Final Information - McQuillan & Friends Scottish Adventure - V5

Saturday 4th May – Wednesday 15th May 2024

Number of Travellers: 4
Duration: 12 Days / 11 Nights

Highlights

  • Delve into the past as you discover hidden corners of ancient Edinburgh on a personal walking tour
  • Raise a glass and taste a special dram of “Uisge Beatha” or “water of life”
  • Explore some of Scotland’s wild and dramatic landscapes hiking with your guide

Day by Day

Day 1 - Saturday 4th May - Welcome to Scotland

On arrival at the airport 3 of you will be met by a private driver who will transfer you to your city centre hotel. Simon will arrive by train and make his own way the short distance to your welcoming city centre hotel. Depending on your arrival time you can choose to relax at the hotel or head out to start exploring this unique city.

Overnight: Edinburgh | InterContinental Edinburgh - The George
Room Type: 2 x Twin King Premium rooms with City View
Meals Included: None

Day 1 - Flight Details Read More +

Airline: United Airlines | Flight Number: UA118
Departure Airport: ORD - Chicago Arrival Airport: EDI - Edinburgh | Arrival Time: 8:25 am

Simon, Kimberley & Emily.

Day 1 - Transfer Details Read More +

Supplier: East of Scotland Chauffeur Drive
Booking Reference: 117378
Pick Up Location: Edinburgh Airport Arrivals | Pick Up Time: 8:25 am | Approx Duration: 0.5 hrs
Phone: 0131 370 1555

Includes Meet & Greet, for Simon, Kimberley & Emily.

Day 1 - Train Details Read More +


Arrival Train Station: Edinburgh Waverley | Arrival Time: 1:26 pm

Simon only

Day 1 - Dinner Details Read More +

Pub: Auld Hundred | Location: 100 Rose Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2NN
Reservation Time: 7:00 pm | Booking Reference: Under Scott McQuillan
Phone: 0131 225 1809 | Website: https://www.auldhundrededinburgh.com/

This is a table reservation only, please pay directly

Day 2 - Sunday 5th May - Exploring Historic Edinburgh & Free Afternoon

This morning immerse yourselves in the winding cobbled streets of historic Old Town Edinburgh as you enjoy a private walking tour with an expert local guide. Discover the highlights of this unique capital city from the Palace of Holyroodhouse all the way up the ‘Royal Mile’ to the mighty ancient fortress which is Edinburgh Castle itself.

Walk the ramparts atop castle rock and hear the tales of the One O’Clock gun and the stories of locals of times past. Your guide will leave you here so that you can spend as much time in the castle as you wish. You then have a free afternoon to continue explorations at your own pace, pick up souvenirs or relax as you prefer.

Overnight: Edinburgh | InterContinental Edinburgh - The George
Room Type: 2 x Twin King Premium rooms with City View
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 2 - Guide Details - Mary Nikitik Read More +

Name: Mary Nikitik
Contact Number: 0782 6074 146
Meeting Place: Hotel Du Vin, Edinburgh | Meeting Time: 9:00 am

Day 2 - Dinner Details Read More +

Restaurant: Timberyard | Location: 10 Lady Lawson Street Edinburgh, EH3 9DS
Reservation Time: 7:30 pm | Booking Reference: BVFKWN66 - Booking under the name of Scott McQuillan
Phone: +44 131 221 1222 | Website: https://www.timberyard.co/

This is a table reservation only, please pay directly

Day 3 - Monday 6th May - Free Day & Hidden Underground Streets

Today is free to visit some of Edinburgh’s wonderful attractions independently; maybe venture underneath the streets into the dark tales, discover the Georgian opulence of the New Town or go aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, once the floating palace of Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh. Late afternoon you will discover yet another side of Edinburgh as you adventure down underneath Edinburgh on an underground tour of a warren of tiny fascinating streets dating from the 17th century.

