Scotland Literary Tour: Edinburgh, Swanston, Glasgow & More

A 7 day trip to Scotland 
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If you loved Treasure Island and tore through the seven books of the Harry Potter series, if you’ve ever recited a Burns poem or dazzled at the adventures of Sir Walter Scott, or if you’ve ever wanted to know the true story behind Shakespeare’s Macbeth, then this unique tour of Scotland is sure to be one you’ll never forget.

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Edinburgh, Swanston, Rosslyn Chapel, Abbottsford House, Wigtown, Ayr, The Trossachs, Glasgow

Departure Dates 

Flexible Departures

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Starting Your Tour in Scotland’s Charming Capital

This morning you land in Edinburgh, ready to explore this incredible country and learn more about her most famous scribblers and stories. A private car will pick you up from the airport and take you to your centrally located and incredibly luxurious hotel, where you can drop-off your bags and freshen up before hitting the streets of this inspiring and unique capital city. Your first stop while in Scotland is atop the gentle rise of Calton Hill, where you’ll gain purchase for phenomenal vistas over the ancient city below and out to the Scottish countryside and the mighty Firth of Forth. There are also a number of notable monuments atop the hill, from the eerie incompleteness of the National Monument, to the terraced tower that marks the victory of Horatio Nelson at Trafalgar, to the graceful columned rotunda serving as the monument to Scotland’s national poet, the immortal Robert Burns. 

Descend the hill back to the city just in time for dinner at one of the city’s best restaurants. The Witchery near Edinburgh Castle is particularly fine, offering excellent fare, impeccable service, a charming ambience and one of the best wine lists in the city.

Day 2: The Best of Scottish Writers and the Best of Scottish Culture

Start your tour of Edinburgh in fine fashion as you stroll the Royal Mile, a stretch of street making its way past some of the most historic and fascinating points in Edinburgh. Start high atop Castle Rock at the imposing and impregnable Edinburgh Castle, the center of the city for more than five centuries and currently home to the excellent National War Museum of Scotland and the Honours of Scotland, the oldest set of Crown Jewels in Great Britain. 

Make your way down into the heart of the city, passing the Heart of Midlothian street mosaic which marks the former location of the Old Tolbooth and St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh topped with a beautiful and unique crown spire. End your walk at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the royal residence of the monarch of the United Kingdom while in Scotland and one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. You’ll certainly want to walk the immaculate grounds and tour the sumptuous interior, which includes a sample of the Royal Collection on display in the Queen’s Gallery. 

Then it’s on to 10 North Bank Street and Lady Stair’s House, where you’ll discover the magnificent exhibits at the Writer’s Museum, detailing the lives of three of Scotland’s favorite literary sons: Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson. You’ll find a number of fascinating artifacts here, from portraits to personal objects, before turning to the inscribed stone slabs of Makars’ Court, where some of the country’s most famous writers are lauded in their own words, from James Boswell to Douglas Young. 

This evening, engage in Edinburgh’s more morbid history as you take a guided ghost walk through the heart of the Old Town, regaling you with the history and legends of some of Scotland’s most notorious convicts and the city’s most ignoble locations.

Day 3: South of Edinburgh and Scott’s Stomping Grounds

Travel to the outskirts of Edinburgh and the quaint village of Swanston, nestled cozily at the feet of Caerketton Hill. This picturesque collection of thatched cottages and winding lanes was the summer home of Robert Louis Stevenson for much of the 1870s, and it was here that the famous novelist wrote one of his lesser-known works, St. Ives. (Stephenson is also alleged to have written his classic tale of adventure Treasure Island in the shade of a nearby tree, but these claims are dubious.) 

Continue south until you reach the 15th century edifice of the Collegiate Chapel of St. Matthew, better known as Rosslyn Chapel, whose Gothic beauty inspired poetry from Sir Walter Scott and whose medieval origins have inspired numerous myths and legends. The most prominent of these—that the building family of Rosslyn Chapel was directly related to Jesus Christ—assumed particular popularity after the publishing of the pseudohistorical Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the bestselling-novel The Da Vinci Code

After exploring the gorgeous and mysterious carvings that fill the castle, you’ll turn to the stately beauty of Abbotsford House, the former mansion of Sir Walter Scott, cast upon a beautiful river scene and built of recaptured stone from nearby castles and manor houses under Scott’s own watchful eye. A visitors center, which was built in 2012, offers a small but fascinating exhibition of Scott’s life and the house’s history, and the grounds of the castle are truly magnificent, from the walled gardens within the castle to the untamed wilderness beyond. 

Your final stop for today is the coastal village of Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town and one of the most charming areas in the Scottish borderlands. You can make your way through the dozen booksellers and publishers or simply stroll the darling streets of this one-of-a-kind destination. 

