12 - 14 days Scotland

Old Oct 16th, 2023, 01:38 PM
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12 - 14 days Scotland

I was in Scotland in 2000 for several days but was only in Edinburgh and a day trip to Stirling/Bannockburn. I am looking to go back with my wife next spring/fall (to avoid crowds).

Looking to spend a couple days in Edinburgh to see the castle, walk the old town and have a couple tours. Then travel to Inverness as a base to see Loch Ness (wife is daft for it) and surrounding area for several days. I'd like to also see Glencoe and surrounding area for scenic views. I'm sure all of this fits well into our time frame but I was also thinking of a possible trip of several days to Orkney to see the archeological areas (we are both history fans). Does that sound like a bit too much? This year we were in Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia and while it was a full trip we drove a lot. I am hoping not to duplicate that march again. Would Edinburgh -> Inverness -> Orkney trip -> Ft. William/Glen Coe be too much?

Edinburgh - several nights.
Drive to Sterling/Dollar for a day trip and overnight in Inverness.
Inverness and surrounding area - several nights.
Drive to northern shore (?), overnight and take ferry to Orkney Islands.
Orkney Islands two/three nights. Return (not sure of ferry times coming back. Need to investigate.
Drive to Ft. William/Glen Coe area. - several nights.
Drive to Glasgow for overnight before flight out.

Thoughts?
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 02:39 PM
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When I was planning our trip to Scotland for June 2023, the Scotland experts on this forum advised not staying in Inverness because it's basically a busy commercial center. Based on their suggestions, we spent 3 nights in Nairn, a very pretty seaside village. It's about 20 minutes from Inverness. We loved our stay in Nairn, and our accommodations in Nairn, the Sunny Brae B&B was our favorite place from our trip. From Nairn, we visited Elgin Cathedral, Glen Moray Distillery, Cawdor Castle, and Culloden Battlefield. We visited Urquhart Castle, which is on Loch Ness, on our drive from Nairn to Portree on Skye.

We stayed in Glencoe Village for 2 nights at the Glencoe Inn, and this area was one of our favorites for stunning scenery. I highly recommend driving along the Glen Etive Road for some awesome scenery. If you are there in June (and probably May), the mountain sides will be filled with gorgeous rhododendrons. This is a 12-mile drive one-way. The road ends at Loch Etive.

While in Edinburgh, we had a guided tour of the Royal Mile and the castle with Mercat Tours, who I highly recommend. If you have the time, I recommend visiting the amazing National Museum of Scotland and the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens.

Here is the link to my TR for Scotland in case you are interested in taking a look:
Our SPECTACULAR Scottish Journey!!!
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 03:31 PM
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I am dashing out for the afternoon so more later. But please reconsider staying in Inverness. Nice town to live in because it has all mod cons/business/supermarkets/etc. But it is basically just a busy city. One can barely miss Loch Ness if staying somewhere in the general area or just driving through -- worth a glance and visiting Urquhart Castle but otherwise it is not one of the prettier Scottish Lochs.

There is a lot to see/do in the general Inverness area but since you'll have a car you do not have to stay actually in the city. Anywhere on the Black Isle, or Nairn, or Elgin, or Culloden, or even Grantown-on-Spey or any number of other places would be nicer.
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Old Oct 16th, 2023, 08:52 PM
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Back. Is 12 to 14 days the full length of the trip? Twelve days home to home will net you 9.5 days free for seeing/doing and fourteen days = 11.5 days. Or did you mean 12 to 14 days on the ground - meaning a 14 to close to 17 day trip in total?

And when in 'Spring' are you traveling?

A few issues:
• Travel in rural/northern Scotland is slow and can be very slow depending on 'stuff'. In many areas you will be lucky to average 35mph.

• Weather can always be an issue, especially in the far north/Orkney. If the weather is dreck the ferries to Orkney can be cancelled at short/no notice. Since you'll have such a short window I might plan on flying to Orkney instead. There are flights from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Then you could rent a car locally on the island if you wanted one for a couple of days.

