Belmond Royal Scotsman – Taste of the Highlands

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Dates: Various from May to October 2018

There is simply no better way to experience the drama and wild beauty of the Scottish Highlands. Heading north on the Highland Line through Dunkeld and Blair Atholl to Inverness, passing Culloden, site of the 1746 battle, on the way. This journey is ideal for those who like outdoor activity – at Rothiemurchus Estate for example, there will be the opportunity to try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, venturing out with the Estate’s rangers on a Highland safari or just enjoying a Highland walk.

Departures are: 23rd May, 20th June, 3rd and 14th July, 2nd, 15th and 31st August, and 12th October 2018.

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Day One: Edinburgh – Boat of Garten

The Belmond Royal Scotsman departs Edinburgh early afternoon and heads west through Linlithgow to Stirling, and past Gleneagles on your way to the “Fair City” of Perth. You then continue north on the Highland line through Dunkeld, Pitlochry and Blair Atholl. Once past the station you can catch a glimpse of Blair Castle before your onward journey to Boat of Garten for your overnight stabling. This evening an informal dinner is served, followed by entertainment in the Observation Car.

Day Two: Boat of Garten – Dundee

Leaving Boat of Garten after breakfast you travel by motorcoach to Rothiemurchus. The history of this estate is as varied as most of the Highlands of Scotland. Its diverse landscape comprises low-lying fields on the river flood plain, open heather moorland, forestry plantations and majestic Caledonian pine forest. Here you can enjoy a variety of activities including clay pigeon shooting or a guided tour of the Estate with one of the Park Rangers where you can learn about the local flora and wildlife.

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You rejoin the train in Aviemore and head north to Inverness. Enjoy lunch as you travel towards Culloden. Here you disembark for a private tour of this historic site of the last battle on mainland British soil in 1746.

You continue your journey this evening to Strathisla Distillary, which is one of the oldest working distilleries where you will have the opportunity to sample some of Scotland’s most famous whiskies.

You then continue east following the Moray coast through Aberdeenshire and Angus and enjoy a formal dinner (optional) as you travel south towards Dundee, for overnight stabling.

Day Three: Dundee – Edinburgh

After breakfast, the train leaves Dundee and travels through the former Kingdom of Fife. You cross the Firth of Forth by means of the magnificent Forth Railway Bridge to arrive in Edinburgh Waverley where your wonderful journey ends.

Timetable Arrive   Depart
Day One Edinburgh – Boat of Garten
Afternoon Tea & Dinner
13.41
Day Two Boat of Garten – Dundee
Rothiemurchus Estate – Clay Pigeon Shooting, Estate Tour
Private tour of  the historic battlefield of Culloden
Visit the Strathisla Distillery

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day Three Dundee – Edinburgh
Breakfast
09:46

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.

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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 Belmond 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.

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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.