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Scotland 1 week - East Neuk? Rannoch moor? Glenfinnan? Glencoe?

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We (couple in our 50s who love nature, walking, small towns, architecture, and local culture) have a week for our first visit to Scotland in June. We start after a meeting ends on Saturday morning in Edinburgh and fly onward (one to US and other to Norway) the following Sunday, probably from Glasgow. We like to use public transport as much as possible, then hire local taxis or drivers, etc. Will hire a self-drive car when absolutely necessary. We know this is a short trip and would like to plan a sampler of experiences-- loch walk, seashore, perhaps boat, glen walk, moor walk, tour a castle, see some ruins, stay in a small town and see variety of architecture. We will have our hiking shoes and rain gear in our backpack and rollaboards.

With the help of this board, guidebook, Walkinghighlands, Nationalrail, and traveline, I've come up with the following ideas:

Saturday - finish any sights in city, night in Edinburgh

Sunday – day trip to East Neuk villages including walk between villages, eat fish and chips, travel via St Andrews (train to Leuchars + bus). If weather simply horrible, substitute Stirling, Linlithgow Palace, Doune. Night in Edinburgh

Monday - train along West Highland line to Bridge of Orchy if we can get reservation at the hotel. Stop, drop bags, and take next train to Corrour or Rannoch Station, walk on the moors, catching train back to BoO about 4 hours later. Other option is to walk on West Highland Way from the hotel. Night at Bridge of Orchy.

Tuesday - bus to Glencoe, drop bags at prearranged hotel, and spend rest of day on walks in the glen. Night at Glencoe.

Wednesday - bus/bus or bus/train to Glenfinnan. Walk, boat on Loch Shie. Night in Glenfinnan.

Thursday - train to Arisaig and boat to Eigg or Rum or else roundtrip to somewhere on Skye? Night in Glenfinnan.

Friday – train back to Tarbet where maybe switch to bus to ride along Loch Lomond. Stop anywhere or go straight to Glasgow? Night in Glasgow.

Saturday - House for an Art Lover or day trip to Stirling. Night in Glasgow.

Sunday departure.

Will the destinations give us a variety/taste of Scotland with our limited time? Has anyone walked on the moor from Bridge of Orchy, Rannoch Station, or Corrour? BoO sounds likes you avoid the bogs but is not as remote. Anyone stopped at the stations on the line for a few hours then took a later train? Overnighting in the area seems logistically easier, but all the hotels and hostels have very limited number of rooms.

Is using Glenfinnan as a base for that area a good idea? I know it's small, but we do prefer that to a city. I'm just unsure of the relative locations and what is a good hub.

Anything you would suggest we substitute or add?

Once we have our destinations settled, then I will wait for the summer transit schedules and be ready to snag my husband's tickets when I see a good price and book any of the lodgings that are essential.

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    Just a few comments for now. Rannoch Moor is one of my favorite places in Scotland. I've stayed several times at the Moor of Rannoch Hotel. www.moorofrannoch.co.uk They do have only 5 rooms, but it is an excellent place with great food. I would highly recommend it. Ron can advise you on places to walk. There are a number of options. One of my favorites is to Loch Ossian. There is nothing at Corrour but the train station and a hostel style bunkhouse.

    I do think your itinerary is a bit frantic with litle time to absorb the Scottish Highlands. I'd shorten your itinerary and spend a couple of nights at several different places instead of changing every night. You won't have nearly as much time as you think you will.

    Not sure there's a boat from Arisaig to Rhum or Eigg. Calmac ferries sail from Mallaig. Again I think it's too much especially the idea of a day trip to Skye.

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    You will need to look at bus schedules. They are usually not too frequent in the rural areas you have selected. The ferries are even less frequent and do not run if the seas are rough.

    I do agree that simplifying your schedule will allow you explore the areas you have choosen.

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    Your plan would be a bit frantic by car pretty darn difficult by public transport. Also - the trains aren't really hop-on-hop-off. You might get away w/ it but technically you need to book separate tickets xxx to yyy and yyy to zzz. Not xxx to zzz jumping off at yyy.

