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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold AwardThe Telegraph Travel Awards Winner 2017

Explore Scotland Car-Free: Cruise & Rail Tour

Spend ten nights discovering some of Scotland's finest locations by rail and sail.

Created for those who wish to see the highlights of Scotland without a car, this holiday provides the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax, and watch mesmerising landscapes unfold as you travel by land and sea.

The trip begins with three nights’ cruising the sheltered waters of Scotland’s West Coast on-board with The Majestic Line – with opportunities aplenty to nip ashore and venture further into the scenery. On disembarking your comfortable vessel, you will begin the journey of a lifetime, taking in some of the country’s premier locations by rail. Stops in Spean Bridge, Skye, Inverness and Pitlochry provide welcome breaks in the journey and allow you to experience local culture beyond the end of the train line.

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Spend a few days exploring Scotland's other Inner Hebridean islands?

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Days 1-3 – Get a Taste of the Hebrides with The Majestic Line

Journey by train from Glasgow to Oban from where you begin your water-based discovery of Scotland on a three-night cruise with The Majestic Line. You will glide past some of Scotland’s most beautiful west coast landscapes via sheltered waterways, hidden coves and picturesque inlets – with the choice to venture on-shore to get a closer look, if you wish. Selected cruising and excursion stops include the inner Hebridean islands, Loch Linnhe, Glencoe, Tobermory and Loch Sunart.

Your Vessel

Your lodging for this portion of the holiday will be part of a fleet of custom-designed small ships – either a lovingly converted traditional fishing boat or a steel-hulled ship. In both instances, your craft has been appointed with every luxury to make your intimate trip that little bit more special. Comfortable en-suite cabins are paired with a relaxed dining room to allow for a communal dining experience, an observation saloon and outdoor viewing decks, which are primed for wildlife watching on the move.

A skipper, engineer, chef and bosun accompany a maximum of 12 guests on the boat, ensuring you can sit back, relax and enjoy remarkable Scottish hospitality at all times.  Delicious cuisine comes as a guarantee, with each meal being freshly prepared daily. Regular features on the locally sourced menu include fish, shellfish, lamb, beef and venison alongside cheeses and preserves. Dietary restrictions and individual tastes will of course be taken into account – just let us know your requirements on booking.

Day 4 – Enter the Scottish Highlands

After bidding farewell to your sea-based sojourn, walk the short distance to Oban train station to begin the self-guided part of this holiday. Today’s journey is a quite remarkable portion of the West Highland Line –voted ‘Best Railway Journey in the World’ by readers of Wanderlust magazine. Sit back, relax and enjoy transcendent scenery unfolding outside the window, skirting along the shores of Loch Awe past the hollow mountain power station and jagged ruins of Kilchurn Castle. After a brief change in Crainlarich, admire the desolate beauty of wild Rannoch Moor before pulling into your destination of Spean Bridge. You will be met at the station and taken the short distance to your nearby hotel.

Your Hotel in Spean Bridge

From the moment you arrive –met with fresh tea and freshly baked scones no less – you will begin to unwind in this, one of our favourite properties in Scotland. Admire views of Ben Nevis as you take a stroll down one of the nearby country lanes, or perhaps simply make yourself comfortable in the sitting rooms in front of a log fire, plucking a book from the groaning shelves. An organic home-cooked dinner will round off your evening in delicious fashion.

Day 5 – Over the Sea to Skye

Another journey along the West Highland Line today, and a real holiday highlight: first-class luxury awaits as you board the acclaimed Jacobite Steam Train. Allow yourself to be transported back in time to the age of steam as you journey through splendid Scottish scenery – crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct is a standout moment. Take a break here as the train comes to a halt, perhaps pausing a moment to gaze at Loch Shiel or stretching your legs, before continuing to the end of the line in Mallaig. As your remarkable train journey comes to a close, you will board a different mode of transport – the ferry to Skye. On arrival in Skye you will be met by a local driver to make the transfer to your hotel in the south of the island.

Your Hotel on Skye

Located in the most southerly point of Skye, your whitewashed hotel is a charming addition to an area of profound natural beauty, providing breath-taking views over the Sound of Sleat. Based right on the shoreline, do make sure you keep an eye out for birdlife overhead in this peaceful area known as the ‘Garden of Skye’.

Day 6 –Small Group Tour of Skye

This morning you will be picked up from your hotel to embark on a small group tour of the island with a born and bred local.  Highlights may include the Fairy Pools, the Quaraing and the Old Man of Storr. If there is anything in particular that you would like to see, please inform your guide at the beginning of the tour and they will do their best to accommodate you.

