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Northern Europe & British Isles 14-Night Silversea Expedition Cruise

Embark on a 14-night all-inclusive Silversea Expedition Cruise to Northern Europe and the British Isles. Explore the stunning coasts of England's islands, the Isle of Man, and the magnificent shores of Scotland. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, ancient architecture, spectacular wildlife, superb seafood, and affectionate welcomes from friendly locals. Discover myths, legends, and folklore before disembarking in Edinburgh.
SHIP: Silver Endeavour

Northern Europe & British Isles 14-Night Silversea Expedition Cruise

Ask about combing this cruise with - Edinburgh to Portsmouth Silversea Expedition Cruise Including Airfare which departs on April 20, 2024.
DEPARTURE DATE: April 6, 2024
Countries Visited: England, Scotland
Departure Port:London, England

OVERVIEW

Bathe in the glory that is the United Kingdom in the spring. Enjoy an overnight in London’s maritime capital, before espousing the coasts of England’s islands. First, hop over to the pretty fields, villages and ubiquitous pubs of the Channel Islands, then turn north to the Isle of Man. From here, you’ll sail further north to the stunning shores of Scotland where you’ll encounter big skies, ancient architecture, spectacular wildlife, superb seafood and warm welcomes from down-to-earth people. Enjoy two weeks of exploring the myth, legend and folklore of this spectacular country, before you disembark in Edinburgh.

Travel Dates & Pricing

TRAVEL DATEPRICETYPE
April 6, 2024from $15,600 CAD - ALL-INCLUSIVE FARE DOOR TO DOORPer Person

What's Included

  • Included Private Executive Transfers - Private chauffeur driven transport from home to airport and back again (applicable for distance up to 80 km)
  • Roundtrip Airfare from Calgary
  • 14 night cruise from London (Greenwich)
  • Included Shore Excursions
  • Included Food & Beverages - Choice of restaurants, diverse cuisine, open-seating dining. Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship, including champagne, selected wines and spirits
  • Included Personalised Service - Butler service in every suite and In-suite dining and room service
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • Onboard entertainment
  • Onboard gratuities
  • Taxes and port charges

Itinerary

DAYDATEPLACE
1Sat Apr 6London (Greenwich), UNITED KINGDOM
2Sun Apr 7London (Greenwich), UNITED KINGDOM
3Mon Apr 8St Peter Port, GUERNSEY
4Tue Apr 9Tresco, Isles of Scilly, UNITED KINGDOM
5Wed Apr 10Port St Mary, Isle of Man
6Thu Apr 11Girvan, Scotland
7Fri Apr 12Helensburgh
8Sat Apr 13Iona, UNITED KINGDOM
8Sat Apr 13Lunga, UNITED KINGDOM
9Sun Apr 14Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland
9Sun Apr 14Locheynort, Uist Island
10Mon Apr 15Ullapool
11Tue Apr 16Shiant Islands, Scotland
11Tue Apr 16Loch Ewe
12Wed Apr 17Stromness, Orkney Islands, Scotland
13Thu Apr 18Noss, Scotland
13Thu Apr 18Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland
14Fri Apr 19Aberdeen
15Sat Apr 20Edinburgh (Leith)

Cruise Starts on April 6, 2024 and Ends on April 20, 2024

Days 1 & 2 – London (Greenwich), UNITED KINGDOM

Set your watches for Greenwich, a Royal borough of London, that is literally located at the centre of the world – dissected as it is by the Meridian Line. The line neatly splits the globe in half and marks zero degrees on the map. Enjoy a stroll past the glittering lake and sniffing deer of leafy Greenwich Park, or settle for a quiet drink in a charming riverside pub as you enjoy London’s quieter side, and the spiritual home of science and seafaring history. Britain has extraordinary heritage on the waves, and you can learn more of the era when Britannia ruled the waves at the National Maritime Museum. Another piece of maritime history has been raised out of the water, and proudly displayed here for all to enjoy in Greenwich. The Cutty Sark was one of the fastest clipper ships ever built, and you can climb aboard to steer the wheel of this spectacular, living piece of maritime history, which is now housed on the banks of the Thames. The celebrated Royal Observatory is a revered font of knowledge, which has been observing, studying and measuring the sea and stars since 1675. Divided by the Meridian Line, you can step between continents, as you explore this global centre of learning and science, which is the home of Greenwich Mean Time. The unmistakable white half-moon of the O2 Arena sits snuggly in a meander of the Thames River. Built to mark the arrival of the Millennium, the dome is now used as London and the UK’s biggest and busiest concert venue – hosting major entertainment acts on a nightly basis.

