About the ‘Walking & Music in the Scottish Highlands’ Tour
Nothing tells a story of a country like its landscapes and its music, and nothing can be more evocative than Scotland and Niel Gow. This will be an 9-day walking tour of Scotland’s wild and romantic countryside punctuated by special musical notes and events.
18th Century fiddler and composer Niel Gow was probably one of the most sought after Scottish musicians of his day. Playing at balls, weddings and other events, he travelled widely throughout Scotland, almost always walking. Today much of traditional Scottish music and dance is infused with Niel Gow’s tunes, as well as those of his sons. During this week, we will travel Scotland the way Niel Gow travelled it, on foot. We’ll experience the music scene that reflects his influence and meet some Scotland’s finest musicians.
This year our trip begins in famously beautiful Glen Coe in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, where dramatic history and epic geology meet. From there we go on to Glenfinnan, the beauty of the Isle of Skye, the Great Glen, Loch Ness and Inverness the capital of the Highlands. Continuing on to Perthshire, we’ll stop for a walk in the mountains of the Cairngorms National Park, and make a visit to Blair Castle. Finally, we head to the village of Dunkeld. Known as “Big Tree Country”, this area of soft landscapes and stately old trees, and was once home to Niel Gow.
To this trip of scenic variety, our Scottish guide, Dorothy, will bring a deep knowledge of Scotland’s colourful history, while Ed Pearlman will invite top Scottish musicians to join us and celebrate the link of the land with its vibrant musical traditions. Enjoy private performances, listen to or join in a session (you are welcome to bring an instrument), or learn a ceilidh dance; plus, savour the rare opportunity of hearing Niel Gow’s actual fiddle, played for you at Blair Castle. Past guests (and possible guests this summer, to be confirmed) have included the amazing fiddler Gordon Gunn of Session A9 (“the best band to come out of Scotland in 100 years” according to Dougie MacLean), Gaelic singer Gillebride Macmillan (the Bard on HBO's Outlander), NPR's long-running host of the Thistle and Shamrock program, Fiona Ritchie, piper and pipemaker Fin Moore, and the great fiddler Patsy Reid.
An unforgettable experience of vistas and music, this trip is about what is timeless, enduring, and unfailingly inspiring; our natural world and music. Come experience Niel Gow’s Scotland!
We will rendezvous at Glasgow Airport and head through the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park then on, by Rannoch Moor, to Glencoe. We’ll have time for a stop on route to stretch our legs and breathe in the fresh Highland air. Welcome dinner and area orientation. This evening we may have a wee session or ceilidh for all to watch or join in.
Driving Time: 3.5 hours; Walking Time: 1–2 hours; Meals: Dinner.
2 nights at Clachaig Inn, a traditional walking / climbing Inn in the heart of Glencoe. Its spectacular mountain setting provides the perfect welcome to Scotland’s highlands and makes it an idea base for walking. Evening meal together; our inn often has a Scottish band perform in the evening. We will be joined by a great guest musician Gillebride MacMillan, for some Gaelic song and tales.
Considered one of the most spectacularly beautiful areas in Scotland, Glen Coe is one of the most popular of the Highland Glens. With its green valley and brooding mountains, the area has long attracted walker and climbers. We'll explore the protected area managed by the National Trust for Scotland, with the possibility of walking down the glen itself, or over a bit of the well-known long distance footpath, the West Highland Way.
Walking Time: 3 – 5 hours; Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch.
We head west today by Glenfinnan and the “Road to the Isles” to Mallaig before taking the ferry to the mystical Isle of Skye, our base for the next couple of days. Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides, an island of moody landscapes, vibrant music and passionate people. We have 2 nights on the island and will meet up with a local musician to discover their favourite tunes.
We will have a stop at Glenfinnan House hotel for a lunchtime session, most likely with the legendary Highland fiddler, Angus Grant Sr., then lunch before heading to Mallaig for the ferry to Skye.
Driving Time: 3-4 hours; Walking Time: 1-2 hours; Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch
A day will not be long enough, but it will give us a taste of the island.
