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Help With Scotland

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I normally never post a "help me with the itinerary" query because when I read some of the others I get the impression people are looking for a cheap travel agent.

What I would prefer are some opinions based on actual experience.

The situation: traveling to the UK probably August 2015. August because one of the must-do things is the Edinburgh Tattoo and I understand that is only performed in the month of August.

One of us will probably not ever be in Scotland again before they die. I keep seeing the pictures of the fantastic scenery which I assume is in the Highlands: those craggy peaks and vast panoramas. I am thinking, perhaps incorrectly, that several days at least in that area would be good. Doesn't need a lot of so-called "depth" but would like to see what most folks consider to be "the best." And I keep hearing about it really all that much better/more scenic or is it just a "whole other experience?"

We could easily fly into Manchester and rent a car for this (driving in the UK is not an issue) or we could take the train (the West Highland Line?).

We enjoy museums, some ruins, castles, and gardens in particular. I already have "the guidebook" in which, of course, everything is worthwhile. Budget is open and we prefer hotels to B+B's although we do not like "dreary" hotels...doesn't have to be the Hilton but anything with that faded wallpaper (and I love wallpaper!) I am automatically suspicious of!

Small towns are fine and, in fact, they are preferable sometimes.

Even a brief kickstart as to just the general direction in which to head would be good now.

If I have been too vague say so and I will clarify and thanks in advance.

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