Day 3 – St Peter Port, GUERNSEY

The picturesque capital of Guernsey proves that you don’t have to go to the Caribbean for white sand and crystal clear water. St Peter Port is both wonderfully pretty and atmospheric, full of blooming floral displays, tiny stone churches and brightly painted boats. What’s more, summers are mostly sunny and comfortable, making the weather something you don’t have to worry about. As the capital of Guernsey, St. Peter Port is where the “action” is found. This mainly takes the form of strolling the cobbled streets, stopping every now and then to admire, and perhaps photograph, the stunning views. Once French (original name: St. Pierre Port), the town is at least 800 years old, with the stone castle and maze like streets to prove it. Once you have made you way up to the ancient castle, make like a local and find refreshment with a cream tea, washed down perhaps with a glass of cider! If the weather is on your side, then surely there is no more invigorating pastime than hiking up to the spectacular Guernsey cliffs, taking in stunning views of wildflowers, sandy beaches and English Channel views. For those who want to spread their wings a little further, the tiny island of Herm is just a 20-minute boat ride away, and homes no cars, one pub, a few cows, some puffins and about 50 people. Don’t be fooled by St Peter Port’s nostalgic exterior. The seaside town has made a name for itself as a foodie heaven, with everything from beach huts to Michelin starred restaurants offering sumptuous, locally sourced fare.

4 Included Shore Excursions
Guernsey Cliff Walk & Cream Tea
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

La Valette Underground Museum
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Castle Cornet and Town Walk
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Guernsey Coast by Bike
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Day 4 – Tresco, Isles of Scilly, UNITED KINGDOM

For many visitors Tresco is the most attractive of the Isles of Scilly. This is especially due to its Abbey Garden, which is home to thousands of exotic plant species from around 80 different countries. Plant collector Augustus Smith began the gardens in the 1830s on the site of an old Benedictine Abbey by channelling the weather up and over a network of walled enclosures built around the Priory ruins. He had three terraces carved from the rocky south slope and maximised Tresco’s mild Gulf Stream climate. Even in mid-winter there still are hundreds of plants flowering here. Another surprising attraction at the Abbey Garden is the collection of figureheads from ships that wrecked among the Isles of Scilly.

1 Included Shore Excursion

Exotic Tresco Gardens
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Day 5 – Port St Mary, Isle of Man

The Isle of Man sits in the middle, but a world apart, from the UK. It is in the Irish sea almost equidistant from Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. But it is not part of any of them. It is a self-governing British crown dependency. The island’s cultural heritage is Gaelic with influences from the Norse and surrounding lands. This background has produced an island with its own traditions. Everything associated with the Isle of Man is Manx. The people are Manx and the language is Manx.

Port St Mary is a quiet former trading and fishing port at the southern end of the Isle which provides access to the rural countryside and nearby towns. One route leads past historic thatched cottages in the crofters hamlet of Gregneash, and on to The Sound. Walking routes cross the narrow Mull Peninsula through scenery and history to Port Erin, a quaint old coastal settlement and shoreline set amongst a rugged coastline. In tune with the yesteryear feel of the island, a steam train still operates on the island, taking visitors to destinations like the Castle Rushen, built in 1200 and once the home of a Norse king.

