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First trip to Scotland- two weeks- please help!

First trip to Scotland- two weeks- please help!

Jan 3rd, 2017, 12:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 8
First trip to Scotland- two weeks- please help!

Help please! We are currently planning a trip to Scotland this summer. We will be spending two weeks and will be renting a car. Our family includes my husband, my daughter-age 19, my son-age 17 and myself. We have traveled a lot but this is our first trip to Scotland. We live in the States but my heritage is Scottish (Blair) so I am very excited! I would love suggestions on everything from "must sees" to accommodations (thinking of mixing some self-catering with some hotels), to mode of travel (car only or train as well). We will be flying into Edinburgh, staying 2-3 nights and renting a car once we leave. Here is a list from my family members of interests: (please offer suggestions and what is a must and what can be left out)
-Edinburgh 2 or 3 nights?
-St. Andrews (son and husband are avid golfers so want to see) - should we stay there for a night or two as well?
-Stirling Castle
-Eilean Donan castle
-Blair castle (of course!)
-Loch Ness
-the Jacobite
Thank you very much for taking the time to help me!
bethbl is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 01:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 983
Looks like all car makes sense. What sticks out like a sore grey thumb is Aberdeen - - it is way out of your way, and unless you have a strong sentimental connection, it might be a sore grey disappointment? It's not exactly shangri-la.

The big thing (I think) is the nature of driving in Scotland. Narrow roads, high concentration necessary. You have to remember to drive left, but don't drive so far left that you wreck the tires on the curb (easy to do) - - be sure, as a driver, to hug the center line to avoid the overcompensation that comes from driving on the right side of the vehicle.

Should be a GREAT trip!!!

Nice website: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/index.html
dfourh is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 03:04 PM
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Based on our one trip to Scotland last year, we found rail service to be excellent. In order to see all the sights you mention a car, however, is necessary.
(After driving all over Ireland for 8 days, i was happy to give up a car!)

You don't mention Glasgow; we thought it to be a very interesting city with beautiful architecture, the Kelvingrove Museum and parks etc. We took a train to Stirling from Glasgow and spent the day at the castle. When we finally left Glasgow we trained to Edinburgh.
(We used Rabbies to tour the Glencoe area on one day)

I would think one day at St Andrews would be sufficient.
Edinburgh is easily worth 3 nights in my opinion. lots of interesting tours in the old city, great atmosphere etc.
Wonderful country...have a great time.
giro is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 03:29 PM
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They don't have curbs in Scotland, they have kerbs. And they don't have domestic whiskey, just domestic whisky.

Not sure why Aberdeen is an outlier - fact is you'll be near AberdeenSHIRE en route from Perth to Blair Castle to Loch Ness or just south of it if you go to St Andrews. The city itself is . . . a random small city. The area, however, has a ton of castles.

Pitlochry is a tourist trap that has places to eat lunch. And buy fudge made with Edradour whisky. And that's about all you need out of that. Loch Ness is similarly routine despite the alleged presence of one or more gargantuan reptiles.

Skye would take a few days of your trip - no use dragging it all the way there without staying a bit.

What's the Jacobite? The train? There's also Culloden battlefields, where the Jacobites were blown into Jacobits.

What categories of interests do you have? If the old man (or you or the girl - 18 is the drinking age in UK) like water of life, Royal Mile Whiskies and Cadenhead have shops on the Royal Mile. But the Scots sell their local distillations all over the bloody place too.

If you like castles, one of the better ones you can see would be Dunrobin, north of Inverness. Stirling and Edinburgh Castles, Scone and Holyrood House Palaces are also very good.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 04:56 PM
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Posts: 8
Thank you for the replies- all very helpful!
It seems the car is the best option- and thank you dfourh for the concern regarding driving on the left- rest assured- our other home is in the Bahamas so we are quite comfortable with narrow streets and left-sided driving
I appreciate the comment on Aberdeen- we put that on the list as someone recommended we visit- we have no personal ties.

(giro) I appreciate the suggestion of Glascow- I wasn't sure whether we would have time to add it- but we might want to prioritize it.

And regarding the Jacobite (BigRuss) I might be mistaken but I understood it to be an interesting way to see the countryside from
Fort William To Mallaig. Might want to leave it off though. And thank you as well for the suggestions of castles to visit.

It seems Skye is a must maybe?
bethbl is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 05:01 PM
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I recently took a 7 week trip driving from Lodnon to skye and back.
We did the Jacobite train which was great fun for my boys.
We drove directly to Fort Willam and actually stayed at a small hotel near the train station so we could walk in the morning and get on the train. The Lime Tree was the hotel.. it was fine not my type of hotel no char... clean and great beds and after a super long drive a good place for one night. Once we made the return journey to Fort William we immediately took off for the isle of skye.. we stopped at Eileen Donan castle on the way. We spent 3 or 4 nights on Skye at the Sconser lodge ... it was a great place.. near Portree. You need at LEAST two full days to do the "two fingers" more if you want to explore other areas ..

another area I quite liked was Dunkeld as a base... north of Edinburgh ... a good place to see a few things Blair, Glamis Castle..Pitlochry. also the town of Culross we saw on the way was incredibly charming
elizabethG is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2017, 05:15 PM
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I personally would forget about about the Jacobite train. It will eat up more than one full day (you'll have to stay nearby the night before and then spend the entire day out and back. And then you'd turn around and drive back out the same route over the Road to the Isles to get to Skye. You only have about 9 or 10 days free so IMO/IME you simply don't have time to devote a day to the train.

