12 Days Presbyterian Heritage

DAY 01: NORTH AMERICA / GLASGOW. Depart North America aboard our trans-Atlantic jet abroad.  Dinner and breakfast are served aloft.

DAY 02: GLASGOW / DRYMEN.  Upon arrival at Glasgow Airport we are met by our tour escort and motor coach.  Glasgow was once called the “Second City of the Empire” and is renowned for its magnificent and extensive Victorian architecture.  We will see the University overlooking splendid Victorian terraces, the impressive façade of the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, and the Cathedral with its 12th century richly vaulted crypt, adjacent to which is Provland’s Lordship, the oldest house in the city and reputedly built in 1471.  We then drive northwards out of Glasgow and along the shores of Loch Lomond to the town of Drymen for dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 03: DRYMEN / STIRLING / PERTH / BLAIR ATHOLL / PITLOCHRY.  This morning we drive to Stirling, an ancient town with a long and turbulent history; the famous castle perched on its towering rock was a vital strategic stronghold and the scene of several battles, notably the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.  Then on to the handsome and historic city of Perth, situated on the River Tay, which was Scotland’s capital until the 15th century.  We continue through the splendid Scottish countryside, skirting Craigvinean Forest and Pitlochry on our way to Blair Atholl to visit the Castle, the 13th century home of the Duke of Atholl.  We will see the rooms displaying an infinite variety of beautiful furniture, and the fine collections of paintings, Arms and Armor, china, lace and embroidery, children’s games and Jacobite relics.  The Duke of Atholl has Europe’s only official private army – the Atholl Highlanders.  We then return to the charming resort of Pitlochry, delightfully situated in the beautiful Valley of the Tummell, for dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 04: PITLOCHRY / INVERNESS / LOCH NESS / FORT WILLIAM / OBAN.  A wonderful day of splendid Highland scenery awaits us today as we drive northwards from Pitlochry through Glen Garry and Glen Trium to the resort center of Aviemore, and then on to the fine town of Inverness.  Inverness was once the capital of the Kingdom of the Picts and is situated at the head of the famous Loch Ness, of legendary monster fame.  We will drive along its wooded shores on our way south to Fort William, a busy holiday town set on the shores of Loch Linhe at the western end of the Great Glen almost in the shadow of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles.  On to the small town of Oban situated on a sheltered bay which is almost landlocked by the Isle of Kerrera, backed by woods and hills and dominated by McCaig’s Folly, a curious circular building erected by a 19th century banker.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 05: OBAN / IONA / EDINBURGH.  An early start today as we board our ferry in Oban for the crossing to Craignure on the Isle of Mull, and then drive across the island to Fionnphort where we take the small boat across to Iona.  This was an early center of the Celtic Church; St. Columba and his disciples landed here from Ireland in 536 AD and founded the famous monastery, which became a key center for the spread of Christianity throughout the northern part of Britain and Scotland.  After visiting the monastery, return by ferry to Oban and then drive swiftly to Scotland’s exciting city of Edinburgh.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 06: EDINBURGH.  Our morning sightseeing tour of Edinburgh will include a drive along the Royal Mile to visit Edinburgh Castle, the medieval fortress perched above the city.  We will see John Knox’s house, visit St. Giles Cathedral with its Thistle Chapel and the Palace of Holyrood House so tragically associated with Mary Queen of Scots, as well as seeing the monument to Sir Walter Scott.  The afternoon is at leisure for independent activities – shopping for woolen or tartan plaids, photographing kilted soldiers, or just strolling around this lovely city.  Tonight we will attend a Scottish Banquet at Prestonfield House – we will watch Scottish Dancers, listen to the skirl of the bagpipes, and taste the haggis!  Return to our hotel for overnight.

DAY 07: EDINBURGH / ST. ANDREWS / EDINBURGH.  Today we visit the historic university city of St. Andrews, named after Scotland’s Patron Saint, and also the birthplace of golf.  Here you will see the ruins of the cathedral dating back to 1160.  Some time at leisure here before returning to Edinburgh for dinner at our hotel.  This evening we have tickets to attend the world famous Edinburgh Tattoo.  Return to our hotel for overnight.

DAY 08: EDINBURGH / YORK.  Drive southwards this morning to Melrose, where we stop to visit the ruins of the Abbey, the most beautiful in Scotland, delightfully situated in the valley of the River Tweed.  Continue southwards and across the border into England and drive across the Cheviot Hills, through Northumberland and via the industrial city of Newcastle (which got its name from a “new castle” built by Henry II in the 12th century) on our way to York, a town, which dates from medieval times.  It is still surrounded by its ancient fortifications and the curfew bell has tolled nightly with few exceptions, since 1066.  Dinner and overnight.

DAY 09: YORK / LONDON.  Morning sightseeing in York will include a visit to the Minster with its majestic tower and priceless stained glass windows.  We will also have a walking tour of the city – through ancient streets where the upper stories of houses lean precariously towards each other.  The names are fascinating – Stonegate, Goodramgate, Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, and Shambles, the old butchers quarter.  We will also see the quatrefoil shaped Cliffords Tower, the Guildhall, Merchant Adventurer’s Hall and the Treasurer’s House.  Leaving York we then drive swiftly via the once great wool cities of Yorkshire and through legend-filled Nottinghamshire to England’s exciting capital city of London.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 10: LONDON.  A fullday sightseeing today as we see Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Hyde Park and drive past Downing Street to the Mall and Buckingham Palace for the colorful Changing of the Guard ceremony (if held), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.  A highlight this morning will be a visit to Westminster Abbey.  This afternoon we explore the sights of the City of London – visit St. Paul’s Cathedral built by Sir Christopher Wren, and the impressive Tower of London, home of the Beefeaters in their traditional Tudor uniforms.  The tower has for over 900 years guarded the approach to London from the River Thames, and has served as a fortress, royal palace and prison.  Steeped in the nation’s history it has been the scene of many executions including the beheading of Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn.  Return past the Stock Exchange, Bank of England and Mansion House.  Dinner and overnight.

DAY 11: LONDON / WINDSOR / LONDON.  This morning we will drive out of London to the charming riverside town of Windsor to visit the Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world and favorite country residence of the British monarchs for over 900 years.  Begun by William the Conqueror in 1078, the castle has been enlarged over succeeding centuries so that today it resembles a miniature city.  We will see the impressive pictures, tapestries and collection of armor in the State Apartment.  Return to London, where the afternoon is at leisure.  This evening we drive to Hatfield in Hertfordshire to enjoy a medieval banquet at the Old Palace – an evening of feasting and entertainment.  Costumed minstrels and players perform some of the picturesque ceremonies and customs of Elizabethan era whilst we enjoy our meal.  We then return to our hotel for overnight.

DAY 12: LONDON / NORTH AMERICA.  This morning we transfer to London Airport for our flight back to the United States.  The end of a most enjoyable tour.