brother & sister in scotland

Old Aug 3rd, 1999, 04:17 PM
  #1  
shelley
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brother & sister in scotland

Hello there.. would love some input from you expert people on our trip to Scotland. We're leaving Toronto Sept 18and flying overnight into Glasgow. We will stay and tour until Sept29th-departing Glasgow in the early am. We want to stay in B&b's for the most part, have rented a car.. not afraid to go off the main route. Want to visit Castles,see the best natural scenery,visit the best distilleries, hike mountain trails,(although not too tough ones), shop a little, golf St. Andrews if possible,and taste a "wee dram" or two... need an itinerary..help? thanks, shelley
 
Old Aug 4th, 1999, 01:38 AM
  #2  
Sheila
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I will sned you some options tonight.

I posted something about how to get a tee at St Andrew a while ago. I can't remember if it ws here or an e-mail. If you can't find it, let me know and I'll find it in my archives.

But hurry- you are very late to book at this notice
 
Old Aug 4th, 1999, 01:55 PM
  #3  
Sheila
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I have put together a single Word document with some tours and bits of tours mentioned by me and others elsewhere in this Forum.

please have a look at the ideas and let me know if you would like more ideas.

Scotland has mny diverse regions and what is there is a bit repeitive with changes to take account of specific things specific people wanted to do. It misses out most of the islands and all of Caithness and Sutherland. Diversions can be recommended if you would like them.

please let us know
 
Old Aug 4th, 1999, 03:12 PM
  #4  
shelley
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I am unsuccessful in finding anything on booking a tee off at St.Andrews, so if you can help, that would be great. All the info you tried to send to me arrived in gibberish language.. any thoughts? shelley
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 12:30 AM
  #5  
Sheila
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I 'm posting from work. The stuff is on the computer at home. I'll repost in here and find the missing e-mail
 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 10:44 AM
  #6  
Sheila
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1.Started in Edinburgh (for the festival), drove north to Pitlochry and Culloden, then over to Ullapool, Plockton, Skye, Glen Coe, and down to Glasgow (or just outside).

2. 10 days
Leave towards Perth, and cross the Forth Road Bridge; you pass the rail bridge, one of the modern wonders of the world on your right, and you don't even have to slow down.

Just over the river (the Forth) Dunfermilne is on your left. Robert the Bruce, the hero king who won Bannockbrn is buried here in Dunfermilne Abbey (although his heart is buried at Melrose in the borders); go back onto the main road and you will shortly come to Loch Leven, where Mary Queen of Scots was locked up in the castle on the island (v. romantic..the story of the escape- she then fled to her cousin in England for succour. She, locked her up for 20 years then beheaded her. perfidious Albion!) There is a very pretty bird reserve at Vane farm on the south side on the loch.

Just before you come to Perth you cross over the "Wicks of Baiglie" and can see right down the Tay valley to Dundee. Myth says that Julius Caesar made it this far, and seeing the broad fertile valley stopped and said "Ecce Tiberus!" (Look, the Tiber!)

Perth is a very nice little city; capital of Scotland before Edinburgh and imbued with history. There are two large parks on the edge of the city centre, the North and South Inches.(Inch is from the Gaelic innis- a meadow)The story goes that a particular Eal of Perth wanting to be buried in the City Church, St John's, told the town magistrates " If you give me six feet, I'll give you two inches"

Take time to climb Kinnoull Hill which proudly overlooks the town and the Tay and is surmounted by a folly castle built by another Earl of Perth, who had done the Grand Tour and thought that the Tay valley was just like the Rhine except it didn't have castles on its hilltops- so he faked a couple.

Then drive on to Dunkeld, a lovely town on the Tay, with a beautiful historic square, a cathedral and some wonderful views. There's a pub in the village (the name of which I can't remember but it's the second one on the street on the right immediately over the bridge- you can't miss it) which is owned by Dougie Mclean one of Scotland's greatest contemporary singer songwriters. It can be a fine place to spend an evening.

