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Explore Britain by Train

The Jacobite steam train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct

Best Time To Go

Apr – Oct

Why not...

…extend your holiday to include time in London or Glasgow?

Prices From


No of Nights


The Jacobite steam train crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct

Explore Britain by Train

Best Time To Go

Apr – Oct

Why not...

…extend your holiday to include time in London or Glasgow?

Prices From


No of Nights


Tour Britain by train, taking in the historic cities of Bath, Chester, Edinburgh and York plus experiencing awe-inspiring scenery of lakes and lochs.

Tour Britain by train, taking in the historic cities of Bath, Oxford, Chester, Edinburgh and York, and experience awe-inspiring scenery of lakes and lochs.

This self-guided rail holiday has been created with care to deliver a comprehensive tour of the highlights of Britain by train. Begin your trip in England and enjoy the Georgian grandeur of Bath, the dreaming spires of Oxford and the sites of historic Chester. Relax in the loveliness of the Lake District,  before continuing to Scotland for the finest scenery in the Highlands – including a wonderful steam-train trip on the famous Jacobite Express. Enjoy a whistle-stop tour of the Isle of Skye, journey on via Inverness to magnificent Edinburgh, before heading back south to York for a final couple of days amidst the Minster and Shambles.

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Holiday Details

Day One – Follow the Great Western Railway from London Paddington to Beautiful Bath

There are few more evocative names in railways than Great Western. Designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, its first trains ran in 1838 and have continued to carry passengers on the ‘holiday line’ to the West Country and Wales ever since.

Begin your discovery of Britain by train departing from London Paddington – also designed by Brunel and opened in 1854. Your first train-ride of this epic journey takes 88 minutes to Bath Spa station.

Arriving at Bath Spa, it’s just a short taxi-ride to your hotel in this most enchanting of cities.

Your hotel in Bath

In a leafy and tranquil street by peaceful Henrietta Park, your accommodation in Bath is an imposing former dwelling, whose owners have created a quite superb place in which to spend a couple of days. You’ll have the afternoon to explore at your leisure.

Day Two – Exploring Bath

A UNESCO World Heritage city, Bath presents a glorious and captivating destination. From the magnificent Georgian architecture of Royal Crescent and the Pulteney Bridge, the fascinating ancient engineering of the Roman Baths and the elevated, gallery-lined streets of Holloway, to a wealth of traditional and contemporary dining and drinking options, Bath has long been one of our favourites.

Several guided tour options are available for Bath and the wider area – the Cotswolds and Stonehenge for example – and we would be happy to facilitate on your behalf.

Day Three – to the Dreaming Spires of Oxford

It’s a short journey by train to Oxford today, so take your time over breakfast and perhaps enjoy a morning stroll around the park before setting off. At Oxford, it’s just a short taxi-ride from the station to your accommodation.

Your accommodation in Oxford

Long-established and family-owned, your accommodation in Oxford is a guest house created from an 18th-century former coaching inn, reputedly the last in Oxford on the road to London. Eight elegantly presented en-suite bedrooms, some with vaulted, exposed-beam ceilings, feature modern king-sized beds, crisp linens and painted French-style furniture. Dining is in the open-plan breakfast room, when your hosts mingle, offering advice on how best to spend your day in this historic city. Visitors are spoiled for evening dining choices, with some of Oxford’s best eateries – suitable for every budget – within easy walking distance.

Day Four – Out and About in Oxford

Compact and largely flat, Oxford is best experienced on foot. Many of the city’s most celebrated universities and colleges, the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera, are within 15 minutes walk of your accommodation, the Castle and Covered Market within 20. Fans of the Harry Potter films will find much over which to pore, with several most famous locations easily spotted as you stroll.

Day Five – To the Roman Walled City of Chester

This morning you’re back on the train, cutting through the midlands and heading north as you make your way to the delightful city of Chester. With rich history seeping from its Roman city walls and gardens, impressive Gothic cathedral and Tudor landmarks dotted throughout, Chester is a wonderful spot around which to dawdle for a while. We’ll provide plenty of recommendations to help you make the most of your time here.

Your accommodation in Chester

With fabulous views of England’s oldest racecourse, your hotel in Chester is a modern four-star gem in the most convenient of locations. Individually designed bedrooms major on comfort, alongside high-quality en-suites, while the hotel features two different dining options – a sophisticated brasserie and more relaxed bar.

