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The Scottish Highlands by steam
Steam locomotion has long been one of the most elegant and memorable ways to travel and when mixed with the magnificent scenery of the Scottish Highlands the combination is irresistible. On this wonderful four-day holiday you will ride on the famous Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig, an 84-mile steam-hauled journey.
Your trip starts near Britain's highest mountain - Ben Nevis, passes its deepest freshwater loch - Loch Morar, shortest river - River Morar and finally arrives next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe - Loch Nevis. Robert McAlpine's 21-arch Glenfinnan viaduct is just one of the engineering marvels you'll see on the journey, which is made all the more enjoyable by the sound and fury of the steam locomotive forging its way along the Iron Road to the Isles. Plus, Times readers will enjoy complimentary champagne as a welcome drink on arrival.
Stay in a Scottish castle
You'll be staying at the four-star Airth Castle Hotel and Spa, central Scotland's most exclusive retreat, with some rooms in the original 14th century castle itself, once owned by the family of Robert the Bruce, and over 14 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens to explore. Dinner is included with wine each evening in the Grill Room at Airth Castle, set under a unique pyramid of glass, and renowned for its locally inspired food, which is complemented by classic dishes with an innovative twist.
It is hoped that in 2020 the historic PS Waverley will return to service and you will enjoy a relaxing voyage on the Firth of Clyde aboard this elegant paddle steamer which dates from 1949. If the Waverley is not available you'll take a boat trip in the majestic surroundings of Loch Lomond, and visit impressive Inveraray Castle, the Duke of Argyll's family seat on the shores of Loch Fyne. You will also sail on the SS Sir Walter Scott, one of the last surviving screw steamers which has graced the waters of Loch Katrine since 1900, and take a unique ride on the Falkirk Wheel, the pioneering rotating boat lift that links the Union and Forth and Clyde canals.
Reasons to book
Loch Lomond and Inveraray Castle
Steam journey on the Jacobite
- Return flights from London Stansted
- Three nights' dinner (with wine), bed and breakfast at the four-star Airth Castle Hotel & Spa
- One lunch in a local restaurant
- Comfortable coaching throughout
- Journeys along Loch Lomond, on the SS Sir Walter Scott, the Fort William/Mallaig line on the Jacobite and the Falkirk Wheel
- Tour of Inveraray Castle with lunch included
Day1Falkirk WheelFalkirk Wheel, United Kingdom
Depart from your chosen pick-up point and travel to the Falkirk Wheel, the world's first rotating boat lift. We shall start the journey on the water at New Port Downie, from where you will sail into the Falkirk Wheel. Enjoy the truly spectacular scenery as the wheel commences its graceful ascent to join the Union Canal 35m above. We sail along the Union Canal and under the historic Antonine Wall - the Roman's most northern frontier - before you enjoy a wander through the Visitor Centre, where lunch is available (not included).
We continue to the 4-star MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa where dinner with wine will be served in the evening.
Day2Fort William to Mallaig on the JacobiteFort William, United Kingdom
Today, following an early start, you will journey back in time on the Jacobite steam train and experience one of the most memorable and spectacular railway journeys in the world - the famous Fort William to Mallaig line following The 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 also takes you over the massive Glenfinnan viaduct overlooking Loch Sheil, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745.
There is time to enjoy lunch (not included) in Mallaig, whether you choose fish and chips, crab sandwiches or freshly landed lobster, but do leave room for a special treat as you'll enjoy champagne as a welcome drink on arrival in Fort William. Following this, you'll return by coach to the hotel for dinner.
Day3Loch Lomond/ Inverary Castle tourLoch Lomond, United Kingdom
Today following breakfast we will head for Tarbet on the banks of Loch Lomond, Britain's largest inland body of water, and depart on a 90-minute cruise with full commentary. As we cross to the far side of the loch we hear the story of 'Rob Roy' MacGregor who was born by Loch Katrine in the 17th century and lived at Inversnaid here on the banks of Loch Lomond. After fighting in the Jacobite Rising he became a respected cattleman but defaulted on a loan and was branded an outlaw - legends abound of his secret prison and hiding place in local caves.
We then cross the mountain pass known as the 'Rest and Be Thankful' and descend to the shores of Loch Fyne, a long fjord-like sea loch. After lunch in Inveraray (included) we visit Inveraray Castle, which has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell, since the 17th century. The house is a mostly mid-18th century neo-Gothic design. Designers who worked on the house include Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt and Robert Adam; the interior includes a number of neoclassical rooms created for the 5th Duke by Robert Mylne.
Day4Loch Katrine on the SS Sir Walter ScottLoch Katrine, United Kingdom
Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for a cruise on the steam ship SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine. The Sir Walter Scott is the only surviving screw steamer in regular passenger service in Scotland. The grand old lady has been sailing majestically on Loch Katrine since 1900. She was launched in 1899 and today retains her original engines, which are powered by steam using smokeless solid fuel.
After our cruise we continue through The Trossachs to Callander, where there will be an opportunity for lunch (not included). Thereafter we return to the airport or make onward connections.
Airth Castle Hotel & Spa
An exclusive retreat in a 14th-century castle; Central Scotland’s most luxurious spa and fitness club.
This gorgeous hotel and spa is housed in Airth Castle, once owned by the family of Robert the Bruce and complemented by an adjacent pretty courtyard building which houses the Grill Room restaurant, leisure club and spa and many of the bedrooms. Rooms are located in both the original Castle and the main hotel building, and their design ranges from traditionally furnished period charm to super sleek contemporary interiors. The Grill Room at Airth Castle, set under a unique pyramid of glass, is renowned for its food, serving locally inspired dishes complemented by classics with an innovative twist.