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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Gourmet Highlands self-guided walking holiday
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Highlights

  • A foodie week of walking and dining - staying at stylish top hotel-restaurants.
  • Freshly-caught seafood, rare Scotch beef & Edradour whisky.
  • Exploring Pitlochry, Blair Castle & Atholl Estates from Knockendarroch Hotel.
  • The wild beauty of Loch Voil & remote peaks surrounding Monachyle Mhor.
  • Panoramic loch views from the Pierhouse at Port Appin, on the Seafood Trail.

Savour Scotland’s bountiful larder and rugged landscapes on a week filled with sumptuous fine dining, luxurious boutique hotels and walks exploring Perthshire and the west coast of Scotland.

A menu of walks range from short loch-side strolls to longer trails around castle estates, including Blair Atholl, Rob Roy’s Grave and the Isle of Lismore. You can choose whether to work up an appetite or simply kick back with a good book by a roaring log fire.

Stay at three stylish properties with award-winning restaurants; Knockendarroch House Hotel, Monachyle Mhor Hotel, and the Pierhouse Hotel which has been awarded 'Best Newcomer 2016' and 'Top Romantic UK Hotel' by Alastair Sawday.

Day 1: Edinburgh to Pitlochry


Boarding the train in Scotland’s historic capital of Edinburgh, sit back and soak up the rolling Perthshire scenery, arriving 2 hours later at the idyllic Highland town of Pitlochry, on the banks of the River Tummel.



You’ll stay 3 nights at the stylish Knockendarroch Hotel, an upscale Victorian House run by Louise and Struan Lothian, surrounded by far reaching woodland and mountain vistas.



Enjoy a river-side stroll then relax by one of the roaring fires in the luxury guest lounge, the perfect spot for drinks and canapés before you head in for starters at the celebrated two AA rosette fine dining restaurant.  Seasonal fare may include such temptations as breast of Highland grouse, rosemary rosti, parsnip pureé, poached pear and juniper jus; fillet of sea bream, niçoise style salad, crab beignets, pak choi and lime beurre blanc.


Overnight & Dinner: Knockendarroch Hotel**** (classic room), Pitlochry



Day 2: Morning walk, afternoon optional distillery tour


Drink in the clean, crisp Highland air on an easy  morning walk from Pitlochry to nearby Moulin and the island ruins of Caistel Dubh (the black castle), or you can simply enjoy browsing Pitlochry's cafés, delis and shops.  



Pitlochry is home to the quaint Edradour Distillery, Scotland’s smallest, dating from 1825. You can opt to take a guided tour which includes a welcoming dram or two in the old Malt Barn before witnessing traditional methods of whisky making and maturation, hand-crafted today as it was in Victorian times. Serious whisky-lovers can continue on to the larger Blair Atholl Distillery.  


Walk: 3.5 miles, minimal ascent/descent.


Overnight:  Knockendarroch Hotel



Day 3: Blair Atholl Estate walks, Blair Castle


Set yourself up for your walk today with a breakfast menu that includes porridge topped with brown sugar, cream & whisky, home-made granola, eggs Benedict or a ‘full Scottish’ with haggis and home-made potato scone.



Pitlochry boasts an excellent network of easy paths to explore. Nearby are the idyllic Blair Castle & Atholl Estates (just a 15-mins train ride away). Follow trails that meander through woodland and heather-clad hills  surrounding the castle, the historic home of the Earls and Dukes of Atholl and dating from the 1200s.  


Walk: 4-12 miles


Overnight: Knockendarroch Hotel, Pitlochry



Day 4: Transfer to Balquhidder, afternoon walk


After breakfast, take a private transfer west and revel in the panoramic views as you follow the road high above Loch Tay to Balquhidder (approx. 1h45). Continue a further 4 miles down a single-track lane to reach the wonderfully-remote Monachyle Mhor, on the wooded banks of Loch Voil.  



Monachyle Mhor is a luxury 14-room family-run boutique hotel; a splash of pink against a moody mountainous backdrop.  The restaurant of this 18th-century farmhouse and steadings has a traditional ‘hunter-gatherer’ ethos. You’ve time to enjoy a walk beside the loch before settling down for a delicious dinner.



Monachyle Mhor’s menu offers such delights as Scottish mountain hare, shallot and garlic purée, kohlrabi, pancetta and black truffle; Blairgowrie Scotch beef, Balquhidder chanterelles, parsley root, Russian kale, horseradish and crème fraiche; Scrabster pollock, cockles, globe artichoke, garden spinach and pink peppercorns.


Walk: Up to 4 miles


Overnight & Dinner: Monachyle Mhor (house room), near Balquhidder



Day 5: Local walks, visit Rob Roy’s Grave & Balquidder


On your doorstep, just behind Monachyle Mhor is a peaceful forested glen that  begs to be explored. Invigorate your senses with the scent of pine, the sound of babbling burns, and the cool mountain breeze. Here the peaks rise up dramatically above you, including Meall Monachyle (647m), Stob Creag (907m) and The Stob (753m).



