2018 Scottish Harp Journey with Sunita

7th- 19th June, 2018 •
13 days 12 nights 

• Edinburgh • Loch Lomond • Isle of Arran • Loch Ness • Caithness • 

• Orkney • Shetland • Aberdeen • Cairngorms • Highlands •

• Small Group • Workshops • Concerts • Guided Tours • Sessions • Meet Harpists • Trad. Music Events • Historical Sites • Culture • Politics • People 
This tour is open for harpists and non-harpists. 
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Sunita Staneslow is an international harpist, teacher and performer. Her husband Fred (CEO of Green Olive Tours) was born in Edinburgh, and in 2015 they toured Scotland on a tandem bicycle with a harp on a trailer, while raising money for charity. In 2017 they returned with 12 guests -  8 harpists and 4 'others' - for a whirlwind of harp and touring activity. This trip  has now been refined and enhanced with even more activities and excitement.

Join Sunita and Fred for a trip of a lifetime and meet some of their friends -  wonderful harpists, musicians and family on a deeply personal tour. Sunita's first real folk harp was made by Jack Yule of Penicuik, Scotland.

Scotland is one of the homes of the Celtic harp and on this trip you’ll explore the instrument and its place in today's dynamic Scottish society. There will be performance and learning opportunities, and you’ll meet local harp players and other musicians.

In order to provide a quality experience this tour will be limited to 12 people, so please make a reservation as soon as you decide. The tour will fill up quickly. You don't need to bring a harp. Sunita will bring a harp, and we are renting harps for the classes in Edinburgh.

Day 1 - Thursday 7th June - EDINBURGH
Alison Kinnaird with her twin passions - harp & glass art
You'll arrive at Edinburgh airport.  Transport will be provided to the Apex Hotel in the Grassmarket. You can also arrive a day or two early in order to get over jet lag and explore Edinburgh a bit on your own. Let us know your exact arrival details after you book your flight.

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.

In the evening there will be a welcome festive dinner at the Grain Store Restaurant, a classic Scottish eatery serving fine cuisine amid soft candlelight and old stone walls. You'll meet our guide, Aidan Bell, husband of harpist Alison Bell and we'll go over the itinerary and details of the trip.
Dinner and overnight, Apex Hotel, Edinburgh

Day 2 - Friday 8th June - EDINBURGH
Corrina Hewatt
The day will be divided between taking harp classes and exploring the Old Town with our guide Aidan.

Corrina Hewatt is one of today's leading Scottish clarsach (folk harp) players, and will lead a class to explore Scottish style and ornamentation around a traditional melody that will be sent to you in advance.

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.

Lunch will be at the LetMeEatToo cafe in the Cowgatehead. We'll take over the entire small facility for a tasty lunch. Dinner is at the elegant Howies Restaurant on Victoria Street.

After dinner there will be a traditional music session back at the Apex Hotel Bar, with other local harpists and musicians.
Overnight in Apex Hotel, Edinburgh 

Day 3 - Saturday 9th June - LOCH LOMOND - ISLE OF ARRAN
Ken & Linsey perform at their home by Loch Lomond
We will drive to Loch Lomond Through the beautiful scenic route via the Carron Valley to Loch Lomond where we pick up musician friends Ken and Linsey Campbell who  have a house on the shore of the Loch near the village of Gartocharn.

Walking the grounds of Ken & Linsey's country home
We'll visit the waterfront village of Luss, and after lunch return to Ken and Linsey's home for a mini-concert with Sunita in their conservatory.

After concert and tea, you'll stroll through their estate, with formal gardens, woodlands, bog, field, and rugged shoreline. A classic Scottish experience.

Then we’ll drive southwest, passing over the river Clyde, to the small port of Ardrossan on the west coast for the ferry to the port of Brodick on the isle of Arran.  Once off the boat, we'll check into the hotel, have a quick dinner, then head off to an evening concert at the Arran Folk Festival.
Dinner & overnight in Dunvegan House, Brodick

Day 4 - Sunday 10th June - ISLE OF ARRAN
Music session at Fiddlers Pub
This morning you'll visit some of the highlights of the island including a hike through the heath to the the Machrie Moor Stone Circles, and a visit to the Arran Distillery where you'll explore the mysteries of this unique Scottish spirit, and maybe have a wee dram.

After lunch at a Brodick cafe, There will be the option of additional touring around the island, or attending the open music session at the Folk Festival. You are invited to brush up on your Scottish repertoire in preparation. After the session, you'll be on your own for dinner. There are a number of local establishments. Sunita and her friend Heather, a local harpist, will dine at the 'Fiddlers Cafe '. You have the option of joining them.
Overnight in Dunvegan House, Brodick

Day 5 - Monday 11th June  - LOCH NESS 
Highland cattle at Loch Ness
Today we'll take the ferry from the northern port of Lochranza to the village of Claonaig on the mainland, then up into the Highlands to Glencoe - one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland, seeped in history and tragedy.

We'll visit  Fort William and Loch Ness, and maybe if we're lucky we'll catch sight of the famous Loch Ness Monster. Our accommodations are right on the Loch at the Old Pier House, hosted by Mrs. Jennie MacKenzie. Just outside Fort Augustus, the grounds ramble on for more than 100 acres with Highland cattle and ponies that graze naturally on the heather hills, fields and surrounding woodlands. If there's time there may be an informal harp circle in the evening. Some of you will be in the 150 year-old main house, and others will be in the log cabins.
Overnight Old Pier House on Loch Ness

Day 6 - Tuesday 12th June - THE NORTH
Ulrig House
Today we’ll visit Urquart Castle on the shore of Loch Ness, an amazing edifice that was the site of many a bloody battle.  Then on to The Highland Clearance site at Badbea on a rugged section of the coast.

