A Sketchbook Tour: Scotland’s Heritage, Landscapes and Gardens

5 - 18 Jul 2023
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour

This specially curated tour, led by artist Erin Hill and botanical and gardening expert Kate Heffernan, allows you to sketch and visit some of Scotland’s most beautiful gardens and striking landscapes. There is time to walk, draw, learn or simply relax and take in the history of Scotland at its most dramatic and historic. You will also stay in some distinctive hotels with magnificent settings, which you will be able to enjoy well into the long, light-filled evenings.

Sample local whisky and learn about Edinburgh’s Enlightenment before travelling via the spectacular Cairngorms, Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye, Glencoe, Loch Lomond, the Trossachs and the haunting battleground at Culloden. Cross the highlands to the Isle of Skye and Plockton village, drive through Glencoe, past the Trossachs and Loch Lomond to Glasgow. Visit glorious gardens, meet the Lady Laird at Attadale House, see Eilean Donan Castle and visit Dunvegan and Inveraray Castles.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Kate Heffernan and Erin Hill

Kate Heffernan and Erin Hill

Kate Heffernan’s career in horticulture spans more than 40 years working with botanic gardens across Australia. Kate has also written and presented across broadcast media on gardens and gardening. Kate has a special interest in the plant explorers and garden history, both of which are covered in this tour. A keen traveller with an emphasis on garden-based travel, Kate has led tours to the gardens of France, United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.

Travel sketching has been a particular passion of Erin Hill for more than two decades. As an advertising art director and illustrator, Erin learnt the skills to simplify a visual story in a limited time. Erin then studied at the Julian Ashton School of Art before becoming a gallery owner and teacher. Erin has taught sketching in workshops and classes around the world and also on many sketching tours to destinations including USA, UK, France, Italy, Turkey, Morocco, Spain, Cuba and Fiji.

Need more information?

  • Tel: (Toll Free) 1-8777-398-764
  • Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
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Itinerary at a glance

  • Day 1: Edinburgh (Wed, 5 July) Arrive in Edinburgh and check in to the hotel. By special arrangement, we have a guided walking tour of Old Town Edinburgh and the historic buildings of the city with historian, Sheila Szatkowski, author of Enlightenment Edinburgh. Enjoy a local welcome dinner.
  • Day 2: Edinburgh (Thurs, 6 July) Visit the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Set in over 70 acres of beautiful landscape, the garden offers superb panoramic views of the city skyline and Edinburgh Castle. Drive along the Firth of Forth to the Shepherd House Garden, one of the top ten small gardens in Scotland. Explore this constantly evolving artist's garden with plants filling every border, spilling over arches and lining paths. Surprises include a shell house, lavender parterres, a rill and fountains. The garden is the inspiration of artist and owner Lady Ann Fraser. Many ideas have been borrowed from other gardens and all has been drawn together with an artist's appreciation of colour, texture and form. Take a tour of the Scotch Whisky Experience, followed by a dinner with whisky pairing.
  • Day 3: Edinburgh (Fri, 7 July) Drive out to Netherbyres to see the unique elliptical-walled garden with attractive grounds with woods and gardens before continuing to the lovely fishing village of St Abbs. The surrounding Nature Reserve offers spectacular cliffs, seabirds galore and the St Abbs Lighthouse. Drive to picturesque Preston Mill, dating back to the 18th century. The mill has a curious Dutch-style conical roof and is an architectural oddity that delights artists. Just across the River Tyne lies the unusual structure of Phantassie Doocot, built in the 16th century to house 500 pigeons.
  • Day 4: Edinburgh (Sat, 8 July) Visit Dawyck Botanic Garden, nestled in the picturesque Scottish Borders. Home to one of Scotland's finest tree collections and plant treasures from Nepal, Chile, Japan, North America and China, the gardens are known for their woodland and burnside walks and trails. Drive to Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlay's greatest work of art. This internationally acclaimed garden across seven acres of wild land was a partnership with stone carvers, artists and poets. The numerous sculptures and artworks created by Finlay integrate into the garden artwork.
  • Day 5: Edinburgh / Inverness (Sun, 9 July) Leave Edinburgh to see the 100-year-old Branklyn Garden, with a wonderful plant collection grown from seeds collected by plant hunters, George Forrest and Frank Ludlow. Continue to Dunkeld via Birnam Oak in Birnam Woods for a short walk through the ancient oak forest featured in MacBeth. Visit the Scottish Plant Hunters Garden at Pilochry. Journey through the landscapes of the Cairngorms - home to lush forests, charming Highland villages, wild open spaces and an Arctic Mountain plateau - to Inverness. Check in to the Mercure Inverness Hotel.
  • Day 6: Inverness (Mon, 10 July) Visit haunting Culloden Moor, site of the Battle of Culloden of 1746, with an expert battlefield guide. Following lunch on the shores of Loch Ness, take a cruise across beautiful Loch Ness and visit the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle.
  • Day 7: Inverness (Tues, 11 July) Full day at leisure to explore Inverness, including the art gallery, museum and cathedral.
  • Day 8: Inverness / Plockton (Wed, 12 July) Drive to the great house and wonderful botanic gardens at Inverewe. At the same latitude as Moscow, Inverewe benefits from the effects of the Gulf Stream, which enabled a lush paradise of unusual plants from across the globe to be established by a father and daughter amidst a barren wilderness on the Atlantic coast, more than 150 years ago. Light lunch at Inverewe. Drive to Attadale and meet with the Lady Laird of Attadale House, Joanna MacPherson, one of a new breed of lady landowners challenging tradition in Scotland. Take a specialist guided tour of the gardens followed by tea. Overnight at the Haven Guest House, located in the attractive coastal village of Plockton across the water from Skye. Dinner in a local restaurant.
  • Day 9: Plockton (Thurs, 13 July) Travel across the Kyle of Lochalsh to the breathtakingly beautiful Isle of Skye. The largest of the Inner Hebrides islands, it is known for its dramatic landscapes. Visit Dunvegan Castle and gardens, ancestral home of Clan MacLeod. Lunch at Dunvegan Castle.
  • Day 10: Plockton (Fri, 14 July) Full day at leisure in and around Plockton with the options to return to Skye. This is a wonderful day to sketch the village and views across to Skye or further explore.
  • Day 11: Plockton / Inveraray (Sat, 15 July) Travel down the west coast and see Eilean Donan Castle, situated on the small tidal island of Eilean Donan, where three sea lochs meet - Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. Continue to Glencoe with time to stop for a walk or sketch the dramatic landscapes. Continue to the Inverary Inn on the shores of Loch Fyne, Scotland's longest sea loch.
  • Day 12: Inveraray (Sun, 16 July) Visit Inveraray Castle, home of the Dukes of Argyll and the seat of the Clan Campbell since the 18th century. Take a tour of the castle, including the staterooms, armoury, kitchen and gallery. Explore the gardens, woods and parkland which extend to 180 hectares and form one of the most important designed landscapes in Scotland. At leisure.
  • Day 13 Inveraray / Glasgow (Mon, 17 July) Drive through the Trossachs National Park and along the shores of Loch Lomond. Stop at the pretty lochside village of Luss. Arrive in Glasgow and check in to the Glasgow Grosvenor. Visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Farewell dinner.
  • Day 14 Glasgow (Tues, 18 July) Depart Glasgow. The Glasgow Botanical Gardens are opposite the hotel and there is an optional visit in the morning.

Tour cost

The cost of the tour is USD $5,361 per person sharing, or USD $6,621 with a room to yourself.

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