Your browser (Internet Explorer {{browserVersion}}) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all the features of this and other websites.
Update my browser

ROYAL SCOTSMAN & REMOTE BRITISH ISLES

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Edinburgh
  • Scottish Highlands
  • Keith
  • Dundee
  • London
  • Isles of Scilly
  • St Kilda
  • Kirkwall
  • Orkney Islands
  • Hamburg

18 Days Expedition Voyage
  • Departing:
  • 7 May 2023 Sold Out

Explore the beauty of Scotland’s Highlands aboard the iconic Royal Scotsman train on an exclusive charter, before joining the small expedition ship Silver Wind for a remarkable cruise around the remote British Isles. Rich history, stunning landscapes and extraordinary wildlife encounters are the essence of this journey, reserved for 36 guests.

Map
The Royal Scotsman
The Royal Scotsman

Ride the Royal Scotsman on an exclusive charter

The magnificent Scottish Highlands’ remoteness is best experienced by train, and the iconic Royal Scotsman is our transport of delight. We spend three nights aboard on this exclusive charter journey, seeing the best of the Highlands and delighting in onboard entertainment.

Edinburgh Castle
Gourmet Dining

Exclusive Welcome Dinner at Edinburgh Castle

What an extraordinary venue for our first dinner together. Edinburgh Castle towers over the city and speaks to centuries of Scottish history. We dine in the splendid surroundings of the Queen Anne Room, at the very top of the castle. To cap off our evening, we enjoy a private viewing of the Scottish Crown Jewels.

Scotland
Puffins

Cruise amid natural beauty and striking wildlife

Seabirds are a notable aspect of our journey. We visit remote places where the delightful Puffin is found in abundance, along with other birds in great profusion. And we have the chance to walk through history and spectacular scenery, as well as Zodiac cruises to get close to the action.

Edinburgh
Orkney Island St Magnus Cathedral

Discover historic Scottish buildings, including Iona Abbey

We travel through places dripping in history, with Iona Abbey at the forefront, having been built in the year 563. We visit churches erected by the Vikings, castles, and lighthouses. And in moving contrast to these majestic buildings, we see the humble cottages abandoned by the people of St Kilda in 1930.

Itinerary

Tour Manager - Suzanne Higman

Tour Doctor - Dr Linda Harris

As Your Tour Manager, Suzanne Higman Welcomes You On This Journey

Your Accompanying Tour Doctor For This Journey is Dr Linda Harris


We arrive after lunch in Scotland’s beautiful capital, Edinburgh, and check in to our historic and luxurious hotel, The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, a city landmark since 1903. Our afternoon is at leisure, so we can enjoy the hotel’s facilities or choose to explore the charms of Edinburgh’s Old Town. This evening, a regal treat awaits as we enjoy our Welcome Dinner in the palatial Queen Anne Room within iconic Edinburgh Castle. A private tour of the Scottish Crown Jewels is also on the menu.

After our hotel breakfast, we take a walking tour through the medieval Old Town and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, we join our home for the next four days, the fabled Royal Scotsman, a Belmond train, which is exclusively chartered by our Captain’s Choice group. The Edwardian elegance of the train’s historic carriages provides the atmosphere of a grand country house. We leave Waverley Station and cross the iconic Forth Railway Bridge. Regarded as one of the great engineering achievements of the Victorian age, it was one of the first cantilever bridges ever built. We are treated to afternoon tea as we roll through the former Kingdom of Fife, arriving in the market town of Keith. We relax over an informal dinner, then retire to the Observation Car for a nightcap and some local entertainment.

We travel west along the Moray Firth towards Inverness, capital of the Highlands. Lunch is served on the way to our overnight destination, Kyle of Lochalsh, along one of Britain’s most scenic rail routes. We pass Loch Luichart and the Torridon Mountains, and climb to Luib summit and Achnashellach Forest before descending to Strathcarron. The train then follows the edge of Loch Carron through Attadale, Stromeferry and Duncraig. We alight in the picturesque fishing village of Plockton, and take a boat trip to see the colony of wild seals and enjoy magnificent views across the bay to the Applecross Mountains. We pause along the way in the Plockton Hotel to enjoy a traditional Highland welcome and a wee dram or two. We meet the train in Kyle of Lochalsh, gateway to the Isle of Skye. After an informal dinner, there is entertainment in the Observation Car.

