Since I do not have a driver’s license (and even if I did – not really wanting to drive in the left side of the road) I was thrilled to learn that Scotland is so easy to experience with train. Here you can find my guide to how it is done and what to see on the way.
You need to book the train pass in advance
We bought the Spirit of Scotland travel pass that lets you travel almost anywhere anytime in Scotland with 8 travel days within 15 days. The ticket is only available for tourists outside of the UK and can’t be bought once your are there. It needs to be pre-booked at BritRail right here
Finding accommodation along the route
Finding places to stay close to the train stations was also no problem at all. I booked all our accomodations from home at booking.com. They were a mix of hotels and private owned B&Bs. The B&Bs definitely made our stays a little more personal and colorful. One place felt like staying at you Scottish grandmother’s place, another had an Elvis corner with a live size Elvis on display!
Day 1 – Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat
Our trip started and ended in Edinburgh. Although city sightseeing is not really my thing I really liked Edinburgh. It has a kind of dark medieval feel to it and a charm entirely of its own. Apart from the castle high above the city Edinburgh has its very own mountain. Its called Arthur’s Seat and climbing it to see the city from above is really a must.
Arthur’s Chapel (or what is left of it)
Arthur’s SeatOn top of Arthur’s Seat
Day 2 – Pitlochry and the Cairngorm mountain
After a stop at Stirling Castle we stayed in the flower town Pitlochry and from there visited the Cairngorms National Park. We hiked all the way to the windy top of the Cairngorm mountain and were rewarded with a grand view over the mountain range. If you are lazy there are also a funicular train running up and down the mountain.
On top of the Cairngorm mountain
Day 3 – Inverness
Inverness is close to Loch Ness so if you want to go and look for the monster Inverness is the place to be. We only had the time to take a evening walk down the river Ness that runs through the city and eventually turns into the lake. A pretty park with little islands to explore.
Day 4 and 5 – Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye blew our minds. No wonder the island is such a photography darling. Isle of Skye is named after the constant clouds hanging over the island (in Old Norse skye means cloud) Nevertheless – the day we visited the weather was remarkably sunny.
There are no trains on the island so you have to hop off the train in Kyle of Lochalsh and take the bus. Find the route map here and the timetable here. It is possible to see the island by bus if you have enough time, but we had only two days and once we got here it was clear that the buses simply ran too infrequent for us the see much. Instead we hired a local mini bus tour to take us around the island and it was the best decision ever! We saw almost the entire island in only one day.
The next morning we also had time to take a boat from Portree out into the bay to look for sea eagles. I captured my very first eagle on camera and it was an amazing experience for a bird lover like me.
The accommodations on Isle of Skye are very limited so plan it in good time! We were forced to stay at the extremely expensive but very average Cuillins Hills Hotel in Portree.
The Fairy Pools
The Fairy Pools on Isle of Skye is a series of little pools and waterfalls. The brave ones can take a dip in the cold water!
The Kilt Rock
The Scots think this rocks looks like the pleats on a kilt. With the Mealt waterfall running down in the foreground it is such a stunning spot.
This was my favourite Isle of Skye view – the beautiful area Quiraing. I hope to come back here one day to hike in the area!
The Fairy Glen
Isle of Skye is apparently all about the fairies. Fairy Glenn is a miniature landscape that looks like it has been made by little magical fairies.
Day 6 – Fort William
From Isle of Skye we took the bus to Armadale and from there the ferry to Mallaig. Here you can once again board the train. Our next stop was Fort William. Fort William is the gateway to Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in Scotland. We went on a beautiful hike into the Nevis Gorge to the Steal waterfall. Find the map and the trail description here. There are also many other trails to choose from in this beautiful area.
Lower falls. This is where the bus stops and the trail to the Steal waterfall begins.
The Nevis gorge
Me walking to the Steal waterfall through the Nevis Gorge.
Day 7 – back to Edinburgh and home
After Fort William we took a long train day back to Edinburgh and stayed here for another night before flying back to Copenhagen. All in all a very successful trip with so many beautiful nature sights in only 7 days.
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