Bagpipes play, the whistle blows and The Royal Scotsman sets off from Edinburgh along Scotland's east coast. Its Classic Journey touches on so much that makes Scotland great, starting with the wide, sandy beaches of Montrose, and the stark, granite architecture of Aberdeen - all surrounded by lush, rolling hills. Glen Ord Distillery, on the edge of the Black Isle peninsula is a beautiful spot to stop and alight for a little whisky tasting: the malt is exceptional - as its numerous awards attest.
The route towards Kyle of Lochalsh, on the west coast, is arguably one of the most scenic in the world, leading past Loch Duart - famous for its salmon - and the ancient Torridon mountains. Disembark in the sheltered harbour village of Plockton, with its bobbing boats and extraordinary palm trees, and explore its charming waterfront.
Perhaps enjoy a boat trip to spot seals in the bay, or take a bracing walk to Duncraig Castle to soak up the magical vistas of mountain ranges, clear waters and the Isle of Skye. Visits to a number of magnificent buildings are included in the tour, such as the multi-turreted Ballindalloch Castle, in Speyside, which boasts a picturesque parkland golf course, and Glamis Castle, where HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, spent her childhood years.
Resembling a French château rather than a medieval fortress, the castle's exciting, sometimes bloodthirsty, history is matched by its spectacular setting in the fertile valley of Strathmore. The Italian gardens are also not to be missed. You will take away enduring memories of Scotland as the train wends its way back to Edinburgh.
Enjoy classic Highland activities: fishing, boat trips to spot wild seals, and dining on fabulous local fare.
THE 5 DAYS/4 NIGHTS ITINERARY
DAY 1: Travel north, crossing the Firth of Forth via the magnificent Forth Railway Bridge, through Fife. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon tea as you pass Arbroath, Montrose and Aberdeen and continue on to Keith for an informal dinner.
DAY 2: Breakfast is served as the train leaves Keith and travels through the Highlands' capital, Inverness. Disembark at Muir of Ord to visit Glen Ord Distillery. Later, enjoy a delicious lunch as the train heads towards Kyle of Lochalsh. Guests alight in Plockton to explore - perhaps take a boat trip to see wild seals or enjoy a wee dram in the Plockton Hotel. Spend the night on board in Kyle of Lochalsh. Formal dinner followed by entertainment in the Observation Car.
DAY 3: After breakfast you can choose to visit Eilean Donan castle before the train heads north to Inverness, then continue south to Carrbridge where you can disembark and explore the romantic Ballindalloch Castle. The night is spent on board at Boat of Garten on the private Strathspey Railway. After a formal dinner, our Highlander regales guests with tales and weaponry displays.
DAY 4: The day begins with a visit to the stunning Rothiemurchus Estate, where fishing, clay-pigeon shooting or a tour of the estate can be enjoyed. Rejoining the train at Kingussie, lunch is served during the journey south through Blair Atholl and Pitlochry to Dunkeld, where you disembark for a visit to Glamis Castle. After rejoining the train in Perth, relax and enjoy an informal dinner. Overnight stay on board in Stirling.
DAY 5: After breakfast the train heads back to Edinburgh and the end of the adventure.