Critique Please: Scotland Road Trip

Old Sep 28th, 2021, 09:49 AM
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Wm
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Critique Please: Scotland Road Trip

We will be spending a couple of weeks in Ireland in May 2022 then fly to Glasgow. We were in Scotland a few years ago and visited the west coast (Oban, etc.) We will pick up a car at the Glasgow airport and commence on the following trip:

Pitlachry - 1 night
Inverness - 4 nights
Stonehaven - 3 nights
Dundee - 3 nights
North Berwick - 1 night
Melrose - 4 nights
Glasgow - 4 nights

We love Scotland. Enjoy history, scenery, good food, Scotch!, and friendly people. We are casual travelers so try not to cram too much into each day. Your feedback on our proposed itinerary would be very much appreciated. Also suggested "don't miss" places beyond the obvious and lodging would be great.

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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 10:45 AM
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Just very quick -- will post more later.

I personally would not stay in Dundee. It is a city, can be pretty congested, and is not very scenic -- I'd stay somewhere like Carnoustie or across the water somewhere in Fife

I also would not stay IN Inverness but in one of the charming towns or villages within maybe a 15 mile radius (Nairn, or Culloden or Fortrose or Beauly or ??? )

Why Stonehaven for 3 nights? A property you especially want to stay? If not, I might look somewhere near/along Deeside (like between Banchory/Crathes and Ballater for easy access to all of the Castle Trail as well as Stonhaven/Dunnottar

(It's Pitlochry BTW)
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 10:57 AM
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Thank you so much! Looking for more info from you.
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 11:34 AM
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Pitlochry has a lot of events beginning in May. You might want to investigate and/or think about staying more than one night.

https://www.derrybeg.co.uk/events/ [We've stayed at the BnB linked to this website. Very nice/helpful owners.]

For that matter, you might want to check all your destinations for events during your dates.
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 12:03 PM
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I'm also a bit puzzled at your choice of bases; maybe you have personal reasons for those communities?

Regardless, given that it's May and weather can be a factor, I wonder if you might consider reversing the order of things. Start in the Borders and the East Lothian coast, then head north through Fife toward St. Andrews or somewhere in Angus besides Dundee, then north along the coast or through Deeside and on to Inverness (agree with Janis about staying someplace else besides the city/) Then finish by heading down through Pitlochry and back to Glasgow. With three weeks, I'd give the north a little more time to dry out and warm up.
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Old Sep 28th, 2021, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
I'm also a bit puzzled at your choice of bases; maybe you have personal reasons for those communities?
We only chose those bases as they seemed good places for touring each area. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Wm
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Old Sep 29th, 2021, 04:18 PM
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Thank you!
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Old Sep 30th, 2021, 10:20 AM
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I'm going to suggest a little homework for you to undertake to decide on which places to base your touring. Let me recommend Undiscovered Scotland - Undiscovered Scotland: Home Page - as a site to use, at least initially, in quickly scanning the options.

I'll break up the homework into four broad areas that your trip would include - the Borders and the North Sea coast around the Scottish/English border, leading north to the Firth of Forth; Fife and Angus; the northeastern coast including Aberdeenshire, Deeside and the Spey whisky country; and finally the area around the Moray Firth and Inverness, including the Great Glen south to Pitlochry. Note my order of things reflects my prior suggestion that you do something of a clockwise loop around the country, starting in the south and working north.

Borders and English/Scottish coast: Melrose would certainly do as a base for the Borders, but look also at Peebles and Kelso. The Borders is a terrific area for casual day touring, with numerous abbeys and castles, stately homes etc., as well as a lot of lovely countryside.

