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The Highlands & Isle of Skye: Rail & Hike

8 Days & 7 Nights 4.6 Read 30 reviews
  • Discover Scotland’s lochs, glens and mountains on foot and by rail
  • Cross Glenfinnan Viaduct on the Jacobite Steam Train - the ‘Hogwarts Express’
  • Explore the rugged and romantic Isle of Skye, and walking the Great Glen
  • Ride the remote North Highland Line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
  • Get to know the hosts of our hand-picked small hotels and guesthouses
Experience the Scottish Highlands by train and on foot, taking in some of the best scenic rail journeys in the world. Starting from the regal city of Edinburgh, travel deep into the Highlands and across to the Isle of Skye, before returning to vibrant Glasgow. Ride the iconic West Highland Line on the Jacobite steam train, the ’Hogwarts Express’, as well as the as North Highland Line, one of Britain’s most remote and spectacular, between Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh, gateway to Skye. Relax as you speed past brooding lochs, leafy glens and rugged mountains. What’s more, you’ve some rewarding hikes included, as well as time to explore castles, ancient battlefields, Loch Ness, distilleries and centuries-old Highland estates. If you'd like to treat yourselves to something really special, then take a look at our Luxury Highlands & Isle of Skye tour, which stays in boutique properties, including lodges and castle hotels.
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What To Expect

Travelling by train is both an easy and satisfying way to ensure you experience as many of Scotland’s natural highlights as possible. Two of Scotland’s top scenic rail journeys combine on this epic adventure by rail. This is perfect for walkers, with hikes through some of Britain’s most impressive scenery.

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

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Wildlife
  • Historical Journeys
  • Coastal & Island

Inspiration:

  • Most Popular
  • Classic

Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate and includes daily walks of up to 12 miles (Day 7). As all walks are self-guided, you will be responsible for navigation, decision-making and safety during your trip. The terrain may be rugged underfoot with some hills but not too strenuous. You should enjoy a good level of fitness to make the most of this trip.

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. 

Navigation

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.

Accommodation Information

Included in the trip are 7 nights of accommodation in hand-picked small 3-4* hotels, B&B’s or guesthouses. We carefully select friendly accommodation that offers great value, food and a warm welcome. The properties we normally use are detailed in the itinerary, however these are subject to availability and when they are fully booked alternatives of an equal standard will be offered. 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.

You can add extra nights at any point during your stay. We particularly recommend doing so in Edinburgh and Glasgow as there is so much to see and do — please contact us for details.

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. In this case you can opt to change your dates, or we can arrange transfers to and from an alternative overnight accommodation (supplement payable for transfers).

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This holiday is available to solo walkers, although a solo 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 room 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 may be able 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. 

Included
  • 7 Nights in small 3-4* hotels and B&B’s
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Train travel on days 1, 3, 4 & 8
  • Ferry from Armadale (Skye) to Mallaig
  • Jacobite steam train from Mallaig to Fort William (standard class)
  • Luggage transfer on day 7
  • Route notes and access to detailed maps & GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our UK office
Excluded
  • Travel to Edinburgh/from Glasgow
  • Public transport or taxi travel if required on days 2 & 5
  • Bus from Kyle of Lochalsh to Portree on day 4 (payable locally)
  • Bus from Portree to Armadale on day 6 (payable locally)
  • Optional excursions from Inverness & Portree
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks & drinks
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance (required)
Extras
  • Additional nights (recommended in Edinburgh & Glasgow)
  • Guided full-day excursion on the Isle of Skye
  • Guided day trip from Inverness to Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle (cruise/coach tour)

When To Go

This trip is available from the end of April until mid-October. From April to late September you can start this trip on any day of the week. From September to mid October, you can begin on a Wednesday-Sunday due to more limited public transport timetables.

Getting to the Start

By Air: Both Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports are well-served by low-cost and scheduled airlines. From Edinburgh Airport you can travel by tram or airport shuttle bus to the city centre (approx. 30 mins). From Glasgow Buchanan Street Bus Station (city centre) an airport shuttle operates regularly to the airport (approx. 30 mins). Alternatively, you can book a taxi to Glasgow Airport with some taxi companies for a fixed rate - the journey from the city centre to the airport takes approx. 25 mins. Further information will be detailed in your pre-departure information pack.

Public Transport

The website www.travelinescotland.com is handy for researching train and bus timetables throughout Scotland. Your trip includes second class travel on Scotrail train services as detailed in your itinerary. These are 'anytime' tickets that can be used at any time during the specific date of travel. Full details can be found in your pre-departure information pack.

Baggage Transfer

Your bags will be transferred for you on day 7 when you walk from Fort William to Spean Bridge. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 18kg per person. On the rail/bus days, we ask that you take all your baggage with you aboard the train/bus. The trip is designed so that during the hikes you are free to walk with just a day pack.

General Information

Please note that, due to covid-19, the optional guided tour and cruise of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle is unable to operate until March 2021. 

Equipment

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 and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

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Itinerary

Day 1 Edinburgh to Blair Atholl by train Day 2 Blair Atholl Walks and Castle Day 3 Train to Inverness and optional visit to Loch Ness/Culloden Battlefield* 7 miles / 11.5 km Day 4 North Highland Line to Portree Day 5 The Storr, Portree Coastal Walk or Optional Day Trip 7 miles / 11.5 km Day 6 Travel to Mallaig, Jacobite steam train to Fort William Day 7 Walk to Spean Bridge 12 miles / 19.5 km Day 8 West Highland Line to Glasgow

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