Things to do on a Scotland rail vacation

Things to do on a Scotland rail vacation


Our top train activities in Scotland

On the menu

Railway vacation operators more than make up for the lack of food on board Scottish trains by booking you into hotels and guesthouses along the way where local produce and lots of it is most definitely par for the course. Donít underestimate this. Caledonian cuisine is top class these days and whoever thinks that it is all haggis and deep fried everything is an eedjit, to use the local language. First of all, there is the seafood, which is world famous and, thankfully, no longer all exported around the world. Get off the train along the west coast and seek out mussels and langoustine, oysters and fresh fish.
Second: meat. Aberdeen Angus beef and venison make any vacation in Scotland a veritable carnival for carnivores. And donít coo too much over the lambs that you see jumping around the fields, either. Vegetarians will not be turned away, by any means, with top cuisine to suit every diet in all your accommodation, but cheese lovers in particular will gorge on treats like Morangie Brie, Isle of Mull cheddar and Dunsyre Blue. Donít forget the oatcakes either.

Castles & combats

Of course there are some colossal castles in Scotland, and railway vacations will take you to some of the greats. These include Urquhart on Loch Ness, Blair Castle near Pitlochry, and urban greats such as Inverness Castle and, of course, Edinburgh Castle, the magnificent overseer of the capital city. For battle sites, you donít get much more dramatic in terms of history than The Battle of Culloden site near Inverness.

Whisky train

You donít have to go too far from the train to explore some of the countryís finest distilleries. Myriad malts to be savoured on tours include Talisker on the Isle of Skye, Dalwhinnie distillery which is the highest in the country and just ten minutes walk from Dalwhinnie train station in the Cairngorms or Edradour, near Pitlochry.

Walking is the law

Look down at your fellow rail travelersí feet. Hiking boots nearly always win over work shoes or high heels. One of Scotlandís many glorious aspects is that walking is enshrined not only in its culture but in law, too, with walkers given the right to roam wherever they like. Accommodations show off their ĎWalkers Welcomeí signs, and even in the haughtiest Highland hotels, they will serve you a whisky in a crystal glass and want to hear all about your route. Talk to your vacation company about including a few good hikes in your railway vacation itinerary. Even better, use the services of a local guide to explore the likes of Old Man of Storr on Skye, Ben Nevis from the railway town of Fort William or up myriad monros in and around Aviemore station in the Cairngorms National Park.
Photo credits: [On the menu: LWYang] [Walking is law: Ramblers Scotland] [Whisky train: Mike Norton] [Castles & combats: Oliver Clarke]
Written by Catherine Mack
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