But then if you want to head to the coast, I would strongly suggest you head due east from Kelso and out to the Northumberland (England) village of Bamburgh with its immense and iconic castle. From there I'd stick to the coast and visit the Holy Island, picturesque St Abbs and Eyemouth, Dunbar with nearby Tantallon Castle, North Berwick and Dirleton. Use Undiscovered Scotland (or just Google) to look at the places shown on this map - https://goo.gl/maps/3Km4ycH7hUSWnQMM9

Fife and Angus: This part of your trip presents a number of alternative routes, depending on your specific tastes. However, I do think that including a couple of stops in Fife comes close to a "don't-miss" suggestion. These include the lovely and ancient royal burgh of Falkland, and the impossibly picturesque villages along the "East Neuk" coast including places like Crail. A day (or longer) in St. Andrews is extremely worthwhile, before heading over the Tay (past Dundee) and into the Angus countryside. Again, another map - https://goo.gl/maps/4iQnYUUQsFeknwcr8

I've included Glamis Castle and the small town of Forfar in the route, mainly because I have a lot of friends from Forfar and think you should have a bridie (local meat pie) at least once. Have it "with" (onions) - you'll thank me later. Also included is the important coastal town of Arbroath (which features largely in Scottish history) and then another personal fave, the tiny fishing village of Gourdon (home of another friend) which was the site of very traditional fishing practices until quite recently (use Undiscovered Scotland to see what I'm talking about.) From Gourdon it's a short trip to Dunnottar Castle and Stonehaven.

Aberdeenshire and whisky country: I'm going to assume that by this point you'll have had enough of fishing villages and coastal scenery, so this map - https://goo.gl/maps/63evwTKWjYVzNCyS9 - shows a route that heads inland from Stonehaven, passing through the "Royal Deeside" castle country then meandering through the heart of the "whisky trail" in the Spey Valley until ending on the Moray Firth shore. This is a superb area for touring, and since you mention whisky in your OP, a base in some location like Grantown might be an idea worth pursuing. Again, use Undiscovered Scotland and the google to look at the places on the map; I'd also recommend using the "street view" option on Google to get a good idea of what the driving would look like, e.g. https://goo.gl/maps/D16ELHKKj2vT9WBWA

Inverness and south: Making specific recommendations in this vast area is very difficult without knowing what you saw on your previous trip and what might interest you on this one. Certainly there are numerous options, ranging from a rapid drive south on the A9 from Inverness to Pitlochry to meandering around the northwest Highlands; or down the Great Glen to Fort William, thence to Glasgow via Glen Coe, out to Skye... lots of options. For this map - https://goo.gl/maps/Zyz79NEX6Zik3k5f6 - I've included more personal preferences, for example remote Croick church (scene of one of the more notorious episodes from the Highland Clearances) or the tiny village of Fortingall with its lovely hotel and access to breathtaking Glen Lyon. But as I say, those places are chosen from a vast palate of options. This part of the trip merits a considerable amount of research on your part.

Bottom line, you really can't go wrong, but some research on your part will pay big dividends. Happy planning!
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Old Oct 1st, 2021, 07:39 AM
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Thank you Gardyloo for all that info.
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Old Oct 1st, 2021, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Wm View Post
. . . We will pick up a car at the Glasgow airport and commence on the following trip

Pitlachry - 1 night
. . . .
Glasgow - 4 nights

I was out all day yesterday - saw Gardyloo's wonderful post but didn't have the opportunity to respond. He has given you some great ideas -- Undiscovered Scotland is a priceless resource.

One thing I wanted to mention when I first saw your OP. I know that was just a quick first shot at an itinerary and you will make lots of changes/tweaks as you get more info. But as laid out I would definitely make a change at the beginning and end. IMO it isn't a good idea to to pick up a car and start the road trip right off an overnight flight. Not only the jet lag, and the driving on the left, and acclimating to the road signs, and getting used to the car/controls . . . but micro sleeps are a danger. I'd put the first 3-ish nights in Glasgow car-less. Then pick up your car (back out at GLA is the easiest pick up location) and head out. Before the flight home spend the last night anywhere within 30-45 minutes of GLA . . . Luss on Loch Lomond, Drymen, Aberfoyle, Port of Menteith, etc. etc. or at a GLA hotel.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2021, 07:38 AM
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janisj Appreciate the advise, but we will be flying from Dublin to Glasgow. We have been in Scotland and England so have driven on the "correct" side of the road before. We are staying in Glasgow for a few days before we fly home to San Francisco.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2021, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Wm View Post
janisj Appreciate the advise, but we will be flying from Dublin to Glasgow.

Oh that's great -- I completely mossed the Ireland part in your OP . . . and its in the very first sentence

None of my post applies to someone in your situation.
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