Edinburgh the Highlands & Islands
Edinburgh the Highlands & Islands

Edinburgh, the Highlands & Islands

Majestic lochs and glens lie in wait as we cross Edinburgh and the Highlands and visit historic castles and the Isle of Mull. We travel through the West Highlands and Cairngorms on this fabulous round trip climaxing with a 'Scottish Evening' on Edinburgh's stately Royal Mile.

Highlights
  • Edinburgh
  • The West Highland Railway
  • Ballachulish
  • Neptune's Staircase
  • Isle of Mull
  • Duart Castle
  • The Jacobite Steam Train
  • The Kyle Line to Kyle of Lochalsh
  • Scenic cruise across Loch Linnhe
Itinerary

DAY 1 - JOINING THE TOUR IN EDINBURGH

Our fantastic Scottish tour begins at the superb Apex Hotel Waterloo Place, located close to Edinburgh's main station, just off the renowned Princes Street. Your Tour Manager greets you at the hotel and the remainder of your day is free to explore Scotland's fascinating capital.

DAYS 2-3 - THE WEST HIGHLAND LINE & THE ISLE OF MULL

Today we travel to Glasgow, before changing trains for a journey on one of the world's most spectacular scenic railway lines, The West Highland Line. During our time on board, we travel along a hillside ledge overlooking Gare Loch before we enter the spectacular Highlands, an idyllic, remote and untouched landscape. The incredible route skirts the western banks of Loch Lomond and climbs quickly from Crianlarich to Upper Tyndrum and wild Rannoch Moor. Mighty mountains provide an imposing backdrop to our journey as we approach Fort William. On arrival we transfer to the nearby village of Ballachulish.

On Day 3, we travel by coach to the town of Oban. Leaving the mainland by Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, we make the 40-minute crossing to the Isle of Mull. As we head through the small islands and across to Mull, the incredible picturepostcard views are truly awe-inspiring; rugged coastline, hills rising sharply from the water's edge, endless greens, purples and browns of the moorland and jagged, exposed rock faces. We arrive at the town of Craignure from where we visit Duart Castle, the ancestral home of the Maclean Clan. The castle is only a few minutes drive from our mooring point at Craignure and remains in a superb condition, occupying a picturesque position overlooking Loch Don. After our visit, we enjoy a Whiskey tasting at our hotel.

DAY 4 - NEPTUNE’S STAIRCASE, LOCH LINNHE & GLENCOE

Today we travel by coach to Neptune's Staircase, an impressive flight of eight locks operated by a team of at least three lock keepers. Situated on the Caledonian Canal, the locks are each placed at slightly different levels, overcoming a total height difference of 64 feet. It now takes approximately one-and-a-half hours to pass from one end of the staircase to the other, where water overcomes gravity and nature to climb the hillside.

From here we continue to Loch Linnhe where we enjoy a scenic cruise across the water. After our cruise, we visit Glencoe, one of Scotlands most iconic glens. Glencoe has been used as the backdrop of many films over the years, most recently being used for the James Bond film, 'Skyfall'.

DAY 5 - THE JACOBITE STEAM TRAIN

This morning we join the Jacobite Steam Train† for a journey to Mallaig on the final leg of the wonderful West Highland Line, arguably the most scenic in the UK. During the journey the train steams past Ben Nevis, then climbs into the mountains surrounding Glenfinnan, a small town famous as the rallying point for Bonnie Prince Charlie's assault on the British throne. Here we cross the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct seen in the 'Harry Potter' films, and also one of the most iconic engineering works found throughout the British railway network.

As we head towards Mallaig, we drop down to the sea's edge and the landscape opens up with the first views of the rugged 'Small Isles' - Rum, Eigg and Muck - which hang tantalisingly close offshore and tease in and out of view near our journey's end. After time for lunch, we make the return journey by coach, passing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, to Inverness, where we stay for three nights.

†On early departures the Jacobite Steam Train does not operate and we make this excursion using Scotrail's scheduled service.

DAY 6 - LOCH NESS

Today, travel to Loch Ness to enjoy a cruise. This iconic loch is most famous for its mythical dweller, the Loch Ness Monster, however it is also surrounded by some of Scotland's most breathtaking scenery. Enjoy your short cruise surrounded by the purple pained mountains, before taking a trip to Urquhart Castle, a 13th century castle that sits perched on the banks of the loch. These atmospheric ruins are a delight to explore, and you have some free time here before we coach back to Inverness. The rest of your day is spent at leisure, ahead of a delightful meal together this evening.

