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Day One – North to Perthshire and the Gateway to the Highlands
Join the first-class Scotrail service North out of Edinburgh, crossing the firth of Forth on the world-famous bridge on your way to the popular town of Pitlochry. Here, in the heart of splendid Perthshire countryside, Pitlochry emits luxuriantly green in spring and summer, and is transformed to a dazzling blaze of colour in autumn.
You’ve free time in Pitlochry to explore a sophisticated riverside town where boutiques sell fine tweed and tartan. On the edge of town, meanwhile, the Explorers Garden is a sylvan celebration of the global forays and colourful finds of Scottish plant hunters, while the Atholl Palace Museum is an intriguing chronicle of social life from the 1870s on.
The well-regarded Pitlochry Festival Theatre offers cultural entertainment, and we can help with advance ticket reservations if anything takes your fancy.
You’ll enjoy a private transfer taking you the short distance to your hotel.
Your castle hotel in Pitlochry
Your stay here will be a luxurious, bordering on decadent, castle experience. This 19th century baronial manor has been brought bang up-to-date with no expense spared yet still manages to retain its essential “Scottishness”. With eye-popping views across Loch Faskally, and the village of Pitlochry just a short stroll across the bridge, the location is ideal too.
As you would expect, much attention has been paid to the food. Choose between fine dining or enjoy the wonderful views and more relaxed ambience in the brasserie. Either way, the residents’ lounge, with its wide selection of gin and malt whiskies, is the picture perfect place to end the evening.
Day two – A Free Day to Explore or Relax
With a whole day to explore, this is an opportunity to take in sights within easy striking distance of your accommodation. We can arrange a full day tour with private guide if you wish (additional cost, see below).
There are some fantastic castles, for example. Just a few miles from Pitlochry, the exquisite Blair Castle is an opulent 800-year-old palace in delightful woodland, while the nearby House of Bruar is a mecca for upmarket Scottish souvenir shopping. Further afield, Stirling Castle is a masterpiece of Renaissance grandeur on an imposing crag above a medieval town an hour’s drive away.
There are also two fine – but quite different – distilleries within a couple of miles of Pitlochry. Blair Athol makes whisky at the heart of the Bell’s brand, while the tiny Edradour distillery has been making intriguing malts by a delightful burn since 1825.
Day Three – Further north to the Highland Capital
After breakfast, a taxi will whisk you back to the station to catch your next train to Inverness.
Arriving in Inverness, you’ve the afternoon free to explore the bustling town by the River Ness where it meets the Moray Firth. There’s plenty to see, including a contemporary museum and art gallery and a fabulous book shop.
Alternatively, take a short trip to visit to the Culloden Battlefields, where poignant memorials detail a battle that ended the last Jacobite rebellion in 1746.
Your accommodation in Inverness
The city’s newest five-star hotel is one whose delights we’ve quickly come to appreciate. Set right on the river, just a few minutes’ stroll to the centre of the city, this Victorian former doctor’s residence has been transformed in to a smart and stylish place to stay.
The exterior of the original house has been retained, augmented by acres of sky-high glass leading to the brand-new accommodation wing. You’ll also find a stylish bar and a quite superb in-house restaurant.
Day Four – Explore Loch Ness
Today a local driver/guide will take you on a private day-long tour around Inverness and the Loch Ness area, giving you an insight into both famous and less well-known aspects of this iconic part of Scotland – tailored to what you most wish to see.
You might wish, for example, to see the Clava Cairns – a trio of sacred Bronze Age stone monuments dating back 4000 years.
On Loch Ness itself, you’ll enjoy a one-hour cruise (not private) on its mysterious waters – scan the boat’s sonar for signs of life beneath… Many visitors also explore the tumbling ruins of Castle Urquhart, whose stones combine 1000 years of history with picture-perfect loch views.
Day Five – the Kyle Line to Skye
After breakfast, our local driver will transfer you from your hotel the short distance to Inverness Railway Station to catch your train to Kyle of Lochalsh. The 80-mile Kyle Line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh is a triumph of Victorian engineering, particularly the 10-mile stretch that hangs above a crinkle-cut shore punctuated by pretty coastal villages and deserted beaches. You may spot seals or eagles from your carriage, too.
At Kyle, you’ll be met by our local driver, whisked over the Skye Bridge (ask the driver about the local battle to scrap its original tolls…) and on to your accommodation on the Sleat peninsula.