Overnight: Edinburgh | InterContinental Edinburgh - The George
Room Type: 2 x Twin King Premium rooms with City View
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 3 - Underground Streets Tour Read More +

Activity: Underground Streets Tour
The Real Mary King's Close:
Start Location: On the Royal Mile, across from St. Giles’ Cathedral and the Mercat Cross | Start Time: 4:00 pm | Approx Duration: 1 hrs

Booking Reference: 41751291 - Under Scott McQuillan
Phone: 0131 225 0672 | Website: https://www.realmarykingsclose.com/

Please turn up 10 minutes before start time

Day 3 - Dinner Details Read More +

Restaurant: The Scran & Scallie | Location: 1 Comely Bank Road Stockbridge Edinburgh EH4 1DR
Reservation Time: 7:00 pm | Booking Reference: B3TNHMDH. Reservation name Scott McQuillan
Phone: 0131 332 6281 | Website: https://scranandscallie.com/

This is a table reservation only, please pay directly

Day 4 - Tuesday 7th May - Meet Your Guide & Head North to The Cairngorms National Park

This morning your Private Guide (who will also act as your driver) will meet you at your hotel and together you will head north towards the Highlands.  There are many options for explorations and leg stretches to take in the beautiful scenery, which your guide will bring to life for you as you travel. Maybe admire an elegant palace, discover the historic university town of St Andrews, enjoy your first Highlands hike, or save some time to explore the charming village of Braemar before settling into your welcoming Highland hotel.

Overnight: Ballater | The Balmoral Arms
Room Type: 4 x Classic King/Twin for Solo Occ
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 4 - Guide Details - Gill McMillan Read More +

Name: Gill McMillan
Contact Number: 07745 971816
Meeting Place: Intercontinental Edinburgh - The George | Meeting Time: 9:00 am

Day 4 - Dinner Details Read More +

Hotel: The Balmoral Arms
Reservation Time: 7:00 pm | Booking Reference: Reservation name Scott McQuillan

This is a table reservation only, please pay directly

Day 5 - Wednesday 8th May - Hike the Cairngorms & a Royally Approved Distillery

Enjoy a full day hiking and exploring the mountains and rivers of beautiful Deeside area with your expert guide, who will tailor the day to your preference. Maybe explore the woodland trails and pyramids of the beautiful Balmoral Estate, the Highland residence of the Royal Family since it was bought for Queen Victoria in 1852. Then celebrate the day with a tour and tasting at the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, which was issued a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1848. Slainte Mhath!

Overnight: Ballater | The Balmoral Arms
Room Type: 4 x Classic King/Twin for Solo Occ
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 5 - Dinner Details Read More +

Restaurant: Darroch Learg Hotel & Restaurant | Location: Ballater
Reservation Time: 7:00 pm | Booking Reference: Reservation name Scott McQuillan

This is a table reservation only, please pay directly

Day 6 - Thursday 9th May - Transfer West via Adrenaline Filled Activities

Transfer West today, heading over the ‘snow roads’ to the other side of the Cairngorms massif where you will pause to enjoy some classic Scottish pastimes. Test your aim with a target clay pigeon shooting, led by an experienced instructor who will share their tips and tricks for the best results. After lunch in a characterful local pub,  learn the gentille art of falconry in a private session with beautiful raptors. This ‘sport of kings’ dates back thousands of years and will astound you with the beauty and accuracy displayed. Then finish your journey west to settle in and enjoy the fabulous views from your hotel.

Overnight: Spean Bridge | Whispering Pine Lodge
Room Type: 1 x Luxury Loch View Room & 1 x Three Bedroomed Pine Tree Cabin
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 6 - Dinner Details Read More +

Hotel: Whispering Pine Lodge
Reservation Time: 7:30 pm

This is a table reservation only, please pay directly

Day 7 - Friday 10th May - Sea Kayaking & Exploring the Rugged West Coast

Enjoy superb views as your guide drives you west along the stunning Road to the Isles, this is frequently listed as one of the most beautiful drives in the world and it is easy to see why. On arrival in Arisaig you will take to the waters for an afternoon of guided sea kayaking. This location is a worldwide destination for paddlers due to the beautiful crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and fun tiny rocky islands to explore, complete with a wide variety of local wildlife. At the end of a wonderful day your guide will take you back to your hotel for some well-earned relaxation.

Overnight: Spean Bridge | Whispering Pine Lodge
Room Type: 1 x Luxury Loch View Room & 1 x Three Bedroomed Pine Tree Cabin
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 8 - Saturday 11th May - Hiking The West Coast - Glencoe or Near Oban

You have the full day to hike and explore this wonderful landscape with your guide today, and you will be spoilt for choice. There are plenty of options to suit every level of energy and challenge and your guide will discuss the best choices for the day.

