- Isle of Skye's ancient footpaths and remote bluffs on a four-day retreat
- Journey on the "Hogwarts Express" train across the soaring Glenfinnan Viaduct
- Hike Skye’s red and black Cuillin mountains, the craggy Storr and wild beaches
- A guided-day trip from a local: learn about Skye's unique Highland clan history and its rugged landscape
- Relax in the colorful harbor-front dwellings of Portree and enjoy a peaty "wee dram"
On this classic "short break" itinerary walk footpaths and lanes below craggy mountains, pristine coastline and secret glens on the Isle of Skye. Journey by train through the lochs and mountains of the Highlands of the rugged west coast on the "Hogwarts Express," before ferrying across to Skye for four-days of exploring its landscape, history and culture.
Starting with one of the world’s greatest rail journeys, take the Jacobite steam train from Fort William to the west coast Highland port town of Mallaig, known its "kipper" (smoked and salted herring). Ferry across to Skye and spend three nights based in the colorful town of Portree exploring the lanes and footpaths of the Isle, past thatch-roof farmhouses, through vast, awe-inspiring bluffs and beneath craggy and rocky peaks.
Day 1: Fort William to Mallaig by Jacobite steam train, afternoon walk
Your short break to the Isle of Skye begins at Fort William, end of the West Highland Way, and at the foot of Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. Jump on board the historic Jacobite on one of the world’s greatest rail journeys (10:15 departure*).
The 'Hogwarts Express' puffs its way over the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan viaduct, past mountains, sandy beaches and lochs, to arrive at Mallaig (2h15). There’s time to enjoy an afternoon walk with views to the Small Isles of Eigg and Rum.
*A later 14:30 departure possible Mon-Fri, mid-May to mid-September, and at weekends from early July to early September. Pre-tour accommodation in Fort William is not included, but we can make arrangements for you. You can easily add this short break onto the ‘West Highland Line’ tour (we will deduct the Jacobite train fare).
Walk: 2-9 miles
Day 2: Ferry Mallaig to Armadale (Skye). Bus to Portree & walk
Set sail by ferry (30 mins) from Mallaig to Armadale on the southern tip of Skye and the remote Sleat Peninsula. Connect to the bus service north to Portree (1h30).
Settle into your cosy B&B in this popular Highland village and choose from several short walks this afternoon to discover the coast, forests and hills around Portree. With its colourful harbour-front houses, Portree is the ideal base to spend your 3 nights on Skye.
Walk: 2-3 miles
Overnight: Portree (Skye)
Day 3: Full day guided tour of the Isle of Skye
Set off on a fantastic 8 hour guided tour around the Isle of Skye! Your local guide will bring to life the history and culture of this mysterious isle, with tales of the cleared villages and stories of such characters as Flora McDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie whilst visiting the iconic Trotternish area and the Fairy Pools.
Highlights may include the brooding black and red peaks of the Cuillins, Faerie Glen, Kilt Rock waterfall, the striking landscape of the Quiraing, the rock pinnacle of the Storr and Staffin. Your guide will ensure you see Skye’s highlights, however the exact route and inclusions are weather-dependent.
Overnight: B&B, Portree (Skye)
Day 4: The Storr & coastal walk to Portree or optional boat trip
If you’re keen to explore Skye’s mountains and coastline on foot, then you can take a bus journey (25 mins) to The Storr; a rocky hill on the Trotternish peninsula. From here, walk along the wild and remote coastline before returning to bustling Portree.
Alternatively, choose the option of a 2 hour cruise through the Sound of
Raasay with The Cuillin Mountains as your backdrop. Encounter Golden
eagles and White Tailed sea eagles, often while dolphins and porpoises
surf alongside on the boats waves. The White Tailed Sea Eagles, who
regularly come close enough to the boat for photographs, are the UK’s
largest birds with a wingspan approaching 2 metres and weighing 7 kg.
Before returning to shore you will also cruise by Holoman Islands to
visit their Seal colony.