Breakfast is served as we leave Kyle and retrace our route as far as Dingwall, with enchanting views of Plockton. Disembark in Garve to visit Glen Ord Distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, founded in 1838. Glen Ord continues to malt its own barley and practice centuries-old long fermentation and slow distillation methods. Enjoy a tour of the distillery and a private tasting and nosing session. After lunch on board, we visit the baronial castle known as the ‘Pearl of the North’, Ballindalloch Castle. Surrounded by hills, and with the Spey and Avon rivers running through its grounds, Ballindalloch is the family home of the Macpherson-Grants, and houses a fine collection of 17th-century Spanish paintings, a sumptuous dining room, vaulted hallway and impressive library. We re-join the train in Boat of Garten in the early evening and, as it makes its way to Dundee, prepare for a formal dinner to mark our last night on board. After our celebratory feast, we may feel inspired by our musicians to partake of some lively Scottish country dancing on the station platform.

After breakfast we arrive in Edinburgh and say farewell to the Royal Scotsman before boarding an express train to London Kings Cross Station, arriving mid-afternoon after lunch on board. In London, we transfer to the ultra-luxurious Silver Wind, berthed majestically at instantly recognisable Tower Bridge. We settle into our suites, have dinner aboard, and then spend the night in this unforgettable setting.

The Silver Wind weighs anchor at 6.30am, bound for the Channel Isles. A day at sea allows us to become acquainted with the facilities aboard our ship, spend time reading, visiting the library, attending a lecture, or just relaxing. All meals are served on board.

We dock at 9am in the picturesque capital of Guernsey, St Peter Port. Once French – its original name is St Pierre Port – the town is at least 800 years old.

Here, we choose from four Your World experiences:

— The first is a coastal walk along a part of the island where Renoir painted in the summer of 1883. We enjoy the same views that inspired him, and pass bird-watching hides, World War II bunkers and a monument erected in honour of a former Governor of the island. The walk ends at Jerbourg Hotel and a Guernsey cream tea.
— At La Valette Underground Museum we explore Guernsey's military past and discover the hardships of life under German occupation from 1940-45. The island’s concrete towers, gun emplacements and bunkers were ordered to be built by Hitler as a precursor to an invasion of Britain.
— Our third option is a visit to locations from the novel The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. We walk to a viewing point where, on a clear day, the other Channel Islands and France are spotted, and where, in the book, Elizabeth met her German lover and watched planes flying over to drop their bombs on London. We also visit the Little Chapel, the world’s smallest consecrated church, and a memorial dedicated to locals killed in a German bombing raid in 1940.
—The final option is a guided half-day walk through St Peter Port, followed by a visit to 800-year-old Castle Cornet and its museums. Castle Cornet, which originally was built on an island and is now reachable by a raised walkway, sits on the site of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements and guards the entrance to Guernsey harbour.

We all return to the Silver Wind for its 5pm sailing.

We dock at St Mary’s at 7am. Scattered offshore from England’s most south-westerly point – Land’s End – the Isles of Scilly are home to rich wildlife, and green land sloping to powdery white beaches. Isolated and serene, life here hums along at its own pace in this archipelago's bubble, which enjoys the UK’s mildest climate, and some of its most spectacular beaches.

We have a choice of Your World experiences this morning:

— The first is a scenic walking tour of the Garrison on the isle of St Mary's. We soak up the fine views before visiting Star Castle for refreshments in the 16th-century Castle Dungeon Bar. Star Castle is now a hotel, but it was built as a fortress in 1593. A footpath nearby takes us to Steval Point Battery, which marks the island's most westerly point. On a clear day we enjoy fabulous views over to St Agnes and distant, lonely Bishop's Rock Lighthouse. Following refreshments we explore Hugh Town, the island’s largest settlement, before returning to the ship.
— The second option is a return coastal walk from Hugh Town to Peninnis Head. We pass a Bronze age burial chamber and a defensive gun tower, where there are sweeping views over Hugh Town and across to Samson, Bryher and Tresco, before continuing to Peninnis Head. At the end of the headland we are rewarded with a vista over to the Western Rocks and Bishop Rock Lighthouse before retracing our steps to Hugh Town.

 

The Silver Wind departs at noon for the short cruise to Tresco, and its famous Abbey Garden, home to thousands of exotic plant species from 80 countries. Plant collector Augustus Smith began the gardens in the 1830s on the site of an old Benedictine Abbey. We have the option of visiting the garden with our Expedition Team or independently, crossing by Zodiac to the island. Smith had three terraces carved from the rocky south slope and maximised the benefits of Tresco’s mild Gulf Stream climate, and at all times of the year hundreds of species are in flower. We depart aboard Silver Wind at 6.30pm.

We arrive at Calf of Man at 1pm. The odd name is a mispronunciation of the Old Norse word kalfr, meaning a small island near a larger one. Indeed, the Isle of Man is less than a kilometre away. Once a private sheep run, the Calf of Man was donated as a bird sanctuary and is now owned by the Manx National Heritage, and open to the public except during the nesting season. Its only occupants are the nature wardens during the summer months. Disembark the ship by Zodiac and join the Expedition Team on a birding walk. At least 33 species of seabird breed on the islet annually, including Manx shearwater, Kittiwake, Razorbill and Shag. Silver Wind departs for the Scottish isles at 5.30pm.

