help with scotland itinerary

Old Feb 4th, 2019, 04:08 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 165
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
help with scotland itinerary

Hello all, I'm in the middle of planning a trip to Scotland for this October and I'm absolutely stuck on what to do. There are so many wonderful options and they all look great. We're in our 30s and should be able to go back so we don't have to try to see everything this trip. I'd like to focus on selecting a plan that makes the most sense for the time we have, the season we'll be there, logistics and our interests. And I'm really struggling. We will fly into EDI 9am on October 4th and depart LHR 12:50 on October 13th.

Option 1: Spend a few days in Edinburgh on arrival. Pick up a rental car and spend a few days touring countryside around Edinburgh and possibly a couple distilleries. Things that are of interest: Falkland Palace, Edradour Distillery, Glenturret Distillery, Trossachs, Doune Castle, Stirling Castle, and Linlithglow Palace. Train or drive to York for a few nights. If we go this route, should we plug in some time to visit the Yorkshire Dales or Moors? Bamburgh looks pretty incredible, too. Spend last night in London and fly home the next day.

Option 2: Fly to Islay on arrival. Spend a few days here exploring and visiting some distilleries. Fly to GLA and pick up a rental car to visit a condensed version of the above list (excluding the distilleries as we'll have visited enough on Islay). Spend a few nights in Edinburgh and fly to LHR early Sunday morning to fly home.

Option 3: Train to Inverness on arrival. Spend a night, visit Culloden in the morning and then drive to the Isle of Skye. Spend 4 nights on the Isle then drive to Stirling for the night, visiting Doune Castle on the way and drop rental car in Stirling. Visit Stirling in the morning and then take the train to Edinburgh for last three nights. Again, fly to LHR early Sunday morning to fly home.

All of these destinations would be new to us except London, which is chosen because of easier and cheaper flight connections. And we don't have to see every single castle, those are just the ones that have piqued my interests in those areas.

My own thoughts on these options:

Option 1. This fits in well for our flight logistics and I'd really like to see York. But we're going to Scotland - so should we just focus on Scotland?

Option 2. The scenery on Islay looks lovely and these distilleries are my husband's favorites. But, it's either a lot of time (driving and ferrying) or money (extra flights) to get there. And he should be able to do a good amount of independent scotch sampling in the evenings in pubs.

Option 3: Skye looks absolutely incredible and definitely the most unique scenery we will have ever seen on our travels. Downside is the time it takes to get there. And will it be terribly busy in October? I have read that it is becoming over-touristed.

These are just the ideas I've come up with and I know there's probably a dozen more ways we could go. Do any of these stand out as the best rough itinerary or do we just need to throw a dart and pick? I could really use some experienced opinions to help me out because I currently feel like I'm lost in a sea of possibilities and am a bit overwhelmed! Thank you so much for your help.

Last edited by candj83; Feb 4th, 2019 at 04:10 PM.
candj83 is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2019, 04:40 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,356
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
>>I know there's probably a dozen more ways we could go<<. . . . Bingo

But you have a god start and either #1 or #2 would be wonderful IMO. #1 or a variation would be my number 1 preference. I would not plan an itinerary around Skye in October. The weather could be iffy (it could be iffy anywhere of course but stuck out on Skye when it is raining sideways is not fun). If the weather is awful on Islay there are always all those whisky distilleries to fill time.

Your #1 option would be very doable.

Something like 2 nights in Edinburgh, Oct 4-5
2 nights in Fife Oct 6-7
2 or 3 nights in/near Callander for Stirling/Doune/Inchmahome/the Trossachs etc. Say 2 nights Oct 8-9
Drop car and take train to York. 2 nights York Oct 10-11
Train to London and stay Oct 12

If you had another couple of days I'd drive down through Northumberland and the Dales

OR forget about Yorkshire this trip and do:

3 nights in Edinburgh, Oct 4-6
2 nights in Fife Oct 7-8
3 nights in/near Callander for Stirling/Doune/Inchmahome/the Trossachs etc. Say 2 nights Oct 9 - 11
Either . . . one night Glasgow and fly to LHR in the early AM on the 13th. - OR - fly down to London and stay there the night of the 12th.
janisj is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2019, 06:33 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,549
Received 79 Likes on 8 Posts
Originally Posted by candj83 View Post
I'd like to focus on selecting a plan that makes the most sense for the time we have, the season we'll be there, logistics and our interests.
Let's focus for a moment on this statement. Aside from wanting to see a distillery or two (and, just IMO, they're not all that different from each other, although the booze might be) what ARE your interests? Please know I'm not trying to be facetious, just wanting to help configure a plan that works, given the short time you have.

To answer my own questions with some guesses, here goes.

Grand scenery: Well as one can expect, this is everywhere. You don't need to go all the way to Skye to see spectacular Highland and Island views - Mull is closer and easier to get to, for example. And in between there are places like Glen Coe and Glen Etive, the Trossachs hills, Glenfinnan and the Road to the Isles... lots of options.

