3 Weeks in Scotland - May 2019

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Apr 9th, 2018, 08:09 PM
  #1
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3 Weeks in Scotland - May 2019

Dear All,

We are planning 3 weeks in Scotland during May 2019. In this trip we want to explore the natural beauty of Scotland and also spend some time at the distilleries.

A very draft plan is to fly into Edinburgh and settle down for a couple of day, explore Edinburgh. Then rent a car and follow the below itinerary.
Edinburgh - 2 Nights
Oban - 2 Nights
Islay - 3 Nights
Mull - 2 Nights
Portree - 3 Nights
Orkney - 2 Nights
Inverness - 3 Nights
Dufftown - 2 Nights
Aberdeen - 2 Nights
Edinburgh - 1 Night

We are looking forward to your advice for below doubts :

1) Although the distance between each stop is not much, we actually feel more relaxed when we spend 3~5 nights in a place. One option is to cut down few places like Orkney, Aberdeen. Another option is to set base at 3-4 prominent places and do day trips. What do you suggest?

2) Distilleries - Our wish is to attend the Speyside Whisky festival and visit few surrounding distilleries, Visit all the islay distilleries, Oban Distillery and Talisker @skye. In some we will do distillery/warehouse tours, some tasting sessions and some photo ops. How early should we book the tours? Any recommendation on suitable B&B/Hotels so that we can easily walk/bike/taxi to these visits?

3) Accommodation - We are exploring the idea of a camper van. But not very sure about the experience as we have never used one. So, mostly it will be recommended B&B or hotels. We wish to keep the expense moderate in this area. How early should we book?

4) Local Food : Started reading up about famous shops & restaurants and hope to build a decent shortlist by the time we travel. We are avid foodies and love to explore local delicacies.

5) Routes between destinations - Would love to know about picturesque routes between our halts, places to stop/visit on the way.

Sorry for asking so many questions. I am reading the forum and other materials available on the internet to do my bit. At the same time, would like to hear the suggestions from all and improve our plan.

Regards,
Rajat
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Apr 9th, 2018, 08:49 PM
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Just some random comments since I don't have a lot of time right now:

>>3) Accommodation - We are exploring the idea of a camper van. But not very sure about the experience as we have never used one. So, mostly it will be recommended B&B or hotels. We wish to keep the expense moderate in this area. How early should we book?<<

IMO a camper van is a very bad idea -- especially since you have no experience with one. B&Bs and hotels will be MUCH easier. 'Moderate' could mean anything -- what is your actual budget per night?

>>Islay - 3 Nights<<. >>Visit all the islay distilleries<<

3 nights nets you just 2 full days -- no way you can visit even half of the distilleries in 2+ days.

Travel in the areas you are visiting is pretty slow so most of your your 2 night stays net you just one full day and maybe a few hours.

If it was me (and I'm a huge single malt fan as well) I'd cut the number of destinations, cut the total number of distilleries, spend more time in fewer places and enjoy Scotland - not just whisky. I've been to maybe 12 or 15 distilleries over the years -- but in actuality - one is very much like every other one. Sitting in an Edinburgh or country pub with a huge single malt selection would be more rewarding than visiting distillery after distillery. 3 or 4 Islay, a couple of Speyside, maybe Talisker would be MORE than enough.
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Apr 10th, 2018, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
'Moderate' could mean anything -- what is your actual budget per night?
We are 2 adults and an 11 year old. Budget for Accommodation will be ~ 100-140 GBP per night. If it includes breakfast, it is even better.

>> 3 nights nets you just 2 full days -- no way you can visit even half of the distilleries in 2+ days.>>
>> Travel in the areas you are visiting is pretty slow so most of your your 2 night stays net you just one full day and maybe a few hours.>>
Yes, I also feel that. Even if we manage, the pace will be too much. I am thinking of increasing our stay @Islay to 5 nights and move out Mull for a later trip.

If it was me (and I'm a huge single malt fan as well) I'd cut the number of destinations, cut the total number of distilleries, spend more time in fewer places and enjoy Scotland - not just whisky. I've been to maybe 12 or 15 distilleries over the years -- but in actuality - one is very much like every other one. Sitting in an Edinburgh or country pub with a huge single malt selection would be more rewarding than visiting distillery after distillery. 3 or 4 Islay, a couple of Speyside, maybe Talisker would be MORE than enough.
I like your point very much " 3 or 4 Islay, a couple of Speyside, maybe Talisker would be MORE than enough."

