrybreac Guest House located on the historic grounds of Lord Strathcona’s estate. It is surrounded by forest and mountains and has great views over Loch Levan. (BLD)

Day 4. Tuesday (9/6). Climb Ben Nevis
We hike the classic route to the 4,406 foot top of Ben Nevis (Venomous Mountain). From the top on a clear day you can see Ben Lomond near Glasgow, the Cairngorms, the Cuillin in Skye, and the Outer Hebrides Mountains. After the 10 mile hike we return to the cosy Sorrybreac Guest House in Glen Coe. The annual Ben Nevis Hill Race, dating back to 1895, takes place during the first week in September. The record from the Playing Fields at the bottom to the summit and return is 1 hour 23 minutes for men, and 1 hour 38 minutes for women. In the evening we visit the Clachaig Inn, a legendary ale house. (BLD)
Day 5. Wednesday (9/7). Glen Nevis Gorge & Travel to Skye
In the morning, we take a three mile hike to the spectacular Glen Nevis Gorge, described as “the greatest half mile in Scotland.” This is a breathtaking and dramatic walk with numerous waterfalls and a legendary wire bridge crossing. In the afternoon we travel west 2½ hours to the small town of Portree on the Isle of Skye, one of the most beautiful hiking areas in Scotland. It is characterized by mountains, streams, waterfalls, and massive sea cliffs. Skye (Cloud Island), the second largest of the Hebridean Islands off the west coast of Scotland, is 50 miles long by 7-25 miles wide, but has a coastline hundreds of miles in length! Skye has a mountainous landscape and a temperate maritime climate. The Cuillin Mountains form a 7 mile long horseshoe shaped ridge on the island. 

Along the way we stop at Eilan Donan Castle. The castle is located on a small island in Loch Duich, and has been the site of some form of fortification for more than two millennia, the original building being a vitrified fort. Various strongholds followed, but the current castle dates back only to 1932 when the Macraes, who have been custodians of the site for centuries, rebuilt the castle to the original 13th century plan. The castle is still occupied by the chief of the clan, but the bulk of the castle is used as a visitor attraction and events venue.

Portree is the largest town and the capital of Skye. It is a busy little tourist resort, lively and attractive, built around a natural harbour with houses rising steeply from the water’s edge, neat and brightly painted. In MacNab’s Inn on the site of what is now the Royal Hotel, Bonnie Prince Charlie bade farewell to Flora MacDonald before departing by sea for the Isle of Raasay. The Prince spent 6 days on Skye during his lengthy flight to evade capture, when the 1745 Uprising was eventually and brutally brought to an end at Culloden in 1746. We lodge at the comfortable Rose Bank Guest House in Portree. (BLD)

Day 6. Thursday (9/8). Hike to Brauach na Frith
We follow a rough path along the Allt Dearg Mor (Big Red Stream) until we branch off towards Fionn Carrie and climb to the Bealach No Lice (Pass of the Slabs). From the pass we have great views of the Cuillin Ridge, the Town of Portree and the Trotternish Peninsula. After our 8 mile hike we stop by the famous Sligachon Inn for a pint before we return to our guest house. The Inn has been at Sligachan for more than 200 years. We lodge at the Rose Bank Guest House. (BLD)
Day 7. Friday (9/9). Hike Bla Bheinn (Hill of Bloom)
The path to the top of the 3,150 foot tall Bla Bheinn winds up the east side of the mountain over grass and rock to the east ridge. On top we have magnificent views of the deep Glen Sligachan trench, the Cuillin Ridge and small islands. At the end of the 6 mile hike we return to the Rose Bank Guest House. (BLD)
Day 8. Saturday (9/10). Return to Edinburgh
In the early morning we depart for our 5 hour drive through the beautiful Scottish countryside back to Edinburgh and the Jurys Inn. Along the way our Scottish guide points out castles, historical sites, and informs us of the geology and ecology of the area. 

Edinburgh is a romantic, historic, cosmopolitan, and cultured city perched on a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky crags on the estuary of the River Forth on the North Sea coast of Scotland. The city won World Heritage Site status in 1995 for the pleasing juxtaposition of the chaotic medieval fortress area of the Old Town and the grandiose neo-classical New Town. The New Town has attractive broad streets, lush gardens, and 19th century Grecian-style temples, in contrast with the Old Town, centered around the Castle and leading from there down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyrood and the new Scottish Parliament Building. The afternoon is free to explore the city. The gay scene is mostly located in the Georgian New Town, on Broughton Street and at the top of Leith Walk near the Playhouse Theatre. In the evening we will have the opportunity to visit gay venues. (BLD)

Day 9. Sunday (9/11). Edinburgh & Dublin
In the morning we explore Edinburgh including a tour of Old Town, the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. In the afternoon we fly to Dublin, Ireland. It may not have the largest gay and lesbian scene in the world, but Dublin is nevertheless a lively cosmopolitan European capital city. A real advantage of the small scene is that almost all places of interest are within 10 minutes walk of one another, many being grouped in and around the South Great George’s and Dame Street, and across the river Liffey to Ormond Quay. In the evening we will have the opportunity to explore gay venues. (BLD)
Day 10. Monday (9/12). Wicklow Mountain
In the morning we drive about one hour south to the Wicklow Mountains, a magnificent area with waterfalls, lakes, tarns, woodland, forest, and open moors. The Wicklow Mountains are one of Ireland’s most popular walking areas. 

Our day begins with a visit to the 6th century Glendalough Monastery ruins, an ancient monastic settlement tucked beside two dark lakes and overshadowed by the sheer walls of a deep valley. It is one of the most picturesque settings in Ireland and one of the most significant ancient monastic settlements in the country.

