20 year anniversary trip to Scotland

Old Aug 3rd, 2017, 10:35 AM
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I will be cold/wet but the winters aren't NEARLY as cold as in New England . . . BUT because it is so far north the daylight hours are VERY short. Plus many of the country sites are closed for the season. Plus IF you mean the Christmas/New years period - New Years/Hogmanay is the very most expensive time of year in Edinburgh -- hotels cost more than in August even.

One can't really pre-plan a diving trip in winter because the weather can be a huge issue.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2017, 01:13 PM
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The Airds Hotel advertises 400 UK pounds per night and that is almost $700 Canadian
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Old Aug 3rd, 2017, 01:32 PM
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>>The Airds Hotel advertises 400 UK pounds per night and that is almost $700 Canadian
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Old Aug 3rd, 2017, 05:34 PM
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Mnag- sounds like you two are having a great anniversary trip. I am
really enjoying your report. It is making me want to see Scotland ��
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 12:22 PM
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mnag, glad you got to do at least part of a hike in Glencoe. We didn't have enough time there (or good weather, which we could have hedged our bets with more time there) to do any serious hiking, but I wasn't happy with my experience in the Visitor Centre. I asked a lady there about hikes in the area, she looked at me and my family, and said there are none that your family can do equipped like you are, adding that we need a map and compass and mountain gear for hiking in the area. I guess she took me for a bit of a ninny, but I was not going to have any more of that conversation so I grabbed some maps and went. We ended up doing several short hikes/walks in the area that were very pleasant.

And I agree about Glen Etive, the best scenery is in the first 2/3 or so, but there is a nice little camping area and waterfront at Loch Etive at the end.
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 02:49 PM
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>>I asked a lady there about hikes in the area, she looked at me and my family, and said there are none that your family can do equipped like you are, adding that we need a map and compass and mountain gear for hiking in the area. I guess she took me for a bit of a ninny, but I was not going to have any more of that conversation so I grabbed some maps and went
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 03:24 PM
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That's possible. I had the same issue with horseback riding vs pony trekking after all.
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 03:54 PM
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There are an astounding number of walkers/ hikers killed every year in the Scottish Highlands. Sorry I've forgotten the exact number but being from Colorado where several hikers are killed each year, the number in Scotland was considerably more. Can'thelp but think that many tourists think hiking in the Highlands is pretty tame. After all, the mountains aren't that high. Not being sufficiently prepared and unaware of the possible risks are factors that I'm sure contribute to the large number of fatalities. No one should take walking in the Highlands lightly. Of course, many areas have well marked, rather short walks that almost anyone can easily manage.
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 08:40 PM
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Karen, I did a ridiculous amount of research re the best month to go. Strictly based on averages, rain, temperature, wind, May is the driest month on the west and the midges aren't out and about yet.

I've been twice in May, the first time was glorious the whole time. Last May we had some rain, but generally great travelling weather. Sunny on Skye, which is what we really wanted.

I well know averages are just that, averages, but you've got to make a decision based on something.
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 09:11 PM
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almcd, our CAD is doing a bit better now, Airds is only £400/ $656 CAD, a bar-goon!

Seriously, though, Fodors is great, I get to vicariously stay in the most wonderful hotels, I love hearing about these places!

Some fantastic view overlooking Portree Bay!

One of my best memories is from Portree. After dinner my husband and I were walking/trudging up the hill to the house we'd rented, it was a clear night, still light out about 9:30 or 10:00, when we slowly became aware of the sounds of a bagpipe. Somewhere, someone was playing, it almost sounded like they were practicing. We stopped halfway up the hill, turned to take in the magnificent view, and just listened to the piper. It really was one of those serendipitous moments.
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Old Aug 6th, 2017, 12:48 AM
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Yep 6 miles is not a hike.
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Old Aug 6th, 2017, 03:35 AM
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When I was much younger Canon Chasuble and I did quite a bit of hillwalking in Scotland. We didn't attempt anything very strenuous but we always told the hotel where we were going.
We also took a detailed map and compas and wore stout boots and waterprooofs. We'd have a rucksack with chocolate and a thick jersey.
The visitor centre wifie was speaking sense.

Of course modern telephones must make life easier
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Old Aug 7th, 2017, 06:33 AM
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I am planning to return to Scotland with my 2 (adult) children in 2018. I have taken them separately and together before but this will be celebrating my first visit to Scotland 50 years ago with my grandmother.

