May 9 2019
In what is set to be one of the railway events of the year, the nation’s favourite steam locomotive Flying Scotsman is returning to some of the most scenic lines in Scotland for the first time since its refurbishment.
The nine-day Highlands & Islands Explorer promises to be a magical tour, taking in some truly spectacular Highland scenery, with long daylight hours, lochs, mountains, sea and islands. With a range of travel, dining and hotel options available, including some of the most luxurious hotels in the Highlands, there are options to suit all budgets. What they all have in common is an ever-changing backdrop of stunning vistas, all seen from the unique perspective of an impressive train of maroon coaches, hauled by a variety of locomotives.
Flying Scotsman steals the show of course, 70 feet and 100 tons of lean, green machine which will be in its element as it powers north over the Royal Border Bridge into Scotland and on into the Highlands. But there are other stars, from the vintage electric train that takes on the run from London to York to the B1 steam locomotive Mayflower that joins us in Scotland, as well as various Black 5s and other types, backed up by trusty diesels.
Once in the Highlands there are a host of optional journeys to enjoy, taking the scenic lines that run west to Kyle of Lochalsh and north to Wick or the famous Jacobite steam train that runs from the slopes of Ben Nevis to the wild Atlantic coast at Mallaig. The marquee day of the tour is an epic and highly scenic rail journey from Inverness south to Stirling, west to Helensburgh then north to Crianlarich and Fort William. On the return journey you can explore the gentler hills of the Lake District.
Hotels & Travel
All hotels on a bed and breakfast basis, transfers to and from the train and train travel on days 1, 2, 5, 7 & 9.
Pullman Style & Premier Dining
Day One: Breakfast and Dinner on board the train.
Day Two: Morning coffee and cake and Dinner on board the train.
Day Three: Optional Trip to Dunrobin Castle. Morning coffee and cake and Dinner on board the train.*
Day Four: Optional Trip to Kyle of Lochalsh: Light Lunch and Dinner on board the train.*
Day Five: Light Lunch and Dinner on board the train. (For those who transfer by coach Dinner will be included in their hotel)
Day Six: Dinner in the hotel.
Day Seven: Light Lunch and Dinner on board the train.
Day Eight: Dinner in the Hotel.
Day Nine: Light Lunch and Dinner on the train.
Passengers will be served complimentary morning and afternoon tea and coffee. There is the opportunity to purchase snacks from the on board menu on all days on board the train (excluding the Jacobite). *Dining passengers not on train excursions will be free to make their own dinner arrangements.
The train operator reserves the right to alter the nominated hotel at any destination provided the alternative hotel is of an equivalent standard. Meal arrangements are dependent on timings, provision of utilities and access to re-stock and may be subject to change. The train operator will use its best efforts to provide steam traction on trips rostered for steam haulage, for the sector(s) advertised as such, but this cannot be guaranteed. On occasion a diesel locomotive may be substituted, mainly due to fire risk, drought, route restrictions or locomotive failure. All steam locomotives are subject to a Fitness to Run (FTR) exam 24 hours prior to running on the main line, which means it is sometimes necessary for a substitute to be made at the last minute.
- Train travel
May 9 2019: Itinerary
We leave London Kings Cross behind a vintage electric locomotive for a quick run to York, where we will be joined by Flying Scotsman for the run along the beautiful stretch of railway for which it was built. As dining passengers enjoy dinner we will cruise along the East Coast Mainline, heading over the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick and on into Edinburgh. On arrival we will transfer by coach to our hotels in Edinburgh.
Pullman passengers will be staying at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria – The Caledonian Hotel, originally built by the Caledonian Railway as part of their Princes Street terminus; Premier Dining passengers will stay at the Hilton Carlton Hotel, close to Waverley Station and non-dining passengers will be staying at the Premier Inn on the Royal Mile.
Dinner is served in the evening.
After breakfast in our hotels we re-join our train, once again hauled by Flying Scotsman, and set out mid-morning over the iconic Forth Bridge, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, on our way to Perth. We then take the old Highland Railway route, with its mix of single and double track running, north through increasingly rugged terrain and over the summits at Drumochter and Slochd to the Highland capital Inverness.
On arrival we transfer to our hotels: Pullman and Premier Dining passengers will be staying at either the MacDonald New Drumrossie Hotel or the Kingsmills Hotel, each with a deserved reputation for beautiful rooms and top quality dining. Non-dining passengers will be staying at the Premier Inn in Inverness.
We are joined by a new steam locomotive for today, B1 class 61036 ‘Mayflower’, which will take our optional day trip north from Inverness through gorgeous scenery to the famous castle of Dunrobin, ancestral seat of the Dukes of Sutherland, with time to explore the castle and grounds.
