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Commonly regarded as one of the world’s most scenic rail routes, the West Highland Line – voted Top Rail Journey in the World by readers of Wanderlust magazine – has inspired travellers to head for the hills for over a century. On the first day of your holiday, boarding at Glasgow, you’re off to the bustling Victorian port town of Oban, a stepping off point for travellers on their way to the Hebrides. On the way, you’ll pass awe inspiring sights such as Lochs Long, Lomond and Awe as the line winds, climbs and drops on the way to your first destination.
Your Accommodation in Oban
Clutching the hill that looms over the town, your guesthouse in Oban is a traditional Victorian villa, built by the man who bestowed McCaig’s Tower on Oban, one of its foremost landmarks. Carefully and sympathetically upgraded over the years, the charming and attentive owners have skilfully retained the character of their impressive home, set in a quiet location yet just a minutes’ walk from all of Oban’s main attractions.
After breakfast, your host will be happy to arrange a taxi to take you to the slipway at Gallanach just a few minutes’ drive away. Here, board the foot ferry for the five minute crossing to the island of Kerrera. With only a handful of cars present, this nugget of intense natural beauty is a walkers’ paradise, the atmospheric ruins of Gylen Castle and Hutcheson’s Monument easily reached, the reward of superb views back to Oban and the mainland one to treasure.
If you prefer we can also arrange a full day tour by ferry and coach to the islands of Iona and Staffa.
When was the last time you experienced complete calm? Step off the train at Rannoch, await its disappearance into the distance and listen to the sound of this very special place. Perhaps a breeze, a little birdsong, even, but very little else. One of the last great wildernesses left in Europe, Rannoch Moor, 1,300 feet in elevation, stretches north and west, its environment of bog, river, lochan and rock hosting an array of unique flora and Highland wildlife.
Upon arrival, you’ll be met by a friendly local driver and transferred to your accommodation, a 30 minute introduction to this stunning location. Evocative place names such as Bridge of Gaur, Bridge of Ericht and Kilichonan appear as you saunter along the banks of Loch Rannoch on the way to Kinloch Rannoch.
Your Hotel in Kinloch Rannoch
What a pleasant surprise to find accommodation of such quality in this peaceful location. Originally a sporting lodge for well heeled Victorians, the exterior presents a solidity reflecting the ruggedness of the surroundings. Inside, the place has enjoyed extensive recent refurb, sympathetically blending modern elegance with its historical structure and original features. Accommodation couldn’t be more comfortable, while dining in the strikingly designed restaurant showcases only the very best of the local larder.
Perhaps the hotel’s finest feature though is on the doorstep: the crispest of Highland air and world class walking in an unfolding landscape of complete calm.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning, after which you’ll be met by your guide and taken on a half day tour of the best of the local surroundings. With three lochs – Rannoch, Ericht and Tay – within a short distance, as well as an abundance of wildlife and jaw dropping scenery, this is an ideal way to bring this superb location to life.
Transfer back to the railway station after breakfast, boarding the train at Rannoch to head for Fort William, just five stops along the line, then onwards to the ferry port of Mallaig. On the way, you’ll cross the fabulous Glenfinnan Viaduct – more on that later.
Your Accommodation in Arisaig
Stepping off the train at Mallaig, you’ll be met by private transfer and whisked to your next hotel, a locally owned and long established restaurant with rooms in the endearing west coast village of Arisaig. Set right on the sparkling water of Loch nan Ceall and exuding a relaxing simplicity, the family hosts are always eager to put guests at immediate ease.
Depart from Arisaig for a wonderful day trip to the Knoydart peninsula, one of the UK’s remotest spots, accessible only by boat or on foot. You will have the chance to spend time ashore, to explore the village of Inverie and perhaps take a longer walk on one of the easy to access marked routes in this wild and spectacular location, before returning to the mainland at the end of the afternoon.
Transfer from your hotel this morning and enjoy the short ferry crossing between Mallaig and Armadale on the Isle of Skye for a terrific day out. Much has been written lately of Skye’s popularity, but this is a large island and it is relatively easy to get away from the throng and experience its magnificent beauty untroubled by others. With dramatic peaks, magical glens, shimmering lochs and picture perfect fishing villages, nothing can quite prepare you for Skye’s wealth of attractions and there are few better ways to experience the island than with an expert local guide.
Enjoy a final breakfast at Arisaig, then you’ll be met by a private transfer and dropped at Mallaig to take a trip on the world famous Jacobite steam train. First class seats await on the 1950s carriages hauled by the evocative locomotive upfront. Along the way you’ll cross the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter series of films wherein the Hogwarts Express crosses its elegant, curving structure of 21 spans. The train makes a brief stop at Glenfinnan station, allowing you the opportunity to take a moment to stretch your legs at the visitor’s centre. Then it’s on to Fort William, from where you’ll pick up a private transfer to Spean Bridge and the last hotel of your holiday.
Your Hotel in Spean Bridge
Set within striking distance of Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest peak, your family owned small hotel in Spean Bridge offers the warmest of welcomes and there can be no better place to round off your relaxing Scottish holiday. Enjoy tea and homemade scones on arrival by the crackling log fire in the comfortable guest lounge and within moments you’ll feel the pace slowing yet again. The charming owners are only too happy to share their knowledge of the local area, pointing out the best local walks to suit all abilities, while dinner in the elegantly presented dining room is of home cooked local fare and the perfect way to round off another hectic day of doing very little.
A final day to relax and soak up the Highland atmosphere, grabbing lungfuls of that crisp, fresh air. It could be a day for reading, for walking or even for venturing a little further afield with a trip to the shores of Loch Ness. We’ll leave you to choose how you wish to round off your Scottish railway holiday.
One last superb Scottish breakfast and you’ll be transferred to the station to catch your return train to Glasgow. A last chance to savour the incredible scenery all along the West Highland Line.
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 locally owned small accommodation and local guides on this holiday.
Two nights in the port town of Oban, followed by two in Kinlich Rannoch, three nights in Arisaig, and finally two nights in Spean Bridge.
£1725 per person in April & October, £1795 per person in May through September.
Price is based on two adults sharing double or twin en-suite room for nine nights on a bed and breakfast basis, (with dinner included for two of these), in our hand-picked selection of small hotels and guest houses; train travel from Glasgow to Oban, Oban to Rannoch and Rannoch to Mallaig, as well as first-class tickets for the Jacobite Steam train from Mallaig to Fort William, and return train to Glasgow. Day-trips by ferry to the Isle of Kerrera and to Knoydart are included, as well as a guided tour to the Isle of Skye and transfers where required from the station to your accommodation.
We can also arrange a day tour with a group by ferry and coach from Oban to Iona and Staffa, for an additional £78 per person.
The single supplement for this holiday is £590, based on sole occupancy of double rooms throughout.
This is a self-guided holiday, and can be adapted or tailor-made to suit your exact requirements.
We would also be delighted to assist with hotel reservations in Glasgow and Edinburgh from our selection of centrally located hotel 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.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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This holiday can be arranged from April to October. In 2021, the Jacobite Steam train will run from the 2nd April until the 29th October. Outside these dates the same route can be booked, but a standard train service operates.
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.
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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.
Everything went very smoothly…great having a local do all the hard work while having the independence to travel unaccompanied.Jillian & Family, Victoria
As it was our first trip to Scotland, every day was special…hard to single any one experience out.Brian & Lyn, New Zealand
The isolation of Rannoch Moor made it extra special to be away from the normality of life.Yuen, Victoria, Australia