We like to visit in either May or September and it will be September next year.

We are members of Historic Scotland so we can visit most castles and other historic places of interest for free with the membership. And we help support the restoration and maintenance of the amazing Scottish properties.

I am investigating Freedom of Scotland passes to see if they will save me money on any ferries, buses and trains that we might use. On most of the longer routes we will be using a rental car.

We will focus this trip on a few different areas....The Borders, Edinburgh, and the Western Hebrides. Have long wanted to visit Skye and will go through the Uists to Harris/Lewis before the ferry to Ullapool and a stay in Glencoe. Visiting the Clachaig Inn is like returning home!

I am hoping we have good weather for our visit to Dryburgh Abbey as that will be the best reminder of my trip in 1968 with Grandma!!
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Old Aug 23rd, 2017, 08:36 AM
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Apologies everyone. Its been a busy few weeks. A trip to the Canadian Rockies (which btw is jaw dropping beautiful), a new nephew and a new role at work have all contributed to me dropping this trip report. Anyway so to continue - our first full day on Skye was glorious. The weather was sunny and mild. Top on my list was the Quiraing. The concierge at the hotel gave us a map which really was not a proper map...just the one road along the peninsula with rough indication of each attraction. I knew we would be making a right near UIG to get to the Quiraing. We passed Uig and saw no signs for either Fairy glen or Quiraing so decided to ask someone for directions. We were told to make a right (cant remember where) to get to Fairly glen - I would have never known where to turn based on road signs or our 'map'. This is true for most of the attractions on Skye. Fairy glen was lovely...you go for a little while on a one lane road. The area is very green with miniature cone shaped hills, plenty of sheep and a small pond. Overall well worth the adventure in finding this place. Thereafter we once again stopped for directions on our way to the Quiraing...would never have known to stay right towards the rough road so glad we stopped and asked. We passed no one for a while but then saw a bunch of cars so knew we were on the right track. It was noonish and parking was a huge problem. Space is very limited and its a popular attraction. And there is no where to turn so be prepared if you visit. My husband didn't want to park on the side because of the large RVs etc going up/down this narrow road. Luckily a really nice couple had just finished a long hike and said they would wait for my husband to find a spot to turn and come back up the road so we could park in their spot. Anyways to get back to describing the Quiraing - well words fail me. It is simply majestic - green peaks, flat plateau areas with the blue sea beyond. If you had time to hike/see only one attraction on Skye, then I would recommend spending your time at the Quiraing.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2017, 08:42 AM
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"We're booked at the Cuillin Hills hotel..."

Yes, what a place. Incredible views! We loved it as well. Wish we had more than two days, but we'll return.