• You list three 'several nights' which to me means at least 4 nights, plus one night on the north coast, 2-3 nights in Orkney and a final night near GLA. That doesn't compute on a 12 - 14 day trip. If you do 3 nights on Orkney -- then what you have is a nineteen day trip home to home. So first we need to nail down how long you'll actually have.

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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 01:20 AM
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questions as above.

car travel is slow, you could look at the ferry from Aberdeen to Orkney and even consider Shetland. I last did this by train from Edinburgh

sit your wife down and explain that the Loch Ness Monster originated in a Chicago newspaper editor's head to fill pages on a quiet day

what you will find is, if it is too windy for ferries it will very scary to fly
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 02:00 PM
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Thanks for getting back. Normally it is a 14 day trip with travel. This year because we did the Balkans we took 16 and had 14 on the ground. So we could do the full 14 days. We normally arrive in the morning and go straight to touring (at least on our own). We don't take a day to adjust.

The weather could be an issue. Likely it would be either late spring or early fall. Just trying to stay out of the high season this time. I have drive on some of the lesser roads and I do remember them being mostly one-lane with pull offs.

If driving north of Inverness is more time consuming than worth it (and that obviously depends on what you want to see) then a flight from Inverness and back to Orkney is possible (not a money issue). The amount of time there is not critical. Enough to see Skara Brae and some of the local scenery and museums, henges. But at this point it would be a secondary add-on if we decide there is time.

The area south and southwest of Inverness as in Glen Coe and areas in between would be the second most important area for us. Not sure if Isle of Skye is better time-wise than Orkneys though I believe it to be more a scenic area than historical. Happy to be educated though.

Not sure if that helps any. We would prefer to work from the "base" logic of choosing certain cities/towns we want to stay at to see the area. Our last trip was 12 hotels in 14 days due the amount of driving and miles covered.

If there are potentially more "bang for the buck" areas in terms of castles and scenery I am happy to consider that. The Edinburgh towards northwest and Inverness and the Invenress south west to Glen Coe are the major vectors of our trip. As I said, the Orkneys were a possible addition if time allows.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 02:03 PM
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That is a good point. Definitely not focused on Inverness but using that as a general location as it is near Loch Ness and is a hub. But appreciate you pointing out it is not a scenic mecca. The places you mention sound great and right our alley in planning. Especially, Cawdor and Urquhart. Neither of us is an alcohol drinker. I did visit the National Museum and did a tour with Mercat which was awesome. My wife would enjoy that. Thanks for the link, I will check it out.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 03:01 PM
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andrewboehmer4918, we were in Scotland for 16 nights. We left Boston on May 29 and returned home on June 15. Regarding weather, we were very, very lucky with the weather; obviously I can't promise you that you will have the same luck. Temps were in the 60's and 70's every day. We had sunshine every day except for one misty morning on Skye. The rhododendrons were in full bloom! The mountainsides along the Glen Etive Road were covered in them. I believe the same would be true for May. The rhodies are invasive non-native plants but they sure are beautiful. My husband and I traveled with another couple, and we all agree that Skye and Glen Coe are the two most beautiful places we visited. And we enjoyed every place on our itinerary.

I don't know how the Orkneys compare to Skye, but we loved Skye and we didn't think the crowds were that bad. They certainly didn't ruin our trip for us. The UK schools don't get out until late June/early July, I believe, so June is still a good time to travel to Scotland. May might have fewer crowds but the weather might be cooler/rainier.
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 03:19 PM
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OK for the one BIG excursion maybe decide between Orkney - or - Skye - or - Mull. Each has its major pluses and semi-minuses. Skye would be the most crowded (the island is large and can easily absorb the people, but the roads and parking ares really can't)

If you can swing 14 nights on the ground I'd maybe think about something like this:

• Fly into EDI. 3 nights in Edinburgh,

• Fly up to Orkney and stay 3 nights.

