Edinburgh, The Highlands and Islands
From Edinburgh To The West Highland Line, Isle of Mull, Loch Linnhe, Glencoe, Jacobite Steam Train, Loch Ness, The Kyle Line, Eilean Donan Castle, Inverness - 8 Nights
- Departing from:
- The West Highland Line, Isle of Mull, Loch Linnhe, Glencoe, Jacobite Steam Train, Loch Ness, The Kyle Line, Eilean Donan Castle, Inverness
- 8 Nights
- This escorted tour runs most weeks March to October. Check with our office for dates.
- Tour Operator:
- Vacations By Rail
- Reference Code:
Price per person
Discover the West Highlands and Cairngorms on this fabulous round trip rail tour of Scotland.
Lochs and glens, castles and islands lie in wait of your discovery as we travel through the beautiful island of Scotland. The explorations begin in Edinburgh, where you can explore on your own before traveling to Glasgow. In Glasgow, we board the renowned West Highland Line and travel along lochs, past mountainscapes, and through quaint villages. Leaving the mainland, we journey by ferry to the Isle of Mull and enjoy a visit to an ancient castle and a taste of authentic Scotch whiskey. Continuing, we enjoy highlights such as Neptune's Staircase, a cruise of Loch Linnhe, a ride aboard the Jacobite Steam Train and the legendary Loch Ness. One final train ride, this time aboard the Kyle Line, takes us to Kyle of Lochalsh, where we visit the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle. As the tour wraps back to Edinburgh, enjoy even more quintessential Scottish vistas and feel your heart fill with memories of this wonderful country.
From Ben Nevis in Fort William to the Glenfinnan Viaduct and Loch Nevis in Mallaig, some of the most impressive sights in the Scottish Highlands are presented aboard the Jacobite Steam Train. Many travelers recognize the line as the “Harry Potter” train; however, the railway has been in operation for over 120 years, connecting remote villages and towns on Scotland’s Atlantic Coast. The Jacobite Steam Train follows its 84-mile roundtrip course at an average speed of 50 miles per hour to showcase all of the beautiful Highland scenery in its full glory.
Travel over 80 miles from Inverness to coastal Kyle of Lochalsh aboard the Kyle Line, often noted as one of the world’s most scenic rail lines. On its route, the train passes through picturesque Highland scenery, presenting charming villages, gleaming lochs, and beautiful vistas of Achnashellach Forest. The peaks of the Torridon Hills also come into view during the 2- hour, 40-minute route. With over 150 years of history and some of Scotland’s most spectacular views, the Kyle Line delights travelers of all interests.
Providing the entirety of mainland Scotland with transport links, Abello Scotrail is a fantastic commuter service that means even the farthest reaches of this wild and wonderful country is easily accessible. Running since 1983 under a variety of operators, this service has numerous lines, including one that stretches from the tip, Thurso, down to Edinburgh.
The lines on the Scotrail service are some of the most scenic in the world. The Kyle Line, the West Highland Line, and the Hadrian’s Wall line are all services by Scotrail trains. The West Highland Line, stretching between Glasgow to Mallaig, stopping off at Fort William and with an offshoot line to Oban, is arguably the most famous of this line. There are numerous stunning sights to look out for on this route – from the breathtaking wilds of the highlands, to the peaks of the craggy mountains, to the iconic 21-spans of the beautiful Glennfinnan Viaduct.
Another famed line that we utilise on the Scotrail network includes the Kyle of Lochalsh line, running 63 miles between Dingwall and Kyle of Lochalsh. With spectacular views of the Isle of Skye as you come towards the pretty Kyle of Lochalsh, this particular line is certainly a glorious introduction to both of the Highlands of Scotland and the Hebrides. Other particularly beautiful places that the network explores include the Cairngorm National Park, on the Inverness to Edinburgh line, which passes through magnificent and verdant pine forests, as well as nearby the iconic Cairngorm Mountain.
The stock that traverses the lines are comfortable and modern, with spacious carriages and seating, as well as large windows through which to see the passing beauty of the Scottish countryside. New trains will be coming soon in the next few years, with more services, power sockets, Wi-Fi, and improved accessibility.
Widely regarded as one of the most impressive rail lines in Scotland, if not the world, the West Highland Line illustrates the Scottish Highlands’ windblown beauty while traveling a 164-mile course between Glasgow and Mallaig. Vast heather moorlands meet snow-capped mountain peaks and lochs that are so dramatic that travelers wonder if they are looking upon fjords instead. But it is not just the natural wonders that leave their mark; rather, feats of engineering, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct, complement the course and make the West Highland Line genuinely memorable.
Nestled on the shores of Loch Leven, the Isles of Glencoe Hotel offers a superb base for exploring the Western Highlands. The hotel’s facilities include a swimming pool and bio-sauna, in addition to a well-equipped gym. The rooms feature amenities such as complimentary Wi-Fi, a television and tea & coffee making facilities.
The Georgian features of the Apex Waterloo Place building make it both a timeless and elegant hotel. Built in 1819, it’s the first purpose-built hotel in Edinburgh and although the contemporary furnishings now reflect the modern traveler, its character is still one of the most distinguishing features. If you’re looking for luxury hotels in Edinburgh city center, look no further. At the east end of Princes Street, this hotel stands in the desirable New Town location just moments from Calton Hill, George Street and Waverley Train Station making it central and convenient. But the central location is just the beginning. A warm and friendly welcome is guaranteed from a team who are genuinely interested in your stay and ready to ensure it’s personalized to your needs. From the comfortable and well-equipped bedrooms to the stylish restaurant and bar, the hotel goes beyond the basics of a city center base. The swimming pool and gym are complimentary and treatments by PURE Spa & Beauty can be added to enhance a relaxing stay. For business, the conference and meeting rooms in the hotel provide hubs to meet, eat and relax in the city center.
The Best Western Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa is the perfect place to stay in Inverness. Relax or work up an appetite in our on-site leisure club, swimming pool and spa, dine in our scenic restaurant, then enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep. Opposite Inverness Castle and by the bonnie banks of the River Ness, the Best Western Inverness Palace Hotel is the ideal base for nearby Highland beauty spots and heritage sites. Or visit galleries, shops, restaurants and lovely local attractions all within walking distance. The famous Loch Ness provides mystery and beauty nearby, but even if the famous monster eludes you, there are plenty of other attractions worth seeing in this glorious part of the Highlands. Culloden battlefield, Cawdor Castle or Fort George are all well worth a visit, while the sandy beaches of Nairn provide fun for all the family. Bring your dog and leave your cares at home because if you’re a lover of the great outdoors, it doesn’t get much greater than this stunning location.
Our fantastic Scottish tour begins at the superb Apex Hotel Waterloo Place, located close to Edinburgh’s main station, just off the renowned Princes Street. Your Tour Manager is available at the hotel later this afternoon, and your day is free to explore Scotland’s fascinating capital. Overnight Edinburgh.
Today we travel to Glasgow, before changing trains for a journey on one of the world’s most spectacular scenic railway lines, The West Highland Line. During our time onboard, we travel along a hillside ledge overlooking Gare Loch before we enter the spectacular Highlands, an idyllic, remote and untouched landscape. The incredible route skirts the western banks of Loch Lomond and climbs quickly from Crianlarich to Upper Tyndrum and wild Rannoch Moor. Mighty mountains provide an imposing backdrop to the nearby village of Ballachulish. Overnight Ballachulish.
Today, we travel to the town of Oban. Leaving the mainland by Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, we make the 40-minute crossing to the Isle of Mull. As we head through the small islands and across to Mull, the incredible picture-postcard views are truly awe-inspiring; rugged coastline, hills rising sharply from the water’s edge, endless greens, purples and browns of the moorland and jagged, exposed rock faces. We arrive at the town of Craignure from where we visit Duart Castle, the ancestral home of the Maclean Clan. The castle is only a few minutes drive from our mooring point at Craignure and remains in a superb condition, occupying a picturesque position overlooking Loch Don. After our visit, we enjoy a Whisky tasting at our hotel or the local distillery (departure dependent). Overnight Ballachulish.
Today we travel by coach to Neptune’s Staircase, an impressive flight of eight locks operated by a team of at least three lock keepers. Situated on the Caledonian Canal, the locks are each placed at slightly different levels, overcoming a total height difference of 64 feet. It now takes approximately one-and-a-half hours to pass from one end of the staircase to the other, where water overcomes gravity and nature to climb the hillside. From here we continue to Loch Linnhe where we enjoy a scenic cruise across the water. After our cruise, we visit Glencoe, one of Scotlands most iconic glens. Glencoe has been used as the backdrop of many films over the years, most recently being used for the James Bond film, ‘Skyfall’. Overnight Ballachulish.
