London - Their trip promised the chance to explore the Highlands’ “breathtaking variety of landscapes”.
But grandparents Derek and Julia Limbert rarely made it off the coach on their £699 (about R12 000) Scottish tour – spending more than ten hours a day on board.
Tour firm Diamond Holidays claimed they would visit Oban, Mull, Iona and Skye.
But on arriving at their destinations, they had either missed ferries or were forced to turn back as it was too late to see anything.
When the couple complained, the travel company offered just £20 each in vouchers.
Mr Limbert, 74, said: “It was a disaster from start to finish. We barely got to see the outside of the coach at all the entire trip.
“I would have seen more of the Scottish Highlands if I’d stayed at home and looked the places up on the internet.”
The Limberts were collected from their home in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, on July 15, bound for Stirling, central Scotland. The journey should take about five hours by car.
But they had not reckoned on the coach making detours to pick up holidaymakers in Staffordshire, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Durham and Newcastle – plus a two-hour stop in Gretna to change coaches – meaning they spent more than 15 hours travelling.
Mr Limbert said: “It was chaos. The itinerary did not show this nor that the time of travel to our overnight stop would be over 15 hours.” Finally arriving at 9pm, they had a quick sleep before setting off for Oban early the next day – but a two-hour drive took almost ten. Mr Limbert said: “It took about nine-and-a-half hours. We arrived just in time to get a wash before rushing down to our evening meal.
“If that wasn’t bad enough on the third day we were supposed to make an early start for a full-day tour around the Isle of Mull – where we would visit the picturesque capital of Tobermory – and Iona.
“The ‘early start’ was 11.45am – so late that on our arrival to Mull our driver told us that we would not have time to visit Tobermory.”
Their holiday went from bad to worse when a misunderstanding of ferry times meant the coach party missed their visit to the Isle of Iona.
On the fourth day they made it to the Isle of Skye, but only after a ten-hour drive that should have taken half as long. They had time only for fish and chips in a cafe.
The final day involved a gruelling journey home that took 16-and-a-half hours as the coach dropped other tourists at their homes across the north of England. The couple said their experience had been “appalling”.
Mrs Limbert, 73, branded the trip an “ill-thought-out mystery tour”.
Diamond Holidays – based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire – said in a letter to the couple that each trip was “carefully planned” to ensure arrangements run “as efficiently as possible”.