Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays

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West Highland Line: self-guided rail & hike tour


  • Walking the iconic West Highland Way up into the Scottish Highlands
  • Puffing across Glenfinnan viaduct to the west coast on the Jacobite steam train
  • Sailing across to the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond
  • Following the tracks across remote Rannoch Moor, home to regal stags
  • Exploring the paths and trails at Glen Nevis with an option to climb Ben Nevis

Explore the Scottish Highlands by train and on foot. Combine a walk along the UK's most famous national trail, the West Highland Way, with one of the 'World's Best Train Journeys' on a journey through Scotland's western Highlands.

This rail and hike adventure will take you past mountains, forests, lochs and glens, including a boat trip on Loch Lomond, before reaching Fort William at the foot of Britain's tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. A fitting finale to your trip is a train ride on the 'Jacobite' steam train, also known as the 'Hogwarts Express'. Mallaig is the gateway to the Isle of Skye and a temptation for further adventures.

For more information on the West Highland Way, you can download our Free online guide, or visit our in-depth West Highland Way information page.

Day 1: West Highland Line from Glasgow to Ardlui

Your tour starts in Glasgow at Queen Street railway station. Once aboard the West Highland Line train you will travel north towards Loch Lomond.

Pulling into Ardlui station, you have arrived in the Highlands. Enjoy your first evening with a sun downer on the loch shore and look north to the peaks that will frame your followings day’s walk along the West Highland Way.

Overnight: Ardlui Hotel ***, Inverarnan

Day 2: West Highland Way to Crianlarich

Your day begins with a  short ferry ride across the waters of Loch Lomond to Ardleish on the Easter Shores. You are now on the West Highland Way and your walk takes you north through Glen Falloch. You may glimpse the roe deer on the mountains.

After heavy rain the sheer slopes of the glen gush with the turbulent waterfalls that brighten up even the most cloudy day. Passing through the conifer forests you enter the Glen of Strath Fillan to arrive at the village of Crianlarich.

Walk: 9.5 miles, 374m ascent, 150m descent, 3 - 4 hours

Overnight: Crianlarich Hotel *** , Crianlarich

Day 3: Walk the West Highland Way to Bridge of Orchy

Commencing with a gentle start through the verdant Strath Fillan, you will walk the footsteps of St Fillan, a 8th century Irish evangelist whose subsequent cult attracted Robert the Bruce as one of his followers.

Passing through the ruins of his chapel you move through Dalrigh, the 'King’s Field’, where legend has it Robert the Bruce suffered defeat in 1306. Following the ‘Way’ amidst the sky scraping mountain scenery of Beinn Odhar and Beinn Dorain you descend to Bridge of Orchy.

Walk: 13.5 miles, 183m ascent, 254m descent, 4 - 5 hours

Overnight: Bridge of Orchy Hotel ****, Bridge of Orchy

Day 4: West Highland Line to Spean Bridge

After breakfast you have the option of a 5 mile loop walk to the shores of Loch Tulla. with uninterrupted views across the loch, wild Rannoch Moor and the Black Mount.

A relaxing afternoon follows as you board the West Highland Line to head across Rannoch Moor. Crossing a wide remote expanse of the Rannoch Plateau at 300m above sea level. This is a wild landscape of peat bogs, lochans and ancient forests, home now to herds of red deer. Passing Loch Treig the line descends into fertile Glen Spean and the Great Glen. 

Optional Loch Tulla Walk: 5 miles, 175m ascent, 164m descent, 2 - 3 hours

Overnight: Spean Lodge, Country House, Spean Bridge

Day 5: Walk the East Highland Way to Fort William

Entering a forest trail to start your walk it is worth keeping an eye out for red squirrels. The dominating feature of the walk is Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain at 1344m which reveals its massive bulk in full as you near Fort William. Passing in its shadow you enter the town to complete your walk.

Walk: 12 Miles, 189m ascent, 190m descent, 3 - 5 hours

Overnight: Myrtle Bank Guesthouse, Fort William

Day 6: Ben Nevis climb or walks in Glen Nevis

With two nights in Fort William you may wish to tackle Ben Nevis with a self guided walk to the summit via the ‘Tourist Route’. Suitably equipped for the ever-changing conditions you may be rewarded with far ranging views from the summit plateau.