Manx people are proud of their Manx cats, famous for having no or little tail, the result of a genetic mutation passed down the generations. Manx Loaghtan sheep are another animal that evolved on the Isle. These sheep have two (sometimes three) pairs of remarkable horns.And the island is not just an isle of men – the name ‘Isle of Man’ evolved from ‘Manannán’, the Celtic god of the sea.

4 Included Shore Excursions

Port St Mary Hike
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Physically fit

Magnificent Castle Rushen & Vintage Steam Train
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Cregneash & The Sound
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Peel, The Age of Man
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Day 6 – Girvan, Scotland

Sitting pretty among Scotland’s outdoor splendour, Helensburgh is a historic waterfront resort, which has lost none of its sheen over the years. The elegant town has a lot to offer and opens up adventures around Loch Lomond, Argyll, or a little further along the River Clyde to Glasgow. The fancy flair of Helensburgh has made this a sought-after postcode. It’s easy to see why – Scotland’s staggering scenery is laid out to enjoy here in all of its glory, with bike rides aplenty and captivating walks along the Three Lochs Way, weaving between the finger-like reach of Loch Lomond, Loch Long and Loch Gare. A Victorian getaway of choice, the town is kept spick and span throughout the year and is a charmingly elegant place packed full of historical curiosities, crafty shops and cafes dolling out scoops of ice cream. Enjoy the pretty cluster of waterfront buildings, manicured flower displays, and attractive tree-lined boulevards. Summer markets hum with good-natured bartering, while sailboats duel on the glistening water. Helensburgh has made its mark over the years, giving the world television through resident John Logie Baird. It was also home to Europe’s original steamboat, and a former prime minister in Bonar Law. The town’s unique outdoor museum breaks down walls and places Helensburgh’s heritage front and centre. Eccentric architecture from Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and gorgeous views stretching out towards the submerged wreck of the Sugar Boat, all add to Helensburgh’s enduring appeal.

4 Included Shore Excursions

Luss Heritage Walk
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Minimal

Cashel Native Forest Hike
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Physically fit

Three Lochs Way & Glenarn Gardens
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Glasgow on Your Own
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Day 7 – Helensburgh

Sitting pretty among Scotland’s outdoor splendour, Helensburgh is a historic waterfront resort, which has lost none of its sheen over the years. The elegant town has a lot to offer and opens up adventures around Loch Lomond, Argyll, or a little further along the River Clyde to Glasgow. The fancy flair of Helensburgh has made this a sought-after postcode. It’s easy to see why – Scotland’s staggering scenery is laid out to enjoy here in all of its glory, with bike rides aplenty and captivating walks along the Three Lochs Way, weaving between the finger-like reach of Loch Lomond, Loch Long and Loch Gare. A Victorian getaway of choice, the town is kept spick and span throughout the year and is a charmingly elegant place packed full of historical curiosities, crafty shops and cafes dolling out scoops of ice cream. Enjoy the pretty cluster of waterfront buildings, manicured flower displays, and attractive tree-lined boulevards. Summer markets hum with good-natured bartering, while sailboats duel on the glistening water. Helensburgh has made its mark over the years, giving the world television through resident John Logie Baird. It was also home to Europe’s original steamboat, and a former prime minister in Bonar Law. The town’s unique outdoor museum breaks down walls and places Helensburgh’s heritage front and centre. Eccentric architecture from Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and gorgeous views stretching out towards the submerged wreck of the Sugar Boat, all add to Helensburgh’s enduring appeal.

