Highland and Speyside Explorer from Inverness

Please note, this is only available as private tour in 2019.

This is the ultimate sightseeing tour, giving you a fascinating insight into the history, heritage and landscapes of the Scottish Highlands.

From prehistoric burial cairns and Culloden Battlefield to a clan castle, scenic walk and woollen mill, there is something for everyone on this fantastic day out!

This tour runs on the same coach as our Whisky Bus so, if your travel companions are more interested in sampling than sightseeing, this could be a great combination!

Key Information:

Departure Point: Inverness Bus Station

Guaranteed departures, we never cancel tours … ever!

High spec coach with A/C, onboard bathroom and comfortable reclining seats

A separate tour guide and driver on every tour

Locally owned and operated

Free cancellation up to 72 hours prior to departure

Easy and convenient online booking

Your Itinerary:

Culloden Battlefield (1)

The tour departs from Inverness Bus Station at 8.45am, when we board a well-appointed coach and take a short drive out to our first sight of the day; Culloden Battlefield. The Battle of Culloden took place on 16th April 1746 and was the final chapter of the Jacobite Uprising, as well as the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil. Your guide will bring the poignant landscape to life as he enthralls you with a historical account of the bloody battle, the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the subsequent demise of the Gaelic language and clan culture in the Highlands.

Clava Cairns (1)

Our next stop is the lesser-known but equally fascinating Clava Cairns, an exceptionally well-preserved group of prehistoric burial cairns which were built around 4000 years ago. This Bronze Age cemetery features a plethora of historical structures including passage graves, ring cairns, a kerb cairn and standing stones. For Outlander fans..beware of the split stone buzzing!

Snow roads (2)

After a scenic drive down to the village of Tomatin, where we will catch a glimpse of the impressively imposing railway viaduct, our journey then takes us through stunning Highland scenery and up to “The Snow Roads” in the Cairngorms National Park, where wild and beautiful mountain views await.

Glenlivet Distillery (3)

Our first stop in Speyside is The Glenlivet Distillery, where you will have 45 minutes  to look around the free exhibition, which outlines the fascinating history of the “the world’s number one single malt Scotch whisky brand”. Alternatively, you may wish to partake in a Whisky sampling session (£8 for three tastes, not included in tour price). This is usually a great place to photography Highland cows too!

Knockando Woolmill (4)

Nestled in the heart of the Spey Valley, this mill has been producing woven fabric on its historic looms for over 200 years. Your guide will show you round the cluster of sympathetically restored buildings which house the spinning and weaving machines and, hopefully, you should be able to see the modern day weavers at work. We would recommend souvenir shopping here, as it is the only place in Scotland where you can buy the goods produced at the mill, and all profits go directly back into the Knockando Woolmill Trust, which works to ensure its successful future.

Ballindalloch Castle (4)

Ballindalloch Castle is a favourite on this tour, as we are always ensured a warm welcome here at the “Pearl of the North”. First and foremost a family home, which has been lived in continuously by the Macpherson-Grants since 1546, this magnificent building is resplendent with family memorabilia, fine furniture and paintings. You will have around 1 ½ hours here to independently explore the castle and its lush gardens. You may also wish to sample the excellent homebaking in the cafe, and pick up some souvenirs in their shop.

Carrbridge (5)

On our journey back to Inverness we stop for a photo of the beautiful packhorse bridge in the quaint village of Carrbridge. You can admire the black, peaty waters of the River Dulnain and marvel at the engineering ingenuity which has seen this 18th Century bridge stand up to ferocious floods on many occasions.

Tour Gallery

When you book the Highland & Speyside Explorer Tour you are booking the following:

An amazing WOW Scotland tour guide to entertain and look after you on your journey
A professional coach driver for maximum safety (no driver guiding here!)
Well-appointed coach featuring reclining seats, AC, USB ports and WiFi
5 Star VisitScotland rated tour company
Number 1 Inverness tour company, with a 5 star-rating, on TripAdvisor
A company you can trust; member of both Visit Scotland and Visit Loch Ness

The wealth of knowledge shared in an incredibly entertaining fashion, about the history and people related to the sites we were visiting, was wonderfully detailed and fascinating. Not to mention the breathtaking beauty of the places themselves!!! OMG this tour blew my mind!

Cindy G

I went on the Speyside Explorer tour which was excellent. Our guide was Sandy, who was very knowledgeable about all the stops visited. I’d definitely do a tour with this company again!


Frequently Asked Questions:

If you’ve any questions about the Highland and Speyside Explorer tour you should find the answer by clicking on the relevant section. Should your question not be answered please contact us and we’ll be very happy to help.

What sort of vehicle do you use?

In 2019 we will be operating two main vehicles on this route; a 28-seater and a 30-seater.  The 28-seater was build especially for us in 2018 and you can read all about it here!  The 30-seater will be brand new in 2019 and will be of a very similar specification.  Both vehicles are very well-appointed, with panoramic windows, comfortable reclining seats, USB ports under every seat and on-board WiFi.  You can rest assured that you will be able to relax and enjoy the majestic scenery in complete comfort.

Where is the pick-up point in Inverness?

We pick-up from Stance 7 at Inverness Bus Station, Margaret Street, Inverness, IV1 1LT. Look out for the kilted WOW guide and white D&E coach (with WOW sign in the dashboard) and you won’t miss us!

What time does the tour start and finish?

This tour departs promptly at 8.45am (0845). Please ensure that you are ready to board the bus at 8.30am (0830) as we will leave promptly at 8.45am (0845), and are unable to wait for any latecomers! The tour will return to Inverness city centre at approximately 6.45pm (1845) – it is possible that we may return a bit later than this although we always try to keep to our schedule as much as possible.

Can we be picked up and/or dropped off somewhere else?

For our Whisky Bus and our Highland & Speyside Explorer Tour we can offer pick-up from Carrbridge Train Station, for those travelling by train from Edinburgh or Glasgow. The pick-up is at around 1050 (to meet the train arriving at 0957). You must inform us if you want to do take this option, as we will not stop in Carrbridge otherwise.

We can also drop you off in Carrbridge at the end of the day, to get the 1916 train back to Edinburgh/Glasgow.

Can I reserve seats on the tour?

Due to customer demand, we have a booking system for the four seats at the front of the coach. These seats are available to pre-book for a £20 per seat surcharge (if you are not given this option when booking then this will be because the seats have already been taken). Please note that it does not make any difference which side of the coach you sit on, so we don’t take requests for specific front seats.

We also give you the opportunity (on all tours except the Greenock shore tour) to book the extra leg room seats near the back of the coach – as with all seats in the coach these seats recline so you can really travel in comfort.  The surcharge for extra legroom seats is £15 per seat.

The rest of our seating works on a first-come-first-served basis, as we feel that this is the fairest system of allocating seats. It is not possible to reserve window seats, or seats together if you are travelling as part of a group but, if you do wish to choose your seat, we would recommend arriving early at the bus stop (i.e. a few minutes before check-in closes). If you are unhappy with your seat please let your tour guide know and he will do his best to accommodate your requests, although obviously many guests would prefer a window seat so it is not always possible to keep everyone happy!

Note that any fees paid for front row or extra legroom seat upgrades are non-refundable if you cancel your tour.

Where will we be stopping for lunch?

The arrangements for lunch are still to be confirmed for 2019  but are likely to be similar to those described below;

We will take orders on the coach for a sandwich lunch from The Glenlivet Distillery. The lunch is priced at £7 for your choice of sandwich, soft drink, crisps, fruit and a chocolate bar. Please bring cash as lunch cannot be paid for by card.

You can choose from the following options:

  • Scottish ham
  • Scottish roast beef
  • Scottish cheddar
  • Brie and cranberry
  • Tuna mayonnaise
  • Egg mayonnaise
  • Coronation chicken

We can also offer a gluten free lunch option which consists of: oatcakes, cheese, crisps, fruit, cake/chocolate bar and a soft drink.

You may be interested to know that The Glenlivet uses locally sourced Scottish produce as much as possible, with suppliers including the Connage Dairy, Cobbs Bakery, Maclean Highland Bakery, Williamson Fruit and Veg, Struan Apiaries, GC Mackintosh Butchers, Graham’s Dairies and Barrs.

Will we be stopping for coffee/snacks enroute?

There are coffee shops at Glenlivet Distillery, Knockando Woolmill and Ballindalloch Castle, so there will be plenty of opportunities to purchase refreshments along the way.  All of these places accept credit/debit card.

Will I be able to purchase souvenirs?

Yes, of course.  There are shops at Glenlivet Distillery, Knockando Woolmill and Ballindalloch Castle, all of which sell lovely, locally-produced goods. The shop at Knockando Woolmills sells goods which are produced at the mill, and cannot be purchased anywhere else in Scotland, so this is definitely a great opportunity to pick up some beautiful hand-woven scarves and blankets.

Can children come on the Highland & Speyside Explorer Tour?

We welcome children over the age of six on our Highland & Speyside Explorer Tour. They will be able to enjoy the sights on the tour and, for younger children, there is a great playground at Ballindalloch Castle, where you will spend approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Unfortunately, due to the duration of the tour and time on the coach, we do not feel that this tour is appropriate for children under the age of six, so the tour is not open to this age group. This is for the comfort of other passengers and also to ensure that the driver and guide can focus on doing their jobs without any distractions.

