Your charming & intimate hotel on Arran - apparently the oldest house on the island
Sample a dram at one of Islay's eight working distilleries
The short ferry crossing between Arran & Kintyre
The pristine white beaches of Iona - perfect for picnics
Tobermory's iconic & colourful houses
Your Gaelic hotel on Skye sits on the seashore
Our Scottish Island Odyssey includes four very different Scottish islands, from Arran to Skye, via Islay and Mull. On this nine day holiday, you'll experience lots of short ferry trips and stay in a number of our hand-picked, high quality small hotels. From Arran's "Scotland in Miniature" landscape to Islay's whisky distilleries, from Tobermory's stunning waterfront on Mull, to the brooding Cuillins on Skye, this holiday gives you ample opportunities to explore.
Day One - Isle of Arran
Your first destination is the ferry port of Ardrossan in Ayrshire from where you catch a ferry to the Isle of Arran. Your hotel is a short drive from the ferry port in a secluded glen.
Your hotel is believed to be the oldest house on the Isle of Arran and is certainly among the richest in its historic associations. Situated at the heart of grounds granted to the forebears of its' builders by King Robert the Bruce in 1307, it occupies a spot known to have been inhabited long before that, which is why the house is listed as a building of historic and architectural significance. For all its' proud history and its description in the title deeds as 'a fine Scottish Mansion House', it has a charming intimacy about it that complements these grand associations. All the rooms are furnished and equipped to the highest standards, each room being decorated differently and with fresh flowers, fruit and a wee dram of whisky to welcome you on arrival.
What to see and do
Often described as Scotland in miniature, Arran is bisected by the Highland Fault - a geological boundary dividing the rugged and mountainous north from the more luscious lowlands of the south. This island offers something for everyone – challenging walks, cycling around the coast (or through the hills if you’re brave enough), ancient monuments, wonderful wildlife and an intriguing smattering of traditional industries: Arran Aromatics and Isle of Arran Brewery are two worthy of a visit. The Arran Heritage Museum in Brodick will give you the local history - or head out to Brodick Castle, an imposing sandstone structure cloaked in dark trees at the foot of brooding Goatfell, the highest mountain on the island. Further afield, the village of Lochranza features the picturesque ruins of a 14th century castle and the relatively new Arran Distillery, whilst Kildonan Castle on the south coast offers views as far as the Mull of Kintyre.
Day Three - Islay
Cross back to the mainland via the Lochranza ferry in the north of the island. A short hop across the Kintyre peninsula will take you to Kennacraig from where you catch a further ferry to Islay.
This is a tastefully restored Victorian building by the seashore in Port Charlotte - an attractive conservation village, built around 1830, of whitewashed stone on the west Loch Indaal. The key feature of this hotel is its large comfortable conservatory, opening out into a garden which in turn leads down to a sandy beach. The residents' lounge and public bar feature open fires where guests can unwind with convivial company. Most bedrooms enjoy lovely sea views and all are furnished with antiques. A special feature is the use of oriental rugs on wooden floors. The central theme of the restaurant is local produce, freshly prepared to order and served in elegant surroundings. The dinner menu is a la carte and changes regularly - you can expect beef and lamb from local farms to feature, or game from the nearby island estates. Also frequently on the menu are scallops, lobsters and prawns, fresh from the loch. The public bar serves bar meals and has some of the finest malt whiskies in the world for you to sample.
What to see and do
Once the ancestral seat of the Lords of the Isles, Islay is a fertile island of low heather-clad hills, attractive beaches, numerous historical sites and more whisky distilleries than any other Scottish island! A haven for hill-walkers and bird-watchers, it is home to the huge Loch Gruinart bird sanctuary and its vast numbers of migrating geese. In the island capital, Bowmore, you can visit the unusual Round Church (no corners for the devil to hide in!) or, if history is your thing, the Museum of Island Life in Port Charlotte is well worth a visit - as are the ruins of Finlaggan Castle, home of the Macdonald chiefs, and Kildalton Chapel with its early Christian cross. Easily accessible for day-trips are the neighbouring islands of Jura – whose rugged scenery belies the glorious splendour of Jura House Garden and pretty Colonsay (Wednesdays only), which boasts spectacular Kiloran Bay.
Day Five - Isle of Mull
Return to Kintyre and drive north through some more stunning west coast scenery. Your route will pass through the atmospheric Kilmartin Glen, site of many ancient standing stones and burial cairns, which are well worth exploration. Your ferry to Mull departs from Oban and the 45 minute crossing will be one of your highlights with, weather permitting, often quite glorious views in all directions as you cross the Sound of Mull. Your hotel is in the main island village of Tobermory.
Your guesthouse is small but perfectly formed, and resides amidst Tobermory’s elegant conservation area. High above the harbour, you can escape the village bustle yet are still just a short (if steep) walk from the waterfront. Sweeping views across the bay can be enjoyed from large comfortable sofas in one of the two guest lounges, and the easterly aspect means the sunrises (for early risers!) are spectacular.
