Holiday inspiration currently loading...
Your tour itinerary includes train travel from London to Bath, but we can tailor your trip to arrive at leisure from wherever suits best to begin your Great British rail adventure in one of the UK’s most captivating cities.
Take in Bath’s classic Georgian terraces and crescents that make up some of the most elegant streets in Britain, or consider climbing to the hill-neighbourhood of Holloway to enjoy its slew of galleries and cafes, and wonderful views across the city.
You may want to grab a pew at an atmospheric pub too – perhaps one of the 18th century trio of The Saracen’s Head, Star Inn or Grapes. Or raise a glass to local pride at The Bell, a bohemian local institution which music legends Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel and Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis helped buy for the community.
Your Accommodation in Bath
Your Bath stay will be in a grand repurposed dwelling on a tree-lined street just 10 minutes’ walk from the historic centre. There’s an appealing blend of comfort and colour, including an intriguingly curated collection of art and artefacts to draw the eye.
Dining is focused on seasonal local produce, with a range of spaces in which to enjoy the generous plates, from outdoor dining domes to the spacious modern restaurant and terrace, as well as the more relaxed bar.
This morning, you’ll enjoy a walking tour of the city’s historic centre, taking in the timeless waters-and-columns of the Roman Baths plus the spectacular Gothic-style Abbey, hearing fascinating tales of the city along the way from your expert guide.
The afternoon is then free to explore – perhaps follow Bath’s famous literary links to two brilliant but contrasting women writers. Period costumed staff and a Regency tea room enliven a visit to the Jane Austen Centre, or immerse yourself in a multi-sensory experience at the House of Frankenstein, which delves the city’s ties to Mary Shelley and her hugely influential 19th century novel.
Art lovers, meanwhile, can see treasures from the Renaissance onward at the Holburne Museum, or take in work from the past two centuries at the Victoria Gallery.
Travelling by train via Bristol into Wales you’ll arrive late morning into Cardiff, leaving time to take in some capital city attractions during the afternoon.
There’s Cardiff Castle, a grand stone fortress that has watched over the Welsh capital since the 11th century. The distinctive white clapboard Norwegian Church – where author Roald Dahl once worshipped – offers striking counterpoint to the Castle, as well as the futuristic Senedd building which houses the Welsh Parliament on the shores of Cardiff Bay.
You could also tour the BBC studios (a regular setting for programmes like Doctor Who), while the St Fagans National Museum of History – an evocative outdoor site featuring over 40 reconstructed historic buildings – was voted the UK’s top free museum in a 2023 poll.
Your accommodation in Cardiff
Set on a quiet, leafy street just a short stroll from the city centre and the River Taff, this peaceful small hotel, created from a lovingly restored Victorian townhouse, provides a haven of tranquillity in the vibrant capital of Wales.
There’s an inviting residents’ bar too, overseen by a friendly host with plenty of tips on where best to eat, plus things to see and do.
Today you’ll enjoy an expert-guided tour of the glorious Gower, the first area of the UK to be declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Your trip to the peninsula also takes in the colourful town of Mumbles, the vast beaches at Caswell Bay and Rhosilli Bay, the so-called Devil’s Bridge, plus the offshore landform known as the Worm’s Head.
Today’s rail journey brings you back over the border to your next base in the picturesque market town of Chipping Campden in the idyllic Cotswolds. You’ll arrive in time for an afternoon exploration of a famed medieval wool trading town whose High Street remains lined with buildings dating back to the 14th century – though the town itself was founded in Saxon times. The stunning Market Hall seems a relative newcomer, dating to the early 1600s!
The soaring spire of St James draws visitors to a church considered one of the finest in Britain, whose stunning interior features a rare pre-Reformation tapestry plus the largest church brass in England. But try also to see the lovely Court Barn Museum on Church Street, which celebrates the town’s links to the seductive work of the Arts & Crafts movement.
Your accommodation in The Cotswolds
You’ll stay in the heart of Chipping Campden at what was once a listed 17th century townhouse, given a modern makeover with sumptuous bedrooms and high-spec bathrooms, while retaining classic exposed Cotswolds stonework, and decorated throughout with a blend of antiques, art and designer fabrics.
The word ‘charm’ seems tailormade for this quintessentially English wonderland of villages fashioned in iconic honey-coloured local stone,. Today you’ll be taken on a small group tour with local guides to discover both famous spots and hidden gems in its gorgeous landscape.