We'll visit Ardival Harps in Strathpeffer, and take a look at their workshop and their medieval harps and modern clarsachs.  Then a short visit and performance with local harpist, Cheyenne Brown. We’ll end the day in the far northern county of Caithness where the Nordic influence is felt more than the Celts. Vikings settles this region over a millennium ago.

After dinner in the coastal town of Thurso, We'll settle in to Olrig House. This historic mansion is set in an estate that will provide a historic backdrop for the next two days of activities. The house is a warren of hallways and rooms. Each bedroom is uniquely furnished and decorated, and some of you will be sharing bathrooms.
Overnight Olrig Guest House

Day 7 - Wednesday 13th June - OLRIG HOUSE
Breakfast feast at Ulrig House
  Today is your well deserved day off, to relax, walk the estate, or you could take a taxi into Thurso or other local town for some independent sightseeing.

During the morning there will be an optional 2-hour walking tour of the estate with Graham the groundskeeper and gardener. Graham's deep knowledge and articulate delivery brings to life the ancient land.

From 4 - 5.30pm there will be a workshop. Local harpist Susanne Lloyd-Jones will join us with her students, and her husband is a fiddler and will participate in the evening ceilidh after dinner, sharing music, stories, poetry, and communal fun.
Dinner & Overnight, Olrig Guest House

Day 8 - Thursday 14th June  - OLRIG HOUSE - KIRKWALL, ORKNEY ISLE
Orkney Strathspey and Reel Society
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll depart midmorning and 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. You'll be on your own for dinner, then we'll meet at the Reel Music School and Pub which hosts the Orkney Strathspey and Reel Society for the evening - a great traditional music event.

Late in the evening we'll take the overnight boat to the Shetland Islands. You'll have a cabin and breakfast in the boat.
Overnight on the Ferry

Day 9 - Friday 15th June - UNST, SHETLAND
Chatting with a Shetland Pony
On arrival in Lerwick, Shetland, we were met by Les Sinclair, a scion of an ancient Viking family whose heritage goes back hundreds of years into the mists of time. Les takes us on  a coach tour of the main Island, and the islands of Yell and Unst. There are very short twenty-minute ferry rides between islands. We’ll visit a number of sites including the mighty cliffs to the far West, towering above the waters, facing the unending Atlantic Ocean.

Les will discuss the peat cutting, and we'll visit with the tiny Shetland ponies, and  drive along the Ona Firth leading to the village of Vow and view the Mussel farms in the water. Apparently the baby mussels are naturally born and attach themselves to the
cages that the fishermen anchor along the firth.

The day will end in the island of Unst where we'll stay at the Saxa Vord Guest House, the most northern hotel in the British Isles. Guest accommodations is in large houses that used to be officer housing back in the days when Saxa Vord was an air force base. You will be in a group of three to a house - each person or couple with their own room. Each house has a full bathroom upstairs and a toilet downstairs.
Dinner & overnight Saxa Vord Guest House

DAY 10 - Saturday 16th June - UNST, SHETLAND
In concert at Saxa Vord, Unst, Shetland
In the morning there will be an optional 3 hour light hike/walk to Muckle Flugga - the most northern point in Scotland. The name comes from Old Norse, Mikla Flugey, meaning "large steep-sided island" - OR - A driving tour of local sights on Unst, including a restored viking boat.

In the afternoon there will be a Harp Master Class with invited Scottish harpists. Evening concert by Sunita and local fiddlers. The concert will benefit the Unst Heritage Trust.
Dinner & overnight Saxa Vord Guest House

DAY 11 - Sunday 17th June - UNST TO LERWICK
Sunita on the beach at Bigton, with a view of St. Ninian's Isle. 
After a leisurely breakfast, we'll say goodbye to Unst, and drive down through the Islands with our guide Les.

A highlight will be a visit to the village of Bigton with it's '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. 

The evening will feature a dinner with local harpists.
Dinner and overnight in Lerwick

Monday 18th June - LERWICK
Today is your fun day in Lerwick. After a leisurely breakfast we'll visit Jamieson and Smith Shetland Wool Brokers for a presentation of the entire process from sheep to ball of yarn. You'll have an opportunity to learn from the masters, and browse their extensive collection of yarn and finished woolen products. We'll also visit Lerwick's famous Mirrie Dancers Chocolates and see the latest in artisan chocolate.

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. We'll regroup for the ferry to Aberdeen and have dinner on board.
Dinner and overnight on the ferry.

Tuesday 19th June - ABERDEEN - EDINBURGH
After breakfast on the ferry, the group will meet up again with Aidan our guide for the tour from Aberdeen through the mountains and glens to Edinburgh. You'll pop in for morning tea with Aidan's wife, Alison, and visit Crathes Castle near Banchory, formerly associated with King Robert the Bruce.

The drive through the Cairngorms National Park is awesome - a huge mountainous wilderness region with some of the highest peaks in Scotland.

On arrival in Edinburgh you'll be dropped off according to your instructions, either at a hotel if you are spending the night, or at the airport. You may want to spend a day or two exploring on your own in Edinburgh before returning home.

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