Castles: In October the Highland scenery on the east side of the Grampians can be amazing, and all the Deeside castles (Aberdeenshire on the east side of the country) can be surrounded by glorious scenery coming into autumn golds. There are numerous castles located in close proximity to one another, in an area that would lend itself well to a tour that includes Fife and a couple of distilleries. (It won't be peaty whisky like Islay, but good stuff nonetheless.) For example, Craithes Castle (not my picture) -



Or for example, have a look at (comparatively) little-visited Glen Lyon in the autumn (also not my pictures)



(Roman bridge a couple of miles from Fortingall)



So just using these as examples (and there are hundreds more, all different) have a look at this imaginary touring map - https://goo.gl/maps/2A9Meajf9rQ2

This would take you north from Edinburgh airport to Falkland, then out to the picturesque "East Neuk" villages along the Fife coast. You'd then travel north (through St. Andrews) to Dundee then up the Angus coast to the Deeside castle country, starting with Dunnattor Castle on the coast, then inland past Crathes and Craigievar castles through glorious country to Braemar. You'd then turn back south toward Glen Lyon and Fortingall, encountering a couple of distilleries en route. Fortingall is a lovely wee village, unusual for its thatched buildings, and ostensibly the birthplace of Pontius Pilate. The Yew tree in the Fortingall churchyard is supposedly the oldest living thing in Britain, maybe Europe, and the Fortingall Hotel is a gem. There's even a standing stone (possibly bronze age, possibly re-used as a marker for 14th century plague graves) in a field opposite the hotel. Explore the glen, maybe up to the Roman bridge, or over to Loch Tay, then back to Edinburgh.

Depending on what sort of pace you like (and remember the times shown on the maps tend to be very optimistic) you might add on a two-day loop south from Edinburgh at the end, before flying (not train) to Heathrow for your departure. This little loop - https://goo.gl/maps/AzdQLT3Tuss - would include some picturesque fishing villages, a couple of terrific castles, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (very important historic site on an island accessed by tidal causeway) and then a return to Edinburgh across the lovely Lammermuir Hills and the picture-postcard villages of Etal and Gifford.

Use Undiscovered Scotland - https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/ to research these places further.

Possible timetable (overnight locations listed) -

4-Oct Edinburgh
5-Oct Edinburgh
6-Oct Crail
7-Oct Deeside
8-Oct Deeside
9-Oct Fortingall
10-Oct Edinburgh
11-Oct Holy Island or Bamburgh
12-Oct Edinburgh or Heathrow
13-Oct Home

Like I say, one of hundreds of options.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Feb 5th, 2019 at 06:40 AM.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old Feb 5th, 2019, 07:37 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,356
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
Gardyloo's proposed itinerary would work very well. As you said there are a dozen (DOZENS really) of other options. I'd be very happy with that one -- and assuming you'll get back to the UK in future as you mentioned . . . Less really is more so not schlepping across to Skye or trying to squeeze in Yorkshire would give you more time to see/do things.

A variation on Gardyloo's plan - maybe drop Lindesfarne/Bamburgh (both very worthwhile) and the split time in Edinburgh something like this:

4-Oct Edinburgh
5-Oct Edinburgh
6-Oct Edinburgh
7-Oct Crail
8-Oct Crail
9-Oct Deeside
10-Oct Deeside
11-Oct Fortingall
12-Oct Drive down to EDI through the Torssachs (Killlin/Falls of Dochart, etc) and maybe Stirling Castle. The entire drive Fortingall to EDI would take about 2.5 hours plus stops so an easy day's drive. Fly down to LHR in the evening
13-Oct Home
janisj is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2019, 10:24 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 165
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you janisj and Gardyloo for all the great suggestions. You've given me a lot to research and look through and I really appreciate it! Gardyloo, those pictures are absolutely gorgeous. Do you think that there will be any green left in the hills in early October or will everything be transitioned over to those deep autumn colors?

As far as our interests go - history (including prehistoric), beautiful scenery with hiking/walking, lots of great castles and ruins, whisky. And for whisky, Gardyloo, I had really been wondering about just what you said about distilleries "and, just IMO, they're not all that different from each other, although the booze might be". I think if we visit a quality distillery or two, that would be a fun and unique experience but we don't have to focus our trip around them.

As far as scenery goes, the combination of hills and lochs really appeals to me. Forested areas, waterfalls, etc also appeal. Looking at pictures, it seems that a couple days in the Trossachs could really fit this niche quite well. The Conic Hill walk looks like a great example of a walk that we'd get that kind of scenery. Do we have to worry about crowds at all in this area? I also really like the ruggedness and wildness of Glencoe. The scenery looks like it would be a contrast and variation to the scenery of the Trossachs.

Looking at the villages of the Fife Coast, while they are very pretty, I don't find myself as interested in that type of scenery as I am the scenery of the highlands. Dunnottar castle packs a real punch with the wow factor!

It would be great if we could have a road trip where we could combine the scenery/hikes with some interesting stops like castles, distilleries, prehistoric sights, cute towns. I think that would make an ideal trip for us. We prefer to avoid one night stops if possible and we enjoy staying somewhere big enough in the evening where there's a couple pubs or restaurants to pick from. Not somewhere too remote.