Highlights include the majestic views from Dover’s Hill, plus time to explore the Norman-era hilltop town of Stow-on-the-Wold – located on the Roman Fosse Way, and the highest settlement in the Cotswolds. As well as its grand medieval central square – complete with an ancient set of stocks for the public shaming of past wrongdoers – be sure to visit St Edward’s Church too – its North Door, flanked by ancient yew trees, supposedly inspired the ‘Doors of Durin’ in the Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
You’ll also have time in the picture-postcard villages of Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water – the latter home to the vintage car mecca that is the Cotswold Motoring Museum, plus the charming Model Village, featuring a lovingly recreated 1930s scale replica of the village.
Your journey switches northward via Birmingham’s impressive New Street station to arrive early afternoon in the majestic city of York. This is a place whose storied stones are imprinted with reminders of a past taking in the Romans, Saxons and Vikings, with plenty of fascinating medieval and Tudor history too. And with a York Pass included in your trip, you’ll be able to freely explore many of its most beguiling spots.
Gain an overview of the city with a walk along some of the most complete ancient city walls in England – including intact Roman sections. Or be awestruck by soaring York Minster – one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. The Grade I-listed Treasurer’s House offers a beguiling Victorian house and garden to visit right by the Minster.
Train devotees will want to head for the magnificent National Railway Museum to wander amid luxurious icons of locomotion from luxurious Edwardian Pullmans to marvellous groundbreaking 19th century locomotives including Stephenson’s iconic 1829 ‘Rocket’. You can also admire the sleek 1930s Deco-style Mallard which still holds the steam locomotive world speed record.
Your accommodation in York
By the banks of the River Foss and just a short walk from the Roman city walls and Minster, your accommodation in York is a superb family-owned grand Victorian terraced guest house.
Continue your York explorations today with a further dip into the city’s atmospheric streets. One must-see is the medieval Shambles, the oldest shopping street in Europe and a living reminder of 14th century city life. Film fans may already know that it provided the visual template for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films.
Channel your inner child further by discovering York’s history as a chocolate mecca, birthplace of both Rowntree’s (now Nestlé) and Terry’s. Sample this tasty history at the Chocolate Story museum.
History buffs, meanwhile, have a host of other places to choose from within a short stroll of each other, beginning with a medieval pairing of the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and Barley Hall – one a Guildhall, the other a lovingly reconstructed townhouse. Plush Fairfax House provides a look into stylish Georgian lifestyle, just a stone’s throw from the Norman-era castle keep known as Clifford’s Tower. The Jorvik Viking Centre, meanwhile, provides a sensory blast of 9th century York – including the smells!
For art lovers, meanwhile, the York Art Gallery complements its paintings with the UK’s finest collection of modern pottery.
Rise and shine this morning for a fabulous rail journey through fine countryside from York via Leeds through Settle to Carlisle, pottering past English village stations and crossing the Ribblehead Viaduct. A driver will meet and transfer you to the lovely Lake District village of Pooley Bridge. An early afternoon arrival gives you a chance to potter around its independent shops, or take afternoon tea at the award-winning Granny Dowbekin’s Tea Room.
If you want to venture further afield, consider a five-minute taxi-ride to the imposing ruins of Lowther Castle, whose visitor centre tells the fascinating and often alarming story of the castle’s history. The grounds and gardens present a wonderful opportunity to get lost and to experience the landscape from a unique perspective, and there’s also a pleasant café. Keen walkers, meanwhile, may want to step out on one of the trails heading out from the village into the superb surrounding landscape.
Your Lake District accommodation
This recently refurbished family owned property in the picture-perfect village of Pooley Bridge by Ullswater augments its cosy rooms with an acclaimed fine-dining restaurant serving the best local, seasonal produce, alongside local gin, beer and a well-chosen wine list.
A dinner reservation for your first evening has been made on your behalf, but we’d be happy to help source other dinner options if you prefer.
Your holiday includes a ticket that allows unlimited travel today on Ullswater, giving you a chance to hop on and off the delightful local steamer which criss-crosses what many regard as the Lake District’s most picturesque body of water.
This morning you’ll be transferred to Carlisle to catch a train to Haydon Bridge, your base to explore the dramatic Northumberland countryside flanking Hadrian’s Wall. This 73-mile long UNESCO World Heritage structure marked the boundary of Roman Britannia in the face of fierce and proudly troublesome Caledonian tribes to the north.
Haydon Bridge itself enjoys an idyllic setting where illustrious English 19th century artist John Martin regularly came to paint, and there’s a trail from the village taking in his favoured vantage points. Famous poet Philip Larkin was also a regular visitor on holidays here.
Larkin would doubtless have been inspired to write something too about the marvellously distinctive Mr George’s Museum of Time here, home to a unique collection of timepieces, keys, tools and parts dating back to the 18th century.
Your accommodation in Northumberland
Located by the river in the Tyne Valley village of Haydon Bridge, your comfortable guest house is within walking distance of the ancient Roman fort at Housesteads. Options for dinner are but a stroll away to the adjacent hotel or across the ancient bridge into the village heart.
Today you’ll be picked up from your hotel for a full day private tour of Hadrian’s Wall. Among the places you’ll visit is the remarkable Roman Fort of Vindolanda, where a museum chronicles unique archaeological finds which provide moving insights into daily life and times of those who lived here two thousand years ago.
Travelling by train from Haydon Bridge you’ll leave England to pass through the Scottish border country, arriving mid-afternoon into Glasgow, a city whose Victorian good looks has seen it used as a screen stand-in for 19th century New York.
The historic Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery – Glasgow’s equivalent to London’s V&A – is just a short hop from the city centre, while the city’s Necropolis is a unique Victorian cemetery famed for eye-popping mausoleums plus expansive views over the city.
Your accommodation in Glasgow
Your hotel stands in the heart of the city, by George Square, and boasts quality rooms, as well as a rooftop restaurant offering grand views to accompany afternoon tea or drinks. The hotel is right by a subway station giving access to the city underground network nicknamed the Clockwork Orange by locals.
Today you’ll travel past loch and glen on the famed West Highland Line, crossing the wild expanse of Rannoch Moor, far from built civilisation. Your destination is Fort William, founded in the 1650s by Cromwell’s troops as a military base, but now a place to relax by the waters of Loch Linnhe, ringed by a retinue of mountains that includes the UK’s highest, Ben Nevis.
If you get a chance in your time here, visit the excellent West Highland Museum for a colourful chronicle of the area’s history, or sample a local dram from the Ben Nevis Distillery.
Your accommodation in Fort William
Set on the High Street just yards from Loch Linnhe, your accommodation has a fascinating history, having been sprung from the town’s former police headquarters! Now imaginatively repurposed, it’s a bright and appealing place to spend your two nights here at your own pleasure rather than that of His Majesty.
Today you have a day of exploration at your own pace. As well as discovering the ancient town itself, you could elect to admire wildlife and stunning wilderness views with a 90-minute cruise on Loch Linnhe, or enjoy an easy adrenaline kick along with spectacular mountain views gliding up the Aonoch Mor Gondola, a unique cable car ride to the summit of one of Britain’s top 10 tallest peaks, where you can enjoy a cuppa while drinking in views stretching as far as the Inner Hebrides. We’ll provide all the information you need to make the most of your day.
It’s ‘All Aboard’ the Jacobite Express steam train today to travel on the West Highland Line from Fort William to the characterful fishing port of Mallaig – and then on to the Isle of Skye.
While the Jacobite train is most famously associated with its role in the Harry Potter films for bearing wizards to Hogwarts, the trip comes with other film associations, as you puff past the sands of Morar featured in both Local Hero and Highlander. You’ll also get a glimpse of Britain’s deepest freshwater loch (Loch Morar), Europe’s deepest seawater loch (Loch Nevis) and Britain’s shortest river (River Morar) – all along the fabled shore where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in 1745 – and fled a year later after defeat at Culloden.
With fresh fish landed on its quay, Mallaig is a grand place to bag some of Scotland’s best fish and chips ahead of the short ferry trip ‘over the sea’ to Skye, from where you’ll transfer from the little port of Armadale to the pretty island capital Portree.
Your accommodation on Skye
Situated in 20 acres of woodland garden just ten minutes’ walk from the edge of Portree, you’ll stay in a house whose period charm reflects over 200 years of history. Light suppers are available daily by prior arrangement and there is a good selection of places to dine in Portree – though the popularity of Skye’s restaurants mean advance dinner reservations are strongly advised and we’ll be happy to help.
Today you’ll enjoy a guided small group road tour to explore this most dazzling of the Hebridean islands – a place of spectacular contrasts, from the jagged peaks of the Cuillins range to tranquil lochs and croft-dotted farmland.
You might head first to Sligachan (ask about the incredible ‘Gurkha’s Run’ that inspires an annual race here). Or drive to Waternish to discover both ancient church ruins and fascinating local island businesses. You may also explore around the rugged Trotternish peninsula, featuring some of the most magnificent landscapes in Scotland – including the iconic offshore stack known as the Old Man of Storr – before returning to your hotel.
Heading back by road transfer across the Skye bridge to the mainland, you’ll board a train at Kyle of Lochalsh for the ride across yet more splendid Caledonian landscapes to Inverness. You’ll travel along a line that was the most expensive rail project of the late Victorian era, including a dazzling opening 10-mile stretch where the tracks wind by the water around a crinkle-cut shore, sweeping around endless tiny inlets fringed with sandy beaches. Keep an eye out for local wildlife including seals, otters or sea eagles.
Arriving in Inverness, you are in the self-styled ‘Highland Capital’, beautifully located where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. You’ll have much of the afternoon to enjoy its bustle, and attractions including a stately castle plus an impressive contemporary museum and art gallery. Other attractions include the idiosyncratic Victorian Market and the Botanical Gardens, whose displays provide a chance to experience tropical humidity and desert heat in the Scottish Highlands!
Your accommodation in Inverness
Situated in a quiet residential area a short stroll from the heart of Inverness, rooms at your guest house are well-appointed and tastefully designed. Breakfasts showcase Scottish produce with a mix of old favourites and a chance to try something different. We’ll provide recommendations for dining out locally.
Today’s focus is on the fabled Loch Ness – whose mystery-shrouded depths make it the largest body of freshwater in Britain by volume, containing more water than all the lakes of England and Wales put together. But is it also home to a monster?
You’ll gain a wonderful insight to this dramatic liquid heart of the Highlands on a guided tour which includes a two-hour cruise on the loch and a visit to the iconic Urquhart Castle. Eyes peeled for Nessie!
Your rail tour concludes with another grand train journey. Departing Inverness station, mountains dominate as you head south to Edinburgh. You’ll pass the winter skiing hills of Aviemore and the rugged slopes of the Cairngorms National Park, cut through with waterfalls.
Beyond the ancient city of Perth – Scotland’s capital for five centuries – rolling fields and woodland mark the approach to the Firth of Forth, perhaps crossed on the iconic Forth Bridge. Head into the heart of Scotland’s gorgeous capital, whose ancient, cobbled lanes and thrumming cosmopolitan streets provide a wonderful final place of discovery.
Edinburgh displays its heritage to grand effect along the fabulous Royal Mile in the heart of the medieval Old Town. Running down from the iconic Castle perched on its epic crag, it reveals the secrets of Edinburgh’s cultural, criminal and political past.
Alternatively, head up Calton Hill from the far end of Princes Street – a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site topped with an array of classical edifices that have earned it the tag of Edinburgh’s Acropolis. Even better, what was once the beautiful domed City Observatory is now home to the Collective contemporary art gallery.
Consider too a visit to the 17th century Royal Botanic Garden – locally known simply as The Botanics – offering 70 bucolic acres of horticultural cosmopolitanism that includes the largest collection of Chinese plants outside Asia, a Highland heath and – inside Britain’s tallest glasshouse – a Malaysian trail.
Wherever you’re heading on from here, we’ll be happy to create a tailor-made solution to get you back to your destination.
Your accommodation in Edinburgh
This stylish, modern hotel by the main station at Waverley provides a cool mix of retro-modern and Scandi-chic – right at the heart of Edinburgh, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering views across the city and the Firth of Forth.
This grand tour of Britain includes stays in Bath, Cardiff, Chipping Campden, York, Pooley Bridge, Haydon Bridge, Glasgow, Fort William, Skye, Inverness and Edinburgh.
£4465 per person for April & October, £4595 per person for May to July & September, £4725 per person for August.
Prices are based on two sharing ensuite twin or double rooms for 20 nights on a bed & breakfast basis in a selection of characterful small hotels and guest houses carefully selected by McKinlay Kidd.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions and recommended routes from your specified starting point, 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.
We work hard to make sure the unexpected doesn’t affect your trip. On rare occasions, changes or cancellations may occur, affecting accommodation, transport or excursions. We are committed to informing you of any such circumstances and will use our knowledge and resources to offer suitable alternatives wherever possible.
You are requesting availability for
This holiday can be arranged from April to October.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
Please note: All fields marked * are required
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.
Leaving the car behind is an increasingly popular way to travel around Great Britain and Ireland. It’s a responsible, lower carbon way to go and thu...