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ROYAL SCOTSMAN & REMOTE BRITISH ISLES

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Edinburgh
  • Kyle of Lochalsh
  • St Kilda
  • Isle of Skye
  • Isle of Lunga
  • Calf of Man
  • Isles of Scilly
  • Guernsey
  • Bath

18 Days Expedition Voyage
  • Departing:
  • 28 Apr 2025 New release

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

Journey Map

We arrive after lunch in Scotland’s beautiful capital, Edinburgh, and check into 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, get to know your fellow guests during a Welcome Dinner at our hotel.

After breakfast at our hotel, we take a walking tour of Edinburgh’s city centre. Following lunch at a local restaurant, we then adjourn to Waverley Station, where we join our home for the next four days, the fabled Belmond Royal Scotsman, chartered exclusively for us. The Edwardian elegance of the train’s historic carriages provides the atmosphere of a grand country house. We depart Waverley Station and cross the iconic Forth Bridge. Regarded as one of the great engineering achievements of the Victorian age, the railway bridge was one of the first cantilever bridges ever built. We are treated to afternoon tea as we roll through the former Kingdom of Fife, soon to arrive 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, then 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 its colony of wild seals, enjoying magnificent views across the bay to the Applecross Mountains. Pausing along the way in the Plockton Hotel, enjoy a traditional Highland welcome and a wee dram or two. We then meet our train in Kyle of Lochalsh, gateway to the Isle of Skye. After an informal dinner, there is entertainment to be enjoyed in the Observation Car.

Breakfast is served as we leave Kyle of Lochalsh 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 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 rejoin 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.

We farewell the Royal Scotsman, disembarking for a walking tour through Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town. Following lunch at a local restaurant, a choice of Your World experiences is available:
 
— Visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The king’s official residence while in Scotland, parts of this grand home date to the 16th century. Learn about the palace’s links to Mary, Queen of Scots, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, and discover how it is used during official engagements today. 
 
— Alternatively, stop in at the stately home of Hopetoun House. Resting on the shores of the Firth of Forth, this is one of the best examples of the work of Scottish architects Sir William Bruce and William Adam. Opulent gilding and classical motifs pervade the building’s interior, reflecting the grandeur of the early 18th century. Later, at South Queensferry, admire views of the famous Forth Bridge.
 
You may prefer to take the afternoon at leisure, discovering Edinburgh on your own terms. 
 
This evening, a gala dinner is served within the palatial Queen Anne Room of the iconic Edinburgh Castle. A private tour of the Scottish Crown Jewels is also on the menu.

After breakfast, we board the Royal Yacht Brittania, formerly the vessel of the Royal Family. Obtain glimpses of the royal bedrooms, the state drawing room, and the state dining room, which once played host to prime ministers and presidents, as well as members of the royal family. After lunch, we transfer to the ultra-luxurious Silver Endeavour. We settle into our suites before enjoying dinner on board.

We soon arrive to the Farne Islands. Choose to join an optional Zodiac cruise with our Expedition Team to survey the islands’ coastlines. Keep an eye out for the various birdlife here, including the instantly recognisable puffin. The island of Lindisfarne, otherwise known as Holy Island, was a destination for religious pilgrims, and is considered among the holiest sites in Anglo-Saxon England. The island has an intertidal boat harbour, a castle, a ruined priory and a village of less than 200 people. 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.

Our vessel traverses the waters of the North Sea to arrive at Fair Isle, between Orkney and Shetland. At least 345 species of bird have been recorded here, more than anywhere else in Britain. This includes breeding colonies of arctic skua and great skua, which we are a chance to see during our visit. Just 60 people reside on this tiny island, and we have the pleasure of being welcomed to join them for tea in the community hall. While here, we also visit the George Waterston Memorial Centre & Museum, which has displays on the area’s birdlife, as well as its fishing and social history. The museum also features many of the knitting traditions and patterns that the island is known for.

We wake this morning to the spectacular sight of the St Kilda archipelago. While endemic animal species are plentiful here, St Kilda has not been peopled since 1930, when the last residents departed. 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. Take the opportunity to join one of the following three experiences. These options will be presented to you while aboard the ship.

Join your Expedition Team aboard a Zodiac for a cruise of St Kilda’s rugged coastlines. Admire the two distinctive sea stacks, which also accompany the remote archipelago.  

Step ashore and set out on a hike, during which you will absorb further striking panoramic views across St Kilda. 

Our ship’s onboard kayaks are also available for alternative perspectives. Guided by your Expedition Team, enjoy close-up views of St Kilda’s soaring cliffs and grey seal population. 

This afternoon, we cruise around Boreray island, one of the smaller islands of the archipelago. The island is home to Britain’s rarest sheep breed, which remained as a wild flock following the withdrawal of St Kilda’s last residents. We keep watch for these sheep grazing on the hilly slopes, while also viewing countless birds which thrive on the islands and their attendant sea stacks. Northern gannets, northern fulmars and Atlantic puffins can be seen here in abundance.

Reaching the remote Shiant Islands, we are captivated by the tall, hexagonal columns which populate the landscape. These ancient rock formations are the result of volcanic magma that has cooled and eroded over millions of years. The islands are also home to a range of seabirds, among them black-legged kittiwakes. Take the opportunity to join one of the following experiences.

Join the Expedition Team and discover the rugged geology and seabird colonies from aboard a Zodiac. 

Perhaps you’d prefer the more relaxed pace of a kayak to take in more of the spectacular coastline and wildlife, including white-tailed eagles, Atlantic puffins and grey seals. 

