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10 days in Scotland with 2 kids

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Hello,
I am researching a 10 day trip to Scotland starting July 5th next summer for our family; 2 adults, 2 teenagers and a 7 yr old boy. I think I have a rough idea of what we want to do, but just thought I would ask if our trip makes sense to those who know Scotland. We don't want to spend hours and hours of driving so I didn't include far north or west in my itinerary as 10 days isn't too long (we will have just come from 7 days in the Netherlands):
Itinerary so far:
Edinburgh 3 nights to see the castle, Arthur's Seat, and Britannia... and explore
East Neuk to see the fishing villages and on to St. Andrew's to stay 1 night
Glamis Castle the next day and carry on to stay in Pitlochry for 1 night (ideas: hike some or all of Ben Vrackie, visit a distillery, maybe Blair castle)
Fort William next as we are interested in the Jacobite train day trip, 2 nights
Loch Lomond for one night (ideas: boat tour, Balloch Castle Country park, Loch Lomond Shores) x 1
Final night in Stirling to explore (maybe Stirling castle, or Drummond Castle gardens), and drive to Glasgow airport to return to Canada the following day.
I know it is only a part of Scotland, but we were hoping to at least see some beautiful scenery & comfortable hikes, a loch tour, some quaint fishing villages (maybe a walk on the beach), some castles, at least one whisky distillery for my husband, and of course Edinburgh City.
If anyone has any comments about this itinerary (being realistic, or capturing Scotland etc.) I would really welcome them. Thanks.

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    Generally fine. However -- and I do understand the draw of the Jacobite . . . But to stay two nights in Ft William is awful IMO. One night OK (sort of). But 2 -- nope. Maybe stay those two nights in Glencoe or possibly Ballachulish. In fact I'd only stay one night (in Glencoe) and then 2 nights near Callander. LOTS to see in the area.

    And I would flip Stirling and Loch Lomond (actually I'd stay in Callander instead of Stirling) . The southern part of Loch Lomond is only about 30 mins from GLA.

    While in the Stirling/Callander area you could visit Doune castle and especially Inchmahome Priory - plus Stirling and Drummond if you stayed the 2 nights)

    My only other comment is - Pitlochry is OK - certainly better than Ft William - I'd maybe stay that night in Dunkeld.

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    >>look up your other suggestions near Loch Lomond.<<

    Just to clarify in case there is some confusion I didn't actually suggest any specific place near Loch Lomond. Just that Loch Lomond is an easy drive from GLA so I'd rather stay there the night before flying out instead of Stirling. A lot depends on your budget. For posh/upscale the Cameron House would be good -- but there are lots of other options.

    Basically my suggestion was to hit the Trossachs/Callander/Stirling area after the Glencoe/Ft William stop. Then finish up on Loch Lomond before heading to the airport.

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    thanks so much for the trip reports! Indy dad, your trips look wonderful! It's hard for me to decide where to go. Like most people, we want to make the most of it and since flying 5 people to Europe from Canada takes a lot of savings, as a result, I may be over-thinking it too much! think we will do Edinburgh 3 nights, St Andrews/East Neuk 2 nights (include Glamis Castle), Glencoe 2 nights (including Jacobite train), Callendar 3 nights (include Loch Lomond boat trip, Doune, and Stirling castle, Inchmahome Priory)and straight to Glasgow airport from Callander. We could do 2 nights in Callendar and then one in Loch Lomond but this way we move our sleeping accomodations less, probably easier with the kids. this all seems like a reasonable amount of driving with some time in the city, some good hikes, castles, east coast villages and we'll find a distillery along the way!
    Would you suggest staying the 2 nights in St Andrews or in one of the villages near it along the coast?
    Janisj, if you have time I would welcome your take on this new itinerary, thanks! :)

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    I really like your new plan. Longer would be good of course -- but you are managing a reasonable tour w/o running crazy.