If you then take a wee detour west to Aberfeldy and Loch Tay you will pass Breadalbane Castle, former home of the Marquis of Breadalbane, and now a golf course! and come to the lovely 18th century planned village of Kenmore. the Loch is stunning. And if you're up to the walk, go along the north side to Ben Lawers and drive up to the National Trust visitor centre. Time it right and then walk up to the top. Don't do this if it's raining unless you're nuts!

Then drive back down to Pitlochry (if you go along the north side of the river you pass the Farleyer Hotel, which has a stunning bistro..It's not cheap mind you). Pitlochry is a tourist dive so don't stay long; although it is a good place to get your tweeds and tartans and woolens and things...if you've got any money left after Edinburgh and lunch at the Farleyer.

Go north again and stop at Killiecrankie and see the famous soldier's leap. If you don't know the story, learn the song.

A couple of miles further on is Blair Atholl, another planned village and a superb castle for a visit. the Duke of Atholl is the only person is the UK licenced by the Queen to have a private army.

From Blair Atholl, go north again on the A9. You will pass a place called House of Bruar which markets itself as "the Harrods of the North" It's a real fancy shop and I hate to say it but I love it. Worth stopping.

Next up you will come to Dalwhinnie- great whisky, great distillery. I don't know if it dies tours but it's worth stopping if it does. Come off the main road somewhere north of here and carry on on the old main road- less traffic and more scenic.

You come to Newtonmore and Kingussie I can never remember which comes first, but at the first one there is a superb 17th century barracks built by the English to keep the Scots down after Culloden. Worth a trip. It's immediately adjacent to Insch Marches which is another bird reserve- lots of brilliant ducks and waders ( did I mention I was into birds?) Carry on up the Spey until just before Aviemore and turn right as though you were going to Grantown on Spey. You come first to Rothiemurchus which has all sorts of visitor facilities, then to Abernethy estate, which is also owned by the bird people (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds- like the Audobon) At their Loch Garten reserve you can see Osprey which are wonderful fish eating raptors which live in Africa in winter and come to visit us in summer. They always come back to the same nest so the RSPB have a live TV camera showing everything that is going on. In June you should have young in the nest. In any case, Rothiemurchus and Abernethy are remnant Caledonian pine forest- our oldest trees; and I guarantee you, that, unless you are made of stone, a walk off the track will make your skin tingle. You have the sensation of being where generations have been before. If you go up into the hills here ( quite a long walk- 4-5 hours, but worth every minute) you may well see Golden Eagle. By going back to Aviemore and going to the ski slopes at Cairngorm, you can take the chairlift well up the mountain; but we'll all hate you for doing it the easy way. If you carry on towards and past Grantown you are into the whisky country of Speyside. Glenfiddich distillery at Dufftown may not make the best malt in the world ( there's no such thing as a bad one) but it probably does the best tour.

Back to the A9 along the Spey and you drive on to Inverness capital of the Highlands. (Aviemore is like Pitlochry but modern- avoid it like the plague) you have the Cairngorms Mountains on your right and the Monadliath Mountains on your left. It's just grand.

Just before you get to Inverness turn right and go back as far as Culloden-6 miles.(as an alternative to this you could carry on east from Dufftown and arrive at Elgin and come up the A96, stopping at some of the Moray fishing villages on the way. Culloden will appear on your left before you get to Inverness.

Inverness is at one end of the Caledonian canal, which you need to see. It has nice pubs and hotels, but is essentially a sweet little town with little to keep you in it. It's what is nearby that matters.
leaving Inverness you cross the Kessock Bridge over the Moray Firth. You should stop at the tourist information office just over the river. It has a live closed circuit TV linkup to a Red Kite's nest; and you may see Dolphins in the river from the car park If you decide to do one of the dolphin boat trips please pick one of the boats which is "approved" ie doesn't hassle and hound the dolphins all day.

