Self-Guided Walking Tours & Biking Tours

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Jacobite Steam Train, independent rail & hike tour of The Highlands & Isle of Skye


  • Journey by train and on foot through a dramatic landscape of lochs, glens and mountains
  • Wander ancient footpaths through heather-clad hills and past crumbling castles
  • Immerse yourself in Highland's culture over a “wee dram” at a local pub
  • Thatch-roof farmhouses, rugged coastline and craggy peaks on the Isle of Skye
  • Stay in the quaint and colorful coastal fishing village of Portree

Our classic and best-selling journey by train and on foot through Scotland’s medieval cities, quaint villages, romantic landscape and ancient history and culture. Start in Edinburgh and explore the lochs, green hills and castles of the Highlands and the dramatic rocky peaks, rugged coastline and fishing villages of the Isle of Skye.

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. Enjoy some incredible and awe-inspiring hikes 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.

Day 1: Edinburgh to Blair Atholl by train

Your rail and hike adventure through Scotland starts in the majestic capital of Edinburgh. Jump on board your first train which whisks you away into the Highlands to charming Blair Atholl (2hrs approx.).

Settle into your cosy B&B for a two night stay; the ideal base from which to explore.

Overnight: The Atholl Arms Hotel, Blair Atholl

Day 2: Blair Atholl Walks & Castle

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

Alternatively, take a lovely 9 mile riverside walk to the quaint and popular town of Pitlochry, returning by local bus.

Walk: Up to 13 miles (21km), minimal ascent/descent.

Overnight: The Atholl Arms Hotel, Blair Atholl

Day 3: Train to Inverness, Optional Visit to Loch Ness/Culloden Battlefield

An early start today (1h30 train ride) will give you plenty of time to discover Inverness. This friendly city has several of Scotland’s star attractions close by. Visit Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle on an optional day trip by boat and coach, or the Culloden Battlefield exhibition, scene of the last Jacobite uprising in 1745, is an easy bus ride away.

If you’d prefer to stretch your legs, set out on a superb loop walk along the peaceful River Ness and Caledonian Canal.

Walk: 7 miles (11km), minimal ascent/descent

Overnight: Acorn Guest House, Inverness

Day 4: North Highland Line to Portree

Sit back and relax as you depart Inverness on the iconic North Highland Line, a stunningly scenic journey alongside remote lochs, glens and mountains to the seaside station of Kyle of Lochalsh (2h30).

Here you change for a bus (payable locally) which carries you over the Skye bridge to the isle itself and on to Portree (1hr) your base on Skye.

Overnight: Duirinish Guesthouse, Portree

Day 5: The Storr, Portree Coastal Walk or Optional Day Trip

The colourful waterfront houses of Portree harbour adorn many a picture postcard. Today you’re free to wander around this delightful Highland town, or you could take a bus journey (25 mins, payable locally) to The Storr; a rocky hill on the Trotternish peninsula. From here, it’s a rewarding 8 mile walk along the coast back to Portree.

Alternatively, take a day trip around the Isle of Skye (supplement payable), taking in the brooding black and red peaks of the Cuillins, Talisker Distillery, and the rock pinnacle of the Quiraing. Calmac also operates a ferry service from nearby Sconser to Raasay if you prefer to explore one of the islands.  

Walk: Storr to Portree Coast, 8 miles (13km), 465m ascent

Overnight: Duirinish Guesthouse, Portree

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

You can look forward to many memorable travel experiences today!  First, take a scenic bus ride (1hr, payable locally) to Armadale, where you catch the trusty Calmac ferry (30 mins) to Mallaig.

Arriving back on the mainland, its time for a highlight of your adventure—the Jacobite steam train. The ’Hogwarts Express’ winds its way past pristine beaches and mountain panoramas, passing over the Glenfinnan viaduct to arrive at the lochside town of Fort William (2h50).  

Overnight: MacLean Guest House, Fort William

Day 7: Walk to Spean Bridge

Enjoy a lovely walk today, with views of Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, and you’ll also enjoy the impressive eight locks of Neptune’s Staircase along the Caledonian Canal.  Take in the impressive panorama of the Commando Memorial, as you make your way to Spean Bridge.

The trail begins with an easy walk along the canal, heading up the Great Glen and through woodland that is home to red squirrels.  

Walk: 15 miles (24km), 190m ascent/descent

Overnight: Spean Lodge, Spean Bridge

Day 8: West Highland Line to Glasgow

Get ready for yet another of Britain’s most scenic railway journeys as you travel south on the classic West Highland Line.

Soak up the last of the Highland scenery from your seat as you speed through the fertile Great Glen to Rannoch Moor, a remote 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.

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 us to make arrangements for you.



7 nights accommodation is included in hand-picked small hotels, B&B’s or guesthouses, of a 3-star standard.

We carefully select small and friendly accommodation that offers great value, food and welcomes. The properties we normally use are detailed in the itinerary, however are subject to availability and therefore alternatives of an equal standard may be offered.

