Scottish Highlands & Skye
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From the moment the Scottish Highlands come into view, youll be taken aback by the spectacular views at every turn. Whether its the craggy countryside along your path, the winding River Ness or Inverness Castle marking its point on the skyline, rugged natural beauty meets age-old traditions on this fascinating tour of North East Scotland. A highlight is the epic train journey from Fort William to Mallaig, hailed as one of the worlds finest. Whilst a trip to the Highlands wouldnt be complete without sampling whisky, discovering the mysteries of Loch Ness and experiencing the magic of Skye.
Day 1 – Arrival in Inverness
Make your way to the breathtakingly beautiful Scottish Highlands and be welcomed to your hotel in Inverness, overlooking the River Ness. Whether youd prefer to drive, take the train or enjoy a door-to-door private car, our helpful travel desk team would be more than happy to help you organise trains, flights or a private car to suit your arrangements. Our hand-picked hotels are always thoughtfully chosen for their location. After settling into your hotel, why not make yourself acquainted with the local area with a riverside stroll? Youre just a moments walk from some of the main highlights of Inverness, with plenty of fantastic restaurants and bars to unwind in on your first evening. Or after travelling, perhaps relax in the spa, where guests have free access to the indoor pool, sauna, steam room and hot tub. You could even round off your evening by the fireplace with a tipple of Scotch whisky on ice in the hotel lounge.
Day 2 – Cairngorms National Park & Whisky Tasting
This morning after breakfast, we head to the Cairngorms National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Its a haven for wildlife lovers, as a spot that many rare and endangered species call their home. Think pine martens, red squirrels, mountain hares and golden eagles, as well as the most endangered species Scottish wildcats. The Cairngorm plateau is the highest, coldest and snowiest plateau in Britain, so you might even notice a sprinkling of snow on its peaks. As we drive towards Broomhill you might see red Lock Leven Rose deer or Highland cows scattered along the mountaintops.
There are more opportunities to gaze at the stunning scenery, as we board the Strathspey heritage railway, with its spectacular views through forests and heather-clad moorland. Our destination is Aviemore, where the endless panoramic views, forests and tranquil lochs continue there really is beauty around every bend! As we leave behind our majestic train, we continue onward through the beautiful Spey Valley. No visit would be complete without a tour of a whisky distillery, and so we head to learn more about this famous drink, with an insightful tour and tasting.
Day 3 – Loch Ness
Do you believe in the myth of the Loch Ness Monster? Today is your chance to delve deeper into the mystery of Nessie. Our journey begins on a Loch cruise with a commentary on board, telling tales of the Loch and unravelling its mystifying history, ss well as learning about the local wildlife which we may spot on our cruise. Continuing the theme of days gone by, we visit the iconic Urquhart Castle, whose romantic ruins date back to the 13th century.
This afternoon we head North of Inverness and towards the Black Isle. Despite its name, this captivating part of Scotland is actually a peninsular, with striking coastal views and charming fishing villages dotted along the shoreline. The name of this Highland peninsula is thought to derive from the Scots Gaelic eilean meaning island and dubh meaning black; the latter most likely a reference to the dark fertile soil.
Its a beautiful place to visit, so we allow plenty of time to explore this incredible coast. Its home to two RSPB nature reserves: the enchanted woodland of Fairy Glen and the peaceful Udale Bay, a habitat for pink-footed geese.
Day 4 – Fort William to Mallaig Train
Today may be the highpoint for many, for more reasons than one. Described as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world, today we journey from Fort William to Mallaig. This is a side of Scotland that is best experienced by train. Our day begins as we drive to Fort William, passing though the incredible mountain scenery in anticipation. On a clear day, you may evenspot the towering 1,345 metres of Ben Nevis as we travel through spectacular countryside, and cross the world-famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, with its 21 arches. You may recognise it from numerous films and television programmes that have featured, the most famous being Harry Potter, as the majestic Jacobite Steam train puffs along the lush countryside.
As the train then passes through Arisaig and Morar stations, you wont be able to peel your eyes from the striking loch, sea and hill views before the approach to Mallaig, from where you can see the small isles. A typical port town, you can simply stroll along the front, watch the fishing boats babbling in the water or visit the Mallaig Heritage Centre, with archives and artefacts of the harbours history. After some time in the picture-postcard Scottish town of Mallaig, we return to Fort William.
(Note that depending on the season, the train may be steam or diesel at short notice).
Day 5 – Isle of Skye
Today we head further afield to the largest of the Inner Hebrides Islands, the mesmerising Isle of Skye. The route to Skye is truly beautiful, passing lochs and inlets, as well as the imposing Eilean Dolan Castle, before we come to one of the last villages on the mainland before reaching the Skye, the historic village of The Kyle of Lochalsh.These days we dont need to take a boat to get to Skye anymore, instead we can cross the road bridge that links to the island.
Often described as a magical place, there are many folktales told on the island, and legends of fairies and giants abound. To really get a feel for this beautiful part of the world, we will have a scenic tour of the island to take in the spectacular views before visiting Dunvegan Castle and Gardens.
A must-visit, the castle has been in the same family for 800 years and is said to represent the true spirit of the Isles. You might not think that given the location of the castle there would be many plants or flowers that thrive there, but the truly splendid gardens are in fact home to a wide variety of flora. Its then onward to Portree, the island capital known for its colourful houses forming a rainbow of pastels along the coastline. Those with Macdonalds in their family tree may wish to dig deeper into the history of the Clan Donald at the fascinating Museum of the Isles.
Day 6 – Return home