Great Minds and Innovations

The first paddle-wheel steamer, the first commercial exploitation of oil, the steam hammer, the postage stamp, the vacuum flask, logarithms, radar, pneumatic tyres and even the concept of a bank overdraft – the inventions and innovations of Scottish minds appear in many fields of endeavour.

During an early flowering of this intellectual talent, called the Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, was considered ‘a hotbed of genius’. This tradition of innovation continued far beyond its 18th-century origins. This tour visits the surviving works of some of the creative individuals, both from the time of the Enlightenment and beyond it.

Perfect Time To Go

April - October

Number Of Nights


Prices From

£975 *
* Based on 4 people with rental car

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    Day 1

    Explore Edinburgh. It was here during the 18th-century Scottish Enlightenment that the King’s chemist, John Amyat, summed up this intellectual flowering by stating that he could stand on the Royal Mile, by the Mercat Cross, and “in a few minutes take fifty men of genius by the hand”. Near the foot of today’s Royal Mile is Our Dynamic Earth, which tells a story directly linking to just one genius: James Hutton, ‘the Father of Modern Geology’. The Edinburgh Pass combines free entry with transport tickets and is a great way to see over 30 of the city’s attractions. Overnight Edinburgh.

    Day 2

    Travel east, towards Musselburgh to visit Newhailes. This grand house was the former home of the Dalrymples, an influential family in law and politics at the time of the Scottish Enlightenment. Guided tours of the interiors, also walks and trails in the extensive grounds. Overnight Edinburgh.

    Day 3

    Leave Edinburgh and head north, crossing into the Highlands at Dunkeld. Here the Dukes of Atholl, known as ‘The Planting Dukes’, held enlightened views on developing their estates with new forestry techniques. See the last surviving original tree, ‘The Parent Larch’, by Dunkeld Cathedral. It was planted by the 2nd Duke in the 1730s – and was the parent of many of the estimated 14 million trees planted in Perthshire in the following century! Further north, turn west at Dalwhinnie for more magnificent scenery, reaching the Great Glen at Spean Bridge. Overnight Fort Augustus.

    Day 4

    Fort Augustus is a good place to see the 19th-century engineering of the locks on the Caledonian Canal. This coast-to-coast link was originally intended to assist the navy, but naval vessels soon became too big for passage! It nevertheless became important for fishing boats and, today, for recreational craft. Its sound construction has stood the test of time. Travel south down the Great Glen (even more spectacular locks at Neptune’s Staircase at Banavie near Fort William). Overnight Fort William.

    Day 5

    The West Highland Railway which runs from Fort William to Mallaig is one of Scotland’s great travel experiences, especially in summer when vintage steam locomotives (‘The Jacobite’) haul some of the trains. As well as the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous through its appearances in the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets movie, look out for Borrodale Bridge, east of Arisaig, in its day a sensation in the engineering world for the size of its single concrete arch. (Look out, too, for the superb views of the Small Isles beyond Arisaig.) Return to Fort William then depart for Glasgow. The road south from Fort William leads through the mountain spectacle of Glencoe and on to Rannoch Moor. Continue to Crianlarich, reaching Glasgow via the beauties of Loch Lomond. Overnight Glasgow.

    Day 6

    Explore Glasgow’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh connections – a special Mackintosh Trail Ticket is available to use on public transport. The Glasgow School of Art, The Lighthouse, Scotland Street School and House for an Art Lover are just some of the venues. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society has its headquarters in the Mackintosh Church at Queen’s Cross. Overnight Glasgow.

    Day 7

    Travel south-east from the city to the town of Lanark, from where it is easy to find New Lanark in the steep valley of the Clyde, below the town. As well as a visitor centre, preserved dwellings and mills from the time of this experiment in workers’ welfare, there are attractive walks along the wooded river banks to see the ‘linns’ or waterfalls. It was the force of this water that was originally harnessed to supply power to the mill community. From Lanark, continue east and north for Edinburgh. Overnight Edinburgh.

    Included in this package

    • 7 nights hotel accommodation on a bed & breakfast basis
    • Edinburgh Pass
    • Hire of a self-drive rental car
    • VAT at 20%

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