A bespoke week long walking tour, featuring a mix of walks and visits to places of interest in The Borders and on the Isles of Mull and Iona.
The Scottish Borders
The landscape of the Borders is characterised by rolling green hills and beautiful river valleys, the most famous of which is the Tweed. The castles, abbeys, stately homes and museums illustrate the exciting and often bloody history of the area.
Isles of Mull and Iona
Mull is one of the largest of the Hebridean islands but is bitten into by so many sea lochs that the sight and sound of salt water is never far away. This makes for a long coastline with high cliffs, sandy or rocky bays, caves and arches. There is always something to draw you on around the next corner. We will stay on the Ross of Mull which runs out almost to touch St. Columba’s holy island of Iona.
Isle of Iona
The Borders is excellent country for walking and this is reflected in the fact that there are 2 long distance paths running through it, the Southern Upland Way and the St. Cuthberts Way. During some of our walks we will follow the best sections of these routes.
Hiking on the Isles of Mull and Iona is very different and harder, but by the time we get to Mull you will be used to walking each day.
As well as being blessed with superb views, we should also have the opportunity to observe many of our native animals and wild flowers in their natural habitats.
On Mull and Iona we have a good chance to see sea eagles, seals and maybe even otters.
The programme will be tailored to your wishes and interests, but this is an example of how the holiday may look like.
Day 1: Edinburgh - Borders
On the way to our base in The Scottish Borders, we will have a short walk in the Pentland Hills, just south of Edinburgh with great views towards the city.
Melrose Abbey, Scottish Borders
Day 2: Abbey walk from Dryburgh Abbey to Melrose Abbey through the Eildon Hills
We will walk the section of St. Cuthbert’s Way from St. Boswells to Melrose, including two 12th century abbeys in our walk. Both are ruins now, but you can still see their sheer size and many beautiful details are still intact. The walk starts at Dryburgh Abbey, which is surrounded on three sides by a loop in the River Tweed. The sense of seclusion this brings is one of the great joys of Dryburgh Abbey. You can begin to gain some sense of what a life of contemplation might have been like for the monks who lived and worshipped here. Sir Walter Scott and Field Marshal Earl Haig, amongst others, are burried at Dryburgh Abbey.
From there we go into the Eildon Hills. The summit of Eildon North Hill is crowned by the largest hill fort in Scotland, built in the 10th century BC.
Our walk will finish at Melrose Abbey. The Chapter House of the Abbey contains the burial of a heart, thought to be that of King Robert I, “The Bruce”.
6-8 miles/10-13km and 1,055ft/325m ascent
Day 3: Cademuir Hill and walk along the river Tweed
We will explore Cademuir Hill in the morning. Not only does this site boast a notable series of Iron Age forts and settlements, it also commands excellent views. We start close to the top of the hill.
2 miles/3km and 300ft/90m of ascent
Our next fine walk explores the Tweed between Peebles and Lyne, using parts of an old railway track plus riverside paths. The walk takes us past Neidpath Castle, a 14th century castle, converted to a tower house in the 17th century.
St Mary's Loch, Scottish Borders
Day 4: Grey Mare’s Tail, Loch of the Lowes
We will start the day with a visit to Grey Mare’s Tail, a “hanging valley” waterfall north of Moffat. The valley was scoured out by glaciers during the last Ice Age, leaving the outlet burn from Loch Skene falling about 200 feet (60m) down a sheer cliff face.
Today’s walk is near St. Mary’s Loch. We start from the car park south of St. Mary’s Loch and walk through the hills following part of the Southern Upland Way. We will return along Loch of the Lowes.
10 miles/17km and 1,460ft/460m of ascent
Day 5: Scottish Borders - Isle of Mull
We will travel from the Borders to the Isle of Mull. The journey will take us through the Borders to Edinburgh. From there we will travel northwest via Stirling to Crianlarich and west through Glen Lochy and the Pass of Brander to Oban, where we board the ferry to Mull.
Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona, Argyll
Day 6: Isle of Iona
Many people make the pilgrimage to Columba’s island, but we can avoid the crowds by exploring the Abbey and the associated buildings, full of Celtic and Viking remains, in the morning.
Then we will explore the quieter southern and western coasts of the island, which boast both pebble beaches and beaches of pure white sand. We’ll have time to see the abandoned marble quarry, with its beautiful white and green stone, and the Carn Cuil ri Eirinn. This place is said to mark the spot where the saint decided that he had journeyed far enough from Ireland to put his chequered past behind him and begin a new life.
Up to 7 miles with lots of little ups and downs
Day 7: Erraid & Tireragan
The tidal island of Erraid hides one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland and we will take you there across the sand. After having walked back to Mull we will go to Tireragan where we will walk through an ancient windswept oak wood, visit some deserted villages and if we feel up to it, we can keep going to yet another beautiful secluded bay!
Up to 7 miles/10km and 500ft/150m ascent
Day 8: Isle of Mull - Glasgow
We will leave the island in the morning for our journey back to Glasgow.