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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Car-free family adventure holiday in the Scottish Highlands
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Highlights

  • Scottish Highlands plus a choice of walks and activities = 1 happy clan (family)!
  • The ‘Hogwarts Express’, a day out on the Jacobite steam train.
  • Boat trips to remote isles in search of whales, otters, sea eagles and Nessie...
  • Canoeing, archery, abbeys, museums—new skills and history lessons.
  • A wee dram for Mum & Dad after an action-packed day in The Great Outdoors.

Take the family on an adventure through the Scottish Highlands this summer, which will leave your ‘clan’ grinning from ear-to-ear! A car-free week packed with fun-filled activities perfect for ages 8 yrs and up, including a day out on the ‘Hogwarts Express’ steam train, great walks, boat trips to remote islands, wildlife watching, whisky distilleries (for Mum & Dad!), canoeing on Loch Ness and monster hunting!

Spend 3 nights in the pretty town of Oban (’Gateway to the Isles’), 2 nights in Fort William (‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’) and 2 nights by Loch Ness at tranquil Fort Augustus. This action-packed Scotland adventure will give your family unique memories to treasure.

Day 1: Arrive Glasgow. Train to Oban

From the vibrant city of Glasgow, the train speeds past the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and deep into the peaks of the Highlands. Reach the delightful town of Oban in under 3 hours.


The picture-postcard west coast town of Oban (’little bay’ in Gaelic) is the perfect family-friendly destination, with its cafés, distillery and chocolate factory. Unpack and settle into your cosy guesthouse for a 3 night stay.


Overnight: Oban


Days 2 & 3: Wildlife boat trip, Optional day trip to Mull/Iona/Staffa

Take a 1-hr wildlife boat trip (included) on board the MV Purple Heather. Sail across Oban Bay and past Dunollie Castle and the Isle of Kerrera to the seal colony in the Firth of Lorne, with open views to Mull and Lismore. Keep your eyes peeled for playful dolphins and white tailed sea eagles. 


In Oban, visit McCaig’s Tower, which resembles a Scottish Colosseum. There’s also Oban Distillery (for Mum & Dad!), the Scottish Sea Life & Marine Sanctuary and Dunollie Castle.


Oban is also known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’ and it’s easy to take a day trip to the Isles of Mull, Iona and Staffa.  Most tours include the ferry crossing to Craignure on Mull, a coach journey across the Ross of Mull and then another ferry to Iona where you can visit the impressive Abbey and the burial place of many Scottish Kings. Sea and weather permitting, it is also possible to visit the Island of Staffa with its famous Fingal's Cave.


Activity (included): Wildlife boat trip (1 hr)


Overnight: Oban


Day 4: Travel to Fort William, afternoon free or walk

After breakfast, depart Oban and either take the train (3hrs) or bus (1h30) north to Fort William (payable locally).


This afternoon you’re free to explore. Enjoy a walk, hire bikes, take to the waters of Loch Linnhe on a boat trip, or ride a mountain gondola!


A favourite walk is through Glen Nevis; follow a narrow path to an isolated valley. At the head of this green and tranquil glen the white curtains of Steall Falls plunge relentlessly down. This really is one of Scotland’s most precious places.


Optional walk: 3-5 miles


Overnight: Fort William


Day 5: Jacobite Steam Train to Mallaig ‘Hogwarts Express’

Get ready for wide grins all round as you board the Jacobite steam train, also known as the ’Hogwarts Express’. Chug over the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, then stop at Glenfinnan station where you can stretch your legs and visit the station museum.


Pass by the silver sands of Morar, setting for the films ‘Highlander’ and ‘Local Hero’ and look out for the Small Isles of Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna and the southern tip of Skye.  Arrive in the fishing port of Mallaig, the perfect spot to treat the family to a fish ‘n’ chips lunch!  You’ll arrive back in Fort William at approx. 16:00. 


Activity (included): Jacobite Steam Train; return journey Fort William-Mallaig (approx. 2 hrs each way).


Overnight: Fort William


Day 6: Transfer to trailhead, walk the Great Glen Way to Fort Augustus

Transfer from Fort William to the start of your walk (or to your next accommodation, if you’d prefer to take things easy). You can choose how far you’d like to walk; joining the trail at either Laggan Locks or Aberchalder. In our humble opinion this is the loveliest section of the Great Glen Way, a long distance trail which stretches 79 miles to Inverness. 


