Help with Scotland Trip

Feb 24th, 2006, 06:54 PM
  #1  
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Help with Scotland Trip

On March 22 I am traveling to Dalkeith Scotland to visit my son who is there for a semester. He says Dalkeith is about 20 minutes bus trip from Dalkeith. My husband is not going with me as he has to go to Taipei, so I am traveling with a girlfriend from work. I have several concerns and questions. My son would love for me to rent a car and pick it up at the Edinburgh airport. I am not terrified of driving on the opposite side of the road, but do have some concerns. He wants to drive to the highlands and thinks taking public transportaion would crimp our style and really limit what we could see. That is another question - is going to the highlands toward the end of March good timing? We would also like to see Skye. We need an itinerary. The only thing planned so far is arriving on the 23rd and spending first two nights in Dalkeith and doing Edinburgh those two days. From then until the 30th we have no plans. Should we book rooms now - or by it being early in the season would it be easy to book rooms when we get there? Kind of thinking of going from Dalkeith toward Inverness and then over to Skye. I want to see Loch Ness while up that way. But I don't know what the most interesting and beautiful things are to see in Scotland. I need help! Any advice would be so appreciated. And back to the driving - is the Edinburgh airport away from the city? Or would there be immediate heavy traffic driving from the airport. If that is the case perhaps picking up a car at an alternate location would be better. How is driving from the Edinburgh area to the highlands? Is there a lot of mountain type driving with hairpin type curves once you get up there? I have read that a lot of the roads can be single lane which doesn't bother me unless they are the fall off the edge type of roads! Again - advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch -
yellowrose477 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2006, 07:50 PM
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Your son is right - you will have MUCH more flexibility if you drive. Edinburgh airport is a great place to pick up a car 1) all the majors are located there so you have you choice, 2) it is west of the city so you don't have to drive in Edinburgh at all, and 3) it is on the main routes to the north and NW.

You say you want to see great scenery - well Loch Ness ain't it. Loch Ness is famous for a non-existant monster - not for being beautiful. And Inverness isn't the lovliest place either.

Don't worry about hairpin turns or "mountain driving". The mountains in Scotland are not the Rockies. Outside of the cities you will have very little traffic - especially in March.

You shouldn't have to book ahead - by March most B&Bs have re-opened for the season but definitely won't be booked up. Every town and many villages have Tourist Information Centers that will find you rooms if you don't want to just knock on doors.

A typical itinerary would take you to Stirling and Callander, through the Trossachs up though Glencoe, over to Skye by ferry, stay on Skye a couple of days, cross back to the mainland by the bridge, up towards Inverness (Don't stay IN Inverness but in any nearby village, visit Culloden, maybe some whisky distilleries, then down the A9 through Blair Atholl, Perth and back to Edinburgh (or Dalkieth)

There are MANY threads on here about driving itineraries through Scotland so a search will bring up a LOT of info
janisj is online now  
Feb 24th, 2006, 07:55 PM
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Meant to add - the route from Skye to Inverness can either take you along the length of Loch Ness - or a scenic route through Glen Torridon or Glen Caron.
janisj is online now  
Feb 24th, 2006, 08:11 PM
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I traveled from Edinburgh to Inverness by train, then by train to the Kyle of Localsh (just opposite Skye). I was met at the train station by Angus McPhee of Sutherlin Garage, who drove me to his car rental agency in Skye and I rented the car there.

I stayed at coastguard cottages at the norther tip of Skye rented to me by the Hotel Duntulm.

When I dropped off the car a week later, the same agency drove me to the ferry in southern Skye. I took it across to the mainland and caught a train to Glasgow.

I happened to like Inverness quite a bit! I stayed right on the River Ness. It was only a night but it was a pretty day.

I would think it would be cold in March. It was even cold in September in Edinburgh. Scotland's weather is notoriously changeable, even changing several times a day, especially in Skye.
nessundorma is offline  
Feb 24th, 2006, 08:21 PM
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I might be tempted to do this route in reverse, since I think the drive through Glencoe is so much more striking going east than west. This would also have you drive to Skye on the bridge, and the road along the Five Sisters is very beautiful going west.
noe847 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2006, 08:41 PM
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I did a trip up to Scotland with a friend and wanted to see the scenery and lochs. I did not think it was that easy to do by train. We did go to Loch Lomond (which is a very short trip from Glasgow by train to Balloch).

But my friend and I both saw that a car would be ideal for the rural areas. Yes, there are some trains, but for some sites we read about, there were minimal or NO ways to get there if you needed the train.