4 Included Shore Excursions

Luss Heritage Walk
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Minimal

Cashel Native Forest Hike
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Physically fit

Three Lochs Way & Glenarn Gardens
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Glasgow on Your Own
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Day 8 – Iona, UNITED KINGDOM

If tiny islands that resonate with peace and tranquillity are your idea of travel heaven, then welcome to Iona. Almost 200 miles east of Edinburgh, set in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, this magical island has a spiritual reputation that precedes it. And luckily, more than lives up to. The island is miniscule. Just three miles long and only one and a half miles wide, this is not a place that hums with urban attractions. 120 people call Iona home (this number rises significantly if the gull, tern and Kittiwake population is added), although residential numbers do go up (to a whopping 175) in summer. The beautiful coastline is lapped by the gulf stream and gives the island a warm climate with sandy beaches that look more Mediterranean than Scottish! Add to that a green field landscape that is just beautiful, and you’ll find that Iona is a place that stays with you long after you leave. Iona’s main attraction is of course its abbey. Built in 563 by Saint Columbia and his monks, the abbey is the reason why Iona is called the cradle of Christianity. Not only is the abbey (today an ecumenical church) one of the best – if not the best – example of ecclesiastical architecture dating from the Middle Ages, but it also serves as an important site of spiritual pilgrimage. St. Martin’s Cross, a 9th century Celtic cross that stands outside the abbey, is considered as the finest example of Celtic crosses in the British Isles. Rèilig Odhrain, or the cemetery, allegedly contains the remains of many Scottish kings.

2 Included Shore Excursions

Iona Abbey
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Hiking with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Day 8 – Lunga, UNITED KINGDOM

The stunning Isle of Lunga is the largest island in the Treshnish archipelago. With volcanic origin the isle was populated until the 19th Century, and remains of black houses can be seen around this magnificent coastal jewel. Abundant plant life and exotic birdlife are now the main inhabitants of the area. Fortunate visitors view the magnificent array of birds, especially the great puffins that breed on the islands plateau. One can sit within just a few feet away without disturbing the avian ambassador’s peace. The 81 hectare island is home to many rare and endangered plants such as, primroses and orchids. Views over the landscape and across the ocean can be seen from the 300 foot high cliffs.

3 Included Shore Excursions

Zodiac Cruise with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Hiking with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Kayaking with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Day 9 – Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Skye epitomizes Scotland’s wild celtic appeal. A turbulent geological history has given this beautiful, rugged island some of Britain’s most varied and dramatic scenery. Steeped in mystery, romance and adventure, the Isle of Skye is perhaps the most well-known of Scotland’s many islands. Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, escaped here from the mainland disguised as a maidservant of a woman by the name of Flora MacDonald. The north of the island is dominated by a rugged volcanic plateau, the south by the Cuillins mountain range, whose peaks were sculpted by the glaciers of the Ice Age. Skye is divided by numerous sea lochs allowing continuous proximity to the sea. The limestone grasslands of the south are the home of sheep and cattle. Scattered about are ruins of crofts, small holdings used for grazing; they were abandoned as their owners fell into poverty due to lack of income. Dunvegan is situated in a sheltered sea loch, or fjord, on the northwestern coast of the island on the Waternish peninsula. The small settlement is dominated by Dunvegan Castle. The oldest inhabited castle in Scotland, it has been the seat of the chiefs of the Clan MacLeod for the past 700 years. It offers insights into Scotland’s clan spirit with paintings and relics from the MacLeod Clan. The gardens were originally laid out in the 18th century and are of considerable interest with the woodland glades, shimmering pools and a multitude of rhododendrons. Loch Dunvegan is home to a seal colony; the two main varieties are the brown seal and the great gray Atlantic seal. Small local boats depart from the jetty at frequent intervals throughout the day enabling close observation of these playful sea mammals.

1 Included Shore Excursion

Dunvegan Castle
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Day 9 – Locheynort, Uist Island

