Carpenter Holidays

Culture & Leisure
  • T: +44 (0) 20 8946 6821

7 to 15 October 2024 Heart of Scotland

Monday 7 October 2024 to Tuesday 15 October 2024

This holiday is the fourth collaboration between Carpenter Holidays and Kayleen Asbo. Join Kayleen Asbo (of Mythica) and Stephen (of Carpenter Holidays) for a ten day journey in Scotland as we weave together a Celtic tapestry of nature, history, art, music, poetry and friendship. We will begin our journey in Edinburgh (one of the most charming capitals of Europe) and continue to mystical Perthshire, the cradle  of Celtic Spirituality. We will be following in the footsteps of Celtic saints and artists, Druid hermits, Romantic poets and the composer Felix Mendelssohn, whose own journey inspired two of his greatest symphonic masterworks: his Symphony No 3 in A minor (Scottish) and Hebrides Overture. Our journey will also weave together the influence of Celtic myth, history and symbol in contemporary art, from the sculptures of Andy Goldsworthy to the masterworks of Phoebe Anna Traquair, John Duncan and Charles Rennie MacIntosh. Drawing on their work as a source of inspiration, we will have periods of our own creative practice: singing, creating earth art and writing.

The tour will start in Edinburgh on Monday 7 October 2024 and, after enjoying many of the sights in the city, and a day trip out to Abbotsford (the home of Sir Walter Scott) and Melrose, will will move on for a four-night stay at the Dunkeld House Hotel in the heart of Perthshire, from where we explore the surrounding area before departing on the morning of Monday 14 October 2024.

If you would like to join Kayleen and Stephen on this Heart of Scotland pilgimage through some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland, see details of how "To Book" below.

Please note: for the safety and well-being of our guests, we require testing for Covid the day before we begin, and again if you develop any symptoms during our trip. We will have test kits on hand. Depending on world circumstances and UK policies at the time, it may be a requirement to wear a mask on our bus voyages. We strongly urge you to obtain trip insurance to cover your expenses should you fall ill.


This is a draft itinerary at this stage and may change in some details, but the broad plans will remain the same:

Monday 7 October 2024 – Edinburgh. Independent arrival and check-in at the Edinburgh Holyrood Hotel from 3.00pm. We will take the short walk from our hotel to the iconic Scottish Parliament Building,  a modern masterpiece that evokes archetypal symbols of the Ancient Celtic past before continuing on to Holyrood Park. Here, we will have an opening ritual of intentions and dedication at Saint Margaret's Loch and  (for those sure of foot) climb to the evocative ruins of the 12th century Benedictine Chapel of Saint Anthony to chant before returning to our hotel for a festive opening three course dinner together at the Hotel at 7.00pm

Tuesday 8 October – St Cecilia's Hall, National Museum of Scotland and National Gallery of Scotland. After breakfast, we will take a historic walk from our hotel up the "Royal Mile" , passing by Holyrood Palace, the National Poetry Center, the National Storytelling Center and walking in the footsteps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, JK Rowling and so many more. Arriving at St Cecilia's Hall, we will have a private guided tour of the collection of rare historical instruments and then savor a salon of music and story, discovering the deep connections between Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Scotland.

In the afternoon, we visit the National Museum and National Gallery of Scotland to discover how Pictish and Celtic stone work reached across the centuries to inspire the  Celtic Renaissance and Andy Goldsworthy. Buffet supper together back at the hotel.

Wednesday 9 October – Abbotsford and Melrose. Departing at 9.00am from the Hotel, we take the 90-minute journey to Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott whose novels inspired so many 19th-century composers and who was one of the main reasons why the German composer, Felix Mendelssohn visited Scotland. We will have a private tour of the house followed by lunch at the Ochiltree restaurant, before journeying on to the beautiful town of Melrose where Mendelssohn found some solace after his unscuccessful attempt to meet Scott in 1829, and where we will have a short introduction to Gothic Architecture and Gregorian chant. After Melrose we will return Edinburgh for a private tour of Phoebe Anna Traquair's magnificent "Song School" frescoes followed by a Choral evensong at Saint Mary's Cathedral. Dinner will be under your own arrangements - we will provide a list of recommended restaurants in the city, or you can dine quietly in the hotel if you prefer.

