2 Incredible Highland and Steam Train Travel Tours
Recommended | Highland and Steam Train Tour
When you visit the Scottish Highland, there are some activities which you simply must experience! One of the best experiences awaits those who go on the Highland and Steam Train travel tours.
The Highland and Steam Train Travel Tours
The Highland and Steam Train travel tours depart from Inverness and Edinburgh. You could select your departure point to suit your itinerary.
Which ever departure point you select, your tour encompasses picturesque views of the Highland with several stops for photo opportunities. The magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct awaits where you could see the Jacobite Steam Train, made famous by the wizardry world of Harry Potter chugging away on the Viaduct. Itinerary for each tour differs as the route dictates what highlights are covered.
The West Highland and the Jacobite Steam Train is undoubtedly one ofBritain’s most scenic train journeys. The train ride take travellers on a nostalgic journey through misty lochs and sweeping glens with mountains in the backdrop. The route passes Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain and Glenfinnan Viaduct.
The trip between Fort William in the West Highland and Mallaig on Scotland’s west coast is 135 km (84-mile) round-trip. However, on this tour, it is a one-way journey, from Mallaig to Fort William.
if you are a Harry Potter fan or if your kids are, then this is a train ride that must be experienced. As for steam train enthusiasts, you know you want to be on this Highland and Steam Train tour as soon as you possibly can!
Ensure that you…
Read each itinerary before selecting what suits you best.
PLAN AHEAD: Train rides/tours available between May and October.
Georgina: I love going on guided tours especially when I am on my first visit to a destination. I find tours to be great value for money activities and an excellent tool to get the best overviews of a region.
I went on a number of small group tours when I visited Scotland. Safety precautions were in place.Guides are Scottish who have first hand knowledge of the regions I visited. They shared fascinating stories of legends and history of the Highland, both the bad and the ugly! With this overview, and time on my hands, I explored specific areas of interests for a more personal experience.
My trip to Scotland was self-funded, and none of the activities were sponsored in any way. All opinions, views and experiences are my own which I happily share with youto inspire you to visit this magical land.
Depart Inverness early and begin your journey along the world-famous Loch Ness, stopping for photo opportunities. Your journey continues West, and visit the Commando Memorial which overlooks the Nevis Range; home to the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
Next, set your sights upon the Jacobite Steam Train as it crosses the iconic arches on the Glenfinnan Viaduct, before taking the stunning “Road to the Isles.”
Take the opportunity to enjoy fresh seafood in the fishing town of Mallaig, at your own expense. After lunch, board the Jacobite Steam Train and enjoy a scenic journey to Fort William.
The beautiful scenery continues into the evening with a stop in Fort Augustus to see the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness up close.
You arrive back into Inverness around 8:00 pm.
Steam Train ride
Local Scottish guide
Roundtrip transportation to and from central Inverness
*Always check what is provided by each tour operator. Information is correct at time of writing but may be subject to change/modifications by the respective tour operators which TTS has no control over.
**Featured photo: Get Your Guide
For Independent Travellers seeking an Adventure
Travelling by train is one of the best ways to travel around Britain and UK. The UK has one of the best rail networks in the world. It is well connected from city to city and a swift journey along beautiful countryside is quite an experience to be had.
However, the train network is a little complex with 28 national train companies operating throughout the UK. To avoid confusion as to which train companies to select, it is best to focus on the route you want to travel on rather than the train company to travel with. For this reason I use Trainline in Britain and UK for all of my travels within the country. From local trips to cross-country adventures, I Trainline it! I use Trainline to book for Europe travels as well when not using an Interrail Pass.
Inverness | A Complete Guide to the Capital of the Highlands
When I visited Inverness, autumn was beginning to dress herself for the season. Though the first leaves tumbled to the soil, most remain green, glowing with new hues. The subtle golden and earthy hues took a sweet turn all along the River Ness. The freshly calm air, soothing sounds of the waters and the sight of a salmon fisherman in the River were moments of serenity – moments that awaits every visitor.
