- Walk the iconic West Highland Way up into the Scottish Highlands
- Journey on the Jacobite Steam Train across the soaring Glenfinnan viaduct
- Take a ferry between the ‘bonnie banks’ of Loch Lomond
- Ride the West Highland Line through the moorland of remote Rannoch Moor, home to regal stags
- Hike Glen Nevis with an option to climb Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest peak
Explore the Scottish Highlands by train and on foot on this classic tour. Start in Glasgow and journey on the scenic West Highland Line past mountains and through glens. Hike sections of two national trails, the iconic West Highland Way and the East Highland Way. End your trip aboard the famous "Jacobite" Steam Train, as you roll across the soaring arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct to the bustling port town of Mallaig, known for its smoked herring.
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 also the gateway to the Isle of Skye and a temptation for further adventures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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 hand-picked guesthouses/small hotels.
- 7 Breakfasts.
- Door to door baggage transfer of one bag of up to 39 lbs per person on walking days.
- Train travel as per itinerary in second class.
- One way tickets on the ‘Jacobite’ steam train from Fort William to Mallaig.
- A detailed information pack, guidebook and maps.
- Emergency telephone support from our office.
- 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 accommodations (pre-tour).
- 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.