Edinburgh, Skye and the Far North
5 day / 4 night
From central London speed to Edinburgh. On arrival explore the city on a hop-on, hop-off tour. Next day tour through the Highlands by luxury coach to see Glen Coe and Loch Ness. With Inverness as your base enjoy excursions to see the picturesque Isle of Skye and John O’Groats & the Far North. Return directly to London through the Cairngorm National Park and Highland Perthshire.
Price Range: £655 - £925
Express Train - travel between London and Scotland in comfort with reserved seating
Edinburgh - discover the fascinating history of Edinburgh on a hop-on, hop-off tour
Eilean Donan Castle - explore this stunningly beautiful castle
Isle of Skye - see the mighty Cuillin Hills and visit colourful Portree, the island’s main town
Northern Highlands - visit John O’Groats Britain’s most northerly village and admire the cliff-top views from Duncansby Head
Movie locations - Sunshine on Leith, The World is not enough and Winter Solstice
Hotel accommodation included
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 -
All aboard! Join your express train for the swift journey to Scotland. Along the way the train will travel through the historic communities of York, Durham and Newcastle which sits on the famous River Tyne. After Berwick-upon-Tweed we cross the Border and enter Scotland. There are wonderful sea views to enjoy as we make our way along the cliff tops towards Edinburgh. On arrival in Edinburgh, it is a short walk to your hotel for tonight.
This afternoon explore Edinburgh by open-top bus. This absorbing tour will first take you into the Georgian splendour of the New Town with it’s wide streets and grand squares. You’ll see majestic Edinburgh Castle which stands guard over the city and has done since the earliest of times. Next you’ll discover the hidden secrets of the medieval Old Town where murder and mystery were the canvas on which the history of this historic city was painted. A joint highlight will be the views of the Scottish Parliament building and then Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Queen’s official residence in Scotland.
Day 2 - Edinburgh - Glen Coe - Inverness
We head into the Highlands today as we make our way from Edinburgh to Inverness. The journey starts with fantastic views of Stirling Castle which sits atop a volcanic core. Soon we’ve crossed from the Lowlands into the Highlands and almost instantly the scenery around us changes into a panorama of lochs and mountains.
Enjoy the views as we stop in spectacular Glen Coe. Hear the sad story of the massacre of the resident MacDonald Clan by Campbell troops in 1692 which has given this scenic valley the epithet of "The Glen of Weeping”. Soon we’re in Fort William, Scotland’s outdoor sport centre, where we will see the towering peak of Ben Nevis, Britain's tallest mountain. Soon we follow the Caledonian Canal through the beauty of the Great Glen.
We’ll drive the entire length of mysterious Loch Ness, so keep a careful watch just in case! There is a stop at Urquhart Castle where you can visit this picturesque ruin which overlooks the deepest part of the loch. Here you can also enjoy a short cruise on the loch before making the short journey to Inverness.
Overnight: PentaHotel, Inverness (or similar) (3 nights)
Day 3 - Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Excursion
There’s an exciting day in prospect as we head for the lovely Island of Skye. Our first stop is in the little village of Achnasheen which is surrounded by spectacular scenery. Next there is a scenic drive through Glen Carron to enjoy. Along the way we’ll stop to admire the panoramic views over Loch Carron.
Soon we are crossing "over the sea to Skye”. This famous island is known for its wild and beautiful landscapes of deep lochs and jagged mountains. This is a land that has had a harsh history, with Norse invasions, fierce clan battles and the tragic Highland Clearances of the 19th Century. The stories that you will hear will be even more stirring as you drive through this dramatic scenery!
The main stop of the day will be in the colourful fishing port of Portree which sits around a pretty harbour. Later we’ll have wonderful views of the Cuillin Mountains, considered by many to be the finest in Britain!
We return to the mainland and Iconic Eilean Donan Castle is next. This picturesque castle stands on a little island at the confluence of Lochs Duich and Alsh. There is a stop here so you can enjoy the views and take a tour of the castle. Soon we are heading through Glen Shiel, a spectacular valley where the "Five Sisters of Kintail" mountain range soar skywards. The final part of our journey takes us to Invermoriston then along the banks of Loch Ness to Inverness.
Day 4 - John O’Groats and the Far North Excursion
Today we have a day of nature, history and scenic beauty as we travel to John O’Groats and the Far North. Our east coast route offers beauty, solitude and a wealth of history. We’ll discover ruined brochs of the Iron Age people to the carved stones left by the mysterious Dark Aged Picts.
We head for the Cromarty Firth where, hopefully, we will catch a glimpse of the local seal population. The attractive village of Golspie boasts a railway station that was built for the 3rd Duke of Sutherland who lived in nearby Dunrobin Castle. High above the village is a huge statue to the first Duke who infamously evicted some 15,000 of his tenants to make way for sheep farming during a sad time in our history called the "Highland Clearances”. We will learn more as we travel northwards.
The traditional industry in this part of Scotland was fishing and as such many attractive harbours were built where the fishing boats shelter to this day. We’ll make a stop so you can enjoy a harbourside stroll.
