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Edinburgh, the Highlands and Islands

Explore the highlands of Scotland

From £1,595 per person


Majestic lochs and glens lie in wait while we explore Edinburgh and cross the Highlands, making visits to historic castles and the Isle of Mull. We travel through the West Highlands, tasting local delicacies along the way, with our holiday culminating in a 'Scottish Evening' in the stately Caledonian capital.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights

What’s included

Day 1 - Edinburgh

We meet at our hotel in Edinburgh, after which you're free to begin exploring. The heart of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its medieval Old Town, home to the Royal Mile, Georgian New Town and award-winning modern architecture continuing the contrast between traditional and contemporary. As you wander the streets, it's easy to see why Edinburgh came to be regarded as the 'Athens of the North'.

Day 2 – Fort William

We travel along the West Highland Line, passing Loch Lomond and wild Rannoch Moor on our way to Fort William. After checking into our hotel, we're joined by a guest speaker who entertains us with local titbits of history and a selection of 'tales of the road to the isles'. Keeping alive the ancient art of storytelling that's been a way of life for centuries in this part of the world, we're swept along on an atmospheric journey through time.

Day 3 - The Isle of Mull

We catch the ferry from Oban for the crossing to the Isle of Mull. As we head through the small islands and across Loch Linnhe, the views are awe-inspiring; rugged coastline, hills rising from the water's edge, an endless tapestry of green, purple and brown moorland and jagged, exposed rock faces. We arrive in Craignure and make our way to Duart Castle, the 13th-century home of the MacLean Clan. Sitting exposed on the island's west coast, we explore the different rooms, which tell the story of the MacLeans through the ages, before making the scenic drive to Tobermory. Spend some free time in the island's colourful capital, famous for its fish, ahead of a traditional whisky tasting back at our hotel.

Day 4 – Neptune’s Staircase and Glencoe

We visit Neptune's Staircase, an impressive flight of locks operated by a team of at least three lock keepers. Situated on the Caledonian Canal, they overcome a height of 64 feet over the course of one-and-a-half hours. We continue to Loch Linnhe, enjoying a scenic cruise across the water ahead of our visit to Glencoe. One of Scotland's most iconic glens, it's full of dramatic scenery, including waterfalls, mountains and fjord like lochs.

Day 5 - The Jacobite Steam Train

We join the Jacobite Steam Train for a trip to Mallaig along the final leg of the West Highland Line. During our journey, the train climbs into the mountains surrounding Glenfinnan, a small town famous as the rallying point for Bonnie Prince Charlie's assault on the British throne. Next, we cross the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, seen in the 'Harry Potter' films and an iconic piece of British engineering. As we descend towards Mallaig, we drop down to the sea's edge and the landscape offers up our first view of the rugged 'Small Isles' - Rum, Eigg and Muck - which sit tantalisingly offshore. After some free time, we make the journey by coach to Inverness, stopping at the Glenfinnan Monument along the way.

*On early/late season departures the Jacobite Steam Train excursion is replaced by the scheduled Scotrail service.

Day 6 - Loch Ness

We take a cruise on Loch Ness, famous for its mythical monster. It's also blessed with some of Scotland's most breathtaking scenery. Surrounded by mountains, we glide by fairytale forests before visiting Urquhart Castle, a 13th-century castle perched on the banks of the loch. These atmospheric ruins are a delight to explore, boasting panoramic views over Loch Ness and a historic collection of weaponry and artefacts, including a working trebuchet, and you have some free time before we return to Inverness.

Day 7 – The Kyle Line

Our day takes us along the Kyle Line. Travelling east to west, we cross the Caledonian Canal, skirting crystal-clear lakes before winding through woodland and past seaside towns. We arrive at Kyle of Lochalsh and continue to Eilean Donan Castle for a tour. Situated in Loch Duich and joined to the mainland by a bridge, this island castle was designed to defend the region from Vikings. This evening, a local storyteller weaves their magic as they tell us time-honoured stories of Scottish myths and legends.

