‘We drown in otters right here,” stated ranger Amie Dow as she confirmed me across the tiny off-grid coastal neighborhood of Inverie, on north-west Scotland’s distant Knoydart peninsula. That may completely be my form of loss of life. Sadly although, not a single otter confirmed its furry face, so I needed to content material myself with a tour of the picturesque village – a few of whose homes residents constructed themselves – and the soul-easing neighborhood woodland round it. I remarked on the great self-sufficiency of the villagers.
“We’ve bought a saying right here,” Amie added with a smile. “No one’s going to avoid wasting you on Knoydart.”
My journey to Inverie was simply one among a bunch of mini-adventures I loved because of a Highland Rover rail ticket. It allowed me limitless journey on any 4 days in eight on the West Highland line from Glasgow to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig; and on all strains between Aberdeen, Aviemore, Kyle of Lochalsh and Wick/Thurso within the far north. Since these two areas don’t really be part of up, the go can also be legitimate on buses between Fort William and Inverness; and it provides reductions or free journeys on some ferries, too.

Ferry story … the one transport to Knoydart is the boat from Mallaig, pictured {Photograph}: James Perry/Alamy
After a lot session of timetables, I settled on an bold schedule. Setting off from Glasgow, I’d soak up Mallaig, Inverie, Kyle of Lochalsh, Thurso, Stromness, Kirkwall, Aberdeen and Inverness. My grand tour would contain 17 hours of rail journey, two bus rides and 4 ferry crossings, together with Northlink’s overnighter from Orkney to Aberdeen, on which I sampled a model new “sleeping pod” – a big reclining seat that was nearly comfortable sufficient to reside as much as its identify.
I didn’t have to attend lengthy after leaving Glasgow to see the primary hills slide into view because the afternoon solar burnished woods dressed of their best cloaks of gold, copper and bronze. As we rattled into the mountains, it was soothing to be fleeing additional and additional away from wherever the place information occurs.
The following morning, I struck out for Inverie. As there’s no highway there, I took the small ferry from Mallaig.
“I noticed some bottlenose dolphins within the harbour yesterday,” Tony the skipper informed me, his solely passenger, as we sped across the coast.

A Scotrail prepare crosses the glacial delta estuary of the River Attadale on the Kyle of Lochalsh within the Highlands.
{Photograph}: Joe Dunckley/Alamy Inventory Picture
For such an remoted neighborhood, it’s exceptional how a lot they’ve bought happening. Although the village pub had closed for the winter, I may nonetheless partake of some vegetable tempura and butternut squash curry at The Lookout bistro and pop subsequent door to a micro-brewery in a transformed chapel. Sam and Matt’s Knoydart Brewery opened simply over a yr in the past and has already bought some 8,000 bottles regionally. “We’re hoping to open a faucet room right here as effectively in 2020,” Matt informed me as we mentioned the finer factors of a crisp golden ale made with mountain water from the close by River Millburn.
Utilizing the Isle of Skye as a stepping stone between Mallaig and the Kyle of Lochalsh (the Highland Rover covers the ferry to Armadale), I boarded a prepare to Dingwall. The largely single-track Kyle of Lochalsh line is a wonderful and considerably unhinged Victorian enterprise – the immense scale of the rugged surroundings sits in inverse proportion to the scale of the inhabitants the numerous solitary stations serve. The panorama flanking the Far North line as much as Thurso is gentler. Mountains are changed by hills, wilderness by farmland and plantations, and hamlets by a correct city: Thurso is residence to Britain’s most northerly railway station.
After an evening on the comfortable Pentland Lodge Home B&B (doubles from £88), I took the ferry over a uneven Pentland Firth.
Orkney served me artwork and alcohol. For the primary, I mooched fortunately across the compact Pier Arts Centre in Stromness, with its spectacular assortment of 20th-century British artwork, together with works by big-hitters Barbara Hepworth and Eduardo Paolozzi. Intoxicants have been offered by Kirkwall’s Orkney Distillery, which opened simply 18 months in the past however has already began scooping up awards for its gin. Tour information Anja led our small group by means of the gin-making course of and on to the all-important botanical-sniffing and gin-tasting session (£15pp).

Aberdeen Artwork Gallery. {Photograph}: Mike Davidson
“The wild angelica we use comes from the island of Westray and was most likely first planted there by Norse settlers,” Anja informed us. One can solely bless our Viking cousins for doing so, as a result of the gin in query was – to make use of a technical time period – extraordinarily moreish.
Aberdeen served me artwork and scrumptious meals. Aberdeen Artwork Gallery reopened in November after a five-year, £34m refurbishment, tying its beforehand disparate buildings into one triumphant entire. It might sound like I’m gushing however I actually can’t bear in mind the final time I discovered myself amid a lot participating modern artwork in such an inspiring area. Hours later I staggered outdoors and made for Bonobo, the town’s first employees’ cooperative vegan restaurant, the place the friendliness of the welcome was matched by the tastiness of the mega-breakfast.
On earlier visits I’ve been immune to Aberdeen’s charms however after a really nice saunter round Seaton Park within the firm of crimson squirrels, and a stroll by means of the college’s venerable King’s Faculty campus, it was with some reluctance that I boarded a night prepare to Inverness, although a snug mattress awaited me on the newly refurbished Heathmount Resort (doubles from round £76.50 B&B).
Stepping out at Glasgow Queen Road station the following day, having crammed within the fourth and remaining field on my ticket, I discovered I used to be already smarting on the lack of my freedom to roam the rails. Liberty might be fairly the drug.
• The Highland Rover (for 4 days in eight) was provided by ScotRail and prices £95 grownup (£58.75 with sure railcards), £44.50 little one, with ScotRail. See visitscotland.com for additional info
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