Scotland by Rail
Prices from £990 per person
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Discover some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK on this glorious Scottish escape. Explore the vibrant, exciting city of Glasgow, before joining the West Highland Line – the spectacular ‘Iron Road to the Isles’ – to travel to the sheltered harbour town of Oban, before you continue to Fort William nestled in the Highlands and charming Mallaig. Experience outstanding landscapes and stunning islands on this 10 night / 11 day holiday by rail, before finishing your tour in the UNESCO-listed Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
Day 1 – Arrive in Glasgow
Your holiday begins today as you arrive in Glasgow, a dynamic and lively city – and the largest in Scotland. On arrival, make your way to the highly-rated Indigo Hotel (4 star) for a two-night stay.
Day 2 – Discovering Glasgow
Make the most of a full day to explore Glasgow. In the Victorian era, this sprawling metropolis was second only to London as the largest city in the British Empire, and as such there are many beautiful examples of architecture from that time. A popular option in this dynamic city is the Willow Tearooms on Sauchiehall Street, which was created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh – one of Glasgow’s most famous sons. Other highlights include the Riverside Museum of Transport and of course the Kelvingrove Art Gallery (pictured).
Day 3 – Glasgow to Oban on the beautiful West Highland Line
Excitement builds this morning as you make your way to Glasgow’s Queen Street station for the spectacular journey to Oban on the West Highland Line. This route is regularly voted one of the best railway journeys in the world, and it is easy to see why shortly after setting off. From suburban Glasgow, the train heads alongside Loch Long before reaching the magnificent scenery of the Highlands. The incredible route skirts the western banks of Loch Lomond before turning towards the coast, all the time passing under ever-more dramatic peaks including Ben Lui with its distinctive five ridges. The line passes Loch Awe, watched over at its head by the remains of Kilchurn Castle, before reaching the coast as the charming port of Oban. Here you spend three nights at the highly-rated Perle Hotel (4 star), ideally located close to the station on the sea front.
Days 4 & 5 – Exploring Oban and the Inner Hebrides
Make the most of two full days to discover this truly beautiful region. The town of Oban, nestled in an attractive bay, is a delight to stroll around. Perhaps head to McCaig’s Tower, a folly modelled on the Colosseum in Rome, which overlooks the town. Another highlight is the distillery, which is one of the oldest in Scotland, dating back to the 1790s. It is in fact older than much of Oban, which grew around the whisky trade.
You may wish to take advantage of Oban’s suberb links to the many islands scattered along Scotland’s west coast. Ferries run throughout the year to many of the nearby islands, including beautiful Mull. Here you can admire the pastel-painted houses of Tobermory, visit the spectacular Duart Castle, or take the ferry to the secluded Isle of Iona, with its pristine beaches and impressive abbey. Other options include South Uist with its neolithic remains, and the wild island of Colonsay.
Day 6 – Northwards to Fort William on the West Highland Line
Leaving Oban behind, today you return to the station and take the train back along the West Highland Line as far as Crianlarich. Here you change trains and continue on the northern stretch of this mangificent railway journey. The train climbs quickly from Crianlarich to Upper Tyndrum and crosses the wild Rannoch Moor before arriving in Fort William. Here you spend three nights at the top-rated Grange Luxury B&B (5 star).
Day 7 – The West Highland Line to Mallaig
Today you take the regular Scotrail service for a journey to Mallaig on the northernmost leg of the wonderful West Highland Line**. During the journey the train climbs into the mountains surrounding Glenfinnan, where it crosses the famous curved Glenfinnan Viaduct, known to many as it was used in the Harry Potter films. As you head towards the journey’s end, the track descends towards the coast and the first views of Rum, Eigg and Muck, known as the Small Isles, which come in and out of view until you reach Mallaig. Enjoy time to explore this working fishing port before making your return journey.
**Please note it is possible to make this journey on the celebrated Jacobite steam-hauled service between April and October – please contact us for details.
Day 8 – At leisure in Fort William and the Highlands
Enjoy a day to take in the attractions of Fort William and the surrounding area. You may wish to simply take a stroll alongside Loch Linnhe and admire the beautiful surroundings. The West Highland Museum is packed with local artefacts and has a number of rare pieces on the Jacobite uprising, and is also well worth a visit. If you’re feeling energetic, you could climb to the famous peak of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK. If the hike does not appeal, there is also the Nevis Range Gondola which offers superb panoramic views of the range from its summit station.
Day 9 – Fort William to Edinburgh by rail
This morning you return to Fort William station and join the train for another fabulous journey on the West Highland Line, as you make your way southwards to Glasgow. Here you change trains and continue to Edinburgh. On arrival in the Scottish capital, make your own way to your hotel for the next two nights, the stylish Dunstane Houses Hotel (4 star).
Day 10 – Edinburgh at leisure
Enjoy a day to discover more of the Scottish capital. You might like to start with a stroll through the cobbled alleys of the medieval Old Town and the elegant crescents of the Georgian New Town, with its gardens and neoclassical buildings. The Royal Mile is home to the magnificent Edinburgh Castle at one end and the Palace of Holyrood House – the Queen’s official residence in Scotland – at the other. Other interesting buildings on the Royal Mile include the iconic St Giles’ Cathedral and the cutting-edge Scottish Parliament building.
For a different view across the city visit ’Arthur’s Seat’, an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park, with sweeping views from its peak. The Royal Yacht Britannia is another popular option; it was the Queen’s official yacht until 1997 and gives an insight into her personal tastes as she oversaw its style and decoration. You could also visit some of the islands in the Firth of Forth; Inchcolm Island is home to a ruined abbey, as well as an array of nesting birds, and offers spectacular views of the famous Forth Railway Bridge.
Edinburgh is also home to more Michelin starred restaurants than any other part of the UK outside London, so you have an excellent selection of restaurants for dinner.
Day 11 – Homeward bound
After breakfast in the hotel, today your holiday concludes. Make your way back to the station for your homeward journey.