Perhaps the best known of Scotland’s islands, Isle of Skye possesses some of the country’s most rugged and dramatic scenery. We anchor in Dunvegan, situated within a sheltered loch on the north-western coast. We board Zodiacs and land on the shores occupied by the Castle of Dunvegan. The castle has been owned by the same family for eight centuries. Inside the castle, we see priceless heirlooms, which have been passed down to the Chiefs of MacLeod, some from as back as medieval times.

Arriving once more on the Scottish mainland, we acquaint ourselves with the tiny village of Inverie. A choice of experience awaits you here. 

Set out from Inverie for a trek along peaceful paths that wind their way along charming hillsides.

Otherwise, the secluded shorelines of the Knoydart Peninsula make for a perfect setting in which to paddle aboard a kayak.

Our vessel anchors off the tiny island of Iona early this morning. Explore Iona Abbey, one of Scotland’s most treasured historical sites, during a short, guided tour. Afterwards, visit the museum, which houses the country’s finest collection of early medieval carved stones and crosses. 

Boarding our ship once more, we cruise north to Lunga, the largest island in the Treshnish archipelago, enjoying lunch on board. The great attraction of this uninhabited island is the delightful puffin, which breeds in profusion on the island’s plateau. Explore further, joining your preferred activity.

Cruise the shoreline aboard a Zodiac, watching for puffins and shags. 

You may otherwise choose to step ashore and join a challenging hike, crossing the island’s hills to get a closer look at the resident puffins. Please note: This is an adventurous hike and not for those who are not sure-footed or able to walk over rocks unassisted. Hiking poles are recommended to assist with negotiating uneven surfaces. 

You may prefer to set out in a kayak to see the puffins and shags from the water. 

Later, we set sail for the Calf of Man.

The Calf of Man’s name is the result of 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. It is open to the public, except during the nesting season. During the summer months, its only occupants are the nature wardens. A choice of optional experiences are available during your time here.

Board a Zodiac for a cruise of the Calf of Man, keeping watch for its many species of seabird that nest along the island’s rocky cliffs. 

Alternatively, enjoy the slower pace of a kayak to absorb the scenery of this beautiful nature reserve. 

Afterwards, we return to our ship for dinner, before cruising southward to the Isles of Scilly.

We dock at Tresco this morning. Scattered offshore from England’s most south-westerly point, known as 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 explore the famous Tresco Abbey Garden, home to thousands of exotic plant species from 80 countries. Plant collector Augustus Smith began cultivating the gardens in the 1830s, upon the site of an old Benedictine Abbey. Three terraces were carved from the rocky south slope, maximising the benefits of Tresco’s mild Gulf Stream climate. Hundreds of species are in flower here year-round. We have the option of discovering the garden accompanied by our Expedition Team or exploring independently. We then return to our ship by Zodiac.

We dock this morning in St Peter Port, the picturesque capital of Guernsey. Formerly French – its original name is St Pierre Port – the town is at least 800 years old. Choose from the following four optional experiences, which offer various perspectives of the region.

Head off on a coastal walk along a part of the island where Renoir painted during the summer of 1883. 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 with a Guernsey cream tea. 

At La Valette Underground Museum, explore Guernsey's military past and discover the hardships of life under the German occupation. The island’s concrete towers, gun emplacements and bunkers were ordered to be built by Hitler as a precursor to an invasion of Britain. 

Visit locations of the novel The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. Walk to a viewing point from where the other Channel Islands and France can be seen on a clear day.  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. 

Cycle the Shingle Bank Nature Reserve, across Lihou Island and the Colin Best Nature Reserve, to the beaches of L’Eree Bay. Discover bunkers left from World War II and look across the water to Les Hanois Lighthouse. Continue along the idyllic laneways of the Ruette Tranquilles, where bicycles have right of way over motor vehicles. Your route then takes you past wildflower meadows and country cottages until you arrive at Perelle Bay. 

After an eventful day, we return to the ship for our final evening on board. Silver Endeavour’s restaurants ensure tonight’s dining experience will be a memorable one.

Disembark Silver Endeavour today in Portsmouth. From here, we make our way to Stonehenge. Set within Salisbury Plain, the famous archaeological site comprises the finest Bronze Age sanctuary in Europe. Continuing to Salisbury Cathedral, we admire its graceful spire, which rises like a beacon, high above the surrounding and idyllic meadow. Our luxury lodge awaits our arrival, and soon we check into Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to relax and discover the luxurious facilities available to us here. This evening, we sample the dining options of Bath’s many restaurants.

Today, we separate into two groups. Our first group becomes more familiar with the history of the area during a guided tour. One of the oldest cities in Britain, the one-time Roman settlement also enjoys its reputation as a hot spring town. Visit the Pump Room, where socialites of the Georgian era gathered to enjoy the waters. From here, take a drive along the city’s expansive squares, absorbing the sight of countless terraced houses. Afterwards, meet back up with your fellow guests in the village of Castle Combe. Enjoy lunch and some free time to take in the idyllic scenes of the Cotswolds. 

This afternoon, swap with our other group, as you drive to the royal residence, Highgrove House and Gardens. Join a guide for a tour of the grounds, including the Carpet Garden, which won the prized silver-gilt medal at Chelsea Flower Show. Learn about King Charles’ passion for gardening, which becomes evident as you explore the property further. 

This evening, we gather together once more for a Farewell Dinner within our hotel’s delightful grounds.

Our grand journey concludes this morning as you join your transfer to either London or Heathrow.

Brochure