Day 1 Arrive at our first hotel in Grange-over-Sands, where lunch is available, if required (at own expense). In the afternoon we drive to the medieval village of Cartmel with its imposing 12th-Century Priory church and on the way back take a short walk along the bay promenade. A tea reception and orientation meeting is followed by our Welcome Dinner. (D)
Day 2 Walk through delightful limestone woodland and up grassy slopes to the top of Hampsfell escarpment to enjoy the spectacular views across Morecambe Bay and towards the Lakeland mountains. In the afternoon, follow country byways through the gentle Cartmel valley and Bigland Estate to our next inn at Newby Bridge. (B, L, D) 9 Miles
Day 3 This walk includes a delightful variety of countryside, with ever-changing views. Woodland, green fields and a moorland ridge bring us to our lunch point in the peaceful Rusland valley. Then an enchanting walk across heather-clad Bethecar Moor, until Coniston Water opens up below. Drive in our minibus to reach the next inn by the shore of Coniston Water, where two nights are spent. (B, L, D) 10 Miles
Day 4 We enjoy a short cruise across Coniston Water to Brantwood, home of the poet, artitst, and social reformer John Ruskin. Then choose between a walk up the Coppermines Valley to absorb the spectacular scenery (and a fascinating insight into an industry which supported the local economy for over 300 years) or sightseeing in Hawkshead and Sawrey, where Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop Farm is situated. (B, L, D) 4 Miles/Optional
Day 5 Leave Coniston for a ramble over lush green rises to Tarn Hows, a jewel-like lake built by a Victorian landowner to enhance the view. Walk up the Tilberthwaite Valley, with an optional diversion to Holme Fell to admire the incomparable views in all directions. The next three nights' accomodation will be in either a traditional Lakeland Inn in Little Langdale, or a delightful country guest house, superbly encircled by nearby Lakeland hills. (B, L, D) 8 Miles
Day 6 We motor along England’s steepest road across spectacular Wrynose and Hardknott Passes, stopping to tour a 2nd-century Roman fort. Continue to the tiny village of Boot, and visit Eskdale Corn Mill, where packed lunches may be eaten, or a visit to a nearby pub in case of bad weather. There is time to enjoy the atmosphere of the wonderful Lakeland village of Boot, before rejoining the minibus for the drive to the Irish Sea coast at Ravenglass, and a walk through rolling pastures, past the ruins of a Roman Bath House, for a visit to medieval Muncaster Castle and its world-famous Owl Centre.(B, L, D) 2 1/2 Miles
Day 7 Walk by Elterwater and follow in Wordsworth’s footsteps along Loughrigg Terrace for a superb view of Grasmere lake and vale, the inspiration for many of his great poems. We arrive at the village of Rydal, which Wordsworth made his home for the final 37 years of his life. After lunch in a traditional “tearoom” we visit Rydal Mount, the poet’s home and its gardens, which were lovingly landscaped by the poet during his time there. In the afternoon we walk along the valley side to Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Wordsworth’s home during his nine most productive years as a poet, and visit the cottage and nearby museum (a visit to Grasmere village can be arranged instead of this final walk). (B, L, D)
Day 8 Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. You have two choices on this day. You can travel to Fort William, Scotland via train (your own expense) or spend a final night in the Lake District. If you choose to go to Scotland, you will travel by rail to Fort William and spend the night at the Alexandra Hotel. The room in Scotland is complimentary and includes breakfast. If you choose to stay in the Lake District, you will travel with the minibus on the morning of day 9 to Scotland. This drive is approximately 8 hours. Breakfast is the only meal provided on this day. (B)
Day 9 Arrive at our hotel in Fort William, which nestles at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. An orientation meeting in the early evening is followed by our Welcome Dinner. (B and D)
Day 10 Depart in our minibus for the Kintail region of Scotland’s Western Highlands, where we stop by the shore of Loch Duich to enjoy a short walk amidst the verdant scenery of Glen Croe. We rejoin our minibus to drive via the Ratagan Pass to Glenelg, a delightful and secluded area immortalized in Gavin Maxwell’s book “Ring of Bright Water”. We continue the journey to the Isle of Skye by the romantic Glenelg-Kylerhea ferry. Overnight on Skye. (B, L, D) 5 Miles
Day 11 Our explorations on Skye begin with a visit to Dunvegan castle, the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Macleod, said to be the oldest inhabited castle in the Highlands and Islands. We then drive to the Waternish peninsula, and enjoy a memorable hike by a coastal trail, with sea views, many ruins, wildlife and a beautiful and historic church. Return to our hotel for a second night. (B, L, D) 8 Miles
Day 12 This day gives an opportunity to become acquainted with the dramatic Black Cuillin Mountains, which are regarded by many as the finest mountain range in Britain. We drive to Glenbrittle, a remote valley nestling below the western slopes of the Cuillins. Our walk then follows a coastal route towards the seaward side of the mountains and takes in fascinating remains from the time when the Vikings first colonized this area, and before. Return to our hotel for a third night.
(B, L, D) 7 miles
Day 13 It is time to leave the Isle of Skye to continue our explorations further north on the Scottish mainland. We drive across the Skye bridge, and enjoy visits to the most-photographed castle in Scotland, Eilean Donan, the magical Attadale Gardens and the Lochcarron Visitor Centre. After a restaurant lunch we drive on to Gairloch on Scotland’s west coast, and check in to our hotel there for the next three nights. (B, L, D) No walk.
Day 14 We drive to Poolewe to see the ancient churchyard and Pictish symbol stone before walking the lochshore trail to Kernsary, the 1870s home of Osgood Mackenzie, the far-sighted creator of the Inverewe tropical gardens. We return along the banks of the River Ewe, where iron was once smelted at the Red Smiddy. Then we continue to the world-renowned Inverewe tropical gardens, now owned and lovingly preserved by the National Trust for Scotland. Overnight in Gairloch. (B, L, D) Variable 7 miles
Day 15 The day begins with a visit to Gairloch’s small though fascinating Heritage Museum, where the way of life, past and present, of this part of the Western Highlands is so evocatively recreated.
Then we drive north up the coast to Gruinard Bay, and walk into the edge of the area of mountains and moors known as the “Great Wilderness”. We visit the desolate ruined village in the Glen of the Forked Shieling, and, time permitting, climb to the top of one of the surrounding hills to enjoy the views into this magnificent and remote part of the Scottish mainland. The farewell dinner on this evening will have been well earned! (B, L, D) 6 miles and ascent of 900 feet.
(ELR reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary when deemed necessary or appropriate).