The Royal Scotsman – Scotland’s Classic Splendours
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Dates: Various from April to October 2019
The quintessential Belmond Royal Scotsman experience and certainly one of their most popular journeys. After following the east coast up to Keith you head across to the picturesque west coast village of Plockton, before making your way to Inverness and then south to Perth. A private ceilidh at Strathisla and your personal invitation to visit Ballindalloch, with its magnificent house and gardens, are just two of the highlights. Along the way there is time and opportunity for fishing, clay pigeon shooting or guided walking along Caledonian pine forest trails.
Day One: Edinburgh – Keith
The Belmond Royal Scotsman departs Edinburgh Waverley Station early afternoon, and travels north across the Firth of Forth by means of the magnificent Forth Railway Bridge. This is one of the first cantilever bridges, designed and built by Benjamin Baker in the late 1880s. It is considered one of the greatest achievements of the Victorian Age, and known as the eighth wonder of the world.
Enjoy your afternoon tea as you journey through the former Kingdom of Fife and across the Tay Bridge.Following the east coast, passing through Arbroath, Montrose and Aberdeen before arriving in the market town of Keith for an informal dinner and overnight stabling.
Day Two: Keith – Kyle of Lochalsh
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast as the train departs Keith and travels west towards Inverness, capital of the Highlands, passing through Dingwall before continuing north to Invergordon where you will disembark and visit Glen Ord Distillery.
Returning to the train, lunch will served as you travel towards Kyle of Lochalsh, on what is arguably the most scenic route in Britain. You pass through Dingwall and Garve, which lies under the shadow of Cnoc na h-Iolaire. The line passes Loch Luichart and the Torridon mountains, which are so old they contain no fossils. Geologists believe that they were formed before any life began. On through Achnasheen, then the climb to Luib summit and Achnashellach forest before descending to Strathcarron. The train then follows the edge of Loch Carron through Attadale, Stromeferry and Duncraig.
At Plockton you will have an opportunity to become your own guide and explore this picturesque region. Be at one with nature, as you take a boat trip to see the colony of wild seals, and relish the magnificent views across the Isle of Skye to the Applecross Mountains. There is also a woodland walk where there is time afterwards to enjoy a dram or two in the Plockton Hotel, or choose to simply have a wander through this charming village.
Alternatively, take the option to visit the majestic Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scotland’s most photographed castles. Located on a small tidal island at the meeting point of three sea lochs, it is an area of exceptional beauty.
You return to the train in Kyle of Lochalsh for overnight stabling. Dinner this evening is formal and afterwards there is entertainment in the Observation Car. Marvel at the view from the train’s verandah as you gaze over Loch Alsh to the Isle of Skye.
Day Three: Kyle of Lochalsh – Boat of Garten
After your breakfast the train departs Kyle and you retrace part of yesterday’s route as far as Dingwall. Have your cameras ready for the views of Plockton across the bay to the left, where you can see whitewashed cottages with fishing boats and yachts riding at anchor. Travelling round the edge of the Beauly Firth, you cross the northern end of the Caledonian Canal shortly before reaching Inverness.
The train continues south to Carrbridge where you disembark for your visit to Eilean Dolan Castle or Ballindalloch, one of Scotland’s most romantic castles, with wonderful gardens. Set in the magnificent surroundings of the Spey valley, Ballindalloch has been the home of the Macpherson-Grant family since 1546. The family have adapted their castle with the twists and turns of fortune and history into the elegant and comfortable seat at the heart of their working estate that we see today.
You return to the train at Boat of Garten on the private Strathspey Railway for overnight stabling. A formal dinner is served and afterwards you meet Ray Owens, a Highlander who brings to life the stories of Scottish heroes. Listening to Ray, you will gain a true sense of the past and learn how life in the Highlands has changed over the centuries.
Day Four: Boat of Garten – Dundee
After breakfast you disembark the train at Boat of Garten and take the motorcoach to Rothiemurchus Estate where you can choose from a number of activities which may include fishing, clay pigeon shooting, a guided walk or alternatively, you may simply prefer to relax by the fire at Drumintoul Lodge and admire the stunning scenery while enjoying some time on your own.