    I agree w/ the above . . pick three places (absolute max if you want to use buses/trains)

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    Thans for the personal experience walking on Rannoch Moor at Corrour.

    The only place we have one night stays is Bridge of Orchy and Glen Coe. Otherwise, we are leaving Edinburgh after 5 nights there (including work), 2 nights in Glenfinnan, and 2 nights in Glasgow. I'm thinking we might just drive through Glen Coe to have more time in another place or arrange a day trip to Glen Coe and return to BoO for the night. But that would give us the 3 places after Edinburgh as you recommend - BoO, Glenfinnan, and Glasgow mainly for return flight. Would you suggest somewhere else rather than these 3?

    All the destinations and routes are based on the winter bus and train schedule, so the public transport part has been checked and we know the number and timing of buses and trains available in January-March. We will have to wait for March to see the exact June schedule. We are sticking to the main West Highland route for both bus and train. It only gets extremely limited northwest of Fort William.

    Yes, there is a boat from Arisaig in the summer--Arisaig Marine www.arisaig.co.uk/ with different islands on different days. We aren't counting on an island trip because of the uncertainty of weather. I think we would substitute a day looking a Mallaig, the white sands, a museum in Fort Williams.

    Not sure yet if we will purchase point to point train tickets or some type of pass that will allow unlimited on/off each day.

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    If you have moderately good weather the boat from Arisaig to one of the islands would be a lovely way to spend a day. Skye is one of my very favorite places but somewhat difficult as a day trip with no transportation of your own; you would probably enjoy one of the smaller islands more. Even if the day is partly cloudy or rainy, unless it's downright stormy, that would still be a good option, as the weather can always change dramatically. (We took a boat trip from Elgol, on Skye, on a fairly gray and drizzly day, and it was still a lot of fun.)

    I'm not so sure about substituting Mallaig and Ft. William. We did not spend time in Ft. William except to catch the steam engine there, but went to Mallaig on both of our trips, and there is simply not much there. It's charming on a nice day, but on a cold or rainy day, there's just no reason to go. (Both times we were there were in June, two years apart - once was lovely, and once we almost froze to death. Go figure.) Janisj will correct me if I am forgetting something fascinating about Mallaig, though.

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    There's nothing fascinating about Mallaig but it's a scenic train ride from Arisaig to Mallaig and reason enough for going. Mallaig does have a couple of places one could stop for lunch or tea and the harbor/quayside is interesting especially when the fishing boats come in. There is also the Mallaig Marine World (aquarium) if that appeals and the Heritage Centre which has an interesting description of the Clearances and topics of local interest. These attractions are not grand in any way, but I actually find them interesting, and they do give an excellent perspective and provide a better understanding of Scottish life. If a nice day, I'd also suggest the walk to Mallaig Bheag.

    Kay2, you've obviously done your homework coming up with bus schedules etc. There might be some minor changes, but I doubt they'll seriously affect your schedule. Nevertheless make sure you have June schedule in hand and perferably before finalizing your plans.

    I did find Arisaig Marine.:)

    Have a look at Glennfinnan House for a place to stay. www.glenfinnanhouse.com

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    When I mentioned the scenic train ride from Arisaig to Mallaig, I was actually thinking of the route from Glennfinnan to Mallaig. It's still a pleasant ride from Araisaig but a short one.

    I wouldn't bother with any sort of passes as point to point tickets in this area are fairly cheap. You'd not save any money.

    I'm still a bit confused about including Glen Coe. I'm assuming there are buses from BoO to Fort William via Glen Coe? Glen Coe is wonderful, but I might give it a miss unless the bus schedules make it fairly easy to do. I've used the trains a lot in the past few years but still resort to car rentals for the places trains don't go.

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    What a super itinerary. Totally love it.

    Comments:-
    >Sunday – day trip to East Neuk villages including walk between villages,< you may find that challenging given the time you have.

    > eat fish and chips, travel via St Andrews (train to Leuchars + bus). If weather simply horrible, substitute Stirling, Linlithgow Palace, Doune. Night in Edinburgh< with a car?