For a low level adventure, the Glen Nevis trails are a delight. One of the best short walks in Scotland, the rocky path through the Nevis gorge to the cascading Steall Falls, is highly recommended. 

Optional Ben Nevis ascent: 10 miles, 1352m ascent/descent, 7 - 9 hours

Optional Glen Nevis walk: 3 miles, 220m ascent/descent, 2 - 3 hours

Overnight: Myrtle Bank Guesthouse, Fort William

Day 7: West Highland Line to Mallaig - The ‘Jacobite’ steam train

A real treat is in store today with a trip on the ‘Jacobite’ steam train from Fort William out to the west coast port of Mallaig. A highlight of the journey is crossing the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan viaduct. While having gained recent fame through the ‘Harry Potter’ films, the location is historically important as the landing point of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 for his Jacobite uprising.

The dramatic scenery continues with summits towering over 700m above the tracks as you puff and whistle through the passes. Reaching the wild rocky and rugged west coast with views across to the small isles of Rum and Eigg. The train brings you into the vibrant port of Mallaig which  is also the perfect starting point for a trip out onto the Isle of Skye, only a 30 minute ferry ride away. 

Overnight: Seaview Guesthouse, Mallaig

Day 8: Onward Travel

Your tour ends after breakfast. You may wish to travel south via the West Highland Line (approx. 5hrs 30mins by train to Glasgow) or continue your adventures up into the Isle of Skye and beyond.


Our West Highland Line - Rail & Hike holidays include overnight accommodation in a mix of 2, 3 and 4 star country inns, hotels, guesthouses and B&B’s. The accommodation we use most often is listed below.

We carefully select your accommodation to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay and all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.

We book en suite rooms as standard. If there are no en suite rooms available in an overnight location, we may book a room with shared facilities, but we would always inform you in advance if this was the case.

Accommodation Upgrade

If you would prefer a little extra luxury whilst in Fort William, Spean Bridge or Mallaig you can upgrade to our hotel accommodation option. For this option we use a selection of country hotels, luxury bed and breakfasts and country inns of character.

Accommodation Location

We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in your itinerary. Occasionally, because of limited availability, we may have to accommodate you 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 and arrange transfers to and from your overnight accommodation at our expense.

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This holiday is available to solo walkers, although a single supplement is payable. If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single supplement is payable.


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 your guidebook also includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your info pack will of course have recommendations.

Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be collected from your accommodation on each walking day and moved onto your overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 18kg per person. On the rail days we ask that you take all your baggage with you aboard the train.

Accommodation Partners

Although not exhaustive these are the accommodation providers we use most often.






Ardlui Hotel - Inverarnan

The Ardlui Hotel is located in the heart of Scotland's first National Park - Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.







Crianlarich Hotel - Crianlarich

This is an award winning, comfortable and well-appointed 36 bedroom, 3-star hotel set in the lovely village of Crianlarich.







Bridge of Orchy Hotel - Bridge of Orchy

The Bridge of Orchy welcome their guests with personalised service, imaginative Scottish cuisine, quietly elegant en suite bedrooms and public rooms, intimate atmosphere.







Distant Hills - Spean Bridge

Distant Hills - Spean Bridge

Peter and Lesley McIntosh extend a warm welcome to you from their family run guest house. Distant Hills is an established family run guest house, set in extensive grounds and located at the edge of a quiet Highland village.







Myrtle Bank - Fort William

Myrtle Bank - Fort William

Myrtle Bank is a warm and pleasant establishment which overlooks Loch Linnie and is just a short stroll from the Town. Dora will welcome you in to her wonderful property which is extremely highly rated by clients.







Seaview Guesthouse - Mallaig

Seaview is a lovely family-run detached guest house in the centre of Mallaig. Fiona will provide you with a warm Highland welcome in this comfortable and relaxing bed and breakfast accommodation. It is ideally situated in Mallaig, overlooking the harbour and just a short walk from the train station.







West Highland Hotel - Mallaig

The West Highland Hotel retains the traditional charm of an age gone by and combines this with comfortable, modern en suite rooms. The view across the bay is spectacular and you are assured a warm welcome and a comfortable night in this lovely property.





