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Day one – begin your journey on the West Highland Line
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, 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 town, your guest house 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 minutes’ walk from all of Oban’s main attractions.
Day two – a three-island boat trip, to Iona and enigmatic Staffa
An exhilarating day out today as part of a group, departing Oban for a voyage of discovery through the island of Mull, to Iona and finally Staffa, whose hexagonal basalt columns and Fingal’s Cave have inspired poets, composers and travellers for centuries. Experience the spirituality of Iona, Scotland’s birthplace of Christianity, where you can visit the Benedictine nunnery and the “Reilig Oran”, the burial place of kings, as well as Iona Abbey.
Day three to four – in to the wilderness of Rannoch Moor
When was the last time you experienced complete calm? Step off the train at Rannoch, await its disappearance in to 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. Walkers will find much here to love and those who’d prefer a more sedentary break will enjoy views to die for.
Your hotel in Rannoch
It could be said that the whole point of this hotel – set right beside the railway station, one of the remotest on the whole of the UK rail network – is to get away from it all. You’ll find no TV, no internet, no telephones in bedrooms, and mobile phone reception that veers from bad to non-existent. Instead, books, games, jigsaw puzzles, roaring fires and a fine selection of whisky are here to help you escape, retreat and unwind. Bicycle hire is available to help you explore the surrounding area’s many pathways, and with just five spacious rooms, you’re never likely to feel crowded. A daily changing menu of local seasonal produce is served in the cosy restaurant.
Day five – to Mallaig
Leave Rannoch behind and head for Fort William, just five stops along the line, and 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 quite superb Victorian mansion by Arisaig. Run by members of the same family, this beautifully kept house is presented as the ultimate Highland getaway. The most comfortable sofas are dotted throughout, while antique and mid-century-modern furniture sit amidst walls adorned with art from all over the world. Food and drink are at the very centre of life here and an ever-changing menu of the very best local produce is prepared and served with guests’ complete satisfaction and relaxation in mind.
Day six – the Knoydart peninsula
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.
Day seven – over the sea to Skye
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.
Day eight – an unforgettable steam train trip
Enjoy a final breakfast at Arisaig, then you’ll be met by 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 up front. 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 at the visitor centre and to view the structure from below. 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 home-made 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.
Day nine – Highland relaxation
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.
Day 10 – onward journey home
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 Rannoch Moor, three nights in Arisaig, and finally two nights in Spean Bridge.
£1675 per person in April & October, £1725 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-trip boat excursions as part of a group to Mull, Iona & Staffa 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.
The single supplement for this holiday is £745, 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.
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
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 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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