Looking forward to more inputs on the itinerary. I have a feeling that in this trip we can limit ourselves to few areas and spend more time. What tops our lists are Islay, Skye, Inverness, Dufftown apart from Edinburgh at this moment.
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Apr 10th, 2018, 07:43 AM
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>>100-140 GBP per night. If it includes breakfast, it is even better.<<

Not to worry - just about EVERY B&B includes breakfast - hence the name - Bed & Breakfast.

>>Yes, I also feel that. Even if we manage, the pace will be too much. I am thinking of increasing our stay @Islay to 5 nights and move out Mull for a later trip.<<

I love LOVE Mull -- I'd be more inclined to keep Mull and drop Oban and Orkney. Orkney is wonderful -- but too far in too little time. Inverness is not much -- there area around Inverness has a lot . . . but by adding those days to Grantown on Spey or Dufftown would be a good base. I would NOT stay in Inverness.

I looks like you have 19 nights: Maybe consider something like this:

• Edinburgh 3 nights,
• Inveraray or Kilmartin 1 night (long drive from Edinburgh so a stop en route to Islay)
• 3 nights on Islay
• 3 nights on Mull
• 3 nights on Skye
• 4 nights in Dufftown or Grantown area
• 2 nights to play with - Perth/Dunkeld/Stirling or someplace like that . . . easy drive from any of those to EDI to drop car and fly home.
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Apr 10th, 2018, 02:49 PM
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For a whisky-intensive tour of the Highlands, I'd be inclined to drop one day somewhere along the line and add a night north of Inverness so you could visit the Glenmorangie distillery near Tain at the mouth of the Dornoch Firth. It happens to be my go-to single malt, and a good friend of mine introduced it to an importer in Pennsylvania who first brought Glenmorangie to the US in the 1960s, so I have a - somewhat tortured - sense of ownership about it. ;-)

Swinging up to Tain from, say, Skye, could also allow you to see some terrific scenery around Torridon, or at least visit the extremely atmospheric and historic Croick Church, scene of one of the most (in)famous episodes during the Highland Clearances. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/4yoMYV24Fxz
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Apr 10th, 2018, 03:38 PM
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Whisky distilleries are ... distilleries. Thinking the better part is in the drinking. Besides, most distilleries don't malt their own barley at this point so you're just looking at the stills and the filtering processes. Besides, there's a lot of good whisky available from independent bottlers who buy whole casks from the distilleries and reconfigure the distillant into their own products.
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Apr 10th, 2018, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
>>100-140 GBP per night. If it includes breakfast, it is even better.<<

Not to worry - just about EVERY B&B includes breakfast - hence the name - Bed & Breakfast.

>>Yes, I also feel that. Even if we manage, the pace will be too much. I am thinking of increasing our stay @Islay to 5 nights and move out Mull for a later trip.<<

I love LOVE Mull -- I'd be more inclined to keep Mull and drop Oban and Orkney. Orkney is wonderful -- but too far in too little time. Inverness is not much -- there area around Inverness has a lot . . . but by adding those days to Grantown on Spey or Dufftown would be a good base. I would NOT stay in Inverness.

I looks like you have 19 nights: Maybe consider something like this:

• Edinburgh 3 nights,
• Inveraray or Kilmartin 1 night (long drive from Edinburgh so a stop en route to Islay)
• 3 nights on Islay
• 3 nights on Mull
• 3 nights on Skye
• 4 nights in Dufftown or Grantown area
• 2 nights to play with - Perth/Dunkeld/Stirling or someplace like that . . . easy drive from any of those to EDI to drop car and fly home.
Thanks for suggesting the itinerary. I will read up more about Mull. Yes, Orkney is too far and will drop it. One reason for considering it initially is the Highland Park distillery.
Any recommendation on B&B at these places?
For islay, we are thinking of "The Old Excise House". Have heard good feedback.

If we travel in early May, then we will probably do the circuit anti-clockwise to catch the speyside whisky festival. Will start checking for accommodation in Dufftown as I am sure that rooms will get blocked fast once the dates are announced.
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Apr 10th, 2018, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by BigRuss View Post
Whisky distilleries are ... distilleries. Thinking the better part is in the drinking. Besides, most distilleries don't malt their own barley at this point so you're just looking at the stills and the filtering processes. Besides, there's a lot of good whisky available from independent bottlers who buy whole casks from the distilleries and reconfigure the distillant into their own products.
I am very interested in tasting sessions conducted at distilleries. And I have never done a warehouse tour. These 2 are the major interest.
Any recommendations for independent bottlers?
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Apr 10th, 2018, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
For a whisky-intensive tour of the Highlands, I'd be inclined to drop one day somewhere along the line and add a night north of Inverness so you could visit the Glenmorangie distillery near Tain at the mouth of the Dornoch Firth. It happens to be my go-to single malt, and a good friend of mine introduced it to an importer in Pennsylvania who first brought Glenmorangie to the US in the 1960s, so I have a - somewhat tortured - sense of ownership about it. ;-)

Swinging up to Tain from, say, Skye, could also allow you to see some terrific scenery around Torridon, or at least visit the extremely atmospheric and historic Croick Church, scene of one of the most (in)famous episodes during the Highland Clearances. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/4yoMYV24Fxz
Thank you so much for showing the route map. I like Glenmoranjie too and will be very happy if I can accomodate this route.
I am afraid that finally it will become "so little time and so many places to see".

Any suggestions on scenic driving routes ? I just started my search and all I know is about the "A9 from Stirling to Inverness".
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Apr 10th, 2018, 08:16 PM
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OMG - I was posting a very long detailed post at the same time as your last post. . . . and the system ate it.

Will try again - but this is a royal pain grrr!
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Apr 10th, 2018, 08:27 PM
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With all due respect I wouldn't go north just to visit Highland Park. An evening in a whisky centric pub and/or at the Whisky centre in Edinburgh will let you taste flights of Highland Park or any other . . .

On Mull consider bed and breakfast,Isle of Mull,award winning,Seaview B & B,for,Isle of Iona Walking distance to the Iona foot ferry and boats to Staffa. Wonderful breakfasts

On Skye - Sligachan Hotel the most central location on the Isle for ease of touring and less than 8 miles from Talisker

Near Grantown-on- Spey - posh but probably within your budget Tigh na Sgiath Country House Hotel ? Holiday, Vacation, Accommodation, Small Country House Hotel Cairngorm National Park, Speyside, Grantown, Highlands, Scotland

Or in Dufftown -- either Tannochbrae Guest House | Bed and Breakfast | Dufftown | Scotland with its own whisky bar with more than 300 whiskies - or - Morven Bed and Breakfast on the town square.

There was more but them's the breaks
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Apr 10th, 2018, 08:55 PM
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>>Any suggestions on scenic driving routes ?<<

In the western and north central areas where you will be -- there are nothing BUT scenic driving routes. You couldn't find 'ugly' if you tried. Because of slow drive times - once you finally set your destinations - we can give you small detours/tweaks that might be 'worth it'. But taking the most direct routes from place to place will be plenty scenic.

To get from Mull to Skye -- take either the Fishnish / Lochaline ferry or the Tobermory / Kilchoan ferry - not the Oban ferry.
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Apr 11th, 2018, 02:59 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
With all due respect I wouldn't go north just to visit Highland Park. An evening in a whisky centric pub and/or at the Whisky centre in Edinburgh will let you taste flights of Highland Park or any other . . .

On Mull consider bed and breakfast,Isle of Mull,award winning,Seaview B & B,for,Isle of Iona Walking distance to the Iona foot ferry and boats to Staffa. Wonderful breakfasts

On Skye - Sligachan Hotel the most central location on the Isle for ease of touring and less than 8 miles from Talisker

Near Grantown-on- Spey - posh but probably within your budget Tigh na Sgiath Country House Hotel ? Holiday, Vacation, Accommodation, Small Country House Hotel Cairngorm National Park, Speyside, Grantown, Highlands, Scotland

Or in Dufftown -- either Tannochbrae Guest House Bed and Breakfast Dufftown Scotland with its own whisky bar with more than 300 whiskies - or - Morven Bed and Breakfast on the town square.

There was more but them's the breaks
Thanks a ton ! Checked all the stay suggestions and each looks great, especially Seaview @ Mull. Will keep track of the booking trends in these and start blocking once my plan is clear.
I have also been scouting Airbnb for EDI stay. Any recommendations, probably close to the Royal Mile? Even Hotel/B&B is fine.
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Apr 11th, 2018, 03:00 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
>>Any suggestions on scenic driving routes ?<<

In the western and north central areas where you will be -- there are nothing BUT scenic driving routes. You couldn't find 'ugly' if you tried. Because of slow drive times - once you finally set your destinations - we can give you small detours/tweaks that might be 'worth it'. But taking the most direct routes from place to place will be plenty scenic.