UK law states that each passenger must have their own seat and use their seatbelt at all times. Consequently, it is not possible to take a child on your lap. From experience we know that, very occasionally, parents try to bring children on without purchasing a seat. However, we would like to make it clear that this is not allowed and there will be no refund if you are refused entry to the tour for taking children under 6 or those whom you haven’t booked.

Can I book with confidence?

Yes! We know that you have a choice of tours, and we are always reviewing our offering to ensure that we are providing the best tour, combined with the best value for money and best customer care, from the minute you land on our website.  We are confident that we do this, and are proud to have been awarded a 5 star rating from VisitScotland in 2016, 2017 and 2018 for providing “exceptional” tours.

Also, we have been consistently rated as “excellent” on Trip Advisor (as of  September 2018 we had 1265 5 star reviews) and are proud to be ranked as the number 1 activity in Inverness.

For those who are unsure about booking with a small company, please click on any of the following links for assurance that we are a member of the national tourism body; Visit Scotland and also of the local tourism body; Visit Loch Ness.  WOW Scotland has also featured in a number of local and national publications including Wanderlust, Coast Magazine, The Houston ChronicleThe Boston GlobeThe Vancouver Sun,  Scotland Outdoors Magazine, Scottish Life magazine (Autumn 2013 p 49), German TV programme Euromaxx and the Inverness Courier (our logo has even featured in the Hollywood blockbuster Johnny English Reborn..and we are looking out for logo in a new Hollywood film soon – watch this space!).

What forms of payment do you accept?

All payments are taken through our secure online booking system, which utilises Stripe. We accept almost any debit and credit card, including American Express (we cannot accept Diner’s Card or Discover).


What are your terms and conditions of booking?

Our terms and conditions can be found here. You’ll find a general overview of our cancellation terms in this FAQ section if you don’t want to read though all the T&Cs!

Is it possible to pay on arrival?

Due to high demand for our tours, we are unable to secure your booking unless you pay the full amount in advance. That being said, you are welcome to come to the bus stop in the morning and, if there are places available, you can join the tour and book/pay online on our website.

Do you offer guaranteed departures?

Yes, if you book onto one of our tours then we will run this tour, regardless if anyone else has booked on or not!

We have never had to cancel a tour yet but, if the weather forecast was so bad that we considered it dangerous to travel, then we may have to cancel a tour. However, this is extremely unlikely, and we would do our utmost to accommodate you on an alternative date.

Do you offer group discounts?

For groups of 10+ please contact us for preferential pricing.

Can I cancel my tour if I change my mind, or if I am unable to get to Inverness for any reason?

Yes, and our cancellation terms for scheduled tours from Inverness (i.e. Isle of Skye Tour, Whisky Bus and Highland & Speyside Explorer) are as follows;

  • If you cancel your tour at least 72 hours in advance of the scheduled departure then we will refund you in full (note that any fees paid for seat upgrades are non-refundable)
  • If you cancel within 72 hours of the scheduled departure you will not be entitled to a refund. However, if we are able to re-sell your place then we will be able to issue a partial refund, so please let us know if you need to cancel, no matter how last minute it is.

Unfortunately we cannot make exceptions to these rules, as it would be unfair to treat customers differently.

Please note that booking direct with WOW Scotland (rather than through an online agent) gives you the best cancellation policy!

Why should we choose WOW Scotland?

We know that you have a choice of tours, and we are always reviewing our offering to ensure that we are providing the best tour, combined with the best value for money and best customer care, from the minute you land on our website.  We are confident that we do this, and are proud to have been awarded a 5 star rating from VisitScotland in 2016, 2017 and 2018 for providing “exceptional” tours.

Also, we have been consistently rated as “excellent” on Trip Advisor  as of October 2018 1266 out of 1405 reviews rate us as excellent) and are proud to be ranked as the number 1 activity in Inverness.

For those who are unsure about booking with a small company, please click on any of the following links for assurance that we are a member of the national tourism body; Visit Scotland and also of the local tourism body; Visit Loch Ness.

I am planning to drive to the tour pick-up point then leave my car – is this possible?

Absolutely.  Rose Street car park is right next to the tour pick-up point and you can find further information on parking here.

I am planning to stay in Dingwall/Conon Bridge/Muir of Ord/Beauly – can I join the tour?