The northern coast of Scotland offers a rich variety of scenery from tall storm swept cliffs to gentle sandy bays. After an "I was there” photograph at John O’Groats we travel to remote Duncansby Head where a lighthouse stands guard over the surrounding cliffs. Duncansby is rich in birdlife including Guillemot, Kittiwakes and, the most famous residents, Puffins (until late July).
Day 5 - Inverness - Edinburgh - London
It’s an early start as we transfer to Inverness Railway Station to catch the famed "Highland Chieftain” train to London. This "iron road” will take you through the Cairngorm National Park before climbing to reach Slochd Summit. As the train leaves Aviemore look out for the high peaks of the Cairngorm Mountains in the distance.
Soon we’ll reach the Druimuachdar Pass, the highest summit in the British rail network before descending towards the gentle scenery of Perthshire. Look out for white-washed Blair Castle, the home of the Duke of Atholl. From Perth the train continues to Gleneagles, built to serve the nearby 5 star Gleneagles Hotel, then to Stirling and Edinburgh.
From Edinburgh the train will follow the same route as your northbound journey. Your tour will terminate at London (Kings Cross) Station around 15:54 hrs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Freestyle Train Tour?
This carefully planned semi-independent tour will stretch your holiday time to the max, without making you feeling rushed. A unique combination of travel by train, comfortable accommodation and quality sightseeing will give you extra time to explore Scotland in greater detail. All the documentation you need, including your rail tickets, will be emailed to you. Just print these out and you are good to go. Any questions or if you need your documents early - just email or call us, we’re here to help. On the tour you’ll travel independently by train to and from London. We’ll make sure you have a reserved seat and we’ll send you a comprehensive itinerary, so you know what’s happening at any time during your tour, as well as helpful city guides for you to download to your smart-device. Accommodation is provided in comfortable 3-star hotels that are just a short walk from the railway station and are convenient for sightseeing and the tour departure points. A buffet breakfast is included in the cost of the tour. The sightseeing tours that are included as part of this package are led by experienced driver/guides who will provide an entertaining and informative commentary in English. Transportation will be in comfortable air-conditioned coaches.
What options are available on this tour and what is the cost?
Admission fees are not included in the cost of the tour so to complement your itinerary you can choose to participate in these exciting options:
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness Cruise
Visit hauntingly beautiful Urquhart Castle, once one of Scotland’s largest castles. The castle boasts a commanding presence overlooking the loch. After time to explore the castle and admire the views take to the water for a cruise on Loch Ness. Please note that for operational reasons it’s not possible to visit Urquhart Castle only.
The cost of the ticket is £19 per adult and £15 per child.
Eilean Donan Castle
The link above will give you more information on this attraction as well as current prices. On some tours discounted prices are available to tour passengers - your driver/guide will provide more information if this applies. Please note that not all attractions take payment by credit/debit card so it is recommended that you carry sufficient cash should you plan to make a visit.
What are the train times?
Subject to availability we will make a reservation for you on a train departing London (Kings Cross) Station between 07:00 hrs and 08:00 hrs (arrival time in Edinburgh between 11:22 hrs and 12:20 hrs). The return journey will depart Inverness at 07:55 hrs (arrival time in London (Kings Cross): 15:54 hrs). If you leave Inverness on a Sunday the departure will be at 09:40 hrs (arrival in London at 17:52 hrs)
I’m an independent spirit, will I enjoy your tours?
Almost certainly. Our Freestyle Train Tours are designed to have as much free time as possible. We have designed our tours to combine the freedom of independent travel with the cost advantages of group travel. In particular we think that our relaxed excursions from Inverness will appeal to those who enjoy time on their own to enjoy their own pursuits.
Will I see puffins?
The best time to spot puffins is from late April to late July. We recommend bringing binoculars with you as they can be difficult to spot, as for much of the time they are in burrows where they lay their egg.
- 4 nights hotel accommodation
- Location: Edinburgh (1) and Inverness (3)
- Scottish/Continental breakfast (4)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- Hop-on, Hop-off tour of Edinburgh
- Full day tour to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands
- Full day excursion to Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye with a local driver/guide
- Full day excursion to John O’Groats and the Far North with a local driver/guide
- Standard class train tickets from London to Edinburgh and Inverness to London with seat reservations
- Customised tour itinerary & Official Edinburgh and Inverness Guides
- Service charges and taxes
- Admission charges
- Meals, snacks or items of a personal nature
- Gratuity to your driver/guide
From Kings Cross Railway Station
London N1 9AL
Check-in: 06:30 hrs
Tour Departs: 07:00 hrs
Tour Returns: 15:54 hrs
Child discount applies to children aged 3 to 15 years inclusive.
We’re sorry but children aged under 3 years cannot travel on this tour.
Photo-ID may be requested to confirm discount entitlement.
IMPORTANT: Once booked this tour cannot be changed or cancelled
The price of this tour includes hotel accommodation with en-suite bathroom.
The times shown above are for guidance only. The train times for your journey will be shown on your tickets and itinerary.
In order to give you maximum flexibility admission fees are not included in the cost of this tour.
Please see the FAQ section for more information on this tour.