Maybe get out into the dramatic mountains and ridges of Glencoe. These have featured as the backdrop in many films and once you are looking up at these summits it is easy to see why! Or head to the bustling harbour town of Oban and take a small ferry to explore the island of Kerrera. If you head to Oban then you can finish the day with a tour of the distillery, which prides itself on being older than the town itself!

Overnight: Spean Bridge | Whispering Pine Lodge
Room Type: 1 x Luxury Loch View Room & 1 x Three Bedroomed Pine Tree Cabin
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 8 - Dinner Details Read More +

Pub: Black Isle Brewery | Location: Fort William

Please note that the Black Isle Brewery does not take table reservations. They do not anticipate any issues with availability on this date.

Your guide will take you to this meal, but it is not included. Please pay directly.

Day 9 - Sunday 12th May - Transfer to Pitlochry with Explorations on Route

Departing the west coast today, you make your way into the heart of Highland Perthshire. Stop for a scenic hike along the way, and take in a tour of the highest distillery in Scotland which prides itself on producing gently warming spirits in the coldest and harshest of conditions.

Overnight: Pitlochry | Fonab Castle Hotel
Room Type: 2 x Loch View Lodge Rooms as Twin
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 9 - Dinner Details Read More +

Hotel: Fonab Castle Hotel
Reservation Time: 7:00 pm | Booking Reference: Reservation name Scott McQuillan

Pod Experience with Loch View.

This is a reservation only, please pay directly.

Day 10 - Monday 13th May - Land Rover Explorations with a Kilted Ranger

This morning you head out on a fun private Landrover safari with a kilted Ranger. Exploring private estate tracks to see what traditional gillies and estate managers drive every day. Keep your eyes open for the local wildlife, Red Deer, Mountain Hares and Eagles that are all to be found here before you head back down into the valley. This afternoon continue your local explorations with your guide, maybe finishing the day with some delectable chocolates at a local award-winning specialist. Your guide will depart after dropping you back at your hotel, leaving you to enjoy a relaxing day to yourselves tomorrow.

Overnight: Pitlochry | Fonab Castle Hotel
Room Type: 2 x Loch View Lodge Rooms as Twin
Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 10 - Dinner Details Read More +

Restaurant: The Old Mill Inn | Location: Pitlochry

Please note that The Old Milldoes not take table reservations. They do not anticipate any issues with availability on this date.

Your guide will take you to this meal, but it is not included. Please pay directly.

Day 11 - Tuesday 14th May - Free Day to Rest & Relax or Explore Pitlochry

Today you have a completely free day to relax and enjoy the hotel facilities, or head into Pitlochry to explore the local shops. The choice is yours.

Overnight: Pitlochry | Fonab Castle
Room Type: 2 x Loch View Lodge Rooms as Twin
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 11 - Dinner Details Read More +

Hotel: Fonab Castle Hotel - Sandemans
Reservation Time: 7:00 pm | Booking Reference: Reservation name Scott McQuillan

This is a table reservation only, please pay directly

Day 12 - Wednesday 15th May - Depart

A private transfer will collect you from your accommodation and take you to Edinburgh airport to make your onward connections. Waving farewell for now but taking with you special memories and wonderful stories of your explorations.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 12 - Transfer Details Read More +

Supplier: East of Scotland Chauffeur Drive
Booking Reference: 117379
Pick Up Location: Fonab Castle, Pitlochry | Pick Up Time: 8:15 am | Approx Duration: 1.5 hrs
Phone: 0131 370 1555

Day 12 - Flight Details Read More +

Airline: United Airlines | Flight Number: UA119
Departure Airport: EDI - Edinburgh Airport | Departure Time: 11:30 am
Arrival Airport: ORD - Chicago