If you wish to book the Spindrift Boat Cruise, please advise us at the time of booking to avoid disappointment.
If a cup of tea and slice of cake is more your style, you can relax in a café and do a spot of souvenir shopping.
Calmac also operates a ferry service from nearby Sconser to Raasay if you prefer to explore one of the islands.
Walks: 6-8 miles
Day 5: Onward travel
You can return to Glasgow either by bus from Portree or take the bus to Fort William and then continue your journey by train to Glasgow or elsewhere in Scotland.
The journey south from Fort William to Glasgow is spectacular; soak up the last of the Highland scenery from your seat as you speed through the fertile Great Glen to Rannoch Moor. Pass by the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond to arrive in Scotland’s largest city.
Travel to Glasgow and accommodation tonight are not included. Please contact us should you wish us to make arrangements.
4 nights accommodation is included in hand-picked guesthouses and B&B’s 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 below, however are subject to availability and therefore alternatives of an equal standard may be offered.
You can add extra nights at either side of your tour in Fort William, Glasgow or Edinburgh - 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.
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.
Ashdale B&B - Mallaig
Ashdale B&B enjoys fantastic views across the Sound of Sleat to Skye, Rum and Eigg. Guests enjoy free WiFi and there is ample parking. Rooms are stylish and have tea and coffee making facilities.
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.
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!
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 overall, although you will find some suggested walks more on the moderate end of the scale. We include suggested daily walks of up to 7 miles. The terrain may be rugged underfoot with some hills but not too strenuous. Perfect for those with a relatively good level of fitness.
We supply you with maps and route notes so you will easily find your way.
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 Fort William
By Air: Convenient airports for getting to Fort William are Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness. Glasgow and Edinburgh in particular are well-served by low-cost and scheduled airlines. With each of these airports a regular shuttle bus (and also a tram for Edinburgh) operates into the city centre; duration approx. 30 mins.
By Bus and Train to Fort William: from Glasgow take a bus (3hrs) or train (4hrs), from Inverness take a bus (1h50), from Edinburgh take a train or bus first to Glasgow (1hr) then onward travel as aforementioned.
Getting from Portree
By Air: Again, Glasgow and Inverness are the most convenient airports. You can also travel to Edinburgh.
By Bus and Train from Portree: to reach Glasgow take a bus all the way (6h20) or bus to Fort William (3 hrs) then a train (4 hrs). To reach Inverness take a bus (3hrs). To get to Edinburgh take a bus to Glasgow (6h20), then train or bus (1hr) to Edinburgh.
The website www.travelinescotland.com 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. Please note that outside the Scottish school holidays and peak summer months, bus timetables are reduced.
- 4 Nights in guesthouses and B&B’s (3* standard).
- 4 Breakfasts.
- Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig (standard class).
- Ferry Mallaig to Armadale.
- Guided tour of Skye.
- Maps & route notes.
- Phone support from the Macs Adventure office.
- Travel insurance
- Public transportation on Skye (payable locally).
- Suggested optional excursions on Day 4 from Portree.
- Drinks and snacks.
- Personal equipment.
- Mountain rescue/emergency assistance.
- Additional nights.
- Accommodations upgrades.
- Upgrade to first class on the Jacobite.
- Single room or solo traveller supplement if required.
How fit do I need to be?
This trip is graded easy to moderate, although some walks are more on the 'moderate' end of the scale. Terrain may be rough and boggy under foot from time to time, as you will be walking in the Scottish Highlands after all!
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Isle of Skye is extremely popular, especially over May/June and July/August. However 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 if I want to add this onto another tour?
This tour fits in perfectly with anyone finishing the West Highland Way (in Fort William). It also makes the perfect extension to our West Highland Line tour, which finishes in Mallaig (as the Jacobite steam train is already included in both tours, we will make a deduction of the fare from this tour so that you don't pay for the train twice! Please contact us for details).
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.