Find yourself entranced by the scenes of Scotland as you ride aboard the world-famous West Highland Line, visit ancient castles, ferry to beautiful islands and immerse yourself in the rich culture of the region on this week-long tour from Glasgow.
About the Tour
The idyllic surroundings of coastal Scotland await your exploration on this rail tour. Glasgow is both the beginning and the ending point for this journey, and in between, we take two magnificent journeys aboard the West Highland Line, spend four nights in a castle from the 1800s, visit two islands, peruse historic buildings and lovely gardens, and enjoy the tastes of Scotland. Beginning in Glasgow, we board the West Highland Line and spend the day traveling through the Scottish Highlands to coastal Oban. A coach takes us inland to Stonefield Castle, our home base for the next four days. Daily excursions offer a glimpse at Scotland’s West Coast, including the Isle of Islay and its distilleries, the village of Tarbert, the Isle of Bute, Inveraray Castle and Crarae Gardens. Enjoy plenty of free time to explore the sites and offerings of each destination and immerse yourself in the culture through lore, food and drink. The best of Scotland awaits.
Your vacation start or end can be tailored to meet your travel needs.
- Standard Class rail
- 6 nights' hotel accommodations
- 12 meals including 6 dinners and 6 breakfasts, including 1 farewell dinner in Stonefield Castle
- Journey on the West Highland Line
- The Isle of Islay
- Visit to Crarae Gardens
- Excursion to Mount Stuart with afternoon tea
- Guided tour of Inveraray Castle
- Stonefield Castle on Loch Fyne
- The services of a professional Tour Manager
Day 1 - Meeting in Glasgow
Arrive in Glasgow, and transfer to the 4-star Indigo Hotel, where you meet your tour manager. Enjoy free time to begin your explorations of this bustling city before returning to the hotel this evening for dinner with your fellow travelers. Overnight Glasgow. (D)
Day 2 - Glasgow to Stonefield Castle
One of the world's most spectacular scenic railroad lines, the West Highland Line - known as the “Iron Road to the Isles” - is our guide today. From Glasgow, we travel to the boast at Oban, surrounded by idyllic bay scenery. During your leisure time here, you may wish to visit the War & Peace Museum, which details the history of the area, especially its pivotal role as a naval port during World War II. Alternatively, tour McCaig's Tower. With a design inspired by the Roman Colosseum, this tower is the focal point of the town that provides wonderful views of Oban and its harbor. Of course, no tour to Oban is complete without a visit to the Oban Whiskey Distillery, and the Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel are also within walking distance. Later, we travel by coach to Stonefield Castle for the first of four nights. Overnight Stonefield. (B, D)
Day 3 - Isle of Islay
This morning we sail from nearby Kennacraig to the beautiful Isle of Islay, the southernmost island in the Inner Hebrides. Marvel at the striking views of the rugged coastline as we cross the open water on the Calmac Ferry. On arrival in Port Ellen, we transfer through the craggy grassy plains to Bruichladdich, where we enjoy a guided tour of the distillery and sample its world-famous single-malt Scotch whisky. Islay is one of five whisky distilling locations in the country whose identity and heritage is protected by law, and the Bruichladdich distillery is one of the eight working distilleries on the island.
Later, we continue across the heart of Islay and make a brief stop in Port Askaig before boarding our ferry to Kennacraig. A coach takes us to Tarbert, where upon arrival, you are at leisure to explore the charming Scottish village. Built around an inlet to the nearby Loch Fyne, this destination features an ancient 13th-century castle, a charming harbor surrounded by colorful homes and a vibrant heritage. This evening, we return to Stonefield Castle for dinner. Overnight Stonefield. (B, D)
Day 4 - Mount Stuart
Today, a short ferry crossing takes us to the Isle of Bute, where we visit one of the world's most spectacular Victorian Gothic mansions, Mount Stuart. The ancestral home of the Marquesses of Bute was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson for the 3rd Marquess of Bute in the late 1870s. The house is the seat of the Stuarts of Bute, direct male-line descendants of John Stewart, the illegitimate son of King Robert II of Scotland, the first Stuart King.
