Advice for Scotland in September

Old Jul 16th, 2002, 05:38 PM
  #1  
Kate
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Advice for Scotland in September

Hi all! Just looking for advice on our itinerary- my husband and I are going to Scotland for the first time in September. Here's our plan:
Day 1: Glasgow
Day 2: Pick up a car and drive north to Kilmartin area, and stay up near Oban
Day 3: Drive to Syke
Day 4: Full day on Skye (what all to see in 2 days-- Fairy glen? Staffin Bay? Dunvegan Castle? Has anyone gone kayaking here?)
Day 5: Drive from Skye up to Gairloch - check out some of the beaches along the way
Day 6: Northwest Coast
Days 7&8: Orkney Islands - all of the prehistoric stuff
Day 9: northeast coast
Day 10: Whisky distilleries of Speyside
Days 11&12: Edinburgh
Day 13rive down to Hadrian's wall, possibly stop at Jedburgh or Melrose Abby on the way
Day 14: Back to Glasgow, stop at Threave Castle on the way
Day 15: fly out of Glasgow
What are the best 2-3 castles to see (the older, the better for us)? Where are the best places to go horseback riding? Are any of the boat trips worthwhile (I would love to see puffins, seals, or whales!) We like being out of doors, and anything REALLY old (I was a geology major and my husband was an archeology major in college.) Are the Highland Games in Peebles or Blairgowie worth a try? We're so excited to go, and know we can't see everything, but would like a taste of everything! THANK YOU!!!!
 
Old Jul 17th, 2002, 06:05 AM
  #2  
Sheila
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I thikn that's a great itinerary, Kate.

On Skye I would not miss seeing the Cuillins. It's a place that is mainly about scenery. there are otherthings too, for sure, but essentially they are add ons. Try to eat at the Three Chimneys.
On that route castles worth seeing include Inverary, Eilean Donan (don't bother going in) Corgarff, Braemar, Glamis.
On Skye there are boat trips from Elgol which will pretty much guarantee seals; and I think they do much teh same from somewhere round Dunvegan where you are more likely to see Dolphins. You might like to think about using Go Orkney for a wildlife and monuments tour. it's ages since I did, but they are VERY good.
Blairgowrie will be better than Peebles I think. If you give me your dates i'll check if any others are on when you're here. But you're pretty late in the games season.

My husband is heavily into archaeology. When I get home I'll post some web links for you on REALLy old stuff. But you will love Kilmartin. Coming from the south it's a bit of a scutter but if you have time go to the visitor centre in the village first.

 
Old Jul 17th, 2002, 06:28 AM
  #3  
xxx
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I think it sounds nice, but ALOT!!! for a two week trip (unless you want to spend all your time in a car and no time out walking). Also, bear in mind that many of the roads in Scotland are wee little things, especially up north (single lane with pull-out passing places) and so you probably won't be driving as fast as you may think when looking at the map. Also, many times you have to drive around lochs and mountains so this also takes time. Unless you are going to pre-book every single room (not really necessary for most of Scotland if you are B&B'ing it) I would suggest having a basic itinerary in mind and then just going or staying as your mood and weather dictates. Even if you don't see everything on your itinerary, you won't be disappointed as Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. I'm recommending a less ambitious itinerary as to really appreciate it, it is worth stopping and taking in the scenery by taking some hikes rather than just driving by! The west coast of Scotland is supremely beautiful.
 
Old Jul 17th, 2002, 09:56 AM
  #4  
janis
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Your itinerary looks great - but it looks like a 20+ day trip to me. As xxx says - the driving will be slow. Except in the areas areound Glsagow, Oban, Edinburgh, count on averaging less than 40 miles per hour - sometimes much less. Therefore that 100 miles you think is maybe a 2 hour drive ends up taking 4 or 5 hours without stopping to see anything.

The single track roads are easy to drive but slow going in most areas and you will often get stuck behind coaches and or/ lorries.

You could gain a day if you don't stay in Glasgow - the airport is north of the city and the drive over to Kilmartin/Oban is not bad - even if you are jet lagged.

The Orkneys are fabulous but that excursion MIGHT mean you miss out on something else. Just be flexible.

Also, you could stay in Ayrshire on the last night and still be close enough to catch an early flight.

As for castles - the ones already suggested are great - try to squeeze in either Cawdor or Crathes (similar castles with AMAZING gardens); and Culzean on the Ayrshire coast.
 
Old Jul 17th, 2002, 10:42 AM
  #5  
Sheila
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I don't totally agree with Janis about the timings, bearing in mind you could easily spend a fortnight in any one of those places. Here's what I would expect.

Day 1: Glasgow - fine- it's a nice city. More art than history, it has to be said. The airport is actually on the south west, but if you did decide to miss out Glasgow, just turn right and over the erskine Bridge and you're well on your way up the side of Loch Lomond in no time.

Day 2: Glasgow-Oban via Kilmartin- 3 1/2 hours drive.

Day 3: Oban to Syke- depends on the route. Fort William/Mallaig 2 1/2 hours. Fort William/Kyle- 3 hours.

Day 5: Skye up to Gairloch -depends on the route- via Applecross 3 hours. Inland route- 1 1/2 hours- that's from Kyle

Day 6: It's 170 miles from Gairloch to Scrabster and your longest run so far- 5 hours.

