SACRED SCOTLAND 2017
The Blessed Isles
A Journey of Exploration and Discovery through
the Ancient Sacred Lands of Bonnie Scotland
July 4 – 16, 2017
In particular, we visit the enchanted islands of the West – the Hebrides – and the North – the Orkneys – and get a real live feel of their history, culture, myths and folklore.
We visit such treasures as the Gaelic Isles of Iona, Mull, Skye, Harris, Lewis, and the formerly Viking Orkney Islands. Each island has a unique quality all its own with sacred sites, histories and traditions that inspire the mind and delight the soul.
We shall visit holy wells, stone circles, hermit cells, Druid groves, enchanted woods, dramatic dolmens, sacred rivers, majestic glens and bonnie lochs, each with its own story to tell.
Along the way, authors, historians, musicians and storytellers will help enhance our experience of this wonderful land. The tour leader, Jamie George, is himself a Scot, and he loves to share his home country with you.
HOSTED AND GUIDED BY LINDA MARSON & JAMIE GEORGE
Professional Tarot reader, teacher and founder of Global Spiritual Studies, Linda Marson, facilitates a process for using Tarot to explore the messages sacred sites and landscapes have for us. In her book, Ticket, Passport and Tarot Cards, Linda shows how her travels around the world reflected stages in her own inner journey at the time. These insights came from using Tarot to reveal the link between inner and outer journeys. She believes readings we do on the tour will shine a light on what sustains us spiritually and how we connect with it.
Director of Gothic Image Tours, Jamie George, has been taking spiritual pilgrims on tours for over 30 years. “It’s been an honour to journey with so many interesting and inspiring people, helping them tune in to the history, mystery and magic of ancient sacred places, where every site has a story to tell. I imagine myself coming there for the first time, and if you put yourself in that position, all kinds of things can open up. For me, it’s a dance between memory and revelation. Some of the most memorable times are those when we’re just having fun. You find yourself laughing and joking because you’re opening up, you’re becoming much more at one with yourself and the land.”
Tour highlights include:
- The enchanted fairy glen at Rosemarkie
- Islands of Orkney with their wealth of pre-historic sites – the Neolithic stone circles of Stennes and Ring of Brodgar, the burial chamber of Maes Howe and archeological excavations on the Ness of Brodgar which show that these sites probably pre-date Stonehenge and Avebury by some 500 years.
- The Callanish complex of megalithic sites on the island of Lewis
- The stunning fairytale landscape on the island of Skye
- The beautiful island of Iona which radiates a special energy that brings peace to your soul.
As we travel along the rugged east coast of Scotland with its Pictish Brochs and spectacular views across the North Sea, we come to Thurso where we take a ferry to the Orkney Islands.
Here are some of the most evocative sacred sites in Europe – the ancient village of Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar stone circle, the Stones of Stennes and the rune-decorated mound Maes Howe. We visit the charming towns of Kirkwall and Stromness and the enchanted gardens and falls of Woodwick House.
On leaving the Orkneys we traverse the Highlands, visiting for lunch the impressive 12th Century Tulloch Castle – the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland – where its owner will take us on a tour of the dungeons and the beautiful oak panelled rooms. Onwards to the fishing port of Ullapool on the west coast. En route we visit the Fairy Glen at Rosemarkie on the Black Isle.
Our journey takes us by ferry to the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Here we meet Margaret Curtis who guide us through the sacred landscape of Callanish – ‘Scotland’s Stonehenge’. We learn of the many astronomical alignments of this site and the extraordinary precision that the ancients used in their construction. We also visit the beautiful neighbouring island of Harris, with its lochans, beaches and standing stones.
Then, over the sea to Skye where we visit Dunvegan Castle and gardens and view the famous fairy flag that has figured so importantly in battle. On Skye we get a sense of the timeless nature of an ancient landscape, with the Cullin Hills and the Isle of Oronsay, and much interesting flora and fauna.