Just drive it and park yourselves at Glenfinnan and wait to watch the train cross the viaduct.

As it is you will be hard pressed to cover all that in 2 weeks.

Re St Andrews -- assuming they don't plan on playing the Old Course -- make sure you are there on a Sunday. There is no play on Sundays and the entire Old Course becomes a vast/open/free city park. You can walk the the whole course or just hit 1, 2, 17, 18, walk across the Swilken bridge, the famous first tee, the Road hole, and the 18th green. See the West sands (where the famous scenes from Chariots of Fire were filmed, the castle and cathedral ruins, and then visit a few of the fishing villages (Crail, Anstruther, etc) 2 nights would be good.
janisj is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 09:07 AM
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Any suggestions on where to stay in Edinburgh- we were thinking self-catering in Old Town?

Also, any suggestion of where to stay in St. Andrews? Or should we pick a town close by?

And one more: any suggestions of where to stay on Skye?

Thank you!
bethbl is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 09:19 AM
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>>any suggestions of where to stay on Skye? <<

Sligachan -- it is the best located place on the island and since your time is short and travel on Skye is very slow you want to stay as central as possible


It is at sort of the crossroads of the main roads to various parts of Skye (don't worry - 'main road' does not mean traffic). Plus it has a pub and restaurant on site serving all day.

Re where to stay in Fife -- I'd either stay in St Andrews or in Crail (Crail is my favorite but both work)

What is your budget?

Self catering somewhere in Old town / along the Royal Mile is the best for most first timers since about 75% of what you will see in a short visit are within walking distance.
janisj is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 01:40 PM
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BigRuss wrote>>>>>>Not sure why Aberdeen is an outlier - fact is you'll be near AberdeenSHIRE en route from Perth to Blair Castle to Loch Ness or just south of it if you go to St Andrews.

Because Aberdeen is a 2 hour drive from Perth, or Blair Castle, or St. Andrews (and more than 3 hours from Loch Ness).
dfourh is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 01:53 PM
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No it's not - did Aberdeen to Perth in like 1.5. That said, once again, you have conflated Aberdeen with AberdeenSHIRE whilst I made a distinction because the countryside is more interesting than the oil town itself.

To Beth:

Is The Knight Residence in Edinburgh in your range? If so, that's a decent place and just down the hill behind the Castle.

With your brood, you're likely going to need 2-3 bedrooms in flats where possible.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 02:04 PM
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But they can play on even the Old Course if they book in advance -can hire clubs and caddie- 175 quid greens fee in summer + hire clubs/caddy:

PalenQ is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 02:16 PM
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Yes PQ -- you do know how to google.

I've taken several friends to play the Ole Course, Carnoustie, etc. But it is very difficult to get on the Old Course unless one wins the daily lottery - and they would have to stay in the area at least 3 nights to improve their chances.
janisj is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 03:36 PM
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Thank you for all the suggestions.

Janisj-I was hoping to keep it under $250 US a night if possible- but might have to rethink that in certain cities.

Also- do you have suggestions for which town we should base ourselves after St. Andrews to take in the Blair castle, Stirling Castle,and ?

My boys (husband and son) would love to play St. Andrews but I was told we had to book at least a year out. Any suggestions of other courses they should definitely try and play?

And where might we try and stay close to Loch Ness?

(Sorry for all the questions!)
bethbl is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 03:41 PM
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Dashing out -- so no details right now -- but $250/£205 is a VERY generous budget most places in Scotland. Even in Edinburgh which is the only expensive place on your itinerary you shouldn't have to pay that much for a nice apartment. And if you stay in a budget hotel there (Premier Inn or Travelodge -- you will get quite a lot of change out of $250.

Why do you want to stay near Loch Ness? It is just a drive along and stop at Uquhart Castle -- no need for an overnight there.
janisj is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 05:06 PM
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The family just wants to see Loch Ness- to be there and say they've been
Will it be terribly out of the way? And should be just make a day trip out of it and stay somewhere nicer?
bethbl is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 05:59 PM
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Your husband and son will need to be able to prove they have golf handicaps of no more than 24 if they apply to play the Old Course. I have played several times and each time they have asked for my handicap card.

Kingsbarns is a beautiful course just down the road from St Andrews. But it is extremely expensive. My own personal favourite is North Berwick which is an amazing place to play if you have any interest in golf course architecture. But they would most likely have to play there while you were staying in Edinburgh.
colduphere is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 07:53 PM
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>>The family just wants to see Loch Ness-<<

You will see it for sure -- you will drive almost the entire length of it on your way to Skye -- but there is no reason at all to have to stay on or near the Loch (and afterwards you will wonder what all the fuss was about since several other places you will see are much more scenic)

Ditto re North Berwick - but it is east of Edinburgh and you already have too many places for too little time.

The courses most of my friends have enjoyed the most are 1) Royal Dornoch (no contest), 2) Prestwick, 3) the Old Course, 4) Troon, 5) Machrihanish 6) North Berwick, 7) Cruden Bay and followed by lots of small local courses where we just popped in for a quick round and put the greens fee in an honestly box.

And love/hate for Carnoustie
janisj is offline  
Jan 4th, 2017, 08:26 PM
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. . . or honesty box
janisj is offline  
Jan 5th, 2017, 08:42 AM
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We rented an apartment along the Royal Mile and found it was a very good option. Nice to come back after a long Rabbie's day tour and have a whole place to spread out, and to eat some take-out food. The one we had had a small washer/dryer that was invaluable.
dwdvagamundo is offline  

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