Scottish Highlands Steam Railway Holiday
Join us for a summer fling in the magnificent Scottish Highlands. The combination of the wealth of archaeological sites on the Orkneys, together with the grand splendour of the countryside, and some of the most scenic railway journeys in Britain provides a truly memorable experience. Our outline is only the beginning of a story that gets better and better as the chapters unfold – a never to be forgotten Scottish yarn – read on Macduff!
The holiday starts at Inverness Station where after checking in to the Royal Highland we will enjoy a welcome meal together. Time is then yours to relax after the spectacular journey to get here.
A super “local” day begins with the classic cruise on Loch Ness to Urquart Castle. In the afternoon a rail journey to Keith transports us to the ever so friendly Keith and Dufftown Railway. We track back to Inverness with a leisurely journey that includes a dramatic pause for clan history at Culloden Moor.
The Skye Circular – to the west coast we head on what is without doubt one of the very best scenic days we do – anywhere. We start off with a gentle drive via the Great Glen to Fort William. Here we join the world famous Jacobite steam train for the unsurpassable ride to Mallaig – this is the most stunning steam hauled railway journey in the British Isles. From Mallaig we cross by ferry to the Isle of Skye and tour through the Garden of Skye before using the Skye Bridge to return to the mainland (not Skye!). Now, sit back and relax as we take the train back across from Kyle of Lochalsh skirting sea-lochs and passing idyllic villages before the wide expanse of the Highlands opens up around us – magic!
We’re not going too far today as we tour in and around the Cairngorms getting to know the locals. A flexible itinerary allows for plenty of scope and variety with wildlife, scenic and transport highlights including the Strathspey Steam Railway and a memorable trip up Cairngorm itself aboard the modern funicular railway. With an early finish back in Inverness tonight is your chance to be a little adventurous, get “out on the town”, and sample one of the many local restaurants.
It’s time to head for the far north and we are going to enjoy another stunning rail journey and holiday highlight. The spectacular journey to Wick and Thurso traverses some of the most rugged, desolate terrain in Scotland – this is among the finest, and yet least travelled railway lines in all the land.
The Orkneys beckon today and we cross the Pentland Firth from Gills Bay this morning. Then we tour “mainland” Orkney with the main attractions being Skara Brae, the wonderful Italian Chapel and the Churchill Barriers. There’s also time in Kirkwall (the capital) for a visit to the cathedral. Our circular tour is completed from Stromness over to Thurso’s port, Scrabster, passing the iconic “Old Man of Hoy” as the sun dips in the sky – lovely!
Heading back south today, we take a relaxed journey that includes some interesting stops and dramatic coastal scenery on the way back to Inverness. But first we need to show you some of Scotland’s most northerly sights. No visit up here would be complete without dropping in at John O’Groats, Dunrobin Castle and Helmsdale.
Breakfast, then stroll into the station to board the Highland Chieftain and commence homeward bound journeys through the spectacular Scottish scenery.
The Royal Highland Hotel, Inverness
This traditional establishment has all the Victorian elegance associated with British station hotels. High ceilings, a sweeping staircase and situated… outside a station! Inverness itself is a lovely place to explore of an evening with something for everyone. Why not take a quiet stroll by the River Ness or enjoy some traditional Celtic night life in a local hostelry – you’ll love it!
Special note: Our dining arrangements with the hotel include a “welcome” and “end of holiday” dinner, two nights with freedom to dine individually and one night where dinner is not included. Whilst one could dine in the hotel on that evening the idea is to provide the opportunity to make the most of Inverness and get “out and about” at least once.
Pentland Hotel, Thurso
This is one of the best hotels in this northern outpost with comfortable rooms and a bar/restaurant enjoyed by residents and locals alike. Another centrally located base enables one to explore the town of an evening here too.