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Edinburgh to Inverness: Rail & Hike

5 Days & 4 Nights
  • Experience the best of the Highlands between Edinburgh and Inverness on foot and by train
  • Stay in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital city
  • Choose from varied walks, on forest trails and among castle grounds
  • Take a tour of Scotland's smallest distillery, Edradour, in Pitlochry
  • Ride the train from Edinburgh through beautiful countryside to meet the sea at Inverness
Connect two of Scotland's bucket-list destinations - Edinburgh and Inverness - on this short break rail & hike trip. Combine scenic rail journeys with a variety of relaxed walking options in the heart of Scotland. Wander cobbled streets in cosmopolitan Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, where there's plenty to see and do; visit the Botanic Gardens, walk up Arthur's Seat, or Carlton Hill for unrivaled views over the city. Leave city life behind for the tranquility of Blair Atholl, a small village of charming stone cottages with Blair Castle and it's sprawling gardens and grounds at it's heart. Choose from a variety of walks on woodland trails or head into the hills along Glen Tilt. Enjoy walking along forested riverside paths to the bustling town of Pitlochry, where you can spend a leisurely afternoon visiting one of the town's distilleries. Another scenic rail journey will see you gliding through the Cairngorm National Park to reach Inverness. Discover the city, it's riverside walkways and coastline and sample a pint of local ale or fresh seafood in a cozy pub with castle views. If you have longer to explore Scotland by train we recommend our Highlands & Isle of Skye: Rail & Hike trip, or treat yourself on our Luxury Highlands & Isle of Skye: Rail & Hike trip.
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What To Expect

Travelling by train is a simple and flexible way to ensure you experience as many of Scotland’s highlights as possible on this short break itinerary. Enjoy a scenic rail journey from Edinburgh, through the forests of Perthshire and the Cairngorm mountains, to the iconic Highland city of Inverness. This Rail & Hike holiday is perfect for first-time and experienced walkers alike with a variety of optional walks to choose from.

Tour Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active trip.

Activity:

Rail & Hike | See more of a destination by mixing train travel with walks accessible from the rail-line. Travel inn-to-inn by train & enjoy hikes from each stopping point. Train fare inc- no baggage transfers.

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travelers, Multi-Generational, Mixed Abilities, Groups > 10, First Timers

As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveler this tour would be suitable for is: 10 Years

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Historical Journeys

Inspiration:

  • Most Popular
  • Classic

Activity Level & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate and includes optional daily walks of up to 21 km/13 miles. The terrain may be rugged underfoot at times with some hills but nothing too strenuous. You should enjoy a good level of fitness to make the most of this trip, but bear in mind all the walks are optional so if you don't feel like walking you can simply enjoy the sights instead. 

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

Navigation

This route is quite well waymarked. Navigation is straightforward with the Macs Adventure smartphone app which has maps, GPS tracks and daily route information. Simply download the GPS tracks for offline use and follow the route on your phone with the assurance that navigation on this tour will be made simple and you cannot get lost.

Accommodations

Included in the trip are 4 nights of accommodation in hand-picked 3-4* small hotels, B&Bs or guesthouses. We carefully select friendly accommodations offering 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 Inverness as there is so much to see and do, please contact us for details. Please note that bookings in August may take longer to confirm due to the very high demand created by Edinburgh's Fringe Festival.

There's also the option of treating yourself to a 4* hotel upgrade in Edinburgh, like the Hotel Du Vin, listed as an upgrade example in the itinerary below. 

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. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants.

In your tour information documents we provide a list of recommendations for food and drink options along the way - from charming cafes, cosy pubs, Michelin Star restaurants and family-run restaurants serving the best local produce. Edinburgh in particular will have you spoiled for choice, so if you’re a real foodie we recommend doing some research before you travel. Otherwise, opt for one of our suggestions, or ask your hosts to recommend one of their favourite places.   

Included
  • 4 Nights in hand-picked 3-4* B&B's, guest houses and small hotels
  • 4 Breakfasts
  • Train travel from Edinburgh to Blair Atholl
  • Train travel from Blair Atholl to Inverness
  • Tour Information & Route Notes via your "My Account" guest portal
  • Access to GPX tracks and route notes on the Macs Adventure smartphone app
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our UK office
Excluded
  • Travel to Edinburgh / from Inverness
  • Return travel from Pitlochry to Blair Atholl on day 3 - 15 min train or bus (paid locally)
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance (required)
Extras
  • Additional nights along the route
  • Upgrade to 4* hotel accommodation in Edinburgh

When To Go

The trip is available to start on any day of the week, depending on accommodation availability, from the beginning of April until mid-October. If you'd prefer to avoid the busiest months for tourists we recommend travelling in April, September and October - the colour of the leaves in Perthshire are beautiful in the autumn too! However, May is a great month for travelling in Scotland, the weather tends to be driest (although you never know in the Highlands!) and the flowers of Blair Castle gardens and Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens will be coming into bloom for the summer months. 

Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August): Please note that during the very popular Edinburgh Fringe festival, which takes place throughout the month of August, the city will be very busy and accommodations are in high demand. Because of this a supplement applies to any booking during the month of August. 

Getting to the Start

By Air: Edinburgh Airport is well-served by a variety of airlines from across the Uk, Europe and worldwide - check available destinations here. From the airport you can travel by tram or airport shuttle bus to the city centre in approx. 30 minutes. 

By Train: If you're flying into London it's possible to reach Edinburgh within approx. 4 hours. Otherwise, see Scotrail for Scottish train links and National Rail for UK links. 

By Bus: The website www.travelinescotland.com is handy for researching bus timetables throughout Scotland.

Your trip includes standard 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.

Getting from the End

By Air: Inverness Airport is a small airport, there are a number of possibilities for onward travel - extend your stay in Scotland via a flight to the Outer Hebrides, Orkney or Shetland. Otherwise, if you're travelling worldwide or connecting to elsewhere in Europe it's possible to do so via Dublin, London or Amsterdam. You check Inverness Airport's destination here

By Train: If you're returning to Edinburgh you can return the way you arrived in Inverness, by rail, on a 3 hour jounrey to Edinburgh Waverley. From here you can travel to a number of UK destinations, including London possible in approx. 4 hours. See Scotrail for Scottish train links and National Rail for UK links. Alternatively, if you're extending your stay in Scotland you can get to Skye by rail to Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast and then to Skye by bus. 

By Bus: Citylink and Stagecoach bus operators provide links t a number of great locations across the Highlands if you plan to extend your stay. 

Luggage Transfer

The trip is designed so that during the hikes you are free to walk with just a day pack - you'll travel with your bags on the train and arrive at your accommodation to drop off your luggage before heading out to explore with just a day pack.  No luggage transfers are required on this itinerary.

General Information

At Macs Adventure we care about the environment! We’re taking action to minimize the impact we have by converting the majority of all our tour documentation for online delivery. On this tour all your detailed tour information will be digitally delivered. You will have access to this documentation via “My Account” on our website.

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.

How fit do I need to be?
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Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh and overnight Day 2 Train to Blair Atholl and optional walks 9 miles / 15 km Day 3 Walk to Pitlochry and return to Blair Atholl 9 miles / 14 km Day 4 Train to Inverness and optional walks 7 miles / 11 km Day 5 Onward travel

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