Experience a trip on the World Famous West Highland Railway Line by steam train, spend a night near the banks of mysterious Loch Ness and spend time in brooding Glen Coe. Runs on Wednesdays from May to October, plus Saturdays in July and August. Price inc Accommodation.
Day One - Edinburgh to Fort William
Departing from Edinburgh we make our way to Bonnie Perthshire, a land of scenic valleys, remote glens, rushing rivers and peaceful lochs. We will make a stop amidst this wonderful scenery when we visit Dunkeld. After time for morning coffee why not visit the attractive cathedral ruins, which sit on the banks of the River Tay?
A short drive will take us to The Hermitage, one of the most picturesque landscapes in Scotland. Here we have a relaxing walk through spectacularly large Douglas Firs to an amazing folly, Ossian's Hall, that overlooks the pretty Black Linn waterfall.
There are fine views of Blair Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Atholl – the only man allowed to have their own private army, The Atholl Highlanders. Wild mountain vistas surround us as we start our ascent of the Drumochter Pass, the main route into the highlands since the earliest of times.
The Cairngorm National Park is an area of stunning natural beauty, as we will discover. As we journey through the Spey Valley the Cairngorm Mountains, which rise to over 4000 feet, provide a striking backdrop.
Desolate Culloden Moor was the site of the last battle ever fought on British soil. The Jacobite troops of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the British Army under the command of the Duke of Cumberland clashed here in 1746. The Jacobites were routed in a bloody battle and the aftermath changed Highland life forever. We'll make a stop so that you can discover more about the battle (optional) and the dramatic consequences that followed.
A short drive will take us to Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, and then along the banks of mysterious Loch Ness to our overnight accommodation in Fort William.
Overnight: Fort William
Day Two - Fort William to Edinburgh
After a hearty breakfast we board the Jacobite Steam Train for an unforgettable journey on the famed West Highland Line to Mallaig. This is one of the world's great train journeys and will take you past Britain's highest mountain, deepest loch, shortest river and most westerly station. You'll cross the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct featured in the Harry Potter films and pass the monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie who raised his standard here at the start of the 1745 Jacobite uprising.
There’s time for lunch in Mallaig before we return to Fort William. Brooding Glen Coe is next. The outstanding beauty of this place belies the tragic tale that we'll hear next. Gather round as our guide takes us back to 1692 and tells the story of the Massacre of Glen Coe when Campbell soldiers slaughtered 40 MacDonalds who had been their hosts. This infamous deed remains controversial to this very day.
All too soon Glen Coe is left behind and we travel over remote and barren Rannoch Moor. This unspoilt landscape extends over 50 square miles and is one of the most unspoilt areas in Europe. Our descent of the "Black Mount" provides excellent views over Loch Tulla before we make a stop in the little Highland village of Tyndrum.
The final part of our journey together will take us through Rob Roy McGregor country to the bonnie little village of Strathyre. As we negotiate the Pass of Lenny we move from the Highlands back into the Lowlands.
We did the "Jacobite Highlander" 2 day tour with driver and guide Ronnie.
After checking in at cafe Nero (can't miss it; just at the left hand side of st. Giles cathedral) and a cup of good coffee we boarded the mini bus (seats approx 30 persons). We drove out of the city and on to several scenic sites and made enough stops for toilets and stuff. We were never here and wanted not only to visit Edinburgh but also get a good impression of Scotland. This tour is an excellent way of combining both.
Our tour guide Ronnie was a real Scotsman. An adorable guy (are you reading this Ronnie!) who not only drove in a really comfortable way but also managed to tell all sorts of details along the way. And man, the things he knows... Only downside is that he has a genuine Scottish accent that even the English and American participants had a hard time understanding sometimes. We, being Dutch, had to do our utmost to understand all the stories and our English is not that bad. But I guess that was part of the atmosphere also.
As we drove into Fort Augustus, we had to make several stops at different hotels to get people off the bus. This takes way too long and is an issue that should be addressed in my opinion. In this town you can wander around, have dinner and a good nights sleep.
The next day was for the Jacobite Highlander trainride. Really a great experience on a genuine steamtrain an lovely that they can keep it running. The town of Malaig where it stops is nothing more than a fishermans town that has the tourist business as an extra income. Nothing much here.
Driving back to Edinburgh, we passed many historic sites and towns. We also drove right through the Highlands and its rugged terrain which was a great contrast to the rest of the scenery.
As a tip for the tour company I would suggest some printed background information so that you can comprehend better all the names and places that are mentioned and put them in perspective. Have it in a folder in the bus to pass around or send it by email to your clients prior to the tour.
All in all this tour gave us a great impression of Scotland which we wouldn't have wanted to miss. Certainly one to consider if you plan your visit.
In Love with Scottish Highlands
I was touring Europe for six weeks and visited Scotland for a few days solo. I chose the Highland 2 day tour that left Edinburgh and included a visit to Glenn Coe, Glennfinnan Viaduct, Fort Augustus, Urqhart Castle, Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield (via Inverness), and the Whisky Distillery, Tomatin.
It was amazing. By far one of the favourite experiences on my journey through Europe from Australia. My tour guide was Mark - a very animated and knowledgeable guy, who was also amazingly hospitable.
The stay at Loch Ness Guest House in the adorable Fort Augustus was absolutely brilliant. The B&B was so warm, cosy and the staff made me feel right at home.
The visit to Culloden was one of the best experiences, the exhibition is a must.... the film reenactment room was very confronting, and walking around the field after was very moving. An important part of Scottish history one must not forget.
This tour made me fall in love with Scotland and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Thanks Mark for the fun and adventure!