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Special interest holidays
|Price range||From £355|
|Travel partner||Brightwater Holidays|
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Scotland's Royal Castles
Perhaps the best known of the Royal Highland castles is Balmoral, set amongst the magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside. Purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, the Estate has been the Scottish summer home of the Royal Family ever since. Another castle with a direct link to our present Queen and a long line of Royal connections is Glamis Castle in Angus, which was the childhood home of the late Queen Mother. We also visit the ruined yet atmospheric Lochleven Castle which sits on a tiny island on Loch Leven and is where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned for a year; Menzies Castle, which played host to Bonnie Prince Charlie on his ill-fated march north to Culloden, and Braemar Castle, the former Hunting Lodge of the Earls of Moray.
- 3 nights? dinner, bed and full breakfast at the Birnam Hotel. All rooms have private facilities
- Comfortable coaching throughout
- Visits to Lochleven Castle, Braemar Castle, Balmoral Castle and Gardens, Crathie Kirk, Blair Castle, Edradour Distillery, Menzies Castle and Glamis Castle
- Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager
We depart by coach from our local pick-up points and drive across the Forth Road Bridge for a visit to Lochleven Castle. The island fastness of Lochleven is associated with many colourful events and has been visited by countless distinguished personalities during its history. Some of those taking the boat across Loch Leven came of their own accord, including King Robert Bruce (in 1313 and 1323). Others were held prisoner within the castle’s walls - such as Robert, the High Steward, in 1369, two years before his coronation as Robert II, the first of the royal house of Stewart. But the castle will be forever associated in the memory with another Stewart sovereign, Mary, Queen of Scots. She first visited in 1561 as a guest of the owner, Sir William Douglas. But her last stay, in 1567-8, was as his prisoner. It was at Lochleven that she was compelled to abdicate her throne in favour of her infant son, James VI. The castle walls held her for less than a year, for in May 1568 she escaped across the loch and before that month was out she was in exile in England and never saw her native land again. Access to the castle is by an enjoyable 10 minute boat trip - due to the small size of the boat (limited to 12 passengers) we will rotate the group between the boat/castle/cafe. We will continue to our hotel in Birnam where dinner will be served in the evening.
After breakfast today we head over the hills and far away - deep into the heart of the Highlands, when we travel through and over Glenshee (passing the ski centre at 1650ft above sea level) to descend into Braemar and Royal Deeside. Firstly we will visit Braemar Castle which was built in 1628 by John Erskine, 2nd Earl of Mar as his highland Hunting Lodge. The castle replaced an earlier building on the site and stones from the original are thought to have been incorporated into the new build. The Earl of Mar was one of Scotland’s most influential noblemen. Later we will continue the short distance to Balmoral Castle the centrepiece of Royal Deeside itself. Built around 1854 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert the image of the castle is recognised world-wide. Though relatively modern it is clearly in the style of a 'Scottish' castle. It is a private home of the Royal family and each autumn the family spend up to two months holidaying there. Lunch is available here (not included). We will also pay a short visit to Crathie Kirk the quaint small church that is used by the Royal Family for worship while staying at Balmoral and where the Princess Royal married Timothy Lawrence. Dinner is served in the evening.
This morning, after breakfast, we will have some free time in the pretty village of Dunkeld on the banks of the river Tay before we continue north to visit Blair Castle the ancient seat of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. The castle enjoys one of Scotland’s finest settings in the heart of Highland Perthshire. With its roots in the 13th century, Blair Castle’s history extends over some 740 years, during which time it has welcomed countless generations of visitors. At the gateway to the Grampian Mountains on the route north to Inverness, the location was highly strategic. Today we can enjoy the wild beauty of the surrounding landscape, the historic castle and its beautiful gardens. Lunch is available here (not included). In the afternoon we will visit Edradour Whisky Distillery famed as the smallest in Scotland near Pitlochry before continuing to Menzies Castle near Aberfeldy. Architecturally fascinating, it is a splendid example of the transition between earlier rugged fortress and later mansion house. Later we return to the hotel for dinner.
Sadly after breakfast we must check out of the hotel, but there is still time to visit one last splendid Royal Castle. Glamis Castle, to the north of Dundee, has been the ancestral home of the Earls of Strathmore for over 600 years and was the childhood home of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Glamis is a living, breathing monument to Scottish hospitality; a place of enjoyment, reflection, laughter and wonder for all. The castle has witnessed more than 600 years of history and we will take great delight in learning the many stories, secrets and intriguing tales that surround it. Following an opportunity for lunch here (not included) we will return to our original departure points.
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