Our ferry back to the mainland takes us to Mallaig, then we move on to Glenfinnan Monument and Fort William to the gateway to the Highlands – Oban. A ferry takes us to the island of Mull, which we cross, to take another ferry on to the sacred island of Iona. Here we stay and visit the Abbey, Nunnery, Hermit’s Cell and St Columba’s Bay. We delight in the beauty and power of this magical place and take time to receive its healing energies.
On leaving Iona and Mull, we travel southwards via Oban to visit Kilmartin Valley, a landscape temple with the neolithic monuments of Temple Wood and Nether Largie. We stop for tea at the little village of Inverary, overlooking the tranquil Loch Fyne, and then on to stay our last night on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Here, after a farewell dinner, we return to Glasgow airport.
Day One, Tuesday, July 4: In Glasgow. To Inverness
We rendezvous at Starbucks on the ground floor of the St Andrews Arrival Building, Glasgow Airport at 1:00 pm. We stop for lunch on the way to Inverness. The remainder of the afternoon free to relax, walk by the river or do a bit of shopping. In the evening, we have the opportunity to enjoy traditional Scottish folk music at one of the many live music venues in Inverness. Overnight: Inverness
Day Two, Wednesday, July 5: In Inverness – Excursion on The Black Isle
We drive to Rosemarkie on the Black Isle where we follow a stream through an enchanted wooded glen, with two beautiful waterfalls. The Fairy Glen was once the scene of a well-dressing ceremony, where the children of the village decorated a pool, next to a spring, with flowers. This was said to ensure that the fairies kept the water supply clean. In the afternoon, we visit Balnuaran of Clava, the site of an exceptionally well-preserved group of prehistoric burial cairns that were built about 4,000 years ago. Overnight: Inverness.
Day Three, Thursday, July 6: To Orkney
Today we travel north up the rugged north-east coast of Scotland, to Thurso, overlooking the Pentland Firth. Here we take a boat to the Islands of Orkney. In this timeless place, where the quality of the light and the air are so special, we feel on the edge of the world. Here are some of the best-preserved ancient sites in Europe – stone circles, earth houses, round barrows and prehistoric villages that reveal to us a simple but noble way of life in ancient times. We also have time to explore the capital, Kirkwall, with its ancient paved streets, St Magnus Cathedral, craft shops and galleries. Overnight in Orkney.
Day Four, Friday, July 7: In Orkney
We visit the neolithic stone circles of Stennes and the Ring of Brodgar, prehistoric sun and moon temples that are part of a sacred ritual landscape. We are joined here by local guides, Helen and Mark Woodsford-Dean. Next is a guided tour of the archaeological excavations on the Ness of Brodgar which show that these sites pre-date Stonehenge and Avebury by some 500 years. Overnight in Orkney.
Day Five, Saturday, July 8: In Orkney – Excursion to Skara Brae
After breakfast, we visit the windswept prehistoric village of Skara Brae by the Bay of Skaill. Here we view the remains of a beautifully preserved 3000BC village with sophisticated architecture and built-in stone furniture. From here, we go to the great chamber of Maes Howe that receives the light of the setting sun at midsummer along its passage. We marvel at the exquisite stonework within the mound and view the runic art etched into the pillars of the chamber. Overnight: Orkney
Day Six, Sunday, July 9: To Ullapool
We journey south across the water to the mainland, to the 12th C Tulloch Castle in Dingwall, where we have lunch. Tulloch is the oldest inhabited castle in Scotland. We are given a tour of the dungeons, the great oak-panelled rooms and the tower, where we enjoy stunning views across the Moray Firth. Onwards to Ullapool on the Highland west coast for our overnight stay.
Day Seven, Monday, July 10: On the Island of Lewis
Today we take the ferry across to the Outer Hebrides, to the island of Lewis, where we meet Margaret Curtis, an expert on the prehistory and folklore of the ancient sites of this region. With Margaret, we visit the Callanish complex of megalithic sites and learn of the astronomical alignments that feature so vividly in this sacred landscape. Overnight on Lewis.
