Completely confused - 8 days in Scotland

Jun 9th, 2016, 01:55 PM
  #1  
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Completely confused - 8 days in Scotland

I've been round and round so many times on this itinerary that I'm about to stay home. Traveling in July (soon!) with 13 yr old son. Will be coming from London and have 9 nights to spend, need to be at EDI on day 10 to fly home (NYC). Original thought was London-York-Hadrian's Wall-etc., then only Edinburgh for 3-4 nights. Now it seems that my son is not as taken with the history of Northumberland as I am, and perhaps Edinburgh and points beyond in Scotland is the way to go. Questions for the learned among us: skip York entirely, and train London-Edinburgh? How many nights in Edinburgh - is three enough? He wants to do a ghost tour and we want to wander, eat, have tea, visit Holyrood, Edinburgh Castle, all the usual spots - but we are pretty fast in museums. If we venture too far afield, we will necessarily have only three nights Edinburgh. Where, then? Trains seem easier than driving unless you miss too much. To maximize time, should we take a train to a distant point (Highlands) and then drive around that area, then train it back to Edinburgh/EDI? We like castles (particularly haunted or full of history), scenery, history, quaint villages, great food, remote places. Maybe we hotfoot it up to Skye and just do that area, then back? It's unfortunate that we are out of EDI but I can't change the tickets now. Maybe we train it from London farther up, then work our way back to Edinburgh? Not enough time at all, but hoping for a taste of Scotland. Or, maybe we are attempting too much by even leaving Edinburgh! Aaaargh! Thanks for any help, in advance.
aliprowl is offline  
Jun 9th, 2016, 02:23 PM
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There are two awesomely scenic train lines in Scotland - the West Highlands Line from Glasgow via Ft William to Maillag - some Harry Potter scenes shot on the line - then you could take a ferry to Isle of Skye - spend a day or two there - buses will get you around good enough - then take a bus over the bridge to Kyle of Lochlash for another very scenic train ride to Inverness - Loch Lemond and then train back to Edinburgh.

That's one route via public transportation - from Edinburgh you could do a day trip to Stirling for the famous castle and neat market town and or St Andrews,a sweet seaside town famous for its golf and university - nice seaside with some ruins.

For lots on Scottish trains check www.scotrail.co.uk; www.seat61.com and for details on scenic trains and trains in general www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. There is some kind of Scottish Railpass I believe but not sure - check the sites above for info on that.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 9th, 2016, 02:29 PM
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I wouldn't skip Edinburgh. You can get a Rabbies day tour (Google for their schedule) and see some of the rest of Scotland. Take the train to York, spend one night that will give you a day and a half there, and then take a train to EDI. A little is better than none!
carolyn is offline  
Jun 9th, 2016, 02:43 PM
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OK -- you need to relax -- you seem to have tied yourself in knots.

>> It's unfortunate that we are out of EDI<<

Why do you think that is unfortunate? EDI is a very easy/convenient airport.

If it was me I'd take the night sleeper train from London to INVERNESS (not Edinburgh). Pick up a rental car in Inverness and spend 6 nights zig zagging down the country and end up at EDI, drop the car, take the tram into Edinburgh, stay 3 nights in the city car-less, fly home. A very easy itinerary.

You could do 1 night in Inverness, 2 or 3 nights on Skye, 2 or 3 nights near Callander.

Around Callander are amazing places like Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, Inchmahome Priory, lots of waterfalls/lochs etc.
janisj is offline  
Jun 9th, 2016, 02:50 PM
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Part of your problem is that it's late and you're probably going to have difficulty finding accommodation in especially popular places such as Skye.

I think a car for your non-Edinburgh days is the way to go. With five or six nights after Edinburgh, you can do a reasonable sampling of the Highlands without exhausting yourselves.

