Grand North Western Journey Aboard 'The Royal Scotsman'
Luxury Train Travel: One of the most romantic ways to discover a destination
- Day 1: Edinburgh - Keith
The Royal Scotsman departs Edinburgh Waverly 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 Huntly, where you will disembark for a traditional Scottish ceilidh at Strathisla. You then rejoin the train in market town of Keith for an informal dinner and overnight stabling.The Royal Scotsman | Meals: D
- Day 2: 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 Dalmore Distillery, which has been in operation on the banks of the Cromarty Firth since 1839.
Returning to the train, lunch will be 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 Scottish Highland village. 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, which leads to a viewpoint overlooking the loch. Alternatively visit the local art gallery or simply wander through this charming village.
Afterwards rendezvous at the Plockton Hotel, where there is time to enjoy a dram or two before rejoining the motorcoach. 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.The Royal Scotsman | Meals: B L D
- Day 3: 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 Ballindalloch, one of Scotland's most romantic castles, and with its 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 you 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.The Royal Scotsman | Meals: B L D
- Day 4: 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 Scone Palace, home to the Earls of Mansfield. It's origins date back fifteen hundred years when Scone was the capital of the Pictish kingdom and the centre of the ancient Celtic church. It was also once home to the fabled Stone of Destiny, the crowning place of ancient Scottish Kings. Scome is a unique treasury of furniture, paintings and porcelain and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and peaceful woodland.
Rejoining the train in Perth you will enjoy an informal dinner on the move before stabling for the evening at Dundee.The Royal Scotsman | Meals: B L D
- Day 5: Dundee - Edinburgh - Spean Bridge
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 this part of your journey ends. Now there is an opportunity to explore the beautiful City of Edinburgh, known as the 'Athens of the North'. Explore the historic Royal Mile, visit the Castle, take in an art gallery or simply relax with a coffee.
The Royal Scotsman departs from Edinburgh early afternoon and heads west through Falkirk, Clydebank and Dumbarton to skirt Glasgow and so reach the northern bank of the Clyde. Near the mouth of the Clyde estuary lies Craigendoran, the starting point for the majestic West Highland Line. Enjoy afternoon tea as you travel along the edge of Gare Loch. Loch Long comes into sight to your left, and after vanishing for a while, returns with a view of Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) with its distinctive peak.
Passing Arrochar you will get your first view of Loch Lomond. The train descends almost to the water's edge at Ardlui, and then has a hard climb up Glen Falloch, whose many waterfalls provide an impressive display. As you continue north you will pass through Crianlarich and Bridge of Orchy. There are spectacular views of Rannoch Moor before arrival in Spean Bridge where the train stables overnight.
After a formal dinner reacquaint yourself with a familiar face for evening entertainment.The Royal Scotsman | Meals: B L D
- Day 6: Spean Bridge - Bridge of Orchy
Breakfast is served as your journey continues west, passing through Fort William with views of Ben Nevis (Britain's highest mountain). Travelling by the side of Loch Eil you then pass Glenfinnan and Lochailort, before turning north along this stunning coastline until reaching Arisaig. Here you can disembark for a romantic walk along the beautiful Morar Sands, a magnificent expanse of gleaming white sand, where you can enjoy excellent views across the Sound of Sleat to the beautiful Isle of Skye with its awe-inspiring Cuillin Mountains.
Rejoining the train your lunch is served as the train retraces the route towards Fort William. Here you will disembark and enjoy a trip to places of historic interest with 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.
After your trip you will return to the train and enjoy an informal dinner as you head south towards Bridge of Orchy where you stable overnight.The Royal Scotsman | Meals: B L D
- Day 7: Bridge of Orchy - Wemyss Bay
Leaving Bridge of Orchy this morning enjoy breakfast on route south towards Glasgow and Gourock.
At Wemyss Bay, board the ferry across to the Isle of Bute. The island embraces a variety of landscapes; seashore, moorland, farmland and forest. The natural history, geography, geology and ancient history of the island are revealed at every turn. From St Blane's Chapel at the south of the island to the abandoned townships in Glen More at the north, it seems that every stone has its tale to tell.
Mount Stuart is Britain's most spectacular Victorian Gothic house. This was the architectural fantasy of the 3rd Marquess of Bute and his architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson. Stunning, mysterious interiors reflect the romantic and scholarly Marquess' passion for art, heraldry, astrology, mythology and religion. At Mount Stuart, there is arguably the finest privately held collection of family portraits in Scotland.
Following your afternoon tea, you will have time to explore this magnificent house, its tranquil Rock Garden, the Wee Garden containing rare plants from the southern hemisphere, the Kitchen Garden and the Victorian Pinetum. The Limetree Avenue leads you to a secluded stretch of coastline and one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland.
You return to the mainland and rejoin the train in Wemyss Bay where a formal dinner is served and the train stables for the night.The Royal Scotsman | Meals: B L D
- Day 8: Wemyss Bay - Edinburgh
You depart Wemyss Bay this morning and enjoy breakfast as you travel east towards Edinburgh where your journey ends.The Royal Scotsman | Meals: B