Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays

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Self-guided rail & hike tour: Luxury Highlands & Isle of Skye (shown: Inverlochy Castle)


  • A rail journey across the Scottish Highlands, combined with superb day walks.
  • Staying in luxurious and beautifully-appointed lodges and castle-hotels.
  • Guided tours showcasing the best of the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness.
  • Classic Scottish rail journeys; the remote Kyle Line and West Highland Line.
  • Wild vistas witnessed from your first class seat on the Jacobite steam train.

World-famous scenic rail journeys combine with luxurious and romantic lodges and castle-hotels on this epic adventure across the best of the Scottish Highlands. Packed with highlights, you’ll visit Edinburgh, Blair Atholl, Inverness and Loch Ness, as well as the wild and magical Isle of Skye and famed Great Glen, before returning to Glasgow.

This week-long trip includes a ticket on the Jacobite steam train, the 'Hogwarts Express’, as well travel on the spectacularly remote Kyle Line to Skye. Let the train speed you past mountains, lochs and glens, then set out on foot on hand-picked hikes to ensure you make the most of your time in the Highlands.

Day 1: Edinburgh to Killiecrankie by train

Your Highland adventure commences in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, with its impressive castle and cobbled streets of the ‘Royal Mile’.

Board your train in the heart of the city, then speed past brooding mountains and sleepy glens to the pretty Perthshire town of Pitlochry (2hrs approx.). Transfer to your charming hotel and enjoy a river-side stroll.  

Overnight & Dinner: Killiecrankie Hotel, Killiecrankie

Day 2: Blair Atholl Walks & Castle

After breakfast you can head out into the Perthshire countryside, choosing from a selection of walks direct from the door of your hotel.

Perhaps explore the idyllic Atholl Estates and Blair Castle. Follow paths that meander through woodland and heather-clad hills  surrounding the castle, the historic home of the Earls and Dukes of Atholl and dating from the 1200s.  

Walk: 10 miles, minimal ascent/descent.

Overnight & Dinner: Killiecrankie Hotel

Day 3: Train to Inverness, guided visit to Loch Ness/Urquhart Castle

Start the day with a transfer to Pitlochry train station for the train ride (1h30) to Inverness, gateway to the Great Glen and Loch Ness. Take a taxi (payable locally) to your hotel.

This afternoon, take a pleasant short stroll along the banks of the River Ness to Tomnahurich Bridge, where you’ll join a cruise along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness, including a guided tour of the Great Glen, and time to explore loch-side Urquhart Castle (2h30 total duration).

Afternoon excursion: 2h30 cruise & coach tour; Caledonian Canal & Loch Ness, incl 1 hr visit to Urquhart Castle and 30 mins cruise (group basis).

Overnight: Rocpool Reserve Hotel, Inverness

Day 4: The Kyle Line, transfer to lodge on Skye

The journey between Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh is one of Scotland’s finest rail journeys. Take a taxi to Inverness station (payable locally). Sit back and relax as you speed past serene lochs, remote glens and imposing mountains , en route to the tiny seaside station of Kyle of Lochalsh (2h30).

Take a private transfer from the mainland across onto Skye and your next fabulous hotel, located on the sea-loch Na Dal in Sleat.  Settle into your room and take a refreshing walk through Kinloch Forest before dinner.

Walk: Up to 6.5km, 170m ascent/descent

Overnight & Dinner: Kinloch Lodge, Sleat

Day 5: Guided Isle of Skye Day Trip

A real treat lies ahead today—a private tour of the romantic Isle of Skye, taking in such highlights as the rock pinnacles of The Storr, the 60m high basalt pillar cliffs of Kilt Rock, fossil-rich Staffin Beach, the curious rock formations of the Quiraing, Fairy Glens, Talisker Distillery Shop and of course the brooding Black and Red Cuillins of Sligachan.

Please note that the schedule is subject to change due to weather conditions.

Full Day Guided Excursion: 6 hrs, travel by comfortable minibus.

Overnight & Dinner: Kinloch Lodge, Sleat

Day 6: Travel to Mallaig, Jacobite steam train to Fort William

This morning take a scenic transfer (20 mins) to Armadale, where you catch the trusty Calmac ferry (30 mins) across the water to Mallaig.  Keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins on the crossing!

Reach the mainland, where its time for you to take your first class seat aboard the Jacobite steam train.  Relax as the ’Hogwarts Express’ winds its way past pristine beaches and mountain panoramas, passing over the Glenfinnan viaduct to arrive at the loch-side town of Fort William (2h50).  

Transfer by courtesy bus to your next luxury loch-side castle hotel, full of grandeur. In September 1873 during a trip to Balmoral, Queen Victoria spent a week here sketching and painting, where she wrote in her diaries 'I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot'.

Overnight: Inverlochy Castle Hotel, Torlundy

Day 7: Walk the Great Glen

A hearty full Scottish breakfast will set you up for your walk today. First, transfer to the impressive Commando Memorial, one of the UK’s best-known monuments, offering outstanding views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr.