Stroll along the flat paths of the Caledonian Canal past beautiful Loch Oich, with its tranquil natural woodlands. Following the canal path to Fort Augustus. If you want to


Optional Walk to Fort Augustus: 5 miles (from Aberchalder) or 11 miles (from Laggan Locks)


Overnight: Fort Augustus


Day 7: Canoe Trip on Loch Ness, optional activities from Fort Augustus (archery, Loch Ness boat trip, Urquhart Castle)

There’s plenty to keep the family entertained today. Start with a morning canoe trip (2h30) exploring the southern end of Loch Ness, in very stable open (Canadian style) canoes.  Keep a look out for Nessie in the watery depths below! Please note that the canoe trips are only available on Wednesdays in May & June and Monday to Friday in July & August. 


You’ve a free afternoon so you could take a cruises on Loch Ness, or archery is also offered locally.  Urquhart Castle is a 30 mins bus ride away, just next to the village of Drumnadrochit where you’ll find Nessieland and the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition.


At Fort Augustus the Clansman Centre offers a glimpse into life in 18th century Scotland. Whilst you can find out about the creation and history of the Caledonian Canal at the Visitor Centre.


Activity (included): Canoe Trip (2h30, suitable for adults & children aged 7 yrs up).


Overnight: Fort Augustus


Day 8: Bus to Inverness, onward travel

From Fort Augustus, continue by bus (1hr) along the Great Glen to Inverness. Inverness has excellent airport and rail links. Continue your onward journey (or contact us to extend your time in Scotland).


Accommodation tonight is not included, however please contact us should you wish us to make arrangements for you.

 


Accommodation


7 nights accommodation is included in hand-picked locally-run B&B’s and guesthouses, of a 3-star equivalent rating. You can also pay a supplement to stay in hotels.


We include arrangements in twin/double rooms (based on 2 sharing).  Alternatively, your family can share a triple/family room and there will be a discount. If you require single rooms (or single occupancy of a twin/double room) then a supplement is payable.


The properties we normally use are detailed below, however are subject to availability and therefore alternatives of an equal standard may be offered. 


Meals

Breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival, alternatively you can stop at local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants.





 

 

 



Old Manse Guesthouse - Oban



Old Manse Guesthouse - Oban

This fine Victorian villa dates from 1865 and has stunning views over the large garden to Oban Bay to Mull. It is a 5 mins walk into town. There are king and twin rooms, and an family suite of 2 interconnecting rooms. Free WiFi.


 

 

 


 

 

 



MacLean Guesthouse - Fort William



MacLean Guesthouse - Fort William

This modern eight-room property is located just a five minute walk from the train station and town centre. Rooms are modern and bright, and there is free WiFi for guests. Twin and double rooms, as well as superior family rooms.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Tigh Na Mairi B&B - Fort Augustus

A friendly B&B located directly on the banks of the Caledonian Canal. This property has 3 bedrooms, two of which can be made into triple/family room by adding an extra bed. WiFi available, tea and coffee making facilities, guest lounge & outside seating area.


 

 

 


 

 

 



The Ranald Hotel - Oban



The Ranald Hotel - Oban

This stylish 17-room hotel is located just off the main street in Oban. There is complimentary WiFi as well as tea and coffee making facilities. Extra beds can be added to 'grand' and 'grand plus' rooms.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Nevis Bank Inn - Fort William



Nevis Bank Inn - Fort William

The modern, 4-star Nevis Bank Inn is situated on the banks of the River Ness, just a ten mins walk from the centre of of Fort William. It boasts a lovely restaurant 'Browns' and a cosy bar.


 

 

 


 

 

 



The Inch Hotel - Fort Augustus



The Inch Hotel - Fort Augustus

An historic country lodge hotel that is family friendly! There are 2 rooms which are ideal for families of 4. Rooms have free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities. The hotel has spectacular views over Loch Ness.


 

 

 

Availability

This trip is available between May and October.

Please note that the Canoe trip is only available on Wednesdays in May & June and Monday to Friday in July & August



Start dates:


  • 5 May—13 June and 23 Sept—24 October: Any day of the week except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • 14 June-19 Sept: Any day of the week.


Above is due to Jacobite train timetable.


2017 Departures: Schedules for the Jacobite steam train will be available around November. Until that time please do not make any firm travel plans and we will confirm your full arrangements as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding.


Rooming


We include arrangements in twin/double rooms (based on 2 sharing).  Alternatively, your family can share a triple/family room and there will be a discount.If you require a single room (or single occupancy of a twin/double room) then a supplement will apply. 


Grade & Terrain

As all walks are self-guided, you will be responsible for navigation, decision making and safety during your trip. The walks are graded easy to moderate. The walk on the Great Glen Way on Day 6 is flat, so should not prove a challenge. This trip is suitable for children aged 8 yrs and up.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The majority of the walks suggested on this trip (with the exception of Skye) are way marked and we supply you with maps and route notes so you can easily find your way.