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

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 Blair Atholl, Inverness, on Skye, Fort William/Spean Bridge you can upgrade to 'In Style' properties. For this option we use a selection of country hotels, luxury bed and breakfasts and country inns of character.

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 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.




Atholl Arms Hotel - Blair Atholl

Atholl Arms Hotel - Blair Atholl

A traditional Scottish Highland hotel, almost adjacent to the entrance of Blair Castle, next to the railway station. Each of the 31 bedrooms is decorated in a unique tartan. There is a Baronial Dining Room, complete with minstrels' gallery, as well as a charming 'Bothy Bar'.







Acorn Guesthouse - Inverness

Acorn Guesthouse - Inverness

Dugie and Fiona run this characterful and charming guest house, situated within walking distance of the town centre. There is free WiFi and guests can enjoy a hot tub and sauna (extra charge).







Duirinish B&B - Portree

Duirinish B&B - Portree

Ruth and Allan are your friendly hosts at Duirinish B&B, located just a five minute walk from the lively town centre of Portree. Enjoy complimentary in-room tea and coffee-making facilities, and there is WiFi for guests.







MacLean Guesthouse - Fort William

MacLean Guesthouse - Fort William

This modern eight-room property is located just a five minute walk from the train station and town centre. Rooms are modern and bright, and there is free WiFi for guests.







Spean Lodge - Spean Bridge

Spean Lodge - Spean Bridge

Spean Lodge is a lovely historic highland lodge set in woodland above the River Spean, just a 5 mins walk from the train station. Cosy rooms have William Morris furnishings, tea and coffee making facilities and free WiFi. Relax in the comfortable guest lounge.





Our Skye trips are firm favourites among our clients so this year to better ensure Macs guests can enjoy time on the island we have some guaranteed availability in the colourful seaside village of Portree in July and August. Contact our team for more details!

This trip is available between mid-May and mid-October.
Start dates are dictated by operational timetables of the Jacobite Steam Train.

  • 19 May - 14 June 2019: you can start on a Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
  • 14 June - 30 Sept 2019: you can start any day of the week
  • 1 Oct - 12 Oct 2019: you can start on a Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun

Please note if your trip finishes on one the below dates, Scotrail will be carrying out rail line maintenance and improvement works which will affect your train journey.

  • Sunday 28th July
  • Sunday 4th August
  • Saturday 10th August

  • Sunday 11th August

The train we have booked for you from Spean Bridge to Glasgow will
instead be from Spean Bridge to Crianlarich. From Crianlarich, Scotrail
will collect and return you to Glasgow on a replacement bus service. 

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.

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.

Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The majority of the walks suggested on this trip (with the exception of Skye) are waymarked and we supply you with maps and route notes so you can easily find your way.

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.

Day Trips & Excursions

You can book optional day trips from both Inverness (exploring Loch Ness) and Portree (exploring Skye).  These are optional extras and are not included in tour arrangements, as you can either enjoy a  suggested walk, or opt for a day trip.  These excursions are available to book as options on our website or contact us to add them to your arrangements. Please not that the Guided day tour of Skye is only bookable until mid-Oct due to weather conditions.  

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, Train Journeys

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 are second class travel on ScotRail services as per your itinerary. These are 'Anytime' tickets which can be used at any time during the specified date of travel.

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.
You will have the option to change your dates or we can arrange
transfers to and from an alternative overnight accommodation (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, Spirit of Scotland Travelpass

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 a Spirit of Scotland Travelpass, which gives you four days of unlimited travel over eight consecutive days. Conditions apply. Full details will be given in your pre-departure information pack. Please see ‘not included’ section for travel that is not covered in the pass but suggested in your itinerary.


  • 7 Nights in small hotels and B&B’s (3-star standard).
  • 7 Breakfasts.
  • Train travel Edinburgh-Blair Atholl-Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh and Spean Bridge-Fort William (Days 1, 3, 4 & 8).
  • Ferry Armadale to Mallaig.
  • Jacobite steam train (standard class) from Mallaig to Fort William.
  • Baggage transfers on Day 7.
  • Maps & route notes.
  • 24/7 telephone support.


  • Travel to Edinburgh/from Glasgow.
  • Overnight in Edinburgh/Glasgow.
  • Travel (if required) on Days 2 & 5.
  • Bus from Kyle of Lochalsh to Portree (Day 4).
  • Bus from Portree to Armadale on Day 6 (payable locally).
  • Optional excursions from Inverness & Portree.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
  • 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).
  • Single room/solo traveler supplement.
  • Upgrade to first class rail travel on the Jacobite steam train.
  • Guided full-day excursion on the Isle of Skye.
  • Day trip from Inverness to Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle (cruise/coach tour).

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 up to 12 miles of walking and the possibility to shorten the walks or take easier routes (or opt instead for a sightseeing day trip on a couple of occasions), 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 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, 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 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 farmland.

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.

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