Explore Scotland's scenic landscapes

Friday, 10 August 2018

Take a circular route through some of Scotland's most spectacular landscapes. Your Scottish Grand Tour travel pass lets you see more for less.

In a nutshell

The pass covers 4 days’ travel over 8 consecutive days for just £89. You’ll have time to sit back and take it in, and get out to explore. Mountains. Lochs. Forests. The Scottish Grand Tour travel pass lets you see all this and more, on some of the world’s most scenic rail journeys. Here’s what’s included:

  • Unlimited travel — on the West Highland Line, Kyle Line and Highland Main Line for any four days in a period of eight consecutive days
  • Ferry travel — from Mallaig on the mainland to Armadale on Skye
  • Coach travel — on Skye, between Armadale and Kyle of Lochalsh
  • Deals for the kids – under 5s go free, and there’s a 50% discount for children aged 5-15
  • Hop on, hop off – break your journey however you like
  • No booking needed – just turn up and travel
  • And even more – your pass includes travel on Edinburgh Trams and Glasgow Subway. Plus, money off local heritage railways and loch cruises.

Need to know:

  • One-way travel – clockwise or anti-clockwise around the Scottish Grand Tour route, but not both ways
  • Travel times – travel Standard class at any time, except on the Highland Main Line and between Glasgow and Edinburgh on weekdays before 09.15.
  • Travel period – your 8-day travel period starts on the first day you use your pass

Where to go and what to do

Begin your journey in Edinburgh or Glasgow, then set off around the country clockwise or anti-clockwise, the choice is yours. There’s lots to see; we’ve picked out a few of our favourites to help you decide.

Discover Edinburgh

Start in the capital – A UNESCO World Heritage Site where history lurks around every corner. Roam the castle grounds and gaze upon the crown jewels of Scotland, scale Arthur’s Seat for extraordinary views, and squeeze down the Real Mary King’s Close to uncover the hidden history beneath the city’s famous streets.

Pitlochry and Killicrankie

A two-hour train ride from Edinburgh takes you to the quaint town of Pitlochry. Killiecrankie – the site of the opening battle of the first Jacobite uprising in 1689 – is just a short bus journey from Pitlochry station.

Its gory past now masked, the wooded gorge around the River Garry is a haven of tranquillity – the ideal place for a stroll. Admire the views from the footbridge and stand at Soldier’s Leap – the spot where a Redcoat famously leapt 18 feet across the raging river to flee his Jacobite pursuers.

Nip back to Pitlochry and enjoy the boutique shops and cafes – the Old Mill Inn just off the main street is a great spot for lunch – before hopping back on the train.

Adventures in Aviemore

Aviemore is around one hour from Pitlochry by train. It’s in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park – one of the UK’s largest areas of protected countryside.

The views from the train are spectacular as you travel alongside the River Spey, pass multiple lochs, and marvel at the peaks of Ben Macdui and Braeriach — the second and third highest mountains in the UK.

From Aviemore you can really take in the views. Take the funicular train up Cairngorm Mountain – the vantage point from 3,500 feet is unforgettable.

Inverness and Culloden

You’ve seen where the Jacobite rising started, now visit where it all ended in 1746. Hop off the train at Inverness – the capital of the Highlands – and catch a 30-minute bus to Culloden Battlefield.

The award-winning battlefield centre will immerse you in the story. Historical re-enactments, cinema screenings, and an impressive range of Jacobean artefacts are all on offer. Don’t forget to step out onto the windswept moor where the battle happened over 250 years ago.

Back in Inverness, there are plenty of options for entertainment –restaurants, bars, theatres and more make this a great place to stop for a night.

Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye

From Inverness, take the train to Kyle of Lochalsh, snaking along the shore of Loch Carron. You might want to pay a quick visit to the iconic Eilean Donan castle, about 20 minutes from Kyle of Lochalsh by bus. Then take the coach over the Skye Bridge and down to Armadale in the south of the island.

If you’ve got time, cycling the Ord Loop is a popular way to see the island. Start and end in Armadale and take in 18 miles of lochs, moors, beaches, and even some castle ruins. After that, you’ll feel you’ve earned a trip to The Three Chimneys, Skye’s Michelin-star restaurant.

Return to the mainland by ferry from Armadale to Mallaig, where you can re-join the West Highland Line.

Glenfinnan​

From Mallaig, the train to Glenfinnan takes just under an hour. The West Highland Line is considered one of the best in the world, and you’ll soon understand why – the views are incredible.

It’s tempting to stay on at Glenfinnan station in anticipation of the famous viaduct – immortalised in the Harry Potter films. But that will come soon; it’s worth stopping to uncover a few other Scottish treasures first.

Glenfinnan Monument is a commemoration of Jacobite clansmen and offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on the stories you heard at Killiecrankie and Culloden. The monument sits at the head of Loch Shiel surrounded by rugged hills – ‘picturesque’ doesn’t do it justice.

Then it’s time to hop back on the train, camera ready, for crossing the Viaduct – the first of many stunning sights on the four-hour journey to Glasgow.

Bustling Glasgow

Finish up in Scotland’s largest city. The perfect place to move the focus of your trip from the past to the present. Glasgow is packed full of options for contemporary dining, arts and culture.

Some highlights? Why not take in some modern art at the Tramway, experience adventurous theatre at Tron, or catch some live music at the famous Barrowland Ballroom? Then cap it all off with a nightcap at one of the trendy bars and restaurants in the Finnieston or Merchant City areas.

From the still of the Highlands to the buzz of the city, Glasgow is the perfect place to end your adventure – and start planning the next one.

Take the Scottish Grand Tour

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