Depending on what time you have left after you've followed this low intensity tour, I would take the extra day to go to Skye. Keep going on the A9 until just before Dingwall and then turn left towards Garve. You cross open moorland all the way across Scotland from the east side to the west. It's very grand (but nothing to what you are coming to!)

Drive down to Achnasheen then Lochcarron and at Lochcarron take the south side of the Loch. You will shortly pass one of the best signposts in the world. It says "Strome Ferry- (no ferry)" You may not notice it however because if you are watching the scenery you will think you have died and gone to heaven. You haven't. That is still to come.

(Can I just put in as a caveat that it may be raining- it usually is on the west coast of Scotland. If it is you should reconcile yourself to seeing nothing further till you leave the country.)

A few miles past the Strome Ferry turning you will see signs to Plockton on the right. Take the detour. It's on every calendar of Scottish beauty spots you have ever seen.

Back on the main road you come over the last hill and see the Isle of Skye ahead of you. You came to the village of Kyleakin, where they have built the most godawaful bridge over the sea to Skye. Skye is lovely and romantic and is where Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to after Culloden, dressed up as a maid to Flora MacDonald and about which the song was written (actually he went from South Uist to Skye, not from the mainland, but why spoil a good story.)

Conscious of the fact that you have only a few days left, rather than do the whole island, just go up as far as Portree, and then come back. As you come south you are approaching the Cuillin which are the most stunning mountains in Scotland. Stop and enjoy. Take half a day and walk up an easy one- Blaven or Bruch na Friath.

Stop for a meal at the Seagull at Broadford. then turn right and follow the road down to Armadale. The Isle Oronsay hotel is a wonderful place to stay; but it is not cheap. (the Sligachan- the climbers' hotel is).

From Armadale take the ferry to Mallaig and by following the road across to Fort William you pass Glenfinnan recommended by my fellow countryman in the preceding post.

Fort William is a bit of a railhead town but does sit below the majesty of Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain.

From Fort William drive down to Ballachulish then take the diversion through Glencoe. This is where the evil Campbells slaughtered the MacDonalds after Culloden. There's a long story but I won't bore you with it. There's a great song about it though. It's a tremendous place with overbearing hills. It's not called the Glen of Weeping for nothing.

Coming out of Glencoe you have a choice which I suggest is time oriented. You could have gone straight down the coast to Oban instead of turning off at Ballachulish. Now I would suggest that you go back to Dalmally and on to Oban.

Oban is a lovely little town right on the coast dominated by a folly on the hill overlooking a lovely and very busy harbour. Lots of the Western Isles ferries sail from here. If you've left enough time, take the day trip on the ferry to Iona, the cradle of Christianity. St Columba came from Ireland to educate us heathens, and set up his staging post here. There is a lovely mediaeval Abbey and beautiful beaches and to get there you sail up the Sound of Mull and past Staffa (Fingal's cave- Mendolssohn's Hebridean Overture and all that), so you get to see the outside edges of Mull and the Ardnamurchan peninsula too.

If you don't have time to do that it is still worth going to Oban anyway.

If you go the direct route from Fort William missing out Glencoe you should visit the Pierhouse at Port Appin, if not to stay (double rooms are about 70 b&b) then for some of the best seafood with one of the best views in the world.

South from Oban, you drive down to Lochgilphead then up Loch Fyne to Inverary ( another planned village from the 18th century) Visit the jail and you are in "Kidnapped" country.

The castle belongs to the Duke of Argyll Chief of the clan Campbell (boo; hiss!) and is a great visit.

then stay on the main A83 crossing the road known as "the Rest and be Thankful" (and when you see it, you'll know why) and come down to Tarbet on Loch Lomond, Scotland's largest loch. Personally I think it's overrated, and only has the following it has because it's so close to Glasgow, but there are those who swear by it... it's OK

The road will bring you out at Dumbarton and then you are 20 miles along a motorway to Glasgow, your destination. If you still have time there are one or two things to see in Glasgow too- the Birrell gallery, the Willow tea rooms, the School of Art; the Necropolis; George Square; great shopping; the Clyde, the Clyde, the wonderful Clyde, the name o' it thrills me and fills me wi' pride...; the People's Palace... but I'm an east coast girl and I don't hold with this west coast stuff ( at least, not south of Arrochar).

