Help with Scotland itinerary, please

Old May 27th, 2007, 11:40 PM
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Help with Scotland itinerary, please

I would greatly appreciate any and all suggestions and comments about two choices of itineraries my wife and I are considering for a four-to-five-day period we will have for some sightseeing as part of a trip prior to a meeting I have to attend in Scotland in November. Here are what we’ve come up with; some additional comments follow:

Starting and ending points:
Wednesday, October 31: Arrive Glasgow 0630
Sunday, November 4: Return to Glasgow (can be at any time; we will stay in Glasgow Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights, so we will have at least Monday and Tuesday for Glasgow sightseeing - as well, perhaps, as part of Wednesday, because on Wednesday we just go to Edinburgh, and we’ll then have a few days for sightseeing in Edinburgh).

Itinerary 1:
Wed, Oct 31: Lv. Glasgow Queen St. 10:10; arrive Inverness 13:33 via ScotRail. Take city tour, recover from jet lag. Stay in Inverness.

Thurs, Nov 1: Jacobite tour of area/cruise of Loch Ness (other/better tour suggestions?). Stay in Inverness.

Fri, Nov 2: Lv. Inverness 0930 or 1130; Ar. Fort William 1130 or 1330, by coach. I presume “coach” means a bus with storage underneath for luggage: is this true? Tour Fort William. Stay in Fort William.

Sat, Nov 3: Take Fort William to Mallaig train (Lv. 0830 Ar. 0952 or Lv. 1210 Ar. 1331; return from Mallaig to Fort William Lv. 1610 Ar. 1734). Stay in Fort William

Sun, Nov 4: Take train from Fort William to Glasgow. Not much chance to do other sightseeing this day because travel will take most of the time, and no chance to see Loch Lomond.

Itinerary 2:
Wed, Oct 31 and Thurs, Nov 1: same as Itinerary 1

Fri, Nov 2: Take train from Inverness to Kyle of Lochlash (Lv. 0853 Ar. 1120 or Lv. 1052 Ar. 1325; return Lv. 1513 Ar. 1745 or Lv. 1648 Ar. 1919; but not sure these times are correct for November: does anyone know?). Stay in Inverness

Sat Nov 3: Take train from Inverness to Glasgow (e.g., Lv. 0920 Ar. 1245). Do some sightseeing in Glasgow. Begin stay in Glasgow one day earlier.

Sun Nov 4: Take train or coach to Balloch, and take cruise on Loch Lomond. Return to Glasgow.

I would appreciate any suggestions regarding which itinerary to use, or suggestions for improvements and alternatives. Some specific questions:

1. Which is the more interesting train trip: Inverness to Kyle, or Fort William to Mallaig?

2. Are there places/things we should see that would be more interesting than the above?

3. Can anyone suggest reasonably priced places to stay in Inverness, Fort William, and Glasgow? They must have an en-suite bath (preferably tub or combo) and high-speed Internet access (for which I’m willing to pay).

We basically have Wednesday to Sunday in which we would like to see Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, some highland scenery, and some interesting historical sights. We want to minimize the number of different places we have to stay, since packing and unpacking tends to be unproductive and not much fun. We also do not want to rent a car: I’m afraid we are too set in our ways to feel comfortable driving on the “wrong” side (we’re from San Diego). We did visit Scotland many years ago, and saw Stirling and a bit of Edinburgh then, but none of the highlands.

Thank you very much for your help.

Ross
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Old May 28th, 2007, 12:25 AM
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I didn't know there city tours in either Inverness and Fort William as both are rather small towns

Can't see the point of going to Inverness at all as all you want to do is see Loch Ness. You may as well just to to Fort William and take a day trip.

And then take the train to Mallaig just to return to Fort William is so depressing as although the route from FW to Mallaig is stunning why don't you go the whole hog and take the ferry to Skye. And check the train times to Glasgw on a Sunday on the dates you intend to travel.

Here's my ideas

Wed) Arrive Glasgow. Train to Fort William
Thu) Loch Ness (if you must, it isn't more impressive than any other Loch in the area)
Fri) Train to Mallaig, ferry to Skye
Sat) On Skye
Sun) Return to Glasgow

Or better still forget Loch Ness and travel back towards Glasgow on the Saturday (more trains) and visit Loch Lomond with the spare day

Oh - you are travelling October/November. At that time of the year you'll have a maximum of 9 hours daylight with sunrise around 7:30am & sunset at 4:30pm. It's also possible that some services will be on a winter timetable and may not open at all. The trains will be running but there may not be much open at the end of the train lines

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Old May 28th, 2007, 01:48 AM
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I would avoid Fort William.
IMHO it is a bit of a dump.
It's a pity that you don't want to hire a car.
You could get a train from Inverness to Kyle. It passes through some stunning scenery.
From there you could get the shuttle bus http://www.notolls.org.uk/skat/shuttle.htm
to Skye.