Day Six – Along the Line to the Lakes

Take your time over breakfast this morning, before a short taxi-ride back to Chester station in time to catch your train to Penrith. Here, you’ll be met at the station and transferred the short distance to your accommodation on the shores of Ullswater – commonly regarded as the most beautiful of all English lakes.

Your hotel by Ullswater

Set just moments’ walk from the lakeshore, your accommodation by Ullswater is a family-owned bar and restaurant with rooms, much acclaimed by locals and tourists alike for the quality of its food and lodgings. Originally the village blacksmith’s, then the Post Office, the property has undergone recent extensive renovation and now offers a cosy and charming haven after a long day’s exploring, with great food and regular local ‘Beer of the Month’ offerings at the bar. Rooms are simple and elegant, with touches of the surrounding area brought indoors in the form of real timber detailing, adding a unique lift to each bedroom.

Day Seven – Get to Know Ullswater aboard the Steamer

Just a short stroll from your hotel, you’ll find the jetty for today’s transport, a superb steamer vessel, ready to take you around the lake. It’s a hop-on, hop-off service that you can use as much as you wish today. Perhaps you’d like to bring your walking boots and a packed lunch, disembark at Glenridding and take a stroll to the foot of Helvellyn, England’s third-highest peak? Or simply stay on the boat all day and enjoy the lake from this most peaceful perspective.

Day Eight – an Epic Train Journey to the Highlands

Enjoy another terrific Lake District breakfast this morning, then take a transfer back to Penrith to catch your train to Glasgow. Here, switch stations and board your train for the legendary West Highland Line journey to Spean Bridge in the shadow of Ben Nevis. Known as one of the world’s most scenic railway routes, the West Highland Line powers swiftly away from Glasgow, soon kissing Gare Loch and Loch Lomond before climbing to traverse Rannoch Moor and dropping down towards the Highland village of Spean Bridge.

Your hotel in Spean Bridge

A longstanding favourite of ours, your hotel in Spean Bridge is a family-owned gem in one of the Highlands’ most picturesque spots. You’ll be met by the charming owners on arrival, tea and homemade scones at the ready, and escorted to the cosy guest lounge, where real log fires crackle amidst wooden walls adorned with shelves carrying an array of books for your endless perusing. Rooms are simple, yet the home-cooked dinner and breakfast always leaves a lasting impression.

Day Nine – All Aboard the Jacobite Steam Train!

An undoubted holiday highlight awaits today: after breakfast, take the short train journey to Fort William in time to meet the world-famous Jacobite steam train, known better to some as the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter motion pictures. You’ll love the trip from Fort William to Mallaig, traversing the majestic Glenfinnan Viaduct, at whose visitor centre the train stops so you can stretch your legs and admire the views. Stirring stuff!

Upon arrival at Mallaig, it’s a two-minute walk to reach the ferry terminal, where you board the ferry for a short crossing to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. Here, you’ll be met by private transfer and taken on a whistle-stop tour of the highlights of what is arguably Scotland’s most picturesque island, before heading back across the superb Skye Bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh and onwards to Plockton.

After a day’s travel, you’ll be ready to relax at your next hotel, in this quaint Highland village.

Your hotel in Plockton

Set on the main street in this prettiest of Highland villages – made famous in BBC’s Hamish Macbeth starring Robert Carlyle – your hotel in Plockton is a family-run gem beloved by village residents and visitors alike. Simply furnished, comfortable rooms, a lively bar often filled with locals, travellers and the sound of traditional music, as well as an excellent in-house restaurant, make this a terrific stopping-off point as you tour.

Day Ten – to the Capital of the Highlands.

A fine Highland breakfast this morning sets you up for your next rail adventure. A member of hotel staff will transfer you to Plockton station in time to catch your train along the beautiful North Highland Line to Inverness, with your next base a short taxi ride from the centre.

Your accommodation in Inverness

In a superb and convenient location on the banks of the River Ness, your accommodation in the Highland Capital is a deluxe, contemporary serviced apartment. Solid oak flooring, modern furnishings, a fully fitted kitchen and every conceivable convenience make this an enormously appealing space, with all of the city’s attractions within an easy stroll.

Day Eleven – Fall in Love with Loch Ness

A great trip out today, as you’re collected at your accommodation and taken for a private half-day guided tour around Loch Ness and the surrounding area. Your first view of Loch Ness is one to remember: containing more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined, Loch Ness takes the breath away with its outstanding beauty. Its eastern and western shores are dotted with Highland villages, one of which, Drumnadrochit, is home to the visitor centre telling the story of the loch’s most famous ‘resident.’ Do remember to bring your sense of humour!