Next we travel by van to Glenmalure, Ireland’s largest glacier valley for a nine mile hike on an ancient trail back to Glendalough. For a long time Glenmalure was a stronghold of clan resistance to the English. Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne, in 1580, defeated an army of 1,000 English soldiers. Lodging at the Glendalough Guest House. (BLD)

Day 11. Tuesday (9/13). Wicklow Mountains
Our hike starts at Glendalough and follows the Wicklow Way, the major trail through the mountains, for a short distance, and then diverts to climb Trooperstowe Hill. On a clear day you can see every peak in the Wicklow Mountains from the top of Trooperstowe Hill. 

We hike down to the Vale of Clara, where we have lunch on the banks of the Avanmore River. After lunch we follow the river through an oak forest to the Town of Rathdrum where we catch our van for a ride to the Village of Avoca for a tour of Ireland’s oldest working woollen mills which date back to 1727. Following the tour we return to the Glendalough Guest House. (BLD)

Day 12. Wednesday (9/14). Crystals, Castles & Archaeology
Our day begins with a visit to the Waterford Crystal Factory in Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city which dates back to 914. The Waterford Crystal Gallery is home to the world’s largest display of Waterford Crystal. We will see master blowers and cutters in action on our guided tour of the factory. Next we travel west to Kilkenny City, a medieval town, and one of Ireland’s most elegant towns. We visit the Kilkenny Castle, one of Ireland’s most magnificent fortresses. The first structure of the castle was built by Richard of Clare in 1173. The castle is home to the Butler Gallery, one of the most important galleries outside Dublin. 

Our final stop of the day is at the Rock of Cashel, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in Ireland. The rock is a prominent green hill banded with limestone outcrops which rises form a grassy plain. Sturdy walls enclose a round stone tower, a roofless abbey and the finest 12th century Romanesque chapel in Ireland. For more than 1,000 years the Rock of Cashel (Fortress) was a symbol of power, the base of kings and churchmen. We lodge in Cahir, a pleasant country town. Nearby is Cahir Castle built by Conor O’Brien in 1162 and one of the largest in Ireland. We overnight at the Kilcoran Lodge Hotel, a former hunting lodge, built by the Earl of Glengall in the 19th century. Our hotel has the charm of bygone days, including antique furniture and open fires. (BLD)

Day 13. Thursday (9/15). Magicallycuddy Reeks Mountains Hike
We drive west to the attractive tourist town of Killarney, drop off our luggage at our hotel, then drive to the Gap of Plenoe for a 9 mile hike. We start at Kate Carney’s Cottage and hike into the Black Valley, at the base of the Magicallycuddy Reeks Mountains. The gap was carved out thousands of years ago by retreating glaciers, leaving behind a wild and rugged glen, carrie lakes, small waterfalls, and an indescribable beauty. We stop at Lord Brandon’s Cottage for refreshments before continuing along the banks of the Lough Uachttarach. The final part of the walk is on the Kerry Way and takes us through Derrynahierka Oak Forest. We finish at Galway’s Bridge. We lodge at the relaxed and friendly Fushia House, a modern four star guest house with the architectural elegance of an earlier age. We are within a few minutes walk of the pubs of Killarney and wonderful Irish music. Killarney has been a tourist center of Ireland since the 17th century. (BLD)
Day 14. Friday (9/16). Kerry Way Hike
Today we start our hike near the Village of Kenmore and hike another part of the Kerry Way. We hike along an old road that dates back several hundred years. Our trail crosses several small hills, and passes through lush green valleys with boglands and heather, and has fantastic views of the Lake of Killarney. We return to the Fushia House in Killarney. (BLD)
Day 15. Saturday (9/17). Dingle Way Hike
Our final 14 mile hike takes us to Dingle, an attractive fishing village. We follow the Dingle Trail westward and hike along ancient roads, grassy paths, and sandy beaches. We visit one of the best concentrations of archaeological sites in Ireland. It has an Iron Age promontory fort, beehive huts, and small circular enclosures dating to early Christian era. Our trail ends at Slea Head, a beach town with breathtaking views to the Blanket Islands. 

We travel north to Bunratty and lodge in the Bunratty Castle Hotel, near the Bunratty Castle, which was built in the early 1400′s by the McNamara Family. In the evening we will attend a medieval banquet at the castle replete with comely maidens playing the harp, court jesters, and food and drink a la Middle Ages. (BLD)

Day 16. Sunday (9/18). Depart for USA
Early morning departure for the USA.
* (B) – Breakfast; (L) – Lunch; (D) – Dinner
Land Cost: 4-5 travellers – $3,400 per person/double occupancy; 6-8 travellers – $3,200
Scotland Only: 4-5 travellers – $1,800; 6-8 travellers – $1,600
Ireland Only: 4-5 travellers – $1,700; 6-8 travellers – $1,500
Cost Includes: All lodging, airport transfers, all meals, American tour director, Scottish and Irish guides, and all land transportation.
Land Cost Does Not Include: International airfare, flight from Edinburgh to Dublin, travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, excess baggage fees, and gratuities to local guides.
If you would like additional information, e-mail us at info@adventureboundmen.com, or call us locally at 303-449-0990 or toll free at 1-877-440-0990. Our office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) Monday through Friday. 

You may also download our registration form, and mail it in to us.

This trip is rated moderate in terms of difficulty. We hike for 10 days on well maintained trails 3-14 miles per day, but lodge each evening in guest houses.
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Scotland Slide Show