Can You Help With a Scottish Itinerary?

Sep 20th, 2012, 11:52 PM
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Can You Help With a Scottish Itinerary?

Hi everyone,

My husband and I will spend a week in Scotland at the end of October. We're flying in and out of Edinburgh and renting a car for a road trip. I'm having trouble pinning down destinations (I realize a week isn't nearly enough time to do this fascinating country justice) and would love your input. Here's what I'm thinking... (All our stays will be for one night only, except our initial two nights in Edinburgh, unless you have other ideas for me. )

St. Andrew's

We had originally planned on spending two nights on Skye instead of staying in Inverness and Oban, and then ending up in Grangemouth for our final night so that we're fairly close to the airport in Edinburgh.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

~ Nicole
Yallanicole is offline  
Sep 21st, 2012, 06:00 AM
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OK - some 'tough love'. Sorry - but you really don't have enough time to cover that much territory. Unless your point is merely to drive through and say you've been there, done that.

None of your drives are really long but there is a lot to see/do. Are there specific reasons you picked Pitlochry, Inverness, Oban, and Glasgow?

For instance Inverness itself is nothing to write home about - but in the general area are many things to visit. Unfortunately you will only have a few hours in Inverness so won't be able to see many of them. Places like Culloden, Clava Cairns, Fort George (takes about 3 hours minimum not counting 90 minutes travel time to/from I'ness), Cawdor and/or Brodie castles, and the Black Isle/dolphins.

In you planning realize one night doesn't equal one day in a place. Say you stay in Pitlochry (I personally wouldn't unless I was going to the theatre). You leave there by say 9:30 AM and visit Killiekrankie and Blair Castle enroute to Inverness. You won't arrive in I'ness until mid-afternoon at the very earliest. And then turn around and head south to Oban the next morning.

Same w/ Inverness to Oban. Leaving I'ness and visiting at minimum Urquhart castle, Fort Augustus/the canal locks, and a detour to Glencoe - you'll pull into Oban at maybe 5PM. The only point would be to find your B&B/hotel, have a seafood dinner and pack up to leave the next morning.

So I'd maybe go back to the drawing board and decide which areas you really want to visit and re-think how much you want to squeeze in.
janisj is online now  
Sep 21st, 2012, 11:34 AM
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Janisj's advice is good. We just got back from a wonderful trip to Scotland. We spent two nights in St Andrews, two in Spean Bridge (near Ft William), three in Skye, and one in Stirling. We would have liked more time at each. In addition to considering what you most want to see, think about driving time. It takes a good bit longer to drive the same distance in Scotland as in the US. You might think about Stirling for the last night before flying out of Edinburgh. It is only a half hour from the airport and the castle is wonderful. Have a great trip!
portia is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2012, 08:20 AM
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Thank you very much janisj for the tough love. It's exactly what we needed. I think we got too immersed in looking at the itineraries of various "snapshot" package tours of Scotland and forgot about the wisdom of slow travel and taking time to soak up the ambiance of a place. Portia, I sincerely appreciate your advice, as well.

So on a first visit like this, if you were to pick just two places as home bases with Edinburgh being one of them, what might you choose for the second? Inverness, perhaps?

Yallanicole is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2012, 08:42 AM
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W/ your time I might squeeze in 3 bases (two is great IMO but 3 would let you see a bit more w/o rushing too much.

Which ones partly depends on if you have any 'must sees' or places you've dreamed of visiting. Scotland is a a large and varied place. Just some ideas to think about:

Is St Andrews/the Old Course important to you?

Do you want to hike and do strenuous outdoors activities, or more easy walking and photo ops?

Castles? Whisky distilleries?

Anything you can share will help us help you
janisj is online now  
Sep 22nd, 2012, 05:16 PM
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Bear in mind by the time you get to last week in October clocks go back and sunset will be before 5pm. Don't let that put you off because when the weather is fine it's a lovely time of year to be driving the roads.
Weegie is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2012, 10:07 PM
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Thanks, Weegie. Good reminder.

Janisj, we like history, castles, and walking tours/exploring places on foot (but not rugged hiking). We're into wine and food more than whisky, although my great-grandfather, John Todd, who immigrated to Canada from the Isle of Islay, is probably a wee bit disappointed in me for admitting that. Iconic St. Andrews would be nice to see but isn't a "must" for us. We love taking photos. This trip will just be a sample of Scotland for us, but since we live in Poland now, returning for more exploration will be easy.