For example, here's a roughly 400-mile loop from/to Edinburgh airport that could be done in that time frame. https://goo.gl/maps/4genLZDjUQ22

Going counter/anti-clockwise, you'd head out from Edinburgh and stop for a look at Stirling Castle, then across the Rannoch Moor to Glen Coe. Then past Fort William (which is not all that lovely but which has a lot of accommodation options) to Glenfinnan, with its monument to the Jacobite rising of 1745 and its railway viaduct and station made famous by the Harry Potter movies.

Then south through some very remote-feeling country (Ardnamurchan) to the Kilchoan ferry that will take you to picturesque Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. Mull is the second largest of the Inner Hebrides islands (after Skye) and offers a wide range of activities - castles, hiking, wonderful scenery, etc.

From Mull you ferry back to Oban, then I'd suggest carrying south for a stop in Kilmartin, a tiny village with numerous prehistoric relics laying about - standing stones, carved grave slabs in the churchyard, etc. Then around to Loch Fyne and up to Inveraray, a picturesque village with immense Inveraray Castle next door - historic home of the Campbells and featured on Downton Abbey (Shrimpy's digs.) Lots of terrific seafood in this area.

Then back east, past Loch Lomond and return to Edinburgh airport for the flight out.

I'd look at overnights in Glen Coe, Fort William or Glenfinnan (wherever there's space) then in Tobermory, then Inveraray. You could spend a couple of nights in one or more of these places if the timing for Edinburgh works out.

This is but one sample itinerary; there are umpteen others, but this one would deliver some terrific variety.

Glenfinnan - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...an/glenfinnan/
Mull - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ull/index.html
Duart Castle (and Oban ferry) on Mull - http://imgur.com/9kd53CN
Kilmartin - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...tin/index.html
Inveraray - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ray/index.html
Ferries - https://www.calmac.co.uk/
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 9th, 2016, 07:51 PM
  #6  
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Thanks to all responders. I was thinking that it was unfortunate to be flying out of EDI as I had tunnel vision about starting in Edinburgh and having to double back and end at EDI; had not thought through a loop such as Gardyloo suggests, nor had I considered going in that direction.
Janisj, I'd had same thought about sleeper train from London - thus maximizing time - but we are booked for the last three nights in Edinburgh, so it would be much shorter than you envision (I explained it badly). I don't want to miss Edinburgh - have never been. So that leaves five days in the Highlands, and we would want to be back in Edinburgh as early as possibly on day six since we have little time in Edinburgh.
Five days, once you subtract the days in Edinburgh - does it make sense to go up to Inverness? It's sort of an awkward amount of time, it seems. Specifically, leaving London on sleeper night of July 11, and flying out of EDI on July 20. Booked at 21 Hart nights of July 17, 18, 19 - out on the 20th.
Does this additional detail change anyone's mind?
aliprowl is offline  
Jun 9th, 2016, 09:09 PM
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Completely confused - 8 days in Scotland
Posted by: aliprowl on Jun 9, 16 at 5:55pm


I would not skip York. The cathedral is awesome. The railroad museum is impressive. I spent two nights at B&B Bentley, and the breakfasts were excellent. Restaurant Plunket was a dive but the steak was good and the potato was the best on the planet.

In Edinburgh have a pint at the Deacon Brodie Tavern, and see the mural on the wall. Take the bus out to Roslyn Chapel. Yes, it is a real place and very interesting. I had a great dinner at Maison Bleue in Edinburgh. But the premier restaurant in Edinburgh is The Witchery. I ate there decades ago and peeked in a few years back. Beautiful place. Also, my lunch at North Bridge Brasserie in The Scotsman Hotel was excellent.

For your ride on the rail see http://www.enjoy-europe.com/hte/chap17/rail.htm, an illustrated introduction to trains with some images from England.
spaarne is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 06:32 AM
  #8  
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thanks for the suggestions, Spaame - will check them all out.
aliprowl is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 07:28 AM
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Five days, once you subtract the days in Edinburgh - does it make sense to go up to Inverness? It's sort of an awkward amount of time, it seems.