• Fly Orkney to Inverness, collect a rental car and stay 3 nights somewhere in the area. This will be a base for Cawdor, Culloden, the northern end of Loch Ness, Nairn, Ft George, Elgin, etc etc.

• Drive down to Glencoe and stay 3 nights. You will see the full length of Loch Ness en route, Urquhart Castle. A base for Glen Etive, Glenfinnan, Loch Linnhe, Rannoch Moor, etc

• Head down in the general direction of Glasgow staying anywhere from Callander to Loch Lomond to Drymen, to Aberfoyle. Stay 2 nights. This is a base for the Trossachs (scenery/lochs/waterfalls), Stirling, Doune, Loch Lomond, etc. Any of these towns are w/i 30-45 mins or less of GLA (except for Callander which is about 60-70 minutes from the airport) so unless your flight is very early AM easy to drive to the airport that morning.

That's just one option totaling 14 nights of course. You could substitute Skye or Mull for Orkney which would eliminate flights but add more driving
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 03:25 PM
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Didn't see Karen's post. "June is still a good time to travel to Scotland. May might have fewer crowds but the weather might be cooler/rainier."

No way to tell - April might be warmer / drier than June - or not. Each could be lovely or awful - or both. May might be Scotland's summer that year and June back to winter KarenWoo should have bought a ton of lottery tickets because their weather experience was very (very) lucky

June is actually generally less crowded than parts of May because there are two Bank Holidays in May
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Old Oct 17th, 2023, 03:36 PM
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Just back from a two week trip split between Glasgow, Edinburgh and London but we didn't do the driving to locations north so not quite the trip you are planning. One of the favorite things we did in Edinburgh is the tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Easy to get there on the tram and I would recommend taking the opportunity. You go at your own pace with an audio guide. We also really enjoyed the Royal Palace of Holyrood in addition to the Castle. We did a day tour that went to Dunferline Abbey, Stirling Castle and Rosslyn Chapel which was an easy way to get to these locations. I would also recommend both the National Museum as well as the National Gallery of Art.
You didn't indicate any time in Glasgow itself but we enjoyed our time there as we visited Kelvingrove Museum as well as Riverside Museum of Transport as well as the beautiful Glasgow Cathedral.
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Old Oct 24th, 2023, 07:12 AM
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Yes, the main desire for outside the central portion of Scotland was Orkney to see the archeological sites. These suggestions seem to go along with our choices so will take them into consideration.
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Old Oct 24th, 2023, 07:22 AM
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If you want to do Orkney it will need at least 3 days. On top of visiting any local animals (whales, otter, seals puffins) will depend on the season. Touring the central circle of islands is a pleasant visit and of course the jewelry and knitting sites around the island are especially good as so many highly skilled artists end up in Orkney. The two towns of Kirkwall and Stromness are interesting. Then there are islands that need to be visited by ferry. The archeology is another reason to visit. If time is a problem (and it seems to be) fly into Kirkwall. Timing of the various festivals is well spelt out on the island website. Orkney does not suffer from of the minorty slightly odd religious behaviour on the western isles, expect a more straight forward and direct attitude from the locals
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Old Oct 24th, 2023, 10:30 AM
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I would comment that if historic and archeological sites are a priority, you probably ought to give some consideration (maybe a lot) to focusing on Argyll/Mull as a possible "twofer" or even "threefer" destination.

- Around an hour south of Oban (once the road is reopened after a recent landslide is cleared - long before you get there) is the tiny village of Kilmartin, which sits on a low bluff overlooking Kilmartin Glen. On the floor of the valley, you'll find dozens (I think over a hundred but maybe I'm misremembering) of prehistoric sites - stone circles, standing stones, burial cairns, etc. It's probably the greatest collection of such sites in Scotland, and it's WAY more convenient to get to than Orkney. There's a lovely museum in the village that contains more relics - carved gravestones and crosses, etc. and which can guide you to all the amazing historic sites within a few miles of the village, including the ancient hill fort of Dunadd, ostensibly the capital of Dál Riata, from whence the Kingdom of Scotland arose. The whole area is simply stunning, and very beautiful to boot.


