Take in a stunning, Unspoilt region by Rail
Breathtaking scenery and fantastic journeys by mainline and steam railways; this tour takes in the very best of northern Scotland from our base in Inverness - the gateway to your Highland adventure.
Our tour begins in Inverness at the Palace Hotel & Spa, which overlooks the River Ness in the centre of the city. Perhaps familiarise yourself with the city on a riverside stroll before meeting for this evening's meal. This delightful city is considered to be the capital of the Highlands, and it is crowned by the stunning Inverness Castle.
The history of Inverness dates back well over 2,500 years, and one of the most famous residents, King Mac Bethad Mac Findláich may seem familiar as he is the inspiration for one of Shakespeare's most famous tragedies, MacBeth.
Today we transfer to Fort William, where we join the Jacobite Steam Train* for the return journey to Mallaig, along what is arguably the most scenic railway journey in the UK. It is easy to see why this journey is so beloved by those who travel on it, as it is the perfect way to view the incomparable beauty of the Scottish Highlands.
During the journey the train steams past Ben Nevis, then climbs into the mountains surrounding Glenfinnan, where we cross the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct. This iconic section of the journey has been shown throughout the world via the media of film and television, including 'Monarch of the Glen' and the 'Harry Potter' film series.
The line also passes by the stunning Loch Eil, a glittering blue loch overseen by the chiefs of Clan Cameron. After time for lunch we return to Fort William, from where we continue by coach to Inverness. En route, we make short stops at Commando Memorial, a monument dedicated to those who served as Commando's in World War II, and Fort Augustus, a small but rather striking village through which runs the famed Caledonian Canal.
*The Jacobite Steam Train does not operate until mid-May. Earlier departures travel on Scotrail's scheduled service.
We begin our day on the incredible Kyle Line. This majestic route is one of the most scenic rail journeys of its kind in Europe, traversing Scotland from east to west, crossing the Caledonian Canal and venturing over the wild and windswept moors that fill this enticing corner of the world. After our journey, we spend the day discovering more Scottish treasures, with an excursion to the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle on the tiny island in Loch Duich.
Eilean Donan is undoubtedly one of the most striking castles in Scotland. Perched atop a tiny island at the confluence of Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh, this iconic castle has been filmed and photographed numerous times over the years, most famously being featured in the classic film Highlander.
Originally built in the 13th century, it was destroyed 400 years later during the Jacobite rebellions. The original owners of the castle and land, Clan Mackenzie, had strong ties to the rebellion, and the castle was used as a stronghold for Spanish soldiers, leading to its destruction by the Royal Navy. 200 years later, and over a period of 13 years, the castle was lovingly restored.
Enjoy some time at leisure, perhaps absorbing the magnificent surroundings or taking a short walk by one of the lochs that feed the watery surroundings. After our visit, we return to Inverness by coach, allowing us to witness the glory of Scotland from a different angle. We arrive back at our hotel ahead of dinner this evening.
Our excursion today takes us on a journey along the tracks of the historic Highland Railway. Travelling to Aviemore by rail, we join the nostalgic Strathspey Steam Railway, continuing through to Broomhill where the train passes moorland, wooded glens and by the River Spey.
Through the large windows of the excellently restored carriages, take in the stunning sights of Cairngorm National Park. From rolling hills blanketed by purple heather and the craggy top of Cairngorm Mountain, to mysterious depths of the thick pine forests; we pass through some of the most delightful stations in Scotland on this short but rather spectacular journey. The final station on the line, Broomhill, could also be recognisable thanks to its use in the television series 'Monarch of the Glen', where it is used as the station for 'Glenbogle'.
Finally, we enjoy an excursion on board the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, Scotland's only funicular railway. The sights that can be seen from the departure station are already incredible, but as you ascend, more of the national park is revealed to you in its splendour. A handy voice over in the carriage unveils more information about the various flora and fauna of the mountain, including the tiny bird after which the summit station is named - the ptarmigan. Upon arrival at the summit station, you have some time at leisure. Perhaps explore the interactive exhibition that describes the history and geology of the mountain, or pop to the café and enjoy a coffee by its panoramic windows.
On a clear day, the glittering lochs, verdant pine forests, and tiny towns are revealed in a truly awe-inspiring sight, and if we're lucky, it might even be possible to spot a reindeer from the United Kingdom's only wild reindeer herd. We return by rail to Inverness after descending the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, and upon returning to our hotel, we enjoy a final farewell meal together.
Your Tour Manager bids you farewell from Inverness and you are free to travel home independently.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 34 verified reviews
The holiday was excellent, particularly as we were blessed with good weather.
Excellent from start to finish, the booking experience was very professional and the tour was wonderfully managed. The hotel was very comfortable and the food delicious. The rail excursions were fabulous and we were blessed with excellent weather. A big thanks to all the GR team
The experience was not rated 5 star only because of the dining experience in the hotel. the rest of the tour was first class.
All as advertised.apart from one trip. Superb location.
A very well organised holiday with good company and based in a hotel with a pool and excellent food (except monotony of the vegetables). The weather was perfect for the rail trips through wonderful scenery, mostly by steam train.
Good hotel, good itinary, good weather
Overall it was very good but the last day could have been better. We were allowed too little time at the top of Cairngorm and too long in Aviemore afterwards.
I must have enjoyed the experience as I have booked a trip with your company next year. The people on the trip, tour Manager and Hotel were great.
This holiday was good but a little too much was crammed into the days. Early starts meant that there was little time to relax before the next day. The guide was very helpful and managed the days very well. The scenery was spectacular and riding on the Jacobite steam pulled train over the viaduct was great. We enjoyed the third day with a ride on a steam train and then the cable car up the Cairngorm mountains. The rooms were excellent and the breakfasts/ evening meals were good. We enjoyed the holiday however would have liked slightly later starts in the morning.
An overall rating taking into account the size of the group,availability of the coach for short transfers (eg to the train station), the hotel, and general value for money.
Take in a stunning, Unspoilt region by Rail