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Scenic Journeys of the Highlands and Islands

From £1595.00
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Glenfinnan Viaduct
Departing by Rail
Duration 7 Days
Available Now

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland provide such a wealth of scenic journeys that it can be a daunting prospect to work out how best to take them all in. This new tour aims to provide the answer to this Caledonian conundrum with an itinerary that ticks off a whole host of visual gems while at the same time providing a series of relaxing, undemanding journeys by train, coach and boat.

Our tour begins with one of the most visually stunning rail journeys in Scotland, the West Highland Line to Fort William, with views of Loch Lomond and the wild, open expanse of Rannoch Moor.

This is followed by an excursion to the Isle of Mull, with three different ferry crossings involved. We then enjoy a cruise on Loch Linnhe, a drive through the haunting glacial valley of Glen Coe and a round trip on the Jacobite steam train, over the final section of the West Highland Line. Heading north to Inverness, we enjoy possibly the most scenic of all the Scottish railway routes to Kyle of Lochalsh and a visit to iconic Eilean Donan Castle.

Finally we take the funicular railway (subject to it re-opening) to the top of the magnificent Cairngorms and then it’s ‘downhill all the way’ as we ride the Highland Railway from Aviemore to Glasgow.

Please note this tour begins and ends in Glasgow. Departure time will be approximately 12.30 and return time will be approximately 16.30.

Tour Highlights

  • Scenic railway journey from Glasgow to Fort William
  • Stunning views on the Jacobite steam train
  • An equally scenic run on the railway line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
  • Cruises on Loch Ness and Loch Linnhe
  • Funicular railway in the Cairngorms

Price Includes

  • Accommodation
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • Comfortable coach travel throughout
  • Meals – as per the itinerary


Day 1

Travel independently to Glasgow and assemble at Queen Street Station where we board the lunchtime train to Fort William. This is a particularly scenic journey though it begins in darkness as our train powers up the steep incline in the tunnel out of the station. Before long we are running along the shores of the Firth of Clyde, followed by views over Gareloch and Loch Long on our left and Loch Lomond on our right. The line continues through Glen Falloch before traversing the ‘Horseshoe Curve’ and crossing the wilderness of Rannoch Moor. On reaching Glen Spean the line turns west and heads down to Fort William on the shores of Loch Linnhe, beneath the towering bulk of Ben Nevis.

Here we will be met by our coach and transfer to our hotel.

Day 2

We enjoy a spectacular day of coastal and island scenery today as we drive south from Fort William along the shores of Loch Linnhe with views of Castle Stalker and the mountains of Morvern. Crossing the impressive cantilever bridge at Connel, originally built for the railway to Ballachulish, we continue to Oban, the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, where we board our ferry to Craignure on the Isle of Mull. Here we will visit Duart Castle, the 13th century home of the Chief of Clan MacLean. We can explore the dungeons, the state rooms and appreciate the strategic position of the castle from the top of the keep.

We then drive to Tobermory, with its famous colourful waterfront, for some free time and an opportunity for lunch (not included). Thereafter we will take the short ferry crossing from Fishnish to Lochaline and drive through the magnificent mountain scenery of Morvern, before crossing Loch Linnhe by the Corran ferry and returning to Fort William.

Day 3

This morning we begin with a look at the Caledonian Canal, built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822, and in particular Neptune’s Staircase, an impressive series of eight inter-connected locks that lowers vessels step-by-step to sea level. We then enjoy a cruise on Loch Linnhe, the long fjord-like sea loch that lies at the southern end of the Great Glen Fault. In the afternoon we savour a scenic drive through the magnificent mountain scenery of Glen Coe, sculpted by the last Ice Age. The haunting beauty of the glen is unrivalled in Scotland and is a mecca for walkers, mountaineers and skiers.

Day 4

Today we have a treat for the senses as we journey back in time on the Jacobite steam train and experience one of the most memorable and spectacular railway journeys in the world – the famous Fort William to Mallaig line following The Road to the Isles.  “The Jacobite” combines the romance of the steam era with the opportunity to drink in the stunning views of this wild and historic part of Scotland. From the slopes of Ben Nevis the line runs through rugged mountains, past sea and inland lochs and onto the shores of the Atlantic at Mallaig. The route also takes us over the massive Glenfinnan viaduct overlooking Loch Shiel, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745. There is time to enjoy lunch (not included) in Mallaig, whether you choose fish and chips, crab sandwiches or freshly landed lobster. You may also want to take a closer look at our locomotive here and enjoy the unique smell that is a blend oil, smoke and steam.

On arrival in Fort William later in the afternoon we drive through the Great Glen and along the shores of Loch Ness to Inverness, our base for the next three nights.

Day 5

The second boat trip of our holiday is enjoyed today as we cruise on Loch Ness, the largest volume of fresh water in the British Isles and home, of course, to the carefully cultivated myth of the monster known as ‘Nessie’. By all means keep an eye on the surface of the water (just in case), but you should also look up and enjoy the superb scenery of the wooded hillsides that flank the loch. We will also enjoy views of the much-photographed ruins of Urquhart Castle.

In the afternoon we transfer to the shores of the Moray Firth, where we have every chance of spotting the resident pod of dolphins as they feed among the tidal currents.

Day 6

Today is your chance to decide which Scottish railway line is the most scenic – was it the West Highland line to Fort William and Mallaig or is it today’s route, the former Highland Railway line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh? Using the scheduled diesel train service from Inverness, our route takes us through Strath Bran and the isolated little station at Achnasheen, on into Strath Carron to the head of Loch Carron, passing Stromeferry, the one-time terminus of the line, before we reach the current terminus at Kyle of Lochalsh.

We have time here to stretch our legs and enjoy the stunning views across to the Isle of Skye before continuing by coach to the 13th-century castle, Eilean Donan. With echoes of Castle Stalker which we saw on Day 2, this must be one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, with its impossibly romantic setting on Loch Duich. The beginnings of Eilean Donan Castle reach back into the early mists of time – evidence of a pictish fort was found in vitrified rock uncovered during excavations, some of which has been kept for visitors to see. We then return by coach to our hotel.

Day 7

Our tour concludes today but there is no let up in the scenic delights as we drive through the Cairngorms National Park to the ski centre at the foot of Cairn Gorm itself. Here it is hoped we will be able to take a ride on the funicular railway built to give skiers access to the upper slopes but which in summer provides a comfortable way to enjoy some spellbinding panoramic views, with the upper station being at 3,599 feet above sea level. Should the railway not be operating an alternative visit will be arranged.

We then transfer to Aviemore where we pick up a scheduled train service to Glasgow, following the Highland Line that snakes down the backbone of Scotland. On arrival in Glasgow the group will disperse or make onward connections.

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