HELP Scotland in October?

Aug 24th, 2005, 06:21 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
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HELP Scotland in October?

Crimney! I do need help. The trip we were supposed to take in October to the Yucatan was obliterated by Hurricane Emily last month, the hotel is not open until after November, so we canceled the trip and we decided to head to Scotland as it is one of our top choices of places to visit.

Well the problem is after reading several good travel books, this website and other travel blogs. I absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of things to see, places to stay and what the best get around might be While being able to plan it all before too much more time passes.

We were originally scheduled for a 9 day trip, but I don't think that will be enough time for Scotland. We can extend to 12 days, but I am looking for tips on what not to miss and the fastest way to get around. I'd rather not rent a car if this helps. My budget is fairly reasonable so I can maneuver with room costs and such and I would like a splurge in Edinburgh.

I am just not sure where to start or if we should just postpone until spring?
severine22 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2005, 06:52 PM
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I personally wouldn't delay til Spring. I LOVE Scotland in teh Fall (but then I love it just about any time)

You don't say what sorts of things you enjoy or why Scotland is one of your top choices of places to visit.

And you also don't say why you don't want a car - expense? Driving on the left? Your ages? or whatever.

You definitely don't need a car in Edinburgh or Glasgow - and you can get to a lot of places by train. But if you want to get much off the beaten path, a car is the best way to get around.

Plus if you want to tour places such as the Castle Trail/Deeside, the Whisky Trail, any islands, the Borders, or the far north -- rail service is pretty much non-existant.

The weather isn't usually awful in Oct (but it can be) and can be quite nice Indian-summer-ish. And all the Castles are still open.

9 days would be a nioce trip - but 12 of course would be better. tell us what sorts of things interest you and we can make some recs.
janis is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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Great questions. Sorry for the general response.

Well we (My Husband and I) love Scotland because of the mystery and romance of the country. I lived in the UK as a child and visited there but other than photos I don't remember much of Scotland. My husband is of Scottish ancestry and his parents have never been able to afford the trip, so we plan to pay homage to them by going.

My husband and I were in London several years ago and spent about 4 days roaming around before heading off to the Netherlands. I felt really rushed, like we missed stuff. Partly because we winged it and couldn't narrow down what to see and poor planning.. I don't wish to make the same mistake again.

I suppose priorities to us would be the castles, architecture, (battlefields and the Whisky Trail for my husband Brian). I am a literary buff, so old libraries, cemeteries and that sort of thing. Finally the country-side, Loch Ness is a must and I would love to see the Isle of Skye if we are able.

As for driving well after reading all of the horror stories of congested traffic and too much time spent in the car, I had kind put it off. I had no idea the train system was not great up in the north. I suppose we certainly could rent a vehicle for a loop around the North and then drop it off.

I am not real hot to see Glasgow, it seems sort too urban for me, I can get that here in Seattle. Hope this helps and thanks.
severine22 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 11:39 AM
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I'm in a bit of a rush right now so can't give you a full response - but hopefully other fodorites will see your thread. I'll try to get back to it tonight or tomorrow.

But I did want to talk a bit about having a car. I really don't think you've read/seen any horror stories about congested roads in Scotland. The only difficult places at all are central Edinburgh, Glasgow and a very few scenic roads on holiday weekends.

To get to most of the sorts of places you are thinking about would not be a problem at all. Especially in October - on many roads you will see moresheep or highland cattle than cars.

You could fly into Edinburgh for 2 or 3 days and then pick up a rental car and head out to explore for the rest of your time.

As I said - bit of a time crunch now but hopefully this will get you started thinking about a driving holiday . . . .
janis is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 11:53 AM
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I recently took at 10 day trip to Scotland with my family. This was a return trip for me, but the first time for the kids. We decided to do a whirlwind tour of the country. When you look at a map, you will see that Scotland is not a big country. While there is a lot to see and do, you really have two choices - pick a region and really explore it in depth; or spend a day in each major area with a plan to return some other time and explore more.

In my case, we took the spend a day in a region tact. We flew into Aberdeen (via Amsterdam), and started our trip in Spey Side (the major whisky brewing area). If you enjoy your single malts, you can spend a day traveling on the whisky trail. Next, we went to Loch Ness - very touristy, but a beautiful area nonetheless. From there, we drove west, stopping along the way to view the beautiful highlands.

We stopped in Oban - a lovely city, and the starting out point to explore the islands (Mull, Iona, etc.). Since my ancestors came from Mull, we traveled there next via the ferry. Following Mull we made a pilgrimage to Iona (the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland).

Upon our return to the "main land" we traveled to Stirling and visited the beautiful castle grounds and Wallace Monument. From there, on to Edinbrugh for 2 full days of touring the city and castle. We wrapped up our trip where we started in Aberdeen.

