History, Highlands & Ireland
Enjoy some of the UK and Ireland’s finest scenery and dip into the rich history of these two islands. Highlights include ancient fortresses and castles, the Duxford Imperial War Museum, Hadrian’s Wall, the holy tidal island of Lindisfarne, the Orkney Islands, the Scottish Highlands, the Aran Islands, dramatic sea cliffs and Dublin, the capital of Ireland. We will also take you off the beaten path to small towns and sites usually missed by most visitors, so that by the end of the trip you will have gained an appreciation of what gives this region its unique culture and proud heritage.
Highlights – 17 days, 25 hrs, 2000 nm
Days 1, 2 – Windsor, UK
Welcome to England and the start of your adventure vacation!
Your tour begins in our hotel across the street from Windsor Castle, home of the royal family and Harry and Meghan’s 2018 wedding!
At White Waltham airfield, our aviation base for the start of the trip, the Tour Director will give an overview of the trip. The Lead Pilot will then give an initial pilot briefing and distribute the charts and documents needed for the trip.
For the pilots the second day will be taken up with additional briefings as well as check rides.
Non-pilot members of the group are welcome to join the pilot briefings as little or as much as they wish. Needless to say, Windsor and London offer a wide range of activities and places to visit. We can recommend a tour of Windsor Castle or a trip into London, which is readily accessible by train. Your Tour Director will be happy to help with recommendations and logistics.
Day 3 – Woodall Spa
Departing White Waltham early in the morning, we will make a stop at Duxford, home of the Imperial War Museum and one of the most impressive aircraft collections in the world. There is much to see and do, including shops where the aircraft are restored and a US Air Force hangar.
We will finish the day’s flying when we land at East Kirby airfield, used by Lancaster bombers during WWII. From there we transfer to the distinctive and historic Petwood Hotel, the 1943 home for the officers of RAF 617 “Dambusters” Squadron. And be sure to take a walk in the beautiful grounds surrounding the hotel.
Days 4, 5 – Newcastle
When we return to East Kirby airfield, we may be fortunate to catch “Just Jane”, the local Lancaster, do a few taxi runs. We’ll have front row seats from where our planes are parked.
After departure we will fly over the flat fields of Lincolnshire before heading north along the coast towards our “Geordie” hosts for the night.
A highlight on our arrival day will be a visit to Segedunum to see the largest, most excavated Roman fort along Hadrian’s Wall. It was in use for over 300 years, up to 400 AD.
On our full day here, we will have an escorted tour of the Northumberland Coast. Our first stop is the historic and internationally famous Holy Island of Lindisfarne, where we will visit the priory and explore the nearby town. This structure dates from the mid 16th century.
And, to finish off our time here, we will visit Bamburg Castle, seat of the Royal Kings of Northumberland. For centuries this imposing structure sat atop a volcanic outcrop watching over those below. More recently it was used extensively as Hogwarts School of Wizardry in the Harry Potter movies.
Our accommodation in Newcastle is a boutique hotel in the heart of this vibrant city.
Days 6, 7, 8 – Inverness
Leaving Newcastle we will track to Lindisfarne so you can take a few aerial photos. Later on, weather permitting, we will fly over Urquhart Castle and fly along Loch Ness on our approach Inverness.
We will use Inverness as a base from which to further explore Northern Scotland. Our stops and visits will include:
- Inverness Region; We will have a guided tour of the area which will include the Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle.
- Loch Ness; in search of a monster! Europe’s biggest and deepest freshwater body is truly immense. A free bottle of wine and instant fame if you photograph Nessie!
- The Orkneys; These island have a entirely different landscape as compared to the mainland as it is more pastoral and the pace is slower. We will be visit Kirkwall and Scapa Flow, a settlement from 3000 BC! We will fly over the Moray Firth and John O’Groats, the northernmost tip of the main UK island, to Kirkwall. And we’ll take time to see the massive sea cliffs on the west side of the Orkneys and the “Old Man of Hoy” sea stack.