It's enough time, but frankly Inverness isn't all that exciting as a place to visit, and, while we're on the subject, I don't find Loch Ness to be very exciting either. It's a big and fairly attractive loch/lake, but not exceptional, and you're not going to see any monsters. It's quite some distance from the really good Highland scenery, which (IMO) is much more concentrated on the west coast of Scotland than in the interior. Also I find the drive between Edinburgh and Inverness to be rather boring compared to comparable hours spent on other routes.

Now you could do a couple of short trips using Edinburgh as a base rather than some big loop, depending on how much you like to drive in a day.

For example, you could base yourselves near Edinburgh airport (lodging is cheaper and more car-friendly than in the city) and do a couple of day trips - out and back.

For example, https://goo.gl/maps/NxW9xKSCMdM2 is a map of a day trip to Glen Coe - out via Stirling, back via Loch Lomond. This would be fairly long, but in July you'll have plenty of daylight, and it's not a killer. Lots of great scenery and a nice taste of the West Highlands and the Trossachs. Visit Glen Etive just before Glen Coe for a real sense of a remote and beautiful glen - http://gardyloo.us/20130613_71Hs.jpg

Or a second day trip, this time out to St. Andrews and the lovely "East Neuk" fishing villages on the Fife coast, like Crail - https://goo.gl/maps/wkfxXSmrQh42
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ews/index.html
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ail/index.html

Or a third and a personal fave, a shot down to the Holy Isle and Bamburgh in Northumberland then back across the beautiful Lammermuir Hills into East Lothian - https://goo.gl/maps/rPCTAJKh7Gz - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...rne/index.html
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...rgh/index.html
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...tal/index.html
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ord/index.html

This might simplify things on the accommodation front; look for example at the very comfortable Dakota Hotel in South Queensferry - http://edinburgh.dakotahotels.co.uk/ - which is minutes from the motorways north and west, has a shuttle service to EDI, ample parking, and pretty good prices. Queensferry is a charming and very historic little town, nestled under the imposing road and rail bridges over the Forth. http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...rry/index.html

Hope all this doesn't just confuse the picture further.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jun 10th, 2016, 08:58 AM
  #10  
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I fear I'm taking up more time on this board than I'm allotted, but thank you for all the input. We eliminated Northumberland b/c my son is more interested in seeing a bit of Scotland and also the sleeper train from London is appealing to him. Sleeper train (1st cl, which is I think the point) is sold out to Ft. William, so that means we have to go all the up to Inverness. I will give him 10 minutes at Loch Ness because it sounds pointless, but we're there and he can say he saw it. Pick up car in Inverness (no interest in Inverness itself) and head for Kyle of L? To go to Skye? Appealing points to us are Skye, Mull, Glencoe, Stirling. Scenery/villages/a castle. Question is, can we cover this by car starting morning of July 12, as we need to drop car somewhere and be back in Edinburgh as early as we can on July 17. Only have 17, 18, 19 in Edinburgh - afternoon flight out on the 20th. I'm not sure how to prioritize the Highlands bit or how long to allocate.
aliprowl is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 09:27 AM
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I will give him 10 minutes at Loch Ness because it sounds pointless, but we're there and he can say he saw it.>

The train goes by it for a while before Inverness- that should be enough- look for Nessie!
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 10:41 AM
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>>Skye, Mull, Glencoe, Stirling. Scenery/villages/a castle. Question is, can we cover this by car starting morning of July 12, as we need to drop car somewhere and be back in Edinburgh as early as we can on July 17.<<

You will have to drop one of the Islands -- either Skye or Mull. Skye is much closer to Inverness so would make a more logical stop. You'd want 2 nights on Skye (drive down the west side of Loch Ness, visit Urquhart Castle, and then on to Skye via the bridge. With a morning arrival you could be on Skye by lunch time. That is July 12, 13.

Then take the ferry off Skye mid day/early afternoon on the 14th (this will give you time to see some of the southern end of the island.)

Visit Glenfinnan, Neptune's Staircase and on to Glencoe. Stay in Glencoe the night of the 14th.

Stay the nights of July 15,16 in Callander and visit Killin, Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, Inchmahome, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, etc.