Thursday 10 October – Mansfield Traquair, Botanic Gardens and Patrick Geddes Center. In the morning we will visit the extraordinary Mansfield Traquair which has been described as "Edinburgh's Sistine Chapel" where we can admire the grand neo-Romanesque architecture, and the truly exquisite murals of Phoebe Anna Traquair that adorn the interior walls. After Mansfield Traquair we will go to Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Gardens where you can have lunch under your own arrangements in the cafe after which we can savor the beauty of the land art installations of Andy Goldsworthy at the historical recreation of the Medieval Herb Gardens and the memorial chapel to the Queen Mother. Our evening will consist of a celebratory dinner at the Patrick Geddes center, capped with a toe-tapping and infectious performance of live Celtic music by the renowned Celtic band, Flytt.

Friday 11 October – Into the Highlands: Blair Castle and Dunkeld! We depart for Perthshire, known as the Heart of Scotland. We will walk to the enchanting Bruar Falls made famous by poet Robert Burns. After lunch, we have a tour of historic Blair Castle and Gardens before checking into the gracious Dunkeld House Hotel. Here you will find a warm welcome, an excellent swimming pool and spa facilities, and plenty of cosy nooks to curl up with a book and glass of sherry or whisky in front of a fire.  We will have a late afternoon chamber music concert by the Resol Quartet before our elegant three course dinner.

Saturday 12 October – the Falls of Braan at the Hermitage, the Rumbling Bridge, Corbenic Poetry Path. We take a gentle stroll through Birnam Woods (made famous in Shakespeare's Macbeth) and visit the Hermitage, an ode to poetic legends of Celtic bards set amidst some of the most stunning scenery you are ever likely to encounter. For those seeking more exercise and inspiration, we will follow the 1.5 hour trail to the "Rumbling Bridge" past a stirring series of waterfalls (which Mendelssohn himself sketched and was frequently depicted by the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Milais). In the afternoon, you can choose to be pampered by enjoying the spa facilities or high tea at the hotel. The more outdoorsy and adventurous are invited to another afternoon hike to explore the Corbennic Poetry Path, with 33 installations of art reflecting poems about nature.

Dinner together at the hotel in the evening.

Sunday 13 October – Free day, with the option of joining Kayleen foraging in the forest along the banks of the river Tay to create our own "earth art" offerings in gratitude for the beauty of the land. In the evening, a candlelit music service at Dunkeld Abbey will bring our day to a gentle close before another lovely three course dinner at our hotel. 

Monday 14 October – Queen's View, Aberfeldy, Croft Moraig Stone Circle, and Loch Tay. Our first visit of the day will be to the spectacular Queen's View at Loch Tummel, and from there to Aberfeldy where you will be able to have lunch in one of the many cafes in the town. There will be a walk up to the Falls of Moness which Mendelssohn sketched and which inspired Robert Burns to write his poem The Birks of Aberfeldy. A short distance on from Aberfeldy is the Croft Moraig Stone Circle where we will stop before moving on to Kenmore to view the vast expanse of Loch Tay. We return to Dunkeld for our final dinner together at the hotel.

Tuesday 15 October – Departure After breakfast and a final closing circle, we will bid farewell to this land of enchantment and our new community of friends. We will drop you off at either the Edinburgh Airport at 12.00, or Edinburgh train station at 12.30pm Please make your travel plans accordingly.


Tuesday 8 October

Recital to be given by Kayleen Asbo (piano) and musical guests featuring music which explores the deep connections between Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Scotland.

