If you are intrigued by what you read about Mendelssohn’s Scottish journey and would like follow in his footsteps exactly 188 years later, or if you love Mendelssohn’s music and particularly his Hebrides Overture or Scottish Symphony and want to learn more about what inspired him, or if you have a fascination with Scottish history including the life of Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century or the Jacobite up-risings of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, or if you simply want to enjoy some of the UK’s most beautiful sights and scenery, then join the “Mendelssohn in Scotland” holiday from 12 to 18 September 2017.
About the Holiday
The “Mendelssohn in Scotland” holiday will be run by Stephen Carpenter Holidays in association with Travel for the Arts, a division of Specialised Travel Ltd, and is protected by their ABTA and ATOL membership. It will be led by Stephen Carpenter who has had a career in managing orchestras in Scotland and England since the 1980s. He has undertaken a close study of Mendelssohn, in particular the sketches and letters that throw such a vivid light on the composer's Scottish journey in 1829, and which form the inspiration for this holiday which will start and end in Edinburgh, and visit Holyrood Palace, Abbotsford (the home of Sir Walter Scott), Melrose Abbey, Dunkeld, the Pass of Killiecrankie, Glencoe, Fort William, Oban, the island of Mull, and the extraordinary Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa. To express interest in joining the holiday, contact Stephen Carpenter.
A summary of the holiday is given below.
Tuesday 12 - Afternoon arrival at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh. Following a welcome briefing, we will take the short walk to Holyrood Palace for a private tour of the Palace and Abbey where Mendelssohn declared, “I believe I found today in that old chapel the beginning of my Scottish Symphony.”
Wednesday 13 - In the morning we drive to Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, where we will have a guided tour and lunch, followed by a visit to Melrose Abbey where Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried. In the afternoon, we journey into the Highlands, arriving at the Dunkeld House Hotel in the early evening. Dinner is included at the Hotel.
Thursday 14 - We start our day with a visit to the Hermitage and the beautiful Falls of Braan before a tour of the Edradour Distillery in Pitochry, the smalliest traditional distillery in Scotland, dating back to 1825. Lunch will be under your own arrangements at the House of Bruar Visitor Centre where there will be the chance to view the Bruar Falls which were sketched by Mendelssohn. In the afternoon, we visit the Pass of Killiecrankie, the scene of the battle in 1689 between the Jacobites and the government forces of William of Orange, and see the "Soldier's Leap" where Donald MacBean, a government soldier, avoided certain capture or death by jumping 5.5m (18.5 feet) across the River Garry. After dinner back at the Hilton Hotel, we will be entertained with a private recital of music by Felix Mendelssohn.
Friday 15 - We journey across the central Highlands past Loch Tummel (with its spectacular “Queen’s View”), Aberfeldy, Loch Tay, Glencoe (where we will stop at the Visitor Centre), and reach Fort William in the late afternoon where we check in to the Alexandra Hotel before dinner at the Crannog Restaurant on the shores of Loch Linnhe.
Saturday 16 - Deviating from Mendelssohn’s itinerary we take the return rail journey from Fort William to Mallaig on the famous West Highland line - described by many as the most beautiful train journey in the world. Our train will be hauled by the “Jacobite” steam engine and will take us over the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct at the head of Loch Shiel where Bonnie Prince Charlie rallied his troops at the start of his ill-fated uprising in 1745. On arrival back in Fort William at 4.00pm we travel down the shores of Loch Linnhe to Oban for dinner at the Oban Bay Hotel where we stay the night.
Sunday 17 - Today we cross to the Isle of Mull and, from there, weather permitting, take a boat to the island of Staffa and Fingal’s Cave. We will then visit the island of Iona before returning by coach and ferry to Oban for a free evening.
Monday 18 - From Oban we travel via Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne, to Loch Lomond where we will have lunch at the Cameron House Hotel before returning to Edinburgh via Stirling, stopping at Edinburgh airport at 5.00pm and Edinburgh Waverley (the train station) at 6.00pm.