From your feedback, it sounds like we can't really go wrong no matter where we go. I'll keep digging.
candj83 is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2019, 10:31 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 165
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just checked Google Flights and there is an early Sunday morning flight out of Oban we could catch to LHR - that could really open up some itinerary possibilities! Including the Isle of Mull. But, I do have a question - if the weather is going to be questionable for Skye this time of year - would the same not apply to Mull?

Edited to add: I just looked and there aren't any car rentals that we could return a car to from Edinburgh in Oban, at least as far as I can tell. They only appear to be smaller, mom-and-pop type facilities. Darn.

Last edited by candj83; Feb 5th, 2019 at 10:40 AM.
candj83 is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2019, 12:03 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,549
Received 79 Likes on 8 Posts
Originally Posted by candj83 View Post
TAs far as our interests go - history (including prehistoric), beautiful scenery with hiking/walking, lots of great castles and ruins, whisky. And for whisky, Gardyloo, I had really been wondering about just what you said about distilleries "and, just IMO, they're not all that different from each other, although the booze might be". I think if we visit a quality distillery or two, that would be a fun and unique experience but we don't have to focus our trip around them.

As far as scenery goes, the combination of hills and lochs really appeals to me. Forested areas, waterfalls, etc also appeal. Looking at pictures, it seems that a couple days in the Trossachs could really fit this niche quite well. The Conic Hill walk looks like a great example of a walk that we'd get that kind of scenery. Do we have to worry about crowds at all in this area? I also really like the ruggedness and wildness of Glencoe. The scenery looks like it would be a contrast and variation to the scenery of the Trossachs.

It would be great if we could have a road trip where we could combine the scenery/hikes with some interesting stops like castles, distilleries, prehistoric sights, cute towns. I think that would make an ideal trip for us. We prefer to avoid one night stops if possible and we enjoy staying somewhere big enough in the evening where there's a couple pubs or restaurants to pick from. Not somewhere too remote.
Originally Posted by candj83 View Post
I just checked Google Flights and there is an early Sunday morning flight out of Oban we could catch to LHR - that could really open up some itinerary possibilities! Including the Isle of Mull. But, I do have a question - if the weather is going to be questionable for Skye this time of year - would the same not apply to Mull?

Edited to add: I just looked and there aren't any car rentals that we could return a car to from Edinburgh in Oban, at least as far as I can tell. They only appear to be smaller, mom-and-pop type facilities. Darn.
Okay, here's a different plan, one that I tend to recommend a lot. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/Cry53G5dBW82

This includes the Trossachs, Glen Etive and Glen Coe, Mull, and a return via a couple of Argyll villages. Specifically -

Callendar is a good jumping-off point for walks and explorations in the Trossachs. You might also look at a short sail on beautiful Loch Katrine.

Glen Etive is located just south of the Rannoch Moor, and is one of the loveliest and emptiest glens in the western Highlands, used for various James Bond and Harry Potter movies. You'd then go down Glen Coe, then south to Oban and across to Mull. Spend a couple of days (or longer) on Mull, visiting, among other things, a couple of castles, some prehistoric sites, and if time allows, a day trip from Fionnphort over to Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland and much of the north of England. Some of the cruises also visit the Isle of Staffa with its impressive geological formations including Fingal's Cave. In the pretty village of Tobermory on Mull is a lovely little distillery producing both an unpeated (light) malt whisky but also a more smoky malt similar to those on Islay. Home ? Tobermory

Back on the mainland, the route goes south from Oban to the tiny village of Kilmartin. There are some terrific carved gravestones next to the old kirk, but the real attraction(s) of Kilmartin are on the floor of the glen below the village, where there are numerous prehistoric leftovers, including standing stones and stone circles, burial cairns, etc. It's a marvelous place.

The route then travels to Inveraray on Loch Fyne (famous for seafood.) Inveraray is a very pretty village, located not far from Inveraray Castle, home of the Campbells (and also Cousin Shrimpy on Downton Abbey.) You'd finish by driving down Loch Lomond to either the Glasgow or Edinburgh airports.

This would give you some of the best scenery in Scotland, a couple of terrific villages, plenty of prehistoric monuments, some fabulous castles (google Castle Stalker and Duart Castle) and some excellent whisky. There should still be plenty of green, but hopefully some autumn foliage as well, and while the weather can be iffy, as Janis says, in October it can also be glorious. (Or foul and fair, five minutes apart.) Google these places and you'll see what I mean.
Gardyloo is online now  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
emerylk
Europe
8
Mar 6th, 2018 10:30 AM
JackieMcQueen
Europe
10
Jun 6th, 2011 03:09 AM
kpilling
Europe
98
Jun 19th, 2009 05:55 AM
itsv
Europe
19
Oct 23rd, 2005 11:13 AM
bekins
Europe
5
Jun 2nd, 2005 04:41 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


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 02:31 PM.