You can start on the following days of the week during the season (due to the operational timetable of the Jacobite steam train):

  • 22 April - 16 June 2019: you can start on a Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat
  • 17 June - 30 Sept 2019: you can start any day of the week
  • 1 Oct - 14 Oct 2019: you can start on a Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat

There are a few dates throughout the year when events in the local area will prevent us from being able to book accommodation. If you could schedule your trip around these dates it would be extremely beneficial.

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is available to solo walkers, although a single supplement is payable. If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single supplement is payable.

Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate and includes daily walks of between 8 - 13 miles. The terrain may be rugged underfoot with some hills but not too strenuous. Perfect for those with a relatively good level of fitness.


The route is generally well way marked and easy to follow. We supply a detailed map and route notes so you will easily find your way.

Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be collected from your accommodation each day and moved onto your overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 18kg per person. When you travel with public transport you take your luggage with you.

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.

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/from Glasgow

By Air: Located 8 miles west of Glasgow, Glasgow International Airport is served by routes from around Britain and the world. A regular shuttle bus service runs to the city centre.

By Train: Glasgow has excellent rail links from within the UK. It is important to book as far in advance as possible to get the best fares. For information on all routes contact National Rail Enquires.

By Bus: Services from UK destinations are operated by National Express.

Services from Scottish destinations are operated by Scottish Citylink.

By Car: Glasgow is served by an excellent motorway network. Long term parking is generally available in the city centres. For directions and journey planner visit the mulitimap weblink.

Onward travel from Mallaig

By Train: Following completion of your holiday you may wish to return toward Glasgow via the West Highland Line. Journey time is approximately 5hrs 30mins.  For information on all routes contact National Rail Enquiries.

By Ferry: For onward travel to Skye you may take the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Armadale. Crossing time is approximately 30 minutes. For information on all routes contact Caledonian MacBrayne.

For detailed public transport information see Traveline Scotland.


  • 7 Nights in good quality guesthouses/small hotels.
  • 7 Breakfasts.
  • Door to door baggage transfer of one bag of up to 18kg per person on walking days.
  • Train travel as per itinerary in second class.
  • One way tickets on ‘Jacobite’ steam train from Fort William to Mallaig.
  • A detailed information pack, guidebook and required maps for each party.
  • Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of a problem.


  • Travel to/from Glasgow.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal Equipment.
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage.


  • Single room supplement.
  • Glasgow accommodation (pre tour).
  • Upgrade to hotel standard accommodation throughout.
  • Extra night/s along the route.
  • Upgrade to first class rail travel.

Planning a trip can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.

How fit do I need to be?

With 42 miles of walking this is a fair distance and the higher your level of fitness the more you will enjoy the experience. You should be comfortable walking on good tracks and paths over undulating terrain for up to 7 hours. If you currently don’t enjoy that level of fitness, regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardiovascular exercise for at least six months before your walk is recommended. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.

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 over May/June and July/August. You will find up to date availability on our website 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 equipment to bring on your walk.

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better and the midges have not yet appeared. Although having walked in every summer month I 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 walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets and several sections of the way are closed to dogs as they are permissive paths through farm land.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to move you to the next overnight stop. Full details are included in your info pack.

Do you move the bags from place to place or do we?

You will be required to do both on our Rail and Hike itineraries, and on some days you will be required to take your bags with you or you receive baggage handling to your next walking location! Please check and refer to your specific Rail and Hike itinerary on our website, and visit the ‘Included’ section for clarification on this.

A very good time and well planned through Mac's


We added days at several points during the planning, Chase Marston was easy to work with and always handled matters promptly. Way to go! We traveled in July and apparently got lucky on the weather as most of the time it was fantastic. We also rarely suffered the midges. The hotels were good (Crianlarich was a bit rough around the edges but it's the only place to stay in that town) and the b&b's they chose were excellent especially in Spean Bridge. Don't let the "rail and hike" fool you, there is a lot of walking. The trails aren't super tough but there are hills and some rough spots. The first day from Ardlui to Crianlarich was probably the most strenuous. Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy probably the most boring but still beautiful. A pulled hamstring taught us that you can walk from Spaen Bridge to Nevis Range ski resort where a bus is readily available to drive you to Ft. William. Crossing Loch Lomand is beautiful and there are some quite pretty views of falls, etc. The steam train is a bit overrated but as a fan of trains, I loved it. Next time I'd opt for the faster rail. Mac's never failed to move our bags and have them waiting for us when we arrive. The people we met were super friendly and always helpful. Overall, this was my first experience with Mac's but hopefully it won't be my last. We both enjoyed the trip and highly recommend Mac's Adventures




