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Explore the Scottish Highlands by steam
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 SS Sir Walter Scott has been piloting tourists over Loch Katrine for more than 100 years and is one of only a few surviving screw-driven steamers in service today. She retains her original engines, now using smokeless solid fuel, and many passengers enjoy pressing their noses against the viewing pane to watch the triple expansion steam engine. The scenery around the loch is breathtaking - at its northern end is Glengyle, the birthplace of Scottish outlaw and folk hero Rob Roy.
The PS Waverley, which has been out of service throughout 2019, is hoped to be back in action by 2020 in time for you to enjoy a spectacular ride on board. Failing that, you will take a boat trip on Loch Lomond, crossing the mountain pass known as the 'Rest and Be Thankful' before descending to the shores of Loch Fyne. Lunch will be served at Inveraray Castle, which has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell, since the 17th century, and this will be followed by an eye-opening tour of the site.
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.
Reasons to book
Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel
SS Sir Walter Scott
A steam journey on the Jacobite
The Falkirk Wheel
Loch Lomond and Inveraray Castle
- 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)
- Sailing Loch Katrine on the SS Sir Walter Scott
- Travel 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 4-star MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa where dinner with wine will be served in the evening.
Day2Fort William to Mallaig on the JacobiteFort William, United Kingdom
Today, following an early start, you 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 you 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 you'll enjoy champagne as a welcome drink on arrival in Fort William. Following this, you'll return by coach to the hotel for dinner.
Day3Loch Lomond/ Inverary Castle tourLoch Lomond, United Kingdom
Today following breakfast we will head for Tarbet on the banks of Loch Lomond, Britain's largest inland body of water, and depart on a 90-minute cruise with full commentary. As we cross to the far side of the loch we hear the story of 'Rob Roy' MacGregor who was born by Loch Katrine in the 17th century and lived at Inversnaid here on the banks of Loch Lomond. After fighting in the Jacobite Rising he became a respected cattleman but defaulted on a loan and was branded an outlaw - legends abound of his secret prison and hiding place in local caves.
We then cross the mountain pass known as the 'Rest and Be Thankful' and descend to the shores of Loch Fyne, a long fjord-like sea loch. After lunch in Inveraray (included) we visit Inveraray Castle, which has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell, since the 17th century. The house is a mostly mid-18th century neo-Gothic design. Designers who worked on the house include Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt and Robert Adam; the interior includes a number of neoclassical rooms created for the 5th Duke by Robert Mylne.
Day4Loch Katrine on the SS Sir Walter ScottLoch Katrine, United Kingdom
Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for a cruise on the steam ship SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine. The Sir Walter Scott is the only surviving screw steamer in regular passenger service in Scotland. The grand old lady has been sailing majestically on Loch Katrine since 1900. She was launched in 1899 and today retains her original engines, which are powered by steam using smokeless solid fuel.
After 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.