Though a small city in Scotland‘s northeast coast. Inverness offers a wealth of discovery, so much more than a base to visit the infamous Loch Ness, or the surrounding attractions. From fine food, historic architecture, green spaces and Highland tales, Inverness is perfect for short getaways. Plan your itinerary to Inverness with this Complete Guide to the Capital of the Highlands so that you do not miss the highlights of the city and things to do around the cultural city of the Highlands.
A brief history of Inverness
Inverness, means the mouth of River Ness as it is located at the best crossing place of the River Ness where it meets Moray Firth. It flows from River Ness at the east end of Glen Mor, commanding the route system of northern Scotland.
This small city is also known as the Capital of the Highlands. Once an ancient settlement, Inverness had played key roles in Scottish history. One of the historic events was the visit of St Columbo in 565 AD when he converted the King of the Picts to Christianity. Then, in 843, the Kingdom of the Scots and the Picts were united to create the Kingdom of Alba which has developed into Scotland as we know today. In 1040, Macbeth is said to have murdered King Duncan at his castle in Inverness.
The real story though, Macbeth killed King Duncan I in August 1040 in a battle near Elgin, Morayshire.
Learn more about “Macbeth” – one of Shakespeare’s most important works that also reflects the tensions, battles and destruction that took place during this era.
The early Modern Ages sees tension escalating between the Highlands and the Scottish Crown, heightened when Mary Queen of Scots was refused entry to the castle in 1562 by the Highlands governor, who was later executed.
Inverness lies 7 metres above sea level and the climate is warm and temperate. Rainfall is significant with precipitation even during the driest months.
The average temperature is 8.0 °C | 46.4 °F. Precipitation here is about 740 mm | 29.1 inch per year.
3 | Culture
Inverness is the cultural centre for a number of events in the Scottish Highlands. Every September the city of Inverness hosts the Northern Meeting, for bagpipe players and lovers. Another major event is the annual City of Inverness Highland Games that can be traced back to 1822. Two summer music festivals are held each year, the Rockness and the Tartan Heart Festival, that bring a variety of music to the city.
Inverness is connected to three long-distance walking paths:
i | The Great Glen Way – Connects to Fort William along the Great Glen | 127 km (79 miles) | 5-6 days
ii| The John O’Groat’s Trail – connects to John O’Groats along the coast;
iii| The South Loch Ness Trail – Connects to Fort Augustus along the southeast side of Loch Ness.
6 | Geographical location
Inverness is located in the northeast coast of Scotland, at the mouth of River Ness. It lies on the Great Glen Fault. There are minor earthquakes and the last one to affect Inverness was in 1934.
The City of Inverness is located at:
Latitude: 57° 28′ 44.69″ N | Longitude: -4° 13′ 26.33″ W
Click on the image to view a larger scale | Google data
Highlights and Things to do around Inverness | Complete Guide to the Capital City of the Highlands
Here is an outline of the things to do in and around Inverness to be included in your itinerary.
1 | River Ness Walk
A great way to explore the cultural city of the Highlands is to stroll along River Ness. The beauty of this walk along the banks of the River is that one minute you are in the busy streets of the city, and the very next you are in the “countryside”. If you are lucky, you may spot some seals bobbing up and down between the two road bridges in the centre of Inverness.
The Ness Walk route starts from the castle and follow the riverside path along the Great Glen Way. There are a number of footbridges along the length of River Ness allowing you to cross from one side of the river to the other.
Along the route, look out for some iconic landmarks such as the Inverness Cathedral and the Inverness War Memorial. You might also see a salmon fisherman standing in the river – apparently, and the story goes that around here years ago, a fisherman caught a massive salmon weighing 29kg (64lbs) but returned it to the waters after having it photographed
Georgina suggests: Walk upstream alongside one side of the River Ness to Ness Island and returning down the other bank. This allows you to have two different experiences of some magnificent views.
Inverness Cathedral is a cathedral dedicated to St Andrews. The Cathedral is not a large one but the serenity is one to be experienced. It is built of pink freestone from Conon Quarry near Dingwall. Dressed in warm cream coloured stone from Covesea Quarry near Lossiemouth, in Moray. It’s roof is green Westmorland slates and has a pine ceiling. Spend a moment or two here while on your walk along River Ness.
