Thursday, January 29, 2015

Walk the Walls Tour - The Old Stones

Tour dates  -  May 27-June 08, 2015          

This year our Walk the Walls Tour will take us to Northern Scotland, the Orkney Islands and on to the western Islands of Mull and Iona.  This will be our fourth tour. We will visit stone age ruins and contemporary sites of stone walls, bridges, buildings, gardens and follies. We will learn about the lost arts of dry stone structures, the history  and legends of the castles and glens. Come absorb yourself in the landscape, the music, the food and the traditions of the region.

The first half of the trip will take us to the Orkney Islands, just a short step from the Scottish mainland.  These  islands are mainly “low lying, gently sloping, fertile valleys, where spring days are long and skies enormous”.  However, our interests are the well preserved treasury of Stone Age settlements and the recent discovery of Ness of Brodgar.  As National Geographic describes  this site in their August 2014 article, “Before long day ago around 3200 B.C., the farmers and herdsmen on Scotland’s remote Orkney Islands decided to build something big...”.  Picture of the Stones of Stenness, Britain 


From Orkney we will take the ferry to the mainland to meet our friend and DSWA Master Dry Stone waller George Gunn, (winner of and International Award for the Built Environment and Architectural Heritage). George also used to guide motorcycle tours in the Highlands, so he knows the backroads of this remote area and beautiful country, a land of legendary stones.

We will also meet singer, songwriter, poet and mountaineer Dave Goulder and  his wife Mary, our hosts  Lairg/Rosehall/Summerland.  Dave totes his Master Craftsmen/instructor walling certificate around with him,  as well as his guitar and members of his Rosehall Ceilidh band.

There is a wide variation of building styles and stones in the Lairg/Dornoch vicinity, -- double and single walls (dykes), sheep fanks, cairns and castles.  Our tentative plans are to stay in a Scottish Castle (Dornoch Castle Hotel), on the edge of the Dornoch Firth, a designated National Scenic Area in the Highlands of Scotland.

The second half of the tour we will travel south to the Inner Hebrides Islands of Mull and Iona. Here we will be joined by our very good friend and past host from the Balmoral portion of our 2011 tour, our waller at Balmoral, Norman Haddow (DSWA Master’s Certificate). 

Historically the island was known for crofting, whiskey distilling and fishing, yet now is known for castles and stone structures as well as one of the best seabird viewing areas in Great Britain. 

Most of our time will be spent on Iona, a pilgrimage site for several centuries and a place of Christian worship for more than 1400 years.  The extensive pink granite ruins of the Augustinian nunnery, and the Abbey that dates from the arrival of the Benedictines around 1200, as well as the sacred burial ground  which is said to contain the graves of kings of Norway, France, Iceland, and Scotland, including Duncan and Macbeth, are all within a walking tour of the island.

We will leave the islands behind and spend our last night in Glasgow. 

The Walk the Walls portion of the tour  and the flight portion are priced separately so  those wishing to make their own travel plans to and from  our destination  may do so.  Our tentative itinerary is to depart from Toronto-Glasgow the evening of May 27, and Glasgow-Toronto, June 08. We are designing this tour for the hikers, walkers or  wanderers. Our itinerary will be as casual as possible.

Our goal is to introduce the culture, the history, the ecology and for many, to connect with the stones of our past!

The dates have been set for our tour of walls but we are still working on finding the best prices  . So stayed tuned.

For general tour information contact:

Margot Miller    < >  613 659 3415
Jackie Moir, branch manager with Merit Travel will be our travel agent.  <>   (613.342.1412 x7230 | 1.800.938.2677 |