Heading toward Inverness today, we'll journey across the Skye bridge, the Highlands, through dramatic Glen Shiel to Loch Ness, the most famous of the four lochs (lakes) spanning the length of the Great Glen. We'll stop for a walk or possibly a sail to do some Nessie spotting, before following the shores of Loch Ness northward to Inverness, our base for the next two nights. We may visit the traditional music pub Hootananny's for a ceilidh or session. Again on one of the nights we will be joined by a local musician. Driving Time: 3 hours; Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch.
Situated on the banks of the inner Moray Firth, Inverness lies at the northeast end of the huge rift valley the Great Glen. As well as going for a walk in the area and exploring the town, there may be opportunities to cycle along the Caledonian Canal or go for a boat ride on Loch Ness. Driving Time: 3 hours; Walking Time: 1 – 2 hours; Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch.
Today we head south to the Dunkeld area via the Cairngorms National Park. This is Britain's largest national park, encompassing the most extensive mountainous area in the UK, along with nearly one quarter of the native woodlands in Scotland, and 25% of all the threatened wildlife in the UK. There will be time for a walk onroute or possibly a visit to Edradour distillery.
A hotspot of traditional music, Dunked / Birnam will be our base for the next two nights. The countryside surrounding this unspoiled village, with its enchanting woodlands, charming lochs and ancient dwellings, is some of the most beautiful in Perthshire, also known as Big Tree Country. We may sit in at a traditional music session at one of the local pubs (those who do not play instruments can heckle those who do!), and the other evening we'll be joined by a local musician. Driving Time: 3 hours; Walking Time: 2 hours; Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch.
Today we'll visit Blair Castle, where Niel Gow used to play for dances in the 18th Century. We have special permission from the castle to allow Ed Pearlman to play Niel Gow's own violin for our group in a private event in the private library, normally off-limits to the public, and get a private tour of the castle.
Then we'll have a walk in and around Dunkeld, home of Niel Gow, visiting Gow's grave and cottage, and the 13th century Dunkeld Cathedral. Farewell dinner. Walking Time: 2 – 3 hours: Meals: Breakfast, packed lunch and Farewell Dinner
After breakfast, we will head first to Stirling for a visit to Stirling Castle. The trip will end with a transfer to Glasgow arriving around 4pm. Driving Time: 2 hours; Meals: Breakfast.
Please Note: All our itineraries are subject to change. Walks will be weather dependent and musical events and guests may be altered or added.
‘Walking & Music in the Scottish Highlands’ Tour: What's Included?
Your holiday includes:
- 8 nights B&B accommodation
- 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches & 2 evening meals
- Several music concerts and specially arranged private performances by musical guests
- Ferry to Skye
- Entry fees as needed – Glenfinnan, Glencoe, Culloden, Blair Castle
- Scottish fiddler and music columnist Ed Pearlman provides relaxed opportunities for travellers interested in playing music and dancing, and background for appreciating our guest musicians
- Walking guide for the duration, knowledgeable, friendly & a terrific storyteller
- All group safety equipment
- V.A.T at the current rate of 20%
Eight nights will be spent in B&B's.
Rooms are on a twin share arrangement. If booking as an individual we will match you up with a room mate of the same sex.
During this hike, trip members' luggage will be transported with the group between accommodations. We ask that you limit your overnight bag to a maximum of 15kg (33lbs) in weight. In addition you may bring a small day pack for walks and your musical instrument. Surplus baggage can be stored for you for the duration of the trip if you're staying longer.
What's not included in your tour:
- Any additional meals not specified
- Optional or individual excursions
- Items of personal nature (phone calls, laundry, excess baggage charge, passport fees, etc.)
Our Walking & Music in the Scottish Highlands trip is primarily a cultural walking tour. However, there will be a number of opportunities for trip members to participate in musical sessions, either by playing or listening. Trip members are welcome to bring small, easily transportable musical instruments, including fiddles.
You'll love exploring Scotland with C-N-Do
- We're Scotland's longest established walking tour operator, since 1984
- We use only fully qualified, passionate & highly knowledgeable walking leaders
- Your payments are protected under the rules of the EC Package Travel Regulations
- We're committed to low impact, environmentally sensitive tourism
- We're the first Scottish walking tour operator to achieve a GTBS Gold Award