Edinburgh conference and day trips.

Old Jun 19th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Edinburgh conference and day trips.

My husband is attending a conference in Edinburgh in early September. We'll spend three-four nights in Edinburgh where I hope to see the castle, museum and take a day trip to one of the places suggested by Fodors.

We were hoping to add one night to the front end of the trip and two to the end. Any must-see favorites? I would love to get a sense of Highland beauty

I have read the first two Outlander books and am interested in Inverness, Loch Ness and Culloden based on what I have read. However, I m open to anything.

I'd also love ideas and suggestions on the best guide books for this sort of limited itinerary. I just don't seem to be able to get a good handle on the geography of the area.

Thanks
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Old Jun 19th, 2006, 10:49 PM
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ttt
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 12:23 AM
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90% of first time visitors dream of seeing Inverness and Loch Ness. Unfortunately they are far from the two best places in Scotland.

W/ just one day before the conference your choices are more limited. How are you getting to Edinburgh? Flying in? Train from London? You really don't need/want a car for the time you are in Edinburgh. And if you rented one you'd have to park it during the conference.

So for that one day/night pre-conference I'd either stay in Edinburgh (you and your husband could see some sites before the conference starts). Or a day/night on Glasgow which is also a place you wouldn't need a car.

If you are taking th etrain to Edinburgh,you could stop over in York enroute.

But your best use of time would b to add three days to the end and none at the beginning. That way you could simply rent a car at the end of the conference and head north.

You could do a reasonable 3 day loop up th eA9 to Inverness, stay for two nights as a base for Culloden, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Clava Cairns, Cawdor castle, Ft George and just pretty scenery.

Then another day/night spent enroute back to where ever you are flying out of. Through Glencoe, maybe a drive through the Trossachs, a bit of Loch Lomond. Then drop the car at either GLA or EDI to fly out.
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Old Jun 24th, 2006, 08:37 AM
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Misha

Sorry I missed this; alternative suggestion is that you spend the day before in the Borders, using your Edinburgh Hotel as a base.

Then head up to Inverness, either by train or by car. If you want to get to Culloden, you'll have to get onto road based transport some time.

Guide books- the Cadogan guide to the Highlands and Islands semms to suit lots of Amurricans (you may not be Amurrican, based on your email name)
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Thanks for the advice. (summer plans kept me from researching and responding earlier)

I have added three nights to the end of my trip as janisj suggested.

Now I am torn. I have read such negative things about Inverness and driving in Scotland. I think I would take a train up to Inverness and then rent or go on a small guided tour (Is there a day-long Outlander tour I could get there?).

However, if I leave aside my Outlander interests would you suggest a better option for those three nights? I don't want to regret going all the way to Scotland and not seeing the beauty of the highlands. Yet, the negative "press" on Inverness concerns me.

Lastly, Shiela would the guide book you suggested cover Edinburgh as well?
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 08:24 AM
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We recently went to Scotland (no car, stayed in Eburgh, took a coach tour of the Highlands). Avoided a side trip to Inverness because of negative comments on other forums that said it was not of interest. Got a lot of feedback from Inverness residents and travellers who said do not believe negative comments, that it is a lovely and interesting area. Who knows?
The Borders is a beautiful area (home of my husband's ancestors, Jedburgh) but no train service. We took the local coach for a day trip once, but if you have a car I would recommend it. However, a week in Edinburgh is not too much, IMHO, without day trips. There are any number of tours (brochures in Waverly visitor's center) for various day trips all over.
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 09:53 AM
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What negative things have you read about driving in Scotland?? Except in the cities (mainly Edinburgh and Glasgow) driving in Scotland is very easy.

Maybe I should give more deatils about Inverness. As towns go it is not horrible. Might in fact be a lovely place to live. But the things that make it a good place to live make is a fairly bad place to visit for scenery/etc. It is a very busy town with lots of shops and supermarkets and traffic. It is not a small, pretty town - it is the major commercial hub for all of northern Scotland.

When we say don't stay IN Inverness - that is what we mean -- not IN I'ness. But w/ a 20-25 mile radius of there are lots of lovely small towns/villages that are very nice.

Do not be afraid of driving in Scotland - thousands of visitors do it every year w/o hishap. And to get off the beaten path at all you do really need a car. A problem w/ tours is that your time/itinerary is not your own - you have no flexibility to linger - or to move on for that matter.

After you are done in Edinburgh, rent your car and head north. You will have a lovey holiday.
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 09:55 AM
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meant to add about the book Sheila mentions - no, a Highland/Island book would not cover Edinburgh since it is not in the Highlands nor on the islands.
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 11:43 AM
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Agree with Janis
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 01:21 PM
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Thanks. Okay I feel a little stupid. I've been focussing more on the Edinburgh part of the trip and have a very good idea of what I would like to do there. Obviously I have alot more work to do.

I'll start researching towns and accomodations that might be nice near Innerness and a good car rental company.

I was under the impression that roads were narrow and windy and difficult to manage. Is that not true?
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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Roads can be narrow - but there isn't much traffic most places so narrow isn't an issue really. There are definitely winding roads - but no more so than in CA, or rural NY, or parts of New England, etc. And because there aren't the high hedgerows like in lots of places in England, your visibility is usually really good.
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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Have a great time! Edinburgh is a fantastic city and your time here will fly by...

As far as renting a car - I definately recommend it highly. Since moving here, my husband and I have rented a car a few times, and it's amazing how much nicer our day trips have gone - you get to explore on your own terms and it's definately worth it!