Then go to sleep for a week.

I have just realised that by leading you to Skye I missed out Loch Ness ( which I would willingly do, but you _are_ American...Instead of going north to Dingwall, as an alternative, you can go down the north side of the Loch. Stop at Castle Urquart, see the piper; hope you see the Monster, then turn right at Invermoriston and follow the road to Dornie. It's still worth going a few minutes to the north to Plockton, and pick up the previously advised route.

3. What I would say, though , is that you should take a trip along the coast of Fife and view the wonderful coastline and old fishing villages - Pitenweem, Anstruther(have some local fish - best haddock in the world), St Monans, Elie etc . Don't miss Largo, former home of my (distant) relative Alexander Selkirk (or Selcraig). He was the original 'Robinson Crusoe'. Daniel Defoe heard about Selkirk's adventures whilst he was in Fife during the 18th Century (Defoe was an English spy, as it happens) and decided to rip-off the story and pretend it was his own. As you may know, Selkirk was left on Juan Fernandez island (now called 'Robinson Crusoe' island) off the Chilean coast for four years before making his way back to Largo. Go look at the statue, it's a nice little town.

I think one of the most beautiful places in the world is Glenfinnan, where the monument is now. This marks the (supposed) spot where Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - first set foot on Scottish soil and raised the 'standard' (flag thing) proclaiming his right to the British throne. Beware of midges, though - like mosquitoes.



4.I do have a superb B&B on the Whiskey Trail...200 year old large home owned by Veronica Grubb and her husband...will try to find a bit of info. on it. I believe it is in Craigllachie. She does not serve dinner, but there is a terrific hotel just down the road, on the River Spey, and they serve wonderful meals. Veronica was great...she realized we wanted ice in our rooms so we could have cocktails before we went to dinner...the only ice ever brought to us anywhere.
5. Take the train to Inverness then hire a car. You almost certainly need to drive on Skye, public transport being not very good; but, that apart getting there and back you should do by train. I would suggest you relax on the Tuesday, then get the sleeper to Inverness. On Wednesday morning, take the train from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. I haven't a clue about the times, but I'm sure they will mesh, and you can spend some time in Inverness in the morning if there is a gap. The station is right in the town centre and the Station Hotel does a wonderful traditional breakfast.

When you get to Kyle you need to pick up your hire car. (Did I mention that the Inverness- Kyle line is spectacularly beautiful? because it is.

It's probably early afternoonish by now, and you have still got a lovely part of the day ahead of you ( except if it's raining, which it usually is in Skye). I think what I would do, would be to drive up as far as Portree, the main town, that day. Get yourself orientated, settle down, see some scenery and lets the kids do the "hanging out in the town square) thing.

Scotland incidentally is mega safe, so you don't really have to worry about them. I like the Rosedale Hotel, right on the Harbour front and good food. If it's too dear there are heaps of guest houses and B&Bs.

On the way to Portree you pass through Broadford, on the east side of which is a very nice restauarnt called the Seagull- great food and lovely people.

You then go past the Cuillin. I almost prefer not to tell you about these mountains; they are so spectacular, they are almost breathtaking (actually, I think they are breathtaking, but I'm prejudiced). There's a big, but reasonably priced hotel called the Sligachan right at the foot of the mountains with a big bar with pool tables and stuff like that. If your offspring are townies, they may think it too far from anywhere to want to stay there. (Not that Portree is exactly a metropolis!)

OK. Thursday you drive up to Dunvegan. Where did you get this mince about cruise ships??? A cruise in the Western Isles in a big ship might hold 20 people. (Actually I've just remembered a converted ferry called the Jacobean Prince, or something, but we really are not talking Caribbean here. Apart from anything else you can't land a big boat at Dunvegan.

