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Edinburgh, the Highlands & Islands

(100 reviews)

Explore the highlands of Scotland

You are viewing the 2020 itinerary. Select your departure year
9 days Sold out

2020 Tour code: SHS20

About the tour

Majestic lochs and glens lie in wait as we cross Edinburgh and the Highlands, making visits to historic castles and the Isle of Mull. We travel through the West Highlands and Cairngorms on a fabulous holiday which climaxes with a 'Scottish Evening' on Edinburgh's stately Royal Mile.


What’s included


Day 1 - Joining the tour in Edinburgh

Our fantastic Scottish tour begins as your Tour Manager greets you at the hotel and the remainder of your day is free to explore Scotland's fascinating capital.

  • Dinner
Days 2-3 - The West Highland Line & the Isle of Mull

Today we travel to Glasgow, before changing trains for a journey on one of the world's most spectacular scenic railroad lines, The West Highland Line. During our time on board, 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 our journey as we approach Fort William. On arrival we transfer to our hotel.

On Day 3, we travel by coach 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 picturepostcard views are truly awe-inspiring; rugged coastline, hills rising sharply from the water's edge, the 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.

  • Day 2 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 3 - Breakfast, Dinner
Duart Castle
Day 4 - Neptune’s Staircase, Loch Linnhe cruise & Glencoe

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 overcome a total height difference of 64 feet. It 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, we visit Glencoe, one of Scotland's most iconic glens, used as the backdrop of many films, most recently the Mary Queen of Scots movie.

Please Note: For departure SHS2061 Days 4 and 5 have swapped around

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Neptunes Staricase
Day 5 - The Jacobite Steam Train

This morning we join the Jacobite Steam Train† for a journey to Mallaig, along the final leg of the wonderful West Highland Line, arguably the most scenic route 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 for us to get our first view of the rugged 'Small Isles' - Rum, Eigg and Muck - which hang tantalisingly close offshore. After time for lunch, we make the return journey by coach, passing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, to Inverness, where we stay for three nights.

†On early departures the Jacobite Steam Train does not operate and we make this excursion using Scotrail's scheduled service.

Please Note: For selected departures you will travel back to Fort William on board the Jacobite Steam Train.


  • Breakfast, Dinner
Jacobite Steam Train
Day 6 - Loch Ness

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 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.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Loch Ness
Day 7 - The Kyle Line

Today we enjoy one of the most breathtaking railway journeys in Europe, the Kyle Line. The route takes us across Scotland from east coast to west, crossing the Caledonian Canal 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 seaside towns. The train travels at a low speed, giving you time to soak up the views. 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.

Afterwards we make a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, situated on a tiny island in Loch Duich and 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 tribes. From here, we return by coach to Inverness, giving us time to experience the truly awe-inspiring Loch Ness from an alternative perspective.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Kyle Line
Days 8-9 - Inverness to Edinburgh

We leave Inverness, travelling south through the Cairngorms, via Aviemore, Pitlochry and Kingussie, to arrive back in Edinburgh where we spend the night. We enjoy a farewell dinner as part of a 'Scottish Evening'. For this, we are regaled by a traditional piper and enjoy all manner of fascinating Scottish stories and snippets of local history. We also sample a menu of traditional Scottish dishes. After breakfast on the morning of Day 9, the tour concludes. You are free to begin your journey home or enjoy more time sightseeing independently.

  • Day 8 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 9 - Breakfast

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Please note on some dates we use different hotels in various locations - please call for details.

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Please note: This may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.


Ballachulish Hotel, Ballachulish

Ballachulish Hotel, Ballachulish

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The Isles of Glencoe Hotel, Ballachulish

The Isles of Glencoe Hotel, Ballachulish

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Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh

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Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh

Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh

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Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness

Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness

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Jacobite Steam Train
The Kyle Line
West Highland Line

Enhance your holiday


UK rail connections
Extending your holiday in Edinburgh


95% of travellers would recommend this tour

Based on 100 verified reviews

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Mr M Vaughan

Submitted 5 days ago

Packed a great deal into the 7 days. Value for money.

Mrs C Inboden

Submitted 221119

Everybody I dealt with at Great Rails was very knowledgeable and organized. Our experience was exactly as expected.

Mrs M Belskis

Submitted 131119

Extremely well organized, hotels were fantastic, our guide went above and beyond. She was informative, always had a smile on her face

Patricia Ray Nalley

Submitted 131119

Tour director was good. Accommodations and meals very good.

Mr W Bean

Submitted 111119

A very good holiday overall, but let down badly on the Jacobite train trip with our group allocated a sub-standard carriage which appeared to have been dragged out of the renovation shed and stuck on the end of the train.

Mrs J Treharne

Submitted 101119

It was very good....well organized...and enjoyable.

Edinburgh, the Highlands & Islands

Explore the highlands of Scotland


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