Day 8 – Edinburgh

We leave Inverness, travelling south by rail through the Cairngorms to Edinburgh via Aviemore, Pitlochry and Kingussie. This evening at our hotel, we enjoy a Scottish celebration that includes a traditional piper, fascinating Scottish folk stories and snippets of local history. We also sample a menu of traditional dishes, the perfect idea to our Caledonian adventure.

Day 9 – Home

After breakfast, you're free to check out and begin your journey home. Alternatively, you may plan on staying in the area to sightsee further.

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 Dates
7 June 2022From £1,845
12 June 2022From £1,845
14 June 2022From £1,845
16 June 2022From £2,170
19 June 2022Please call
19 June 2022From £1,895
21 June 2022From £1,845
26 June 2022From £1,795
26 June 2022Please call
3 July 2022Please call
3 July 2022From £1,845
5 July 2022From £1,845
7 July 2022From £1,795
7 July 2022From £1,845
10 July 2022From £1,795
14 July 2022From £1,795
14 July 2022From £1,795
17 July 2022Please call
17 July 2022From £1,795
21 July 2022Please call
24 July 2022From £1,795
24 July 2022From £1,795
18 August 2022Please call
18 August 2022From £1,995
21 August 2022From £1,995
25 August 2022Please call
25 August 2022From £1,995
1 September 2022Please call
1 September 2022Please call
4 September 2022Please call
8 September 2022Please call
11 September 2022Please call
11 September 2022Please call
13 September 2022Please call
15 September 2022Please call
15 September 2022From £2,460
22 September 2022Please call
22 September 2022From £1,845
25 September 2022From £1,795
27 September 2022From £1,795
29 September 2022From £1,795
2 October 2022Please call
2 October 2022From £1,745
6 October 2022From £2,020
9 October 2022From £1,695
13 October 2022From £1,645
16 October 2022From £1,595
20 October 2022From £1,675
23 October 2022From £1,595

All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.

Trains
Jacobite Steam Train
Jacobite steam train

Experience the wonder of steam, on undisputedly one of the great railway journeys of the world - The Jacobite Steam Train. Commencing it's journey in view of the imposing Ben Nevis, The Jacobite Steam Train journeys through stunning scenery between Fort William and Mallaig; taking in beautiful villages, Lochs Morar & Nevis and crossing the majestic Glenfinnan Viaduct, of Harry Potter fame.

The Kyle Line
Travelling on the Scotrail service to Kyle of Lochalsh on the Kyle Line

The Kyle Line takes us on one of the most scenic rail journeys in the British Isles, travelling between Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh.

On leaving Inverness, the line hugs the shores of the Beauly Firth before heading north to Dingwall. From here, the line immediately turns inland and climbs over the Highlands. As a result of a dispute with the landowners of the time, the builders of the railway were forced to make a sharp detour around Strathpeffer. After a steep climb to Black Rock the line descends through beautiful wooded hillsides until it reaches Garve on the shore of Loch Garve. On a still clear day this loch perfectly mirrors the surrounding hills and trees. From Garve station the line climbs up to the broad straths leading to the West Coast before climbing to the summit of the line at Luib.

The line then descends to the magnificent scenery of Loch Carron, where it twists and turns in and out of the loch side inlets. Plockton station and village, with yachts anchored in the shelter of its beautiful bay, is the next passing point, and was the location for the BBC Television series 'Hamish Macbeth'.

The final section of the journey is perhaps the most dramatic (and the most expensive), as it was carved through the solid rock that leads to Kyle Pier. Kyle of Lochalsh ("strait of the foaming lake") sits at the entrance to Loch Alsh, opposite Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. The two villages were formerly connected by a ferry service, but this was replaced by the Skye Bridge in 1995.

Please note: some of our tours travel on this route in reverse from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness or travel just part of this route. See individual tour for details. 

Read about the experiences of a member of the Great Rail Journeys Marketing team during his journey on the Kyle Line

Scotrail
Scotrail

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.