Another option is to venture the 4 miles back along the track into Balquhidder, where you’ll find the grave of notorious outlaw Rob Roy. From Balquhidder, take a short walk (1.5 miles) to  Creag an Tuir, a high knoll with superb views along Loch Voil. Another longer walk (6 miles) loops around Kirkton Glen.


Choice of Walks: 1.5 to 6 miles


Overnight & Dinner: Monachyle Mhor near Balquhidder



Day 6: Travel via Oban to Port Appin


Continue west with a private transfer to Crianlarich (50 mins), from where you board the train to Oban (1h10). Then take a private transfer (40 mins), tracing the west coast to arrive at the Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant, hidden away in the village of Port Appin.



After settling into your room, enjoy an easy-going short circular walk, with fine views over the Isle of Lismore and towards Mull. Dine at the AA rosette restaurant, featuring oysters hand-picked from Loch Creran, mussels and langoustines from Loch Linnhe and Loch Etive, and fresh meat and wild games from local farms and private estates. Seafood is kept mouth-wateringly fresh in reels at the hotel’s pier.



The Ferry Bar has an extensive whisky and wine list, and is a great spot to watch the sun set. The property was awarded ‘Favourite Newcomer’ award in Alastair Sawday’s 2016 British Hotels guide, and is the northernmost point of the ‘Scottish Seafood Trail’.  


Walk: 1.5 miles


Overnight & Dinner: The Pierhouse Hotel (seaview room), Port Appin



Day 7: Isle of Lismore Walks


From the jetty in front of the hotel, hop on the ferry for the quick 5-minute trip across to the Isle of Lismore, disembarking at (aptly-named) Point. Lismore is a photogenic green island lying in the mouth of Loch Linnhe at the entrance to the Sound of Mull. Its name comes from the Gaelic 'Lios Mor' - meaning 'the big garden'.



You’ve a choice of two walks around this low-lying limestone island. The first is a short and easy circuit to the 18th century fishing settlement of Port Ramsay, with views across the water to the Morvern and Ardnamurchan peninsulas, and up the loch to Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain. The second takes you on a loop of the northern half of the island, visiting the ruins of 13th century Castle Coeffin and  iron age Tirefour Broch.  Return by ferry to Port Appin (ferry journeys payable locally).



You can decide to dine tonight at the Pierhouse Restaurant, or make a reservation at the nearby three AA rosette Airds Restaurant (recommended in the 2016 Michelin guide), offering a 7-course Taster Menu.  


Walk: 3 to 9.5 miles


Overnight: Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant, Port Appin



Day 8: Transfer to Oban train station. Onward travel


Take a last chance to soak up the views over the rugged west coast. Then you’ve a private transfer back to Oban train station (approx. 40 mins), from where you can make your onward journey. Trains depart from Oban to Glasgow (3h30, 1 change) and Edinburgh (4h40, 1 change). Accommodation tonight is not included, however please contact us should you wish to make arrangements.


Accommodation

7 nights accommodation is included in hand-picked luxury small hotels , of a 4-star standard. Below are examples of the properties we normally book, however they are subject to availability at the time of booking and therefore alternatives may be offered. Early booking is strongly recommended.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This holiday is available to solo walkers, although a single supplement is payable. If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single supplement is payable.


Meals

7 Breakfasts are included. 4 Dinners are included (first night at Knockendarroch, both nights at Monachyle Mhor, first night at Pierhouse Hotel). On the other nights you can dine either at your overnight accommodation (pre-booking is essential) or close by. Packed lunches are available from your accommodation.  


Knockendarroch House Hotel, Pitlochry

Knockendarroch, a luxurious 4-star Victorian House Hotel, has just 12 rooms, and occupies a quiet, elevated position in central Pitlochry. Enjoy drinks and canapés in the luxury lounge, before taking dinner in the two AA rosette restaurant, which offers relaxed, contemporary fine dining. Head Chef (and local boy) Graeme Stewart’s modern Scottish menu changes daily and uses seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, with a choice of 4 starters, mains and deserts. The menu may include such mouth-watering dishes as tenderloin of pork, pommes dauphinoise, white onion purée, glazed apples, peas and a thyme glaze; loin of Perthshire lamb, herb mash, celeriac purée, haggis samosa, tender-stem broccoli, and rosemary jus; followed by dark chocolate and orange crème brûleé, hazelnut sable biscuits and apricot sorbet; or a warm Scottish border tart, raspberry coulis, pistachio crumbs and vanilla bean ice cream.  Stay in a classic room. Dinner included on the first night of your stay.


Monachyle Mhor Hotel, nr Balquhidder

Monachyle Mhor is a luxury 14-room family-run boutique hotel. The cosy 18th-century farmhouse and steadings are a splash of pink set against a wild and moody mountainous backdrop beside Loch Voil. Head Chef Marysia Paszkowska and her team lovingly prepare such gourmet creations as Perthshire blackface lamb, celeriac purée, green top carrots, crispy anchovy; Blairgowrie Scotch beef,  Balquhidder chanterelles, parsley root, Russian kale, horseradish crème fraiche; Scrabster pollock, cockles, globe artichoke, garden spinach, pink peppercorns.

Stay in a house room. Dinner is included for both nights of your stay as the property is 4 miles from the nearest village of Balquhidder.






Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant, Port Appin

The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant is hidden away in the quiet village of Port Appin, on Scotland’s world-famous west coast. The property has received several Alastair Sawday accolades in 2016, including ‘Favourite Newcomer’ and topping his list of ’Britain’s 20 Most Romantic Hotels & B&Bs’ in the Daily Mail newspaper.

The 12 bedrooms have a fresh, contemporary feel, with stunning views over Loch Linnhe. The renowned AA rosette restaurant boasts unbeatable sea views. Under Head Chef Laura Milne, the kitchen team use only the finest seasonal Scottish seafood, meat, game and vegetables, working very closely with local suppliers.  Menu delights include lobster fresh from the Pierhouse creels, langoustines from Loch Linnhe, Inverawe smoked salmon, Loch Creran oysters, Scottish ribeye from local farms, and loin of Highland estate venison. Stay in a sea-view room. Dinner is included on the first night of your stay. 


Availability

This trip is available between mid-April and mid-October, and you can start this trip on any day of the week.



Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This holiday is available to solo walkers, although a supplement is payable. If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single supplement is payable.


Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate and includes a choice of optional daily walks of up to 12 miles. As all walks are self-guided, you will be responsible for navigation, decision-making and safety during your trip.  No walks are obligatory - you can choose to relax or explore at your own pace. 


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Not all the walks are way-marked and we supply you with maps nd route notes so you can easily find your way.


Baggage Transfer

You will take your main luggage with you when you travel on public transport.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


Accommodation Location

We will always try and accommodate
you at the properties and locations detailed in your itinerary. Occasionally, because
of limited availability, there is the option to be accommodated at an
alternative location. In the unlikely event that we have to accommodate
you elsewhere we will advise you of this before confirming your booking.
You will have the option to change your dates or we can arrange
transfers to and from an alternative overnight accommodation (price of the tour may change due to different accommodation being use, and there may be an additional cost payable for transfers).


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack. 



Getting to Edinburgh and from Glasgow

By Air: Edinburgh Airport is well-served by low-cost and scheduled airlines. From here you can travel by tram or airport shuttle bus to the city centre (approx. 30 mins), where you will board your train on Day 1. Accommodation in Edinburgh is not included, however we can arrange this at a supplement if you wish.


Departing from Oban, you can take the train to Glasgow city centre (3h30, 1 change). From Glasgow Buchanan St Bus station (city centre) a shuttle operates regularly to Glasgow Airport (approx. 30 mins). Alternatively, you can take the train from Oban to Edinburgh city centre (4h40, 1 change). Further information is listed on the airports’ websites above.


The website www.travelinescotland.com is fantastic for researching train and bus timetables throughout Scotland. Your pre-departure information pack will also have handy hints and tips about journeys and transport services.

Included

  • 7 Nights in 4* hotels.
  • 7 Breakfasts.
  • 4 Dinners.
  • Train from Edinburgh to Pitlochry.
  • Transfers as per itinerary (Days 4, 6, 8).
  • Train from Crianlarich to Oban.
  • Maps and route notes.
  • 24/7 Telephone support from our UK office.

Excluded

  • Travel to Edinburgh and from Oban.
  • Travel insurance (required).
  • Lunches.
  • Dinners (on days 2, 3, 7).
  • Drinks and snacks.
  • Edradour Distillery tour (payable locally).
  • Ferry between Port Appin and Lismore (payable locally).
  • Taxi transfers to/from Balquhidder on Day 5 (if required).
  • Personal equipment.
  • Mountain rescue/emergency assistance.

Extras

  • Additional nights.
  • Accommodation Upgrades.
  • Single room/solo traveller supplement.

We are often asked the following questions and we hope that you will find the answers useful.

How fit do I need to be?

All walks are optional. The longest suggested walk is 12 miles and sometimes there is the possibility to shorten the walks or take easier routes. You should have a good level of fitness to make the most of the itinerary.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the properties in this itinerary are extremely popular, especially over the summer months (May/June to September). The accommodations mentioned on our website are those that we normally use for this particular tour, and are subject to availability at the time of booking. However we work with excellent B&Bs and small hotels in the areas you'll be visiting (although these may not be to the same star rating/standard as those within this itinerary), and we will always try and put forward a suggested altnerative, and ensure you are well-advised, if we are unable to fulfill your request in the first instance.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Our info packs have a list of all equipement to bring on your walk.

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better and the midges have not yet appeared. Although having walked in every summer month we believe any time between late May and October offers a wonderful experience.

What are the midges like?

Midges are small biting insects (much like north American gnats) which are prevalent in the summer months. They are particularly bad on still, overcast days but do not bother you if you are moving, the wind is blowing, sun is shining, it’s raining, or you are inside so as long as you carry repellent for the odd occasion you may need it they shouldn’t have any impact on your experience.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

All walks included in this trip are optional. If you wish to return to your accommodation mid-walk, you can use public transport or local taxis to return to your hotel. Full details are included in your info pack.

 

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