Meals are cooked on board and served in mahogany-walled dining cars that feature Scottish produce, meats, and seasonal fish alongside wines, liqueurs, and malt whiskies. Private wood-paneled cabins feature beds fitted with soft Scottish wools and tartans and also include an en suite shower, toilet, desk, table, wardrobe, toiletries, bathrobes, and slippers. The train also includes two spa cabins.
Itineraries range from two to seven days long and include sightseeing stopovers and overnight hotel stays. New routes are scheduled to start from April 2023 onwards, but bookings are selling out fast. Tickets start at $4,789 (£4,000) for single occupancy on Belmond’s site or through Vacations by Rail.
The Far North Line
Take a four-hour journey on Britain’s most rural railway through hundreds of miles of peatland bogs, tiny hamlets, golf courses, quaint train stops, and salmon rivers. The single track Far North Line connects Inverness with destinations Thurso and Wick at the northern limits of the Highlands. It’s remote, rugged, and spectacularly wild.
The route is the same as the Kyle of Lochalsh line up until Dingwall, where the lines split. Passengers shimmy up the coast until the Tain stop, where the line then plunges into the lands of Sutherland and Caithness, across peat bogs and Flow Country, whilst crossing salmon fishing rivers. Flow Country is a vast wetland blanket bog and peat habitat, an important environmental landscape for preventing climate change and a proposed UNESCO World Heritage site.
Passengers can spot a few castles from the train route after departing Inverness: Just after the Tain stop is the glorious and exclusive Skibo Castle (formerly frequented by Andrew Carnegie) across the sea inlet Dornoch Firth, followed by the hilltop (and supposedly haunted) Carbisdale Castle after the Culrain stop. Then cruise past the thick and mysterious Balblair Wood, midway between the Rogart and Golspie stops on the shores of Loch Fleet. And if you fancy one more castle, the train will take you to the Dunrobin Castle station, where you can stop off and show your train ticket for discounted entry to the gigantic “home” (with more than 189 rooms, this castle is one of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses).