3 Week Family Trip to Scotland

Old Dec 30th, 2023, 07:07 AM
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3 Week Family Trip to Scotland

We are a group of 5 Adults and 4 Children (2,5,8 & 9) planning a trip to Scotland arriving either June 12 or 13. Looking at flying in and out of Edinburgh. After 3-4 nights in Edinburgh, we would like to explore using home bases of 5-6 nights to do day trips. (We will be renting a car before we leave Edinburgh) I want to take the grandchildren on the Jacobite Train, see puffins, highland cows, hike, enjoy the Scottish coastline and islands, and include a visit to Aberdeenshire which is a part of an ancestry connection (Forbes). I'm sure all of these things are popular. I have the responsibility of planning the trip and I'm trying to navigate through a vast array or resources. However, based on previous planning of family trips, I have found the experiences of others to be often the most useful. I could really use some suggestions on an Itinerary if anyone is willing to share. Many thanks in advance!!! Pamela
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Old Dec 30th, 2023, 07:14 AM
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I'd start by reading all the live Scotland visits that are in this European section at the moment. Say back over the last 200 and you will find 3 or 4 well detailed ones that give you a good over view.

Puffins will be around in June

With that many people you may need two cars as the majority of the roads are narrow. Alternatively you could use a People-Carrier which might just do but even then luggage is going to be a thing, so, good decision to rent appartments (to access a washing machine) and you'll need to start explaining to your team about "less is more" in terms of stuff they want to bring with them.
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Old Dec 30th, 2023, 10:02 AM
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Welcome to Fodors -- I am also half (well ľ really) Forbes (other half Grahams. Yes - you will definitely want to visis the northeast. In fact betweek Fife/Angus/Aberdeenshire and all the masses of things to see and do up there you could easily spend more than a week. Craigivar would of course be a must but it is currently closed. National Trust website just says 'until 2024' and these projects tend to take a looooooong time. Maybe e-mail the NT and ask if there is an update.

Unfortunately most parts of Scotland don't lend themselves to extended hub and spoke travel. From Fife (Isle of May where you can actually walk among the Puffins! plus the fishing villages) and Fraserburgh are 3+ hours apart. Someplace Deeside (like Ballater, Aboyne or Bancory are midway between) could work. However the area has recently suffered severe flooding so its possible not everything will have reopened.

You do have a big problem re logistics. Nine people and more importantly - the luggage for nine people and cars seats for two - means you really need 3 cars. You could manage with a people mover (minivan) and compact or midsized saloon (sedan). But 2 cars means you'd want 3 or 4 authorized drivers (3 cars = 4+ drivers) to allow for any issues that come up.

Traveling with an army like that makes hiring a driver/guide with a 12 passenger van might actually be economical.

More later . . .
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Old Dec 30th, 2023, 10:03 AM
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sorry for the typos - was in a hurry . . . Oh, and welcome to Fodors.
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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 02:45 PM
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janisj,
Thank you so much for the wonderful suggestions. It really helps!! Trying to navigate through all of the resources available on traveling in Scotland can be overwhelming. I was wondering what your opinion is on Skye. Everyone wants to go, and we are considering 3 or 4 nights. We all like to hike. The puffins are a big thing too and they want to ride on the Harry Potter Train out of Ft. Williams. Just trying to figure out how to fit it all in. If you are willing to share any further suggestions, they would be most welcome
Kind regards and Happy New Year!
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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 03:19 PM
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Just some random comments -- yes 'EVERYONE' says you must go to Skye. Just like everyone says you must see Loch Ness. (The two are not nearly equal in attractions or 'must-ness' but have the same issue). Skye is terrific -- But EVERYONE tries to go there. The island is very large and has a lot to see -- but the roads and infrastructure can't handle the crowds, parking at the beauty spots is really difficult - and needing accommodations for nine in summer will be difficult. Not impossible but the logistics would be difficult.

I'll make a suggestion that you contact Rabbies -- they are a terrific small group tour company -- I'm not suggesting you take one of their set tours (though that would be a possibility). They also do custom private tours in small buses. I'd contact them re arranging say a 10-ish to 15-ish day tour maybe focusing on Forbes sites and even maybe Skye. Then you could spend the other week-ish in Edinburgh and Glasgow car-less. https://www.rabbies.com/en/scotland-...xoCyAEQAvD_BwE

This way you could go exactly where you want for as long as you want and not have to rent 3 vehicles and have multiple drivers. Having a driver/guide and one small bus will make everyone's life easier (I DO wish she had known about Rabbies back in the late 80's when my Mom organized a 19 day tour for 18 Graham relatives - now - THAT was an adventure They didn't open for business til sometime in the 90's)

Now, about the Jacobite train that would be a logistics nightmare (not a nightmare really, but tough). To take the train you either have to 1) take it roundtrip from Ft William to Mallaig and back eating up an entire day and needing to stay overnight near-ish Ft William either the night before or the night after. It is a long day and while the scenery is great - you end up traversing the same exact route twice and half the group will likely sleep away most of the return journey . . . OR . . 2) You drive out to Mallaig and some/most of you take the train one way back to Ft William while the cars are driven back to pick you all up there. (getting one-way tickets could be difficult because it does book up).

However, the views of the train are actually better not ON the train but from Glenfinan where you can watch it crossing the viaduct. The scenery is the same from the tran or driving because the road and tracks follow much the same route.



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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 01:48 AM
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Just a quick note to say that one thing you shouldnt miss is a trip to the Royal Yacht Britannia while you're in Edinburgh. I thought is was one of the most interesting things I've ever visited. And the audio guide was excellent. The children will love it too - they'll love just being on a big ship
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 11:09 AM
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Hi

Iím currently sat pretty close where you need to be for 7 days ÖMoidart.

This trip could be memorable or a quite difficult experience with the travel logics of Scotland and the make up of your group.

Youíre a big group and in terms of roads / geography, we are a big country. Iíve driven from DC to Charleston quicker than Edinburgh to Skye.

The good news is that the days will be VERY long in terms of day light ( 4 hours dark) , usually the best weather and less trippers on the road.

Iíll leave Edinburgh and the East for others, they are not for me but I know every road on the West Coast (and sheep track). Personally, Iíd spend 4 days in the city and 4 days in the North, the rest of the West coast itís far more child friendly.

Iím trying be sure of the exact best place for a base for day trips for the West Coast but if youíd like a castle then Iíd need to know your budget, rooms range from £100 to £1000 a night.

Thereís some very flexible accommodation at Eriska Island near Oban and Glengorm Castle on the north of Mull. Glengorm is perfect for day trips to Iona, the puffins, Fingalís cave, all the scenery of the island. Eriska is more up market with a variety of apartments. Thereís also a short ferry passage to Ardnamurchan which has Sanna beach, some amazing easy hikes, intense scenery, intense history and great wildlife. Itís possible for the adults to book snorkelling trips with 25 ft basking sharks from Tobermory.

Iíd totally agree with Janis about the train, just get a one way ticket from Glenfinnan to Mallaig then two adults follow with the cars. On the way back stop in at Arisaig which has the best beaches this side of The Bahamas. The views from here out to the islands of Rhum, Eigg and Muck with the Cullins of Skye in the background are stunning. The trip from Kilchoan to Glenfinnan is through stunning scenery and is around 90 minutes with the ferry from Tobermory (Glengorm Castle) being around 15 minutes.

Tobermory is great for kids - the houses on the quayside are painted multi colours.

If you like the idea of this area , let me know - Iíll give you more detailed information of day trips, beaches, activities etc.

Three points -
-book quickly now, the whole of Europe books summer holidays this week
- Syke is a long haul and can be busy
- be aware that many of the West Coast hospitality businesses are being destroyed. First Brexit, the. Covid, then a doubling of energy costs and now the total unreliability of the ferry system has left the local economy struggling. Iím not sure what will be open this summer.





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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 11:11 AM
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By the way - where are you flying in from and how often have you travelled that far?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 11:17 AM
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ďLess is moreĒ is a great phrase from Bilbo.

I packed a 90L huge North Face hold-all this week for 6 days. Iíve worn about 3 long leaved tops, three fleeces, three pairs of walking trousers and washed those three times. The rest including anything posh hasnít seen the light of day - will I never learn.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by BritishCaicos
ďLess is moreĒ is a great phrase from Bilbo.

I packed a 90L huge North Face hold-all this week for 6 days. Iíve worn about 3 long leaved tops, three fleeces, three pairs of walking trousers and washed those three times. The rest including anything posh hasnít seen the light of day - will I never learn.
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Old Jan 5th, 2024, 04:31 AM
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BritishCalcos,
Thank you for your detailed reply to my original post and thank you to everyone for your wonderful suggestions thus far. Our flight will be in and out of Edinburgh - arriving June 12th. Our group, including the children, have taken many long flights together, Italy last Spring, and New Zealand as well, also the Netherlands, and Paris. I'm thinking after Edinburgh we would head to Oban or somewhere nearby to explore the Isle of Mull and explore the other islands - hopefully seeing some puffins. I was also thinking we could use this area as a home base for seeing Glen Coe and some other bits. We still want to visit Skye even though I know it will be very busy. I was intrigued by your advice:
"There’s some very flexible accommodation at Eriska Island near Oban and Glengorm Castle on the north of Mull. Glengorm is perfect for day trips to Iona, the puffins, Fingal’s cave, all the scenery of the island. Eriska is more up market with a variety of apartments. There’s also a short ferry passage to Ardnamurchan which has Sanna beach, some amazing easy hikes, intense scenery, intense history and great wildlife. It’s possible for the adults to book snorkelling trips with 25 ft basking sharks from Tobermory." It sounds like we would all enjoy this area. Also, the advice about the Harry Potter train is much appreciated.

We have a total of 3 weeks and would really like to be able to spend a minimum of 3-4 nights in each area. I'm interested in the area around Aberdeenshire because of an ancestral connection. The children love hiking, wildlife, castles, and in New Zealand they went white water rafting.

I realize the logistics for such a large group will be challenging, but it hasn't stopped us before, so we are up for it.

Again, thank you for your suggestions and please feel free to send some more along if you are willing.

Regards,

Pamela
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Old Jan 5th, 2024, 06:58 AM
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I'm heading out to an almost full day dental appointment so just one very quick comment til later today. Staying ON Mull would be a fabulous. option. Fingal's Cave, many beaches, Iona, Duart Castle, Tobermory itself, etc. I'd stay on island 3 or 4 nights. Then maybe after that drive up the loch to Ballachulish/Glencoe and on to Plockton or nearby staying a few nights. That would put you very close to the Kyle bridge so you could easily do day trips on to Skye and also up into Torridon/Loch Ewe/Loch Maree, etc
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