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West Highland Line: Rail & Hike

8 Days & 7 Nights 4.7 Read 47 reviews
  • Walk sections of Scotland's iconic West Highland Way
  • Puff across Glenfinnan viaduct to the west coast on the Jacobite steam train
  • Walk the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park
  • Follow the Way across remote Rannoch Moor, home to regal red deer stags
  • Discover forest trails and waterfalls in Glen Nevis with an optional hike up 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.

What To Expect

If you love the idea of watching the Scottish Highland landscape unfold from the comfort of the West Highland train line, coupled with walking the most famous of Scotland’s national trails then this trip is for you.

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.

Activity:

Rail & Hike | Mix the joys of travel by train with the best walks accessible from the trainline. Travel inn-to-inn by train and enjoy hikes from the each stopping point. Allows you to see more of the destination as you are travelling overland but also on foot. Very sustainable way of travelling. Train fare included - no baggage transfers as take bags on the train.

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travellers, Families, Multi-Generational, Mixed Abilities

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Wildlife
  • Coastal & Island
  • National Parks & Trails

Inspiration:

  • Most Popular
  • Classic

Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate and includes daily walks up to 13 miles. The terrain may be rugged underfoot over undulaing terrain but doesn't include anything too strenuous. Perfect for those with a relatively good level of fitness.

Navigation

The route is generally well way-marked and easy to follow. We supply a guidebook, and route notes, and you will have access to detailed mapping and GPX tracks of the routes via our free and easy to use smartphone navigation app meaning you'll have no prblem finding the way. 

Experience & Fitness

This route is suitable for most regular walkers. You should train by walking some daily walks of similar daily distances to your planned itinerary.

Accommodation Information

Our West Highland Line - Rail & Hike holidays include overnight accommodation in a mix of 3-4* B&B's, guesthouses and small hotels. The accommodation we use most often is listed. 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.

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.

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 options. For this option we use a selection of country hotels, boutique B&B's and country inns of character.

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This holiday is available to solo walkers with a solo traveler supplement and you'll experience great camaraderie along the West Highland Way. If you require single rooms within your party we will be happy to accommodate your request, but please note it's not normally possible to secure more than three single rooms per party and a single supplement is payable.

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 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.

Included
  • 7 Nights in hand-picked B&B's, guesthouses and small hotels
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Baggage transfers (on walking days)
  • Train travel as per itinerary (standard class)
  • Information pack and guidebook
  • Access to detailed maps, and GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our office
Excluded
  • Travel to / from Glasgow
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks & drinks
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance (required)
Extras
  • Additional nights along the route (we recommend a pre-tour night in Glasgow)
  • Upgraded accommodations

When To Go

You can start on the following days of the week during the season (due to a limited operating timetable of the Jacobite steam train in the shoulder season):

  • 20th April - 14th June 2020: Tuesday to Saturday
  • 15th June - 30th September 2020: Any day of the week
  • 1st October - 12th October 2020: Tuesday to Saturday

Weather and Climate

Scotland's climate is notoriously changeable! Expect some amounts of both sunshine and rain regardless of the time of year, so always pack both waterproofs and sunscreen. July and August are usually warmest with average temperatures around 14 degrees centigrate, and highs of up to mid-twenties. Some snow may remain or even fall on the higher parts of the route in March & April, and even beyond. May has the least rainfall on average, but you would still expect some wetter days, and each year can vary greatly.

Getting to the Start

By Air: Located 8 miles west of Glasgow, Glasgow International Airport is served by routes from Britain and around the world. A regular shuttle bus service runs to the city centre, or you can take a taxi (25 minutes).

By Train: Glasgow has excellent rail links from within the UK. We recommend booking early 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.

Getting from the End

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

By Ferry: For onward travel to Skye you can take the Calmac ferry to Armadale (30 minutes). For information on all routes contact Caledonian MacBrayne.

For detailed public transport information see Traveline Scotland.

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.

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. 

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, emergency evacuation and hospital care.

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Itinerary

Day 1 Ride the West Highland Line from Glasgow to Ardlui Day 2 Walk the West Highland Way to Crianlarich 9.5 miles / 15 km Day 3 Walk the West Highland Way to Bridge of Orchy 13.5 miles / 22 km Day 4 Ride the West Highland Line to Spean Bridge and optional walk 5 miles / 8 km Day 5 Walk Spean Bridge to Fort William 12 miles / 19 km Day 6 Optional walks in Glen Nevis or Ben Nevis hike 10 miles / 16 km Day 7 Ride the West Highland Line from Fort William to Mallaig Day 8 Onward Travel

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