Tour Date: 9 to 18 May, 2024Location: United Kingdom

Join us on a tour on Scotland’s most scenic railways.

The highlights are Scenic Railway lines, hauled by steam engine, Dunrobin castle, heritage train ride, distillery visit, cruise on the river Clyde, all dinners and two lunches included

Robert Burns wrote “My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here” so come and join us on a tour from Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, via some of the “most scenic rail journeys in the world” according to Bill Nighy, to Glasgow on the River Clyde. Heading north, east, and west from the railway hub of the city, you will ride on a heritage train, be hauled by a steam engine as you cross the “Harry Potter” viaduct and traverse the world famous West Highland Line, where there will be wonderful scenery and engineering marvels to admire. There will be a visit to Scotland’s only French chateau, Dunrobin Castle, a trip over the bridge to Skye, a visit to the iconic Eilean Donan castle, a couple of nights in Oban on the west coast and we will end the tour with a trip “doon the watter” on the River Clyde.

Your tour manager is Anne, who lives near Glasgow and loves showing off her country to visitors. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or wish to discuss the trip with her, please feel free to e-mail her on anne@ptg.co.uk

Highlights

  • Scenic railway lines: West Highland Line, Oban line, Kyle Line, Highland Main Line, Far North Line
  • Mainline steam hauled Jacobite train ride
  • Railway museum
  • Dunrobin Castle
  • 1st generation DMU charter
  • Distillery visit
  • Cruise on a boat with an underwater viewing chamber
  • All dinners and two lunches included
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation
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Day 1, Thursday 9th May 2024 (D)

PTG can arrange for your transport to Inverness, or you can “do it yourself”. You can fly to Inverness airport, take the bus or the train before checking into the Hotel Columba after 3pm. The hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the station (or grab a taxi). If you arrive early, there are attractions to visit in the city such as the Victorian market, St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness Castle or take the bus or a taxi to Culloden Moor, the site of the last battle of the ’45 Jacobite Rebellion. We will meet in the hotel reception at 7pm to walk the short distance to the Mustard Seed restaurant for our Welcome dinner.

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Inverness

Day 2, Friday 10th May  (B, L, D)

Today we travel across Scotland as we head west to Kyle of Lochalsh – one of our most scenic railways – through largely unspoiled and uninhabited wild countryside. As we approach the west coast, we by-pass the village of Plockton, the setting for TV’s “Hamish Macbeth” and arrive in Kyle from where the ferry used to run “over the sea to Skye” – we will cross on the bridge! After lunch on Skye, to where “Bonnie Prince Charlie” fled after the defeat at Culloden, we will visit Eilean Donan castle, built on a tiny island at the confluence of three sea lochs, to repel Viking invaders, and used defensively until its destruction in 1719. Between 1911 and 1932 it was extensively restored to its original plan. Dinner will be in Inverness.

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Eilean Donan Castle

 

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Isle of Skye

Day 3, Saturday 11th May (B, L, D)

We catch the main line train to Keith this morning, to ride the heritage train between Keith Town and Dufftown. When we arrive at Keith, we can either walk (very pleasant and not too far) or take a taxi to Keith Town station from where we take the heritage train to Dufftown. There were many branch lines in this area at one time, but this is the only one which has been preserved. We will have lunch in the quirkiest restaurant, comprising two railway carriages called, appropriately, the Sidings. On our return to Keith, we will walk to the Strathisla distillery for either a blending lesson or a distillery tour! Dinner will be in Inverness.

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Keith and Dufftown Railway

After a walk through Keith Old Town, we will end the day in the Strathisla Distillery concocting our own blend of Scotch whisky before taking the return train to Inverness. We will have dinner in the hotel.

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Day 4, Sunday 12th May (B, D)

Today we travel to Fort William, gateway of the Road to the Isles, and where – depending on your direction of travel – is the starting/finishing point of the long distance walking route, the West Highland Way, to Milngavie, the cycling/walking route, the Great Glen Way to Inverness and the Caledonian Canal begins/ends with Neptune’s Staircase – a magnificent set of locks. On a clear day, Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland is visible, the town is a centre for skiing, climbing, mountain biking and, most importantly for us, is the home of the Jacobite Steam train on which we will ride to Mallaig. The West Highland Line was constructed to transport fresh fish from Mallaig to Glasgow and it is still a commercial railway, though mostly catering for tourism these days. It is a superb engineering marvel, using concrete for viaducts, the most famous being that at Glenfinnan featured in the “Harry Potter” film franchise, bridges and sea walls, and excavating tunnels where required. Having crossed a swing bridge over the Caledonian Canal, we pass historic landmarks, such as the Glenfinnan Monument, showing where Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard in 1745, pass by Loch Morar, another very deep Scottish loch reputed to have its own monster to rival “Nessie” and admire the beautiful beaches at Arisaig. Many film and TV companies have used this area as a backdrop to their stories, such as “Outlander” and “Trainspotting”. You will have some time to explore Mallaig, now an important ferry terminal, from where you may see another view of Skye. This route has many sights that can only been seen from the train and it really is a highlight of our trip. On our return to Inverness, we will have dinner in the hotel.