    Will the destinations give us a variety/taste of Scotland with our limited time? Has anyone walked on the moor from Bridge of Orchy, Rannoch Station, or Corrour? BoO sounds likes you avoid the bogs but is not as remote. Anyone stopped at the stations on the line for a few hours then took a later train? Overnighting in the area seems logistically easier, but all the hotels and hostels have very limited number of rooms.

    >Is using Glenfinnan as a base for that area a good idea? <

    Given what you want to do, it's fine. There's not much there buy scenery, the hotel, the station and the visitor centre

    Of course you could do it differently, but it's lovely as it is.

    The boats to the Small Isles do go from Arisaig.

    And given your desire to walk, staying in Glencoe is way better than staying in Fort William

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    Thanks for all your suggestions on this post and my post asking about the ferries and the Orkneys. Although my husband's request to visit the Orkneys at first threw off my simple West Highland Way itinerary, everything is working out.

    I'll have 1.5 days on my own in Edinburgh before starting work, so I will have some tourist time to visit the castle, Gladstone's Land or other sites. My husband arrives at EDI on Friday and I finish work by noon on Saturday, so he should be rested and ready to spend Saturday afternoon tourists together--walking the streets in different neighborhoods, maybe train out to Linlithgow for a walk. I've booked the Edinburgh hotel through Sunday night for what for us is a slow start to our travels (on previous trips we have left the work city on Saturday afternoon to begin touring).

    Sunday will be a day trip - probably St Andrews and East Neuk villages; Stirling as backup.

    Monday morning we head to EDI to fly to Kirkwall, pick up hire car from Tullock, check in at Ben Mora B&B, then tour archaeological sites (book Mae showe in advance), visit Stomness the next morning, return car and visit Kirkwall wireless museum before returning to airport for 16:55 flight to INV and evening bus to Fort William. Citylink is the only timetable still not out for June, but there seem to be several options between Citylink and Stagecoach in May.

    Best Western Imperial in Fort William will be our base for two nights based on practicality rather than beauty. Wednesday will be our hiking on the moors day--train to Corrour at 7:40am with 4 hours to walk to Lake Ossian and then change into dry socks & shoes to catch the train on to Bridge of Orchy Hotel for lunch and rest, then bus through Glen Coe to Fort William. If we are back in time, the Duncansburgh Macintosh Church Hall advertises country dancing and the Ben Nevis Inn advertised local music on Wednesdays.

    Thursday is our Train to the Isles day. Train to Mallaig at 8:30. Based on advice, we would expect to just take the 15 minute break and return on the 10:10 train. Still have the option to stop in Glenfinnan for a walk under the bridge and/or down to the loch, but will not plan loch hike or boat ride. Pick up bags and catch afternoon bus through Glen Coe toward Glasgow.

    We haven't decided if Thursday afternoon we would like to ride all the way to Glasgow for 2 nights or if we would like to stop at Tarbet for one night to be able to walk down and sit along Loch Lomond in the evening before taking a 9:30am bus on to Glasgow on Friday morning. If we want to stop at Loch Lomond, then we should pass on Glenfinnan stop.

    Friday/Saturday we will spend in Glasgow at the Hunterian Museum, maybe House for an Art Lover, maybe piping center. My niece may be living in Glasgow by then, so our schedule may be influenced by her availability. Suggestions for Glasgow still welcome.

    Saturday afternoon we take a train to Manchester from where we fly out on Sunday mid morning. I don't know much about Manchester, so don't know if we will try to stay in the city for dinner and the night, then train to airport in the morning or just stay at an airport hotel for the night. Personal experiences welcome here.

    You can see we plan and pack a lot into our trips. My husband is goal oriented and hates "just wandering around" or "let's just play it by ear", but is agreeable to adapting the plan once on the ground if we run across something interesting or if we have to adapt to bad weather, cancelled flights, strikes, or the like. We often have these limited times sandwiched between my meetings, so we make the most of my having a paid for airplane ticket and hotel room in a city like Edinburgh and he doesn't have to wait 6 weeks to see me again :-)

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