    >>Would you suggest staying the 2 nights in St Andrews or in one of the villages near it along the coast? <<

    Me personally -- I'd stay in Crail. To me it is the prettiest of all the villages. But anywhere along the coast from St Andrews to Pittenweem would be great.

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    >>Would you suggest staying the 2 nights in St Andrews or in one of the villages near it along the coast? <<

    St. Andrews is bigger and busier and has more restaurant options. Crail is much smaller and probably more relaxing. They aren't that far apart. Depends on what you want. We were happy in Crail and liked the stress-free atmosphere.

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    This is what I prepared years ago, just slightly updated. Not that I'm suggesting you do it, but it may give you more ideas.

    Ideas would certainly include Deep Sea World just outside Edinburgh. The Discovery Centre in Dundee (which tells the story of Captain Scott's voyage to the South Pole) is very good too, and finishes with a tour of the boat itself, which is moored just outside. The Zoo in Edinburgh is very good for kids) plus we have pandas)

    Castles- you must do Edinburgh castle. Other castles include Huntingtower at Perth, Blair Atholl at Blair Athol (strangely) Craigievar (which is the one Disney is supposed to have used as his model), Drum, Crathes and Castle Fraser in Grampian. Doune castle is where they filmed the castle scenes in Life of Brian. Aberdeenshire is the bit half way up the right hand side which sticks out into the North Sea. It has a lot of castles which are owned by the National Trust which may be a bit twee for the kids, but they're in beautiful locations. There is one ruin south of Stonehaven (130 miles north-east of Edinburgh) which is very dramatic- Dunottar- which has a lovely legend attached to it about the Crown Jewels and it is a stunning location.

    The one I didn't mention is Castle Urquhart on Loch Ness. The whole thing with the monster is very child friendly- there's a monster exhibition at Drumnadrochit. You get the scenery and they get the myths and legends.
    The Falkirk Wheel is stunning. There’s a steam train at Bo’Ness.
    See http://www.britainsfinest.co.uk/attractions/attractions.cfm/searchazref/80001640SCOA

    There is a very good steam train which runs from Boat of Garten on Speyside. If you come up to Speyside, there is the Highland Wildlife Park at Carrbridge I would have said you could usefully spend a few days around there. The grown ups will like it too; and there’s Landmark at Aviemore. Nearby is Abernethy Forest, which, apart from being spectacularly beautiful, is the home of the Osprey Centre, where there is a big modern hide with closed circuit television into the nest of the ospreys. It's open to the public. These are all near Aviemore- an architectural disaster in the Highlands but a place with lots of child based stuff to do by kids. Oh, there’s a reindeer farm there, too. Leault Farm does working sheepdog displays.

    There’s a very good ancient history interpretative centre in Kilmartin at the north end of Kilmartin Glen. It’s probably a bit less child friendly.

    Satrosphere is a science based learning centre for young people in Aberdeen. A bit tatty and low key the last time I was there; but absolutely fascinating for the kids and the Maritime Museum in Aberdeen would be good too. Peterhead (25 miles north) has a Maritime Museum too and Fraserburgh (15 miles west of Peterhead) has a lighthouse museum. There is a marine aquarium at Macduff (west on the coast again) and the "Buckie drifter" is a fishing boat you can see all round in (strangely) Buckie. There's stuff like that all over the Highlands

    The Crieff Hydro and Coylumbridge Hotels pride themselves on being child friendy. I've been to the Crieff Hydro and it is. There is a babysitting service and phones in the rooms that enable you to listen in and make sure the kids are all right (if they are of an age where they can fall asleep in the room by themselves.) The Hydro is a spa, basically. Coylumbridge Hotel is a bit soulless as a building but does have masses of child based activities.

    St. Andrews is also fun for the kids. The castle there has a tunnel they can go into. There is also the British Golf Museum that has questions that the kids can answer based on info taken from the displays. St. Andrews is a beautiful place, by the way.

    Edinburgh also has a Museum of Childhood and although I haven't been, it's supposed to be very good.

