Clan MacKenzie 7-day Coigeach Gathering and Tour.

MacKenzie Coigeach and Seaforth homelands
28 June - 5 July 2016

Based in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and at the luxurious Coul House Hotel in Contin (an old MacKenzie home), this tour takes in ancient clan strongholds in Kintail & Easter Ross, and hallowed sites on Lewis & the Black Isle, plus some of the most beautiful scenery in the Highlands of Scotland

Day 1

"Capital of the Highlands"

Day 1 will allow some time to explore Inverness, the capital city of the Highlands, perhaps visiting the castle, museum, and archives, or enjoying a walk on the lovely wooded islands in the River Ness. Later in the afternoon we’ll set off for Ullapool to catch the evening ferry to Stornoway, where we’ll be based for the first three nights of the tour.

Day 2

The man who mapped India and a Canadian explorer

Day 2 will be spent exploring Stornoway, the capital of the Western Isles, and the birthplace of many MacKenzies including Colonel Colin, "The Man Who Mapped India" - as Surveyor General for the East India Company - and Sir Alexander, the explorer of Canada. The town’s visitor attractions include the Museum of the Isles, the An Lanntair Art Gallery, the Lewis Loom Centre, and the Woodland Centre in the gardens of Lews Castle - the mock fortress built in the 19th century by Sir James Matheson after he had purchased the island from the Seaforth family.

Day 3

Blackhouses, standing stones and the Iron Age

Day 3 will take us up to the Butt of Lewis - the northern tip of the island - visiting the Ness Heritage Centre at North Dell on the way, before we head for the Gearannan village of blackhouses (the traditional Hebridean thatched stone cottages) and the Standing Stones of Callanish, one of the most important megalithic complexes in Europe. From there we’ll cross the bridge to the isle of Great Bernera to visit the museum and see the Iron Age Village and the Norse Mill, before visiting the famous beach at Uig, and the tiny Abhain Dearg (Red River) Distillery - the first legal distillery to be established on the Outer Hebrides for 170 years.

Day 4

Isle of Harris to Coul House (old MacKenzie home)

Day 4 will see us back to the mainland, via the Isle of Skye. From Stornoway we’ll head south onto the "Isle" (actually it’s a peninsula) of Harris, which gives its name to the famous tweed cloth, and on the way we’ll travel for some of the time alongside Loch Seaforth. At the Seallam Centre in Northton (which, confusingly, is on the south coast of Harris) there may be chance to look for genealogical records of MacKenzies and others who lived on the Outer Hebrides, before we travel to the south of the island to visit St Clements Church at Rodel and see the marvellous tomb of the 16th century MacLeod chief, Alasdair Crotach. In the afternoon we’ll take the ferry from Tarbert to Uig on Skye, from whence we’ll drive past the spectacular Cuillin mountains across the Skye Bridge, up Loch Carron - past the ruins, on the opposite shore, of Strome Castle - on our way to Coul House at Contin, an old MacKenzie home which is now a luxury hotel.

Day 5

Churches, museums, castles & distilleries

Day 5 will start with a visit to the ancient Royal Burgh of Tain, where we’ll see the historic church of Saint Duthac and the excellent local museum. From there we’ll cross the Tarbat peninsula to tour the old MacKenzie fortress of Ballone Castle, which has been beautifully restored in recent years by one of Scotland’s leading architects, before taking lunch in the nearby village of Portmahomack. In the afternoon we’ll visit the ruins of Tarbat House, the late 18th century mansion built for the present clan chief’s ancestor in the late 18th century, and then the church at Kilmuir where many of the MacKenzies of Cromartie are buried. Our day will finish with a visit to the distillery of Dalmore, which was once owned by a family of MacKenzies.

Day 6

Saving the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie

Day 6 will take us back to the west coast to visit the most famous of MacKenzie castles. From Coul we’ll go, via Garve and Achnasheen, to Plockton, the beautiful village with palm trees growing along the main street where the TV series “Hamish Macbeth” was filmed. From there we’ll proceed into Kintail, and on to Eilean Donan, the original west coast seat of the MacKenzies, which was made famous by the film “Highlander”. Having toured the castle, which is now the seat of the MacKenzies’ old allies the Macraes, we’ll proceed up Glen Shiel to the site of a battle in the 1719 Jacobite Rising, and on to Glenmoriston where we’ll stop at the monument to Roderick MacKenzie, the Jacobite officer who gave his life in 1746 to help save Bonnie Prince Charlie from capture. From there our route will take us to Loch Ness, past the ruins of Urquhart Castle, through Drumnadochit – where we may stop at one of the Loch Ness Monster Exhibitions – and up the “Beauly Brae” to Kiltarlity and the lovely little town of Beauly, where we’ll stop to see the tomb of the famous 15th century MacKenzie chief Coinneach a Bhlar (“Kenneth of the Battle”).

Day 7

Pictish relics to Castle Leod

Day 7 will include a morning tour of the Black Isle, visiting the port of Cromarty, and the twin towns of Rosemarkie (with its famous museum specialising in Pictish relics) and Fortrose (where the cathedral contains a number of fine MacKenzie monuments). In the afternoon we’ll visit the earliest MacKenzie residence in Easter Ross - the crannog (artificial island) on Loch Kinellan - before joining the clan chief, the Earl of Cromartie, for a tour of his historic home, Castle Leod. In the evening the tour party will host Cabarfeidh (as the chief of the MacKenzies is known) and his wife for dinner at Coul House.

Day 8

Inverness and/or Inverness Airport.

Daily itineraries are subject to last minute change depending on traveling conditions, venue closures, etc.

$3475 per person for this tour. Price includes all transportation, accommodations and reservations at sites requiring them. Pricing is subject to change based on accommodation/transportation changes. Read more about pricing specifics.

See an illustrated map of key sites of this tour.

Loch Maree, one stop on the Coigeach Tour, is believed by many to be the most beautiful loch in Scotland. It is representative of the scenery in this area of Scotland.

All Clan MacKenzie tours feature a dinner with Clan Chief John Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Cromartie. Read more on his bio page on the Clan MacKenzie website.