Easy drive from Callander to EDI the morning of the 17th. Drop car and head into town.
janisj is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 10:56 AM
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I am panting with gratitude. So helpful. Now I have to find places to stay! But I have a plan, hooray!
aliprowl is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 12:35 PM
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You're welcome. Your biggest hurdle will be finding accommodations on Skye. Do that first.

If you have trouble with that . . . Try the sligachan hotel maybe first. But if you can't get in there or in Portree, then you can look in Kyle of Lochalsh or Plockton which are just over the bridge from the isle
janisj is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 03:39 PM
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If you enjoy castles a great option would be to get to Newcastle and drive to Edinburgh. There are so many excellent choices between Newcastle and Edinburgh: Warkworth, Alnwick, Dunstanburgh, Bamburgh. We had a lovely lunch here at the Caddy Mann in Jedburgh too. Everything is so close together as Newcastle is only about 2 hours south of Edinburgh by car.

Personally I found western Scotland not as interesting as Northumberland. We took a trip up to Loch Lomond and then took a boat ride on another loch, and really it wasn't half as much fun as all the castles.
palatino82 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2016, 05:15 PM
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>>it wasn't half as much fun as all the castles<<

Yes there are a lot of castles in Northumberland -- but there are a heck of a lot more in Scotland.
janisj is offline  
Jun 14th, 2016, 11:45 AM
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Thanks to all the great advice, I have now successfully booked the following:
Caledonian sleeper to Inverness arr. morning of July 12.
Picking up rental car and taking a hopefully rather quick look at Culloden, a glance at Loch Ness and a short stop at Urquhart Castle. Then on to Skye for 2 nights at Sligochan Hotel. I've then booked us at the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe for one night, then finishing up at the Ardenoaig for 2 nights. Then we drop the car at EDI and go into Edinburgh for 3 nights at 21 Hart.
However, now that I'm looking at Google maps more carefully, I'm wondering if we are making a mistake spending 2 nights at Ardenoaig - looks like we will be backtracking to get home for the night? Or are the distances so small that this does not really matter? I wasn't able to find 2 nights at any decent Callander or Stirling hotel, hence we ended up at Ardenoaig - which looks lovely - but now I'm wondering if we should spend one night at Ardenoaig and then the night of the 16th in Callander/Stirling, even if it is not a glorious hotel experience.
Does this all look ok to you experts, and should we stay put at Ardenoaig or not? I fear all of this is going to be very rushed and we may have to shed stops as we go along. Many thanks.
aliprowl is offline  
Jun 14th, 2016, 01:55 PM
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Very nice plan making the best of the few days you have.

Re Ardenoaig -- it isn't too bad/too inconvenient and in a really pretty location. But will cause a certain amount of to-ing and fro-ing.

I'm surprised you can't find anyplace in Callander. A couple of other places you could check would be Doune, and Crieff. But sticking w/ Ardenoaig would be OK.

I would stay both nights in one location -- otherwise you lose too much time packing/checking in/out and waiting to check in again.

(W/ so little time I personally would prefer staying in Callander even if the property was slightly less 'desirable' - not if it was a dump, but in this case location just might trump amenities)
janisj is offline  
Jun 14th, 2016, 02:01 PM
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palatino: "Personally I found western Scotland not as interesting as Northumberland. We took a trip up to Loch Lomond and then took a boat ride on another loch, and really it wasn't half as much fun as all the castles."

There's quite a bit more to see in western Scotland, like assorted islands. So don't pass judgement on it quite yet.
Mimar is offline  
Jun 14th, 2016, 03:49 PM
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Will check those places. When you put in Sitrling or Callander in TA, it literally only comes up with those exact places - rather than "the area around Stirling/Callander". I'm quite enthralled with Ardenoaig and think it is now under new management - so as long as it isn't suicidal, I don't mind a bit more driving. Agree about not packing and moving yet again - so will just double check (triple check) and if I can't find anything, will leave it at that. Many thanks for all the advice.
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