Sunday, July 6, 2014

Living Sacred Scotland Herbal Tour

The Academy of Scottish Herbalism and Clinical Herbalist Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir are pleased to be able to present a two week ethnobotanical herbal intensive in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. 
This grand quest to explore the mystical and healing herbs and sacred sites of the Scottish Highlands & Islands meets in Aberdeen October 2nd and concludes in Glasgow the 15th.  We’ll be hillwalking, traveling, eating, exploring and staying together through the landscape and communities I have lived in and learned in for nearly 20 years. Herb identification walks, wildlife spotting, local-raised foods, music, stone circles, divination, healing herbs, trees & stones, botanical discoveries in formal gardens, along fields, streams and woodlands will be a daily adventure. All this in autumns decent weather, long-enough daylight, with more locals and less tourists.  

We’ll begin our travels in a beautiful region of North East Scotland, loaded with ancient standing stones, mysticism, wild medicinal herbs, lichen and trees. You will learn ancient plant uses, medicinal applications and culinary potentials.

Darroch Learg Garden View
For the first seven days of our travels, we'll be staying at Darroch Learg, which was built in 1888. Its old Gaelic name translates as 'the oak wood on the sunny hillside'. On the slopes of Craigendarroch, the 'Rocky Hill of Oaks', Darroch Learg overlooks the nearby village of Ballater, within the area known as ‘the Royal Deeside’. We will be along the River Dee; Uisge Dhè or ‘water of the goddess’ and near to Balmoral Castle. This is a nature conservation area, which will be great for our hillwalking explorations, some of the finest in the area. Expect to see a startling array of medicinal plants, now found world-wide, but native to Scotland.

Field of Prayer Stone Circle
Our journey into the prehistory of this mystic land also includes autumn morning mist-filled walks in stone circles to visit the ancient ones and explorations of the carved standing stones. We’ll visit Field of Prayer, a stone circle which is made largely of pink porphyry stone that sparkles a bit in the sunlight. One stone in the 5000 year old monument is a massive solid red jasper stone, covered in lichen. We’ll explore this observatory of natural time, a wonder-filled sight to behold, and unforgettable experience of the sacred. You will be guided in personal use of the circle and using the positioning of the sun, moon and stars in keeping all life rhythmic and healthy. Practical and traditional uses of healing stones will be taught as well. The moon will be waxing its way to a full moon while we are here.

Herd of Red Deer

Continuing North and to the West, through the picturesque Cairngorm Mountain 'Highlands', where hillsides ablaze with color provide us with wildlife spotting and inspiring imagery for discussion of Scottish animal symbology and omens.

Pine Marten Kit

Wishing Tree

Once we arrive at the 'Black Isle'; an t-Eilean Dubh, exploration and use of holy wells will be covered. An ancient monastic peninsula, The Black Isle is surrounded on three sides by water. Natural wildlife observation points are plentiful here as are holy wells, wishing trees and sacred sites.



Richmond Hotel ~ Crystal House
For two days our home away from home will be The Richmond Hotel, a charming Victorian house built in 1885 overlooking the small village of Strathpeffer; Srath Pheofhair, set into the mountain folds and surrounded by woodlands. 

Strathpeffer Village
This place is known and sought after for its healing waters, so we’ll continue our exploration and personal use of water for healing and walk the woodlands. 

Rowan or Luis
Here we’ll also have a special evening program along with locals; I’ll be teaching about the use of tree medicine, both in herbalism and in the mystical applications of the ogham tree alphabet.

Inverness at night along the River Ness

Next comes a visit to the city of Inverness 

Leakey's Books & Cafe
....and the landmark Leakey’s Bookshop located in the old Gaelic Church, built in 1793. As Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop they have a selection of unusual and rare herbal interest books that will be sure to please.

Daisies at Urquart Castle, Loch Ness
Rose Hips

Winding our way further West through the Highland glens, with a brief stop at Loch Ness to tell the tale of The Goddess of Loch Ness...

Heather growing on the Isle of Skye

We'll leave the mainland, crossing over the sea to the enchanted Isle of Skye.

