Join Sunita for a trip of a lifetime and meet some of her friends - wonderful harpists, harp builders, musicians and family on a deeply personal tour.
Sunita's husband Fred was born in Scotland and participates in the tour. The couple are now renovating the Hamars, their historic home in Shetland which you will see on the tour.
You’ll also meet local harp players and other musicians, participate in harp sessions, and attend performances throughout the tour, in addition to visiting historical sites.
Small Group Meet Local Harpists* Exquisite Accommodations Visit Harp Builder Workshops Concerts Culture Guided Tours Ceilidhs Traditional Music Events Historical Sites Nature Walks
* This tour is open for harpists and non-harpists. Tell your friends. Discount for couples, friends, spouses and partners sharing the same room.
Day 1 - Tuesday - Edinburgh
You'll arrive at Edinburgh airport or Waverly train station and take bus or taxi to the Wilde Hotel near the castle in Central Edinburgh.
There is no organised activities on this day, but you can use the time to get over jet lag and explore Edinburgh a bit on your own. Overnight at Wilde Aparthotel, Grassmarket
Day 2 - Wednesday - Edinburgh
In the morning Sunita will meet everyone at breakfast, and go over the itinerary in detail and answer any lingering questions. Then there will be a couple of hours of free time and lunch on your own.
In the afternoon there will be an excursion to Alison Kinnaird's studio in the historic village of Temple near Edinburgh. Alison has been an inspiration to harp players all over the world, and her glass sculpture can be found in the collections of museums and collectors. We are honored that she welcomes our groups into her home and studio.
The day will be divided between taking harp classes with Corrina Hewat, exploring the Old Town with our local tour guide Helen Ord, and meeting many local harpists.
Corrina Hewat is a singer, harpist and composer, and widely recognised as one of Scotland’s most unique and innovative musicians.
Born in Edinburgh and raised in the Scottish Highlands, her huge range of musical influences has contributed greatly to her very individual take on traditional music. Having developed a creative and powerful technique as a harpist, she has taken the clársach (Scottish small harp) to a new level of excellence.
Corrina's classes will be tailored to the performance levels of the participants in the tour.
We will also take time to walk the streets of the Old Town, viewing Edinburgh Castle, the High Street and surrounding areas. You’ll love the narrow winding streets and ancient stone buildings, many dating back to the early middle ages and beyond.
After dinner there will be a meeting and session with members of the Edinburgh Clarsach Society, led by Scottish harp legend, Isobel Meiras. You'll meet a wide variety of harp players, students and teachers, who form the core of the harp community in the region. - Dinner at The Wee Greek Kitchen Overnight at Wilde Aparthotel, Grassmarket
Day 4 - Friday - The Highlands Loch Ness
We'll drive north to the Highlands across the Firth of Forth bridge through beautiful mountains, along lochs, waterfalls and woodland. This is the picturesque Scotland from the movies and our dreams.
We'll visit the historic town of Dunkeld, stroll through its charming streets and work up an appetite for lunch in Novabotanics a cafe that doubles as an art center and florist. In the early afternoon we will tour the Dalwhinnie Distillery, sampling and exploring the mystique of fine spirits.
After arrival in Fort Augustus you'll settle into the hotel then stroll down to the shores of Loch Ness for dinner, and maybe if we're lucky we'll catch sight of the famous Loch Ness Monster.
The day will be spent travelling around Loch Ness by coach, stopping at points of interest.
We will visit Culloden Moor. The Battle of Culloden became widely known around the world through the TV series 'Outlander' which highlighted the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745-1746.
The Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. Lunch on your own in Inverness.
Later in the afternoon there will be a special performance by Heather Yule, storyteller and harper. Sunita's first clarsach (traditional Scottish harp) was made in 1988 by Heather's father, Jack Yule.
Today we'll drive north along Loch Ness and visit the workshop of Ardival Harp's master harp-maker Graham Muir. You'll see the process of making medieval harps and modern clarsachs. Graham's wife, Cheyenne Brown will demonstrate the harps and treat us to a private concert. She is a treasure and inspiration in the Scottish harp scene.
After lunch there will be a stop in Timespan Museum in Helmsdale, which documents the notorious Highland clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries.
We’ll end the day in the far northern county of Caithness where the Nordic influence is felt more than the Celts. Vikings settled this region over a millennium ago.
House of the Northern Gate will be our home in Caithness for a couple of days. It is a grand baronial mansion and we will have exclusive use for our stay. There are stunning views of Dunnet Bay and walking distance from Dunnet Beach, one of Scotland's most stunning beaches. Although you may not want to leave the luxury of the house which has recently and exquisitely restored. Each bedroom is uniquely furnished. Dinner and overnight House of the Northern Gate
Day 7 - House of the Northern Gate
Today is our driver's well deserved day off. You'll have an opportunity to sleep a little later, relax, walk the estate, or schedule a private lesson with Sunita.