Day 4: A Red Red Rose and the Bonnie Bonnie Banks

Today is dedicated to exploring the life, times and works of Scotland’s national poet, the immortal Robert Burns, one of the most beloved writers of the English language. You begin today in the town of Ayr, formerly known as Alloway, at the Burns National Heritage Park, where you’ll get a glimpse of the whitewashed, thatched-roof cottage in which he was born, an informative and engaging museum, and a beautiful and tasteful monument to Scotland’s best-loved bard. Visit the nearby Burns House, where the poet penned some of his favorite works. It has become a literary pilgrimage destination, visited by some of the best-known names in English literature, from William Wordsworth to John Keats to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 

After grabbing a quick drink at The Globe Inn, Burns’s favorite watering hole and a charming Scottish pub, you’ll turn north to the land of lochs and the shore of the largest lake by area in the country, the much-celebrated Loch Lomond. You can mosey past the loch’s wooded shores or set out for one of the many islands that dot the water’s surface before turning into the rugged stretch of country called The Trossachs. The area dazzles with its startling beauty and is known for being the home of the famous cattle rustler Rob Roy, a Scottish folk hero whose exploits have served as the inspiration for Defoe’s The Highland Rogue and Scott’s marvelous novel Rob Roy. The evening sees you in Glagow, where you can enjoy the many fine restaurants and cozy pubs of this, the largest city in Scotland

Day 5: The Gorgeous Countryside of Scotland

Travel north of Glasgow to encounter the scenic shores of Loch Katrine, a long and gorgeous freshwater loch whose northern shores host the birthplace of Rob Roy and whose otherworldly beauty and undeniable mystery inspired Scott’s famous poem “The Lady of the Lake,” a work that greatly inspired the Highland Revival of the late 19th century. You can cruise Loch Katrine’s brilliant blue waters on board the historic steamship The Sir Walter Scott before alighting on the eastern shore and traveling to Dunkeld, a quaint town situated in the heart of Big Tree Country and the inspiration for the woods at Duskendale that moved from the sea and spelled the end for Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In this gorgeous forest, you’ll find the many delightful buildings and unforgettable scenery of The Hermitage, featuring the decorative buildings constructed by the Dukes of Atholl – the lords of nearby Dunkeld House – like Ossian’s Hall of Mirrors and Ossian’s cave, named in honor of an ancient poet that served as the purported author of some of James Macpherson’s best known poetic cycles.

After taking one of the splendid nature walks through the area, you’ll visit the medieval village of Kirriemuir, a place with a rich history and famed literary culture. Kirriemuir was the birthplace of J.M. Barrie, the author and creator of Peter Pan, and his former home has been turned into a delightful museum that is run by the National Trust of Scotland.  You’ll be sure to enjoy the quiet charm of this singular town, from the alleged narrowest footpath in Western Europe at Cat’s Close to the intricately carved Eassie Stone to the darling statue of Peter Pan in the heart of the town’s center.

Day 6: Turning to Glamis, Returning to Edinburgh

Today, you finish your tour of the gorgeous Scottish Lowlands at one of the most famous buildings in the area: Glamis Castle. You’ll get a chance to tour this remarkable 14th-century structure that served as the ancestral seat of the Bowes-Lyon family, and as the childhood home of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the former Queen Mother of the United Kingdom. Here, you’ll experience a wonderful guided tour that will detail all of the many myths, legends, and stories that accompany the history of this imposing edifice, from the stories of the frightening Monster of Glamis to the somewhat comical legend of Earl Beardie, a morality tale about the dangers of playing cards on the Sabbath. And, of course, you’ll learn about the historical roots and Shakespeare’s extensive liberties as your tour guide gives you the scoop on what really happened to King Malcolm in the deep bowels of the castle, as well as the Elizabethan retelling of the story that turned into one of the Bard’s best-known tragedies, the dark and frightening Macbeth

This afternoon sees you heading south to return to the headwaters of the Firth of Forth and the bustling streets of Edinburgh, where you’ll have the rest of the day and evening at your leisure. You can visit one of the city’s fine museums or peruse the fine clothing and home goods in the New Town. Princes Street is particularly noteworthy, and Multrees Walk is the home to the best-known houses of haute couture, from Louis Vuitton to Links of London. You can also return to the Royal Mile to find quintessential Scottish gifts, from woolen goods in scores of clan tartans to fine Scottish fudge to the tastiest drams of single malt whisky.

Day 7: Departing Scotland

After a delicious and hearty breakfast at your luxurious hotel, a private car will take you to the Edinburgh airport, where you’ll board the flight that will take you back home. Your heart will be filled with the memories and experiences of the past week, the stories of great Scotsmen and the poems of the country’s best-loved bards, and the thoughts of the friendly people that you met and whom you’ll never forget.

Price

Price 

Your custom trip package will include accommodations, transportation within the country, guided tours and activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. 

Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!