The Lake District, Edinburgh & the Whisky of Islay
8 day Rail and Trail Journey

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Contrast the intense flavours of Islay whisky with the smooth views of the Lake District National Park.

Tour map

Highlights

Boat Cruises
Waterfalls
Mountains
Lakes
UNESCO Heritage Sites
Distilleries
Ferry
Beaches

Places you explore


Ullswater - The second largest lake in the English Lake District is famous for its sublime, tranquil beauty.

Aira Force Waterfall - A lovely stone bridge crosses the fabulously flowing waterfalls.

Lake Windermere - You can choose to wander the shores or put on your sailing hat and go for a cruise.

Edinburgh – Scotland's Medieval capital city boasts spectacular architecture and fascinating history.

Oban - This Victorian harbour town offers excellent seafood and a charming intimacy.

Bowmore - Journey to the home of Islay’s oldest distillery, this charming place lies on the shores of the picturesque Loch Indaal.

The Islay Single Malt Whiskies - On an island known locally as ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’, there is a regal quality to the distinctly peaty style of its single malt whiskies.

Sandy beaches of Islay - Stroll some of the most beautiful and rugged beaches in the UK along Islay’s West Atlantic coast.

Loch Lomond National Park - Enjoy the dramatic splendour of one of Scotland’s most famous lochs and the beautiful national park that surrounds it.


Your journey


In the Lake District, they competitively run up mountains and paint their cottages white. In Edinburgh, they shoot a cannon at one o’clock and spit on a stone heart. And in Islay, they produce a whisky that tastes smokier than any drink you’ve ever tasted.

These regions boast incredible traditions; and on this tour, your expert guide takes you through the regions and landscapes that created these curiosities.

You spend a few days walking through the lanes and market squares of the mountainous Lake District. Here, you can soak up the local treats and the beautiful lake views.

You saunter through the Gothic heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town where you’re never far from a ghost story or an amazing museum.

And you journey over sea to the Isle of Islay. Where you can taste many of their famously delicious whiskies.

Hop aboard a train, join a tour, and explore the Lake District, Edinburgh, and Islay.


Rail & Trail Journey

Travel from England to Scotland on this trip that combines a one-way train journey with two of our tours. Between the tours, you get free time in Edinburgh. Please see the itinerary for more details.

Tour Details

Starts
09:30 - London Euston Train Station, Kings Cross, London NW1 2DU
*Train times may vary a little. We'll email you your exact departure time before your tour.
Finishes (approx.)
19:00
Luggage
You’re restricted to 14kg (31lbs) of luggage per person. This should be one piece of luggage similar to an airline carry-on bag (approximately 55cm x 45cm x 25cm / 22in x 17in x 10in) and a small bag for onboard personal items.
Discounts
  • Students, seniors over 60
Important information
  • Pack your waterproof clothing and walking shoes
  • After booking your tour, we'll contact you about your train journey
  • This tour combines two of our trips and a free day in Edinburgh. This means you swap your bus and guide during the journey.
  • Accommodation in Edinburgh sells out fast. But don't worry; when you book your tour, you can ask us to reserve everything for you.
  • Unfortunately we don't carry anyone under 18 years old on this tour
Tour inclusions
  • Transportation by a 16 seat Mercedes mini-coach
  • All ferry and bridge crossings
  • Air conditioning as standard
  • The stories and services of an English-speaking driver-guide
  • A one-way train ticket from London to Penrith
  • Whisky lunch
Tour exclusions
  • Entry fees to visitor attractions
  • Tour accommodation

Itinerary

Day 1

  • Take as many photographs as you can at ‘England’s most beautiful lake’, Ullswater
  • Relax in the market town of Keswick

You collect your train ticket at the London Euston Station and head north to the historic Cumbrian market town of Penrith. The town’s uniquely coloured castle played a key role in defending the border from its invading Scottish neighbours.

After arriving in Penrith and meeting your Rabbie’s Guide, you enter the Lake District National Park and travel along the northern shores of Ullswater. This lake is often described as England’s most beautiful lake, and it’s here we give you the chance to take a forest walk and see the mighty Aira Force waterfall.

You then travel towards Keswick, stopping outside the town to visit the mysterious Castlerigg standing stones, thought to have been built over 5,000 years ago and a hub of ancient pagan rituals.

You have a short journey into the lively market town of Keswick* where you’re dropped off at your accommodation and free to explore the charming town.


* Please note all tours that depart on the 13th, 16th, 20th, 23rd, 27th and 30th July will stay in Bowness-on-Windermere instead of Keswick

Day 2

  • Stare in wonder at the views on an optional boat trip, Lake Windermere
  • Wander around the cosy village of Hawkshead

After breakfast, you take in views of Ullswater as we head along country roads to its southern shores.

