From: June 7 to June 16, 2018

Destination: Edinburgh, Central Highlands, and the West Coast

  • Exploring Scotland in Midsummer

    Midsummer is an amazing time in Scotland: days are very long and wildlife is abundant. On this trip we divide our time between three very different area of Scotland: Edinburgh, Scotland's most charming city; the Central Highlands, specifically the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park; and the West Coast. We spend the last three days in the charming seaside town of Plockton, visiting the Knoydart Peninsula and the Isle of Skye, spending the final day kayaking along the coast, and listening to traditional Scottish music at least one night. Wel have two vans and two guides on the trip, and we will have some flexibility in the itinerary. Taken all together our trip will give you a taste of the human and natural history, the exquisite beauty, and the diversity of Scotland. Maximum group size: 13
  • Thursday, June 7
    We'll meet at our hotel in central Edinburgh at 10AM. Edinburgh is undoubtedly the most popular city in Scotland and you'll quickly understand why. The mix of old and new, the intriguing political history and compelling literary history, the scenic beauty, the current arts scene - all of these combine to make Edinburgh one of the most enjoyable cities you may ever visit. The key to quickly overcoming jet lag is to stay active the first day so that's what we'll do. We'll start with a guided tour of the city to help you get oriented: we'll stroll the Royal Mile, stopping to visit St Giles Cathedral, Gladstone's Land, the John Knox House, and Dunbar's Garden. You'll then have some free time in the afternoon to have lunch and pursue what interests you. Our guide will have lots of suggestions, such as climbing Calton Hill to admire the iconic views from it. If you're looking for a challenge, consider hiking up Arthur's Seat, the high hill in Holyrood Park at the edge of downtown. Although only 700 ft high, it has surprisingly wild feeling. We'll have an early dinner tonight so that those of you feeling jet lagged can finally get to bed. Overnight Parliament Hotel, Edinburgh D

    Friday, June 8
    What a difference a good night's sleep can make! After a hearty Scottish breakfast, you'll be all set for another day of adventure! Edinburgh is a charming city but the Scottish Highlands are calling. We'll leave Edinburgh via 18th century elegant New Town, visiting the amazing 100 year old Forth Bridge and the old harbor town, site of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel "Kidnapped". From there we continue to Stirling and Stirling Castle, Scotland's most significant historic castle and an excellent introduction to Scottish history and geography. After touring the castle we continue to Loch Katrine, the famous backstage to Walter Scott's ballad "Lady of the Lake" and the first major tourist pull in the Romantic period of the early 19th century. It's located in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Scotland's second national park, and the area where the Highlands geologically starts. Beautiful scenery and a lovely one to two hour stroll along the banks is the perfect way to ease into the Highlands. Overnight Crieff Murray Park Hotel. Drive: 2.5 hours, hike: 1- 2 hours B, L, D

    Saturday, June 9
    This morning we'll travel from Crieff to Kenmore Hills where another fabulous hike awaits. Once arriving at the trailhead, we'll follow a hill path across the moorland through Scot pines and other native trees to a massive cairn near the summit of the hill. The view is pretty spectacular! Loch Tay can be seen, backed by towering summits of the Ben Lawer range as well as the Carn Mairg mountains above Kenmore and the cone of Schiehallion - well worth the walk!
    And, speaking of the Ben Lawers - that'll be the afternoon hike for the day. After recharging with a picnic lunch, we'll hike the short nature trail that gives easy access to the slopes of the great Ben Lawers (Ben is the Scottish term for mountain, not the first name of someone named Lawers). This is the home of a National Nature Reserve because of its remarkable arctic-alpine flora, the result of a mix of altitude, lime-rich underlying rocks, and climate. We'll climb 350 feet on a rough path, high enough for more sweeping views of Loch Tay. It's an out-and-back path so we'll go as far as we choose before returning to Crieff to our cozy hotel and a well earned shower. Overnight Crieff Murray Park Hotel. Drive time: 2 hours round trip via pretty Killin and Dochart Waterfalls.Hiking time: 2 - 4 hours. B, L, D

    Sunday, June 10
    Today's hike near the village of Kingussie is a classic hillwalk that leads us through many of the Victorian stone villas that make up the bulk of Kingussie, across the moors, and up and over the summit of Creag Beag. At the summit and as we descend, we'll have excellent views of Loch Gynack backed by the bare, rolling mounds of the Modadh Liath hills. This is a loop hike and we will begin and end in Kingussie. After our hike, we'll drive to Fort Augustus with a stop at the Dalwhinnie Whisky distillery if time allows (really, even if you don't like Scotch, this is Scotland!). We will be staying at the hotel in Fort Augustus for the next 2 nights. Overnight: Inch Hotel Drive time: 2.5 hours. Hiking time: 2 - 4 hours.

