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Skye, Orkney and the Wild North

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20242025
8 days Sold out
4.3 stars(44 reviews)
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Travel to the mystical, unspoilt isles of Orkney and Skye for a wonderful adventure in Scotland’s wild North.

No Single Supplement

No Single Supplement subject to availability on selected departures. 

Mobility Rating 3

2024 Tour code: WNS24

About the tour

From vibrant Glasgow, journey through stunning landscapes and historic sites to Scotland's mystic North. A guided tour of the Orkney Islands reveals ancient Neolithic sites and the lively capital of Kirkwall before we explore the great houses and gardens of the Northern Highlands, Dunrobin and Dunvegan.

Discover the enchanting Isle of Skye, experience authentic island whiskey at the Raasay Distillery, and round off our adventure in the wild north with a scenic rail journey along the legendary West Highland Line.

Unforgettable experiences

Explore a lively Glasgow
Explore a lively Glasgow
Explore lively Glasgow, a cosmopolitan city with a backdrop of elegant Victorian architecture.
Stay in the idyllic villages of Helmsdale and Plockton
Stay in the idyllic villages of Helmsdale and Plockton
Stay in the idyllic villages of Helmsdale and Plockton, experiencing the community spirit of the North Highlands and Inner Hebrides.
Discover the beautiful Isle of Skye
Discover the beautiful Isle of Skye
Discover the beautiful Isle of Skye, visiting Broadford for a wool spinning demonstration and the pretty harbour town of Portree.
Enjoy excursions to two of the great castles and gardens of the north
Enjoy excursions to two of the great castles and gardens of the north
Enjoy excursions to two of the great castles and gardens of the north - Dunrobin and Dunvegan.
Visit the renowned Raasay Distillery
Visit the renowned Raasay Distillery
Visit the renowned Raasay Distillery to enjoy a tour and tasting of the Single Malt Whiskey.
Journey on the famous West Highland Railway
Journey on the famous West Highland Railway
Journey on the famous West Highland Railway Line through breathtaking mountains, glistening lochs, and tranquil landscapes.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – Welcoming Glasgow

Our holiday begins in cosmopolitan Glasgow, where we meet our group at the hotel. Straddling the River Clyde, Glasgow is one of Europe's liveliest destinations, full of vitality and style, with a backdrop of elegant Victorian architecture. After checking in, there's time to explore at leisure before dinner this evening.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – The bonnie banks of Helmsdale

After breakfast this morning we journey by rail to Helmsdale via Inverness. Travelling north, picturesque lochs, rolling hills, and glimpses of historic castles pass. After Inverness, we continue through the stunning Highlandsalongside majestic mountains until we approach Helmsdale, where coastal scenery takes over with breathtaking views of rugged cliffs and sandy beaches.

Disembarking in the picturesque fishing village on the eastern stretch of coastline, we head to our small, family-run hotel where we spend the next two nights. This evening, we enjoy dinner at a renowned local restaurant, close to the peaceful river which runs through the village. -

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Discovering the history of the Orkneys

Today we experience the lovely isles of Orkney on a full-day guided tour. Our coach takes us to John O'Groats where we continue by ferry to Orkney. Our tour starts at Scapa Flow, a historic natural harbour brimming with tales of naval battles and shipwrecks. We then head to the impressive Churchill Barriers. This series of causeways were built during World War II to protect the fleet and now connects the Orkney mainland with the isles of Lamb Holm.

Next, we discover the picturesque town of Stromness, known for its narrow streets and seafaring heritage, before reaching Skara Brae. This remarkably preserved Neolithic village is often referred to as the 'Scottish Pompeii', and we discover its intriguing stone dwellings with interconnected passageways and stone furniture.

Continuing our exploration of Neolithic Orkney, we move on to the Standing Stones of Stenness. Now comprising four tall standing stones, this UNESCO-listed site is believed to have been built around 3100 BC with 12 stones. From there, we make our way to the awe-inspiring Ring of Brodgar, an enigmatic arrangement of standing stones that ignites the mystery of our ancestors.

Our final stop is Kirkwall, the lively capital of Orkney, where we see the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral and explore the charming streets lined with local shops and cafes.

After our day of exploration, we return to Helmsdale by ferry and coach where you have the rest of the evening at leisure. The village has a good choice of pubs and restaurants where you could have dinner and we recommend booking ahead.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 – The illustrious Dunrobin Castle and unspoilt Plockton

This morning we visit the fabulous Dunrobin Castle and gardens, on the east coast, overlooking the Moray Firth. The historic home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland, this is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses with an astonishing 189 rooms. Towering above the coast and gardens, the castle resembles a French chateâu with its whimsical conical spires. Explore the castle, its formal gardens, and the Victorian museum at your own pace.