Follow in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie on a great escape to a remote and rugged island of wildlife and scenic wonder. Leave the bustle behind for the wild beauty of the Outer Hebrides, where your breath will catch in your throat at the sight of craggy coastlines, white beaches and ancient sites. The beautiful island chain waits off Scotland’s fractured northwest and is home to an assortment of spectacular scenery and rare animals. Pinch yourself before curves of sugar-white sand beaches, fringing inky blue water – unruffled except for the occasional galloping white horse rider. Uist island has a full 20 miles of beautiful Atlantic beaches, so there’s no shortage of space to spread out and roam this isolated island dreamscape. Wander shoulder-width roads dissecting raw, unspoiled scenery, or ramble across fields parted by cobbled-together dry stone walls. Emerald peaks surge in the background, and the sea views afforded by Uist island never fail to inspire and amaze. Locheynort’s picturesque waters harbour some of the Western Isles’ famous wildlife, and the sea loch is known for its sleek and streamlined sea otters. Watch for them gliding effortlessly through glassy water and lazy seals reclining on rocks behind. Soak it all in with wonderful walks through the Arinaban Woodland, among the loquacious bird life, before sitting to admire the scenic surroundings and share a bite to eat. Wherever you visit, a welcoming smile and the melodic lilt of the Gaelic language will greet you.

2 Included Shore Excursions

Zodiac Cruise with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Hiking with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Day 10 – Ullapool

Sail into the heart of Scotland’s majestic Highlands. A welcoming wall of white cottages line the waters of Loch Broom – and while the quaint herring fishing village of Ullapool may be dwarfed by the scenery all around, it compensates for its small size with a huge cultural footprint – offering a full catalogue of festivals celebrating music, food and everything in between. Learn of the herring fishing heritage – you’ll still see the working boats coming and going from the harbour – at the museum. Or, sample the soft, tender seafood that they bring back to Ullapool’s restaurants. Meet the welcoming crews and villagers in the cosy confines of little pubs, to share hearty pints and tall-tales of ocean-faring exploits. Don’t forget your hiking boots. The quaint fishing village disappears almost instantly, as you crunch along hiking paths into the heart of the majestic landscapes, breathing in some of the freshest, pine-infused air in the United Kingdom. Lush greenery and forestry abound, as you roll up mountains and across swathes of prime Highlands scenery. Get to grips with the ups and downs of the green and gold terrain by challenging yourself on irresistibly picturesque rolling golf courses, or by hiking to spot bashful wildlife – including deer, white-tailed sea eagles and cormorants. Look out for more of the area’s animal life within the glassy sea loch’s waters. The waterway is often visited by curious dolphins and seals venturing inland from the Summer Isles nearby.

4 Included Shore Excursions
Knochan Crag – Heart of the Geopark
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Hidden Scotland – Bone Caves Hike
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Hiking with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Kayaking with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Day 11 – Shiant Islands, Scotland

Cliffs of tall hexagonal columns create a sensational landscape at the Shiant Islands, especially when viewed from the sea. The cliffs of six-sided rock columns look like the cross-section of an enormous honeycomb. The rock formations were formed when molten volcanic magma cooled very slowly underground. Millions of years of erosion has exposed the six-sided columns to the sea, and to us. The tallest of these formations is 120 metres (390 feet) high. During spring and summer, flights of seabirds near the Shiant Islands catch the eye. Many long-winged seabirds wheel and soar gracefully. Others are more shaped for underwater swimming and fly in direct lines, beating stubby wings to resemble flying potatoes. Some birds nest in burrows while others, like Black-legged Kittiwakes, nest on cliffs. Rather than build nests, guillemots lay eggs on bare rock ledges. The pointed shape of the eggs ensures they roll in a tight circle, not off the ledge to the sea below. The Shiant Islands are part of the Outer Hebrides and located between the Isles of Lewis and Skye. Historically, they have supported families of sheep grazers who could tolerate a lonely island outpost. The Shiants were known as the last place in Britain where the Black Rat occurred in substantial numbers. Originally introduced to Britain from Asia in Roman times these rodents caused problems, eating eggs and chicks of seabirds. A successful eradication program eliminated the rats in 2016, giving the seabird colonies well-earned peace.

