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First trip to Scotland - need help.

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Feb 22nd, 2016, 09:48 PM
  #1
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First trip to Scotland - need help.

Hullo,
My husband, 10 year old daughter and me, are planning our first trip to Scotland.
I've put together and itinerary and would love some feedback. I understand that the driving is slow and I'm wondering if I've left enough time between places to do what we want to do.
In addition, if there is something that we have missed, that you think a 10 year old would enjoy, or if we should not bother with something, please let me know. Thank you!
Day 1: Arrive Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh) Royal Mile/ Hop on Hop off bus. Good for 24 hours.
Day 2: Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh) Edinburgh Castle, finish hop on hop off bus.
Day 3: Edinburgh (sleep in Edinburgh) Old Town (Grey Frey’s Bobby) New Town (Park)
Day 4: More time in Edinburgh, then train to Glasgow (sleep in Glasgow)
Day 5: Glasgow (Glasgow) Burrell Collection – medieval tapestries, Stain glass, Rodin’s thinker, etc., Tisco Glasgow Outdoor Experience shop.
Day 6: Glasgow – Science museum, Fraser’s department shop
Day 7: Pick up car, drive to Oban (sleep in Oban) Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary.
Day 8: Drive to Fort William (sleep in /Fort William (The Jacobite Train) Hogwarts train over Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Day 9: Drive to Dunvegan Dunvegan Castle with the Fairy flag
Drive to Portree (Sleep Portree)
Day 10: Portree and drive to Inverness. (sleep Inverness)
Day 11: Inverness Take a boat on Loch Ness and Drumnadrochit Lochness Exhibition center
Day 12: Drive to Perth. Perth Leisure swimming pool, indoor. (sleep in Perth)
Day 13: Drive to Stirling Stirling Castle. (sleep in Sterling)
Day 14: Drive to Edinburgh for our flight
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Feb 22nd, 2016, 10:10 PM
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I wouldn't do the H-o-H-o bus in Edinburgh. The driving around the city is slow and you will do better just sightseeing/visiting the sites you want.

Things get messy in this bit:

>>Day 8: Drive to Fort William (sleep in /Fort William (The Jacobite Train) Hogwarts train over Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Day 9: Drive to Dunvegan Dunvegan Castle with the Fairy flag
Drive to Portree (Sleep Portree)
Day 10: Portree and drive to Inverness. (sleep Inverness)<<

You will take the train out to Mallaig AND back then the next day drive (presumably over the bridge) to Skye. Ft William to Dunvegan to Portree is about a 4.5 hour drive plus stops - you really won't have much time to see anything else on Skye because you are leaving the next morning for Inverness - about 3.5 hours. I would not drive all the way to Skye/Portree unless you can stay at least 2 nights -- otherwise you are just driving out and back (a looooong way) just to tick it off a list.

One solution is to not take the Jacobite. I know, I know ! . But - you could drive the Road to the Isles timing it w/ the train -- that way you can see it several places including filming it crossing the viaduct (which you can't do when you are ON the train). You drive to Mallaig -- see the train pulling in, then jump on the ferry and be on Skye before you know it -- and that saves you sleeping in Ft William

I would not plan Perth for a swimming pool - that is for sure. Stop in Perth if you want to see Scone Palace. Otherwise press on and stay 2 nights near Stirling because there is a lot to see/do in the area - Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, Inchmahome, waterfalls/lochs, the Trossachs etc.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 02:04 AM
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Your daughter might enjoy the Falkirk Wheel, not far from Stirling Castle, which is a large wheel that picks up canal boats and lifts them to the next level of the canal. You can ride one of the boats, but it's also fun to just watch the wheel do its job. I don't think it has any utilitarian value, as the boats don't seem to go anywhere except up and down, but we (big kids) enjoyed it. There is a visitor's centre and a small restaurant/snack bar.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 03:14 AM
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It is really hard to understand how boring Inverness and Loch Ness are. Not terrible, but both are the kinds of places that are anticlimactic: "well, I've been there, but I don't quite remember why I thought I should." Inverness has the virtue of being a good overnight location, and you can visit the Culloden battlefield.

You are visiting the Burrell Collection in Glasgow. You should also visit the Kelvingrove Art Museum, if only to see the Whistlers. The Transport Museum across the street is excellent and fun for a 10 year old. Any interest in Charles Rennie McIntosh?

If you like art, the National Gallery in Edinburgh is a must. The Frasers department store in Edinburgh is the flagship I think, and very near the National Gallery and Scott Monument. Theses can be combined on a New Town walk down Princes Street, then from Charlotte Square to George Square along George Street or Rose Street, a pedestrian street of pubs. The First Minister's house in Charlotte Square is a revelation: the home of the head of government and no visible security at all. You can tour the Georgian House next door to see how people lived when this was all new.

