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Your journey starts by train from Glasgow, travelling along the first section of the West Highland line – winner of frequent accolades and voted “Best railway journey in the world” by readers of Wanderlust magazine. As you leave the city, the railway line hugs the banks of the Clyde and shores of Loch Lomond. After Crianlarich, you seem to leave civilisation behind, entering the desolate yet beautiful wilderness Rannoch Moor. Your destination today is the Highland village of Spean Bridge, where you will be met and taken to a nearby family-run small hotel.
Your Hotel in Spean Bridge
On arrival, you will be greeted with fresh tea and home-made scones, while you admire the views out towards Ben Nevis. Take a stroll down the quiet country lanes or up to the Commando Memorial and work up an appetite for dinner – the owner’s organic, home-cooked food will soon have tastebuds tingling. You’ll find comfy sofas and cosy corners in the sitting rooms, with a library of books begging to be looked at and, when the need arises, real fires to warm your toes. Rooms are simple but comfortable. This is a perfect haven for a relaxing break whatever time of year.
Today you continue along the West Highland Line, from Fort William to Mallaig, only this time you leave the Scotrail train behind and step back in time. Your seats await in the first class carriage of the Jacobite Express. Relive the romance, the sounds and smells of the age of steam as this famous engine pulls you through more magnificent Scottish scenery and over the engineering marvel of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The train pauses for a well-earned rest at the station here, allowing you some time to stretch your legs and view Loch Shiel. Then you continue on your way to the end of the line, Mallaig, from where you catch the ferry over the sea to Skye. You will be met on arrival on Skye for the short taxi transfer to your delightful hotel in the southern part of the island.
Your Hotel on Skye
Your charming whitewashed hotel sits in an idyllic location right on the seashore, enjoying expansive views over the Sound of Sleat to the wilderness of Knoydart. This, the most southerly part of Skye, is an area of great natural beauty, often referred to as the “Garden of Skye” thanks to its abundant bird life and profusion of wild flowers.
A day to relax and explore the village and local area – on foot or local bus. Should you wish to explore much of this large island, we strongly recommend hiring a car for a day or using the services of our local guide.
Another taxi ride across the Skye bridge, then catch your next train at Kyle of Lochalsh, for a majestic and dramatically picturesque trip to Inverness.
We work with a selection of small hotels and guest houses in Inverness, which are all personally hand-picked by us, and are conveniently located close to the city centre.
Time to explore the Highland Capital, perhaps taking a boat trip on nearby Loch Ness to view the ruins of Urquhart Castle from the water or have a go at the legendary local sport of Nessie-spotting. Alternatively, you could tour Culloden Battlefield. Booklovers should seek out Leakey’s bookshop for a great selection of second-hand books, prints and rather pleasant café too.
Hop on the train once more and continue south through the Highlands to the popular tourist town of Pitlochry. From here a taxi will whisk you to the nearby village of Killiecrankie for your next overnight stop.
Your hotel in Pitlochry
Originally a church minister’s country residence, this charming small, friendly hotel is set in glorious wooded grounds in a tranquil setting deep in the heart of the rolling Perthshire countryside, with views across the Pass of Killiecrankie to the densely wooded hillsides bordering the River Garry.
As you are coming towards the end of your Scottish train holiday, you might choose to kick back and relax in the peaceful surroundings of your hotel, perhaps just taking a local stroll to the National Trust gorge, site of another famous battle. Or you could arrange a taxi to take you on the short journey to visit nearby Blair Castle, with its 700 years of history. The adjacent House of Bruar offers substantial shopping opportunities, with everything from cashmere to tweed, whisky to teacakes, not to mention fine art. The perfect place for those last-minute souvenirs or gifts.
Return to Pitlochry for your final train journey to Edinburgh. You may wish to extend your stay here for a few days – it’s an easy city to explore on foot, as long as you don’t mind a few inclines, cobbled streets and medieval steps. The Old Town is crammed with ancient buildings, with the imposing castle looking down upon it all, while the “New Town” is over 200 years. old.
This route starts in Glasgow, travels by the world-famous West Highland Line up the West coast, crosses to the Isle of Skye, then travels by the North Highland Line to Inverness, before heading south through Perthshire, and finishes in Edinburgh.
£1055 per person for April, £1095 per person for May & June, £1130 per person for July & August, £1125 per person in September, and £1095 per person in October.
Price is based on two adults sharing a double or twin room for 7 nights in our hand-picked selection of small 3 and 4 star hotels. Dinner is included for 3 nights – the first night and both nights at Pitlochry. Other nights include breakfast. The holiday also includes:
The supplement for a single traveller is £470 per holiday, based on single occupancy of double/twin rooms.
To explore the Isle of Skye, as local bus services are quite limited, we strongly recommend either hiring a car or taking a guided tour, with one of our local guides. To hire a car during your stay on Skye costs an additional £115. The car would be collected from the ferry port on Skye and dropped off at Kyle of Lochalsh station. To join a small group guided tour of Skye costs an additional £60 per person. Your driver guide will collect and return you to your hotel on Skye.
We would also be delighted to assist with hotel reservations in Glasgow and Edinburgh, from our selection of centrally located, high quality hotel and aparthotel options.
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.
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 itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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.
This was a truly special vacation made easy by the fabulous itinerary that connected me to places I had always dreamed of going to.Comfort, Kenya
It was well organised and having toured parts of Scotland by car, it was a much different style of holiday - relaxed & enjoyable.Malcolm & Vera, Somerset, England
Wonderful accommodations with great food and really nice hosts. Beautiful scenery along the train rides.Carol & Brian, Victoria, Canada
This holiday can be arranged from April to October. Holidays from mid April onwards usually include the Jacobite steam train. Outside these dates the same route can be booked, but a standard train service operates to Mallaig.
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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