Our vessel anchors off the tiny island of Iona at 6.30am, and this morning we have three Your World experiences to choose from, all of which visit the famous Iona Abbey, built by Saint Columbia in 563. A survey carried out in 1549 found that 48 kings of Scotland are buried here, including Duncan, Macbeth's victim.

— Our first option explores the abbey with a short guided tour, followed by free time to visit the museum, which houses Scotland's finest collection of early medieval carved stones and crosses.
— Another choice is hiking with the ship’s Expedition Team, walking past the nunnery and through the village to visit the abbey. Keen twitchers can join an ornithologist and go in search of the elusive Concrake, a bird endemic to Iona. The birding walk is over flat uneven terrain and easy for most to do, but will limit time spent at the Abbey.
— The third option is a stroll through the village towards the abbey, with a focus on how the locals live on this tranquil island.

We sail at noon and anchor off Lunga, the largest island in the Treshnish archipelago, at 2pm. The great attraction of this uninhabited island is the delightful Puffin, which breeds in profusion on the island’s plateau.

We have two Your World experiences from which to choose:

— The first is a Zodiac Cruise along the shoreline to see Puffins and Shags up close, in the water and in the skies above.
— Our other option is a challenging climb and hike to get a closer look at the Puffins. This is an adventurous hike and not for those who are not sure-footed or able to climb over rocks unassisted.
We sail at 8pm.

We anchor off Loch Scavaig, on the Isle of Skye. This morning we can join a hike at the Loch Coruisk, at the heart of the Cuillin hills and the most magnificent of all Scottish freshwater lochs. We pass the River Scavaig and soon get a magnificent full-length view of Loch Coruisk, surrounded by spectacular peaks. Continue along the lake shore to either complete the circuit or retrace your steps after reaching the far end of the loch. At 12.30pm, we sail for the Isle of Canna, anchoring at 2.30pm. Our Your World experience takes us by Zodiac around the island, originally settled by Neolithic people and later by Christian Celtic monks, Norse settlers and various Scottish groups. Canna is a bird sanctuary, with 15,000 breeding seabirds of 14 species. Our cruise offers views of magnificent scenery, with its towering cliffs alive with birds. We are on the lookout for Northern Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Atlantic Puffins and Great Skuas, with the possibility of seeing the majestic White-tailed Sea Eagle. The Silver Wind sails tonight at 8.30pm for the remote St Kilda archipelago.

We wake this morning to the spectacular sight of St Kilda. While endemic animal species are rife, St Kilda has not been peopled since 1930 when the last residents chose to depart an island where life had become unsustainable. Their dwellings are now being restored, with St Kilda the holder of the UK’s only dual World Heritage status in recognition of its Natural Heritage and Cultural Significance – one of only 39 such sites in the world.

This morning choose from two Your World experiences:

— The first explores the abandoned village, with its many stone-built stores known as cleits. Visit the museum in one of the restored houses, which tells the story of the remarkable people who lived in this breathtaking setting, and then have time to explore independently.
— The other option is hiking, with both a strenuous walk or an intermediate one. The strenuous hike is only for the fit and sure-footed – a 3.5-kilometre, two-hour walk over very uneven terrain to the far side of the bay for panoramic views of St Kilda. The intermediate hike takes us closer to the village ruins, up a climb over grassy uneven slopes to a viewpoint directly above the village for a bird’s-eye view.

This afternoon, we cruise around neighbouring Boreray island, home to Britain’s rarest sheep breed, which remained as a wild flock when the last people left St Kida in 1930. We keep watch for these sheep grazing on the hilly slopes, and also view countless birds which thrive on the islands and its two attendant rocks stacks, including Northern Gannets, Northern Fulmers and Atlantic Puffins.

Scattered just off the northern tip of Scotland, Kirkwall is the capital of the Orkney Islands – a scenic archipelago with a deep Viking influence, a revealing pre-historic past and fascinating World War history.