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Old Aug 23rd, 2017, 09:03 AM
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About 20 minutes or so into the hike (we started hiking down the path) we had to cross/jump over this ridge in the mountain face with absolutely no barrier and the rocks looked wet and slippery from the water running down the mountain. My husband was almost on the other side but I chickened out. I'm sure its relatively safe and I saw others cross but I simply could not rationalize taking the risk. We hiked back to our starting point and then headed up on the path across the street upwards. Hiked about another 25-30 min in that direction and had some great views. I was happy with what we saw...I'm sure it would have been even more spectacular if we finished the full hike but no regrets. Thereafter we drove down the hill Kilt Rock. Had lunch at a small deli/restaurant along the way. Kilt rock is a popular with tour buses and is right off the main road. Kilt rock face and Mealt falls that freefall for 60m or so off the edge of the cliff into the bay below are a sight to behold. Next stop Old Man of Storr. Another popular attraction on Skye. Nice hike up the mountain. Steep but relatively safe (you are not along the edge of the cliff). The views open up more and more as you go up. It was a wonderful hike for both of us and we came down with a sense of accomplishment. Long but what a wonderful day. I was immensely grateful for the lovely day/weather we had.
I thought I had reservations at Scorrybreac but turns out my reservation was for the following night instead. So we walked around town in search of another restaurant. We ended up at an Indian restaurant. This is not the one on the main street but tucked around the corner. Ok meal nothing great and their house wine was terrible. Oh well.
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Old Aug 24th, 2017, 09:07 AM
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Next morning weather turns - rain all day. This day we had planned to cover Neist point, Dunvegan castle and other points of interest along the way. Rain does not lighten up ... the drive is long be prepared. Lovely though even in the rain. I have some fantastic pics of Skye in the rain. Once again we are winging it based on loose directions. Get to Dunvegan castle and can't decide whether to skip Neist point entirely and just cover the castle or keep going. Directions we get from the ticket window at the castle is to make a right by the village pastry shop and keep going. Dunvegan is very popular - parking lot is full and we see lots of tour buses. We decide to go for Neist point and hope the weather gets better. The views along the way are gorgeous - I cant imagine how pretty it would be on a sunny/clear day...I'm sure its stunning. The rain does not let up. The wind is howling by the coast. We do the walk but not all the way to the lighthouse. A lot of cloud coverage and we didn't get to see Neist point in all its glory. On the way back we see 'three chimneys' restaurant and decide to try our luck - do they have a cancelation. Unfortunately they are fully booked but the hostess asks us whether we would like to come back in a couple of days for lunch since she has an opening. We unfortunately will be leaving. Looks to be a lovely restaurant. I had considered booking dinner one night but did not get around to it. Good think since its a long way from Portree.
Back in Dunvegan we stop for lunch at the oldest bakery in town with a cozy sunroom and indulge ourselves in yummy pastries and a daily dose of good cappuccino. Its still early so we take a tour of the castle and gardens. Surprisingly I enjoyed the castle quite a bit. The history is fascinating - the oldest most continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, the story around the Fairy flag as well as the colorful personalities of generations of MacLeods. I think its well worth a visit. The gardens even in pouring rain are lovely. Nice lil shop for souvenirs in the castle itself as well as one outside in the parking lot. As mentioned I enjoyed this visit more than expected. We decide to head back to Portree. In town we putter around in a few stores and head back to the hotel. Tonight's dinner reservation is at Scorrybreac and it did not disappoint. We run into a lovely couple who is also staying at the Cullins and recognizes us. We chit chat about what we've seen on Skye. We give them a few pointers about the ferry, Glencoe etc. Very good meal including dessert and drinks at Scorrybreac. If on Skye I would recommend a reservation in advance - the restaurant is very popular.
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Old Aug 24th, 2017, 09:15 AM
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Haha just read some of the comments re hiking. You guys are probably laughing at my description of our hikes - yes we are from the US and even by US standards probably not great or regular hikers. Nonetheless Scotland offers tons of hikes for all levels. I found the following link to be immensely helpful.

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/
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Old Aug 24th, 2017, 11:17 AM
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mnag, still enjoying the trip report. I wish we had experienced better weather on Skye as well so that we could have done more "hiking," but Storr is all we were able to squeeze in. More motivation to go back! Just have to figure out where to fit it in ... there are too many amazing places in the world, including so many in the U.S. we have yet to experience.
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Old Aug 25th, 2017, 05:27 AM
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paulg - I hear you...too many place too little time.

Time to check out - We plan on covering the Fairy pools and Eilean Donan castle before heading N to Torridon. The receptionist at Cullin Hills gives us directions and informs us that past the Fairy Pools towards the town of Glenbritte, there is a lovely black sand beach worth a visit. We had planned on visiting Talisker distillery but didn't think we could squeeze it all in and get to Torridon at a reasonable hour.

We see the famous highland coos along the way but there is no pullover to get a proper picture. We get to the Fairy pools and parking is a pain...it is crowded. My impression is that while the little waterfalls along river Brittle are interesting and pretty they are a bit hyped up. Maybe the colors are more brilliant at other times of the year but didn't do much for me. And there are a ton of tourists ...

We decide to drive on towards Glenbrittle to check out the black sand beach. Excellent decision....its an expansive (more or less empty) black sand beach with glorious views of the Cullins as a backdrop. Heavenly. So appreciative of the tip from the reception lady. On the way back we stop so I can take pics of the old Sligacham bridge with the mountains as a backdrop. Ok but lots of people on the bridge so not exactly the pic I wanted.

We head on towards Eilean Donan castle - probably one of the most recognized castles in Scotland. It located on its own little island and quite stunning. Once again quite crowded. We checked out the visitor center which is packed and decided to skip going inside. We asked a lady at the center about how long it would take us to get to Torridon and she said 3 hours...what!!! I thought it was about 1 to 1.5 hours. She said while the road is quite narrow and curvy the scenery will be dramatic. Quick bite at the café with views of the castle before we head onwards.
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