A Literary Hike Through Scotland with Poet Kim Stafford

Participants are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


This trip has reached capacity. Please sign up for the waitlist here

Whether you are fascinated with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Louis Stevenson, or Dorothy and William Wordsworth, join us as we hike through the Highlands and Islands of Scotland with Oregon’s 9th Poet Laureate, Professor Emeritus Kim Stafford and his wife Perrin Kerns.


Itinerary, September 4-13

September 4
Arrival at Edinburgh Airport and settle in at the hotel. We’ll take a tour of the central Edinburgh that Robert Louis Stevenson knew. We will see both the elegant 18th century New Town, where he was brought up, the University and the Old Town where he pursued his studies. We’ll walk 2 to 5 miles around the town, depending on time available. Take into account that Edinburgh is quite hilly.

September 5
Edinburgh and around in the morning, a walk in the Pentland Hills via Swanston, where the Stevenson family rented a second home in the country for thirteen years of Robert Louis’ youth. Weather permitting, there are wide views over southern and central Scotland, with the highland line beckoning away to the northwest. In the afternoon, to Colinton, home of Stevenson’s mother, Margaret Balfour. We’ll hike a little over 4 miles with up to 1265 feet of ascent.


September 6
Loch Lomond and Inveraray, famous in song; Loch Lomond lives up to expectations. A long loch of contrasts; a deep glacial trough in the highland north widening to a wide, island-studded expanse in the lowland south. Samuel Johnson stayed on its shores as guest of the Colquhouns at Rose Dhu (Rossdhu). Dorothy and William Wordsworth explored it thoroughly, almost end to end, visiting Rob Roy’s Caves near Inversnaid en route. Rob Roy (a real person as well as a character from Scott) was a MacGregor chief, outlawed for cattle thieving and because his clan had massacred numbers of the better-connected Colquhouns at Glen Fruin. In the afternoon we’ll explore Inveraray, where both Johnson and the Wordsworths stayed. Seat of the Dukes of Argyll, Inveraray Castle is at the heart of Campbell clan territory; Campbells play an important role as villains in Kidnapped. We’ll hike 3 miles with 776 feet of ascent.

September 7
Today we board the ferry for Mull at Oban, temporarily leaving the Wordsworths behind, but continuing alongside the ghosts of both Johnson and Stevenson. After the 40 minute crossing, we drive through increasingly spectacular scenery, to the Ross of Mull. Erraid, off the tip of the Ross of Mull, is a tidal island. The walk across Erraid well rewards our efforts. If the weather is clear, the magnificent Dubh Artach lighthouse can still be seen, 15 miles away to the southwest, as can, in ideal conditions, the still more remote and elegant Skerryvore light to the west. After our walk we’ll take the passenger ferry to the Isle of Iona. We’ll hike around 5 miles with 660 ft of ascent.

September 8
Ah the Isle of Iona …Many people make the pilgrimage to ‘Columba’s Isle’, but the island, and most importantly the village, remains quiet through the morning. By the time the day trippers arrive from Oban, we will have had plenty of time to see the abbey, the nunnery and the burial place of some 50 kings of Scotland, Ireland and Norway (if legend be believed) and will be ready to set out on our tour of the island’s quietest and most beautiful corners. We’ll visit the Bay at the Back of the Ocean and a second bay where Columba is said to have first set foot on the island. We’ll hike about 5.5 miles with 395 ft of ascent.

September 9
We’ll take a boat from Fionnphort to Staffa, the beautiful, uninhabited island best known for its magnificent basalt columns. Mendelssohn was inspired to write his oratorio Fingal’s Cave following his visit here, but Johnson was unable to land because of the weather. As we’ll be going in a better season, with a better boat and a more solidly crafted landing place, we should have more luck. We travel back to the mainland in the afternoon. We’ll walk short distances and climbs this day.

September 10
The country of the Appin Stewarts is where historical events, having their roots in the post-Culloden breakdown of traditional highland society, took place - eventually to be used by Stevenson in Kidnapped. The Appin Murder was notorious in its day, and is still not forgotten. The Campbell victim had administered estates forfeited by those who had supported the Jacobite revolutionaries in their failed attempt to re-establish a catholic Stuart monarchy. Accordingly he wasn’t popular locally. The government needed to arrest and punish a killer – or at least a scapegoat – and found one in James Stewart of the Glens. He had an alibi, but the Campbell court found him guilty and he was executed. In Kidnapped, suspicion falls on Alan Breck Stewart, Davie’s companion, and the lives of both are at risk as they flee across Scotland, trying to get to Edinburgh and safety. The murder and execution sites are both on our route. Three short hikes in total about 5.5 miles with 950ft of ascent.

September 11
We will take a walk in Glen Coe, through which our heroes fled, to get a feel for their plight. We’ll also see Rannoch Moor, across which they then made their way - a vast desolation, evocatively described by Stevenson. The Wordsworths also came this way. There will be an option to walk a section of the West Highland Way from Glen Coe to Inveroran. After the walk we continue our journey via Lochearnhead and Callander to Stirling. We’ll hike about 5.5 miles or 8.5 miles with about 1,000 ft of ascent, depending on the option that suits your fancy.