You rejoin the train in Aviemore and enjoy lunch as you journey south through Blair Atholl and Pitlochry to Dunkeld, where you disembark for your visit to Glamis Castle, ancestral home of the Earls of Strathmore for over 600 years. Glamis is a living, brathing monument to Scottish hospitality. The castle, gardens and grounds have visited more than 600 years of history and the staff takes great delight in sharing the many stories, secrets and intriguing tales that surround it. Rejoining the train in Perth you will enjoy an informal dinner on the move before stabling for the evening at Dundee.
Day Five: Dundee – Edinburgh
After breakfast, the train leaves Dundee you travel through the former Kingdom of Fife crossing the Firth of Forth by means of the Forth Railway Bridge to arrive in Edinburgh Waverley station where your unforgettable journey ends.
|Day One||Edinburgh – Keith
Afternoon tea and Dinner
|Day Two||Keith – Kyle of Lochalsh
Visit Glen Ord Distillery
Plockton – boat trip and explore village
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
|Day Three||Kyle of Lochalsh – Boat of Garten
Visit Ballindalloch Castle
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
|Day Four||Boat of Garten – Perth
Rothiemurchus Estate – clay pigeon shooting, fishing, estate tour
Visit Glamis Castle
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
|Day Five||Perth – Edinburgh
The Belmond Royal Scotsman
Originally launched in May 1985, the train, in its current form, dates from May 1990. The owners put together a set of carriages (all rather different), which were rented in and called The Belmond Royal Scotsman, launching in the Spring of 1985. The carriage leases ran for five years and it was a success – the train won the Queen’s Award for Export.
Owned by Belmond Hotels, Trains & Cruises and operated by The Great Scottish & Western Railway Company, today’s Royal Scotsman set is thus the second to carry its name. The running order of The Royal Scotsman carriages is: Observation Car with verandah viewing platform; Dining Car Number One (Raven); Dining Car Number Two (Victory); State Car number one, two, three, four and five; and a Service Car. The sequence is in running order from the rear so guests can best enjoy the passing countryside.
At one end of the train is perhaps the most distinctive vehicle, the open-ended Observation Car, converted from the Pullman kitchen car, Snipe. Originally built in 1960 by the Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company, it entered service in 1961 as a First Class kitchen car. In 1989, the car was bought from its private owner, Michael Bailiss, and converted it to its current luxury configuration, able to comfortably hold all thirty-six guests at any time.
Adjacent to this is Dining Car Number One, which is still referred to by its former Pullman car name, Raven. Colin Angell, a firm of cabinet makers from Evesham, Worcestershire, won the contract to transform a 1962 second-class Pullman carriage into Raven, with a capacity for twenty guests.
Next in the formation is Dining Car Number Two, known as Victory and so called since it was built in 1945. Victory was built as a London & North Eastern Railway Director’s Saloon and acquired from Sir Bill McAlpine. The transformation was completed in a number of weeks – from its bright orange curtains and brushed aluminium fittings to wood panelling, inlaid with intricate marquetry, mahogany veneer cupboards and specially made dining chairs and tables – not to mention a state of the art modern kitchen. Eight marquetry panels with intricate designs of thistles, flowing ribbons and butterflies line the walls and an inlaid frieze of several different woods runs on into the corridors. Victory can accommodate up to sixteen guests, ensuring all guests can dine at the same sitting, across the two dining cars.
The five State Sleeping Cars follow. These cars, like the Verandah car, were originally built as Pullman Cars in 1960 by the Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company. The sleeping cars provide sixteen twin cabins and four single State Cabins, beautifully fitted out in rich marquetry. All cabins have fixed, lower beds, dressing table, full-length wardrobe, individually controlled heating, cooling ceiling fans, opening windows and cabin service call button. Each cabin has its own private facilities with shower, wash-basin and toilet and a constant supply of hot water.