There are of course many options, and ours were influenced by traveling with pre-teens, our love of a good single malt whisky and my experience as a student for a term at Stirling University. Some people prefer to do the golf tour, or spend more time at castles and monuments. Scotland has a lot to offer, and the scenery is striking.

As far as getting around, the trains are very good. You could drive, but you need to be comfortable with driving on the other side of the road, and if you go into the more rural areas you may find that it's difficult to pass other cars. We did a combination of driving and using the trains. I agree that you can still do this for the fall, you will likely find the major tourist spots to be less crowded. Remember that the British vacation season starts right after Easter, so the spring can be a busy time for tourist areas (and if you go before Easter, you should expect a lot of tourist attractions to be closed).
Mumsyjes is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 12:16 PM
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We were in Scotland in May and I did 99% of the driving and it was easy. We didn't drive in to Edinburgh, but we went around it on the motorway and visited Rosslyn Chapel, which is south of the city, then traveled back to North Queensferry where we caught a bus into the city. For the rest of our time, we drove through some of the most beautiful scenery we've ever experienced and the trip itself was just as entertaining as our destinations. We stayed in Comrie and drove through the Highlands - a must see. Stirling was great,Inchmahome Priory on the Lake of Menteith was beautiful and the Drummond Castle Gardens were breathtaking. I could go on and on! (And I probably have in various postings to this site!) Have fun!
twina49 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2005, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Unless you want to restrict yourself to a relatively small area (not necessarily a bad thing) you'll be struggling without a car. Public transport services, especially to the more far flung places, are limited at the best of times and often move to an even more limited winter timetable in September or October. To visit Glasgow / Edinburgh where car travel is not fun, it's easy enough to stay somewhere like Stirling and travel in by train. Apart from the heavily populated stretch between Glasgow and Edinburgh across the central lowlands there are few places whee traffic gets bad. In October you'll want the flexibility to stop and wow whenever the sun comes out; much easier to do if you're in a car. An alternative, but one that would need detailed planning, would be to sign up for organised bus tours for specific parts of your trip (e.g. a day or half day on the whisky trail) and use public transport in between.
As for delaying until spring - no. Come in October,then come back in spring!
Craigellachie is offline  
Aug 26th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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severine22, I am so jealous of your upcoming trip, I've been to Scotland four times and can't wait to go back. I can understand your reluctance to drive yourself - not only due to the adjustment of driving on the left, but also the driver has to watch the road and misses the scenery. I read once that 50% of the auto accidents in the U.K. involved foreign visitors from countries where they drive on the right. SO! In my visits I have never rented a car and have managed to see quite a lot anyway. Instead, I get a train pass, if you check out the Britrail website you will see there are various options for either just Scotland or the whole UK, including maps showing where you can get to by train. While it's true that train service is sparse to the far north and doesn't go to the islands, you can still get to Inverness and/or Kyle of Lochalsh by train and use them as a base for further exploration, either by bus or organized tour. In Edinburgh you will be better off without a car and I recommend you spend at least several days there as it has all the things you mentioned in your post about the kinds of things you're looking for in Scotland. Edinburgh is best explored on foot however it's very hilly and that can be tiring depending on your age & physical fitness, but there are also public buses and tour buses to help you, plus the taxi fares are not quite as high as they are down in London. Oh, and as far as seeing Loch Ness - which is really beautiful and worth seeing even without the is-there-or-is-there-not a monster issue, it is about 5 miles from Inverness. Culloden Battlefield (another must-see) is also about 5 miles from Inverness but in the opposite direction from Loch Ness. Both are easily accessible by either public or tourist bus so you should be able to do without a car there also. When we went we took a half day tour which included a boat ride on the loch which was gorgeous - most of the land along there is privately owned and there is very little development so it is quite unspoiled and beautiful, and you get great views of Urquhart Castle.
Daisy54 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 01:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Sorry for delay in responding- I've been on my hols.

Here, however, is one I prepared earlierbr />
3 days in Edinburgh- Stay in the old town. Read a book called “The Fanatick” for a lovely link between the modern day and the Covenanters.

A day in Stirling,- obviously do the Castle, Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge, but think about the walk round the town wall. Read “Rob Roy”

A day in Perth the Black Watch regimental museum, bits of the old town’s wall, Hal O’ the Wynd’s house and the Fair Maid’s House, Huntingtower Castle. The North Inch is the site of the famous “Battle of the Clans”. Most of Perth's interest lies in its history- ancient capital of Scotland- and in its place in Scottish literature. Just north of Perth, 2 miles or so, is Scone Palace, worth a visit itself, which was the site where the kings and queens of Scotland were crowned, seated on the Stone of Destiny, (a good fake of) which you will no doubt have seen when you visited Edinburgh Castle.