To get from Mull to Skye -- take either the Fishnish / Lochaline ferry or the Tobermory / Kilchoan ferry - not the Oban ferry.
Perfect ! Thanks.
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Apr 11th, 2018, 06:21 AM
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Both Seaview and Sligachan are very popular and do tend to book up so those would probably need to be booked up as soon as your dates are certain. Re Dufftown/Grantown -- there are lots of decent properties in both but because of the Whisky festival you might need to book there quite early.


Lots of good flats all over Old Town Edinburgh through vrbo/airbnb/etc -- or check out Fraser Suites which is an ApartHotel just steps from St Giles Cathedral.

These two flats are in an AMAZING location just down from the castle and about 100 yards from the Whisky Centre:

https://www.edinburgh-selfcatering.c...inburgh-castle
https://www.edinburgh-selfcatering.c...inburgh-castle

I stayed in the Flat 1 during the Festival and it was great. Both are on the 2nd floor (3rd floor 'American') w/o a lift though.

Last edited by janisj; Apr 11th, 2018 at 07:04 AM.
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Apr 11th, 2018, 06:57 AM
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Tastings at the distillery will net you only tastings of the distillery's offerings. That may be great. It may be mediocre.

Popping into a whisky purveyor on the Royal Mile could net you the same opportunity with larger variety because the shops won't be tied to a single distillery - Royal Mile Whiskies, Cadenhead shop, Robert Graham 1874 Whisky and Cigars, The Whisky Shop, and there's more.

This should help regarding independents.
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Apr 11th, 2018, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BigRuss View Post
Tastings at the distillery will net you only tastings of the distillery's offerings. That may be great. It may be mediocre.

Popping into a whisky purveyor on the Royal Mile could net you the same opportunity with larger variety because the shops won't be tied to a single distillery - Royal Mile Whiskies, Cadenhead shop, Robert Graham 1874 Whisky and Cigars, The Whisky Shop, and there's more.

This should help regarding independents.
Thanks. I am getting your point. Since this will be my first distillery visit in Scotland, the excitement to visit more is there. I will see how to balance between both.
I checked out the online sites of Royal Mile Whiskies and Cadenhead. Their collection looks great.
Regarding purchase of whisky bottles, my current thought is to buy from distilleries only if something catches my fancy. Else, I will pick up from these stores at the end before flying out of EDI based on what I like while trying at various bars during the trip.
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Apr 11th, 2018, 08:06 PM
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Based on the discussions till now, this is how the route looks like : Scotland Route Map 1
Please let me know if there are any suggestions.
The 2019 Speyside Whisky Festival dates are from 02-06 May. Thinking of attending the last 3 days of the event.

Last edited by RajatMakar; Apr 11th, 2018 at 08:48 PM.
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Apr 11th, 2018, 10:36 PM
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Looks very nice - just a couple of questions - do you mean to stay the night in both Inveraray AND Kilmartin? I don't think you need both - one or the other. I'd choose Kilmartin myself, but either one would be fine.

And from Dufftown down to EDI, I personally would not go via the A9 travel through via Ballater, Spittal of Glenshee, etc like this:

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Duff...d55.950785!3e0

Some spectacular scenery.
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Apr 12th, 2018, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Looks very nice - just a couple of questions - do you mean to stay the night in both Inveraray AND Kilmartin? I don't think you need both - one or the other. I'd choose Kilmartin myself, but either one would be fine.

And from Dufftown down to EDI, I personally would not go via the A9 travel through via Ballater, Spittal of Glenshee, etc like this:

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Duff...d55.950785!3e0

Some spectacular scenery.
Sorry in case I was not clear earlier.

I will be reaching EDI on 01-May morning. And the Speyside whisky festival starts from 02-May. So, if I want to attend it, I will have do the above route anti-clockwise. EDI -> Dufftown -> Skye and so on.
I am thinking of staying in EDI for 2 nights and start for Dufftown on 03-May. Spend 3 nights in Dufftown and then move on.
Is there any big problem in doing in this order?

Then the journey on our final leg will be from Islay to EDI. Kilmartin or Inveraray can be a stop but its too close to Islay. So, we would prefer to move more closer to EDI on that penultimate day of roadtrip. After returning car in EDI, we will rest for a day before flying out.
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