With just six small, but beautifully furnished, bedrooms - two even have a four-poster bed - the friendly owners aim to make your stay a rather luxurious home from home.
What to see and do
A sheer paradise for lovers of Scotland's natural heritage, Mull is an island gem with an enviable diversity of wildlife thriving everywhere - from dense woodland glens to the grassy slopes of Ben More. Its many miles of coastline boast fantastic sandy beaches – particularly at Calgary and Ardalanish – whilst off-shore is one of Europe’s prime habitats for whales and dolphins (we can arrange guided wildlife-watching trips). Meanwhile, lively Tobermory has a bustling vitality and is a great place to spend a couple of days. Brightly painted houses provide a colourful backdrop to the picture-postcard harbour and the "craic" in the waterfront bars rivals anything on the mainland.
A world away from all this, but in reality just a short ferry crossing, tiny Iona is a deeply spiritual place, a historic Christian pilgrimage and yet another peaceful wildlife habitat with some glorious beaches. You can also visit the isles of Ulva and Staffa during your stay.
Day Seven - The Isle of Skye
Return to the mainland via the Tobermory to Kilchoan ferry, then travel through the wild landscape of Ardnamurchan and Moidart, to reach the ferry port at Mallaig. After catching the ferry to Skye, make your way to your hotel, less than 15 minutes away.
Sheltered by a gently curving bay, your charming whitewashed hotel sits right on the seashore, enjoying expansive views over the Sound of Sleat to the wilderness of Knoydart. This, the most southerly part of Skye, is an area of great natural beauty, often referred to as the "Garden of Skye" thanks to its abundant bird life and profusion of wild flowers.
This is a Gaelic-speaking community and the bar is a convivial meeting place for the locals, who mix happily with hotel guests, often to the accompaniment of traditional music and Gaelic song in front of the roaring log fire. Twelve bedrooms (six in the Garden House) are decorated with pretty cotton and linen chintzes and there are four new suites in the recently restored stables, each enjoying superb views across the water to the lighthouse of Isle Ornsay. Candlelit meals in the wood-panelled dining room reflect the estate’s culinary riches, with wonderful shellfish and game featuring prominently on the menu. Langoustines are landed at the old stone pier, and oysters come from the hotel's own oyster beds.
What to see and do
On the little harbour right beside the hotel is the headquarters of "The Gaelic Whiskies", where you can sample an excellent range of connoisseur brands before browsing in the nearby craft shop. The surrounding area of hills, moorland, woodland and seashore offers endless opportunities for walking and drinking in the magnificent sea views. Don’t miss the enchanting walk to the Point of Sleat, from where you can gaze across to the small isles of Rum and Eigg and dream of future visits! On the way down to the Point of Sleat, it's worth stopping off at the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale with its fine arboretum and lovely garden. Further afield, in the north of the island, you'll find historic Dunvegan Castle, and Portree, the bustling island capital.
Day Nine - Return home
Your island odyssey complete, you leave Skye by way of the elegant bridge
Experience contrasting islands: Arran, Islay, Mull and Skye
£895 per person in April & October, £965 per person for May to September.
All prices based on 2 adults sharing a room, for 8 nights on a bed & breakfast basis. Several of the hotels offer up-graded rooms for small supplements - ask us for more details.
The prices for this self-drive touring holiday include ferry crossings for a car and two passengers from Ardrossan (Ayrshire) to Brodick(Arran) then from Lochranza(Arran) to Claonaig(Kintyre), from Kennacraig to/from Islay, then from Oban to Mull, from Mull via Ardnamurchan to Skye. The return journey from Skye would be via the Skye bridge.
The price does not include car hire, but we can arrange this to suit, with a range of cars available from £30 per day.
All our holidays include a map of Scotland with recommended routes from your specified starting point, suggestions on places to see and visit depending on your personal interests and our expertise to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £8 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday. We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value.
All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
Check availability for: An Island Odyssey
Holiday availability: This holiday can be arranged from April to end October
While you can start this holiday on any available date, it is worth bearing in mind that some distilleries on Islay and many visitor attractions on Skye are closed on Sundays.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us on 0844 873 6110 from the UK, or toll-free from USA & Canada 1 866 922 8538 and +44 844 873 6110 for all other countries.
We will respond to you within one working day. Please note that we do not offer online availability because all our holidays are planned and booked individually.
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Smooth, trouble free arrangements…
Excellent advice given on itinerary, wee personal touches and suggestions. Perfect schedule for ferries. Thank you very much. Our holiday was worry free thanks to you.
Thank you very much for arranging such a wonderful trip. Each hotel has been friendly, welcoming and with such wonderful food that we really feel that we have discovered an entirely different Scotland.