Address: Ardross St, Inverness IV3 5NN | Opening hours: Generally from 10 am.
3 | Ness Island
Walking upstream, you will reach Ness Island. Ness Islands is a collection of small islands in the middle of the River Ness. These small islands are connected to one another by a series of suspension foot bridges that gives a Victorian feel, sturdy and well built.
4 | Inverness War Memorial
A walk along River Ness on the east bank as it heads towards the southern outskirts of Inverness is the Inverness War Memorial. The memorial is dedicated to the men who fought in the Burma Campaign during World War II.
5 | Inverness Botanic Gardens and Nursery
A little beyond Ness Islands, is an oasis of calm and beauty. The Inverness Botanic Gardensand Nursery was formerly known as the Floral Hall is an explosion of colour, texture, impressive glass houses and subtropical horticultural gem.
Tea & cakes in the Cafe is highly recommended.
Entry: FREE | Hours: 7 days a week – 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Georgina suggests: With the Ness Walk, allow yourself up to 2-3 hours for a complete circular walk. You can make this walk as long or as short as you like as there are a number of bridges that allows you to shorten your walk if necessary, so you could return to your starting point. Alternatively, you could extend your walk along the Great Glen Way.
6 | Cameron Highlanders Memorial
An impressive statue and monument dedicated to the Cameron Highlanders who lost their lives during the war. Erected in 1893, the monument stands testament to the 142 soldiers from Inverness who lost their lives in the Egypt and the Sudan conflict (1882-1889). Names of the soldiers and references to the many campaigns are also engraved thereon. This memorial is situated immediately outside of the Inverness Railway station. The Station Square was purposefully chosen as the statue’s location to ensure maximum exposure and reverence from visitors to the Capital of the Highlands.
7 | Inverness Castle | Capital of the Highlands
The beautiful Inverness Castle is made of red sandstone building and sits on a hill overlooking the River Ness. A castle had been on this site since 1057 but it had been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The present castle dates back to 1836, designed by architect William Burn.
Today, most of the Inverness Castle is closed to the public except for the Castle Viewpoint in the north tower. The Castle is home to the Inverness Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court. However, the Court is due to move to another location soon. There are plans to open up more of the castle for public viewing.
The Inverness Castle Viewpoint gives 360° view of Inverness and the Scottish Highlands.
June 2021 prices:
Costs: Adults – £6.00 | Children – £4.00 for 25 minutes timeslot. Visits must be pre-booked.
8 | The Victorian Market | Complete Guide to the Capital of the Highlands
Spend a few minutes at the Victorian Market, Inverness.
The original market was built in 1870 but was destroyed by fire in 1889. The only life lost was a faithful dog which refused to leave a shop it guarded. The market was rebuilt in 1890-1891. This picturesque market is home to a fish market (accessed from Church Street) as well as a wide selection of cool craft shops and independent boutiques which are great for unique souvenirs. There are a number of eateries as well for some freshly baked pies and cream cakes.
9 | Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness
When in Inverness, the one place not to be missed and even more so if you are a literary lover is Leakey’s Bookstore on Church Street. Leakey’s is the largest secondhand bookstore in Scotland and is independently owned. Sprawling with 100,000 books or so from ceiling to floor, organised into sections albeit not in any great order. Leakey’s Bookstore is a paradise for both young and old alike. As it covers all genres, as well as antique prints and maps, any one of the books can easily leap off the shelves and find it’s way into your purchase basket.
Located in a former 17th century Gaelic church, the bookstore retains most of the Church’s features. The only exception being an iron spiral staircase connecting the two floors that was added after it opened in 1979. Complete with wood burning fire that heats the shop, visitors to Leakey’s will have an amazing experience, for sure 🙂
Address: Church St, Inverness IV1 1EY
Opening hours: 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM | Monday – Saturday
10 | Meet the Unusual Greeter at Inverness Town House
The unusual greeters, wolves once roamed the Highlands and many places still bear their Gaelic name, madadh-allaidh. They greet visitors to the Town House to remind us of the wild landscapes that the Highlands is known for.
The wolves join an Inverness bestiary along with the camel and elephant on the city’s coat of arms, unicorn, falcon and gargoyles that you may see around the city.
While all of the above can easily be accomplished in one day, you may also wish to explore the surrounding areas of Inverness. The following are some suggestions for you which can easily be done as part of a day or as a day trip.
Day trips from Inverness, Capital of the Highlands
Take a break from the city and explore the magical land of castles, myths and extraordinary landscapes that will leave you with moments of speechlessness. The Scottish Highlands offers endless panoramic views of Scotland’s natural beauty which you would not want to miss! Here are some suggestions for you:
1 | Dolphin Tour
I did a boat trip with Dolphin Spirit Inverness. Dolphin Spirit Inverness boat trip takes you into the Moray Firth in search of dolphins, sea seals and a variety of sea birds. Each trip lasts about an hour fifteen minutes and run four times a day. I did not see any dolphins, but I guess such is luck 🙂
2 | Loch Ness, Fort Augustus
Loch Ness needs little introduction. It is the most famous loch in the world, home to Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. Located just a short distance from Inverness, you could either drive, cycle or hike the South Loch Ness Trail, connecting to Fort Augustus along the southeast side of Loch Ness.
3 | Urquhart Castle
This beautiful castle ruins stands on the banks of Loch Ness, and apparently it is one of the best places to spot Nessie. There are boat tours and visitor centre here as well.
Embark on a beautiful day trip to Loch Ness from Inverness for an unforgettable complete Loch Ness experience. Discover picturesque villages, ancient summerhouse and go on scenic walks.
Learn more about the complete Loch Ness experience and secure yourself a spot on this day tour > > Loch Ness Experience
4 | Culloden Battlefield
Visit the moorland where it all happened that changed the course of world history – The Battle of Culloden ended the Jacobite cause. There is a visitor centre and audio guides.
Go a little further and experience the amazing scenery of Scottish Highlands
5 | Isle of Skye
Experience the amazing scenery of this beautiful isle in one day – especially the spectacular rock formations of the Quiraing and Trotternish Ridge. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
Experience the amazing scenery of this beautiful isle either in one day or over several days. The spectacular rock formations of the Quiraing and Trotternish Ridge are breathtakingly beautiful and should not be missed.
While in Inverness, give yourself plenty of time also to explore the bars and the many restaurants for a Scottish culinary delight.
Places to Eat and Drink in Inverness | Complete Guide to the Capital of the Highlands
Scotland is renowned for its unique delicacies and dishes. These include haggis and black pudding to porridge with a wee drum and shortbread. The Scottish Highlands is a great source for prime steak, organic vegetables, freshly caught kippers, salmon and mussels. It’s a gastronomical heaven. Inverness offers a great selection but the one “dish” I have heard a lot of is the Mac n cheese pie – apparently you will either love it or hate it! I haven’t tried, so I can’t comment.
Here are some suggestions of restaurants and bars for you to try:
Inverness is a small and bustling city that is steeped in history, surrounded by landscapes untouched by time where monster myths and ancient mysteries are waiting to be discovered. With misty lochs, wildlife and fabulous traditions as well as warm hearty food, Inverness is a delight from the moment you arrive. I sincerely hope this guide has given you an inspiration to visit (if you haven’t already) what has famously become known as the Capital City of the Highlands.
If you have visited Inverness, do share your experiences – I would love to learn more. Do return to this page as I will continue to add more places to visit and experiences to enjoy as I shall be returning to Inverness to explore further.
Have a splendid time in Inverness. As always, please get in touch on email@example.com if I could help plan your itinerary.
Common Language: English. Gaelic is spoken by 1.3% of the population mostly in the west and in the Highlands.
Currency: £ – Pound (GBP)
Capital City: Edinburgh. Home to the first fire brigade in the world, and is the second largest city in Scotland. The largest metropolis in Scotland is Glasgow.
High season: Summer (July – August)
Religion: Christianity – 40% Church of Scotland. 15% Roman Catholic and 6% other Christian denominations. Minorities include Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh with a quarter of the population has been recorded as having no religion.
Social courtesies: Handshaking is customary when introduced to someone for the first time. When visiting someone’s home, a small gift such as flowers or a box of chocolates is appreciated.