    Monday, June 11
    Waking up this morning may be quite pastoral with cows peacefully grazing outside our hotel windows. Enjoying another Scottish breakfast we'll then travel by van for a short 30 minute ride to our hike for the day. We'll be hiking a portion of the Meall Fuar-mhonaidh trail - a name that by now will just roll off the tongue! Meall Fuar-mhonaidh may not be well known by name, but it is the most prominent summit around Loch Ness and provides a straightforward hillwalk with good views all along the trail. The number of hours we hike will depend on several factors including weather and interest but the views will be unending regardless of our mileage. Returning to our vans we'll make a stop at a lovely cafe for a spot of tea before returning to our hotel in Fort Augustus. Overnight: Inch Hotel Drive time: 1 hour. Hiking time: 3 - 5 hours. B, L, D

    Tuesday, June 12
    We start the day with a spectacular drive over the steep Ratagan Pass, which offers superb views of Knoydart, the neighboring peninsula famous for its wild landscapes. In the gentle hillside of Glen Elg we stop to visit a broch, mysterious ruinous towers left to us by the Pictish people who inhabited Scotland 2000 years ago. Driving further along the wild coastline we arrive in the tiny and romantic village of Corran. Corran must be one of the remotest spots in Britain accessible by car; it is a very beautiful and peaceful spot on the shores of the incongruously named Loch Hourn (the Loch of Hell). Here our path takes us along a beautiful pebble beach, through heather and oak forests, always with magnificent views over to Skye and the lonely valleys of Knoydart and its big mountain, Labhar Bhein. Otters are a common sight on this hike and we'll hope to see them as they play just offshore. This is an out and back hike and we will do as much as both time and energy allow, enjoying scenery, otters and the occasional challenge! Following our hike, we will drive for 30 minutes to the picturesque fishing village Plockton where we'll spend the next 3 nights. There's live Scottish folk music tonight next door at the Plockton Inn (where we'll have dinner) for anyone who's interested. Overnight: The Haven Guest House in Plockton. Driving time: 2.5 hours. Hiking: 2 - 4 hours

    Wednesday, June 13
    Today we'll head to the Isle of Skye! The beautiful isle of Skye affords us great scenery as well as an opportunity to learn more of Scotland's history. Our coastal hike gives witness to one of the saddest periods in Scottish history: the Highland Clearances, a period of time when landowners forcibly evicted entire villages of tenant farmers and their families who had lived on the land for generations to make way for raising sheep. Today's atmospheric and wild hike takes us to 2 of these deserted and now ruined villages, located in a stunningly beautiful coastal location with fabulous views of the islands Rum and Eig. The ruins left behind bear witness to a thriving community with some fine examples of dry stone walling. Sitting on the rock plateau at Boreraig, this is a fantastic place to take in the sound of nature and watch for seabirds, dolphins and otters, while contemplating the trauma of the people who were forced to move. Overnight: The Haven Guest House in Plockton. Driving time: 1.5 hours. Hiking: 5 Hours with breaks, 7.5 miles, undulating on rough paths.

    Thursday, June 14
    A change of pace is in store for us today as we give our legs a rest and spend the day kayaking. We'll learn or review the basics of sea kayaking and then develop our skills as we go on a guided coastal journey, discovering spectacular scenery and landscapes - no experience is necessary. At the end of the day, Plockton is also a great place to see seals and we'll go on a one hour seal tour. If you prefer not to kayak, this is also a charming place to spend time and you might choose just to have a relaxed day. The Plockton Inn offers live music again tonight. Overnight: The Haven Guest House in Plockton. Driving time: 0 Hiking time: 0 – just kayaking!

    Friday, June 15
    Unfortunately we'll be returning to Edinburgh today, heading heading back by way of Glen Coe where we can stop for a stroll. We'll journey south along the shores of Loch Lomond, trying hard not to sing the famous Scottish ballad "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond". We then continue past Glasgow and on to Edinburgh, where we'll go out to a final farewell dinner and share our memories of everything we've packed into such a short time.

    Saturday, June 16
    Home? Or on to other adventures...You are free to leave anytime this morning. Public transportation to the airport is easily available, as is taxi service.
  • $2995 (see this page for travel discounts) $400 deposit. There are 2 singles available for people who prefer one for an additional $700.  You can read our cancellation policies here.

    Trip Includes

    • Two local guides and an AGC guide
    • Nine nights double occupancy accommodation
    • Minivan transportation within Scotland
    • All activities on the itinerary
    • All meals from dinner on June 7 through breakfast on June 16 except for one lunch
    • Tipping of local day guides
    Not included: transportation to Edinburgh, beverages at dinner, guide gratuities, anything not on the itinerary, items of a personal nature
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Seeing the sights that Edinburgh is famous for and having time to explore on your own
  • Hiking in the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
  • Listening to live Scottish music
  • Hiking on the Isle of Skye and Knoydart Peninsula
  • Learning about Scottish history and savoring the excellent Scottish cuisine, especially fresh seafood

Register for this trip today

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