Inverness is our next stop where you have time at leisure over lunch. Known as the 'Capital of the Highlands', the city sits on the banks of the River Ness, with Inverness Castle overlooking its lively streets. We then join the wonderful Kyle Line, travelling among mountains, forests and lochs to the village of Plockton, where we spendour next three nights.

'The Jewel of the Highlands', Plockton sits on a sheltered bay with stunning views overlooking Loch Carron. We check into our hotel here in time for dinner this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 – Exploring the enchanting Isle of Skye

After breakfast this morning, our coach takes us to the mystical Isle of Skye. Our first stop is in Broadford, a long village that stretches along either side of the meandering Broadford River. Here, we visit a local wool spinner for a fascinating demonstration of this traditional island craft. The spinner's lovely shop is a paradise for craft lovers and also has wonderfulready-made garments and craftswhich make great presents.

We then continue east to Skye's capital town of Portree, with its pretty harbour of pastel-coloured houses, overlooking the bay and surrounded by hills. After some time to look around, visit the shops, and have some lunch, we enjoy a scenic drive along the coast back to Plockton, passing the Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – The legacy of Dunvegan Castle & Gardens and a taste of the Raasay Distillery

Today we're bound for one of the greatest Hebridean castles, Dunvegan. Standing out against a dramatic backdrop of forest, sky, and sea, this striking castle features different architectural styles - from 1200 to the 1850s. The castle was restored in the Victorian era with distinctive pepper-pots and defensive battlements along its roof line.

After exploring the castle and gardens, we board our coach to Sconser where we catch the ferry over to Raasay. It's on this small island that we enjoy a tour and whisky tasting at the Raasay Distillery. We learn how this modern distillery is rooted in the island community and is helping to keep alive the tradition of Hebridean single malt whiskies. There's time afterwards to soak up the incredible views across to Skye and the Cuillin Hills, before returning to Sconser by ferry and then back to our hotel by coach.

There's no planned dinner at the hotel this evening giving the perfect chance to head out and experience one of the village's local restaurants. With a choice from fine dining to fish and chips on the harbour wall, it's easy to find somewhere serving only the best Highland produce. We recommend booking your choice ahead of time.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 – The beautiful West Highland Line to Glasgow

We start our return journey to Glasgow this morning, travelling to Fort William by coach. We then join the wonderful West Highland Line, one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the UK, travelling south to Glasgow. Our journey carries us through the rugged mountains, passing by Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, beforethe scenery transitions to urban landscapes as we approach Glasgow with glimpses of the city's iconic landmarks.

Once we arrive, we return to our central 4-star hotel in Glasgow in the afternoon.With time before dinner, you can explore some more of the vibrant city and enjoy your final evening in Scotland.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 – Homeward bound

Our holiday comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Saying goodbye to new friends, it's time to head home, or you could stay longer to see more of the sights on your own.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

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

Voco Grand Central, Glasgow

Voco Grand Central, Glasgow

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The Bridge Hotel, Helmsdale

The Bridge Hotel, Helmsdale

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The Haven Guest House, Plockton

The Haven Guest House, Plockton

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Trains

The Kyle Line
West Highland Line

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

UK Rail Connections

Reviews

4.3 stars4.3 / 5 · 44 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (22)
  2. 4 stars
    (18)
  3. 3 stars
    (2)
  4. 2 stars
    (1)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

J Hewer

5 stars

Submitted 19/Jun

Great scenery, fascinating places to visit, brilliant rail journeys all organised smoothly.

Collected by Trustpilot

Brian Cockrell

4 stars

Submitted 18/Jun

Despite the poor weather this was a well organised holiday with a really good tour manager Gordon,who went out of his way to ensure the group gelled. The hotels were excellent and in the main the food was excellent. the days were well organised, the only thing I would say is more time to investigate Helmsdale & Plockton would have been welcome. This was our third Great Rail holiday and it did not disappoint

Collected by Trustpilot

Lesley Urwin

5 stars

Submitted 18/Jun

Excellent trip. Very well organised by Gordon the tour manager. We had some very long days travelling through astonishing scenery. Drawback was having to transfer your own luggage on all journeys except the first move.

Collected by Trustpilot

E Taylor

4 stars

Submitted 18/Jun

The trip was fantastic. The scenery was great and the journey covered everything I was expecting. The accommodation was first class, although two guest houses were not hotels. I appreciate that there are not too many hotels of that status available up north but they should not have been advertised as such.

Collected by Trustpilot

Alan Barter

4 stars

Submitted 18/Jun

Excellent enjoyable well organised trip with very good Tour Manager. Unfortunately spoiled by luggage arrangements for the final leg of the trip back to Glasgow. The trains used cannot cope with luggage loading and space for a large party. This problem has been highlighted by previous tours but ignored. Great Rail Journeys should have solved this problem.

Collected by Trustpilot

John

3 stars

Submitted 18/Jun

OK but much too hurried with virtually no free time

Collected by Trustpilot

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