Passengers who opt to remain in Inverness will be offered a choice of local excursions such as Cawdor Castle, Culloden Battlefield, Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness.
After breakfast in the hotel you have the option of a free day in Inverness, or alternatively join the train where the ‘Mayflower’ will once again haul us as we enjoy one of the great railway journeys of the world, from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. Our route takes us through Strath Bran and the isolated little station at Achnasheen, on into Strath Carron to the head of Loch Carron, passing Stromeferry, the one-time terminus of the line, before we reach the current terminus at Kyle of Lochalsh. We have time here to stretch our legs and enjoy the views across Loch Alsh to the Isle of Skye with the option of visiting nearby Eilean Donan, the much photographed castle perched on its own island. We then return by train to Inverness, with Pullman and Premier Dining passengers having dinner on the train.
After breakfast in the hotel you have the option of enjoying a feast of unbeatable scenery as our train embarks on an epic journey from Inverness to Fort William, first travelling back over the Highland main line via Perth and Stirling as far as Glasgow then taking the West Highland line via Helensburgh and Crianlarich to Fort William. Our train will be diesel-hauled ensuring the day can be completed before dusk. Passengers who wish for a more leisurely day can transfer by coach between Fort William and Inverness along the shores of Loch Ness.
Today is at leisure in Fort William or you may choose to join one of our optional excursions.
Travel on The Jacobite and experience one of the most memorable and spectacular railway journeys in the world – to Mallaig on the famous ‘Road to the Isles’. ‘The Jacobite’ combines the romance of the steam era with the opportunity to drink in the stunning views of this wild and historic part of Scotland. From the slopes of Ben Nevis the line runs through rugged mountains, past sea and inland lochs and onto the shores of the Atlantic at Mallaig. The route takes you over the massive Glenfinnan viaduct overlooking Loch Sheil, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745 across the
Optional Excursions (prices to be confirmed)
There will also be optional excursions likely to include a cruise on Loch Linnhe, a trip to Glencoe, Neptune’s staircase and the Glenfinnan Viaduct or a day trip to Iona or Mull. Dining passengers will have dinner in their hotels.
Pullman Style passengers will be staying in one of two luxurious hotels. When booking, please discuss your preferences with our Sales team as each of the hotels has a limited number of bedrooms.
This grand Victorian House was built by Lord Strathcona (who built the Canadian Pacific Railway) as a shooting lodge and comprises 14 suites, some in the main house and some in an adjacent building. Log fires, roll top baths, hot tubs, private gardens, and wonderful public rooms will make a stay here completely unforgettable.
Isle of Eriska Hotel
The unique experience of staying on a private island with glorious views across Loch Linnhe and the Morven Mountains whilst enjoying the full luxury of 5* accommodation, wonderful public rooms with log fires and comfy sofas and an exceptional restaurant is not to be missed. It is also planned to arrange a day excursion to Iona or Mull departing from the hotel’s own private jetty just a couple of minutes stroll from the hotel.
Premier Dining passengers will have a number of options including the 4* Nevis Bank Hotel in Fort William; Hollytree House Hotel, a beautifully modernised hotel with wonderful views and a great restaurant on the shores of Loch Linnhe; the boutique Glenspean Lodge Hotel just outside Spean Bridge with fabulous mountain views and which boasts Edward VII amongst previous visitors. Premier Dining passengers who would like the opportunity to have breakfast and dinner at Inverlochy Castle will be able to choose to stay in attractively decorated lodges in the grounds of Inverlochy Castle.
Non Dining passengers will be staying in hotels in Fort William – either the Premier Inn or the Travelodge.
After breakfast in your hotel, we leave Fort William, steam double-headed with Mayflower and a Black 5, and take the West Highland Line south to the Firth of Clyde. The Black 5 leaves us and Mayflower takes our train unassisted south from Glasgow and over Beattock summit and the fells and on to Penrith, where we disembark and spend two nights in the Northern Lakes. Dining passengers will have light lunch and dinner on the train.
A day at leisure or you may choose to join one of our optional excursions likely to include Dalemain House, a Grade 1 listed stately home near Penrith; a cruise by paddle steamer on Ullswater as well as the narrow-gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale railway and the standard-gauge Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway.
After a leisurely breakfast we return steam hauled from Penrith to London with Mayflower. Our route will take us over Shap and down the West Coast Main Line with a stop at Crewe for coal and water. We will arrive at London Euston for mid evening. Dining passengers will have a light lunch and dinner on the train.
May 9 2019: Additional Info
May 9 2019: Accommodation
May 9 2019: Enquiries
July 16 2019