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Edinburgh, the Highlands and Islands

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4.4 stars(114 reviews)
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Explore the highlands of Scotland

You are viewing the 2022 itinerary. Select your departure year
20212022
9 days From £1,495 per person

2022 Tour code: SHS22

About the tour

Majestic lochs and glens lie in wait as we take in 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, culminating in a 'Scottish Evening' in the stately Scottish capital.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Days 1-2 - Edinburgh and Fort William

We meet at our hotel in Edinburgh. After checking in, you are free to start exploring the city. On Day 2, we board the train to Glasgow. Changing trains, we travel along the famous West Highland Line, passing Loch Lomond 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 in either Fort William or Ballachulish.

Includes
  • Day 1 - Dinner
  • Day 2 - Breakfast, Dinner
Days 3-4 - The Isle of Mull and Glencoe

We catch the ferry from Oban this morning. Leaving the mainland, we make the 40-minute 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, before returning to our hotel for a traditional whisky tasting ahead of dinner.

We visit Neptune's Staircase on Day 4, 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 fjordlike lochs. Tonight, we celebrate in true Scottish style with an authentic meal at our hotel, followed by dancing and a piper.

Includes
  • Day 3 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 4 - Breakfast, Dinner
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. 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 hang tantalisingly close offshore. After some free time, we make the return journey by coach, stopping at the Glenfinnan Monument along the way. On arrival in Inverness, we check into our hotel for three nights.

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

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Days 6-7 - Loch Ness and the Kyle Line

We take a cruise on Loch Ness today, 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, and you have some free time before we return to Inverness.

Day 7 takes us on a magical journey along the Kyle Line. Travelling east to west, we cross the Caledonian Canal, and skirt crystal-clear lakes before winding through wooded hillsides, over sparse moors, and past seaside towns. We arrive at Kyle of Lochalsh, the end of the line, located across a short stretch of water from the Isle of Skye. We continue to Eilean Donan Castle for a tour. Situated on a tiny island in Loch Duich and joined to the mainland by a small, elegant bridge, the island was designed to defend the region from invading Vikings.

Includes
  • Day 6 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 7 - Breakfast
Days 8-9 - Inverness and Edinburgh

We leave Inverness, travelling south by rail through the Cairngorms to Edinburgh via Aviemore, Pitlochry and Kingussie. Tonight, we enjoy a Scottish evening that includes a traditional piper, fascinating Scottish folk stories and snippets of local history. We also sample a menu of traditional dishes. After breakfast on Day 9, your holiday comes to an end and you're free to head home.

Includes
  • 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

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Ballachulish Hotel, Ballachulish

Ballachulish Hotel, Ballachulish

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Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh

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Nevis Bank Inn

Nevis Bank Inn, Fort William

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The Moorings Hotel

The Moorings Hotel, Fort William

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Macdonald Hotel Drumossie

Macdonald Hotel Drumossie, Inverness

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Palace Hotel Inverness, Inverness

Palace Hotel Inverness, Inverness

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Glenspean Lodge Hotel

Glenspean Lodge Hotel, Roybridge

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Trains

Jacobite Steam Train
The Kyle Line
Scotrail
West Highland Line

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

UK rail connections
Extending your holiday in Edinburgh

Reviews

4.4 stars4.4 / 5 · 114 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (62)
  2. 4 stars
    (43)
  3. 3 stars
    (5)
  4. 2 stars
    (3)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

J Wheatley

4 stars

Submitted 3/Jul

Good choice of places, experiences etc. Covid restrictions adhered to without affecting the trip.

Collected by Trustpilot

Robert

2 stars

Submitted 3/Jul

This trip took place under the Scottish Government’s COVID Level 1 restrictions. In the last 50 years, I have been on five guided tours each between two and three weeks, and never had any reservations about either the tour or the tour leader. Great Rail Journeys and it’s leader let us down. They chose to have a parallel trip with a separate leader; this was not advertised and meant that the there was a compromise in enjoyment on certain days. One example was with the chartered Jacobean Steam railway where our trip ran two hours later. The returning alternative scenic route from Mallaig to Inverness with an extra ferry resulted in our arriving so late into our Inverness Hotel that we had no time to freshen up and change for dinner. Another avoidable aspect was as a result of poor leadership including lack of research , poor logistics and very poor empathy. As an example on the final day, our leader followed a crow flying pedestrian route from the depths of Waverley Station (Edinburgh), avoiding all escalators and lifts, the wrong way up a long slope, in blazing sunshine. My wife, a distinguished nurse with 50 years experience had to be helped by a retired doctor’s receptionist when she had an asthma attack. Struggling, despite being very stoic she was in tears when we reached the Intercontinental hotel. Other members of the party , also very stoic, were an amputee, two nonagenarians and fellow octogenarians. Earlier on, in Oban, my wife and I were loudly and severely reprimanded by ‘sergeant major’ for being a few minutes late at a rendezvous point. He later apologised but the underlying problem was the lack of knowledge and recommendation by our leader of sandwich shops, of the location and time taken to queue for ladies toilets and the restrictions imposed by asthma. Admittedly our leaded did seem to improve a little as our tour progressed. The first ‘toilet blunder’ was our leader’s advice that toilets were available at the top of the Neptune Staircase; these were private toilets for the use of canal tenants. It was by the kind mercy of such a tenant that nearly a dozen party members were able to use these facilities by passing the key from one to another. Some of the three and four star accomodation was lacking in good ventilation, a fact acknowledged retrospectively in Inverness, by the hotel management saying “we could have borrowed THE portable air condition unit”. The Intercontinental Hotel in Edinburgh had very good rooms but the Hobson’s Choice Scottish menu dinner was terribly fatty (despite our request for a low fat diet) and the breakfast menu forbade having cereals AND a cooked breakfast. Overall the tour was not worth £1,750 each for 8 hotel nights, breakfasts at each hotel, dinner on all but one night, baggage transfer, rail and coach travel and mainly senior citizen entry to venues. There was very beatific scenery and wonderful weather but terrible management greatly compromised the tour’s value.

Collected by Trustpilot

E Sonnenberg

4 stars

Submitted 3/Jul

Given the current Covid rules limitations a very good tour with an excellent tour manager who managed to make things happen in spite of limited service in hotels and tourist places due to Covid restrictions. Good hotels in good locations. Especially in Edinburgh within short walk distance from Waverley station. Especially last night hotel with excellent facilities and exceptional customer care. Four rather than five stars as the Loch Ness trip was a bit of a non event, just an outing on a boat, maybe we could have done the Isle of Skye instead.

Collected by Trustpilot

R Price

4 stars

Submitted 3/Jul

Excellent accommodation superb dinners Breakfast often chaotic but excellent content save for Glencoe Unfortunate first night service poor table arrangement in twos not friendly Group was in practical effect 50 not 25 in normal circumstances would’ve complained Overall however excellent and would recommend to friends weather helped

Collected by Trustpilot

Customer

4 stars

Submitted 3/Jul

We enjoyed our trip to an area we did not know at all. Everything worked well, given the constraints applied by Covid. The hotels were all well situated and very comfortable. We particularly loved the view from our room at the Isles of Glencoe, which was unbelievably tranquil and very healing for the soul.

Collected by Trustpilot

Simon K Suvarna

4 stars

Submitted 3/Jul

A varied and interesting tour that was a delight as we emerged from lockdown !

Collected by Trustpilot

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Europe by Rail 2022

Europe by Rail 2022

The definitive guide to our 2022 summer rail holidays to a wide range of destinations in Europe. When ordering for postal delivery, you will only receive our collection of European holidays. If you are interested in UK holidays, these are available on the website.

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