The train is a longstanding symbol of modernity and progress — of global exploration and technological advancement, of forging ahead and discovering new frontiers. Now, however, trains have more nostalgic connotations, putting us in mind of quaint countryside journeys of a rather more scenic variety: we imagine Agatha Christie mysteries and Harry Potter, chugging steam engines and snug private carriages. Where trains used to be synonymous with going far and getting there quickly, they’re now about taking our time.
Nothing could be more evocatively nostalgic than the Royal Scotsman, a Belmond Train, Scotland, whose expedition-style train journeys capture all the glorious daring and romance of the golden era of railway travel with an eye for detail and luxury. Sumptuous and unashamedly indulgent, the Royal Scotsman is both historically exact and state-of-the-art, combining a modern attention to five-star hospitality with a whimsical sense of old-fashioned adventure and fun.
Featuring Edwardian cabins fitted with mahogany marquetry, dining cabins and observation cars decked out in wood paneling and stunning upholstery, and even a Dior Spa that offers bespoke facials and deep-tissue massages, it’s an experience out of time as comfortable and relaxing as a stay at the finest hotel.
The Royal Scotsman’s latest journey was among its most exciting ever: new for the summer season was the Highland Survival Adventure, running from June 30th to July 3rd 2023. Guests boarded the Royal Scotsman in Edinburgh’s historic Waverley Station. Beginning with a four-course seasonal dinner of Kedgeree and Scottish game, among other local highlights, the journey then made its way through the valleys of Fort William, where guests visited the Achnacarry Estate near Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig, enjoyed a secret hike to a lunch with WILDNIS chef Tom Byrom, drove the moors in style in a fleet of Land Rover Defenders, and partook in Royal Marines Commando Assault Training with former Royal Marines sergeant George MacHardy. And that was just the first 24 hours.
The next days were no less exhilarating, as guests explored the Wemyss Bay, abseiled down a natural waterfall, enjoyed wild swimming, learned to forage their own food (and cooked it over an open fire), and tested their mettle in a course designed to teach survival in remote locations. In addition to these intensive opportunities, guests had the luxuries of the train itself at their disposal, and there were many snacks and cocktails to savour on board each evening at their leisure. Finally, the train made its way back to Edinburgh; guests soaked up the gorgeous scenery from the observation car as they went. It’s no wonder that Belmond has been the top name in luxury travel for nearly 50 years. With an adventure this monumental, everyone on board made memories to last a lifetime.