The main part of the house provides a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture and features stunning red stone walls, a Marble Hall with a map of the stars on the ceiling and an elaborate Marble Chapel, complete with a spiraling spired tower. The two wings of the home are built in a contrasting Georgian architectural style and continue to impress with their luxurious furnishings and innovative design. Outside, 300 acres of gardens offer a glimpse at the living history of Mount Stuart, as some of the smaller gardens were first planted over 300 years ago. We enjoy an afternoon tea here, relaxing on the charming grounds of this heritage home. Overnight Stonefield. (B, D)
Day 5 - Inveraray Castle & Crarae Gardens
A scenic drive takes us to Inveraray Castle, the imposing ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll, this morning. During our guided tour, we explore the lavish rooms and learn about the folklore and legends that have shaped this region of Scotland. The 18th-century Gothic Revival castle is surrounded by 16-acres of verdant gardens, which we also admire. Following, enjoy free time in the nearby town of Inveraray on the western shore of Loch Fyne. During your explorations, learn about prison life in the 1800s at the historic Inveraray Jail, listen to the pleasing brass acoustics at the Bell Tower, learn about the lives of early inhabitants at Argyll Folk Museum or simply admire the historical architecture of the town. In the afternoon, we take a coach to Crarae Garden - a lovely Himalayan-inspired garden that features cliffs, waterfalls and an impressive collection of flora. The day concludes as we join for a farewell dinner. Overnight Stonefield. (B, D)
Day 6 - Return to Glasgow
The day’s journey begins as we transfer by coach to Oban at the edge of the Highlands. From here, we retrace our route to Glasgow, enjoying another spectacular journey on the West Highland Line. Overnight Glasgow. (B, D)
Day 7 - Tour Conclusion
Our Scottish adventure concludes after breakfast. (B)
Hotel Indigo, Glasgow
Glasgow's Hotel Indigo is a boutique 4-Star establishment based in the former Scottish Power building and decorated with the work of local artists. Hotel Indigo offers air-conditioned rooms with a telephone, an LCD satellite television, radio alarm clock with an iPod docking station, a walk-in rainfall shower, hairdryer, free Wi-Fi and a complimentary mini-bar. The hotel has a health and fitness center and the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse. The Hotel Indigo was awarded 'Glasgow Hotel of the Year' at the 2012 Scottish Hotel Awards.
Stonefield Castle Hotel, Stonefield
Stonefield Castle was built in 1837 for Mr. Charles Campbell, who - according to legend - inherited the site from the disgraced Constable of Tarbert after the previous building fell into disrepair. Little has changed since the castle was completed; its grand interiors of wood paneling, ornate ceilings, and marble fireplaces have been carefully maintained. Many of the original furnishings have also been very well preserved and blend with the modern conveniences. The castle is also surrounded by acres of private woodland gardens, which include a private island in Loch Fyne.
Scotrail is operated by Abellio and links the main cities in Scotland. On these trains, we see some of the most famous sights and scenes in Scotland, including Loch Lomond. Customers taking the service to Fort William and Mallaig travel over the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct, an incredible feat of railroad engineering that has been most famously featured in the “Harry Potter” films. Customers heading west to Oban pass the Falls of Lora and Kilchurn Castle.
use the Scotrail service, traveling in Standard Class, on early tours that use the West Highland Line in Scotland. Scotrail is operated by Abellio, and links the main cities in Scotland, taking us through some of the most stunning scenery in the world. On these trains, we see some of the most famous sights in Scotland, including Loch Lomond. For customers taking the service to Fort William and Mallaig, we will travel over the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct, an incredible feat of railroad engineering that has been most famously featured in the 'Harry Potter' films. Other customers may be going west, to Oban, where you will pass the Falls of Lora and the atmospheric Kilchurn Castle on your journey.
West Highland Line
Also known as “the Iron Road to the Isles,” the West Highland Line takes passengers through some of the world's most beautiful and dramatic landscapes. In fact, the line has twice been voted the “World's Best Rail Journey” by readers of Wanderlust magazine. Traveling through the world-famous Highlands, the train begins its journey in Glasgow and presents highlights such as Loch Long, Loch Lomond, charming isolated villages during its route. The West Highland Line splits into two branches once past the tiny hamlet of Crianlarich: One that continues to Fort William and Mallaig and the other that travels to Oban.