All 4 pax

Trip Details

Inclusions Read More
  • 11 nights accommodation, as stated in the itinerary above
  • Most meals, as stated in the itinerary above
  • The services of a qualified and experienced guide from Day 4 to Day 10 inclusive
  • All transfers in a private vehicle driven by our guide on guided days
  • Airport Transfer on Arrival Day, includes Meet & Greet
  • Airport Transfer on Departure Day
  • All guided hikes mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees and activities mentioned in the itinerary, specifically:
    • Private Half day Walking Tour with Local Expert Guide in Edinburgh
      • Includes entry to Edinburgh Castle
    • Entry to The Real Mary King’s Close – Public Tour
    • Entrance Fee on D3 as per interest
    • Tour & Tasting at Royal Lochnagar Distillery – Public Tour
    • Clay Pigeon Shooting Experience
      • Includes and Instructor for just the 4 of you & all equipment hire
    • Private Falconry Experience (approx 2hrs)
    • Half Day Private Sea Kayaking Experience
      • Includes qualified and experienced local guide and all equipment hire
    • Tour & Tasting at Oban Distillery – Public Tour (or alternative activity if choose not to visit Oban)
    • Tour & Tasting at Dalwhinnie Distillery – Public Tour
    • Private 4×4 Trail Explorations with Kilted Ranger
  • Personalised trip design and delivery
  • Snacks throughout the trip
  • 24 hour in-country support from the Wilderness Team
Exclusions Read More
  • All Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not mentioned in the inclusions
  • Activities and entrance fees not mentioned in the inclusions
  • Gratuities for the main driver guide
Notes Read More

Notes On Weather & Flexibility

Weather – May in Scotland can be a very wide range of weather, and sometime quite changeable. Suitable clothing and footwear is essential, as well as a flexible attitude. Plans may have to be changed to accommodate Mother Nature, and your guide will have back-up plans that they will discuss with you if required.

 

Essential Packing List

  • Waterproof jacket with hood
  • Waterproof over-pants
  • Sturdy hiking boots/shoes (sneakers or tennis shoes are not suitable for any hiking in Scotland)
  • Day pack 20-30 litre for carrying water and extra layers
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Warm layers
  • Warm hat, gloves and a neck gaiter
  • Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Smart casual attire for dinners

Note: If you would like us to provide trekking poles for your use then please just let us know and we will ensure these are available for you.

  • For Sea Kayaking
    • Swimming costume/trunks
    • Wetsuit socks, waterproof socks or warm wool socks
    • Footwear that you don’t mind getting wet
    • Non-cotton moisture-wicking base layer top
    • Non-cotton quick-dry leggings or trousers

 

Useful Contacts

24 hour in-country support (Wilderness Scotland):  +44 (0)1479 420 020, or out with regular office hours +44 (0)7766 794 640 (urgent calls only)

Emergency services:  999 or 112

NHS 24 (24 hour free medical advice):  111

 

Tipping Guidelines

For tipping our guides – We don’t generally recommend a set amount as tipping is not expected in the same way that it is in North America. However, similar North American travel companies generally suggest something along the lines of £10-30 per person per day for your guide, which is a wide range to choose from. Generally, we would encourage you to ask yourself what you were expecting from your guide, and then think about how they have exceeded those expectations and choose an amount you are comfortable with.

For local services such as restaurants again tipping is not expected but if you receive great service then 10-15% of the bill is normal.


Accommodation

InterContinental Edinburgh - The George

19-21 George Street | Edinburgh |
EH2 2PB | Phone: +44 131 225 1251
Web: edinburgh.intercontinental.com

The Balmoral Arms

13-15 Victoria Road | Ballater |
AB35 5RA | Phone: +44 1339 755413
Web: crerarhotels.com/balmoral-arms

Fonab Castle Hotel

Foss Road | Pitlochry | Perthshire |
PH16 5ND | Phone: 01796 470140
Web: fonabcastlehotel.com

Whispering Pine Lodge

Spean Bridge |
Phone: +44 1809 335021
Web: blacksheephotels.com/the-whispering-pine-lodge


Meet Your Guide

Gill McMillan

Contact Number: +44 (0)7745 971 816

As a child, I skied in Glenshee and loved being outside. At 19 I started hill-walking and have happily worn out many pairs of boots since. I especially enjoy hill-walking, long distance trails (the Camino de Santiago across Spain and the West Highland Way several times) and wild camping. Late evening sunsets from high up on a mountain have to be among life’s greatest pleasures. Thankfully, in Scotland, we’re spoilt for choice.