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Neptune’s Staircase on the Caledonian Canal

 

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Jacobite Steam Train

Day 5, Monday 13th May (B, D)

It’s an early start this morning and breakfast may well be “in a bag” or a box! We will be catching the early morning train for Thurso and Wick – and if you wish to “ride the line”, that can be facilitated – but the rest of us will be alighting at the private halt to spend the day at Dunrobin Castle. It is a short walk to the splendid castle, which is the only “French chateau” in Scotland and is the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland. After a self guided tour, there is a falconry display in the gardens, which are modelled on those in Versailles, and which you will be able to explore after lunch in the café. We will return to Inverness on the mid-afternoon train and dinner will be in Inverness.

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Dunrobin Castle

Day 6, Tuesday 14th May (B, D)

We leave Inverness this morning and transfer to Oban via Loch Ness, Fort Augustus, where there is a flight of locks on the Caledonia Canal, and Spean Bridge from where we will take the train to Oban, changing at Crianlarich, thus completing our first section of the celebrated West Highland Line. However, if you wish to travel on the bus to Oban rather than the train, that is possible. Oban, Gaelic for “small bay” is a seaside resort on the Firth of Lorne. It is the home of “Mccaig’s Tower”, a folly commissioned by a wealthy banker to retain the stonemasons in the town over winter and to be a memorial to his family. Begun in 1879, it was never completed as Mccaig died in 1902 and with him, its funding. However, it makes for a wonderful viewing point over the bay towards the Atlantic islands of Lismore, Mull and Kerrera – and a good walking exercise to boot! Oban has its own distillery, is a major ferry port for the Outer Isles, was the home of WW2 Flying boats, was a vital base in the Battle for the Atlantic, and a major WW2 trans-Atlantic, and subsequent Cold War, communications point. There is a small museum dedicated to war and peace, interesting architecture, and the best shoe shop in Argyll!!! Dinner will be in the hotel.

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Fort Augustus

 

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Oban

Day 7, Wednesday 15th May (B, D)

From Oban, we travel by the morning train to Falls of Cruachan to join a guided tour of the “Hollow Mountain”, the hydro – electric plant deep in the heart of Ben Cruachan. After the tour, we will be able to visit the information centre, the gift shop and the cafe before returning to Oban by the afternoon train, leaving you with time to explore the town at your leisure before dinner in the hotel.

Day 8, Thursday 16th May (B, D)

We catch the morning train to Glasgow to complete our journey on the West Highland Line via Crianlarich where we will either change trains or be attached to the carriages from Fort William. Travelling south, – through places that trains should not go – we pass Loch Lomond, Loch Long, Loch Fyne and the Gareloch, where you may just see a glimpse of the submarine base at Faslane. We arrive in Queen Street Station in Glasgow – our hotel, the Carlton George, is just a two minute walk away. This afternoon, we may be able to offer a tour of secret Central Station and/or a walking tour in the city centre. Dinner is in the hotel rooftop restaurant.

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Loch Lomond near Balloch

 

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Glasgow

Day 9, Friday 17th May (B, D)

Today we will go “doon the watter” – a term used by wealthy Glaswegians who sent their families to the likes of Largs, Ayr or Dunoon for the summer – either a train to Wemyss Bay (a spectacular Victorian station) and the ferry across to Rothesay, Isle of Bute, to visit Mount Stuart House, the family home of the Marquis of Bute, the first house in Scotland to have electricity and an indoor swimming pool! It was used as a naval hospital during WW1. After the tour, you can explore the gardens and have lunch in the café before returning to Rothesay for the ferry home.

OR

You may choose an all day sail on the paddle steamer PS Waverley, which takes you round the Firth of Clyde before returning to Glasgow. Please let us know which option you would like when you book.

Our farewell dinner will be in the rooftop restaurant of the hotel.

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The wonderful railway station at Wemyss Bay

Day 10, Saturday 18th May

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and it is time for you to leave this tour. There is an excellent bus service to Glasgow airport, the two main stations are very easy to access on foot. However, there is a taxi rank opposite the hotel if it is required. We hope you have enjoyed the tour and experiencing Scotland by rail – well, most of the time!! We wish you a safe journey and as we say in Scotland “Haste ye back”

This tour involves some walking, including just over a kilometre between Keith and Keith Town stations, a flat 500 metres from the hotel in Oban to the station, and a walking tour in Glasgow.

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • Full 11 day “from home” Holiday: POA
  • Full 11 day joining in Glasgow: £2,150

Options

  • Single Room Supplement: £780

Deposit

  • £500

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Hotels

  • Inverness – 5 nights
  • Columba Hotel, Oban – 2 nights
  • Carlton George Hotel, Glasgow – 3 nights

Travel

  • You may arrange your own travel to/from Scotland or PTG can arrange this for you as part of the package

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