    History centres- these are everywhere. Almost every town has one. Bannockburn at Stirling (major battle victory over the English-1314) has one, which the kids would love. New Lanark in Lanarkshire is the planned village of Robert Owen, the 19th century philanthropist, and is on the upper reaches of the Clyde.

    This following tour is based on a reasonable time to do the things I would enjoy doing with small children.

    Leave Edinburgh, cross the Forth Road Bridge and stop at Deep Sea World at North Queesferry. That will take you until lunchtime; Go on to Vane Farm at Kinross (bird reserve, cafeteria for lunch) Cross over to the Fife Coast) at about Leven and spend the afternoon driving from there along the coast through Lundin Links, Lower Largo( the home of Alexander Selkirk, the model for Robinson Crusoe) Pittenween, Anstruther, and Crail to St Andrews. Lots of lovely harbours, and beaches and golf courses, St Andrews has the West beach, the Old Course (where golf was invented) the Golf Museum, the Cathedral ruins, a cinema, the best ice cream shop in the east of Scotland. Stay the night.

    Next day go into Dundee and do Discovery Point where Scott's ship Discovery is. Apart from that and perhaps the Unicorn, Dundee is the armpit of the Universe, so get the hell out as soon as possible. Come up the coast road to Stonehaven and stop at Dunnottar Castle just south of the town for a run about. If you’re in the summer, try the outdoor heated pool. Very 1930s. Lunchtime should see you at Aberdeen; take in Satrosphere, the Maritime Museum, Codona's (a permanent funfair at the beach) cinemas, leisure centre etc etc. Take a walk around old Aberdeen and the University area in the evening. Next day, drive up to Lumsden, and Rhynie, then cross the Cabrach to Dufftown, where you will find Glenfiddich distillery- not the best whisky in the world but probably the best tour. Go on to Tomintoul and stop in this pretty village. Buy your whisky in the specialist shop here, rather than in Edinburgh. There is also a very good wood carvers shop here. Go on over the hill and aim for the Coylumbrdge Hotel near Aviemore that night. Next day go and take the steam train at Boat of Garten then go into the Forest at Abernethy or Rothiemurchus. The hotel is very good for kids, so take a slow evening there.

    Day 5 stick around- do the Highland Wildlife Park in the morning, and Landmark in the afternoon. Go down to Kingussie and see the Wade barracks at Ruthven. Stay at Coylumbridge again, and have an evening in the thriving metroplis of Aviemore

    Day 6 get an early start and go up the A9 to Inverness then down the north side of the Loch to Drumnadrochit. Stop at Castle Urquhart on the way and take in the Loch Ness Monster exhibition at Drumnadrochit. Take the A887 to Cluanie and Kyle of Lochalsh, passing Eilean Donan castle- that's the one on all the calendars. After you get to Kyle take a wee detour to Plockton, possibly the most picturesque village in the country and stay in the Plockton Inn.

    Next morning get up bright and early and cross the bridge to Skye. Meander through the island, marvelling at the Cuillin, Stop at Portree for a wee walk round, go up to the north east point and go for a walk round the Quiraing, come back down through Trotternish, head for Dunvegan Castle- Go back to Uig and spend the night either at the Uig Hotel or the Ferry Inn.

    Day 8 catch the early ferry to Lochmaddy on North Uist. Drive right round North Uist anti-clockwise then cross Benbecula- boring- to South Uist. Go to the places you want to see. It's not very big. The nicest Hotel in South Uist is the Polochar Inn which is in a superb location overlooking Eriskay- the Whisky Galore island.I recommend the Outer Hebrides handbook and Guide-published by Kittiwake. You can now cross to Eriskay by causeway.

    Day 9-or 10 if you want more time there- take the ferry from Lochboisdale to Oban- it's a long but very beautiful sail, through the Small Isles and down the sound of Mull.