2 Included Shore Excursions
Zodiac Cruise with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Kayaking with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Day 11 – Loch Ewe

Loch Ewe is the only north facing Loch in Scotland, with an interesting history and a fine scenic landscape this area has a true natural beauty. During WW2 the loch was a convoy collecting point with a strong naval presence; it was therefore protected by light and heavy aircraft guns, a boom net and mine defence system helped to shield this precious settlement. Loch Ewe is a natural deep water sea loch that links to the Atlantic Ocean with a relatively small mouth giving the loch a vast amount of protection from the weather. Nearby Inver ewe gardens thrive on the warm currents of the North Atlantic Drift to create an oasis of colour and fertility where exotic plants from many countries flourish on latitude more northerly than Moscow, giving an almost continual display of colour throughout the year.

1 Included Shore Excursion

Inverewe Garden
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Minimal

Day 12 – Stromness, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Modern Stromness hasn’t changed dramatically since the turn of the last century and stone houses still stand over cobbled streets, but Orkney’s main historic claim is the rich legacy of Neolithic sites and artefacts found here. It was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 under the title “Heart of Neolithic Orkney.” The most famous of these monuments is probably the settlement of Skara Brae, once a small village of 50-100 people living together near the shores of Skaill Bay. Occupied from roughly 3180 BCE-2500 BCE, the site has given us invaluable insight into the daily lives of our forebears, and Skara Brae forms the hub of a network of Neolithic sites across the Orkneys, many of which are still being excavated. Other sites include the standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar, situated on an isthmus between the sea loch of Stenness and the freshwater loch of Harray.

Day 13 – Noss, Scotland

Exploring the sandstone cliff faces of the Isle of Noss will reveal ledges loaded with gannets, puffins, guillemots, shags, kittiwakes, Razorbills, fulmars and Great Skuas. The island was recognized as a National Nature Reserve in 1955, and has one of Europe’s largest and most diverse seabird colonies. Sheep have grazed the inland hillsides of Noss since the late 1800s and early 1900s when around twenty people lived on the island to manage the sheep farm. Along with the sheep, shaggy Shetland ponies graze the windblown slopes of Noss.

3 Included Shore Excursions

Bressay Island Hike
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Zodiac Cruise with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Moderate

Kayaking with Silversea Expedition team
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

Day 13 – Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

Adrift between the Scottish and Norwegian coasts, the craggy Shetland Islands form the most northerly point of the British Isles. Sprawling across 100 islands, connected by sandy bridges and crisscrossing ferries, explore the highlights of this scenic archipelago outpost. With incredible Neolithic history, spanning 5,000 years of human heritage, these islands, which sit just shy of the Arctic Circle, are an isolated and immense treasure trove of history and thrilling scenery. Look out over dramatic coastline from atmospheric Iron Age towers. Sweeping, windswept beaches and wisps of sand connect islands and rugged cliffs – stand back as the sounds of the waves smashing against the shore and calling gulls fills the air. The islands are also home to some of the most adorable four-legged creatures you’ll ever meet, the diminutive and wavy-fringed, Shetland Ponies who roam the hills and reach a maximum size of 42 inches. Don’t be fooled, though, they are amongst the strongest and toughest of all breeds. Their existence here points to Viking history, as local horses bred with ponies brought ashore by Norse settlers, creating the lovable crossbreed that is an icon of these islands today. The towering Broch of Mousa is perhaps Europe’s best-preserved Iron Age building – and one of the Shetland’s finest brochs – a series of round, stone towers, believed to have been constructed around 100 BC. Seals and birdlife ensure that the isolated islands are always well-populated with life – and you can embark on hikes to discover their coastal homes. Lerwick is the islands’ capital, and there’s a charming welcome on offer, as you arrive before the waterfront of stone buildings, which cascade down to the shore.

