Inverness Castle and the River Ness

© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Inverness to Thurso & Wick by rail

The far north of Scotland is home to unspoiled landscapes perfect for a relaxing break, but it's still easy to get there by train. Trains run north from Inverness to Thurso and onto Wick in just four and a half hours.

Use the Spirit of Scotland Travelpass on the Far North Line, which gets you 4-days unlimited travel over 8 consecutive days for £149, or 8-days unlimited travel over 15 consecutive days for £189.

Start / Finish
North Highlands / Wick
  • Days
  • Distance
    128 Miles

    204.8 km
  • Transport
  • Main theme
Whisky distilleries
Romantic castles
Areas covered

Day 1 Dingwall & Invergordon


After leaving Inverness Rail Station, the train sweeps along the southern bank of the Beauly Firth.

Far North Line stops to get off and explore:

  • the charming village of Beauly
  • the market town of Dingwall, which sits at the head of the Cromarty Firth
  • Invergordon, the mural town of the Highlands
  • Dingwall North Highlands

    The pedestrianised main street through Dingwall, with the clock tower of the town hall visible.

    © VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

    Dingwall has been an important place in the Highlands, ever since the arrival of the Vikings in Scotland in 800 AD. It has an ideal position at the head of the Cromarty Firth which has seen it prosper from the North Sea oil boom.

    Dingwall is a quaint market borough, thanks to its attractive High Street lined with red-sandstone buildings and excellent cafés and shops.

    Find out more about Dingwall
    Look out for

    Dingwall Museum sits in the town's most striking building, which has a central tolbooth tower dating back to 1730.

    North Highlands, IV15 9JD
  • Invergordon Invergordon

    Invergordon Off the Wall

    Invergordon in Sutherland is a former naval base and stopping point for cruise passengers coming into the Highlands.

    The town has become an outdoor art gallery thanks to a local collective called Invergordon off the wall. On the side of several buildings you'll find large bright murals illustrating the social and industrial heritage of Dingwall.

    Take a short bus journey west or the train to visit Dalmore Distillery, which has produced a single malt whisky since 1839.

    Find out more about Invergordon
    Invergordon, Invergordon, IV18 0AE

Day 2 Tain to Dunrobin Castle


The Far North Line moves towards the coast now, heading along the Dornoch Firth as far as Culrain and across the Kyle of Sutherland. You'll then head inland again through endless expanses of rolling farmland. At the last moment, the line veers east again to meet the North Sea.

This part of the route is lined with several rural town stations, all great to explore.

Look out for:

Scotland's oldest Royal Burgh, pretty villages and romantic castles

  • Tain Tain


    © Glyn Satterley, all rights reserved.

    Tain is a scenic and historic town, renowned for its 18-hole links golf course designed by Tom Morris. The town has amazing 19th century architecture including the Tain Tolbooth, Royal Hotel and St Duthac's Church. It's also home to Glenmorangie Distillery.

    Explore further across the Dornoch Firth - don't miss the 13th century cathedral and Royal Dornoch Championship Golf Course.

    Find out more about Tain
    Tain, IV20 1SD
  • Culrain Culrain


    The west entrance of the delightful Carbisdale Woods sits just outside Culrain, and has lovely views of the Kyle of Sutherland, as well as the Dornoch Firth.

    Take the leisurely footpath into the Kyle of Sutherland via a footbridge to Invershin, where there are bus services available to and from Lairg, Bonar Bridge, Ardgay and Tain.

    A little further west of Culrain is a hamlet called Hilton. From there you can walk or cycle via forest tracks to Ardgay and into the delightful Strathcarron.

    Find out more about Culrain
    Time to explore
    3 hours
  • Rogart Rogart

    Loch Fleet

    Rogart sits beside Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve and Balblair Wood.

    A haven for all kinds of indigenous species from deer to pine martens, take the circular walk hugging the shoreline, inhaling the fragrant Scots pine-scented air while gazing at distant mountain views.

    Many more shy creatures can also be found in the enchanted Balblair Wood among shady glades, and clearings carpeted with wildflowers and berries. It also offers a playground for mountain bikers with two waymarked cycle paths filled with plenty of twists and turns.

    Find out more about Rogart
    Time to explore
    3 hours
    Something a bit different

    Sleeperzzz is a first-class train carriage that has been converted into a family-friendly hostel.

  • Dunrobin Castle Golspie

    Dunrobin Castle

    © VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

    The magnificent Dunrobin Castle is the largest house in the Highlands. Crowned with a myriad of fairytale towers and turrets, Dunrobin is unique for resembling a vast French château rather than the baronial stronghold typical of the Highlands. It has a whopping 189 rooms, making it one of the biggest homes in the country.

    Dunrobin Castle is also one of Britain's oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s, and was home to the Earls and, later, the Dukes of Sutherland. 

    The 3rd Duke was the country's wealthiest aristocrat and a confirmed train fanatic. He personally financed the extension of the Far North Line as far west as Lairg, the heart of what was then Sutherland's profitable sheep-farming industry.

    Its lavishly furnished interior, sprawling formal gardens, and grounds which stretch as far as the sea, are nothing short of breathtaking.

    Find out more about Dunrobin Castle
    Did you know?

    The castle was used as a naval hospital during the First World War, and then as a boys' boarding school from 1965 to 1972. It's even said to have a ghost...

    Dunrobin, Golspie, KW10 6SF
    Key facilities
    • Accessible Parking Or Drop-off Point
    • Parking
    • Cafe or Restaurant

Day 3 Helmsdale to Wick

Other things you might like

Scotland in your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter and we'll email you with unique attractions, exciting trip ideas and visitor offers.

Get the Scotland newsletter