You continue further south and travel over the narrow and winding Kirkstone Pass towards the wonderful Windermere. Here you have the option to take a leisurely cruise on the Lake or eat lunch while enjoying sublime views of the surrounding scenery.

After lunch you travel around the southern tip of Windermere and on towards Coniston Water. Your next stop is the picturesque conservation village of Hawkshead, where the poet William Wordsworth attended Grammar School.

After exploring the cosy village, you take the narrow country lanes north towards Grasmere, which Wordsworth described as “the loveliest spot that man hath found”.

There’s free time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden by the River Rothy. In the late afternoon, you return to Keswick*.


* Please note all tours that depart on the 13th, 16th, 20th, 23rd, 27th and 30th July will stay in Bowness-on-Windermere instead of Keswick

Day 3

  • Set your sights on sweeping views from atop the Whinlatter Pass
  • Learn about the slate mines at the Honister Mountain Pass

We pick you up from your accommodation and head for the Whinlatter Forest Park and over the Whinlatter Pass into the most dramatic landscapes the Lake District has to offer.

You journey along winding lanes, past the shores of Crummock Water and Buttermere, and towards the Honister Mountain Pass.

Stopping amongst the mountains you have the opportunity to enjoy the views of the old slate workings, where a small number of Cumbrians continue to make their living.

After refreshments, you continue through the forests of Borrowdale, passing Derwent Water, where there’s free time for lunch and shopping.

Once you’ve eaten lunch, you begin your return journey, heading towards Penrith and north towards the border. After crossing into Scotland, you take a stop in the town of Biggar, a royal burgh since 1415. From here, it’s a leisurely drive through the rolling border hills to Edinburgh.

Day 4

  • Wander over cobbled lanes past medieval window panes and under Gothic spires in Scotland’s stunning capital city, Edinburgh
  • Savour exclusive lunch and whisky tasting at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Today is a free day to explore Edinburgh. There are so many options available here - why not take our city tour to familiarise yourself with the 'old' and 'new' towns of the city.

No visit to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to her medieval castle. Sitting on a volcanic plug there is no other city in Europe to offer a setting quite as unique as that of the castle rising high above the majestic Princes Street gardens.

A three-course lunch is booked for you at an excellent restaurant, followed by a a tasting of two cask whiskies.

And after that, what you do is up to you; You can venture deep under the city on ghost tours, hike to the lofty heights of Arthur’s Seat, or even just relax in the many beautiful gardens.

Just ensure you relax and prepare for your next part of your adventure.

Day 5

  • Explore the delightful harbour town of Oban
  • Venture through the sights and stories of the Loch Lomond National Park
  • Try and spot dolphins and whales as you travel by ferry to Islay

Today you join a new bus for the continuation of your tour to Islay. With your new companions you head straight for the Highlands. Your first stop of the day is in the Trossachs national park. Here, you can admire Scotland’s scenic beauty and enjoy some local delicacies.

Your driver-guide may regale you with tales from Scottish folklore as you travel through the mountainous landscapes of the Western Highlands to Oban.

This port town was once the strategic heartland of great feuding clans. But today, Oban is famous for seafood sourced fresh off the boats. It also boasts its own distillery where you can sample whisky that’s been perfected for 200 years. Here, you will have time to enjoy a dram and indulge in delicious local seafood for lunch.

You then venture through the Kilmartin Glen where you see standing stones and strongholds that are over 1,500 years old.

At Kennacraig, you catch the evening ferry to Islay. The sail is around two hours; and if you peek out to the ocean, you may see the Paps of Jura. These mountains mark the way to Islay, Queen of the Hebrides.

Once you’ve arrived on the island, you settle into your accommodation in Bowmore.

Day 6

  • Sample Scotland’s most heavily-peated whiskies
  • Discover the modern distillery of Kilchoman
  • Admire Islay’s rugged coastline

We know whisky tasting can be hard work, so you begin the day with a little sleep in.

After you’ve had an ample amount of breakfast, you enjoy a tour of Bowmore, the oldest licenced distillery on the island.

Your driver-guide takes you to a nice spot for a lunch of local treats before you head to Bruichladdich distillery. This forward-thinking whisky hub offers a wide-range of single-malts that celebrate the provenance of Islay’s ingredients.

Your next stop of the day is at Kilchoman Distillery. This is a proud and independent whisky-maker whose tastes are as bold as their environmental ethos. You have time for a tour and whisky tasting here, before a walk down the beautiful white beach that lies close by.