Here, we choose from five Your World experiences:

— First is a coastal walk from Yesnaby to Skara Brae, taking in some of Orkney's most dramatic but more secluded scenery. We walk along cliff tops with our local expert guides, passing Iron Age Brochs, sea stacks and coves as well as pausing to admire the local plant and animal life. The hike ends with a drop down to Skaill Bay and a visit to the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae, beautifully interpreted in the visitor centre. See the remarkable dwellings revealed from beneath the sand dunes by storms only 150 years ago.
— Another option is a photographic tour of the west coast, including the Brough of Birsay, a small tidal island accessible on foot by a small causeway, where Viking influence is strong, and the Yesnaby cliffs. The return to Kirkwall is along the north shore of Scapa Flow, as we hear wartime stories of this much-contested stretch of water.
— We can also choose to discover Orkney treasures with an archaeologist, an immersion in the World Heritage-listed Neolithic Heartland of Orkney. We pass the Standing Stones of Stenness and stop at the Ring of Brodgar, a circle of stones dating back almost 5,000 years, before continuing on to Skara Brae. We also visit Skaill House, Orkney's finest manor, built in 1620.
— The South Isles are the focus of another option, discovering the Churchill Barriers, which were designed to protect Scapa Flow from enemy invasion, and the hand-painted Italian Chapel resourcefully built by Italian prisoners of war out of scavenged construction material. We stop in the fishing village of Burray for a taster plate of local produce including Orkney Bere Bannocks, farmhouse cheese, fudge, cheesecake and a glass of wine or beer. On our return to Kirkwall, we visit the Viking-era St. Magnus Cathedral, which dates to the 12th century.
— The final option is a Seafaring Stromness Nature Walk. We take a coastal path along the seafront, passing spectacular views of the formidable hills of Hoy, plant and sea life as well as derelict gun batteries. We explore the pretty, flag-stoned streets of Stromness and visit its museum or simply enjoy free time.

The tiny Isle of May in Scotland is an important breeding ground for as many as 250,000 seabirds. Here, our Your World experience offers different levels of walks led by the Expedition Team. Highlights are viewing a myriad of breeding seabirds, and historical sites such as The Beacon – Scotland's oldest lighthouse, built in 1636 – and the Main Light, built in 1816. We also see St Adrian's Priory, built by the Abbot of Reading in 1145, where as many as 13 monks lived, supported by lands and tithes from the surrounding mainland countryside. We sail in the late morning for St Abbs, a tiny village and adjacent nature reserve. Huddled on the coast with its small protected harbour, the village was established in the mid-18th century by the local fishing community. Walking tracks and the lighthouse provide excellent opportunities for viewing cliffs with ledges occupied by seabird nests, chicks or adult birds. Fulmars, Cormorants and Puffins also nest here.

The island of Lindisfarne, otherwise known as Holy Island, was a destination for religious pilgrims, and perhaps the holiest site in Anglo-Saxon England. The island has an intertidal boat harbour, a castle, a ruined priory and a village of less than 200 people. Vikings raided the wealthy monastery in 793 in their first major attack on western Europe. The monks abandoned the island for 400 years, before returning to revive the religious centre. The stone ruins of Lindisfarne Priory can be observed near the island’s village. Lindisfarne Castle is small compared to other castles, but you can see how it dominates the island from all directions. It was built in 1550 using some of the stones of the priory and is in good condition. In the early afternoon, we head for the Farne Islands, described by Sir David Attenborough as his favourite place in the UK to see nature at its best. The treeless landscape of these small islands makes viewing of the wildlife and history easy, even from a boat, so today’s Your Word experience Zodiac cruise is ideal. In medieval times the Inner Farnes were home of the hermit bishop Saint Cuthbert. In 676 he introduced laws to protect the Eider Ducks – among the earliest written bird protection laws in the world. Locally, Eider Ducks are known as Cuddy’s in his honour. Historic buildings that can be spotted include St Cuthbert’s Chapel, a stone lookout tower and two standing lighthouses. With 100,000 breeding seabirds and thousands of seals, the natural reputation of the Farnes is clear.

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what we’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on our reading or simply enjoying the fresh air on deck, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to the busy days spent exploring shore side.

We depart the Silver Wind at 9am in Hamburg, after an extraordinary voyage around the British Isles. Now, we explore Germany’s second-largest city – the Old Town and the idyllic Alster, the harbour and the World Heritage-listed Warehouse District, where the landmark Elb Philarmony building has risen among a host of new developments. A stroll along the harbour basin gives us an impression of one of Europe’s most important ports. Lunch is at a local restaurant before we check in to our historic hotel, Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, which dates to 1897. Tonight, we gather for a final Farewell Dinner.

After breakfast at the hotel, we have time to pack before a late morning transfer to the airport.

Brochure

Keep Exploring

Icebergs and penguins

Antarctic Expedition & Patagonian Frontiers

The expedition ship Silver Cloud skirts the icy shores of the White Continent, our voyage one of supreme comfort. Unrepeatable scenes are ours to savour, as Antarctica’s ethereal mysteries play out before us. 
El Camino trail aerial, Spain

The Crux Of The Camino

We’ve handpicked the most epic legs of this ancient Christian pilgrim route for you to explore the essence of El Camino.
Margaret River

Safety & Flexibility

Learn about our new booking conditions and additional measures we are taking throughout our journeys.