Art and Architecture of the West Highlands

Explore the sensational castles and country houses of Britian's wildest and most romantic region on this exclusive tour is led by leading writer and architectural historian Mary Miers.  The trip includes access to some of the artistic jewels of the West Highlands, many of which are still private homes. 

Tour details

Arrival day

Experience teaches us that people prefer to give themselves a full day to recover from the journey and explore a little on their own. We are therefore including two nights at a chic Bed and Breakfast close to Glasgow city centre before the full tour begins.

A taxi from Glasgow airport will cost about £25 (or £75 from Edinburgh airport).

Day 2 

A relaxed morning exploring Glasgow. Perhaps the famous Burrell Museum, newly opened after a 4-year closure for restoration, Kelvingrove with its magnificent art gallery/museum, or a tour of the Merchant City. Then after lunch we meet our guide for an afternoon excursion down the Clyde, passing several country houses of note, including Lorimer’s Formakin, with its monkey-topped gate lodges; Finlaystone, home of the chief of Clan Macmillan set in famous gardens with sweeping views across the Clyde; and Renfrewshire’s finest Classical house, Ardgowan, built c.1800 by Robert Adam’s assistant Hugh Cairncross and still occupied by the Shaw Stewarts today. Back to the city for a relaxed evening, taking in some of the fascinating maritime heritage of Gourock and Greenock along the way.

Day 3 

A 9.15 start for our drive north to the West Highlands. We visit Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s internationally acclaimed Art Nouveau Hill House at Helensburgh before driving along Loch Lomond and crossing the ‘Rest and be Thankful’ Pass into Argyll.

Stop for lunch at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar before a private tour of Ardkinglas, Arts-&-Crafts masterpiece of Sir Robert Lorimer (see photo below). We stay the night at a cozy loch-side inn nearby.

Day 4 

Morning coffee at 18th–century Strachur House, home of the famous war hero, author and inspiration for James Bond, Sir Fitzroy Maclean, before a visit to Inveraray Castle, seat of Clan Campbell and residence of the Duke or Argyll.

Then a short drive through the Argyll hills to extraordinary St Conan’s Kirk overlooking Loch Awe and the picturesque ruins of Kilchurn Castle, before driving on to Oban and the ferry to the Isle of Mull, where we stay for two nights. 

Day 5

A day exploring the isle of Mull: David Bryce’s Scotch Baronial Torosay Castle with garden terraces by Lorimer superbly sited above the Firth of Lorne;  Castle Duart, ancient stronghold of Clan Maclean and a fascinating example of early-20th-century castle restoration; and a visit to Iona, ancient centre of Celtic Christianity, which in 2021 celebrated the 1,500th anniversary of the birth of St. Columba, founder of the monastery with its famous Abbey. The island was also a favourite haunt of the Scottish Colourists and we will see some of the beautiful beaches and landscapes they painted.

Day 6 

We take the morning ferry from Mull to Lochaline on the remote Morvern peninsula. There, we visit Ardtornish, one of the best documented examples of a grand Victorian Highland house, which is also noted for its outstanding West Coast gardens, plus Kinlochaline Castle, a late medieval tower house restored as a private home. Lunch nearby (local freshly caught seafood is a tempting option). Then we travel through the wild landscape of the 'Rough Bounds' into Moidart to visit the impossibly romantic ruin of Castle Tioram, ancient stronghold of the Macdonalds of Clanranald, which stands on a little island accessible at low tide.

We stay at nearby Kinlochmoidart House, a perfectly preserved showcase of sophisticated Aesthetic Movement taste, which has remained in the same family since it was built in 1884.

Day 7 

A day exploring Moidart, including a private tour of Kinlochmoidart House, with its complete ensemble of richly crafted decoration, furniture and fittings, and its environs, where the fugitive Bonnie Prince Charlie hid in 1746 after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden. Pub lunch at Glenuig, or, if the weather is fine, a picnic and a stroll down to the deserted crofting village at Smirisary by the sea, immortalised in Margaret Leigh’s book A Spade Among the Rushes. Late afternoon visit/refreshments at Roshven House, with its important artistic connections, notably the Victorian artist Jemima Blackburn, and collection of her paintings and of contemporary Scottish art.

Day 8 

A drive along the famous Road to the Isles, with its spectacular views out to the islands of Eigg, Rum and Muck, to Arisaig House, the first country house designed by Philip Webb, father of Arts-&-Crafts architecture. Perched above terraced gardens, the house looks out over Loch nan Uamh to the site where Bonnie Prince Charlie first set foot on the British mainland in 1745, and from where he finally departed after months on the run the following year. We continue on to the Himalayan glory of secret Larach Mor gardens, ablaze with colour in May. Lunch in the village of Arisaig, a little known chapter in the story of the Arts-and-Crafts Movement in Scotland and also home to some fine medieval carved stones and a church window by Pugin. We return via Glenfinnan, with its famous monument and beautifully sited church at the head of Loch Shiel, and the dramatic Pass of Glencoe, site of the famous massacre, before spending a last relaxed night in the city of Glasgow.

Please note that if visitors wish to continue their journey around the West Highlands, Skye and the Hebrides instead of returning to Glasgow, we can help arrange onward travel from the West Coast. Please contact us if you would like to discuss extending your tour in this way.

Day 9 fly home or onward travel.

Price, Transport, Guide, Accommodation and Shopping

As an indication the cost of the tour in 2021 was GBP £2,900 (USD $3,800). Please get in touch for updated prices.

The tour is priced for people travelling on their own. If you are happy to share a room, there is a reduction of GBP £150 per person.

The tour will be for a maximum of twelve people travelling in two nine seater minibuses.

Breakfast is included throughout; lunch is not included. Dinner is included on selected nights. At the other overnight stops there is a range of bar meals and more formal options.

Luggage: we suggest a medium sized case plus hand luggage for easy access at your seat. If you are continuing your trip please ask us about left luggage facilities in Glasgow. 

There will be plenty of opportunity to buy souvenirs but this is not really a tour for serious shopping!

What's Included?

  • Bed and Breakfast for ten nights
  • Dinner on selected nights
  • Services of lead tour guide and driver/guide for nine days
  • Entry to key sites
  • Entry to selected castles and houses
  • Private castle tours.

Not included:

  • Air Fares
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Dinners except for those specified
  • Trip insurance

We ask for a non refundable deposit of GBP £600 per person which represents the costs of arranging the tour.

The balance is payable thirteen weeks prior to the start of the tour.


We strongly recommend that you take out trip insurance in case of unforeseen circumstances. Special arrangements for Covid related cancellations on request. Clans and Castles is registered under the official 'Good to Go' scheme. For more details on our terms and conditions please click here.   

Now What?

If you would like to know, more about the trip then send an email to me, Diana Gray.


If you would like to go ahead and book a place, you can make your non refundable deposit of GBP £600 below.

Note - please use Ref: 'ARCH'