Seals and Seaweeds

For the last four days of our journey, Ben Tianavaig will be our host in the capitol village of Portree; Port-an-Righ or the Kings port. Ben Tianavaig was built at the beginning of the last century, and the name is a mixture of Gaelic and Norse meaning “harbour at the foot of the hill”. Looking out over Portree Harbour, with panoramic views, we will also be only a minute's walk from the center of Portree village.  
Portree Harbour
The landscape here is rich and diverse in habitat, flora, trees and fungi, and we’ll be experiencing as much of it as will fit into our days. Steeped in history and Gaelic culture, the Isle of Skye has also been officially recognized by National Geographic’s travel experts’ as the 4th most beautiful island in the world.


I think you will agree when we visit the Fairy pools, the Fairy Glen and the white coral and shell beach. It’s here that you will learn about an da Shealladh; the two sights, also called ‘second-sight’, and how to use this to benefit your life. 

There will be visual arts, music, poetry and stories throughout our travels.

Practical Information

October 2nd through the 15th 2014


Participants should arrive in Aberdeen from 3pm on Thursday October 2nd and aim to be no later than 7pm for supper. Our adventures begin with a relaxing introductory session after supper

On the morning of October 15th we’ll begin to wrap-up our journey, traveling down the West coast to Glasgow city and arrive by 5pm. Flights or other departures should be scheduled with enough time, usually 2 hours, after this.


The overall cost of the course is: $3000. (£1782.) And is due by August 1st.

Cost details: 
  • Over 80 hours of tuition including daily sessions and guided field trips
  • Handouts of subjects covered and a keepsake book of our travels.
  • Herbal elixirs and a set of healing stones
  • Field trip transport including cost of petrol
  • 13 nights of accommodation
  • Breakfasts and evening meals; from supper on October 2nd to breakfast on October 15th.   
The cost of the course does not include transport to and from Scotland


I’ve chosen the option of booking accommodations with food included. This allows all of us to be completely free all of the time for exploration and study.


Accommodation is double occupancy/ two persons. If you wish to lodge with someone in particular, please note that when you register. 


Rooms are light, pleasant and simple. Each is ensuite; with a sink, toilet and shower of its own.


All of our hosts will be serving us freshly prepared meals from local-raised foods, for breakfasts and dinners. Lunches will be on our own, or we'll pick-up something nice to take along on our travels. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options are available in most places. Please notify when registering if you will need vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free meals. Other special dietary requirements may be too difficult to accommodate.

Transport details
Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangement and costs to the areas of Scotland where we will arrive and depart.  

You must arrange your own travel to Aberdeen in the East coast of Scotland to arrive by the

Aberdeen train station
evening of October 2nd, and leaving Glasgow in the West coast of Scotland on the evening of October 15th.
If flying into Scotland, arrive in Glasgow or Aberdeen, then travel on the train to Aberdeen station, and I will pick you up. When departing, plan to depart from Glasgow.
During the tour we will travel together in a small SUV and so you will be required to pack lightly, recognizing that luggage space is limited.
How to register for the course
The aim of this two week guided intensive is to give participants the opportunity to concentrate on discovery of Scotland’s ancient herbal, cultural and mystic traditions.  
If you would like to secure a place to participate in this tour or have any questions, please contact me at: or phone: 541-686-6136 to express your interest in attending.
There is a non-refundable deposit of $500. (£291.). The deposit will of course be refunded in the unlikely event that the tour must be cancelled for any reason. All registrations must be in by August 1st 2014. Payment in full of: $3000. (£1782.) must be complete by August 1st.
This journey is not suitable for those with mental health problems, or with problems walking, hiking or being around other people for long periods of time, or being in a moving vehicle for long periods of time. It is not religious in content, nor is it a substitute for therapy. All participants will need to fully engage in the intensive study of ancient Scottish culture and herbalism in the tour by attending all teaching sessions as well as all trail-side instruction.
An application, interview and references are required to attend.

Looking forward to the journey.
Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir