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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 of 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.
Today you will have the chance to experience the highlights of Skye on a full day’s tour in a small, guided group, which can include the impressive natural rock formations of the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing, the man-made wonders of Dunvegan Castle and the enchanting Fairy Glen.
Other options include a drive into Waternish (Skyeskyns Tannery, Trumpan Church ruins) if the castle tour is omitted. You should have a short stop in Portree before heading round the Trotternish peninsula then returning to your hotel.
If there is anything in particular that you would like to see, please advise the guide who will try and incorporate this into your tour.
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 and prints.
Day Six – Onwards to Pitlochry
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 your next overnight stop.
Your hotel in Pitlochry
On the hill overlooking Pitlochry, your accommodation is a beautifully presented, family owned property featuring supremely comfortable rooms and an acclaimed restaurant.
Even on the approach to the hotel, the manicured gardens and driveway begin to create an impression of classic style, the imposing, typically Scottish sandstone architecture in quite beautiful condition.
Step through the front door to reception and the calming atmosphere is immediately obvious, the wealth of original features – ornate plasterwork and wood, tall picture windows and even taller ceilings – contrasting perfectly with the owners’ additional touches of flair and a roaring log fire.
Each of the ensuite bedrooms has an individual theme and everything you need for a relaxing stay, while the guest lounge couldn’t be a more inviting place to enjoy a dram or glass of wine before dinner of fine local produce in the excellent restaurant.
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 pop into Pitlochry with its many attractions – from the Blair Athol distillery to the fascinating Explorers’ Garden. Why not arrange a taxi to take you on the short journey to visit nearby Blair Castle, with its 700 years of history? While 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. Just let us know if we can assist.
This holiday is part of our ever-growing collection of public transport based holidays, enabling you to reach destinations around Scotland – in this case, including the Isle of Skye – 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 a local guide on this holiday.
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.
£1385 per person for April & October and £1445 per person for May through September.
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 £500 per holiday, based on single occupancy of double/twin rooms.
Instead of the guided tour of the Isle of Skye, we can also arrange car hire on the island. This is limited in availability so please do let us know if this option appeals at time of booking.
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.
“Somewhere along the Scottish coast An emerald island lies So I will steer my sailing boat Unto the Isle of Skye” [Andrew Peterson] I take a glanc...
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
The main train trips had such beautiful scenery - they seemed to be over far too quickly!Jean, Cheltenham, UK
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 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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