This forum is great! We're well traveled but we're new to this online community of helpful, knowledgeable people. Thanks so much for your guidance, everyone.
Yallanicole is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2012, 10:33 PM
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This may or may not help since we covered some areas different from what you originally proposed but perhaps some additional commentary and photos will help spur the discussion and your though process.

We did Edinburgh on an earlier trip:
indy_dad is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2012, 10:40 PM
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I'll throw out two possible one week itineraries just to get you started thinking. There are LOTS of other options.

1) An east coast-centric loop that includes Fife/St Andrews, the 'Castle Trail', and Edinburgh:

Arrive EDI and since you won't have to deal w/ jet lag, pickup a rental car there. Drive along the Fife coast visiting the pretty fishing villages (Pittenweem/Anstruther/Crail). End up in St Andrews and stay two nights. Or stay the 2 nights in Crail which is lovely and close enough to easily visit St Andrews. See St Andrews the second day - also possibly Falkland Palace.

Then drive north and visit Glamis Castle. Then up along the coast to Dunnottar (a "MUST"). Visit Crathes if you have time, if not, see it the next day. Stay two nights somewhere in/near Bancory. Tour along the Dee, visit some other Castles like Fraser and/or Craigevar (be sure to check the websites because by the end of Oct. opening hours are reduced).

After the two nights in Aberdeenshire, drive over to Braemar, down the Spittal of Glenshee (amazing scenery) to Blairgowrie and on to EDI. Drop the car at the airport and spend the final days in central Edinburgh. Fly home.

2) A Central/west side route:

Arrive EDI, collect car and drive to Stirling to visit Castle. Then on through the Trossachs (just drive through now since you'll have time for sightseeing on your way back) as far as Glencoe. Stay 2 nights here

see Glencoe, Oban, Ben Nevis etc.

Then retrace your route back to near Callander. Stay 2 nights for a base to see Loch Lomond, the Trossachs, Loch Katrine, Loch Earn/Loch Tay.

Back through Falkirk to see the Wheel, drop the car at EDI- into Edinburgh for the last 3 days.
janisj is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 12:47 AM
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Thank you so much, Janis! Your advice has been invaluable. After our visit, I'll let you know what itinerary we finally decided on and how it all went.

If you want to visit Canada, Poland (a beautiful country!), Thailand, or Egypt (other places I have lived and traveled in extensively), please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.

Yallanicole is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 12:59 AM
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And to "indy_dad," a huge thank you, too. Will sit down tonight and take in your blog. Many thanks for helping us formulate a workable plan for our first visit to Scotland.
Yallanicole is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 01:54 PM
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We have done both of janisj's suggested itineraries and thoroughly enjoyed them both.

If looking for somewhere to stay in Callendar then try the Westerton B&B, Mike and Lesley are wonderful hosts and Mike came up with an itinerary that took us to all the places janisj has suggested.
Jennywren58 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 05:22 AM
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I love janisj's itineraries. If you keep yourselves to a smaller geographic area, you'll have less driving time. That is our plan for the next trip. If you go for the first option, here are a couple of suggestions:

For food and wine:

For really great fish and chips:

For walks:

Look forward to reading your trip report!
portia is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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portia's recommendations of the Fish Bar in Anstruther (a MUST if you end up going that way) . . . And for a posh/special meal w/ wonderful service/atmosphere, IMO the Peat Inn is right up there w/ the best anywhere.

This is their own website
janisj is online now  
Sep 26th, 2012, 11:39 AM
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Thanks so much, Portia and Janisj! I have already adjusted our itinerary to the central/west side route that J recommended. Feeling a lot more relaxed about not having to drive maniacally around Scotland.

Food and wine are two of my main reasons for getting up in the morning. You girls rock!
Yallanicole is offline  
Sep 26th, 2012, 05:46 PM
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Just to clarify . . . the fish bar and Peat Inn would be on the eastern/coastal route.

The central/west route is great too -- it just wouldn't include those two restaurants.

For near Callander - this place is good for a special meal.

The Clachaig in Glencoe mentioned above is good for casual/hearty fare
janisj is online now  
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