Absolutely! There is a train regular train service running between Dingwall, Conon Bridge, Muir of Ord, Beauly and Inverness, which allows you to get to Inverness in time for the 0830 departure time, then get back again in the evening. For more details, click here

I am planning to stay in Elgin/Forres/Nairn – can I join the tour?

Absolutely! There is a train regular train service running between Elgin, Forres, Nairn and Inverness, which allows you to get to Inverness in time for the 0820 meeting time, then get back again in the evening. For more details, please click here

I am planning to stay in Edinburgh/Glasgow – can I join the tour?

Unfortunately there is no public transport from Edinburgh or Glasgow which will allow you to arrive in Inverness by 0830, and no public transport departing from Inverness for these cities after 2045. Consequently, if you wish to travel from one of these cities, and take the tour, all in one day then you will require your own transport (the drive takes approx 3 1/4 hours to either city).

I am planning to stay in Aberdeen/Inverurie/Huntly – can I join the tour?

If you have a car then you can certainly drive to Inverness, park for the day and join the tour.

If you wish to travel by train, unfortunately it it not possible to take the first train in the morning from Aberdeen to Inverness, as it arrives at 0836, which is after our departure time.  However, if you can stay in Inverness the night before the tour then there is a train back late evening at 2133 (except on Sundays, when the last train is at 2103 – we would strongly advise against taking this train if you are on the Isle of Skye Tour as we sometimes arrive back later than planned).

Consequently, we would suggest that you stay in Inverness the night before the tour, then return to Aberdeen on the last train back after the tour.

Is the itinerary fixed/guaranteed?

The itinerary has been carefully planned to ensure that you get the most out of your day. However, there are factors outside of our control, such as traffic flow, road closures and adverse weather, which mean that, on rare occasions, we may not be to achieve everything listed in the tour itinerary. Consequently, we reserve the right to alter the itinerary if necessary, although this will be a last resort, and we will endeavour to visit alternative places of interest instead.

Do I need to bring cash with me on the tour? If so, are Euros/US dollars accepted in Scotland?

It is advisable to bring some cash (GBP £) on all tours. Credit/debit cards are widely accepted but, in some small shops (or for smaller purchases), cash is the only option.

Please note that American Express is not commonly accepted in Scotland, but Visa and Mastercard should be fine. Unfortunately very few places will accept other currencies such as Euros or US dollars.

Can I bring dogs and other pets on the tour?

Unfortunately dogs and other pets are not able to travel on our tours. If you are partially sighted or blind and use a guide dog to get around please do get in touch to discuss ways in which we can accommodate you and your dog.

Can I bring luggage?

Yes, we do have space for a limited amount of luggage. If you wish to bring luggage please contact us before booking. There are also left luggage facilities at Inverness train station for those travelling back to Inverness (please contact the station to find out opening times of this facility prior to use).

Who will our tour guide be?

One of our highly competent local guides will lead your tour – you can read all about the team on our About page, or have a look at their reviews on TripAdvisor.

Should I tip my guide?

If the tour meets or exceeds your expectations then please feel free to tip as it is always very much appreciated. However, please rest assured that tips are not expected in Scotland, so no offence will be taken if you don’t tip. It is worth noting that, if there is a separate driver and tour guide on your tour, they always split any tips equally, so it is fine to give money to either one of them.

Does the tour only run on the dates listed on your website?

Yes, you’ll find the most up-to-date tour dates on our calendar.  Scheduled tours will only run on the listed dates.

Do you offer any other group tours?

Yes, our scheduled group tours from Inverness are listed below;

Isle of Skye tour
Whisky Bus
Highland & Speyside Explorer Tour
Outlander-inspired Walking Tour

I’m a travel agent, can we work together?

We work closely with a number of agents all over the world and welcome enquiries from all travel agents. Whilst we are unable to offer travel agent discounts on private tours, we can offer commission on our scheduled coach tours, for those agents who are sending us their clients on a regular basis.

Do you offer foreign language tours?

At the moment we only offer tours in English, and we are unable to offer any translation services.  This is something which we are working to improve in the future but, for now, hopefully the fantastic Highland scenery can speak for itself!

Do you have any reviews?

Yes, lots! Check out our TripAdvisor ratings to see what our customers say about us (we are currently number 1 in Inverness, have 5 stars and have been awarded a Certificate of Excellence – which means we rate amongst the top 10% of TripAdvisor businesses worldwide – every year since we started the business in 2010!)

You can also see reviews for WOW Scotland on YelpFacebook and Google

How do I get to Inverness?

To find out how to get to Inverness click here. 

Where can I stay in Inverness?

Once you have booked your tour we are happy to send you our list of recommended accommodation providers in Inverness and Skye. As a start, click here for a short list of where to stay in Inverness and Loch Ness.