Best of both worlds


It was our fourth time with Macs and once again our trip was perfectly organised. The information pack was as always very informative and helpful. We also enjoyed all of the acommodations and had nothing to fault during our trip. The hiking days were great, the scenerey is beautiful and changes troughout. We never did the WHW in full but we think that this trip is a very good introduction to it. We made a devation from our planned route on the last hiking day from Spean Bridge to Fort William (which would follow a stretch of the East Highland Way but we were not keen on walking mainly trough lots of woodland areas). Instead we decided to walk from Spean Bridge to Gairlochy trough the Glean Spean, wich is a 4 mile detour (approx. 1 1/2 hours). From Gairlochy we then took the first strech of the Great Glen Way to Fort William. We enjoyed the day and were satisfied with our decision. Especially the part trough Glen Spean is great with stunning scenery (you follow a path which was an old railway line). Also the Train Journeys are very enjoyable. A big plus is, that the tickets are day tickets and not for a specific train / time. That allows you to plan your journeys more flexible. The scenery on the West Highland Line trough Loch Lomond or Rannoch Moor for example is just fantastic. This includes the "Jacobite Steam Train" from Fort William to Mallaig, great scenery altough it was extremly busy, so be aware that there lots of people with you and Mallaig is very, very crowded until the train goes back back to Fort William around two o'clock in the afternoon. The ride itself was exciting nevertheless. We combined our trip with the "Skye Highs Short Break", so after an overnight in Maillaig we took the Ferry to Skye instead of travelling back. We enjyoed our time there an can highly recommend it as well.

Flo & Stefan

Basel, Switzerland


Quite the adventure


This was a big deal for me since I never hike. I'm a dancer, not a hiker so I had to get a lot of gear. Hiking shoes, backpack, rain coat and rain pants, wool socks, fleece jacket, etc. Plus I'm use to 80-90 degrees in Hawaii, so I had no idea how cold 40-65 would be. I found I usually got hot hiking. Wear layers as you will peel them off and put them back on again. I did fine, but the 10-12 mile hikes were a push for me. I loaded music on my phone and listened while I hiked when I needed a pick me up. Also a small flask w whisky really helps when you are fading towards the end. Good hiking shoes and good socks are critical! Also critical is to load MAC adventure app on your phone and scan the hike routes so you can follow the trail on your phone and know when you've taken a wrong turn - which did happen! I did this trip alone and I would not suggest doing that. I met 4 ladies my first day and we hiked together the whole way. The last day hiking to Fort William, it rained and got cold and we saw no other people on the trail the whole way. We took a wrong turn once and went 1/2 mile out of the way til we discovered - because of the downloaded trail scan - that we needed to go back. It is possible to get lost, wet, cold, tired and in trouble. For this reason I do not suggest doing it alone and to take a phone loaded w the trail scan. If you follow these pro-cautions you'll be fine. The countryside is beautiful. And if you have the right gear, the rain is not a problem. The packed lunches were plenty. Bring 1-2 bottles of water. I put electrolytes in one bottle. The hotels, most of them, were very nice. I give high ratings to The Bridge of Orchy Hotel and Myrtle Bank. The breakfasts are huge. The Scots love to feed you haggis and black pudding. Try it! We did fine gourmet dining almost every night and after dinner whisky. It was a great adventure. One last tip, bring a light suitcase as you have to carry or roll it (uphill) to train somedays.

Tango Goddess



Midlife Crisis


It did me the world of good to get out of my "comfort zone" and try planes, trains and automobiles. Life is too short and as we age we don't know what's around the corner. (Maybe a bigger mountain) ha ha

Gunna Do

Western Australia


Best Adventure/Vacation Ever!