The town's 12th century Church, St John's is worth a visit. It contains the remains of an Earl of Perth who is supposed to have told the town's baillies "If you give me six feet, I'll give you twa inches"- a reference to the two parks on either side of the old town, the North and South Inches (from the Gaelic Innis, meaning meadow). In addition, it is where John Knox preached the destruction of the monasteries at the start of the Scottish reformation. Sir Walter Scott wrote a novel called "the Fair Maid of Perth", and her house and that of Hal o' the Wynd, can both be visited. This will tell you all about Clan Chattan and Clan Kay and their battle. Next to Hal o' the Wynd's house is the City Mills which has a restored oatmeal mill and some nice craft shops. The City Mills Hotel, which I think is now called the Stakis, is another converted Mill, done so the lade can be seen flowing underneath.

If you walk along the Tay, you can see where the houses in the Watergate had their gardens, which led down to the river, where Kate Barlass held off the soldiers come to capture and kill the king.

The town has really good shopping centred around the High Street and Old High Street.

You might do worse than add in Dunkeld on your way north. It’s a lovely town on the Tay, with a beautiful historic square, a cathedral and some wonderful views. The Hilton, formerly Dunkeld House, is quite an upmarket hotel, right on the banks of the Tay. Dunkeld is a very classy town. The Cathedral is special, but so is the square with its National Trust houses. Some very good antique shops (never pay what they are asking)

The square is owned by the National Trust and there are a couple of good places to eat and shop. Birnam, just outside Dunkeld, is, of course, famous as being the place from which the wood came to Dunsinane in Macbeth. Dunsinane is just north of Perth on the Aberdeen road.

An easy trip from Dunkeld is Blair Atholl, which is a planned village and is very pretty in a slightly twee Victorian style, and it houses Blair Castle, home of the Dukes of Atholl and the Atholl Highlanders. V I
impressive in the grand style..

On the way, you pass Killiecrankie, where you can see the famous soldier's leap. If you don't know the story, learn the song. Another famous battle

Another easy trip out from there is to take a wee detour west to Aberfeldy and Loch Tay. You will pass Breadalbane Castle, former home of the Marquis of Breadalbane, and now a golf course! and come to the lovely 18th century planned village of Kenmore. The loch is stunning.

And if you're up to the walk, go along the north side to Ben Lawers and drive up to the National Trust visitor centre. Time it right and then walk up to the top. Don't do this if it's raining unless you're nuts!

A day or two in Inverness/Fort George/Culloden, -. On the way north, stop at the Ruthven Barracks at Kingussie and see how Wade’s army lived after the ‘15

A day driving to the west coast along the lochs, and 2 days on Skye, - Go North to Garve and west to Achnasheen and stop at Poolewe or Gairloch. On the way back go round Torridon and past Applecross and over the Beallach nam Bo. Watch the weather here.

Go onto Skye over the bridge and then off on the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. My favourite place to stay on Skye is Hotel Eilean Iarmain.on the Sleat peninsula, about 16 miles from the bridge. It has a great restaurant and is also only a few miles from Lady Macdonald’s place (Kinloch Castle), which also does great food.

Skye is mostly about scenery, although it has its share of history too. Great things to do include seeing the Cuillins; taking a boat trip from Elgol to see the seals; wandering round Portree; visiting the Quiraing; visiting the Clan Macdonald Centre; seeing the fairy flag at Dunvegan; go to the Talisker distillery; take in the atmosphere at the Sligachan Hotel; go to the Colbost Folk Museum (mainly because it’s a black house); go to Flora Macdonald’s grave; hire bikes; go pony trekking; see eagles; climb mountains. Another great place to eat is the Three Chimneys, which has just been named one of the top 100 restaurants in the world. In your search for battlegrounds you need to see the site of the Battle of the Braes.

On the way south, you pass Glenfinnan and you should stop and see the monument there. You need to try to understand the desolation of Highland life and the hope that was held out to Highland people by the mountebank Charles Edward Stuart between 1745 and 1746, when he left from the Loch nam Uamh-no distance at all from where he arrived but with thousands dead and Cumberland all over us like a rash.

Keeping south from Fort William go east at Ballachulish and through Glencoe, the Glen of Weeping. Bear in mind, that, within the last few years, a fuss has been made because the National Trust has employed a Campbell to work in the new centre- over 300 years after the massacre.

South of Lochearnhead turn up Balquhidder and into Rob Roy Country proper.

2 days in Glasgow (too many good museums to miss). Not a little history too.

Now, since I've been doing this for nearly 6 years (NEARLY 6 YEARS!!!) there's very little new that can be asked or answered; but libraries, that is a good one. And let me give you a good answer.

And did you know, that Andrew Carnegie, the supplier of libraries all over the world is from Dunfermilne in Fife. His birthplace might be worth a visit?
sheila is offline  
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