This morning we join the Jacobite Steam Train* for a journey to Mallaig on the final leg of the wonderful West Highland Line, arguably the most scenic in the UK. During the journey the train steams past Ben Nevis, then climbs into the mountains surrounding Glenfinnan, a small town famous as the rallying point for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s assault on the British throne. Here we cross the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct seen in the ‘Harry Potter’ films; one of the most iconic engineering works found throughout the British railway network. As we head towards Mallaig, we drop down to the sea’s edge and the landscape opens up with the first views of the rugged ‘Small Isles’ – Rum, Eigg, and Muck – which hang tantalizingly close offshore and tease in and out of view near our journey’s end. After time for lunch, we make the return journey by coach, passing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, to Inverness, where we stay for three nights. (B, D)
*On early departures the Jacobite Steam Train does not operate and we make this excursion using Scotrail’s scheduled service.
Today, travel to Loch Ness to enjoy a cruise. This iconic loch is most famous for its mythical dweller, the Loch Ness Monster, however it is also surrounded by some of Scotland’s most breathtaking scenery. Enjoy your short cruise surrounded by the purple pained mountains, before taking a trip to Urquhart Castle, a 13th-century castle that sits perched on the banks of the loch. These atmospheric ruins are a delight to explore, and you have some free time here before we coach back to Inverness. The rest of your day is spent at leisure, ahead of a delightful meal together this evening. Overnight Inverness.
Today we enjoy one of the most breathtaking railway journeys in Europe, the Kyle Line. This incredibly scenic route takes us across Scotland from east coast to west, crossing the Caledonian Canal as we leave Inverness and skirting the shores of crystal-clear lakes. Countless photo opportunities present themselves as we wind through wooded hillsides and over sparse moors, climbing over the highlands and past charming loch-side and seaside towns. The tracks rise and fall over hills and valleys, traveling at low speed throughout most of the journey, giving you time to soak up the terrific views. The train sweeps one way and the next, wild deer grazing beside the tracks that follow a route dictated by politicians and powerful landowners as much as by civil engineers. During the final part of the journey we pass the picturesque white-washed houses in the village of Plockton. We arrive at Kyle of Lochalsh, the end of the line, located across a short stretch of water from the Isle of Skye. Afterward, we make a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, situated on a tiny island in Loch Duich, joined to the mainland by a small, elegant bridge. The island was part of the Macrae Clan’s territory and in the 13th century, they built Eilean Donan Castle, which was initially designed to defend the clan’s land from invading Vikings but which actually saw more battles between the warring Scottish clans. Overnight Inverness.
We leave Inverness, traveling south through the Cairngorms, via Aviemore, Pitlochry and Kingussie, to arrive back in Edinburgh for a night at the Radisson Blu Hotel*. We enjoy a farewell dinner as part of a ‘Scottish Evening’. For this, we are regaled by a Scottish piper with all manner of fascinating Scottish stories and snippets of local history. We also sample a menu of traditional Scottish dishes as we are entertained. Overnight Edinburgh.
*Select departures may use an alternate hotel in Edinburgh
After breakfast this morning, the tour concludes, and your Tour Manager bids you farewell. You are free to begin your journey home or enjoy more time sightseeing independently.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Additional departures are available, please speak with a rail specialist for details.
- Standard Class rail travel on local rail networks
- Heritage Rail Excursions
- All rail and coach travel throughout your tour
- Hotel accommodations for 8 nights
- EXCURSIONS & ENTERTAINMENT
- Services of a professional tour escort and knowledgeable local guides for touring
- FOOD & DRINKS
- 15 meals including a special ‘Scottish Evening’ on the final night featuring a Scottish piper and a traditional Scottish menu
- WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Cancellation & Travel Insurance is not included in the price of the tour but can be arranged
- Flights and Airport transfers
- Three scenic rail excursions: West Highland Line, Kyle Line, and Jacobite Steam Train (early departures feature the scheduled Scotrail service)
- Isle of Mull including Duart Castle
- Whiskey tasting
- Neptune’s Staircase, Glencoe, and a scenic cruise across Loch Linnhe
- Cruise across Loch Ness and a visit to Urquhart Castle
- Visit to Eilean Donan Castle