Day Eight, Tuesday, July 11: To the Isle of Skye
This morning we travel across the isthmus from Lewis to the island of Harris. As we wait for the ferry to the Isle of Skye, there’s time to shop for that special Harris tweed hat, scarf or jacket. We travel south on Skye stopping in the capital, Portree, for shopping and sightseeing. Overnight: Skye.
Day Nine, Wednesday, July 12: On the Isle of Skye
This morning we visit the crystal-clear Fairy Pools at the foot of the Black Cuillins on the Isle of Skye. It’s an easy walk with a few shallow water crossings over stepping stones. If it’s a warm day, be ready for a swim! The afternoon is free to explore the island or just relax by the water and soak up the atmosphere. Overnight: Skye.
Day Ten, Thursday, July 13: To Iona
We journey across the water to Mallaig on the mainland and travel via the Glenfinnan Monument and Fort William to Oban. Here we take the ferry to the island of Mull and thence to the sacred island of Iona. Here is an island of dreams – a place that, as Fiona Macleod described, “None can understand who do not see it through its pagan light, its Christian light, its singular blending of paganism and romance and spiritual beauty“. Here we shall feel refreshed and renewed as we walk this timeless land, enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna and perhaps swim in the aquamarine sea. Overnight on Iona.
Day Eleven, Friday, July 14: In Iona
There are many sites to visit on Iona, mainly Christian, such as the 12th C Abbey, St Columba’s Chapel, Oran’s Chapel and the 12th C Nunnery. But the treasures of the island are to be found in the enchanted places where nature shows herself slowly and shyly to the curious pilgrim. Jamie will lead an optional walk to St Columba’s Bay via the Bay at the Back of the Ocean and the Machair, or you may wish to explore on your own or rest. Overnight on Iona.
Day Twelve, Saturday, July 15: To the Valley of Kilmartin and Loch Lomond
We travel back through Mull to the mainland by ferry to Oban, where we have lunch and time for shopping for that special gift. As we journey southwards we stop at the beautiful valley of Kilmartin to visit one of Scotland’s most attractive megalithic sites – Temple Wood, with the nearby line of chambered cairns and standing stones. We stop for tea at the pretty village of Inverary on the shores of Loch Fyne, where we can see seals fishing in the still waters. We are soon at Loch Lomond where we stay a night and have our farewell dinner by the Loch. Overnight at Loch Lomond.
Day Thirteen, Sunday, July 16: Back to Glasgow Airport where tour ends
After breakfast we journey to Glasgow Airport for international flights and transfers, arriving by 10am. Please arrange onward flights from Glasgow from noon onwards to provide time for check in.
Please note: We reserve the right to vary the itinerary as necessary to provide the best possible experience under the circumstances prevailing at the time.
* Excellent quality accommodation with private facilities
* Full English breakfasts every day
* Three-course dinners each day
* Sightseeing as per itinerary
* Transportation by motorcoach throughout itinerary
* All inland transportation
* Entrance fees and Presentations
* Guide fees, taxes and gratuities (excluding driver)
** Bonus! SAVE! You will receive a 5% discount if ALL payments are made by check or money order. This discounted price is noted below in red.
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PRICE PER PERSON (Land Only)
Double Occupancy: $3,349 by check or money order or $3,529 by credit card
Single Occupancy: $3,799 by check or money order or $3,999 by credit card (limited availability)
$500 ($525 by credit card) Non-Refundable deposit is required to hold space.
Due on or before May 4, 2017
ROOMMATES: We will be happy to try to find a suitable roommate for those who are traveling alone and would like to share a room. Per our Terms and Conditions, registration for the tour will be held open until 30 days before the departure date in order to try to match everyone with a roommate. If by that date we have not been able to match you with a suitable roommate, you will be responsible to pay for the single supplement. An early registration will facilitate this process.
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