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This dreamy trip explores the Scottish Highlands by steam train and boat

Country Living (UK) logo Country Living (UK) 5 days ago Alex McFadyen
a train is on the side of a mountain: Country Living has teamed up with Brightwater Holidays to curate an unforgettable journey through the Scottish Highlands by steam train and boat, including the Great Glen, Ben Nevis and Fort William. © Shutterstock Country Living has teamed up with Brightwater Holidays to curate an unforgettable journey through the Scottish Highlands by steam train and boat, including the Great Glen, Ben Nevis and Fort William.

Always wanted to experience Scotland's most awe-inspiring sights while passing over land, sea and loch powered by steam? Listen up...

The Scottish Highlands are a mystical place, where majestic mountains sit next to tranquil lochs, possessing an undisturbed beauty that has inspired poets, artists and musicians for centuries.

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It's for this reason that Country Living has teamed up with Brightwater Holidays to curate an unforgettable train journey through some of its most beautiful sights, while experiencing the genteel luxury of travelling by steam train and boat.

What can you expect from the trip?

Sail to the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift

Beginning at New Port Downie you will sail to the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s first rotating boat lift. A marvel of modern engineering, first opened by the Queen in 2002, it will raise you gracefully from the Forth & Clyde to the Union Canal in just four minutes.

Falkirk Wheel © Shutterstock Falkirk Wheel

Travel down the Union Canal to a 4* spa

After sailing down the Union Canal you will arrive at your accommodation for the next three nights, the stately, four-star MacDonald Forest Hills Hotel & Spa, which underwent an ambitious re-design in 2017.

Pamper yourself in the hotel’s spa or relax on the terrace, and enjoy one of the finest views in the country, gazing across Loch Ard to Ben Lomond. As well as breakfast, you can also look forward to dinner served with wine each evening in the hotel’s impressive dining room.

a body of water surrounded by trees: Macdonald Forest Hills © Adrian Wroth Macdonald Forest Hills

Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig, via Glenfinnan viaduct

On your second day, you’ll take the Jacobite steam train from Fort William, passing by the slopes of Ben Nevis and over the spectacular Glenfinnan viaduct (as seen in the Harry Potter films), to Mallaig, a quaint harbour town where you can enjoy a seafood lunch at one of its charming portside eateries. Make sure to leave room for dessert though, as champagne and chocolates will be served on your return journey aboard the Jacobite.

a large body of water with a mountain in the background: Ben Nevis © Hans Georg Eiben - Getty Images Ben Nevis

Climb aboard the SS Waverley

The final two days of the trip will be spent on water, first aboard the SS Waverley – the last ocean-going paddle steamer plying its trade on the River Clyde. Built in 1946 to replace the 1899 Waverley sunk at Dunkirk, the boat is powered by an immense 2100 horsepower steam engine and is a truly unique way to explore this corner of Scotland.

a large ship in a body of water: Scotland holidays 2019 © Brightwater Scotland holidays 2019

The following day will be whiled away on Loch Katrine, crossing its peaceful waters on the steam ship Sir Walter Scott, taking in the serene and unspoiled landscapes from its deck.


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