Day 7 – To Inverness

Take a brief road transfer across the Skye bridge in good time for your next train – this time from Kyle of Lochalsh to the Highland capital of Inverness on the meandering North Highland Line.

Your Accommodation in Inverness

You’ll receive a warm Highland welcome at a locally-owned and characterful guest house located close to Inverness city centre.

Day 8 – Exploring Inverness

A day at leisure to enjoy this bustling Highland city. We recommend venturing out to nearby Loch Ness to take a boat trip on the mysterious waters and venture on-shore to wander through the crumbling ruins of Urquhart Castle. The evocative Culloden Battlefield is an altogether different kind of excursion, but one that is very meaningful and worthwhile. If you would prefer to stay within the city limits, Leakey’s bookshop is a bibliophile’s dream, packed to the brim with second-hand treasures.

Day 9 – Onwards to Pitlochry

Another train journey today, this time heading south through the Cairngorms National Park. Your destination for today is the charming town of Pitlochry, and on arrival you will be transferred to your next wonderful accommodation.

Your hotel in Pitlochry

Used as a minister’s country residence in a previous life, this quaint hotel is home to some of the Highland’s friendliest service. The tranquil location boasts views north back to the Cairngorms and woodland in the midst of the Perthshire countryside, primed for a morning or evening stroll. Dinner is included here – from a carefully-crafted menu of the best Highland produce.

Day 10 – Exploring Perthshire

Your Scottish odyssey is coming to a close, so you may want to relax the pace a little on your final free day. Your hotel provides an ideal ambiance to kick back and unwind in comfortable surroundings. Alternatively, venture into Pitlochry and enjoy the wealth of attractions found there – from the nearby Blair Castle to the stunning Explorers’ Garden, or perhaps venture to Blair Distillery and sample a dram or two of Scotland’s favourite tipple. If you wish to indulge in some retail therapy head to House of Bruar to purchase everything from tweed to teacakes and fine art.

Day 11 – To Edinburgh and Onwards Home

Your unforgettable getaway comes ends today, but not before one final train journey – this time to the city of Edinburgh. We always recommend spending an extra few days uncovering the history of Scotland’s capital – from the imposing castle and the cobbled streets of the old town to the ‘New Town’, which is in reality over two centuries old. Just let us know – we would be delighted to help.


This unforgettable holiday begins with three nights cruising with The Majestic Line before beginning your discovery of Scotland by rail, with stops including Spean Bridge, Skye, Inverness and Pitlochry, before concluding in the capital city of Edinburgh.


Availability on the cruising portion of this holiday is strictly limited on set departure dates. On submitting your enquiry, we will respond within 24-48 hours to advise availability for the whole trip, which can then be confirmed on payment of 25% deposit. 

The price includes:

  • Three nights all-inclusive accommodation aboard The Majestic Line vessel, including all meals, tea, coffee, soft drinks and wine with dinner
  • Seven nights’ B&B accommodation, based on two sharing a double or a twin room, plus dinner included on three nights.
  • Train travel in standard class on the West Highland Line between Glasgow and Oban, Oban and Spean Bridge, the North Highland Line between Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverness and between Inverness, Pitlochry and Edinburgh
  • First class single journey on the Jacobite Express Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig
  • Ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye
  • Day Tour of the Isle of Skye
  • Transfers to and from the train at all locations, except for Edinburgh and Inverness.

Not included:

  • Drinks from the bar aboard the Majestic Line
  • Meals and drinks other than those described
  • Gratuities and tips

The single supplement for the self-guided portion of this holiday is £500, based on single occupancy of double/twin rooms. Single cabins may be available for the cruising portion of the holiday – please express your interest in this on enquiry and we will check and confirm a price for single occupancy for the whole holiday.

As porterage is not included in this largely self-guided holiday, and assistance at train stations is somewhat sporadic, we recommend packing just one manageable suitcase per person.

All accommodation is carefully selected and researched by us, predominantly featuring small, family-owned hotels – contact us for more detailed information. We will do our best to accommodate room preferences subject to availability at individual properties.

Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.

We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

Reserve your place(s) for Explore Scotland Car-Free: Cruise & Rail Tour

Departure Dates & Current Availability
Departure DateStarts FromNights£ per person (2 sharing)£ per person (single)
Saturday 11 Jul 2020Oban10£ 2625£ Price on request
Tuesday 11 Aug 2020Oban10£ 2625£ Price on request

To reserve your place(s) on this tour, please call us or complete the form below, making sure to select your departure date from the dropdown menu and advise of any special requirements. We will hold your place(s) for 48 hours and contact you with details of how to confirm your booking by payment of the per person deposit.

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Availability of double or twin rooms can vary at individual hotels on the tour, so it helps us to understand your preferences.

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