This tour introduces us to Scotland’s moods and landscapes, covering the country roads from the rugged west to the far north. Head northwards along the North Coast 500 route to reach the mighty cliffs of Duncansby Head and remote John O’Groats. Travel westwards through scenic Glen Carron to explore the Isle of Skye and the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. This is the perfect introduction to the beauty of Scotland!
Our journey starts at impressive Waverley Station in the heart of Edinburgh, where we join the ScotRail train bound for Inverness. After Scotland’s Capital behind, we head northwards to Stirling, where the mighty hill-top castle dominates the landscape.
From Perth, the train heads into the highlands where our introduction is the tumbling rivers, gentle glens and towering trees of Perthshire. Look out for the dramatic Pass of Killiecrankie, the site of a famous Jacobite battle and stately Blair Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Atholl. The Duke is the only person allowed their own private army, The Atholl Highlanders.
From Blair Atholl, the train makes the steady climb through the foothills of the Grampian Mountains to reach Druimuachdar Summit, the highest point on the UK rail network.
The next part of the journey takes in the natural beauty of the Cairngorms National Park. In the valley of the River Spey, home to many famous whisky distilleries, there are stops in Newtonmore and Aviemore before arriving at journeys end in Inverness.
After time to relax, head to the bus station to join a local driver/guide for a fascinating tour to Loch Ness. Discover the legend of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, then mount your own quest when you take to the waters on a short cruise.
Explore the ruins of Urquhart Castle to get a glimpse of medieval life and enjoy the fantastic views over Loch Ness. Later, return to Inverness, where the remainder of the day is at leisure in the Highland Capital, our home for the next three nights.
Overnight: Premier Inn Inverness Centre River Ness, Inverness or Similar (3 nights)
After leaving Inverness behind, we experience the timeless beauty of Loch Ness, making a stop in Invermoriston to see the tumbling waterfall and historic Thomas Telford bridge.
Head westwards through Glen Moriston to reach Glen Shiel, where the Five Sisters of Kintail will come into view. These soaring peaks are each over 3,000 feet (914 m) high!
We stop to visit the fairytale Eilean Donan Castle set on its tiny island on Loch Duich. There is time to explore this iconic fortress before crossing “over the sea to Skye”.
On the magical isle follow the picturesque coastal route, enjoying the incredible vista over the sea lochs to the Isle of Scalpay. There are grand views of the mighty Cuillin Hills as we make our way to Portree, the island’s main town. We’ll make a stop here so you can discover this bustling community on your own and enjoy time for lunch. The colourful houses surrounding the harbour make an excellent backdrop for an “I was there” selfie!
Later enjoy a scenic drive through the dramatic landscapes of the Trotternish Peninsula to see the Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock.
Returning to the mainland, we strike out through picturesque Glen Carron, stopping to enjoy the panoramic views over Loch Carron.
The last part of the journey takes us to the remote village of Achnasheen then back to Inverness.
Today, our destination is the very edge of mainland Britain as we head for the Northern Highlands.
We travel from Inverness over the Moray, Dornoch and Cromarty Firths to reach “Whisky Country”, a region home to several famous whiskies. These include Glenmorangie, produced in Tain, a town that can trace its history back to 1066.
In the village of Golspie, we’ll stop for refreshments before heading to nearby Dunrobin Castle, the most northerly of Scotland’s great houses. This chateau-like house has 189 rooms exhibiting family heirlooms and period treasures. The attractive gardens are said to have been inspired by those at Versailles.
The Great North Road climbs “The Ord”, the gateway to the famous county of Caithness, where we reach picturesque Helmsdale, a village once the centre of a vast gold rush.
Historically, herring-fishing was the primary industry of Caithness, and one of the busiest ports was Wick which is the next stop. There is time for lunch and to explore this former Viking settlement.
Later, head to John O’Groats, the most northerly village on the British mainland. Get a souvenir photo at the famous signpost, then take a stroll to admire the seascapes and, maybe, spot some of the local wildlife.
The journey homewards includes stops at pretty Dunbeath Harbour for photos and Brora, renowned for its stunning beaches.
There is a relaxing start to our last day in the Highlands. After a leisurely breakfast, enjoy some free time to relax before joining a local guide for an informative walking tour of Inverness.
On this 90-minute stroll, learn how the city has developed from being a remote junction of the old trading routes into the bustling city it is now.
See Inverness Castle and discover its fascinating history. The building we see now dates from 1834. Its predecessor was blown up by the Jacobites in 1746. On the subject of Jacobites, view the statue of Flora MacDonald and hear how she helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from the redcoats.
Look out over the River Ness to see Inverness Cathedral and the Northern Meeting Ground, home to the World’s oldest Highland games.
Later see Abertafff House, the earliest surviving house in Inverness and the gothic splendour of the Town House before visiting the Victorian Market, home to an eclectic collection of independent shops and traders.
Sadly, it’s time to head to the Railway Station to board your train bound for the lowlands and journeys end in either Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
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