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Edinburgh, the Highlands & Islands

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Explore the highlands of Scotland

You are viewing the 2021 itinerary. Select your departure year
20202021
9 days From £1,395 per person

2021 Tour code: SHS21

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
Edinburgh
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
Duart Castle
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
Jacobite Steam Train
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
Eilean Donan Castle
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
Edinburgh

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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Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness

Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness

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Macdonald Hotel Drumossie

Macdonald Hotel Drumossie, 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

95% of travellers would recommend this tour

Based on 99 verified reviews

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Mrs C Inboden

Submitted 22/11/2019

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

Mrs M Belskis

Submitted 13/11/2019

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 13/11/2019

Tour director was good. Accommodations and meals very good.

Mr W Bean

Submitted 11/11/2019

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 10/11/2019

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

Anonymous

Submitted 10/11/2019

There were several changes in the itinerary. One resulted in a credit back. The other sadly resulted in a coach trip rather than a rail trip. A little more free time.

Europe & UK by Rail 2021 (pre-order)

Europe & UK by Rail 2021 (pre-order)

The definitive guide to our 2021 summer & winter rail holidays to a wide range of destinations in Europe.

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Explore the highlands of Scotland

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