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Explore the Scottish Highlands by steam
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For hundreds of years, the wooded hills and glens and the crystal-clear lochs of the Trossachs have inspired visitors from all over the world. On this exclusive four-day holiday, you will travel over land, sea and loch - all powered by steam. Travelling on the famous Jacobite steam train and the SS Sir Walter Scott, you will take in the impressive sight of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, enjoy a unique experience on the world's first rotating boat lift, and pass over the spectacular 21-arch Glenfinnan viaduct, as seen in the Harry Potter films.
The PS Waverley, which was out of service throughout 2019, will be back in action, in time for you to enjoy a spectacular ride on board. You'll also take a voyage on Loch Katrine on the Lady of the Water. The scenery around the loch is breathtaking - at its northern end is Glengyle, the birthplace of Scottish outlaw and folk hero Rob Roy.
In the 1930s, the Forth & Clyde and the Union Canals were linked by 11 locks that took almost a day for a boat to pass through. Nowadays, the Falkirk Wheel, opened by the Queen in 2002, does the job in four minutes. As part of your boat journey, you will experience the world's first rotating boat lift for yourself before sailing along the Union Canal below the historic Antonine Wall to its visitor centre. This UNESCO World Heritage site marked the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire, some 99 miles north of the better-known Hadrian's Wall.
The Fort William to Mallaig railway line is frequently voted the world's greatest railway journey. Your steam train round-trip begins at the southern end of the Great Glen, in the shadow of Ben Nevis at Fort William. Hopping aboard The Jacobite, you will puff past rugged scenery, craggy coastlines and inland lochs, including Loch Shiel, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745. After a stop for local seafood or fish and chips in the port of Mallaig, you will return to Fort William with Champagne and chocolates.
Franceska and John Neeve, from Somerset, who joined the trip this summer, say:
"The train was comfortable and very nostalgic. We all enjoyed the ride. Chugging around the actual bend to see the viaduct was a very exciting moment."
You can read more about their trip here.
Reasons to book
Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel
A steam journey on the Jacobite
The Falkirk Wheel
Loch Katrine cruise
- Three nights' dinner (with wine each evening), and B&B at the four-star Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa, Aberfoyle
- One lunch
- Return flights from London Stansted to Edinburgh
- A ride on the Falkirk Wheel boat lift
- A trip on the Fort William/Mallaig line on The Jacobite steam train (with Champagne and chocolates on the return)
- Cruise on Loch Katrine
- Voyage on the historic PS Waverley
- The services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager
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 four-star MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa where Champagne will be served on arrival followed by dinner with wine.
Day2Fort William to Mallaig on the JacobiteFort William, United Kingdom
Today, following an early start, we 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 us 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 we enjoy Champagne and chocolates on the return journey. On arrival in Fort William we return by coach to our hotel for dinner.
Day3The River Clyde on PS WaverleyKilcreggan, United Kingdom
Today following breakfast we'll head for Kilcreggan where we commence our sail 'Doon ra Watter' on the world's last seagoing paddle steamer, The Waverley* - the last ocean-going paddle steamer plying its trade on the River Clyde. It was built in 1946 to replace the 1899 Waverley which was sunk at Dunkirk and is an extremely impressive sight with its immense 2100 horsepower steam engine. On-board facilities include a self-service restaurant, café, bar and souvenir shop. We will leave the ship at Tighnabruaich and our coach will be waiting to take us back to the hotel, travelling over the "Rest and Be Thankful" and through stunning Argyll scenery. Dinner will be served this evening.
*Subject to confirmation of the Waverley's sailing schedule.
Day4Loch Katrine cruiseLoch Katrine, United Kingdom
Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for a cruise on Loch Katrine, the tranquil loch which serves as Glasgow's water supply. Sit back and relax as we glide across the water and savour the famed charms of The Trossachs, a highly scenic area of lochs, hills and woods.
Following 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.
Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel and Spa
Luxury four-star Scottish retreat
Inspired by one of the finest views in the country, looking across Loch Ard to Ben Lomond in the distance, Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel and Spa underwent a full redesign in 2017. Rooms are designed in continuity with the fantastic landscapes they look out onto. At the spa you can unwind by the pool or enjoy a soothing spa treatment and there are plenty of countryside walks just a few steps away from the property.