Your Accommodation on Skye
Your whitewashed hotel combines a superb lochside setting with one of Scotland’s most celebrated restaurants – and dinner is included on both nights of your stay here.
Day Six – Private Tour of the Isle of Skye
A day to relax and explore with the service of our expert local guide, who will design the day around your preferences on an island which, as the largest of the Inner Hebrides, offers myriad contrasting charms.
Superb mountain and coastal scenery have made Skye a stellar destination for visitors going back generations, including pioneering Victorian mountaineers who tackled the imposing jagged peaks of the mighty Cuillins.
You could venture to castles like Dunvegan (ancestral seat of the MacLeods for eight centuries) or Armadale’s 18th-century ruins, once clan home of the MacDonalds. Consider, too, a visit to the crofting township of Staffin and Museum of Island Life. Skye is also home to outstanding arts and crafts makers – your guide can offer suggestions.
Whisky lover? Then perhaps visit the famed Talisker distillery or the lesser-known Torabhaig to savour lip-smacking island drams.
Return for a further evening at your peaceful and luxurious accommodation.
Day Seven – Over the Sea to Mallaig
This morning, our driver will transfer you the short distance from your hotel to the ferry port at Armadale, where you’ll board the CalMac ferry for the short crossing to Mallaig. Here, you’ll have tome for a wander and perhaps lunch in this seafood Mecca, before a distinct holiday highlight.
The Jacobite steam train provides a first-class trip on one of the most celebrated rail journeys on Earth, travelling from Mallaig to Fort William. Awesome Highland scenery includes Britain’s deepest freshwater loch (Loch Morar) plus the deepest seawater loch in Europe (Loch Nevis), plus the beach where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in 1745.
It’s a place of big-screen locations too, including the natural settings for films like Local Hero. But the most famous movie link is the Jacobite Express itself – featured in the Harry Potter blockbusters as it puffs wizards to Hogwarts across the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Arriving at Fort William, you’ll be met by a driver from your castle hotel and transferred the short distance there.
Your Hotel near Fort William
Your fabulous final-night location is a five-star baronial castle fashioned from a 19th-century waterside mansion where Queen Victoria came to sketch for a week in 1873 and fell in love with the picture-perfect surroundings. Today it is rightly recognised as one of the finest hotels in Scotland, retaining an intimate and exclusive feel.
Day Eight – Returning South on the West Highland Line
Enjoy a final, luxurious Highland breakfast before transferring back to Fort William to catch your train to Glasgow. On the world-famous West Highland line you’ll travel across the untrammelled wilderness of Rannoch Moor, amidst wooded hills and rugged valleys, passing a host of lovely lochs – including the bonnie-banked Loch Lomond – all the way to the centre of cosmopolitan Glasgow.
This holiday is part of our ever-growing collection of public transport based holidays, enabling you to reach destinations around Scotland 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 local guides on this holiday.
This holiday starts in Edinburgh; travels to Perthshire and on to Inverness; drops southwest to Kyle of Lochalsh for the Isle of Skye; crosses the sea to Mallaig, from where you steam to Fort William; and finally traverses the length of the West Highland Line to end the holiday in Glasgow.
We can also arrange the holiday to start in Glasgow, and although accommodation in both cities is not included, we can help with our hand-picked selection of four- and five-star hotels.
£2615 per person for April & October and £2745 per person from May to September.
All prices based on two adults sharing a double or twin room and includes five nights bed and breakfast, and two nights dinner, bed and breakfast in our hand-picked selection of small four- and five-star hotels. Train travel where possible will be in first class including the Jacobite steam train, but standard class from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and from Fort William to Glasgow. Taxi transfers are included in Pitlochry, Inverness, Skye and Fort William. The holiday includes a private guided tour of Skye, and private half-day tour of Loch Ness, plus one-hour boat trip (not private).
The single supplement for this holiday is £1600.
A day tour with private guide can be arranged in Perthshire for an extra £155 per person.
We would also be delighted to assist with hotel reservations in Glasgow and/or Edinburgh from our selection of centrally located, high-quality four- and five-star hotel options.
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.
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.
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...
Fantastic holiday, thank you! Blown away by the scenery everywhere, even more spectacular than we'd expected. The hotels were wonderful too.Val & Family, Seaford, England
Everything worked very well, we enjoyed the whole trip. We tried many of the things recommended by Robert.Gunhild & Svenning, Odder, Denmark
We loved it! This was the trip of a lifetime, and we have nothing but happy memories! Everything was amazing.Lara & William , Texas, USA
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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