Readers of Wanderlust travel magazine regularly vote the West Highland Line as the best railway journey in the world. We created this unique holiday so that you can relax and take in the glorious scenery before crossing over the sea to Skye.
Day One: From Glasgow to Fort William
You start your rail journey in Glasgow travelling north on the Scotrail regular service, past Loch Lomond, over Rannoch Moor and past Ben Nevis, to reach your first base in the highland village of Spean Bridge.
With views toward Ben Nevis, this family-run small hotel is a popular restaurant serving organic, home-cooked food and also has comfortable but informal accommodation. On arrival, you will be greeted with fresh tea and home-made scones. Settle into your room to unwind, or take a stroll down the quiet country lanes for amazing views of Ben Nevis, Loch Lochy and the Great Glen and work up an appetite for dinner. There are comfy sofas and cosy corners in the sitting rooms with a library of books begging to be looked at and, when the need arises, real fires to warm your toes. This is a perfect haven for a relaxing break whatever time of year, where the pace of life slows the minute you arrive.
The hotel is around a mile from the rail station - and you will be picked up and dropped off as required. There are many walking trails close to the hotel, including the Great Glen Way as well as the famous and impressive Commando memorial. Fort William is only 17 minutes away by train.
Day Two: by Steam train to the Isle of Skye
This morning, travel on by train to Fort William then join the Jacobite Steam train for the final section of the West Highland Line; your route will include the spectacular Glenfinnan viaduct and finish at Mallaig, the ferry port for Skye. On the way you will also visits Britain's most westerly mainland railway station (Arisaig), then pass close by the deepest freshwater loch in Britain (Loch Morar), the shortest river in Britain (River Morar) and finally arrive next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe - Loch Nevis.
After a short time in Mallaig, it's over the sea to Skye on the ferry with a taxi waiting for you on the other side to whisk you to your waterside hotel.
Sheltered by a gently curving bay, your charming whitewashed hotel sits right on the seashore, enjoying expansive views over the Sound of Sleat to the wilderness of Knoydart. This, the most southerly part of Skye, is an area of great natural beauty often referred to as the "Garden of Skye" thanks to its' abundant bird life and profusion of wild flowers. This is a Gaelic-speaking community and the bar is a convivial meeting place for the locals who mix happily with hotel guests - often to the accompaniment of traditional music and Gaelic song in front of the roaring log fire.
Twelve bedrooms (six in the Garden House) are decorated with pretty cotton and linen chintzes and there are four new suites in the recently restored stables, each enjoying superb views across the water to the lighthouse of Isle Ornsay. Candlelit meals in the wood-panelled dining room reflect the estate's culinary riches, with wonderful shellfish and game featuring prominently on the menu. Langoustines are landed at the old stone pier and oysters come from the hotel's own oyster beds.
Day Three: Relax on Skye
On the little harbour right beside the hotel is the headquarters of "The Gaelic Whiskies", where you can sample an excellent range of connoisseur brands before browsing in the nearby gallery and craft shop.
The surrounding area of hills, moorland, woodland and seashore offers endless opportunities for walking and taking in the magnificent sea views.
Though there is a reasonable local bus service, to see more of the island we would strongly recommend hiring a car for the day or booking our expert local guide for a half or full day tour - ask us for more details.
Today you retrace your steps, back to the ferry then across to Mallaig for an early afternoon crossing and journey by the regular train via Fort William to Glasgow, arriving in the evening.