Local harpists and musicians will be invited to the evening ceilidh after dinner, sharing music, stories, poetry, and communal fun. Dinner and overnight House of the Northern Gate
Day 8 - Orkney
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll depart midmorning and visit Scotland's most northern point - John o'Groats. We'll have a picnic lunch on board the ferry to the Orkney Isles. After debarking the ferry, there will be a driving tour to visit Skara Brae, a restored Neolithic village, and then to the The Ring of Brodgar, a large collection of monolithic standing stones in a perfect circle.
Late afternoon you'll be turned free in Kirkwall. You can walk the old town, find a nice spot for a view or a nap, or indulge yourself with shopping for some fine traditional crafts from the many small shops. Local musicians will meet us at the Neuk Restaurant for a musical evening for a musical evening.
Today is your fun day in Lerwick, capitol of Shetland. After a leisurely breakfast on the ferry, we'll disembark and walk to the center of the old town exploring the waterfront and shops on Commercial Street. This is a perfect time to stock up on fine wool and peruse the gift shops displaying local crafts. Sunita will show you some of the landmarks from the TV series Shetland. Visit the music shop and maybe take a walk around the bay (about 2 miles).
You'll be on your own for lunch and for the afternoon, to shop, wander the waterfront or old town, or just relax and take it all in. Mid-afternoon we'll drive north to check in to the 17th century Gifford Mansion known as Busta House. Now a charming owner-managed boutique hotel.
The building is reputedly the oldest continuously inhabited house in Shetland. You'll have the opportunity to walk the grounds of the estate, through a managed woodland to the waterfront and harbor.
- On your own for lunch - Dinner and overnight at Busta House
Day 10 - Brae Region - Shetland
After breakfast we'll meet our local guide and drive north to view the cliffs of Eshaness. Few places in Shetland can rival Eshaness, either for scenery or historical interest.
The area boasts a wonderful range of wildlife and habitats. seals, otters, porpoises and occasionally Dolphins and whales can be seen from the cliff tops. Inland expanses of peat and heather are home to Mountain Hares, Rabbits, Polecats and a multitude of birds.
No trip to Eshaness is complete without a visit to Tangwick Haa Museum. Different aspects of regional life through the years are illustrated by using a mixture of artefacts and photographs. We'll stop for lunch at the Braewick Cafe with a spectacular view of the cliffs we have been visiting.
In the evening we'll meet local harpists before dinner. Dinner and overnight at Busta House.
Day 11 - Unst
After breakfast we'll drive to the tiny port of Toft for the short 20-minute ferry ride to the isle of Yell where we'll visit the Shetland Gallery of local fine art, and the adjacent Global Yell, featuring an exhibit of looms and locally woven textiles.
Then off on another short 10-minute ferry ride to the Isle of Unst, the most northern island in Scotland. Lunch will be served at Victoria's Tea Room in the village of Haroldswick, right next to the 300 year-old house being restored by Sunita and her husband.
The afternoon there will be a 3 hour light hike to Muckle Flugga - the most northern point in Scotland. The name comes from Old Norse, Mikla Flugey, meaning "large steep-sided island". The hike is over rough heath and requires good general fitness and proper footware.
For those of you not wanting to hike, we offer a driving tour of local sights on Unst, including a restored viking boat, and a visit to the Unst Heritage Centre with its fascinating museum and exhibit of local knitting and lace.
Evening concert by Sunita and local fiddlers. The concert will benefit an island charity. Dinner and overnight at Busta House.
Day 12 - Brae to Lerwick
We'll say goodbye to Busta House and drive down through the main island visiting several interesting sites, along with Les's banter.
Lunch will be at the village of Hoswick, a quant community on the south side of the main island. The village also is home to several shops featuring Shetland's woolen products - for those of you in need of last minute souvenirs.
A highlight of the day is the village of Bigton with its 'tombola', a unique strip of sand that links to Saint Ninians Isle. If the weather is fine, you'll be able to walk out to the Isle.
Dinner and overnight on the ferry to Aberdeen.
Day 13 - Aberdeen - Edinburgh
After breakfast on the ferry, the group will meet up again with Helen our guide for the tour from Aberdeen through the mountains and glens to Edinburgh. Our first stop will be the Victorian village of Ballater, in the heart of Royal Deeside, at the eastern gateway to the Cairngorms National Park.
After a stroll around the village, we will tour Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852. The drive through the Cairngorms National Park is awesome - a huge mountainous wilderness region with some of the highest peaks in Scotland.
On your own for lunch at Balmoral Castle. Dinner on your own *Overnight at Wilde Apart-hotel, Grassmarket ( 2023-24 tours)
*The 2022 tours will be dropped off in the center of Edinburgh at the transport hub convenient to trains, buses and taxis. You may want to spend a day or two exploring on your own in Edinburgh before returning home, or schedule your return flight for late evening.