For the Old Town, start at the top of the Royal Mile (take a taxi because it is a steep walk from the New Town. Do Edinburgh Castle, then walk downhill along the Royal Mile. Take the short [level] detour to Greyfriars Kirk, then back down the Royal Mile. You can stop in St Giles, and there is a toy museum along the way as well. There are lots of places to eat.

You can skip the John Knox House unless you are fanatic
Presbyterians and even then -- it had nothing to do with John Knox. Wind up at Holyrood House and the Scottish Parliament, about as different as two places can be. Both can be toured, though official events may mean they are closed. You can split this walk into two days, but you don't want to try to do things on the Royal Mile and in the New Town on the same day if you can help it.

There is a poster on another forum whose answer is always to take the train. At the risk of sounding like him, I am going to suggest that Edinburgh-Glasgow and Glasgow-Mallaig are best managed by train. The latter, the West Highland Line, is one of the world's great railway journeys. From Mallaig, you get the ferry to Armadale on Skye and a bus on to Portree. If you had more time on Skye, you might want a car, but you can see the main sights by taking a local tour. You can then take a very scenic train from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness, where you can rent a car for local touring and to drive to Stirling.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 03:33 AM
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You don't mention when you're travelling but be aware the Burrell will close for renovation in October 2016 though till 2020.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 05:34 AM
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Daughter at a similar age found the Burrell Collection unuterably boring... She much prefered Kelvingrove.

If you visit Culloden, then make sure you also include Clava Cairns which is next door to it and a lovely mustical site.

Have you thought about Glencoe and the story of the massacre? The Lochans walk there is one of the nicest short walks in Scotland and easily do-able.
http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortw...oelochan.shtml
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 06:10 AM
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I've not been overimpressed by Dunvegan Castle either. The drive from Fort Willaim is going to take 3+ hours with any extra stops you make. Back to Portree is going to be another hour. The tour seemed to concentrate on MacLeod family history and be geared to those with MacLeod connections. (this is the picture of the aunt of the 3rd Laird... this is the mother of the 6th Laird - that sort of thing).

It does seem a long way to go for the Fairy Flag. If you are 'into'fairies, what about the Fairy pools instead?

Fodors seizes up when I try and post the link, but you will find them with a google search.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:31 AM
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Thank you for all of your helpful suggestions. ESW, I too, have wondered if it's a long way to go to see a fairy flag and not much else at the castle. I have not heard of the Fairy pools, but will look them up. I'll look into refining this part of the trip and thanks for the heads up about the museum. uruabam, we will be traveling late May early June so all good.
Ackislander, I love the idea of taking trains so I'll have a look and thanks for the suggested itinerary around Edinburgh. janisj, we were toying with the idea of not taking the train - i honestly think it will be boring for a 10 year old after about 2 minutes - so I love your suggestion and I think we'll do that instead. Thanks for your other suggestions as well. We love the H-O-H-O busses in the afternoons when we are jet lagged and still want to be out, but just need a little R&R - even just local busses will do - may keep that one!
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 08:59 AM
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bvlenci - thanks for the Falkirk Wheel suggestion.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 09:10 AM
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>>We love the H-O-H-O busses in the afternoons when we are jet lagged and still want to be out, but just need a little R&R - even just local busses will do - may keep that one!<<

A H-o-H-o would be fine for your arrival day (assuming it isn't pouring down or freezing). Sitting upstairs in the open will at least keep you 'outdoors'. But if you are driven downstairs by weather -- not so great. So do have a plan B.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 09:34 AM
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Phooey to the HoHo buses. Geez, getting through Edinburgh is a bad enough process without sitting atop a bus watching old ladies and pawpaws with their walkers race past you in their perambulations while you're stuck in traffic.

The dog is Greyfriars Bobby. And it's a small statue. Not going to take much time to see the little pup.

I'd blow up Day 11 and hightail it to Dunrobin Castle. You want fairytale? Go into the gardens and look at the building. Then check out the museum, the aviary and the gardens. It's not like you're going to find some ginormous water lizard while trolling along on Loch Ness. And both Cawdor Castle (MacBeth - no the Wyrd Sisters aren't going to be cooking inedible soup in a pot) and Culloden are near Inverness.

Go to Scone Palace while in Perth.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 09:34 AM
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Phooey to the HoHo buses. Geez, getting through Edinburgh is a bad enough process without sitting atop a bus watching old ladies and pawpaws with their walkers race past you in their perambulations while you're stuck in traffic.

The dog is Greyfriars Bobby. And it's a small statue. Not going to take much time to see the little pup.

I'd blow up Day 11 and hightail it to Dunrobin Castle. You want fairytale? Go into the gardens and look at the building. Then check out the museum, the aviary and the gardens. It's not like you're going to find some ginormous water lizard while trolling along on Loch Ness. And both Cawdor Castle (MacBeth - no the Wyrd Sisters aren't going to be cooking inedible soup in a pot) and Culloden are near Inverness.