Dunvegan has a very nice little restaurant called The Three Chimneys, which also has rooms (I think they're a bit expensive 105 and up)

Do a bit of walking, see the museums then go round towards Trotternish- stay at Uig ( the Uig Hotel is quite good -although it was freezing one night I stayed there last March) or go round to staffin and stay at the Glenview Inn.

Staffin is near the Quiraing which is a very wierd rock formation, and a very nice walk.

On Friday, if you're into mountains, go and climb a Cuillin. It takes reasonable fitness, but to climb a not too difficult one, you don't have to be a mountaineer. If you want there are quite a lot of guides who can take you if you need assistance. If you are not into mountains, go to Elgol, and take a boat trip to Loch Coruisk. When you come back, drive down the Sleat peninsula, and do the Clan Donald stuff. If you are fit to splurge, stay at the Isle Oronsay Hotel, which is my favourite in all the world, for ambience, location and general niceness. If you're not, stay in a B&B and just eat there.

That's Skye- it's not exhaustive, but there are some other nice place on the mainland you might like to see too.

On Saturday, catch the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. You have a transport choice to make here. If you keep the car your options are much wider open, but the trains are back again.

If you decide to go by train, take said mode of transport to Fort William; apart from the fact that the town is a bit of a dump ( I know there are postings on here that would disagree with that; maybe it appeals to Americans?) it's in a lovely location and has a better array on shops than you will have seen the previous few days, so you might want to stay on Saturday night. The other reason for doing so, is that you can get the train to Glasgow on Sunday morning and get the best of the day for the other most fantastic train journey in Scotland, across- down Loch Linnhe, across the bridge at Ballachulish, through Glencoe, and over Rannoch Moor to Crianlarich, down Loch Lomond and Loch Long and up the Clyde to Scotland's largest and most vibrant city.

Do a bit of sightseeing when you get there..the People's Palace, the Burrell Collection, would be my highlights. Stay the night somewhere and go shopping on Monday. Glasgow has the best shopping in the country.

Take an early evening train to Edinburgh and set yourself up for a good day in Edinburgh on Tuesday- Castle, Hollyrood, Arthur's Seat, the Park, the galleries. Either stay Wednesday and catch the sleeper to London on Wednesday night or if that timescale freaks you out, you can get an early evening train to London, and have plenty of time to sort yourself out for your flight the following day.

If you want to keep the car after you get back onto the mainland at Mallaig, tell us, and I'll make alternative suggestions.

Oh and for the Skye trip have a look at a web site called Virtual Hebrides

6. Inspirational trip
I think that the Highlands have to be more romantic and photogenic than the Lowlands although there is some real history in the South too.

I've been think about this all evening and I keep coming back to the concept of beautiful or evocative stories and being recalled to the romantic or mythical history of a place.

You may have something quite different in mind, but I would suggest something like the west coast route from Glasgow, past Loch Lomond and Arrochar over the Rest and be Thankful to Inverary then down to Lochgilphead and up to Crinan, across the moor past Dunadd and through Kilmartin Glen to Oban on up the coast road to Fort William then west to Mallaig and across on the ferry to Armadale on Skye.

Take with you a book of good Scottish Folk Tales and a readable history. You can put in Kelpies and monks and the "Kidnapped" Story. You go past the bottom of Glen Coe where the Campbells slaughtered the Macdonalds- the "Glen of Weeping".

I don't see how you could miss out Loch ness and the monster, which all kids adore; but she has a little cousin at Loch Morar (called Morag, of course) which you pass on the way to Mallaig.

Other places at random might include:-

the Pass of Killiecrankie

Edinburgh/Stirling/any other castle.

the East Neuk of Fife

the Cairngorm mountains

Torridon/ Applecross

Any Outer Hebridean island

Orkney

7.

5 days in Scotland leaving Edinburgh and finishing up in Aberdeen including good castles and missing out museums. That narrows it down (not!)

