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

Explore Britain by Train

Tour Britain by train, taking in historic cities of Bath, Chester, Edinburgh and York plus experiencing 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. Enjoy the Georgian grandeur of Bath 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. Journey on via Inverness to magnificent Edinburgh, before heading back south to York for a final couple of days amidst the Minster and Shambles.

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Apr – Oct

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

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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 the shadow of Bath’s magnificent Perpendicular-Gothic Abbey, your hotel in Bath is a family owned property, perfectly placed to explore the city. Having recently changed hands and undergone extensive refurbishment, the hotel enjoys several dining and refreshment options on-hand, while all of Bath’s attractions and amenities are right on the doorstep.

You’ll have the afternoon to explore, from the magnificent Georgian architecture of Royal Crescent to the fascinating ancient engineering of the Roman Baths.

Day two – A Private Guided Tour of the Cotswolds

Enjoy a hearty breakfast this morning, then you’ll be whisked away by your own private guide for a tour of the quintessentially English region of the Cotswolds. The rolling countryside, verdant gardens, Neolithic history and picture-postcard villages make this one of England’s most fascinating places to visit. Our specially chosen driver-guide will take you to some of the hidden spots visitors don’t often see, and along the way you’ll enjoy tea in a walled garden and lunch at a traditional Cotswolds pub.

Day three – To the Roman Walled City of Chester

This morning you’re back on the train, heading across the Severn in to Wales, then criss-crossing the Wales-England border as you make your way north to the charming city of Chester.

Your accommodation in Chester

Built in 1622, your accommodation in Chester comes no more traditional nor full of authentic character than this wonderful inn. Downstairs it’s a bustling bar and restaurant serving hearty British classics, while upstairs is an oasis of calm, several of the sumptuously appointed bedrooms featuring antique four-poster beds and breath-taking roof-beams. Bathrooms are recently renovated to a high standard, so there’s no ancient English plumbing with which to contend!

Day four – Dawdle in 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. W’ll provide plenty of recommendations to help you make the most of your time here.

Day five – 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 six – 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 seven – 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 eight – 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 structure from below. 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 short but scenic route through the south of the island and back across the superb Skye Bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh, and on to Eilan Donan Castle for a stop at this most picturesque of Scottish castles.

After a day’s travel, you’ll be ready to relax at your next hotel, in another 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 nine – to the Capital of the Highlands.

Take your time over a hearty breakfast this morning, before you’re dropped at Plockton station to catch your train along the North Highland Line to Inverness, with your next base a short taxi ride from the centre.

Your accommodation in Inverness

Formed of a lovely, whitewashed Victorian villa just a 10-minute stroll from the river and the centre of town, your accommodation in Inverness is a family-owned guest house with a wealth of features designed to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The charming guest lounge gives way to traditionally furnished en-suite bedrooms, while the breakfast on offer, expertly prepared by the ebullient gentleman of the house, is one to be remembered.

Day ten – Fall in Love with Loch Ness

Another great trip out today, as you’re collected at your guest house 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 eleven – 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 twelve – 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 thirteen – 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

Your hotel in York is a long-standing and iconic station hotel, recently refurbished to a high standard. The in-house restaurant serves classic British dishes focusing on the finest Yorkshire produce, while the comfortable bar features an ever-changing range of craft ales and expertly created cocktails. The hotel is ideally placed, with most of York’s main attractions just a short stroll away.

Day fourteen – 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 fifteen – Onward Journey Home

After a last holiday breakfast, head for York Railway Station and catch your return train to London, completing your wonderful tour of Britain by train.

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.


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

The tour of Britain by train as described starts and finishes in London, however this can be tailored to suit your plans.


£2790 per person for April & October, £3035 for May, June, July & September, £3100 for August.

Price is based on two adults sharing double or twin en-suite room for 14 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 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 of the Cotswolds from Bath, a private guided half day tour to Loch Ness
  • 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.

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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