Our party of four had an amazing time walking and riding through the highlands. The combination of hiking days and rail days made it more manageable for us "weekend warriors". The accommodations were very comfortable and relaxing. We ate dinner at each of the hotels and were impressed with the quality of the menus. All but one of the hotel staffs were incredibly inviting and warm. The one that most impressed us was the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. The entire staff was wonderful but particularly Maria, the "co-manager", whose charming personality and generosity made us feel like old friends. And Ken at Old Pines in Spean Bridge was very helpful, even giving us a ride to the trail head instead of having to share the narrow road with cars (We deviated from the plan there and took the Great Glen Way to Ft. William instead of the West Highland Way because one of us wanted to see the lochs along the Caledonian Canal). The rail days gave us time to do some exploring in the towns and surrounding area on our own. After our MacAdventure tour ended we went up to Inverness, and from there to Edinburgh. We have so many gorgeous pictures of our days in the highlands, which were unusually blessed by clear blue skies! We all loved every minute and were sad to have to go home.

Mama Jlani



Great time on the West Highland Way and in the Highlands!


We had a fantastic time on our Macs Adventure hike on the West Highland Way and Great Glen Way (we improvised this hike from Spean Bridge to Fort William). All the arrangements went like clockwork, the hospitality was warm, the directions were impeccable, and we would happily do a similar tour again. The Highlands are gorgeous. We ate really well. People were really nice. Accommodations in Edinborough, Bridge of Orchy, Spean Bridge, and Mallaig were fantastic. Crainlarich hotel was a little rough around the edges. Glasgow was not that nice. (The trip from Mallaig to Glasgow as long enough that, unfortunately, we didn't have much time on our last day to see much at all of Glasgow.) We got lucky with the weather, but the WHW and GGW would be beautiful in any weather. (Lucky, too, to avoid the midges completely!) The hikes were exactly the right combination of challenging enough to feel like an accomplishment without feeling like we were ever in danger. We could not get over how beautiful the country was. Macs Adventures does an amazing job of getting everything organized and moved around so that on your hiking days you carry just a small day pack with a packed lunch. Your heavier bags get moved to the next hotel right on schedule. The support team at MA, before and during the trip, was excellent. We got great advice and flexibility when planning the trip and quick and helpful responses on the one or two occasions when we had a question during the trip. The Scottish people are a pretty great selling point as well. Everyone was warm and welcoming. If we had a question, they were quick to help. This trip was really wonderful. Will happily recommend to others in the future. Thanks again for a great time! Cullen


Richmond, VA (USA)


Wonderful trip!


Wonderful mix of expert planning and support (e.g., luggage transfer, maps, help in designing a tailor-made itinerary) - and the freedom and independence of just being on our own for the actual travel.

Elderly hiker

San Francisco


Great Coordination!


8D7N Rail & Hike was well-organized and coordinated. We liked all accommodation as they are comfortable and locations near to train stations making them convenient for us. We would book trip earlier as June is still peak period and we understand there were some difficulty booking accommodation. E.g. We would have liked to stay at Ardlui Hotel so as to enjoy Loch Lomond. Also staying at Bridge of Orchy instead of coming bck to Tyndrum. But of course, we appreciated the seamless transfers and comfy B&Bs arranged. In all, it was a good trip and we enjoyed WHW.

Keng Yen



Great holiday!!


1. The code for the traintickets didn't work. I received the right code in a couple of minutes by E-mail. 2. The journey ends in Mallaig. The train journey to Glasgow takes more than 5 hours. we needed an extra night in Glasgow for our flight home. 3. Train time tables are very accurate.

Ger en Har

Heemsker, Netherlands


West Highland Way


The West HIghland Way Train & Hike offers stunning views and some lovely walks and some of the best accommodation we've ever stayed in. However, the paths are rocky and there are long stretches of hard/rocky path making for an exhausting experience and we saw several walkers struggling especially as it was unseasonably warm in May! There are long stretches without anywhere to get food or water (on the East Highand Way we came across a large cooler full of drinks and snacks with an honesty box!). At the end of the West Highland Way it is still a long walk into Mallaigh to reach the 'new' end which you have to take into consideration!




West Highland Line: Rail and Hike

4.7 40


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