Baggage Transfer


On Day 6 (Fort William to Fort Augustus) your luggage will be transferred between accommodations, leaving you free to walk with just a day pack.  At other times and when travelling with public transport, you take your luggage with you. Baggage limit is 1 bag of up to 20kg per person.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


Accommodation Location

We will always try and accommodate
you at the locations detailed in your itinerary. Occasionally, because
of limited availability, there is the option to be accommodated at an
alternative location. In the unlikely event that we have to accommodate
you elsewhere we will advise you of this before confirming your booking.
You will have the option to change your dates or we can arrange
transfers to and from an alternative overnight accommodation (additional cost payable for transfers).


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack. 



Getting to Glasgow/from Inverness

By Air: The closest airport to the start of the tour is Glasgow, and to the end of this tour is Inverness. From both airports into each city centre there are regular shuttle buses, which take approx. 30 mins, or a taxi is approx. 15 mins in both instances. Further information will be detailed in your pre-departure information pack.  


By Train: Both Glasgow and Inverness have good rail links and you can travel by direct train from Edinburgh to Glasgow (1hr), and from Inverness to Glasgow (3h15) or Edinburgh (3h20).


The website www.travelinescotland.com is fantastic for researching train and bus timetables throughout Scotland. Your pre-departure information pack will also have handy hints and tips about journeys and transport services.


Included

  • 7 Nights in B&B’s and guesthouses (3-star standard).
  • 7 Breakfasts.
  • Train from Glasgow to Oban (Day 1).
  • Wildlife boat trip from Oban.
  • Return trip on the Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig.
  • Transfer to trailhead (Day 6).
  • Luggage transfer on Day 6.
  • Canoe Trip on Loch Ness. (Only available on Wednesdays in May & June and Monday to Friday in July & August)
  • Maps & route notes.
  • 24/7 Telephone support from our UK office.

Excluded

  • Travel to Glasgow and from Inverness.
  • Travel insurance (required).
  • Local bus transportation mentioned in the itinerary and train journey if required on Day 4 from Oban to Fort William—payable locally only.
  • Optional additional excursions and day trips suggested.
  • Lunches and dinners.
  • Drinks and snacks.
  • Personal equipment.
  • Mountain rescue/emergency assistance.

Extras

  • Additional nights.
  • Upgrade to hotel accommodation.
  • Single room supplement (if applicable).

What age is this trip suitable for?

The walks are graded easy to moderate. You have a choice of walks with varying length. The walk on the Great Glen Way on Day 6 is flat and alongside the canal and loch, so should not prove a challenge - as you'll be transferred from Fort William to the start of the walk you can choose to be dropped off at Laggan Locks and walk 11 miles or you can be dropped off at Aberchalder and walk 5 miles (to Fort Augustus) . This trip is suitable for children aged 8 yrs and up.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the region is extremely popular especially Oban over the summer months (June to September). The accommodations mentioned on our website are those that we normally use and are subject to availability at the time of booking, however we work with many excellent B&Bs and small hotels in the areas you'll be visiting, and we will always try and accommodate your plans.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Our info packs have a list of all equipement to bring with you.

Do we need to bring anything for the canoe trip?

The canoe trips start from Fort Augustus, and you'll explore the southern end of Loch Ness in very stable open (Canadian-style) canoes. See Inchnacardoch Bay, Cherry Island (the site of an ancient ‘crannog’ - a house on stilts), Fort Augustus Abbey and the mouths of the Rivers Tarf and Oich. This is a guided activity. History buffs can discover how Fort Augustus got its name and learn about the engineering marvel that is the Caledonian Canal. Suitable for adults and children aged 7+. Young children will sit on an extra third seat in the canoe, so there are still two people to paddle and control the canoe. Equipment provided: canoe, paddle, buoyancy aid and a 25 litre dry bag per boat for your snacks/valuables. What you should take: Footwear that you don't mind getting wet and a waterproof jacket.  A towel/change of clothes is strongly recommended too, just in case!  Do take a camera, but please keep it in the waterproof bag provided when not using it.

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally May has always been the most popular time of year for Scotland because the theory goes that the weather is better and the midges have not yet appeared. Although having walked in every summer month we believe any time between late May and October offers a wonderful experience.

What are the midges like?

Midges are small biting insects (much like north American gnats) which are prevalent in the summer months. They are particularly bad on still, overcast days but do not bother you if you are moving, the wind is blowing, sun is shining, it’s raining, or you are inside so as long as you carry repellent for the odd occasion you may need it they shouldn’t have any impact on your experience.

Am I able to take my dog?

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate travellers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets and several sections of walks are closed to dogs as they are permissive paths through farm land.

What happens if we don't want to do any walking?

All walks are optional, with the exception of the Great Glen Way on Day 6; although you can always join the taxi which is transferring your luggage from Fort William to Fort Augustus (please let them know in good time, so they can be sure they can fit your family AND your luggage into the taxi!).

 

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