Firstly I will take you north only; thus missing out the Borders. If you think on reflection you would like to go south as well, let me know. I'm also assuming you are using public transport. Come back to me if that's wrong and you want to spread your wings a bit further.

Leave Edinburgh reasonably early in the morning and go to Glasgow by train. Visit the Burrell Gallery, and shop till you drop. have tea in the Willow Tea Room and admire the Charles Rennie Macintosh Interior. For supper try somewhere very Glasgow which will depend on your budget; as should your accommodation. Visit a good Glasgow pub- the Scotia or the Bon Accord

Next day take the train to Fort William and then Mallaig. It's one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. Arrange in advance for a hire car to be available for you in Mallaig. I have no idea how to do this but it has to be possible somehow.

Take the ferry to Skye and spend the whole of the next day there. You can visit Dunvegan Castle, the Cuillin mountains, Portree, Isle Ornsay, Broadford, Uig, the Clan Donald centre and many more. Scenery terrific. Accommodations available include the Rosedale hotel in Portree and the Isle Ornsay Hotel, both of which are excellent but in different budget categories. Have supper at the Seagull in Broadford. An available castle is Kinloch Castle owned and run by Lady Clare MacDonald who is also a gourmet chef (but if you only want to stay in one, then wait for my later recommendation)

Day four, take the train from Kyle of Lochalsh (having arranged to leave your car there) to Inverness. This is the other most scenic railway journey in the world. Visit Inverness and take one of its open top bus tours.

Take the evening train to the village of Insch in Aberdeenshire where you should have arranged for someone from Pittodrie House Hotel to collect you. Pittodrie is a stunning Country House Hotel on the slopes of Bennachie in west Aberdeenshire. Its core is a 114th century tower house (Castle, but it hasn't got a ghost.)

Next day, get them to drop your luggage at the airport, spend the day in Aberdeen, and aim for the airport in time to catch your flight.


 
Old Aug 5th, 1999, 12:03 PM
  #7  
Sheila
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Shelley;

here are tonight's offerings from the annals.

If this lot gives you ideas, post back what they are and we can tailor something

8. Castles scenery and distilleries
Skye- mainly famous for being where Bonny Prince Charlie escaped to from Uist after the '45 rebellion and being the home of the Mcleods and having the fairy flag at Dunvegan castle. Visited by Johnston and Boswell in their tour of the Hebrides. Scenery- superlatives run out. Best range of mountains in the UK by a mile. Lots of sea, rocks sand and seals and otters and eagles. No to be missed

North Argyll- read "Kidnapped" by R L Stevenson and close to the site of the massacre of Glen Coe. Glen Coe's mountains also superb. Sea lochs are petty good too

Islay- home of the Lords of the Isles- superb mediaeval Celtic carvings; 7 distilleries, lovely coastline, great beaches. soft island landscape

Aberdeenshire- Ancient Pictish remains very close to Pittodrie. Iron Age fort on the top of the hill. Castle Trail- late mediaeval tower houses; many open to the public. Close to the site of the Battle of Harlaw- north versus south.

Two great rivers- the Don and the Dee. Lovely mountains, including Lochnagar, written about by HRH Big Ears himself; salmon rivers, trout rivers, trees; and Bennachie, although little, is no slouch as a marker in the landscape

Perthshire- home of Rob Roy, infamous reiver. Lovely lowland inland lochs- Loch Earn and Loch Tay. Closeish to Stirling- ancient capital of Scotland with a great castle and site of Battle of Bannockburn ( cause of more chips on shoulders than you've had with fish!)

