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Edinburgh, the Highlands & Islands

(Tour code: SHS17)Explore the highlands of Scotland

Majestic lochs and glens lie in wait as we cross Edinburgh and the Highlands and visit historic castles and the Isle of Mull. We travel through the West Highlands and Cairngorms on this fabulous round trip climaxing with a 'Scottish Evening' on Edinburgh's stately Royal Mile.

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Tour Highlights
  • Edinburgh
  • The West Highland Railway
  • Ballachulish
  • Neptune's Staircase
  • Isle of Mull
  • Duart Castle
  • The Jacobite Steam Train
  • The Kyle Line to Kyle of Lochalsh
What’s Included (Full details)
  • Standard Class Rail
    Heritage Rail Excursions
  • 4* Hotel Accommodation
    Breakfast Every Day
    Evening Meals
  • Optional Bag Concierge

Itinerary & Map

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Departure Times

On many of our UK & Ireland tours, you may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; your Tour Manager will be available between 16:00 and 18:00. However, if you are arriving later, you can meet your Tour Manager before dinner from 19:00.

Edinburgh
Day 1

Joining the tour in Edinburgh

Our fantastic Scottish tour begins at the superb Apex Hotel Waterloo Place, located close to Edinburgh's main station, just off the renowned Princes Street. Your Tour Manager greets you at the hotel and the remainder of your day is free to explore Scotland's fascinating capital.

Includes:
  • Dinner
  • Free Day
West Highland Line
Days 2-3

The West Highland Line

Today we travel to Glasgow, before changing trains for a journey on one of the world's most spectacular scenic railway 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, a dramatic region of peat bogs, streams and ancient forests that are only visible from the comfort of our train. Mighty mountains provide an imposing backdrop to our journey as we approach Fort William. On arrival we transfer to the nearby village of Ballachulish.

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 picture-postcard views are truly awe-inspiring; rugged coastline, hills rising sharply from the water's edge, endless greens, purples and browns of the moorland and jagged, exposed rock faces - this is Scotland's stunning west coast just as you had imagined it to be. We arrive at the town of Craignure from where we visit Duart's 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 retrace our journey to Oban and Ballachulish.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
  • Excursion
Neptunes Staricase
Day 4

Neptune’s Staircase and Loch Linnhe cruise

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 are each placed at slightly different levels, overcoming a total height difference of 64 feet. The 22-ton lock gates were originally hand-powered, but are now operated by hydraulics. It now 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.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Jacobite Steam Train
Day 5

The Jacobite Steam Train

This morning we join the Jacobite Steam Train* for a return journey to Mallaig on the final leg of the wonderful West Highland Line, arguably the most scenic 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 with the first views of the rugged 'Small Isles' - Rum, Eigg and Muck - which hang tantalisingly close offshore and tease in and out of view near our journey's end. After time for lunch, we make the return journey to Fort William, from where we continue by coach along the banks of Loch Ness to Inverness 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
  • Excursion
Loch Ness
Day 6

At leisure in Inverness

Enjoy a day at leisure in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands with a relaxing stroll along the River Ness, or take the opportunity to explore further afield. Your options include a visit to Culloden, the Battlefield where Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite forces were defeated, or you could take a cruise from Inverness to the tranquil waters of Loch Ness, famous for it's 'monster' as much as for its beauty. The mountain resort of Aviemore is a short distance away by train, as are the Speyside whisky towns, Keith and Elgin.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
  • Free Day
Kyle Line
Day 7

The Kyle Line

Today we enjoy one of the most breathtaking railway journeys in Europe, the Kyle Line. This incredibly scenic route takes us across Scotland from east coast to west, crossing the Caledonian Canal as we leave Inverness 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 charming loch-side and seaside towns. The tracks rise and fall over hills and valleys, travelling at low speed throughout most of the journey, giving you time to soak up the terrific views. The train sweeps one way and the next, wild deer grazing beside the tracks that follow a route dictated by politicians and powerful landowners as much as by civil engineers.

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, 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 clans.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
  • Excursion
  • Kyle Line Journey
Edinburgh
Days 8-9

Inverness to Edinburgh

We leave Inverness, travelling south through the Cairngorms, via Aviemore, Pitlochry and Kingussie, to arrive back in Edinburgh for a night at the Radisson Blu Hotel. We enjoy a farewell dinner as part of a 'Scottish Evening'. Day 9, after breakfast this morning, the tour concludes, and your Tour Manager bids you farewell. You are free to begin your journey home or enjoy more time sightseeing independently

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