Day Twelve – Begin Your Journey South and Arrive in Edinburgh

Time to board the train once more this morning, for another of Scotland’s must-see scenic lines from Inverness to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.

Your hotel in Edinburgh

On a classic Victorian Edinburgh terrace just a few minutes’ walk from the West End of Princes Street, you’ll find this elegant four-star hotel formed from two grandly appointed houses. Newly refurbished rooms present a cosy and comfortable haven away from the bustle, while the stylish bar is the ideal spot in which to enjoy coffee or a dram while you plan your day or reflect on your evening out.

The in-house restaurant serves a tempting menu of classics utilising the very best local and seasonal produce, and you might enjoy a light lunch in the grand lobby area, while admiring the view from its vast bay windows.

Day Thirteen – Discovering the Highlights of Edinburgh

Designated capital in the 15th century, and a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995, the atmospheric and exhilarating city of Edinburgh is one to which we never tire of returning. You’ll find the imposing castle overlooking Princes Street in the west, Arthur’s Seat presiding over Holyrood in the east, plus the elegant Georgian architecture of the New Town and the mediaeval origins of the Old Town. On your doorstep you’ll find a wealth of superb dining options, world-class galleries and museums plus quirky and fun shopping. Edinburgh is a terrific city in which to spend some time. Visit in August for the hustle and bustle of the International Festival and Fringe and Military Tattoo – though do plan and book well in advance!

Day Fourteen – Down the East Coast Main Line to York

Enjoy a final Scottish breakfast this morning before catching your train to the wonderful city of York.

Your accommodation in York

Owned and run by the same family for a number of years, your accommodation in York is an award-winning guest house of rare quality and comfort set around 20 minutes’ walk from the Minster and an easy stroll from many of the city’s main attractions.

Day Fifteen – Time to Explore York

Positively alive with history both ancient and modern, from Roman, through mediaeval to the dawn of the industrial age, there are few more fascinating places to visit in the UK.

The city is dominated by the Minster, one of the finest and largest mediaeval cathedrals in northern Europe and home to the largest expanse of mediaeval stained glass in the world. Absolutely not to be missed.  Further must-sees include the National Railway Museum, Clifford’s Tower, numerous galleries and gardens, as well as the famous and ancient ‘Shambles’ shopping area.

While here, you’ll enjoy use of a York Pass, allowing entry to all of the city’s main attractions and alleviating the need to wait in line for tickets.

Day Sixteen – Onward Journey Home

After a last holiday breakfast, it’s time to set off on your homeward journey. We will be happy to facilitate train travel to your chosen destination.

This McKinlay Kidd trip can be planned and booked to meet your individual requirements, so do just let us know if we can adapt it to suit you – with different start and finish points or extended stays in certain locations, for example.

Sustainable Travel

This holiday is part of our ever-growing collection of public transport based holidays, enabling you to reach destinations around Scotland and England without the need to drive. We feel strongly that true sustainability also means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life in areas where the economic benefit of tourism can make a genuine difference to the local community, which is why we have used locally-owned small accommodation and local guides on this holiday.


Two nights in Bath, two in Oxford, one in Chester, two in the Lake District, one in Spean Bridge, one in Plockton, two in Inverness, two in Edinburgh, and two nights in York.

The tour of Britain by train as described is designed to start and finish in London, however this can be tailored to suit your plans and we would be happy to facilitate train travel to and from the Capital.


£3225 per person for April & October, £3470 per person in May, June, July & September and £3550 per person in August.

Price is based on two adults sharing double or twin en-suite room for 15 nights on a bed and breakfast basis, with dinner provided in Spean Bridge, staying in our hand-picked selection of small hotels and guest houses; The holiday includes

  • Standard-class train travel from London to Bath, Bath to Oxford, Oxford to Chester, Chester to Penrith, Penrith to Spean Bridge, from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness, Inverness to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to York and York to London
  • First class single travel on the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig
  • Return transfers from Penrith to Ullswater; ferry crossing from Mallaig to Armadale on  Skye and transfer from Armadale to Kyle of Lochalsh
  • A private guided tour through the south of Skye, a half day tour to Loch Ness, and a walking tour of York
  • Round the Lake Pass on Ullswater and a York Pass.

For a supplement, we would be happy to upgrade train travel to first class where available.

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.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

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.


Check availability for Explore Britain by Train

This holiday can be arranged from April to October. In 2020, the Jacobite Steam train will run from the 13th April until the 23rd October. Outside these dates the same route can be booked, but a standard train service operates.

To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.

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