Speyside- Cairngorm Mountains. Caledonian Pine. Eagles, capercaillie and crested tit. History of this area is a bit obscure. Wolf of Badenoch did his stuff about here.
East Aberdeenshire- biggest undisturbed sand dune system in Western Europe, including buried village. Close to Slains Castle where Mary Shelley wrote Dracula. National Nature Reserve
Wester Ross- Highland Clearances for history. Scenery ( just back) two of the most amazing mountain ranges in Torridon and at Loch Maree. Lovely little villages, great trees, super water, great walks
Moray- close to Culloden and the site of the battle of 1746 in which we got stuffed by Butcher Cumberland- one of the mose atmospheric places I have ever been with the clan marker stones. Also Wolf of Badenoch stuff- sacking of Elgin Cathedral. Scenery a bit tamer.. but I run out of breath doing the spectaular stuff. You need to have a couple of days of calm and this would be it
Western Isles- well.... History-- Clearances, vikings, absentee landlords. Lords of the Isles. Flora Macdonald and the Great Escape- over the sea to Skye-Scenery is so different from everything else. Vast expanses of machair and wild empty beaches. A couple of little hills. The people speak Gaelic as well as English

9. Where would you go?
Also, just for giggles, while in the Inverness area visit the Stuart Castle, supposedly hunted. The Stuart family runs a hotel and a tour of the place is $5/pp. Lots of fun with the secret passages and fake library shelves, the tour guide was excellent in relating the history of the castle and its place in Scottish history. Beautiful countryside location, great pictures of the valley from the top tower. Also nearby is the site of the Battle of Culloden; fascinating history. In Kinross, we visited the Loch Leven Castle. Is not much to see, but it has a very interesting past as Mary, Queen of Scots was kept prisoner there for a while (pregnant at the time, she lost twins which are said to have been buried at Loch Leven). You can only get there by boat (about $3/pp). Of course, Edinburgh Castle (windy!) and the Holyrood Palace are must see. Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness has a mysterious aura, tough to explain...

10. Castles in Grampian & distilleries
Pittodrie House itself has a castle at the core, although it has been much extended since then.

You are closest to Leith Hall at Kennethmont, which is owned by the National Trust, and is very nice. the trail leads you in one direction to Kildrummy Castle which is a ruin and owned by Historic Scotland, then up through Strathdon to Corgarff Castle, which has a fascinating wall skirting it. It was a barracks for the soldiers building the Wade road nearby. Cross over the moor to Deeside and Braemar Castle which is privately owned, but open to the public, then come down Deeside to Balmoral, the Queen's wee place in the Highlands. Given your dates you are likely to be here whilst she is there and you are not allowed in whilst they are in residence, so go on to Royal Lochnagar distillery which does tours. come further along Deeside into Glen Tanar national nature reserve and pick a walk from the range on offer through our ancient caledonian pine forest.

Come back over to Craigievar and visit Craigievar castle, the sugar plum castle Disney is supposed to have used as his model. If you stay on Deeside you can visit Crathes Castle and Drum Castle, both of which are fun. Crathes has the added attraction of terrific gardens. Crossing back to Donside to come home can bring you past catle Fraser with its resident ghost.

If you go the other way from Leith Hall, you reach Huntly Castle another ruined ancient monument. Keep going north and you come to Fyvie Castle which is the grandest of them all. Come south to Haddo House, ancestral home of the Earls of Aberdeen, then past Tolquhon Castle at Tarves to Pitmedden, in its lovely formal gardens.

To pick 3 or 4 from that lot, I'd do one of the ruins, probably Kildrummy, plus Fyvie for grandeur and Craigievar for cuteness- and which ever of the rest takes your fancy.

The best distillery tour (as opposed to whisky- tho' the whisky is not bad either) is meant to be Glenfiddich on Speyside. Lots of the Speyside distilleries do tours. If your route follows what you have written down, go north from Pittodrie to Inverness by following the road past Leith Hall towards Huntly. At Gartly turn left instead of right and when you get to Rhynie go over the Cabrach to Dufftown, which is where Glenfiddich is. Then go on to Tomintoul(great whisky shop) and down to the Spey. Follow the Spey to Aviemore, then go up the A9 to inverness. Not as direct as the A96 from Pitcaple to Inverness, but infinitely more fun.