    Stay overnight in Oban, the hub of West Highland Ferry traffic. You can do the Sealife sanctuary at Creran.. There’s also another rare breeds farm. Next day, take the A85 through the Pass of Brander. Stop at Cruachan Electricity Station. You get right inside the hill and see the turbines working. Stay on the A85 to Crianlarich and Callender (stop at Balquhidder to see Rob Roy Country) and come on south to Stirling where you should see the visitor centre at Bannockburn, site of Scotland's great victory over the English in 1314- and don't say we can't carry a grudge!- then the castle itself.

    Now if you decided to drive out to London, you could spend a day or two in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, and take in Hadrian's Wall on the way further south.

    In Glasgow, you could take them down the Clyde on the Waverley Steamer.

    Summary:-
    Castles- I lost count but I think, including Edinburgh I have 5. There are many more.

    Historical displays,- Discovery Point, Landmark, Bannockburn, the Maritime Museum in Aberdeen, Culloden on the way to loch Ness

    Ruins- St Andrews Cathedral, Dunottar Castle, Castle Urquhart, Dunvegan, Mccaig's Folly at Oban

    Monuments of all kinds (and periods of history/pre-history)-all of the above

    Interactive exhibits,-Discovery Point, Archaeolink, Satrosphere, Bannockburn

    Short interesting day-hikes (8-9 km. return, max.) with a destination (keeps the kids interested if they are going to a waterfall or something like that, or if it's a loop trail)- good opportunities at Ben Cruachan, on the Uists, the Qiraing on Skye, and Rothiemurchus or Abernethy on Speyside,

    Science and nature (although, I prefer nature as it relates to Scotland).-Deep Sea World, Vane Farm, the Osprey Centre at Abernethy, the Highland Wildlife Park, Balranald, North Uist (all nature) Satrosphere (science), Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh

    Beautiful scenery- Everywhere- at least everywhere north of the Highland line.

    There are SO MANY castles, if you could pick out the top 6-8 (range of style, most interesting architecturally and/or historically, ease of access for our route).- The one I've picked are based on your route. There are some very fine slightly later castles in Aberdeenshire; a slight detour could accommodate them. The ones I've listed are architecturally sort of similar, but historically divergent and interesting. Balmoral Castle (worth it?)- sort of. Nice scenery. You can't usually get into the castle. It's a modern 19th century affair, mostly interesting for its connection to the Windsor family. To fit it in I think you'd need another day in the east/south.

    Beinn Eighe Nature Trail- quite close to Coylumbridge and definitely doable from there, but you'd have to lose something I put in. Personally I think Rothiemurchus and the CaIrngorms is superior. Did I mention Cairngorm? Big mountain near Coylumbridge- funicular to the Ptarmigan even in summer?

    Cairnholy, Dumfries and Galloway (prehistoric burial mounds and ruins at Threave Castle and Sweetheart Abby),-I've missed out everything south of the central belt for lack of time. There are burial mounds everywhere in Scotland; but the Borders Abbeys are special.

    Stirling Castle- to put it back in if doing the route backwards, after Queensferry, go along the north side of the Forth to Stirling and spend a bit of time there. It's probably worth the detour through Dollar to see Castle Campbell, if you're doing this route.


    Places to Eat

    Edinburgh- Vittoria’s Leith Walk, Cramond Brig

    Glasgow- TGI Friday’s; the Tron

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    Hello Waterloo12.

    If the Galmis - Pitlochry area are in your itinerary why not stay in Forfar instead of St. Andrews ?
    Nothing wrong with St. Andrews but it is on the "wrong" side of the Tay which means having to drive over the bridge and through Dundee in the morning rush hour.

    For some ideas with regards to walks: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/

    That should keep the

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    So much wonderful information, thank you! Makes planning easier (and a lot more fun looking things up). Some great information and websites/links, thanks so much to everyone for considering the kids with their suggestions. (I know above I put 2 kids in the title, as at one point our oldest daughter wasn't going to join us for the 2nd part of our journey (Scotland) but she will be).

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