Continue on to Gairlochy, near Spean Bridge, and start your walk along the Great Glen, through woodland that is home to the endangered red squirrel, before reaching Fort William. Transfer back to your hotel.   

Walk: 12 miles, 190m ascent/descent

Overnight: Inverlochy Castle Hotel, Torlundy

Day 8: West Highland Line to Glasgow

Today brings another of Britain’s iconic railway journeys as you travel south on the world-class West Highland Line. First, transfer to Fort William where you will board the train.

Cross the bleak yet beautiful Rannoch Moor, a wild landscape of peat bogs, lochans and ancient forests. Just north of Tyndrum, the track follows the famed ‘horseshoe curve’ at the foot of Beinn Dorain, Beinn a’ Chaiseil and Beinn Odhar.  Your delightful 3h30 journey ends in the vibrant city of Glasgow, from where you can make your onward journey.  

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


7 nights accommodation is included in luxury hand-picked small hotels and lodges, of a 4-5-star standard. Below are examples of the properties we normally book, however they are subject to availability at the time of booking and therefore alternatives may be offered. Early booking is strongly recommended.

We particularly recommend adding extra nights in Edinburgh and Glasgow as there is so much to see and do —please contact us for details.

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.


7 Breakfasts are included. Packed lunches are available from your accommodation or you can stop on the way. Dinners are included on nights 1, 2, 4 & 5. On the other nights, they are available either at your overnight accommodation or close by.

Killicrankie Hotel, nr Pitlochry

The charming 10-bedroom Killiecrankie Hotel is located close to Pitlochry, set amidst carefully-manicured gardens and enchanting woodland. It boasts an award-winning fine dining (AA 2 red-rosette) restaurant as well as the cosy yet casual Bar Conservatory.  Browse the wine list of over 100 bins and maybe sip a dram of the hotel’s 40 Malts after a delicious dinner.  Stay in a  superior room (upgrades available at a supplement).  Dinner is included.

Rocpool Reserve Hotel, Inverness

The fabulous Rocpool Reserve Hotel is a stylish hideaway nestled in the heart of Inverness, and boasts the Chez Roux Restaurant, serving the best locally-sourced Scottish fare. The modern ’R Bar’ is the place to go in Inverness for a relaxed cocktail or two! Stay in a delightful Chic room (upgrades available at a supplement). Breakfast is included.

Kinloch Lodge, Sleat, Isle of Skye

Located with spectacular views over the sea-loch Na Dal and romantic Sleat Peninsula on the Isle of Skye, Kinloch Lodge Hotel & Restaurant, oozes heritage and history. Delight in fine dining at the superb AA 3-red rosette restaurant, where resident head-chef Marcello Tully prepares the very best local and seasonal produce for you to savour. Stay in a beautifully-appointed, large superior room  (upgrades available at a supplement). Dinner is included.

Inverlochy Castle, nr Fort William

Inverlochy Castle Hotel is a very special 17-room property, nestled on the water’s edge, with a fine dining AA 3 red-rosette restaurant. Each of the sumptuous rooms has its own individual design and character, along with splendid views of the grounds and surrounding mountains. Stay in a large double/twin room. Breakfast is included.

Guests normally dine at the property (approx. £67 per head for a 4-course Table d’Hote menu), due to its remote location. Jacket and tie dress code is required for gentlemen.  Dinner is payable locally. 



This trip is available between late April and the end of October.
Start dates are dictated by the operational timetables of the Jacobite Steam Train.

  • 26 April - 12 June 2017: You can start on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
  • 13 June - 17 Sept 2017: You can start on any day of the week.
  • 18 Sept - 22 Oct 2017: You can start on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. 

There is a standard national rail service available (Scotrail, not
the Jacobite) outside of the above months/times; please contact us to
discuss, if you are inflexible with your preferred start date.

Summer bookings: The properties featured on this tour are extremely popular, and book-up months in advance. The summer months are very busy and we would urge you to get in touch with us as soon as possible if you are considering booking. If you are flexible with your dates, then this will assist us in finding you the best possible arrangements.  Thank you for your understanding.

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is available to solo walkers, although a 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.

Time of Year

The weather is very unpredictable all year, so it is imperative to be prepared for wind, rain, cold, warmth and sunshine! Conditions (and forecasts) can vary substantially from one day to the next, so do anticipate a variety of weathers, and embrace them as the Scots do (with a good waterproof and windproof jacket on).

Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate and includes optional 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.

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

You will take your main luggage with you when you travel on public transport. This trip is designed so that during the hikes you are free to walk with just 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.

Travel Timetables, Scotrail

The website 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 in your arrangements is second class travel on Scotrail services as per your itinerary. These are 'Anytime' tickets which can be used at any time during the specific date of travel. Full details will be given in your pre-departure information pack.

Accommodation Location

We will always try and accommodate
you at the properties and 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 (price of the tour may change due to different accommodation being use, and there may be an 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 Edinburgh and from Glasgow

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 St Bus station (city centre) an airport shuttle operates regularly to the airport (approx. 30 mins). Further information will be detailed in your pre-departure information pack. 

