Scotland's Northwest Highlands

  • Inverness | Ullapool | Torridon | Raasay | The Isle of Skye | The North Coast 500


October 13 - 23, 2022


  • Delightful boutique hotels and estates, featuring impeccable comfort, peerless settings, and tea time!
  • Exceptional scenery: mountains, sea, forest, gardens, villages
  • First-hand exploration of Scottish history and natural history; wonderful opportunities for walking, wildlife viewing, gardens in bloom
  • Distilleries, woolens, seafood, and other Scottish delights

Trip Description

Discover Scotland’s Northwest Highlands – home of some of the world’s best unspoiled scenery: a nature- and history-lover’s dream. Join this signature small group adventure to explore the charms of the region – from stunning geology, mountain peaks, and coastlines, to Victorian ports and lodges, to seafood delicacies, whiskeys, and real hospitality. We’ll drive on some of the most thrilling backroads in the world (including the famed “North Coast 500”), and enjoy opportunities to walk / hike, photograph, visit heritage sites, and spend “down time” in enchanting places on a daily basis.


Inverness, UK


Ullapool, UK

Loch Torridon

Torridon, Achnasheen, UK


Raasay, Kyle, UK

The Isle of Skye

Skye, United Kingdom


Day 1 – 2

Fly from the U.S. to Scotland’s northern “metropolis” – Inverness. After arriving in the (delightfully small) airport, we’ll board our van and begin our journey west – toward Scotland’s beautiful Northwest Highlands.  We’ll wind through the Muir of Ord (whiskey at this tender hour, anyone? . . . we’ll pass the Glen Ord distillery) to the Victorian spa town of Strathpeffer – perfect for lunch. Then, we’ll make our way to Ullapool – regional hub for the great Northwest.  Ullapool was founded in the mid-19th century as a herring port and processing center . . . so folks live close to the sea in many ways.  We’ll check into our lodging – overlooking our very own “sea loch,” Loch Broom – and unwind.  Enjoy an early dinner this evening, then rest and relax after our travels. Overnight, Ullapool.

Photo Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam



Day 3

After a good Scottish breakfast, let’s drive (or you can opt to walk along a beach path) into Ullapool for a proper look-around:  We can visit the local museum, the waterfront, and enjoy an exploratory walk.  Afterwards, we’ll retreat up Loch Broom a very short distance to Leckmelm Gardens.  Initially built on a Victorian estate, the gardens include a woodland walk, a walled garden . . . and numerous exotic species you’d think out of place in Scotland, if not for the warm Gulf Stream that arrives here. After lunch in Ullapool, enjoy a drive to the Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre.  Here, we’ll get an orientation to the wild geology of the Northwest Highlands.  We can hike (“walk” as they say locally), and enjoy views and photo-ops of the surrounding peaks. Later in the afternoon, we’ll return to the hotel for relaxation, then enjoy a fantastic dinner at a local favorite. Overnight, Ullapool.

Credit: VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins


Day 4

This morning, let’s drive to Achiltibuie and the Summer Isles area.  Bring your camera – the landscapes we encounter en route are stunning.  Enjoy a boat excursion around several of the Summer Isles.  Keep an eye out for the abundant sea life, including bottlenose dolphins and possibly a white-tailed eagle.  We’ll lunch in the area (there’s a café at the local pipers’ school).  After a full day, we’ll enjoy lovely afternoon light on the same beautiful landscapes that ushered in the day.  Dinner and overnight, Ullapool.

Photo Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Day 5 – 6

Bid goodbye to our hosts, then retrace our drive along Loch Broom. Visit the Lael Crafts shop, close by the dramatic Corriesshalloch Gorge. We’ll continue our drive to Loch Torridon and its beautiful Victorian hotel, “The Torridon.” If you don’t know what a single track road is by the end of the day, you’ve simply been too awestruck looking out the window! At the Torridon, we’ll find that one of their excellent traditions is tea time – with a magical view across Loch Torridon that frames Beinn Alligin, one of Scotland’s famous Munro peaks.

The following day holds several possibilities for our travel fellowship.  Hiking was born in Torridon, so that’s a promising option. Another relaxing boat excursion would be a delightful option as well.  In the afternoon, why not visit the local deer museum?!  (Don’t forget tea time!) Dinner and overnight, The Torridon.

Photo Credit: VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Day 7

Depart Torridon . . . steel your nerves (I’m actually talking to the driver at this point) . . . and drive up to the Bealach Na Ba lookout point, on the Applecross road.  Wow!  We might be able to see our entire itinerary from here.  When we “return to earth,” we’ll head to the Lochcarron Weavers (plaids and woolens emporium).  Our drive will lead us to one of Scotland’s most classic views:  the ethereal form of Eilean Donan Castle, perched at the junction of three sea lochs. Then, continue onto the Isle of Skye.  We’ll take the Sconser Ferry to the Isle of Raasay and the Raasay House – home for the next three nights (though you may decide you want to move in permanently). Dinner and overnight, Raasay.

Credit: VisitScotland / Airborne Lens

Day 8

Enjoy the day on Raasay!  We’ll mix a driving tour (great viewpoints, vestiges of earlier history, and terrific explorers’ appeal), with a visit of the local Scotch whiskey distillery, with the freedom to do what you’d like.  Options include some adventurous ones, like sea or lake kayaking, guided small boat touring, and more. Tea time, dinner, and overnight on Raasay.

Credit: VisitScotland / Airborne Lens


Day 9

Today, ride the ferry to our larger neighbor – Skye – and drive to the colorful “capital” of Portree.  After free time to explore the harborside town, we’ll visit Dunvegan Castle and Gardens. Not far west from Dunvegan is Skye’s western-most point – marked by the beautiful and dramatic Neist Lighthouse. Later, stop at the waterside Talisker Distillery (the only distillery on Skye), and enjoy a dram if you will. Dinner and overnight, Raasay.

Credit: VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Day 10 – 11

Bid adieu to our friends on Raasay, then drive back to the Scottish mainland.  We’ll enjoy visits of lovely Plockton village and the Attadale Gardens (and tea room for lunch).  We’ll then continue our drive to Nairn, overlooking the Moray Firth.  Dinner and overnight in Nairn – our last evening in Scotland together.

The following morning, depart from nearby Inverness and begin our journey home, with fond memories of the Highlands in tow!

Credit: J Macpherson

What's Included

  • Ground transportation in Scotland, boat tours, and inter-island ferries
  • Accommodation in high-standard boutique hotels for nine nights
  • Breakfast, 4 lunches and 6 dinners
  • All activities / admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$5,550 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $1,400)

What's Not Included

Price does not include airfare, alcohol, other meals, personal expenditures, or optional trip insurance.

Chumley really puts a personal touch (on) it. I don’t know anyone who takes better care of travelers.
If you want first-class service within a small group of traveling companions that you can really get to know, then definitely consider Explore Up Close.
I've traveled extensively and have never had a trip that felt as intimate and custom-tailored as this. The planning, flexibility, and attention to detail were second to none. A top shelf trip of a lifetime. Thank you, Caroline and Chumley!

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Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing airline tickets.

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