Friday 11 October
Performance at the Dunkeld House Hotel by the Resol String Quartet:

Mendelssohn Four Pieces for String Quartet, Op 81
Mendelssohn String Quartet No 6 in F minor, Op 80

Travel Information

Whether you are coming from the UK, the USA or elsewhere, you will need to make your own travel arrangements to Edinburgh. If you are an American citizen, you do not need a visa to travel to the UK as a tourist, provided your stay is less than 6 months.

Please also note that you will need to arrange your own travel insurance. It is recommended that you obtain insurance that will cover you in the event of illness or accident before the holiday preventing you from being able to travel, as well as the more usual medical cover whilst you are actually on the trip. It is also a requirement of joining the Spirit of Scotland holiday that all travellers sign a liability waiver confirming that Carpenter Holidays and Mythica LLC shall not be held liable for theft, loss, injury, illness, or damage to person or property during the holiday. A copy of the liability waiver can be downloaded from the "Document(s)" section at the bottom of this page.

Edinburgh is easily reached by train or air from all major UK cities. Regular train services take around 4 1/2 hours from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley, which is a 5-minute taxi ride from the hotel. There are also regular flights from all London airports to Edinburgh which take around 1 hour. A taxi journey from the airport to the hotel will cost around £55, or the airport shuttle bus to Waverley Station costs £6 one way, or the tram from the airport to St Andrew's Square is £6. In booking your train journey or flight, please bear in mind that there will be a welcome dinner at the hotel at 7.00pm on Monday 7 October. At the end of the holiday on Tuesday 15 October, we will bring everyone by coach to Edinburgh airport at 12.00noon and to central Edinburgh (near the train station) by 12.30pm. You can plan your journey home based on these arrival times.

Should you wish to extend your visit to Scotland by arriving earlier than Monday 7 October or staying later then Tuesday 15 October, we can arrange for additional nights at the hotel in Edinburgh (and the beginning or end).

Price per person

Tour price
Tour price: £3,600 per person based on sharing a double or twin room
Single supplement: £690

Sharing rooms - if you are a single traveller who would be willing to share a twin room with another person, please let us know at the time of booking and we will endeavour to pair you with a roommate. However, we do not guarantee this (particularly for those who book later by which time most "pairings" will have been confirmed), so please be aware of the possibility that you may need to pay the single supplement if no roommate can be found.

Payment schedule:
Deposit: £2,000 due on booking
Final instalment of £1,600 (or £1,300 if you qualified for the early bird discount due by 31 May 2024
Single supplement of £690 due by 31 May 2024

Price includes: Accommodation, breakfast daily, seven dinners, one lunch, music recitals in Edinburgh and Dunkeld, tours of Abbotsford, Melrose Abbey, Mansfield Traquair and Blair Castle, coach transportation throughout, all tips for guides and coach driver, the services of Stephen Carpenter and Kayleen Asbo as tour managers.

Excluded is your travel to and from Edinburgh, most lunches when you are free to make your own arrangements at the carefully selected stopping points, except at Abbotsford on 9 October when we will have lunch together, one dinner on Wednesday 9 October. Drinks with meals. Also excluded is travel insurance which travellers will need to organise themselves.

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellation costs up to 100 days before departure of the trip: deposit

Cancellation costs between 100 days up to 50 days before departure of the trip: 50% of the total invoice

Cancellation costs from 50 days up to the day of departure before departure of the trip: costs of the total invoice

To Book

Booking is through Stephen Carpenter, at Carpenter Holidays.

Please complete the Booking form which you can download from the "Document(s)" section below. Once completed, email it to stephen [at] or send it by post to:

Stephen Carpenter
67 Stuart Road
SW19 8DJ

Once you have submitted the booking from, you will be sent details of how to pay the deposit for the holiday. This will be payable either by bank transfer, details of which will be given to you on completion of the form, or via PayPal. NB we offer a £50 discount if you pay via bank transfer. 


If you have any questions about the “Heart of Scotland” holiday, please do not hesitate to contact Stephen by email as above, or by phoning him on +44 (0)20 8946 6821 or +44 (0)7730 817891.