You could get the ferry to Mallaig and then get the train to Fort William.
The trouble is that public transport on Skye at that time of year might be a bit scarce.
Your best bet might be a taxi.
There is a firm at http://www.isleofskye.net/cairnban/waterloo/
I have never used them myself because we always visit Skye by car.
I agree about Loch Ness. It's a nice loch, but parts are very touristy and there are many other picturesque lochs to visit.
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Old May 28th, 2007, 08:07 AM
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Others will reply telling you to avoid Inverness and Ft. William as there isn't any reason to spends nights or even a part of a day. This is with good reason, nothing to see or do. As a idea, think about the train from Glasgow to Oban. Spend the night followed by a tour of Mull. Next morning take a bus from Oban to Ft. William, transfer to Inverness, then continue, allowing for a peak at Loch Ness. You then have the option of taking the train from Inverness to Perth via Pitlochry or Aberdeen.
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Old May 28th, 2007, 08:12 AM
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Neither option is terrible - but I personally would not do either one. just a few comments:

"city tour of Inverness" Except for the riverside (where your hotel or B&B will probably be located) there is nothing much to tour IN Inverness. You can walk along Nessbank (the riverside) but that's about it.

Nothing to "tour" in Ft William - just a train station and a lot of B&Bs.

Using Inverness as a base to see other things - like Culloden, Ft George, the Black Isle, Urquhart etc would be OK - but my guess is day tours out of the city will be more limited in November. So I would ditch Loch Ness/Inverness entirely.

If it were me - I'd take the train to Ft William and (reluctantly) stay one night. Next day take a morning train to Mallaig and ferry to Skye. On Skye you can take buses or hire a driver to tour around. Stay on Skye Thurs/Fri. Then ferry and train down to Balloch on Loch Lomond for Sat night.

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Old May 28th, 2007, 08:15 AM
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Oh I didn't see rogerdoger's post - yes - Oban/Mull would be another good option (and eliminate having to stay in Ft William). But since Loch Lomond is on your "wish list", I'd still stay that last night on/near the loch.
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Old May 28th, 2007, 08:23 AM
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I thought it unkind to say Fort William is a dump. It's a nice little town, with the emphasis on "little". An hour there, walking along the high street and a quick look in the tiny museum is ample for most.

I would get a car and do it myself as Scotland is easy to do that way with lots of hotel/B&B accoomodation available in the off season. Get a good guide book and a map.

Note : Take an umbrella as you will need it. Take some extra clothes as it will probably be cold and windy too.
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Old May 28th, 2007, 08:34 AM
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"I thought it unkind to say Fort William is a dump" I thought it was being generous

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Old May 28th, 2007, 08:36 AM
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As others have already said,I'd avoid Ft. William and Inverness, if possible.

I'd take the train frm Glasgow to Oban.Oban is a major port for Cal Mac ferries which have daily tours to a number of the islands. Mull along with Iona would be a good choice. You can also get from Oban to Mallaig ( via train) which is a spectacular ride. Then if you still want to tour Skye, take the ferry to Armadale ( from Mallaig) and hire a taxi. But make taxi/car arrangements before arriving as you'll not find any sitting around waiting for passengers.

For taxi tours on Skye try

Alistar at www. scotland-info.co.uk/sky-tours.htm
tel./fax 01599 534452

or

Donny at www.nicolonshire.co.uk

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Old May 28th, 2007, 08:51 AM
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Don't know why the alistar website didn't highlight. I'll try again
www.scotland-info.co.uk/skye-tours.htm
tel/fax 01599 534452

After reading my post, I just wanted to make it clear that you can get from Glasgow to Mallaig(then on to Skye)by stopping in Oban and avoiding Ft. William. While in Oban you have the choice of any number of day tours to the various isles. IMO, a much better option than the dreadful Ft. William and much better sight-seeing opportunities than Loch Ness.

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Old May 28th, 2007, 08:53 AM
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Sorry I did it again. Brain not engaged.

the other website should be

www.nicolsonhire.co.uk
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Old May 28th, 2007, 11:32 AM
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I realized after posting that you change trains at Crianlarich for Mallaig. Again a very easy transfer.

Glasgow to Oban

Oban (change @ Crainlarich) Mallaig. This is certainly one of the most scenic routes in Scotland.

The train ride from Glasgow to Inverness is not particularly scenic.

The trip ( via train) from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh is (IMO) one of Scotland's most scenic.

Hope this helps and I haven't completely confused you.
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Old May 28th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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Thank you all VERY much for your comments and suggestions. If I may ask for one more-specific piece of information: can anyone compare the train trip from Fort William to Mallaig with the trip from Inverness to Kyle, from a scenic standpoint? Thanks again.

Ross
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Old May 28th, 2007, 12:47 PM
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Both are wonderful - choose whichever fits better into your final itinerary. I'd personally lean a towards Mallaig - but you can't go wrong w/ either one.
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Old May 28th, 2007, 01:10 PM
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Janis... you are always generous!
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Old May 28th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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I agree with janis. Both are fantastic. The most spectatular train journey I ever did was kyle to Inverness ina blizzard.
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Old May 28th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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You really can't go wrong with either choice. I think the trip from Mallaig is the most popular. It depends on what you plan to do with the rest of your itinerary. Is Inverness still in your plans? If so you could do both, traveling from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and on to Skye via bus/taxi( although you'll probably only have time for the Sleat peninsula) and then the ferry to Mallaig and train to Ft. William/Oban/Glasgow.



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