You head back to Bowmore where you can either stumble back to your room for the night or relax and explore the village.

Day 7

  • Savour some of the boldest tasting whiskies in Scotland

Another day in paradise! Today, you explore the southern side of the island, home to the smokiest and peatiest of all whiskies – Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg.

After you’ve made it out of bed and eaten your breakfast, you visit Ardbeg. You stay here for a tour, tasting, and lunch. The restaurant here is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy fine Scottish produce as you sip upon delightful drams.

You then visit Laphroaig. This 200-year-old whisky distiller is a favourite with the British royal family and bears the seal of the Prince of Wales to prove it.

Throughout the day, your driver-guide takes you to historical spots such as the ruins of Kildalton church and Dunyvaig Castle.

You return to Bowmore for your last evening of the trip.

Day 8

  • Get a sense of the old history of Inveraray
  • Wander along the banks of Loch Lomond

This morning, you take the ferry back to the mainland and replace the intoxicating fumes of whisky with the replenishing fresh air of Scotland’s West Highlands.

You travel through coastal scenery to the beautiful village of Inveraray on the banks of Loch Fyne. The town is adorned with historic buildings, old boats, and a great whisky shop.

Your trip continues to Loch Lomond where you have a chance to admire Great Britain’s largest body of water by surface area.

You arrive in Edinburgh in the early evening.

Once you've booked your tour, let us know if you want us to book this evening's Edinburgh accommodation.

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Accommodation

What are the overnight locations on this journey?

Our Rail & Trail journeys are a combination of two our tours. You have a break between the trips where you spend free time in Edinburgh.

You stay two nights in Keswick*, two nights in Edinburgh, and three nights in Bowmore**.


* Please note all tours that depart on the 13th, 16th, 20th, 23rd, 27th and 30th July will stay in Bowness-on-Windermere instead of Keswick

**We reserve rooms in the beautiful Bowmore Distillery Cottages. The cottages have between three and six twin bedrooms. Due to the shared nature of the accommodation, individual bedrooms don't have lockable doors. The kitchen and lounge facilities are shared with other passengers, and basic self-service breakfast ingredients are provided. Full Scottish breakfasts are available at the nearby hotels if you prefer, payable locally.

Prices are £45 per person per night for twin share or £79 per night for a single***. For this option, please select 'B&B en-suite' as your first choice when booking the tour online. When these rooms are full, we book you into a nearby B&B. Rooms at the cottages are limited and are reserved on a first come first served basis. Local B&B charges are £50 per person per night.

***These prices change in April 2020 to £47.50 per person per night for twin share or £82 per night per single. The rate of a family room (3 people) is £120 per night.


How does the accommodation work in Edinburgh?

When you book online, there’s no option to select Edinburgh accommodation preferences.

But don’t worry, we’ll contact you once you’ve made your booking and give you an option to book Edinburgh hotel rooms with us. You’re welcome to book the accommodation we suggest or arrange your own Edinburgh overnights.


How does the accommodation work on tour?

When you book online, we’ll ask you for your accommodation preferences and get to work making reservations on your behalf. You’ll pay your accommodation directly to hosts on tour (excluding Edinburgh). Most don’t accept credit cards, so be prepared to pay cash.


What if I want to change my accommodation booking with Rabbie’s?

Changes to accommodation cannot be guaranteed and are subject to availability. An amendment charge will apply.


I booked my own accommodation is there anything I need to do?

You’ll need to contact us with your accommodation details. Please only reserve accommodation within the overnight towns that your tour stops in. Your driver will drop you off at your chosen accommodation as long as it’s relatively central (excluding Edinburgh).


What if I cancel my tour at short notice?

You may be liable for the cost of your first nights’ accommodation for each separate accommodation booked. If you cancel less than three days before departure, you may be liable for all your accommodation costs.


What are the accommodation types?

The prices below are for guidance only and exclude Edinburgh accommodation.

We try to reserve accommodation that’s no more than a 20-minute walk from the town centre. We regularly check our accommodation suppliers to ensure they reach a certain standard.


B&B (Bed and Breakfast) Standard

The toilet and showering facilities are shared with at least one other room in the house, and the price includes breakfast. The cost is £35 - £40 per person per night based on shared accommodation. A single standard room is £40 - £60 per night.

B&B En suite

The showering and toilet facilities are private, and breakfast is included in the price. The cost is £45 - £60 per person per night based on shared accommodation. A single en suite is £60 - £80 per night.

Hotels

Hotels have a bar or restaurant and provide evening meals. Breakfast is included in the price. The cost is £70 - £85 per person per night based on shared accommodation. A single is £85 - £130 per night.