West Highland Line
West Highland Line

Also known as 'the Iron Road to the Isles', a journey on the West Highland Line is an epic rail adventure that takes passengers through some of the world's most beautiful and dramatic landscapes. In fact the line has twice been voted the world's best rail journey by readers of Wanderlust magazine.

Running from Glasgow's Queen Street station, the train runs through the city's outskirts and on to Helensburgh. From here the train begins its ascent into the famous Highlands.

Soon the train skirts the beautiful Loch Long, followed by the immense Loch Lomond, as it makes its way up the ever-increasing gradients. The journey continues alongside the Loch - Britain's largest body of inland water - whilst winding through pretty wooden slopes.

Continuing northward through charming isolated villages, the train then climbs more than 500 feet (150 m) in just five miles, before arriving at the tiny hamlet Crianlarich. Here the West Highland Line splits into two branches. One continues to Fort William and Mallaig, the other heads west to Oban.

Hotels
Ballachulish Hotel, Ballachulish
Ballachulish Hotel, Ballachulish

At Ballachulish we stay at the 3-Star Ballachulish Hotel, a baronial-style hotel on the shores of Lochs Linnhe and Leven. This traditional Scottish hotel features a lounge, library, restaurant and bar. Rooms include television, hairdryer and tea/coffee making facilities.

The Isles of Glencoe Hotel, Ballachulish
The Isles of Glencoe Hotel, Ballachulish

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.

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh
Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh

The 4-Star Apex Waterloo Place Hotel is ideally located at the eastern end of Princes Street, close to Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station. The rooms feature a television, fridge, safe, tea and coff ee making facilities, luxury toiletries and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Radisson Blu Edinburgh, Edinburgh
Radisson Blu Edinburgh, Edinburgh

The stylish 4-Star Radisson Blu Edinburgh hotel is perfectly located on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, half way between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. The hotel has a restaurant, a bar and a leisure club with an indoor jet stream pool, a sauna and a gym, while the rooms are decorated in a contemporary style with individual climate control, a telephone, flat-screen television, a mini bar, tea & coffee making facilities, a safe and a hairdryer. Free Wi-Fi is featured throughout.

Nevis Bank Inn, Fort William
Nevis Bank Inn

The 4-Star Nevis Bank Inn is set on the banks of the River Nevis, close to one of Scotland's most beautiful sights, Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK. This hotel boasts of an excellent restaurant, serving a wide range of cuisine, and the bar is the ideal place to relax after a day exploring. The comfortable rooms are stylishly decorated in neutral shades with walnut wood accents and come with an en-suite bathroom with a power shower, a hairdryer, tea & coffee making facilities, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Palace Hotel Inverness, Inverness
Palace Hotel Inverness, Inverness

The welcoming 4-Star Best Western Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa is set on the banks of the River Ness, just a short walk away from the city centre. Built over 100 years ago, the hotel is equipped with an indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, gym and beauty centre as well as a restaurant, brasserie, lounge and bar. Each immaculate guest room comes with an LCD television, free Wi-Fi, a telephone, hairdryer and tea & coffee making facilities.

Glenspean Lodge Hotel, Roybridge
Glenspean Lodge Hotel

The Glenspean Lodge Hotel boasts a dramatic location in the Scottish Highlands, within its own landscaped gardens and surrounded by dramatic woodland. Originally a hunting lodge in the late 1800s, the hotel has been extensively refurbished and now offers comfortable accomodation in the heart of this area of natural beauty. The AA Rosette award winning Nevis View restaurant offer delicious food accompanied by incredible views, and the Mackintosh Lounge Bar offers a more casual menu along with an extensive drinks menu. The en-suite guest rooms are all individually designed with a television, hairdryer, complimentary Wi-Fi and tea & coffee making facilities.

Upgrades

We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!

UK rail connections
UK Rail Connections

We can book UK rail tickets from your local station to and from Edinburgh. Please call us to discuss your requirements.

Extending your holiday in Edinburgh
Edinburgh

Extend your holiday in Edinburgh with alternative rail and accommodation arrangements. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

This page was printed from www.greatrail.com/tours/edinburgh-highlands-and-islands/#SHS22 on 27 May 2022.
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