Driving isn't as difficult as we thought. Roads are narrower, there isn't a highway system like in the states, but it's actually somewhat easier since there's less to focus on - just take it slow, and you'll do fine! It was much easier to get used to driving on the other side of the road than we had anticipated.

Are you familiar with manual transmissions? You shouldn't have a problem renting an automatic, but it's cheaper to get a manual (I think, we've only rented manuals). There was a great post a couple days ago about navigating roundabouts... it's actually comes naturally once you see it in person.

Anyway, this post got really long - but my opinon is that you should definately rent a car here and really enjoy seeing the rural parts of Scotland, it's really amazing. We took a three day trip to Skye and I can't stop raving about it.

Have fun!
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 02:51 PM
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Hi Misha, sorry to miss this thread until now.
You'll definitely be better taking all your "out of Edinburgh" time in one block rather than splitting it either side of the conference. You could do a three day tour of the Highlands by train and bus but you'd be very restricted in where you could go. Hire a car, and if you both have licences, ask how much it will cost to have you both named as permitted drivers (so you can take turns at missing the scenery!). A round trip such as Janis suggests would be ideal. Depending on your interests you could divert east on the way to Inverness and go through Fife then up towards Braemar and Speyside. Or head from Inverness further west to Ullapool before going back down the coast.
Driving in Soctland is OK if you're sensible. Main roads are pretty good though they often have long stretches with only one lane in each direction, so you can get stuck behind slow vehicles for a long time. Speed limits are very widely ignoredbut don't try to keep up with these guys unless you have good life insurance. Plan on an average of 50 miles per hour at most on main roads, nearer 40 on side roads. There are some twisty windy narrow roads where you need to slow right down. Some people find these roads terrifying, I love them - and they often lead to places you could never have reached otherwise.
To add my bit to the Inverness / Loch Ness debate. You'll think Loch Ness is nice until you take your car away from the busiest tourist roads when you'll realise that there are much more impressive places to visit. Inverness is a nice enough town but it is very much a working town, and it feels much busier than you might expect if you're comparing its population to places you know back home. It's by far the most important town in the Highlands and also a major transport hub. If you wanted to be based in a town and take lots of day trips, Inverness would be OK, but after four days in Edinburgh you maybe want something different. It's not bad, just not good enough to be on my list of favourite places to see if I only had three days.
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 07:42 PM
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Thanks for all your advice. We will rent a car.

So, I've spent hours today researching the trip and I now realize how little I know about what there is to experience in Scotland. I was basing my whole idea of spending my three extra days aound the Invernness area (embarassingly enough) because of what I read in the Outlander novels.
Now, I realize that there may be many more beautiful places to visit (as Craigellachie suggested) -- like Fife or Skye or the Borders or the area around St. Andrews.

I need to figure this out quickly as we're going at the beginning of September.

I'm utterly confused. But, what lovely dilemma to have.
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Old Jul 30th, 2006, 11:23 PM
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Very few people have heard of the Outlander novels, here. So you might want to use non-fiction from the 21st century as your guide instead

If it were me (and I DO realise that Amurricans are different) I'd pick one base and day trip from there.

Somewhere outside Oban- Kilmelfort?; or Lochcarron; or Nairn, might be good.

Save the rest till the next trip
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 05:52 PM
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Sheila, for an overall guidebook what would you suggest?
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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 07:55 PM
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Here's my two cents... Yes, I've read the Outlander books. How about this, my grandmother's last name is Fraser : )hee hee hee

We went to Edinburgh a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Don't stress too much. Usually, my husband and I rent a car and do all that stuff but that time we stayed 7 nights in Edinburgh and did daytrips with Rabbies. I definately recommend them from our experience. Maybe someone else here may have used them also and can comment. They have mini buses and have lots of itineraries. We did three day trips with them. A highlands trip which was all day including a boat trip on Loch Ness. Another was a trip to Stirling Castle and Loch Lommond. The other was a day trip to St. Andrews stopping in Fife. If you go with Rabbies try to get Donnie as a guide. He is amazing (and wears a kilt!)

I know there is something to be said about having your own car and having freedom but there is also something to be said for letting someone else do the driving and navigating especially when time is short. Just thought I'd give you another alternative.
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Old Aug 1st, 2006, 12:08 AM
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misha

It's really hard to say- I tend not to use guide books for Scotland; and the style of guide book that suits one person doesn't necessarily suit another.

I own the Lonely Planet and Rough Guides (and the adogan Highlands and Islands one)

Cadogan do a general Scotland one as well, and that may suit you. If you're up for buying two, once you've got the one that will guide you round the country, consider getting Peter Irvine's "Scotland the Best". It's not a guide book as such, but a book of lists. Tells you about hotels restaurants, views, waterfalls, walks, beaches etc but it does it in subject order. It's a terrific resource as an add on.
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Old Aug 1st, 2006, 04:08 AM
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Oh - lucky you!! You'll be in Edinburgh while the Festivals's on - and in all expenses paid (I assume) accommodation.
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Old Aug 1st, 2006, 04:41 AM
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Yes! I'll just catch the tail end of the art festival, the international festival and the mela.

Any suggestions?

Sheila, thanks I'll look into those.

Lauricelli, your plan has lots of appeal for me. Are you totally exhausted at the end of the day? How large is the group? My husband seems to be interested in driving and discovering though.

But, I will probably use Rabbis for a day trip while he is at the conference or golfing. It sounds like it could take some pressure off the last three day itinerary for me.

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