Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Full 5 week itinerary for Ireland and Scotland--Please Critique!

Full 5 week itinerary for Ireland and Scotland--Please Critique!

Old Apr 18th, 2011, 02:50 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 55
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Full 5 week itinerary for Ireland and Scotland--Please Critique!

After a lot of research, and with the help of many useful comments from forum posters, I think I've got my 5 week itinerary worked out and would really appreciate any comments or suggestions anyone might have.

We are dependent on public transit for the entire trip, but I think we should be okay, as I've tried not to take us anywhere to far off the main track. So here it is:

Wed, May 11: Leave Vancouver @ 12:15pm
Thu, May 12: Arrive Glasgow @ 5:00am
Fri, May 13: Glasgow
Sat, May 14: Glasgow to Dublin (probably on a ryanair early morning flight)
Sun, May 15: Dublin
Mon, May 16: Dublin
Tue, May 17: Dublin to Cashel
Wed, May 18: Cashel to Kenmare
Thu, May 19: Kenmare
Fri, May 20: Kenmare to Dingle
Sat, May 21: Dingle
Sun, May 22: Dingle
Mon, May 23: Dingle to Doolin (Cliffs of Moher)
Tue, May 24: Doolin (Aran Islands)
Wed, May 25: Doolin to Galway
Thu, May 26: Galway
Fri, May 27: Galway
Sat, May 28: Galway to Donegal Town
Sun, May 29: Donegal Town
Mon, May 30: Donegal Town
Tue, May 31: Donegal Town to Derry
Wed, June 1: Derry
Thu, June 2: Derry to Belfast, ferry to Stranraer, train to Stirling
Fri, June 3: Stirling
Sat, June 4: Stirling to Mull
Sun, June 5: Mull (trip to Iona: Does this go on Sundays??)
Mon, June 6: Mull to Isle of Skye (Not sure where yet)
Tue, June 7: Isle of Skye
Wed, June 8: Isle of Skye
Thu, June 9: Skye to Fort William
Fri, June 10: Take steam train to Mallaig, train back to Glasgow, then on to Edinburgh
Sat, June 11: Edinburgh
Sun, June 12: Edinburgh
Mon, June 13: Glasgow (Loch Lomond or another day trip)
Tue, June 14: Glasgow
Wed, June 15: Leave Glasgow 9:15am, fly back to Vancouver

So there it is. How does it sound? It's coming up very fast so I have to start booking accomodation and such, so all your input is welcome! Thanks very much.
Becks16 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 03:18 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,236
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Just a couple of very quick comments right now.

Fionnphort to Iona is just a 5 minute foot ferry that runs every day.

Have you worked out your route from Mull to Skye (assuming Portree)? That will take most of an entire day by public transport - probably 9 - 10+ hours total.

And I do think you've cut your time in Edinburgh rather short. maybe take one day from Glasgow and add it to Edinburgh.
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 03:44 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 6,134
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
From Oban ( no rail station on Mull) it takes about 5 1/2 hours to Mallaig where you can easily connect to the ferry to Armadale, Skye which takes about 30 minutes. It doesn't take quite as long as janisj suggested but will take 7/8 hours depending on where you're headed on Skye.

You are also back-tracking when you travel to Fort William as the train from Oban to Mallaig follows the same route as the steam train and you will go through Fort William enroute to Mallaig.

I strongly suggest you check out www.nationalrail.co.uk for accurate travel times and routes. I agree that not enough time for Edinburgh and the trains ( you'll have to make a couple of changes) from Skye (Kyle of Lochalsh) to Edinburgh will take at least 6 hours. However, it might be shorter to go this route rather than heading back to Glasgow for Edinburgh. At least the scenery will be different.
historytraveler is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 03:57 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,236
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
"From Oban it takes about 5 1/2 hours to Mallaig . . . It doesn't take quite as long as janisj suggested but will take 7/8 hours depending on where you're headed on Skye."

Add that 5.5 hours to any journey on Mull to the ferry, ferry ride to Oban, ferry to Armadale, and bus to Portree (the only real town on Skye that could be called a transport hub for touring the island) and you don't get much change from my 9+ hours
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 04:13 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 55
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the suggestions thus far!
Adding another day in Edinburgh sounds like a good plan, so we'll spend June 13th there as well.

The long transit day from Mull to Skye is not ideal, I know, but as long as it's doable, I think we can manage it... we really want to see both places.

I didnt realize that Oban to Skye went the same way as the steam train. Hmm. We chose that because the friend I am travelling with and I are both Harry Potter fans, and that connection was too much to pass up! But I'm not so sure if it's worth it now. It would essentially be the same route 3 times, just on a different train, yes?
Becks16 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 04:18 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 55
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've just realized that the B&B we really wanted in Mull is not available on the days we have planned. Would this make sense as an alternative plan (and perhaps result in less backtracking?)

