With an optional detour on the Strathspey Railway.

Inverness – Scottish Highlands – Aviemore – Strathspey Railway (optional) – Dalwhinnie (whisky distillery) – Blair Atholl – Pitlochry – Forth Bridge – Edinburgh

INV flights available from: London-Luton (Easyjet).

EDI flights available to: London-Luton (Easyjet); London-Gatwick (Easyjet); London-Stansted (Easyjet & Ryanair).

This trip can be made in either direction (ie from Edinburgh to Inverness too), and there is no difference in which direction you travel (it will all depend on your own itinerary). For this description though, I have travelled from north to south. From Inverness to Edinburgh.

1. Inverness Airport to Inverness city centre.

Bus: Number 11 (Stagecoach JetBus). Duration: 25-28 minutes.

Taxi: Available from the airport terminal. To prebook, Tel: 01463 222222. Duration: 15 minutes.

Where to eat in Inverness? I have it on very good authority, that Platform 8 is the current place to eat, and is excellent. Both in the quality of the food, and in value for money.

2. Inverness to Aviemore (train).

This is the first section of the Highland Main Line. Travelling in this direction, it is also the most mountainous.

Duration (between Inverness and Aviemore): 40 minutes.

Tickets: You can buy your ticket, in advance, on the train operator’s (ScotRail) website: www.scotrail.co.uk

3. The Strathspey Railway (steam train – optional).

This is an absolutely magnificent sidetrip to take. Children are particularly fascinated by the sight, noise and smell of the steam engine.

The journey starts exactly from the same station in Aviemore as the one that the mainline train uses. So there is no wandering around looking for it. The journey is also return, so there is absolutely no chance of getting lost. You start from Aviemore, travel along the 10-mile section of restored railway line (the original Highland Railway Line) to Broomhill, via Boat of Garten, and then return in the opposite direction to Aviemore.

A light lunch or Traditional Afternoon Tea is served as you travel (depending on which service you take), and a very fine selection of Highland whisky is avialable (supplemented by some very fine, local craft ales).

And if you really fancy a splurge, and this I definitely recommend, then buy a First Class ticket – and travel in your very own 4-seat compartment in the First Class coach.

Strathspey Railway website: www.strathspeyrailway.co.uk

4. Aviemore to Dalwhinnie (train).

Returning to the Highland Main Line, for part II. The railway now passes through the less mountainous terrain of the absolutely stunning Cairngorms National Park.

Duration (between Aviemore and Dalwhinnie): 28 minutes.

Tickets: You can buy your ticket, in advance, on the train operator’s (ScotRail) website: www.scotrail.co.uk

Situated in the beautiful Cairngorms National Park, the Dalwhinnie Distillery (home of the “gentle spirit”), is one of the few whisky distilleries in Scotland that is easily accessible by rail. You simply get off the train at Dalwhinnie station, and walk toward the pagodas of the distillery which are just a few minutes away.

Making Dalwhinnie an ideal whisky distillery to tour if you are visiting Edinburgh or Inverness.

Dalwhinnie Distillery website: www.malts.com/en-row/distilleries/dalwhinnie/

5. Dalwhinnie to Blair Atholl (train).

Returning to the Highland Main Line, for part III. The line continuing to wind its way through the Cairngorms National Park.

This is Scotland at its finest. And the area around Atholl is also central to Scotland’s history. The River Garry rushes through the heart of Atholl like a silver thread linking all the villages and glens. The lively Atholl rivers combine with the mountains, hills and glens to create some of the finest scenery in Scotland, and the Atholl villages offer some of the finest hospitality in a natural, unspoiled setting.

Duration (between Dalwhinnie and Blair Atholl): 21 minutes.

Tickets: You can buy your ticket, in advance, on the train operator’s (ScotRail) website: www.scotrail.co.uk

There are few accommodation options in Blair Atholl though (it really is tiny). So if you fancy stopping here then I would recommend that you book as soon as possible – the Atholl Arms, opposite Blair Castle, gets some pretty good reviews – and no crowds.

6. Blair Atholl to Pitlochry (train).

Returning to the Highland Main Line, for part IV (and a very short journey). The line now leaves the Cairngorms National Park behind, and enters much less mountainous (and in my opinion, much more beautiful country).

If still bedecked with flowers, Pitlochry railway station must surely be a contender for the most beautiful railway station in the UK.

Of the two villages, Blair Atholl and Pitlochry, Pitlochry has way more to see and do. And as a consequence attracts many more visitors. So it’s a personal choice, maybe you can afford the time to stay at both? But having “more to do” has never been my personal preference, I would always choose the more remote option, and enjoy a more intimate experience of the Highlands, and of Highland hospitality (while enjoying the exact same scenery).

But there can be no doubt, there is far more to see and do in Pitlochry.

Pitlochry is also home to the Blair Athol Whisky Distillery, which is within easy walking distance of the train station.

7. Pilochry to Edinburgh (train).

Returning to the Highland Main Line for the final time, in this direction.

The most notable part of this journey is as the train travels across the architectural marvel that is Forth Bridge just outside of Edinburgh. A UNESCO World Heritage site. Not near it, but actually on it. Affording excellent views of the recently-built Queensferry Crossing (road bridge).

8. Edinburgh city centre to Edinburgh Airport (EDI).

You can reach Edinburgh Airport from central Edinburgh, by train, tram or bus. Or you can even drive (and park there).

See the following for the current methods (April 2018):
edinburgh-airport-from-edinburgh-city-centreImage: Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport website: www.edinburghairport.com

These “virtual” journeys are just my way of continuing to see the world, now that the progression of my ataxia means that lengthy travel is no longer a possibility for me. Hence the detail. By planning the journey in such detail, I end up knowing the route so well that I feel like I have been on it myself. Although in this case, I have.

So if this article has inspired you, saved you some valuable time (or even just saved you a few pounds/euros/dollars), please show your appreciation by making a donation to Ataxia UK (registered charity), by following this link:


100% of your donation goes directly, and immediately, to Ataxia UK (plus an additional 25% if you are a UK-taxpayer and have ticked the “Gift Aid” box).

And a personal request?

Share a photograph, that you take at some point on your journey, with me on Twitter. Not necessarily your “best” photograph, but the one photograph that will forever remind you of your journey.

That way I can live a little piece of the journey through your eyes.

SlĂ inte Mhath!