Day one – meet up in Glasgow
Make your own way to Scotland’s largest city, perhaps arriving a day or two early to experience its myriad pleasures in your own time. Just let us know if we can help with such arrangements.
Greet your fellow travellers this evening at a welcome dinner hosted by your tour leader.
Your accommodation in Glasgow
Just a few steps from Glasgow Queen Street station, your welcoming and comfortable hotel is perfectly-located. Experience spectacular views over the city from the rooftop area and enjoy a complimentary welcome tipple.
Day two – the West Highland Line to the southern shores of Loch Ness
Your morning train soon whisks you away from the bustle of city life. You will skirt the Firth of Clyde onto wooded slopes above Gare Loch, Loch Long and Loch Goil, before gliding effortlessly around Loch Lomond’s famously bonnie banks. Cross the captivating wilderness of Rannoch Moor and admire the engineering skills of the rail-track builders as mountain peaks loom into view.
Alighting at Fort William, glimpse nearby Ben Nevis on your transfer to the southern shores of Loch Ness. You’ll pause for a light lunch and at places of historic interest along the way.
Your accommodation in Fort Augustus
Your elegant hotel for the next two nights stands splendidly amid lawns leading down to the shores of mysterious Loch Ness. Your guide will assist with dinner options – from the treat of fine dining at the hotel to a simpler fish supper by the loch-side.
Day three – visit Urquhart Castle and the Falls of Foyers
Begin your day with a short and entertaining Loch Ness cruise. A private mini-coach tour of the loch’s lesser-visited side then beckons. En route you’ll stop at the Falls of Foyers, tumbling 60m through sylvan woods. You’ll have a chance to stretch your legs here from a gentle stroll to more exerting hike. Eventually you will arrive at Dores, where you can gaze 22 miles down the loch back towards Fort Augustus, keeping a sharp eye out for signs of the fabled monster.
Complete your afternoon with a visit to the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Imagine ancient feasts in the Great Hall, then take in some final loch vistas from atop the Grant Tower.
Day four – All Aboard The Jacobite Express
This morning join the short transfer to board the Jacobite steam train at Fort William for a journey in nostalgic style. Your guide will highlight much of interest along the way – from Jacobite tales to more recent fictional Hogwarts adventures.
If you are fortunate with the weather, you can glimpse the islands of Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna – plus your day’s final destination, the Isle of Skye.
Mallaig is the end of the line – a great spot for a seafood lunch. Then cross “over the sea” to Skye. As you approach, enjoy distant previews of the jagged peaks of Cuillin with the mountains of Knoydart fading behind you.
On arrival, you have a choice: visit atmospheric Armadale Castle and Gardens (its 1790s manor house was clan home of the MacDonalds) or learn about a local dram expertly crafted to balance fruity notes and peaty smoke at the local Torabhaig Distillery.
Your accommodation on Skye
Built as a 19th century hunting lodge, your characterful locally-owned hotel blends period features with contemporary style. The waterfront views are captivating. Dinner is included on both nights of your stay here, with local produce featuring prominently.
Day five – Skye’s the limit
A full day spent discovering Skye’s culture, history and traditions. This will be a day of rich natural beauty and poignant history as you explore the Misty Isle. In the company of your knowledgeable guide, the plan for the day will vary depending on local conditions. You will visit plenty of the highlights and lesser know spots and have the chance to wander the streets of island capital, Portree.
Day six – Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness
Leave Skye via the bridge with a stop to admire the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle, perched exquisitely on a loch islet. then board your train along the Kyle Line. This was the most expensive rail project of its era, with the opening 10 mile stretch to Stromeferry clinging to a crinkle-cut shore via 31 cuttings and 29 tunnels blasted through solid rock.
Poised where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth, Inverness styles itself the ‘Highlands Capital’. You’ll have much of the afternoon to enjoy its bustle. If you wish, you could head just out of the city to visit Culloden Moor. We’ll happily assist with information.
Your accommodation in Inverness
Set in four acres of gardens, your hotel combines elegant vintage style with “good old-fashioned Scottish hospitality”. The swimming pool and a spa beckon for relaxation.
Day seven – Inverness to Stirling
Departing Inverness station, mountains dominate as you cut southward past Aviemore and the rugged slopes of the Cairngorm National Park. Look out for waterfalls and scour the hills for ‘Monarch of the Glen’ stags.
Beyond the ancient city of Perth your journey diverges from the group. Say fond farewells then jump off in Stirling. Your tour leader will point you in the right direction for your arrangements here.
Your accommodation in Stirling
You’ll stay in a grand Victorian villa in one of Stirling’s smartest locations, just a few minutes walk from the compact city centre with its selection of shops, bars, restaurants and attractions, and close to the spectacular castle. The guest house offers a luxurious retreat at the end of a busy day, featuring a wonderfully comfortable guest lounge, where you are welcome to relax at any time, taking morning coffee or pre-dinner drinks. We’ll provide tips on restaurants and other things to see and do locally.
Day eight – Stirling and its Castle
Tracing its history back to medieval times, Stirling acquired city status in 2002. It is compact and easy to walk around, dominated by the fine castle atop the crag. Many say Stirling’s fortress rivals or even surpasses that of Edinburgh. It sits proudly at the meeting point of Highlands and Lowlands and was very much the seat of power centuries back – Mary Queen of Scots and James VI of Scotland (James I of England) were born here. We’ll arrange a half day for you with an expert local guide to uncover the full story of the castle and its situation. You’re also a short taxi ride away from the Wallace Monument and the site of the Battle of Bannockburn should you wish to delve deeper into the area’s somewhat fierce and bloody past.
Day nine – Journey’s End
Let us know your return travel plans and we’ll assist. It’s a short train journey from Stirling to either Glasgow or Edinburgh for onward connections.