Talisker distillery on Skye and Oban in (guess where?) Oban also do tours, and they are very different whiskies to the Speyside ones.

Pittodrie is at the foot of a low mountain called Bennachie which is awash with lovely paths.

Near Pittodrie is a visitor centre called Archaeolink, which interprets the ancient history of Scotland's people, and whcich I think you might enjoy (did I say I chair the Trust that runs it???)

Go to the Discovery Centre in Dundee when you leave St Andrews for the story of Scott of the Antartic and visit the ship which is docked there.

Try Culloden battlefield near Inverness for the atmosphere of the '45.

Skye is just stunning. Stop at Plockton on the way down for views and atmosphere. See the sign to Strome Ferry (no ferry) at loch Carron. Go to Elgol on Skye and take a boat trip to Loch Coruisk and see the seals.

South of Oban visit Kilmartin Glen and go to Dunadd, where the ancient kings of Dalriada had their stronghold.

11. 10 days in Scotland- bit expensive

Do your William Wallace stuff first. Stirling is a good start point and whilst not being absolutely top notch shopping, you should be able to get all the things you should have brought with you and haven't all whilst you get used to the place. Stay a couple of days. Try the Golden Lion Hotel in the town centre or the Toramaukin in Gleneagles ( about 25 minutes drive from Stirling). Do the castle, Bannockburn, the Bridge, the Wallace Monument, and the odd half-day trip to say Dollar Glen or Doune Castle.

Day 3 Go up to Callendar west to Brig o' Turk and down to Aberfoyle, then south to Drymen and Balloch and north up Loch Lomond to Arrochar. Take the road over the rest and be thankful to the top of Loch Fyne. Stop at the Loch Fyne Oyster bar for whatever meal you are passing at. Go up to Loch Aweside and stay in the Portsonachan Hotel or the the Ardaneiseg. Both are very nice.

Day four go on to Oban and spend the day pottering about there. Stay at the Pierhouse at port Appin about 15 miles north of Oban.

Day five take a trip up Glen Coe from Ballachulish, then go across Rannoch Moor to Crainlarich, west to Killin and Kenmore. Visit Aberfeldy and Dunkeld and Pitlochry and stay at the Farleyer at Weem.

Day six, go up the A9 toInverness, stopping at Kingussie, Rothiemurchus (take the chairlift up Cairngorm) and on to Inverness, where you should find somewhere to stay.

Day 7- go down the Great Glen to Invermoriston, then west to Kyle of Lochalsh and spend the day on Skye

Day 8- take the ferry off from Armadale to Mallaig and follow the road east to Fort William. If you're up to it, just stay on the road all the way back to Edinburgh and finish your stay there.
12. Castles
My favorite castles to not miss are: Blair, Glamis, Stirling, Cawdor, Eilean Donan, Balmoral, and Edinburgh. If you get a chance, drive to the Isle of Skye. The countryside is breathtaking and it's a must-see. I also enjoyed going to Loch Ness and visiting Uruquart Castle ( a ruin). Most of the sightings of the Loch Ness monster have been from there.
Glencoe is another must-see. This is the sight of the McDonald massacre by th Campbells. It is a very sobering place, but broodingly beautiful. I got some great pictures there.(the hills are mesmerising)
If your ancestry is Scottish, you should definitely see Culloden Battlefield. Many of the Scottish clansmen fell here under the command of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

But seriously, if you intend to do this, and you are flying into London, I would suggest.

13. 7 days in Scotland with a car
Day 1- London; sleeper to Inverness.

Day 2- hire car, drive to Kyle of Lochalsh and onto Skye for lunch. Staay overnight.

Day 3- take the boat fom armadale to mallaig and follow the road from there to Fort William, then drive south to Oban. Stay overnight.

Day 4- zap down to Stirling. Stay overnight

Day 5- do an early morning run to Edinburgh. Stay overnight.

Day 6- Edinburgh; leave car; sleeper to London

Day 7- go home.


 

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