The Grand Tour of Scotland — new for 2020 — takes guests on an in-depth exploration of the country’s history and culture, all by private luxury train.
The Belmond Royal Scotsman will be your home for this 8-day, 7-night journey. IRT travelers love the intimate group size — maximum capacity is 40 guests – the delightful meals served in the beautifully-laid dining car, and the open-air platform at the end of the train.
IRT Exclusive: Click here to see our video of Society President Eleanor Hardy’s trip on the Belmond Royal Scotsman.
Day 1: Edinburgh – Keith
Board Belmond Royal Scotsman at Edinburgh Waverley Station and travel up the scenic east coast. Enjoy afternoon tea as you admire the changing views through your window. Later, listen to an expert whisky lecture and enjoy a tasting. Tonight, an informal dinner is served, after which you’re invited to the Observation Car for entertainment with a traditional Scottish flavor. Stable overnight in Keith.
Day 2: Keith – Tain
Following breakfast, alight in Nairn to visit the magnificent stronghold of Cawdor Castle, which has been the home of the Thanes of Cawdor since 1370. Return to the train for lunch as your journey continues west towards Inverness and then north to Tain.
Late this afternoon, disembark for a visit to Glenmorangie Distillery, producer of one of the world’s favorite malt whiskies. Highly polished, swan-necked copper stills ensure only the lightest, purest spirit is used in the exceptional dram, which you are invited to sample during a private tasting at the end of your tour. Return to the train early evening and linger over an informal dinner.
Day 3: Tain – Georgemas Junction
Enjoy breakfast as we travel north to Dunrobin Station, where you alight for a visit to Dunrobin Castle, the largest great house in the Northern Highlands. Family seat of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland, the castle resembles a French château with its fairytale spires and turrets. In addition to a tour of the castle and grounds, your visit includes a birds of prey demonstration and morning tea and coffee.
Rejoin the train for lunch as it travels north towards Wick. In the late afternoon, visit the Castle of Mey, the former Caithness home of HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was so entranced by its isolated charm she bought the abandoned castle with a view to restoring it. In the evening there is an optional visit to Dunnet Bay Distillery, producers of Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka, for a tour and tutored tasting. Situated in the eponymous bay, a sand-duned haven for birdlife and beach combers, the distillery is the most northerly in mainland Britain.
Tonight we stable at Georgemas Junction. After a formal dinner, enjoy an evening of convivial entertainment in the Observation Car.
Day 4: Georgemas Junction – Inverness
Early this morning, the train travels to John O’Groats, where you disembark to board the passenger ferry to the Isle of Orkney. During a day’s tour of the many intriguing sights, you’ll travel over the Churchill Barriers – a series of four causeways – visit the Italian Chapel, the Stone Age settlement of Skara Brae, the Ring and Ness of Brodgar, Kirkwall Cathedral, and the ruined Earl’s Palace.
Return to the Royal Scotsman to enjoy a late informal dinner as we journey towards our overnight stabling in Inverness.
Day 5: Inverness – Kyle of Lochalsh
This morning, as we head towards Kyle of Lochalsh, we travel on what is arguably the most scenic route in Britain. The line passes Loch Luichart and the Torridon mountains, which are so old geologists believe they were formed before any life began. It continues on through Achnasheen then begins the climb to Luib summit and Achnashellach forest before descending to Strathcarron. Here you disembark to visit Attadale on the west coast, a huge, 30,000-acre estate that has been home to the Macpherson family since the 1950s. During your tour, you’ll explore Attadale’s renowned Water Garden, Japanese Garden, and Sunken Garden. Enjoy tea, coffee, and scones with your hosts as they welcome you into their home, built over 250 years ago by the Mathesons and later bought by the Schroder banking family, who collected rhododendrons and laid out garden paths.
Soak up the views on the return coach journey to Kyle and enjoy lunch on board the train. In the afternoon, visit Plockton, where you can join a boat ride to observe the wild seals in the bay. Our return takes us past majestic Eilean Donan Castle. Don’t miss the chance for a photo opportunity in front of one of Scotland’s most iconic sights!
Back on board, prepare for a formal dinner as the train stables overnight in Kyle.
Day 6: Kyle of Lochalsh – Boat of Garten
We leave Kyle early today and travel to Aviemore. Alight for an afternoon visit to Rothiemurchus Estate in the stunning Cairngorms National Park, where you can choose to enjoy activities such as clay pigeon shooting or fishing, or embark on a guided walk through the stunning landscape. Return to the train at Boat of Garten on the private Strathspey Railway. After an informal dinner, make your way to the Observation Car, where our entertaining Highlander paints a colorful picture of Scottish heroes and gives a dramatic insight into Highland life through the centuries.
Day 7: Boat of Garten – Dundee
Your journey this morning takes you to Dundee on the banks of the Firth of Tay. Cross the historic Tay Bridge before disembarking in Leuchars for a visit to St. Andrews on Fife’s east coast. Though the town is known globally as the home of golf, the vast majority of visitors come here to enjoy the historic buildings, spectacular beaches, and vibrant arts scene. It’s also home to the University of St Andrews which, dating from 1410, is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. Your private tour includes a visit to the magnificent ruins of the medieval castle and cathedral. Climb to the top of St Rule’s Tower for breathtaking panoramic vistas. After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy time at leisure to explore more of the town’s attractions, stroll in the quaint cobbled streets or browse the charming boutiques.
Rejoin the train in time to prepare for an evening tour and celebratory formal dinner at Glamis Castle. Seat of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, Glamis was the childhood home of the late HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The multi-turreted, fairytale castle houses many treasures, including rich tapestries, furniture, and priceless works of art. Steeped in legend and myth, its dramatic history embraces alleged murderers, monsters and gamblers, stories of whom may be revealed during an illuminating tour. Back on board the train in Dundee, join us for farewell drinks in the Observation Car.
Day 8: Dundee – Edinburgh
Breakfast is served as the train leaves Dundee and crosses the Tay Bridge into the former Kingdom of Fife. It continues to Edinburgh, where your journey ends.
2020 Dates:July 3-10
For approximate exchange rates, visit http://www.xe.com.
Prices are per person.
Pricing varies based on availability. Prices are subject to change daily. Contact us to confirm pricing and availability.
Note: Prices are per person and include all table d’hôte meals, all alcoholic and other beverages, all sightseeing excursions as shown in the itinerary and accommodation on board based on two people sharing a twin compartment or one person in a single.
This very special tour only runs once annually, and is limited to 40 guests. Book early to avoid disappointment!