Hostels

A hostel consists of dormitory rooms with 4 to 16 bunk beds. The bathroom facilities are a short distance from the dorm room. Kitchen facilities are equipped so you can make your own meals. The cost based on dorm beds is £19 - £27 per person per night.

Please note that SYHA hostels only offer same gender dorms. Some independent hostels will offer mixed rooms (males and females together).


I have more questions, who can help me?

If you have any more questions, you can read our FAQs, call us on +44(0)131 226 3133, or email rooms@rabbies.com.


FAQs

Where does the tour depart from?

Unlike our other London departures, you depart from London’s Euston Station. You’re then met by a Rabbie’s driver-guide and tour bus at Penrith Station.


How do I get to London’s Euston Station?

Depending on where your London accommodation is located, there are several ways to get the station. You can easily access the station using the underground network, local buses, or a taxi.


What time does the train depart?

The departure time of your train will vary depending on availability and season. We will email you with details of the exact train departure and arrival times prior to your tour. We recommend that you plan to arrive at the train station at least forty minutes before your train departs. This will allow for travel delays should they occur on the way to the station and give you enough time to collect your tickets, locate your platform and purchase refreshments. It’s important for you to arrive early because if you miss your train, you will be responsible for purchasing new tickets for the next departure.


Where do I collect my tickets?

Simply insert any credit or debit card into a ticket machine within the train station and enter your ‘collection reference’ number. We send you this number shortly after you book your tour.
If you have problems, please go to a ticket window with your booking confirmation and ask for help. You can also call the Virgin Business Helpdesk on 0121 2990259 for more information.
Station opening hours can be checked at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/.

Please allow at least 20 minutes for ticket collection at stations.


Do we have reserved seats?

In most cases, yes you have pre-assigned and reserved seats. The details of the seating reservation are provided in the ticket wallet. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask any of the Virgin Trains team for help.

If you booked your ticket within one week of departure, you may not have a seating reservation. If this is the case, you can choose from any of the unreserved seats on the train.


Can I buy food and drink on the train?

Yes, you can. Each train has a café on board which provides a limited selection of hot and cold drinks as well as snacks and light meals. If you require anything in particular, we recommend you pick up what you need from one of the various food and beverage outlets at Euston Station.


Which platform does the train leave from?

The platform changes every day. You will be disembarking the train at Penrith Station but the name of your train service on the electronic departure boards will be for Glasgow Central. Please watch these boards to find out your platform number. The correct departure time will be printed on your ticket, and correspond to the time on the departure board. The platform will be announced about 15 – 20mins before departure. The departure gates close five minutes before the train leaves, so please make your way to the train once you’ve seen which platform the train is departing from.


What happens if the train is cancelled?

If your train is cancelled, your ticket is valid on the next departure at 10.30am, however you’ll not have reserved seats. If this happens, please contact the Rabbie’s customer service team on +44(0)131 226 3133, so we can advise the guide and ensure they’re there to pick you up at the new time.


How long is the train trip?

The train takes three hours from London Euston to Penrith Station.


Where do we meet the tour bus?

Your Rabbie’s driver-guide meets you at Penrith Station with other guests who started the tour in Edinburgh. Penrith Station is small and your guide will be easy to find. Due to traffic and unforeseen circumstances, the guide may be unable to meet you there immediately. But don’t worry, they’ll be there as soon as possible.


How much time do I get off the bus?

We want you to enjoy Britain and Ireland. And we believe the best way to do this is to get you off the mini-coach and out exploring. So, we give you plenty of time to take photos, go walking, and explore ancient ruins.


Why do you exclude visitor attractions?

We exclude visitor attractions in your tour price because it lets you travel your way. It means you can pamper yourself with a luxury lunch or skip an attraction whenever you feel like it.


Do we need to bring our own lunch?

You don't need to. We stop in small towns, villages, and rural eateries where you can choose whatever meal pleases both your taste buds and your budget.


Should I tip the driver-guide?

Let's be honest, our driver-guides would never refuse a cheeky bonus. But it's up to you, and the amount is entirely at your discretion.


What about travel insurance?

We advise you take out travel insurance.

4 reasons to choose Rabbie's

Travel the local way on small group tours of 16 people or fewer

You'll have a guaranteed experience, or your money back

Guaranteed departures: you book, you go

Our eco-friendly tours support local communities



BTA_2017.png Green Tourism Award Scottish Thistle Awards Winner 2015/2016 TC_2018_WHITE_LL_R-112x105.png queens-award.png Scottish Tourist Board 5 Stars
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