2 Included Shore Excursions

Jarlshof and Sumburgh Head Cliffs
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Extensive

The Island of Mousa Hike
ACTIVITY LEVEL
Physically fit

Day 14 – Aberdeen

The Granite City sparkles like silver in the Scottish sunshine, and there is over 8,000 years’ worth of history to dig into in this pretty city of cobbled streets and hunched cottages. Located far to the north of the British Isles, Aberdeen is third only to Edinburgh and Glasgow in terms of size. Shaped by its maritime location, granite foundations and offshore oil industry, today’s Aberdeen is a prosperous powerhouse, alive with arts and culture. Surrounded by the Cairngorms Mountains’ sepia-hues – and the North Sea’s windswept coastline – Aberdeen was forged by the granite quarried from its earth. Local stone is everywhere from the Houses of Parliament to Waterloo Bridge – but arguably the finest examples of the material’s beauty are in the city itself. The barnacled spikes of Marischal College – the world’s second largest granite building – and the grand turreted masonry of the Town House leave a lasting impression. Johnston Gardens add some colour to the city’s canvas, and you’ll often spot wedding dresses floating among the blooming rhododendrons and ornate bridges. Aberdeen Maritime Museum takes visitors on a voyage through the region’s seafaring heritage, and North Sea oil exploration. Stop for a coffee and watch fishing vessels and trawlers toing and froing from the harbour, surreally mingling with city centre buildings in the unusually central harbour. Old Aberdeen is a fairy-tale walk of cobbled streets and eccentric stone houses where no stone is the same, while the Footdee fishing village, or ‘fittie’ as the locals pronounce it, consists of historic leaning cottages and ramshackle huts for the city’s fishing community.

Day 15 – Edinburgh (Leith)

Edinburgh is to London as poetry is to prose, as Charlotte Brontë once wrote. One of the world’s stateliest cities and proudest capitals, it’s built—like Rome—on seven hills, making it a striking backdrop for the ancient pageant of history. In a skyline of sheer drama, Edinburgh Castle watches over the capital city, frowning down on Princes Street’s glamour and glitz. But despite its rich past, the city’s famous festivals, excellent museums and galleries, as well as the modern Scottish Parliament, are reminders that Edinburgh has its feet firmly in the 21st century.Nearly everywhere in Edinburgh (the burgh is always pronounced burra in Scotland) there are spectacular buildings, whose Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian pillars add touches of neoclassical grandeur to the largely Presbyterian backdrop. Large gardens are a strong feature of central Edinburgh, where the city council is one of the most stridently conservationist in Europe. Arthur’s Seat, a mountain of bright green and yellow furze, rears up behind the spires of the Old Town. This child-size mountain jutting 822 feet above its surroundings has steep slopes and little crags, like a miniature Highlands set down in the middle of the busy city. Appropriately, these theatrical elements match Edinburgh’s character—after all, the city has been a stage that has seen its fair share of romance, violence, tragedy, and triumph.Modern Edinburgh has become a cultural capital, staging the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival in every possible venue each August. The stunning Museum of Scotland complements the city’s wealth of galleries and artsy hangouts. Add Edinburgh’s growing reputation for food and nightlife and you have one of the world’s most beguiling cities.Today the city is the second most important financial center in the United Kingdom, and the fifth most important in Europe. The city regularly is ranked near the top in quality-of-life surveys. Accordingly, New Town apartments on fashionable streets sell for considerable sums. In some senses the city is showy and materialistic, but Edinburgh still supports learned societies, some of which have their roots in the Scottish Enlightenment. The Royal Society of Edinburgh, for example, established in 1783 “for the advancement of learning and useful knowledge,” remains an important forum for interdisciplinary activities.Even as Edinburgh moves through the 21st century, its tall guardian castle remains the focal point of the city and its venerable history. Take time to explore the streets—peopled by the spirits of Mary, Queen of Scots; Sir Walter Scott; and Robert Louis Stevenson—and pay your respects to the world’s best-loved terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. In the evenings you can enjoy candlelit restaurants or a folk ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee, a traditional Scottish dance with music), though you should remember that you haven’t earned your porridge until you’ve climbed Arthur’s Seat. Should you wander around a corner, say, on George Street, you might see not an endless cityscape, but blue sea and a patchwork of fields. This is the county of Fife, beyond the inlet of the North Sea called the Firth of Forth—a reminder, like the mountains to the northwest that can be glimpsed from Edinburgh’s highest points, that the rest of Scotland lies within easy reach.

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