Day 9: Scrabster to Grantown via Aviemore is about 150 or it's about 5 miles shorter to Craigellachie via Elgin- also a long day.

Day 10: Craigellachie to Edinburgh about 170 miles- this is the worst yet- maybe 4 hours.

Days 11&12: Edinburgh

Day 13:Edinburgh to Hadrian's Wall (Chesters?)- 90 miles- 2 hours

Day 14: Back to Glasgow, via Threave - 200 miles, mostly motorway. 5 hours

Day 15: fly out of Glasgow

If you were going to miss out any of it for me it would be the stuff south of Glasgow/Edinburgh. I'm also not a great fan of castles per se. I'd rather understand enough history to know how they fit into the landlscape and all the non-castle stuff too.

here are those links I promised.

http://www.stonepages.com/tour/maps.html
 
Old Jul 17th, 2002, 10:45 AM
  #6  
Sheila
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Woops, I cut myself off in my prime

http://www.megalith.ukf.net/

http://www.edelsten.org.uk/stones/main.htm

http://www.brand-dd.com/stones/

Have a great time
 
Old Jul 17th, 2002, 01:37 PM
  #7  
janis
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sheila is right about about GLA airport. I always consider it "north" since it just south of the Erskine bridge which is a main route to the north. It is actually due west of the center of Glasgow. My point is that there is no need to go into Glasgow and then head back out to the north when you can just jump in the car and be across the bridge in a matter of minutes.
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 04:07 AM
  #8  
Keith
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I tend to agree with Sheila on much of this - I don't think that the amount of time driving is unduly excessive, but it could be more tiring than you're used to.

Of all this, I'd miss out the stuff south of Edinburgh, especially Threave Castle. It's quite a detour and I'm not convinced that it's worth the trip.

If you want an alternative, you could visit Stirling Castle, or find parts of the Antonine Wall which ran between what is now Bo'ness on the Forth to Old Kirkpatrick on the Clyde - it was the nothern frontier of the Roman Empire until they retreated south past Hadrian's Wall.
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 04:19 AM
  #9  
Tony Hughes
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I think you're overestimating your driving capabilities, the state of the roads network in south, central and highland scotland and the relative driving times between places of interest and lodging.

Go to Threave, though. And nearby Caerlaverock. The Black Douglases are possibly the most interesting family in history.
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 09:24 AM
  #10  
janis
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sheila and Keith (and Tony) are in Scotland and are very used to the driving conditions. I could do your itinerary in the time you plan (but would still want more time). But I lived there 5 years and go back very often. Driving in the UK is a snap for me.

However, I responded from a typical American's point of view - based on a LOT of personal experience and feedback from friends, relatives and clients who only drive in Scotland once or once in a while.

Unless you are VERY used to single track roads, etc. your driving times will be substantially longer than the local's. Example - just about everyone in the UK is comfortable overtaking (passing) slower vehicles on VERY narrow roads. But the average American driver will stick behind a slow lorry for miles and not overtake unless the road widens out and he can see for a long distance. Often that opportunity never arises.

Plus, locals are used to the roads and just drive them faster. And everything is new to you, every turn of the road offers a view or a place to stop - the locals may have been on that raod a 100 times and it is "just another view".

For these reasons, visitors hardly ever make the drives in the times the locals can manage.
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 10:41 AM
  #11  
Sheila
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Based on conversations I've had with Tony, I'm not certain he knows where the north of Scotland is. You've got more chance of getting direction out of him for Cincinnati than Skye
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 10:56 AM
  #12  
Tony Hughes
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Everything North of Tayport is the Highlands; everything west of the Kincardine Bridge is Weedgieland. South of Newtongrange is the Borders. Close?
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 12:34 PM
  #13  
Barbara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Tony, "Weedgieland"
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 12:34 PM
  #14  
Gerry
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I pretty much agree with Janice. My wife and I have been to Scotland and north England 3 times. I've gotten used to the driving and enjoy it. But we've been lucky to make 35 or 40 mph unless we stick to the M's (motorways). But most places you are going there are no M's anyway.

The roads are good but very narrow and through towns they are even narrower and you have to dart in and out of traffic and around cars parked every which way.

My wife is a great navigator and that is a necessity. Someone other than the driver must be able to read a map!!!!!!!

You will love your trip. We are planning our 4th trip for next spring.
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 12:35 PM
  #15  
Barbara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Tony, sorry, forgot the ?!
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 12:59 PM
  #16  
Sheila
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Barbara, since you left Glasgwegians have become known as "weegies". thus "Weegieland"
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 02:18 PM
  #17  
Chris
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
When you are in Edinburgh, eat at the Witchery. It's on High Street near the castle. Great food and lovely surroundings.
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 03:35 PM
  #18  
Barbara
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sheila, thanks, that seems appropriate!
 
Old Jul 18th, 2002, 03:51 PM
  #19  
frank
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sheila, I have never heard of "weegie" outside of Irvine Welsh novels.Are you sure people actually use it?
Glaswegians have no name for those from Embra.
I think the itinerary is too full, unless you love tarmac.
The must-sees are Edinburgh & the western highlands.Sadly some of the rest must go.
No need to prebook accom in September.
 
Old Jul 19th, 2002, 12:58 AM
  #20  
Tony Hughes
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
see sheila, frank agrees with me.
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO