Scottish West Highlands Adventure – 5 days

Fort William - Isle of Skye

5 days

The Scottish West Highlands is home to a dramatic wilderness of ancient forests, lofty mountains, great lochs and Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis.

For shorter trips, individual rail tickets can be booked in advance through the Trainline. For longer journeys, one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to explore Britain is with a BritRail Pass, which allows unlimited journeys and the freedom to explore. With so many things to see and do, 5 days is the ideal amount of time to experience the area’s unique attractions, while using a BritRail Spirit of Scotland Pass.

Start your journey

There are few better places to begin a West Highlands adventure than Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city and a place famous for its friendly atmosphere, nightlife and fantastic cultural attractions. From here, the train to Fort William is a 3 hour and 45 minute journey. BritRail Pass holders can also go from London to Fort William on the overnight Caledonian Sleeper.

Day 1 - 2

Fort William

Originally built in the 17th century to pacify the local Scottish clans, Fort William today is a major visitor centre and the starting point for anybody wishing to climb Ben Nevis. There’s lots to see and do, so we suggest a stay of 2 days.

Things to do in Fort William

Jacobite steam train – Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is considered one of the best train journeys in the world. This journey appeared in the Harry Potter movies and crosses a spectacular viaduct with a lake and mountains in the background – an unmissable trip!

Website: the Jacobite steam train

Nevis Range Gondola

For those who want to take in the magnificent views and dramatic scenery of Ben Nevis at an easier pace, they can climb aboard the Nevis Range gondola – it’s ideal for keen climbers looking for a quick way to the best climbing spots, or for anybody who might find a mountain trek a bit too gruelling! The 41 Stagecoach bus from Fort William to the gondola takes around 25 minutes.

Website: the Mountain Gondola

Crannog Cruises

A cruise across the depths of Loch Linnhe gives the opportunity to discover a plethora of Highland wildlife – from porpoises, seals and even golden eagles, as well as beautiful views of Ben Nevis.

Website: Crannog Cruises

Days 3 - 5

Isle of Skye

The train from Fort William to Mallaig takes an hour and 25 minutes, and is one of the most stunning rail journeys in the world. Passengers chug pass Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Britain, and Loch Morar, the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, before arriving at the deepest seawater loch in Europe: Loch Nevis. Fans of Harry Potter will recognise Glenfinnan Viaduct as part of the route taken by the Hogwarts Express. Once in Mallaig, there is a 40 minute ferry ride to Armadale. Find timetables here on the Calmac ferry website For an immersive experience on Skye, the bustling coastal town of Portree is a great place to stay. It is accessible via the number 52 Stagecoach bus from Armadale (1 hour 10 mins).

Things to do in Skye

Dunvegan Castle & Gardens

Like a vision from a fairytale, Dunvegan Castle stands on a rocky outcrop beside the tranquil surface of Loch Dunvegan on the western coast of Skye. It’s been home to the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod for 800 years, and is home to a host of treasures, including the Fairy Flag – said to guarantee victory in battle. Exploring this magnificent piece of Scottish history, and its beautiful gardens, is a must. The 56 Stagecoach bus from Portree takes 45 minutes.

Website: Dunvegan Castle & Gardens

Eilean Donan Castle

The iconic 13th century Eilean Donan Castle stands on an island where three lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Aich. Named after a Celtic saint, the castle was once a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and is today a famous beauty spot, surrounded on all sides by some of the finest landscapes in the West Highlands. A guided tour is the best way to get a taste of 13th century life. To get here, the 917 bus from Portree to Dornie takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Website: Eilean Donan Castle

Britrail Pass

For those exploring Britain by train, a BritRail Pass is the easiest and most cost-effective way to travel. For a single fixed price, pass holders can make unlimited train journeys around the whole country or a region of their choice. BritRail tickets are exclusive to overseas visitors so they will need to buy their ticket before they arrive in the UK.

Find out more about BritRail Pass