September 12
We’re back to Edinburgh via South Queensferry and Corstorphine Hill on this day. Stirling functioned as a heavily defended garrison town throughout the Scottish Wars of Independence. It’s something of a frontier town between highlands and lowlands. Both the Wordsworths and Davie Balfour passed this way en route to Edinburgh. We’ll stroll through the old town and have a walk up Dumyat Hill. On the outskirts of Edinburgh, we pass the Forth Bridges at Queensferry, where, as the name clearly indicates, ferries once ran back and forth between Lothian and Fife. Finally, before going on to our hotel, it would be remiss not to visit the Davie Balfour / Alan Breck statue on the outskirts of the city at Corstorphine Hill. Two hikes of up to 4.5 and 3.5 miles and up to 950 and 400ft of ascent on this fine day.

September 13
Flight back to U.S.A.


$5375 per person, double occupancy (Sold Out) ($1000 deposit + balance of $4375) When signing up for the double occupancy option, you must have your traveling companion confirmed. Travelers in double occupancy accommodations are responsible for lining up their own roommate.

$6,250 per person, single occupancy (Sold Out)  ($1000 + balance of $5250) (The single occupancy option is sold out for this trip. If are a single, looking to room with someone and would be open to rooming with someone you don’t know, or, you would like to be put on a waiting list for a single, please fill out this form.  We will be in contact if a possibility arises.) 

For additional details including meals, see the brochure. Read about the accommodations. A brief guide to some of the sites on this tour can be found here. Find packing information here.  

Note- airfare is not included in the price. Travelers make their own arrangements to and from Scotland.

Sign up for the waitlist here!

TRAVEL INSURANCE IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for Lewis & Clark trips, please click here for more information.

The tour price includes:

  • 9 nights in carefully selected and comfortable hotels;
  • Meals: 9 breakfasts, 9 (packed) lunches, 9 dinners including welcome and farewell dinner;
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell dinner;
  • The services of 2 well-qualified, well-informed and enthusiastic About Argyll guides/drivers and 1 driver/tour manager;
  • Transport by minibuses, ferries and boats, as needed, throughout the trip;
  • All sightseeing and excursions as indicated in the itinerary;
  • All entrance fees to sites included in the itinerary;
  • Tips for the hotels, guides and tour manager;
  • Taxes and government duties

Not included are:

  • Airfare to and from starting and ending cities of the itinerary, including all airport fees and departure taxes;
  • Passport and visa fees (if applicable); at this time U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit Scotland;
  • Cost of personal, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance;
  • Meals, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages other than those specified above;
  • Entrances other than those specified above and in the itinerary;
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, faxes, and e-mail service.

Questions, contact Andrew McPheeters, Associate Vice President of Alumni and Parent Engagement at: mcpheete@lclark.edu or 503-768-7936.

Find Terms and Conditions here.

Inspired by a September 2018 stride across Rannoch Moor, which this group also plans to traverse together, Professor Stafford penned the following:

Ballad of the West Highland Way
by Kim Stafford
When you catch the call of walking the West Highland Way,
For all their bold persuading, there is nothing they can say
To stop you rising early, and striding till it’s dark
Along a stony path when the stars begin to spark.

From Milgavie’s railway station to Fort William’s holy grail—
Where you’ll step into a pub and say “I think I’ve earned an ale,”
For you’ve witnessed Lomond’s blue, and you’ve crossed Rannoch Moor,
Descended steep at Glencoe where you stopped keeping score—

From all your calculations, you slid into a trance
To see the bracken flicker and the rowan’s twitchin’ dance.
To think your old companions, their papers piled in heaps
While you descended valleys and clambered rocky steeps.

There’s some may ask you how, and some may ask you why—
They’ve never seen the heather, or drunk the open sky.
There’s many ways of winning, and many ways to fail,
But just say no to rambling and you’ll live your life in jail.

Aye, sure, there’s rain and midges, bad feet and leaky tents,
Where boulders are for ladies and hazel trees for gents,
Long pitches without water, and nights devoid of grub,
And miles and miles of stones and stiles before you reach the pub.

But that’s the glory of it, your trials are your tales,
When tempests tip the pines, when willow flings and flails.
Your struggles are your stories to tell when you grow old
About the hills you climbed when you were young and bold.

There is no hard or easy, there’s only steady on,
For soon enough your precious life will be completely gone.
The hills will steal your breath, till there’s but little left—
Your pack is like a feather, it’s your life that holds the heft—

Your life you’ve lived in cities, that trade joy for comfort’s ease,
Where they take away your spirit for sweets designed to please—
To stuff your weary spirit with baubles and with cash
Instead of deeper pleasures of the hazel and the ash,

Of pine and rusty bracken, and heather on the moor
Where all this bright creation offers Eden out your door.
There’s some that ply Buchanan Street, or step the Royal Mile
For amethyst and silver to flaunt the city style,

But you’re content with bracken, willows, stones, and moss,
The likes of ruined bothies, and the thistle gone to floss.
For when you lived in Glasgow you traded freedom in
For easy going living as if hardship were a sin,

But now you stride the ridges, with cities left behind—
When hardship starts to whisper you don’t pay it any mind.
For the modern world’s a shimmer, roads and cars a show,
While the old essential Scotland keeps brimming from below,

Still singing in the women, still shouting in the men.
The red stag’s mighty bellow is a hint of what’s within,
Where your separation from your heart is finally growing thin,
And the peeping of the robin is the story you’re still in.

So you’ve caught the call of walking the West Highland Way—
For all their bold persuading there is nothing they can say
To stop you rising early, and striding till it’s dark
Along a stony path when the stars begin to spark.

This trip is expected to sell out quickly, even though it’s scheduled for the fall of 2022.

Questions, contact Andrew McPheeters, Associate Vice President of Alumni and Parent Engagement at: mcpheete@lclark.edu or 503-768-7936.