DAY 7 - THE KYLE LINE

Today we enjoy one of the most breathtaking railway journeys in Europe, the Kyle Line. This incredibly scenic route takes us across Scotland from east coast to west, crossing the Caledonian Canal as we leave Inverness and skirting the shores of crystal-clear lakes. Countless photo opportunities present themselves as we wind through wooded hillsides and over sparse moors, climbing over the highlands and past charming loch-side and seaside towns.

The tracks rise and fall over hills and valleys, travelling at low speed throughout most of the journey, giving you time to soak up the terrific views. The train sweeps one way and the next, wild deer grazing beside the tracks that follow a route dictated by politicians and powerful landowners as much as by civil engineers. During the final part of the journey we pass the picturesque white-washed houses in the village of Plockton. We arrive at Kyle of Lochalsh, the end of the line, located across a short stretch of water from the Isle of Skye.

Afterwards we make a visit to Eilean Donan Castle, situated on a tiny island in Loch Duich, joined to the mainland by a small, elegant bridge. The island was part of the Macrae Clan's territory and in the 13th century they built Eilean Donan Castle, which was initially designed to defend the clan's land from invading Vikings but which actually saw more battles between the warring Scottish clans.

DAYS 8-9 - INVERNESS TO EDINBURGH

We leave Inverness, travelling south through the Cairngorms, via Aviemore, Pitlochry and Kingussie, to arrive back in Edinburgh for a night at the Radisson Blu Hotel.* We enjoy a farewell dinner as part of a 'Scottish Evening'. For this, we are regaled by a Scottish piper with all manner of fascinating Scottish stories and snippets of local history. We also sample a menu of traditional Scottish dishes as we are entertained.

After breakfast on the morning of Day 9, the tour concludes, and your Tour Manager bids you farewell. You are free to begin your journey home or enjoy more time sightseeing independently.

PLEASE NOTE: Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure Dates & Prices

20 Sep 18 - Adults - From £1490

11 Oct 18 - Adults - From £1290

14 Oct 18 - Adults - From £1210

19 Oct 18 - Adults - From £1495

All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always call us for up-to-date prices and availability.

What's Included & Further Information

An escorted experience and all travel arrangements

  • The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
  • First and Standard Class rail travel throughout (Standard Class on Scotrail, First Class on the Jacobite Steam Train)
  • Luggage transfer Edinburgh-Ballachulish and Inverness-Edinburgh is included in this tour

Comfortable accommodation in your destination

  • 8 nights' hotel accommodation including 1 night at the 4-Star Apex Waterloo Place Hotel in Edinburgh, 3 nights in Ballachulish, 3 nights in Inverness and 1 night at the 4-Star Radisson Blu Hotel in Edinburgh

Delicious meals included

  • 16 meals including 8 breakfasts and 8 dinners with a special 'Scottish Evening' on the final night featuring a Scottish piper and a traditional Scottish menu

Exciting excursions and free time to explore

  • Scenic rail journey on the West Highland Line
  • Isle of Mull with a visit to Duart Castle
  • Whisky tasting
  • Neptune's Staircase, Glencoe, and a scenic cruise across Loch Linnhe
  • Excursion on the Jacobite Steam Train (early departures feature the scheduled Scotrail service)
  • A journey on the Kyle Line to Kyle of Lochalsh
  • Cruise across Loch Ness, and a visit to Urquhart Castle

Not Included

  • Cancellation & Travel Insurance is not included in the price of the tour but can be arranged.
Your Hotel's

The Isles of Glencoe Hotel, Ballachulish - Nestled on the shores of Loch Leven, the Isles of Glencoe Hotel offers a superb base for exploring the Western Highlands. The hotel's facilities include a swimming pool and bio-sauna, in addition to a well-equipped gym. The rooms feature amenities such as complimentary Wi-Fi, a television and tea & coffee making facilities.

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh - The 4-Star Apex Waterloo Place Hotel is ideally located at the eastern end of Princes Street, close to Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station. The rooms feature a television, fridge, safe, tea and coff ee making facilities, luxury toiletries and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh - The stylish 4-Star Radisson Blu Hotel is perfectly located on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, half way between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. The hotel has a restaurant, a bar and a leisure club with a jet stream pool, a sauna and a gym. The rooms are decorated in a contemporary style and feature individual climate control, a telephone, a television, a minibar, tea & coffee making facilities, a safe and a hairdryer.

Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa, Inverness - The welcoming 3-Star Best Western Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa on the banks of the River Ness is a short walk away from the city centre and the perfect place to relax and watch the river flow by. Built over 100 years ago, the hotel is equipped with a swimming pool, leisure club, brasserie and lounge. Rooms include hairdryer and television.

The Inverness Palace Hotel & Spa won Great Rail Journeys' award for the best hotel in the UK and Ireland in 2010.

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