Vivian's Corner
U.S. Areas, Cities, States
Foreign Cities
Foreign Countries
Adventure & Sports
About Us
Yearly Index
Contact Us
The Royal Scotsman

A Palace on to Wheels

If Queen Victoria had been able to put her beloved Balmoral on rails, she might have christened it The Royal Scotsman. This luxury hotel train, which majestically steams through the fabled Scottish Highlands, travels back in time to the age of the regal Victorians. For five days perfectly-appointed antique carriages, restored and modernized to their original splendor, are home to a maximum of 32 travelers who are attended by a tartan-dressed staff that could easily serve the occupants of Buckingham Palace.

The 1000-mile journey begins in Edinburgh on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from May through October. The train, painted in royal burgundy livery, makes its way across the lowlands to Glasgow, ascends into the Highlands, passes through the central mountains and descends to the coastline of eastern Scotland. The Royal Scotsman takes its time offering a leisurely exploration of the land of heather and bagpipes.

The Scotsman chugs and hisses through the hills around Tyndrum and then goes on to Rannoch Manor with its peat bogs, boulders and streams. It passes Britain's only snowsheds and travels through villages speckled with soft purple hills; along white sandy beaches; over bridges up to the Isle of Sky; past the battlefield of Cullen, where Bonnie Prince Charlie's cause was crushed; and down the coast to Edinburgh.

A companion bus follows, providing transportation to famous houses, castles and gardens where visitors enjoy champagne and special tours. These excursions might include stops at Achnacarry, the 13th-century castle restored by Sir Donald Cameron; Inverawe Fishery and Smokery; and Glamis castle, ancestral home of the Queen Mother and the legendary setting for "Macbeth." At the end of each day the train retires to a country station or quiet siding. Most of the elegant evenings are formal. After-dinner entertainment includes a Scottish fiddler, live clarsach music and dancing to the tunes of a Highland band. Then it is on to a night's rest in the Victorian-style sleeping compartments fitted with brass, polished burl walnut, etched mirrors and private baths.

European luxury train travel has long been the stuff of dreams. Once the means of transport for royalty, heiresses and more than a spy or two it speaks of mystery and perhaps intrigue. Today it has become a nostalgic adventure.

The Royal Scotsman train trips are available through Abercrombie & Kent, 800-323-7308.

–Roberta Graff

Spring 1995