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Edinburgh, the Highlands & Islands

Explore the highlands of Scotland

From $1,895 per person


Majestic lochs and glens lie in wait as we cross Edinburgh and the Highlands, making visits to historic castles and the Isle of Mull. We travel through the West Highlands and Cairngorms on a fabulous holiday which climaxes with a 'Scottish Evening' on Edinburgh's stately Royal Mile.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights

What’s included

Day 1 - Joining the tour in Edinburgh
Edinburgh

Your 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. Why not stroll down Royal Mile, or visit the imposing and beautiful Castle?

Days 2-3 - The West Highland Line & the Isle of Mull
Duart Castle

Today we travel to Glasgow, before changing trains for a journey on one of the world's most spectacular scenic railroad 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. Mighty mountains provide an imposing backdrop to our journey as we approach Fort William. On arrival we transfer to our hotel.

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 picturepostcard views are truly awe-inspiring; rugged coastline, hills rising sharply from the water's edge, the endless greens, purples and browns of the moorland and jagged, exposed rock faces. We arrive at the town of Craignure from where we visit Duart 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 enjoy a whisky tasting at our hotel.

Day 4 - Neptune’s Staircase, Loch Linnhe cruise & Glencoe
Neptunes Staricase

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 overcome a total height difference of 64 feet. It 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. After, we visit Glencoe, one of Scotland's most iconic glens, used as the backdrop of many films, most recently the Mary Queen of Scots movie.

Please Note: For departure SHS2061 Days 4 and 5 have swapped around

Day 5 - The Jacobite Steam Train
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, arguably the most scenic route 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 for us to get our first view of the rugged 'Small Isles' - Rum, Eigg and Muck - which hang tantalisingly close offshore. After time for lunch, we make the return journey by coach, passing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, to Inverness, where we stay for three nights.

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

Please Note: For selected departures you will travel back to Fort William on board the Jacobite Steam Train.

Day 6 - Loch Ness
Loch Ness

Today, travel to Loch Ness to enjoy a cruise. This iconic loch is most famous for its mythical dweller, the Loch Ness Monster, however it is also surrounded by some of Scotland's most breathtaking scenery. Enjoy your short cruise surrounded by the mountains, before taking a trip to Urquhart Castle, a 13th century castle that sits perched on the banks of the loch. These atmospheric ruins are a delight to explore, and you have some free time here before we coach back to Inverness. The rest of your day is spent at leisure, ahead of a delightful meal together this evening.

Day 7 - The Kyle Line
Kyle Line

Today we enjoy one of the most breathtaking railway journeys in Europe, the Kyle Line. The route takes us across Scotland from east coast to west, crossing the Caledonian Canal 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 seaside towns. The train travels at a low speed, giving you time to soak up the views. 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 and 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 tribes. From here, we return by coach to Inverness, giving us time to experience the truly awe-inspiring Loch Ness from an alternative perspective.

Days 8-9 - Inverness to Edinburgh
Edinburgh

We leave Inverness, travelling south through the Cairngorms, via Aviemore, Pitlochry and Kingussie, to arrive back in Edinburgh where we spend the night. We enjoy a farewell dinner as part of a 'Scottish Evening'. For this, we are regaled by a traditional piper and enjoy all manner of fascinating Scottish stories and snippets of local history. We also sample a menu of traditional Scottish dishes. After breakfast on the morning of Day 9, the tour concludes. You are free to begin your journey home or enjoy more time sightseeing independently.

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.

Recommended airport
Airport waiting room

We recommend that for this tour you arrange flights to and from Edinburgh Airport, which is approximately 8 miles from your base in Edinburgh.

Visa Requirements

It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.

Departure Dates
26 July 2020From $1,895
19 August 2020From $2,745
20 August 2020From $2,885
23 August 2020From $2,885
27 August 2020From $2,675
28 August 2020From $3,605
31 August 2020From $2,425
1 September 2020From $1,895
2 September 2020From $3,105
3 September 2020From $3,105
4 September 2020Please call
6 September 2020From $2,305
8 September 2020Please call
10 September 2020From $2,305
13 September 2020From $2,305
17 September 2020Please call
20 September 2020From $2,305
24 September 2020From $2,305
25 September 2020From $2,745
29 September 2020From $2,955
1 October 2020From $2,165
4 October 2020From $2,165
5 October 2020From $2,165
8 October 2020From $2,815
9 October 2020From $2,525
15 October 2020From $2,025
18 October 2020From $2,025
22 October 2020From $1,995
25 October 2020From $1,945

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

The wonderful journey on the Jacobite Steam Train takes us along a section of the West Highland Line, which stretches from Glasgow to Mallaig, and takes passengers through some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery in the UK.

We begin in the town of Fort William, spectacularly situated with Ben Nevis as its backdrop. As we leave Fort William we travel along the shores of Loch Linnhe before tackling the increasingly demanding Highland terrain. At Glenfinnan we reach the most scenic and dramatic section of the line, as the train crosses the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct: a magnificent feat of railway engineering.

Leaving Glenfinnan, the landscape opens up and we catch our first glimpse of the sea and the small islands close to the shore. During this section of the journey, the Jacobite Steam Train travels across two more viaducts: Gleann Mama and the Borrowdale Viaduct before reaching the small towns of Morar and Arisaig. On a clear, sunny day, the white sandy beaches along this stretch of coastline provide a beautiful contrast with the blue waters of the sea. From here, it is only short distance to our final destination, the busy fishing town of Mallaig.

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 Hotel, Edinburgh
Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh

The stylish 4-Star Radisson Blu 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 a jet stream pool, a sauna and a gym. The rooms are decorated in a contemporary style and feature individual climate control, a telephone, a television, a minibar, tea & coffee making facilities, a safe and a hairdryer.

Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness
Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness

The welcoming 3-Star Best Western Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa on the banks of the River Ness is a short walk away from the city centre and the perfect place to relax and watch the river flow by. Built over 100 years ago, the hotel is equipped with a swimming pool, leisure club, brasserie and lounge. Rooms include hairdryer and television.

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!

This page was printed from www.greatrail.com/us/tours/edinburgh-highlands-and-islands/#SHS20 on 4 June 2020.
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