- Whisky Tour; We will visit one of the many wonderful distilleries in the region and sample their product!
- City of Inverness; You will have free time to explore downtown Inverness at your leisure.
Day 9 – Stornoway
Tracking northwest from Inverness we will have a spectacular flight over the Scottish Highlands before landing at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, one of the Outer Hebrides islands, a town founded by the Vikings in the early 800’s. Stornoway is still a traditional town, with an active fishing port and where Gaelic is still spoken by many of the locals.
While in town we will have the opportunity to visit a number of unique sites including the Arnol Blackhouse (stone and thatched roof farmhouse), Calanais Standing Stones (Bronze Age stone circle), Dun Carloway Broch (an Iron Age stone circular fort) or Lews Castle (Victorian Era castle). And while here, be sure to try Stornoway black pudding – another unique experience!
Day 10 – Co. Donegal, Ireland
Tracking south from Stornoway, the coastal cliffs and shorelines continue to amaze. At the Mull of Kintyre (singing encouraged but only on chat frequency please!) we cross over to Northern Ireland and follow the coast along to the northern Irish county of Donegal. There we will stay in Annagry, a typical small northern Irish town.
Day 11 – Aran Islands
We continue along the rugged coastline to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands where we will spend the night. These islands are, in many ways, the Ireland of old, where the locals speak Irish, the fields have traditional stone walls and Celtic heritage is evident everywhere. It is as if time has passed these islands by.
After checking into our hotel you will have time to explore the local town of Kilronan on your own.
Days 12, 13, 14 – Dublin
Before leaving Inishmore, we will have a fascinating ½ day tour of the island. Highlights include a stop at the 2000 year old stone fort of Dún Aonghasa overlooking the Atlantic atop 300 foot cliffs.
After takeoff, we meander over Galway Bay and pass the small Irish seaside towns of Quilty, Kilkee and Mureagh before reaching the Fastnet Lighthouse, the westernmost tip of Ireland. In times gone by it earned the name “Ireland’s Teardrop” because it was the last sight of Irish soil for thousands of people emigrating to North America.
We then pass the last landfall of the Titanic and the site of the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 which led to the US joining the First World War.
And finally to Dublin, Ireland’s capital. One of our full days here will be at leisure so you can explore this energetic city on your own.
The other full day we will have a guided tour into beautiful County Wiklow, the Garden of Ireland. Highlights include Powerscourt House & Gardens and the 6th-century monastic settlement of Glendalough.
Day 15 – Gorran Haven
Crossing the Irish Sea we say goodbye to Ireland and hello to Wales, at least briefly.
As we look down along the English coast, its craggy rocks and small coves and harbours make it easy to understand why smugglers in Devon and Cornwall were so successful.
After landing at Perranporth, a short ride through the beautiful countryside brings us to Gorran Haven, a quaint seaside village of fisherman’s cottages, unspoiled and unchanged.
Day 16 – Salisbury
Before continuing east, we will make a quick diversion to Lands’ End in the extreme SW part of the country. And that will give us another corner of the UK!
A short flight takes us to Salisbury, from which we will visit world famous Stonehenge and seek out the medieval hill art of Cerne Abbas.
While in Salisbury we will also visit Salisbury Cathedral, for which the town is famous.
Day 17 – Marlow
A last short hop and we are back at White Waltham. For our last night we will stay in a quaint old-style inn on the River Thames.
Day 18 – Depart Marlow
We say our farewells after breakfast at the hotel. Don’t forget to exchange email addresses so you can stay in touch with your new friends.
On behalf of Air Safaris International, thank you for joining us on this tour of these amazing islands. Do tell your friends and we look forward to seeing you again soon on another tour!
Important Note to Pilots and Passengers:
This itinerary includes legs over water and rugged terrain. Both pilots and passengers should be comfortable flying in variable weather conditions, with en-route changes and unplanned diversions to wait out passing weather. An IFR rating is not required but experience in these conditions is needed.
Please contact ASII if you wish to discuss this further.