You will be met on arrival into Edinburgh at either the International Airport or Edinburgh Waverley railway station.
Transfer is to the stylish five-star Balmoral Hotel, with its prestigious address in the centre of Edinburgh, and located close to the Castle. A landmark in the centre of the city, the historic building’s grand clock still dominates the skyline, while its enviable location, views, hospitality and five-star facilities provide the perfect retreat. The Balmoral began life as a grand railway hotel and continues to respect the traditions set by its founders, right down to the kilted doormen.
Tonight we enjoy a welcome reception and dinner in the hotel and an overnight stay before our departure in the morning.
We gather at the Balmoral for a glass of champagne before being escorted by a piper to the train at Edinburgh Waverley station. Tornado will be at positioned the head of Belmond Royal Scotsman carriages, with the attendants in readiness on the platform to welcome us on board.
We steam out of Edinburgh and head for the highlands, crossing the famous Forth Bridge as we take lunch and then skirt along the coast and cross the River Tay into Dundee. After traversing the cliff tops of Eastern Scotland we descend into the granite city of Aberdeen, before heading north-westwards to the ancient fishing port and market town of Nairn.
From here we take a short coach trip to 14th century Cawdor Castle, inspiration for Shakespeare's Macbeth, where we have a private dinner, scheduled to be hosted by Lady Cawdor. At the end of the evening we return to the train for the night.
Our day begins with breakfast on board in Inverness followed by excursions to Fort George, an 18th century fortress, and Culloden, scene of one of the most harrowing battles in British history that ended in a final and crushing defeat of Charles Edward Stuart's Jacobite forces in April 1746 by loyalist troops commanded by the Duke of Cumberland.
Lunch is on board as we travel over the Highland mainline to Aviemore and the Strathspey Railway, at the heart of the beautiful Cairngorms National Park.
Here we take a vintage train to the end of the private railway and enjoy a tour of the J&G Grant's Glenfarclas Distillery followed by a whisky tasting and dinner hosted by company Chairman, John Grant.
We depart at breakfast time, Tornado hauling us south through the magnificent Scottish Highlands scenery. We pause at Stirling for a short visit to the town's medieval castle sitting atop a craggy volcanic outcrop and time permitting, the Wallace Monument, a commemoration to the 13th century Scottish 'Braveheart' Sir William Wallace, before we re-join the train for lunch as we continue our journey back towards Edinburgh.
The afternoon is available to explore the Scottish capital before a private visit to the historic royal fortress of Edinburgh Castle to view the Scottish Crown Jewels followed by a banquet dinner in the castle grounds.
We then join the train for a nightcap and continue our journey through the night steam-hauled, a rare treat!
We awake to breakfast journeying along the stunningly beautiful Settle and Carlisle Railway, a masterpiece of British engineering that travels over the roof of England. A real highlight of the morning will be the passage across the Ribblehead Viaduct, made up of 24 arches, each of 45 feet span, with spectacular views of the rugged Pennine hills to be enjoyed from the open-air verandah of the Observation Car .
We travel onto Chester, a significant border city located between England and Wales. Founded as a Roman fortress in AD79, its rich history is apparent to all those who visit the ancient walled city from its well-preserved amphitheatre to the imposing Cathedral.
Arriving after lunch, we have time to explore Chester this afternoon before we take a private dinner and wine-tasting at the magnificent Peckforton Castle, located in nearby Tarporley.
Our day today is spent in North Wales. Starting from Llandudno Junction Station we take the beautifully scenic branch line to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Here our locomotive taking the strain is the LMS Fowler/Stanier 4-6-0 46100 Royal Scot, a type regularly seen in North Wales.
From the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau we travel on the historic Ffestiniog Railway, the world's oldest narrow gauge railway. Hauled by the FR 0-4-4-0 Double Fairlie David Lloyd George enjoy the passing forests, lakes, waterfalls and tranquil pastures of Snowdonia National Park on the 13½-mile journey before finally reaching the harbour town of Porthmadog on the Cambrian Coast.
There is time to visit the world's oldest operating railway workshop belonging to the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways at Boston Lodge, before we take a journey over the scenic Welsh Highland Railway through the narrow gorge of the Aberglasyn Pass and onto Caernarfon. Catch sight here of the impressively intimidating 13th century waterfront Caernarfon Castle.
We travel a short distance by coach across the Menai Strait to Holyhead on the Isle of Anglesey where we re-join our train with Royal Scot at the head. Tonight dinner is served on board as we steam along the North Wales Coast Line and return to England.
