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Last Updated on 11/04/2021
The Highlands are arguably Scotland’s crowning glory. This mountainous region draws many visitors for its promise of solitude, glorious landscapes and castle ruins among other things.
Encompassing Scotland’s northwestern side, highlands itineraries tend to include some of the Western Isles along the coast and for good reason. The seafood is absolutely outstanding here and the beaches are simply breathtaking.
So, when it comes to planning your Scottish Highland Itinerary, you’re spoilt for choice. How can you make sure you see the best of everything? A low impact UK tour operator, Byway, is here to help. They take into account your preferences to create a tailored itinerary that’s kind to the planet.
The itinerary I’m about to share was organised by Byway. It’s perfect for solo travellers or couples who love adventure but want the ease of having the finer points planned. The trip allows you to immerse yourself in nature with minimal impact on the environment.
If you love mountains, islands, cosy guesthouses, pubs with roaring fires, organic whisky distilleries and quite possibly some of the best train journeys in the world then this itinerary is for you. And hey, if you would prefer to organise the trip yourself then you can replicate this itinerary too.
Why you should visit the Scottish Highlands & Islands
Photo credit: Connor Mollison – the majestic Kilchurn Castle
The Scottish Highlands and Western Isles are where nature and adventure meet. Here, the sparsely populated landscape is rugged and wildlife is abundant. The Inner Hebrides claim to have some of the best beaches in the world and you can spend your time hiking, island-hopping, visiting distilleries and enjoying fresh seafood.
The Highlands, in particular, are known for their beauty. Although hardly a best-kept secret, they’re remote enough to make you feel like it’s just you and nature.
You can journey up the Western Highlands by train past dramatic ruined castles, ride a steam train over Scotland’s most famous viaduct and enjoy lochs galore at every turn. What’s more, wildlife lovers can catch sightings of porpoises, dolphins, eagles, deer and so much more!
So, what is Byway Travel?
Photo credit: Bjorn Snelders – the Glenfinnan Viaduct
Byway Travel is a new tour operator on the block that specialises in bespoke package holidays for the UK and some parts of Europe. The wonderful thing about this travel company is that their whole ethos centres around helping you have off-the-beaten-track experiences through slow travel.
Every tailored trip is a no-fly holiday. You’re invited to explore by train and boat, stop at unique stays and enjoy lesser-known activities en route.
Byway is your go-to travel planner. They sort everything from your accommodation to your activities as well as all your transfers. They’re on hand to help you every step of the way, including during the trip itself.
When arranging your tour, the Byway team will take your preferences into account to make sure the trip is tailored to you. You’ll also get expert advice on all the hidden gems and local favourites in the area you’re planning to visit.
Byway is an environmentally-friendly travel company. They create trips that don’t rely on flying and they recommend sustainable places to stay that support the local community wherever possible.
They’re even on track to become a Certified B Corporation within the year. B Corps are businesses that balance purpose and profit. This means that they’re legally required to scrutinise their impact on their employees, customers suppliers, community and environment.
You can read more about B Corporations here.
To be honest, I think more businesses should be B Corps!
Read More: 10 of the Best Tour Operators in the World
Your perfect 10-day Scottish Highlands itinerary with Byway
Photo credit: Eric Welch – a Highland cow
Byway are specialists in adventure and this amazing tour was put together specifically for those who love nature, wildlife and the remote wilderness. The tour focuses on the Western Highlands and Scottish Isles, including the Inner Hebrides so you can get the best of the mountain landscape and rugged coastline.
Highlands trip details
Length: 10 days
Adults: 1 (the tour is designed for solo travellers but it can be customisable)
Extras: The tour can be completely tailored to you
Price: From £1,257 per adult (including transport and accommodation)
Below is your 10-day itinerary. Like any Byway tour, it’s completely customisable to you:
Day 1: Glasgow to Loch Lomond
Photo credit: Robert Keane – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
The first stop on your trip is Glasgow. It’s a beautiful city, well-known for its 18th century and art nouveau architecture. Although Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, Glasgow is much bigger. It’s also a cultural hub, home to the National Theatre of Scotland and the Scottish Ballet.
Glasgow is a fascinating city, well worth a look around before you head over to Queen Street Station to catch the West Highland Line northbound.
This train journey is particularly beautiful, so there will never be a dull moment outside the window. In fact, it’s easily one of my all-time favourites. Get ready to feast your eyes on deep forests, rugged mountains and shimmering lochs all the way up.
Before long, you’ll reach the iconic beauty that is Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Hop off at Arrochar and Tarbet Station to stretch your legs and explore for a couple of hours.
Loch Lomond makes for a fantastic lunch stop. Afterwards, you can go walking on one of the many popular hiking routes, take a kayak out on the water or simply sit and admire the view.
Loch Lomond to Isle of Mull
For the next leg of your journey, rejoin the West Highland Line to reach the port of Oban. Once again, you’ll be spoilt for scenic views speeding by your window. Stunning highlights include the dramatic sight of the ruined Kilchurn Castle at the top of Loch Awe. Awe is right as the ruins cut a striking image that’s mirrored in the dark waters of the loch. It’s really quite something to see!
Once you arrive at Oban, take your time grabbing a bite at one of its many eateries. You won’t regret it as this little resort town is Scotland’s seafood capital. You bet they will be serving the best fresh fish around.
Day 1-4: Explore the Isle of Mull
Photo credit: M. Zonderling – puffins have been known to hang out here
To reach Mull, you need to get on a 45-minute ferry. Tobermory on Mull is an excellent place to set up base for a few nights. You have an abundance of coastal walks, cosy pubs and eateries with delicious, fresh seafood on your doorstep. Seriously though, the seafood is out of this world here – especially the crab!
For the next four days, allow yourself to really sink into island life. There’s plenty of things to do on Mull. You can head down to the beach for wildlife spotting. On a good day, you can see the likes of dolphins, porpoises, otters, white-tailed eagles and plenty of seals.
The Ross of Mull is an excellent place to go wild swimming, crag climbing and kayaking. You can go island-hopping on Ulva, Staffa (for puffins!) and Iona, or take a water taxi to Drimnin to visit Nc’Nean, an organic whisky distillery.
If you want to see more of the Scottish islands, south of Mull lies Islay which is famous for its whisky. I recommend staying at the beautiful Glenegedale House. You can read a review of it here.
Day 5: Visit remote Corrour
The remote landscape of Corrour at its best
Today you’ll take the ferry back to the mainland and travel to Corrour. It’s a particularly special stop for those who want to go somewhere really remote. Corrour is only accessible by train, bike or a twenty-minute walk. There are no public roads.
If you stay here for a night, you can ramble through the surrounding moorland, visit the beautiful Loch Ossian and hike up Beinn na Lap (although you will need to have the right equipment with you!).
Corrour is also a fantastic place for stargazing as there’s hardly any light pollution. It’s just you and uninterrupted views of the sky.
Day 6: Corrour to Glenfinnan
Photo credit: Jack Anstey – Glenfinnan Viaduct in all its glory
Now if you’re a bit of a Harry Potter fan then you’re going to absolutely love this part of the Scottish Highlands itinerary. If not, well, it’s just as thrilling, don’t worry.
You’ll leave Corrour and board the train northbound to Fort William. Here, you’ll have a chance to get on the Jacobite Steam Train – otherwise known as the Hogwarts Express – which will take you over the 21 arched Glenfinnan Viaduct.
This viaduct is an iconic Scottish landmark located at the top of Loch Shiel. Most people know it as the train route to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, although it has an impressive list of other film credentials to its name. It’s also the longest concrete bridge in Scotland.
If you want to spend a bit more time here, head close to the shores of Loch Shiel where you will find the Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre. The Monument was erected in 1815 as a tribute to the Jacobite Clansmen who fought and lost their lives in the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’).
In the Visitor Centre, you’ll learn about the 1745 Jacobite Rising, Prince Charles’ campaign to regain the British throne and his final defeat at the Battle of Culloden.
You can also climb to the top of the Monument and be treated to panoramic views of the Loch Shiel and the surrounding Highlands. Another ‘eek’ moment for Harry Potter fans – you might recognise Loch Shiel’s island as the location where the Triwizard Tournament was held!
Day 6-10: Knoydart Peninsula and the Small Isles
The eco-friendly Isle of Eigg
After a thrilling ride on the Jacobite Steam Train, head to Mallaig and the Knoydart Peninsula where Byway recommends you stay for another four nights. Here you can make the most of the Small Isles, including Eigg, Muck and Rum.
The Guardian called Eigg Britain’s most eco-friendly island in 2017. This remote Scottish Isle is said to be a pioneer in sustainability. Virtually 100% of its energy is produced by the first grid in the world to be powered by a combination of wind, solar and hydro schemes. What’s more, all those cables are underground to protect the island’s unspoilt beauty.
A popular activity on Eigg is hiking up An Sgùrr, the island’s highest peak. This dramatic hill has stunning panoramic views of Eigg, the other Small Isles and across to Skye.
Top tip: if you don’t want to spend as long here, you can always tailor your trip to include the Isle of Skye too. Skye is particularly famous for its geological features such as the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing and the Cuillin. You can also visit the stunning Fairy Glen and Fairy Pools.
Day 10: Mallaig to Fort William
Some jaw-dropping views await you in Fort William
It’s hometime but not before you’re treated to another selection of jaw-dropping views via the Mallaig to Fort William train.
Fort William to Glasgow
The last leg of your journey down to Glasgow takes you past the Horseshoe Curve and Ben Dorain en route. Sit back, relax and enjoy a Highlands and islands holiday well spent.
So that was your Highlands itinerary!
The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye is worth a visit!
Byway’s Scottish Highlands tour gives you a perfect snapshot of the country’s wild and iconic landscapes. This epic 10-day itinerary gives you mountains, lochs and islands galore. You also have fantastic hiking opportunities (so bring your boots!) and a chance to see some incredible wildlife.
The great thing about this tour is that it’s completely accessible by train and ferry. You don’t need to fly or hire a car anywhere. Everything is sorted for you from your transport to your accommodation. It’s an effortless way to adventure in the Scottish wilderness.
Book your Highlands tour with Byway. Visit the website here for more information.
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- The Most Unique Eco-Friendly Getaways in Scotland
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