Travel Timetables, Scotrail

The website 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 in your arrangements is second class travel on Scotrail services as per your itinerary. These are 'Anytime' tickets which can be used at any time during the specific date of travel. Full details will be given in your pre-departure information pack.


  • 7 Nights in 4-5* luxury lodges/small hotels
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 4 Dinners
  • Guided tour of Skye and Loch Ness/Great Glen
  • Train travel Edinburgh-Pitlochry-Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh and Fort William-Glasgow (second class, days 1, 3, 4 & 8)
  • Ferry from Armadale to Mallaig
  • Jacobite steam train (standard class) from Mallaig to Fort William
  • Transfers as per itinerary (Day 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8)
  • Maps and route notes
  • 24/7 Telephone support from our UK office


  • Travel to Edinburgh/from Glasgow
  • Overnight in Edinburgh/Glasgow
  • Travel if required on Day 2
  • Taxi transfers in Inverness (Days 3 & 4)
  • Lunches
  • Dinners on Days 3, 6, 7
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Entrance fees to museums/castles (payable locally)
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal equipment
  • Taxi transfers or public transport should you need to skip a stage
  • Mountain rescue/emergency assistance


  • Additional nights (recommended in Edinburgh & Glasgow)
  • Accommodation Upgrades
  • Single room / solo traveler supplement

We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.

How fit do I need to be?

All walks are optional. The longest suggested walk is 12 miles (on day 7) and sometimes there is the possibility to shorten the walks or take easier routes. You should have a good level of fitness to make the most of the itinerary. Getting out and about exploring Scotland on foot is incredibly rewarding and complements the sections of the trip where you'll be travelling by train.

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 the Isle of Skye over the summer months (June to September). The accommodations mentioned on our website are those that we normally use for this particular tour, 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 (although these may not be the same star rating/standard as those within this itinerary), and we will always try and put forward a suggested alternative, and ensure you are well-advised, if we are unable to fulfill your request in the first instance.

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 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 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?

All walks included in this trip are optional. If you wish to return to your accommodation mid-walk, you can use public transport or local taxis to return to your hotel. 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.

Great trip!


We had a fabulous time on this trip! The accommodations and meals were exceptional and the hikes were well marked and enjoyable. The only negative we had was having to STAND in the train from Pitlochry to Inverness. (1 1/2 hrs) That train is beyond crowded on Sundays. Plan to take it durning the week.


Rocky River Ohio USA


"Luxury" means LUXURY!


When shopping for a "walking tour" through Scotland, Macs Adventures won the draw, but even with all the information supplied, it was still hard to understand what to expect. We chose the Luxury tour because we are more accustomed to nice hotels (e.g. Westin) than the more affordable options. While we knew the hotels in advance and looked at their websites, it truly didn't do justice to just how great these places were. The thing that never came across was what the "included dinners" would be like. We had anticipated being able to lose some weight by hiking an average of 10 miles every day, but with the Michelin-star 5-course meals, we didn't stand a chance (6+ pounds brought home as a souvenir). Seriously, at some point we didn't want to eat for a day or more, there was just so much great food for breakfast and dinner. For this specific tour (the Highlands), Macs supplied a bunch of information, but the hiking details were unclear and in some cases just wrong. One of the hotels warned us not to follow their information and we can see why. Frankly, if one is really an independent hiker as this seems to be marketed to, just general ideas of what to do would suffice. Let the locals talk about their own area. They will also give you tips like using the local bus instead of a taxi like Macs suggests. And the app that they supply is so inferior to PocketEarth - we deleted it immediately, especially since none of the hikes had a bar code to scan and use in their app like they imply in the folder they supply. The only other "complaint" is that being in one place for only two or worse yet one night does get tiring after a while, having to pack and unpack, doing laundry and hanging to dry, etc. It's really the only way, however, that one can see so much in a short (and affordable) amount of time. What it did do is give us ideas of where to return to someday for a much longer stay. All-in-all though, we loved the trip and highly recommend it.

Highland Hiker

Denver, Colorado


Fantastic Introduction to Scotland


This is a wonderful way to see a lot of Scotland in one week. It was well organized, the hotels were first rate, the train travel was easy and fun, and the itinerary was perfect. Getting the train tickets turned out to be easy--go to the Edinburgh train station, ask where the kiosk is, put in your number and all of the tickets are produced so no need to repeat this process. For us the trip had just the right mix of hiking and touring, but if you want to hike every day you probably want to choose another trip. The guided day on the Isle of Skye was great--wish we had another day there to explore in more depth. Agree with the other reviewer that the Killiecrankie Hotel was a keeper, but all of the places we stayed were terrific. Mac's did a great job--Very highly recommended.




A good overview of Scotland


Overall an excellent trip. The pace of travel was relaxing and the scenery unbeatable. We give our highest marks, in all respects, to the Killiecrankie Hotel: food, staff, accommodations, grounds and walking opportunities. It wasn't the fanciest digs on the trip, but it was very homey and pleasant.


Tucson Arizona


Luxury Highlands & Isle of Skye Rail & Hike

4.5 4


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