- Then there's Iona, reached by foot ferry from Fionnphort on Mull (or included as part of a "three isles" tour from Oban.) Iona is, of course, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland and, through the diaspora of Iona's clerics and monks, of Christianity through most of northern England - Lindisfarne, even down to Durham. Iona is also very beautiful, with its ancient abbey and white sand beaches.

From Iona (or again, as part of a tour from Oban) you can visit Staffa, famous for its puffins but mainly for astonishing Fingal's Cave, where the ocean has carved a vast sea cave from the basalt columns that form the island's structure. Put some Mendelsohn on your phone and see why the great composer was so taken with the vision of this remarkable place.



- And then of course there's Mull. Beaches, castles, more standing stones, waterfalls, distilleries, Heilan coos, lovely Tobermory, birds and seals, mountains... It's the Highlands and Islands in a nutshell, absent a few thousand tourists.


But enough gushing. Pont made, hopefully.
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 07:52 AM
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Fly into Edinburgh or Inverness

We're planning about an 11-day trip for May 2024. We can fly into either Edinburgh or Inverness. Is one a better choice than the other? We don't know much about Scotland yet, but when we travel, we usually like to focus on historical sites and beautiful countrysides. We do want to spend a day or two in Edinburgh to get a feel for that city. We'd also like to stay at least a couple nights in one of those manor houses that has been converted into a hotel. Any advice would be great. Thanks.
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 08:04 AM
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1) start your own thread, joining other threads almost always ends in tears
2) airport choice is second after holiday choice.
3) do not ever trust Google for times in Scotland. Add at least 40% for the narrow roads, lost sheep and caravans.
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 08:47 AM
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Thanks for the reply, and good advice. Can you clarify what you mean by your second point? Thanks.
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 09:17 AM
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I'd start with the fact you have two options as airports.

Then go and study where you would like to visit in Scotland. The country is relatively large with a small population, the majority are in the Edinburgh/Glasgow belt where the roads and rail links are easy to use, but going either north or south you are heading into slow moving travel.

Inverness would be better for someone wanting to go far north as possible in your relatively short visit. Edinburgh would be better for the south and upwards. Given that you want to go to Edinburgh I would tend to at least fly in or out of that airport and make your time in that city next to the date of that flight to minimise time lost in doubling back

Scotland countryside and old houses. Are just about everywhere. For a bunch of historical reasons the barren hillsides and small mountains are awesome (but in terms of the hillsides should be covered in trees) and are everywhere. If you want to visit any of the islands (most visitors do) then you need to choose which ones and they will steer how much time you have to visit other parts of the highlands, lowlands etc. First timers normally want to go to the western Isles, I prefer Orkney and Shetland in the north. You have to decide.

You can also consider a coach tour from Edinburgh and we can advise on this as well
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by brenkj
We're planning about an 11-day trip for May 2024. We can fly into either Edinburgh or Inverness. Is one a better choice than the other? We don't know much about Scotland yet, but when we travel, we usually like to focus on historical sites and beautiful countrysides. We do want to spend a day or two in Edinburgh to get a feel for that city. We'd also like to stay at least a couple nights in one of those manor houses that has been converted into a hotel. Any advice would be great. Thanks.
brenkj: You are asking different questions about a different trip. Please start a new thread of your own. Pigglybacking on another member's topic ends up ultimately in confusion -- people will read the OP and respond, not realizing we are off on a different tributary. After starting your new topic, I'd ask the moderatos to move bilboburgler's posts to the new thread . . .

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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 01:15 PM
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brenkj did start a new thread . . . see it here 10 Days in Scotland in May
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