We head south along the English and Welsh Border with Tornado again at the head of our train. We are heading for the historic spa city of Bath, where there is time to explore the Roman Baths, magnificent Georgian architecture or take a traditional afternoon English tea.
Dinner is served on the train as we head for Somerset, where we will stay overnight on the private West Somerset Railway.
After our stay overnight at Minehead in Somerset we head west along Brunel’s Great Western Railway, highlights today include travelling along the famous South Devon sea wall at Dawlish and crossing the Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar at Saltash.
Today we pass through Devon and Cornwall, hauled by Tornado over challenging terrain for an early evening arrival into Penzance, situated in the shelter of Mount's Bay and the most westerly railway station we visit on our momentous journey around Great Britain.
We retire for the evening and dine at our hotel, where we stay for two nights, in nearby picturesque St. Ives.
The county of Cornwall is famous for its dramatic coastline, gorgeous gardens, spectacular sandy beaches, quaint coastal towns, fishing harbours and the sparkling blue sea that encloses the majority of the county.
Today there are options to explore the the beautiful and historic St Michael's Mount, a rocky island crowned by a medieval church and castle, explore the many fine art galleries or visit the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, dedicated to Trans-Atlantic cable communications.
In the evening we will enjoy dinner at one of the finest restaurants in Cornwall.
This morning we re-join the Belmond Royal Scotsman with Tornado again being assisted by King Edward I and our return journey through Cornwall includes a visit to the beautiful branch line from Lostwithiel to the pretty historical deep-water harbour town of Fowey, a rare treat with steam and still in use today for the export of China Clay.
Once back into Devon, we again pass along the sea wall at Dawlish. After a journey through Somerset and the city of Bath, we arrive at Yeovil Junction where we spend the evening, enjoying a sumptuous meal aboard the train.
We journey through the picturesque Dorset and Wiltshire countryside as we head for Salisbury, with its stunning cathedral and historic streets where there is time to explore the city.
At lunch we'll make a short visit to the Didcot Railway Centre, a former Great Western Railway engine-shed and locomotive stabling point, to view their unique collection of Great Western Railway steam engines and coaches.
We then make the short journey from Didcot to spend the afternoon in Oxford, ‘the City of Dreaming Spires’. Here there is much history to soak up, as well as visiting the University and the Ashmolean Museum.
After our visit to Oxford we take dinner on board as we travel onto Worcestershire via Kidderminster to join the Severn Valley Railway.
For early risers there is a chance to visit the substantial steam shed and workshops at Bridgnorth before taking breakfast as we traverse the Severn Valley Railway, resplendent in its autumn colours. Our destination is York, as we make our way from the Severn Valley via the beautiful Peak District passing through Chinley in the High Peaks.
York is one of England’s most popular historic cities and is renowned for its exquisite architecture. The city is tightly packed inside ancient city walls and is easy to navigate by foot. York’s impressive Gothic Cathedral, York Minster, dominates the skyline and there are many wonderful museums, including the National Railway Museum, Jorvik Viking Centre and the York Castle Museum. The tangles of quaint cobbled streets at York’s heart are full of unusual shops, gourmet cafes and street entertainers, and almost all of the buildings are Medieval, Victorian or Georgian in style.
Tonight we will enjoy a private dinner at the National Railway Museum, enjoying fine dining, seated among the steam giants of the past.
Our train berths for the night on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, right in the cradle of the railways and where the public passenger railway began in the 1820s.
After breakfast we take time to explore the museum in the former Stockton and Darlington North Road station. Here we will see George Stephenson's Locomotion No.1, the very locomotive that almost 200 years ago hauled the world's first public train which set off from outside the Mason’s Arms public house in Shildon and imprinting the location forever in railway history.
We also take the time to visit the A1 Trust's workshop where Tornado was built and check on progress on the construction of the new P2 Class 2007 Prince of Wales.
Our journey is then along the East Coast Main Line, including running right along the cliff edge as we enter Scotland. A fabulous lunch will be served on board before we arrive back into Edinburgh late afternoon.
We then transfer to the Balmoral Hotel for our farewell dinner and overnight stay.
For your departure, transfers will be arranged to Edinburgh Waverley station or to the International Airport.
If you wish to add extra days to your stay in Edinburgh, or wish to take a different travel option, we will be very pleased to help with those arrangements.