Sat, June 4: Stirling to Fort William
Sun, June 5: Steam Train to Mallaig, to Skye
Mon, June 6: Skye
Tue, June 7: Skye
Wed, June 8: Skye to Mull
Thu, June 9: Mull
Fri, June 10: Mull to Edinburgh

I know we still have the 9 hour transit day, just in reverse, but it has reduced back-tracking a little, with the added advantage of available B&B dates.

Ah, do buses on Skye run on Sundays?
Becks16 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 04:18 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 55
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've just realized that the B&B we really wanted in Mull is not available on the days we have planned. Would this make sense as an alternative plan (and perhaps result in less backtracking?)

Sat, June 4: Stirling to Fort William
Sun, June 5: Steam Train to Mallaig, to Skye
Mon, June 6: Skye
Tue, June 7: Skye
Wed, June 8: Skye to Mull
Thu, June 9: Mull
Fri, June 10: Mull to Edinburgh

I know we still have the 9 hour transit day, just in reverse, but it has reduced back-tracking a little, with the added advantage of available B&B dates.

Ah, do buses on Skye run on Sundays?
Becks16 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 04:37 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,109
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I might suggest that in Ireland you take a day from Doolin and add it to your time in Galway and do the Aran Islands from there. There is public transport to Rosseveal and the island ferry. The ferry from Rosseveal is a much shorter trip than from Doolin and is less weather dependent.
irishface is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 06:08 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 6,134
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
janisj, I did say from Oban to Armadale plus however long it takes to get to Skye destination as a 7/8 hour journey . If staying at Fionnphort, certainly another couple of hours is needed to get to Oban. I wasn't aware as to where OP was staying on Mull. Otherwise my times are accurate.

For Becks, your new itinerary makes more sense. But do check train times/schedule. How are you managing travel on Mull without a car? And, you do need to check bus schedules for Skye.
historytraveler is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 06:19 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,236
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Oh - I wasn't arguing w/ your times -- just explaining that from start to finish of the whole journey it probably will take longer than 7/8 hours.
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 06:20 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,521
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glad you've added another day to Edinburgh. It's a beautiful city and offers lots of opportunities for pleasant strolling. Enjoy.
catcrazyaf is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 08:01 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 55
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
irishface: I appreciate the suggestion, and if the weather is bad when we are in Doolin, we will definitely try and make it to the Aran Islands from Galway, but I absolutely love Doolin (was there a couple years ago) so I don't want to lose that second night!

Hmm. There are 3 buses from Armadale to Portree on Sundays, which works great, except the steam train only runs on weekdays. Slight problem.

The epic odyssey from Skye to Mull is doable, from what I find, as follows:

Bus leaves Portree @ 7:30am, arrives Armadale @ 8:38am.
Ferry leaves Armadale @ 8:50am, arrives Mallaig @9:20.
Train leaves Mallaig @ 10:00am, arrives Oban @ 3:30pm.
Ferry leaves Oban @ 4:00pm, arrives Craignure @ 4:45pm.
Bus leaves Craignure @ 4:50pm, arrives Fionnphort @ 6:10pm.

So while possible, it now seems crazy.

So I can't figure out a way to avoid a long day, still see Mull and Skye, and somehow make it on to the steam train on a weekday without switching around my whole itinerary. So if I manage to convince my friend that riding the steam train is unnecessary, then the night we would have stayed in Fort William is now free to put in as a mid-way point between Skye and Mull, making the itinerary look like this:

Thu, June 2: Derry to Stirling
Fri, June 3: Stirling
Sat, June 4: Stirling to Portree (another long day)
Sun, June 5: Skye
Mon, June 6: Skye
Tue, June 7: Skye to ...... suggestions?
Wed, June 8:..... to Mull
Thu, June 9: Mull
Fri, June 10: Mull to Edinburgh

Is there a midway point that is worth a one-night stopover?
Would I be better to not go to Skye at all, but find somewhere more central? Is it better to leave off Mull?
Or could I cut out Stirling and do it as a day trip from Glasgow instead?

What would everyone else do?
Becks16 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 08:03 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 55
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As for Mull without a car, we were planning on staying in Fionnphort because the boat to Iona leaves from there, making a car unnecessary for that bit. Then we'd just hang around the Fionnphort area, taking the bus to and from the ferry in Craignure.
Becks16 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 09:02 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,236
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
"Then we'd just hang around the Fionnphort area,"

Not a lot of 'hanging around' to be done. I love LOVE Mull and usually stay in Fionnphort. (If by any chance you are staying at Seaview, you'll love it). But I always have a car -- Fionnphort is a great place to stay because of the ferry to Iona, the boat out to Staffa, the views across to Iona/the abbey/sunsets.

But it is a really tiny place. Less than 100 population - maybe more like 50. One pub, one small general store. And is more than 35 miles of single track road from Craignure - takes about 80 minutes. Fionnphort just isn't a town (there is only one town on the whole island - Tobermory on the complete opposite end - 50 miles/2+ hours by car.)

Mull has some amazing beaches - but not many w/i walking distance of Fionnphort.
janisj is online now  
Old Apr 18th, 2011, 11:55 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,588
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Don't forget that Glasgow is a great and interesting city that you could spend days in.
alihutch is offline  
Old Apr 19th, 2011, 01:56 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,588
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you do fly Ryanair out of Glasgow you can get a half price train ticket to the airport by showing your Ryanair reservation at the ticket desk in Glasgow Central train station. So although it is possible to buy that ticket in advance, you'll save some money by leaving it till the day of travel.

Hope this helps.
alihutch is offline  
Old Apr 19th, 2011, 02:18 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 860
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>Or could I cut out Stirling and do it as a day trip from Glasgow instead?<

Yes. Stirling can be done as an easy day trip from Glasgow. The train service runs half hourly and takes just under 30 minutes.
Stilldontknow is offline  
Old Apr 19th, 2011, 07:52 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 6,134
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I realize that you've planned on staying at Fionnphort but as janisj says it's a small place. There is St. Columba's Museum but the opening times are irregular. Another suggestion would be to stay in Oban and take one of the Calmac/Bowman tours to Iona. A full day leaving Oban about 10:00, ferry to Craignure, bus waiting for you (with commentary) to go to Fionnphort to catch short ferry ride to Iona, plenty of time on Iona then return to ferry and back to Oban. This is what I do when I don't have a car. It's a lot easier and convenient than trying to do local buses. You will miss spending your nights on Mull but it may be a better or at least an easier option. You could then catch early train (Oban) to Glasgow/Edinburgh. I believe tickets for CalMac /Bowman tour are about 19GBP. It's a pretty independent tour.It does mean two nights at Oban ( sorry janisj ) but, in your last itinerary, I believed you allowed for two nights on Mull.

If I were you with such time restrictions, I'd not take the steam train. As I said earlier the only difference between it and the regular train is the steam. But you really have to decide if it's that important and rework your schedule. Remember that tickets for the Jacobite train sell out fairly quickly.

I don't see how you can do all that you want and not avoid a long transit day. But you do need to rethink your plans and decide what are the most important places/things you want to see/do and work from there. Prioritize.

Your original itinerary...Glasgow/Oban & Mull/ with regualr trian to Mallaig/Skye...then train from Kyle of Lochalsh to Edinburgh via Inverness ( depending on which train you take it may be only one change and a little over 6 hours), might still be the best. I don't know the stops for the train from Stirling. Train from Oban to Edinburgh is about 4 1/2 5 hours.
historytraveler is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2011, 01:29 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,414
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That's a pretty good itinerary. I second the notion about being prepared for the problem with the ferries at Doolin and if it were me, I would try to spend the night on Aran and replace one of the nights in Galway with that. My attraction to Doolin isn't as strong as yours so I always consider it a good jumping off point for Clare.

The other thing I would consider is whether or not you could take a night or tow off a place here or there to get a couple of nights in Westport. For instance, if I was considering a night in Westport vs Doolin, Westport would win hands down.

I also don't think I would choose Donegal town to tour Donegal. I've stayed in Ardara and loved it and the area. It's a cute little village. I will admit though, Donegal is huge with slow moving roads and there is little chance you will get to see as much as you might like.

Considering the size loop you are making and the way you have divided you time (14 days in the south and 6 days in the north), you may want to have an pass through stop somewhere for instance in the north of Donegal (two nights south, one night north). I know it's hard to pick up quick and move like that, but when I've been in those situation, I make sure everything I need for one night is in a small suitcase and it's an easy in and out. I don't like doing that a lot but it can prevent a huge amount of backtracking anf perhaps give you a chance to see something you might not have otherwise seen.

Again, it's a doable itinerary and there are always tough choices on what to leave out when you are covering that much ground. Regardless, it will be hard not to have fun on your trip.
wojazz3 is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2011, 05:18 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 6,117
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hmmmm, if I remember correctly, have been to both Donegal and Adara (bought sweaters there), then stayed on a small connected island near Donegal. Don't recall the name. Just off the cuff, would say Donegal would be a more lively place to stay.
hopingtotravel is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:39 PM.