Go to Scone Palace while in Perth.
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 01:20 PM
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hi
I just took an 8 week trip through England and Scotland .
We also did the HP train.
... we opted to stay for the night in Ft William so that we can wake up and walk to the train station in the morning and not worry about parking. We stayed at the Lime Tree and it suited the purpose.
The HP train was fantastic we got the first class cabin and my children loved each and every second of that part of our trip.
Once you arrive back in Ft William it will be about 4pm... We opted to leave from the train to our lodge outside of Portree... Sconser Lodge it was GREAT.
we didnt arrive until about 7:30... we did make a stop at Eilean Donan.
I would stay you need at least three nights on skye.
The first day we did what they call the left finger.... Dunvegan Castle...
we loved that ... from there you can take a boat ride to see the seals which my kids loved and then we found our way to Coral beach in Claigan its a nice hike..we made our way back and stopped in Portree for dinner and back to the lodge for a drink and board games by the fire. The next day we did the right finger of Skye .. the scenery in this area is unreal ... Loch Leathran
spending the day in the beautiful part of the world... we drove around that side and back to portree for dinner..There are several animal outings you can take. You can leave the Isle and go to Inverness.

I also agree you do not need a hop on hop off bus in Edi. Walking is the best way to see all the sights and so many street artists woiuld be missed on the bus. You can see the castle in 1/2 a day ... get there early and have plenty of time to walk around .. there is also a great National Museum of Scotland my kids loved as well as this dynamic earth museum. We took the bus to the Modern One which is off the main strip so I could see a particular painting but that would eat up your time ...
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Feb 23rd, 2016, 01:55 PM
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You have a ten year old and she will probably love the hop on hop off bus. Check out the tram also. Good way to get around now.

I suppose the pool is for her also. You have to do a balance to make her happy as well. I liked Greyfriars pub and the cemetery out back.
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Feb 24th, 2016, 02:47 PM
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The statue of Greyfriars Bobby is great fun and it is a great story too.

Don't be conned by Macbeth and Cawdor Castle inspite of what Shakespeare says. The castle dates from the C14th. Macbeth died in 1057 and was never Thane of Cawdor. The inside of the castle is a bit pedstrian too although the gardens are lovely. The tea room was overpriced too.

Much more interesting is Fort George, built after the Battle of Culloden, with its massive series of ramparts and ditches.
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/nairn/fortgeorge/

If you do stop at Perth, the ruined castle of Huntingtower with its painted ceilings is well worth a visit. Again, we prefered this to nearby Scone.
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u.../huntingtower/

If you have chance, the tiny university town of St Andrews with its ruined castle and abbey and miles of golden sand is also worth visiting.
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ews/standrews/
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Feb 24th, 2016, 04:02 PM
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I did the Hop on, Hop off bus tour in Edinburgh and enjoyed it very much. It was not very expensive, and allowed me to get off and on again whenever I saw something interesting. I find this a very efficient way to see cities. The traffic was not an issue at all. We were there in early May last year.
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Feb 25th, 2016, 10:29 AM
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Thanks again for all the replies. Who knew the H-O-H-O bus would be so controversial! LOL! Well, I'll just say from our experience with traveling with a child, who loves to ride the bus, especially a double decker, it has been a life saver (even just a local bus) in many cities for us towards the end of a long day - we do a lot of walking - and especially when jet lagged!
elizabethG - do you think the train could be boring? I was looking at the pictures of the scenery, and to me it looks stunning, but after 15 minutes or so, I wonder if it will feel dull. And, I would rather spend the money else where. She is such a Harry Potter fan than it really is about HP for her!
If you have any more details about Skye, I would really appreciate it - where you stayed, did you see the Fairy Pools, etc.
Thanks again everyone, you are all really helping me refine our itinerary.
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Feb 25th, 2016, 10:34 AM
  #18
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bvlenci I looked into the Falkirk Wheel suggestion and also found out about the Kelpies - and we can rent bikes as well. Looks like fun! Thanks.
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Feb 25th, 2016, 10:39 AM
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elizabethG - did you and your family do the boat ride on Loch Ness and see the Drumnadrochit Loch Ness exhibition center? I can't get a good read on if it's worth doing or not.
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Feb 25th, 2016, 12:24 PM
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Royal Mile / Edinburgh Castle / Greyfriars Bobby (do go into the churchyard and not just the statue) could be done in one day

< The Frasers department store in Edinburgh is the flagship I think, and very near the National Gallery and Scott Monument. >

Frasers is the other end of Princes Street and it's just another branch of House of Fraser. You mean Jenners which whilst it is a branch of HoF has a bit more of a life to it - especially the central atrium and the Valvona & Crolla cafe overlooking Princes Street.

You could stay in Edinburgh and visit Glasgow each day by train or coach if you want to avoid changing hotel.

Between April and October there is a bus service connecting Falkirk train stations, the Kelpies and the Wheel.

http://www.thehelix.co.uk/plan-your-.../#.Vs9ioWqLRnI
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