AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
The Western Isles of Scotland

The Western Isles of Scotland

The Western Isles of Scotland Overview

Travel up through the Outer Hebrides, before heading eastwards to the Isle of Skye. On the mainland, combine iconic rail journeys such as the Jacobite steam train with some of Scotland's cultural jewels. Visits include Eilean Donan Castle and the Rosslyn Chapel.

ITINERARY

Day 1 – Welcome to Glasgow

We meet in Glasgow for a welcome dinner and a 1-night stay. If you have never been to this national cultural hub why not arrive a day or two early? We would be happy to arrange this for you, along with rail tickets from your home station.

Day 2 – West Highland Line

Have a leisurely morning or get up early to make the most of your time here, the choice is yours. We take a lunchtime train along the shores of Loch Lomond, round the horseshoe curve and over Rannoch Moor. This line has been voted Britain's most scenic and it is easy to see why. Most of the line is a twisty single track through spectacular Highland scenery. Late afternoon arrival into Fort William for a 2-night stay.

Day 3 – Jacobite Steam

A return journey on the famous Jacobite Steam train today. This 84 mile round trip sees us cross the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct which overlooks Loch Shiel and the Jacobite monument. There is time for lunch in the tiny fishing port of Mallaig before we return to Fort William.

Day 4 – Mallaig to South Uist

Take a ride up the UK's only Mountain Gondola and enjoy the stunning scenery of the surrounding lochs and glens. Later on, continue by road to Mallaig for the afternoon ferry to Lochboisdale. Our hotel for the next 2 nights is only steps away and we arrive in time for our evening meal.

Day 5 – Isle of Barra

A relaxed day of sightseeing via the Sound of Barra ferry. Unearth times past at the Dualchas Heritage Centre and watch planes land at the island's unique airport – it is the only one in the world which uses a tidal beach as a runway.

Day 6 – North to Harris

We take a scenic drive across both Uist islands this morning to Berneray for the Sound of Harris ferry over to Leverburgh. En route, we visit the Kildonan Heritage Centre. Once on Harris, we journey around the west coast of the isle – famed for its spectacular beaches and wildflower 'machair' habitats – to Tarbert where we have a 2-night stay.

Day 7 – Historical Lewis

Our day tour of Lewis embraces the island's ancient roots, taking in the mystical Callanish Standing Stones, the well preserved Broch at Carloway and several traditional Blackhouse sites. We also visit Lews Castle in Stornoway, where you can uncover stories of land and sea in the new "Museum nan Eilean" or take a woodland walk.

Day 8 – Scenic Skye

After a leisurely morning, we take a lunchtime ferry over to Uig on the Isle of Skye. En route to Portree for a 2-night stay, we tour the Jurassic Trotternish peninsula (via the coast road) with views of the The Storr, Kilt Rock and The Quiraing.

Day 9 – Heritage & Whisky

We start the day exploring Dunvegan Castle and Gardens. The oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, this has been the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years. There will be time for lunch (payable locally), before we head to the Talisker Distillery for a guided tour and whisky tasting.

Day 10 – Kyle of Lochalsh

Travelling by road, we cross the Skye Bridge on our way to Dornie. Here, where 3 great sea lochs meet, we discover the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. Later, we are transferred back to Kyle of Lochalsh for the impressive rail journey to Inverness for a 2-night stay.

Day 11 – Strathspey Steam

Rail to Aviemore for a return steam-hauled journey on the Strathspey Railway. This 10-mile long heritage line boasts views of heather-clad moors, woodland and the river Spey. Return to Inverness late afternoon for an evening at leisure.

Day 12 – Highland Main Line to Edinburgh

Travel by train to Edinburgh, passing through the mountainous central Highlands and crossing the famous Forth Rail Bridge (timetable depending) en route. Lunchtime arrival for an afternoon and evening at leisure. Top attractions include the Royal Yacht Britannia, the National Museum and the Old Town.

Day 13 – Abbotsford, Melrose & Rosslyn

We travel along the Borders Railway to Tweedbank and transfer to Abbotsford House, Sir Walter Scott's 'romance of stone and mortar'. Following a guided tour and lunch (included), we continue to the elegant ruin of Melrose Abbey and the lavishly decorated Rosslyn Chapel.

Day 14 – Farewell

Travel home from Edinburgh independently.

PRICE INCLUDES

  • All rail travel as stated in standard class
  • Accommodation in good quality hotels on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 9 evening meals and 1 lunch
  • Excursions as specified
  • Services of a tour leader from Glasgow and throughout the tour
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