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13 day Scotland tour --based on train routes--

13 day Scotland tour --based on train routes--

Old Feb 19th, 2003, 02:27 PM
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13 day Scotland tour --based on train routes--

hello everyone! well..today I booked my ticket for my exciting trip to England, NI, North Western Ireland and Scotland. I am touring solo and I have a month to spend in these lovely Countries. I am just beginning to look into my travels within Scotland. I have about 13 days to spend in Scotland and am relying on the train service to get me from place to place. I will be taking a ferrie over from NI into Stranaer and so this will be my starting point. Can anyone suggest a good route that I should take? I hope to make it up to Wick and Thurso -is that a good idea? Will the trains get me to the best spots or should I look into buses as well. I need to end up in Aberdeen for my final weekend to visit family and then I will head down to Edinburgh to fly home. Is there a ferrie that can get me from Mallaig to Kyle of Lockalsh? if so ..is anyone aware of the prices? I plan on getting a Freedom of Scotland rail pass which offeres 8 days travel within 15 days. Any advice would be very much appreciated. I apologize for all of my questions. My mind is scattered at the moment--very excited I guess since just purchasing my ticket 2 hours ago. : ) Thanks in advance.
Sarah
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Old Feb 19th, 2003, 03:05 PM
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We took a car, so I can't he,lp too much with train info, though when I looked into it, it would have to be a combination of trains and buses to get where I needed to go. We went through Thurso, but only to catch the ferry to Orkney. Unless you are up for that, I am not sure that it would be worth the time and effort it would take you IMHO. Same with Wick, is there something specific you want to see/do there? You mentioned Kyle of Lockalsh, are you planning to go to Skye?
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Old Feb 19th, 2003, 03:22 PM
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yes..I am planning on going to Skye. what was orkney like? thanks for you help.
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Old Feb 19th, 2003, 03:30 PM
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Sarah, what a wonderful thing to do. I hope you enjoy yourself.

"Can anyone suggest a good route that I should take?"

You can take the train usefully up the west coast as far as Mallaig,- the rail trip on the West Highland line was described some years ago as one of the most beautiful train trips in the world -and up the East coast almost all the way to the top- the line splits just north of Inverness, and you can go back across to the west -to Kyle of Lochalsh, where you can cross to Skye, or carry on to the north as far as Wick or Thurso.
"I hope to make it up to Wick and Thurso -is that a good idea?"

Although jonesie is sort of right, if you do go to Wick and Thurso, you will see a huge chunk of Scotland that is not seen by most tourists and which is stunningly beautiful.

"Will the trains get me to the best spots or should I look into buses as well."

Almost certainly they won't. The mountains get in the way. There are huge chunks of Scotland which you can't get close to from the train; for example you can't get into the Borders; but you can see most of everything.
and we have some of the most magnificent scenery through which our train lines run. The only problem is that public transport on the islands is a bit iffy.

An option is to take the train from Glasgow to Fort William; along Loch Lomond to Crianlarich, across Rannoch Moor, through Glencoe to Fort William. Then take the train to Mallaig out on the remote west coast. Then take the ferry to Skye.

Skye alone would be worth your trip. Come off at Kyleakin and catch the train from Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland to Inverness. there is no ferry from Mallaig to Kyle as such, but you can make the links.

You could either do a quick diversion right up to the north coast or just come straight back down to Edinburgh.

If you have a couple of days spare get the ferry from the north of Skye to North Uist, then go down through North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist and catch the ferry back to Oban, where the trains run.

You can easily do Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Inverness, Aberdeen and three west coast runs (Mallaig, west of Fort William; Oban, north of Glasgow; and Kyle of Lochalsh, west of Inverness) and one straight run to the north coast, all by train.

But if you look at a map of Scotland, you'll see that there is a lot which is not served by the railway- the Borders, most of Tayside, all of the islands and most of the west coast, including everything north of Kyle.

There's a lot that is beautiful that you can see from a train, but a lot that you can't.

If you are on foot the ferries are very cheap. have a look at www.calmac.co.uk


Your excitement is wonderful Feel free to come back or more info. My email address is [email protected]
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Old Feb 19th, 2003, 03:32 PM
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All the bits of scotland are different. Orkney is hilly and treeless and has wonderful birds and wonderful neolithic sites. have a look at Skara Brae and Maes Howe and the Eagles' Tomb and the Ring of Brodgar.......
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Old Feb 19th, 2003, 05:36 PM
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Me again. 1) Listen to Sheila, she has great advice. 2)We kind of did a 2 week grand tour of Scotland in September, and Skye and Orkney were our favorites. Orkney is flat, but the people are so wonderful, and the prehistoric stuff is so fascinating, I just can't say enough. But Skye is also amazing, and big enough to spend an entire vacation there! I haven't a clue where the busses go, but we absolutely adored the Trotternish peninsula (Fairy Glen, the walk to the Old Man of Storr, the waterfalls.) I sit with my scrapbook and my ONLY regret was not going to the outer Hebrides!
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Old Feb 19th, 2003, 05:58 PM
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Thank you so much Sheila and Jonesie!
: )
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Old Feb 19th, 2003, 07:21 PM
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In addition to the incredible train journeys in Scotland, you can fill in some of the gaps with day-tours.

There are a couple of companies operating from Edinburgh that do minibus day tours of the highlands (www.timberbush-tours.co.uk is one).

Inchcolm Abbey is a great day-trip from Edinburgh. Take a bus to South Queensferry and then the boat out to the Island.

Puffin Tours operate out of Inverness. They do Clava Cairns and Cawdor Castle, as well as multi-day trips to the Orkneys.

There are several other tours from Inverness, including a combined coach/boat tour to Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.

Bus service on Skye is somewhat limited. There is a regular sevice to Portree, and it's possible to visit Dunvegan Castle as well. Depending on weather and demand, there are also cruises from Portree Harbour.
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Old Feb 20th, 2003, 12:15 AM
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No-one else seems to have mentioned that the link below should give you all the rail information you need

www.scotrail.co.uk

Enjoy your trip
 
Old Feb 20th, 2003, 06:57 AM
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I have been on some wonderful rail lines in Europe and two of the best are in Scotland! I will send you 4 folders of my notes on Scotland if you e-mail me [email protected]
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Old Feb 20th, 2003, 10:53 AM
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I have two bits of advise based on my own travels to Scotland.

The first is, you may be overplanning your itinerary. go with the flow when you get there. An itinerary can bog you down and become an Employee Manual. Just plan to be in Edinburgh on the evening before your departure.

Second is, if you are the kind of person who likes the hostel scene, lots of fellow travelers, not having to worry about your next bed, enjoys a good party, be sure to check out a travel bus tour called MacBackpackers. They have a web site.

They have tours on small buses which are as many as 7 days. Everyone on the tours hangs around together and stays at a pre-arranged hostels. Lots of good times and education about Scotland's history.
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Old Feb 20th, 2003, 05:39 PM
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Thank you to everyone who has replied. I have looked into a few of the tours..I came across one called wild in scotland--it costs 359pounds for seven days including hostels and food (does this sound like a good deal?). The tour travels up to Orkney and also over to Skye. I am 25 and enjoy the social scene very much but Iam a little nervous about committing myself for 7 days to a group of people. So I need to decide between buying a rail pass for 8 travel days or taking a tour. oh brother. : )
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Old Feb 20th, 2003, 07:26 PM
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DavidX:
I would like to hear about your two favorite rail lines in Scotland. Can you give us a report?
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