Day One: Fly to Inverness
Fly to Inverness, meet your Tour Manager and make the short transfer to Carrbridge. Depending on your arrival time, spend the rest of the day enjoying the delights of this pretty village. Opposite your hotel, you'll spy famous Packhorse Bridge, which dates back to 1717 and is reputed to be one of the oldest bridges in Scotland.
Day Two: Explore the Moray Coast and Brodie Castle
This morning it's off to the rose-coloured, turreted Brodie Castle (entrance payable locally but free to National Trust members), the ancestral home of the Brodie clan for over 400 years and a treasure trove of priceless antiques and artefacts. The castle building ranges in style from the impenetrable 16th guard chamber to a sprawling Victorian extension with some magnificent rooms. The guided tour will help you make the very most of your visit. The beautiful grounds are also well worth exploring.
Later in the day you'll have the chance to see some of the Moray Coast and to explore the fine, historic town of Elgin with its warren of alleys and closes and awe-inspiring cathedral ruins.
Day Three: Explore Inverness, enjoy a dolphin cruise and tour the Black Isle
Explore the capital of the Highlands today as we visit Inverness, home to a delightful Victorian Market, an excellent museum and art gallery, and attractive riverside walks. We'll also enjoy a short tour of the Black Isle, which, contrary to its name, is neither black nor an island, but rather an isolated peninsula surrounded by three bodies of water. We'll stop at Fortrose, which overlooks the Moray Firth, as well as the charming nautical town of Cromarty.
The day ends as you board the Dolphin Spirit for a cruise around the inner Moray Firth, where hopefully you'll spot the resident bottlenose dolphins gliding through the waters.
Day Four: Spend the day exploring Loch Ness
Today we visit beautiful, mysterious Loch Ness. We'll head to Fort Augustus, at the southern tip of the loch, where the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre gives a fascinating insight into the history and operation of the canal. From here, we'll continue past the dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle to Drumnadrochit, where you may like to visit the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre or perhaps enjoy a boat trip to go monster hunting. Nature lovers are in for a treat as the wooded shores of the Loch are home to an abundance of wildlife, including cormorants and ospreys.
Day Five: Ride the Strathspey Steam Railway and visit Dufftown
We're treated to a ride on the nostalgic Strathspey Steam Railway through the Cairngorm National Park, home to five of Scotland's six highest mountains. Enjoy the ride as the vintage train skirts the course of the River Spey, past heather fields, moors and forests.
Our day also includes a visit to Dufftown, which promotes itself as the malt whisky capital of the world. Explore the town or perhaps visit the Glenfiddich distillery, one of the few single-malt distilleries to remain entirely family-owned, to enjoy a guided tour and the sample three different single malts (entry and tour payable locally).
Day Six: Take in the scenery on the Road to the Isles, from Fort William to Mallaig
We head west today, following the evocatively named 'Road to the Isles' from Fort William to Mallaig. On this wonderfully scenic day we'll pass through diverse landscapes ranging from sandy beaches to flowering heather moors and dense woodlands. Our first stop will be at the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre, from where you can see the eponymous monument built overlooking Loch Shiel. Take the short uphill walk from the centre to get a wonderful view of the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct.
The road ends at the thriving fish port of Mallaig, home to an excellent Heritage Centre. Make sure to try some of the delicious kippers while you're here, thought to be some of the tastiest in the country.
Day Seven: Fly back to your local airport
Your holiday in the Highlands comes to an end. Travel back to Inverness airport to catch your flight home. Those not flying until the afternoon will also enjoy a short visit to the Victorian seaside town of Nairn, where pretty walking trails run alongside the river and a seafront promenade overlooks the Moray Firth.