My grandparents many years ago went to Scotland briefly in March while on their first trip to Europe. They said it was very cold (maybe even snowed). Luck of the draw, I know, but I'd buy some long underwear if I were you. They have silk ones if you prefer dressier clothes.

Good luck!

5alive is offline  
Feb 25th, 2006, 12:25 AM
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1. Don't drive in Edinburgh. It's not dangerous, but it IS a pain a nd it's not necessary from Dalkeith. YOu can get to Dalkeith from the aiport round the ring road.

2. You will certainly see more in the Highlands if you drive, but you can see a lot using the train. YOu won't get far off the main drag in 5 days.

3. If it's March, it's March. You could get mild balmy days, with hosts of golden daffodils; or you could get snow (not likely, but possible)

4. I will post a 5 day itinerary from home

5. NO necessary to book rooms.

6. Driving in the Highlands will not be hard so long as you're not in a hurry.

7. What do you like?




sheila is offline  
Feb 25th, 2006, 07:12 AM
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Hi - I am already feeling better about my trip. I printed out the responses and am going to take them upstairs and study my map and look at the routes. For the person asking what we liked to do - This sounds silly I know, but I want to see some of those shaggy looking cattle that come from Skye I think - since I am a farm girl at heart. We want to see some of the Scottish castles. We want to see some of the gorgeous Scottish scenery that we see in the travel books; we want to eat some good food and stay at the more local type B&B's. We aren't real fancy people expecting fancy hotels and food. We want to experience the real Scotland. I think that is why we just don't want to get on a tour - you miss too much that way. Our family went on a tour of Bavaria last summer and we rented a car and it was so much fun to do what we wanted to do and see what we wanted to see. I love backroads that you miss on the tours and trains. I realized that the weather will be very unpredictable - my son said that there are some buds on the trees, so he is hopeful that at the end of March there might be some leaves and green grass. We live in northern WI, so don't expect warm weather in March. Again, thanks for all the info - I am spending my day planning -
yellowrose477 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 04:21 PM
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I am very new to this website and don't realize exactly how things work. Still am not sure if I have it all figured out - but have found some great information here.
Could you take a look at this itinerary and give me honest opinions for how reasonable it seems? We are arriving in Dalkeith from Wisconsin on March 23 and departing on March 30. March 23 will stay in the castle with my son, recovering from jet lag.

March 24 will do Edinburgh and evening with the host family for my son.

March 25 - Depart Dalkeith for the Inverness area - sightseeing whatever we want to see on the way. Will stay at a B&B in a town outside of Inverness.

March 26 - Inverness to Skye - probably the Portree area? Could use some advice on the best area to see in Skye in a short period of time! Will spend the night on Skye.

March 27 - Skye to Glenco - spend the night around Glencoe

March 28 - Glenco area - night in the same place.

March 29 - Glenco to Dalkeith - trying to do Stirling and Callander on the way back.

March 30 - Depart for home

Question: - would we do better to spend two nights on Skye instead of 2 nights around the Glencoe area?

Does this agenda seem doable at all? (I really wonder if that is a word?)

Thank you - Patti

yellowrose477 is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 04:50 PM
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Your plan is pretty good - a few suggestions:

Mar 25. Places to stop on the way north to I'ness - Scone Palace in Perth and Blair Castle in Blair Atholl. If you get an early start you would even have time for Culloden late that afternoon.

Mar 26: If you drive down Loch Ness, stop at Urquhart castle and Eilean Donan castle (ED is really just a photo op stop - don't bother going inside) it will be afternoon before you get to Skye. So you really should stay 2 nights. Otherwise you won't have time to see much. Portree is a fine area to stay. Be sure to drive around the Totternish Penninsula from Portree. Amazing scenery.

(Weather has a huge effect on how much you can see on Skye - so you can play it by ear here. If the weather is dreadful you can cut Skye back to 1 night -- or even eliminate it altogether. Since you are visiting in March you won't need to book ahead so you cann change plans on the fly)

Mar 28: Then after 2 nights on Skye - leave in the morning on the Armadale-Mallaig ferry. Stop at Glenfinnan. Then on to Glencoe. You can stop at the visitors center and have lunch at the Clachaig Inn. This is not a tiring or long day so I don't really see a reason to stop yet. I'd head on to Callander and stay the night there. This is the Trossachs area and really pretty scenery.

Mar 29: Visit Stirling Castle in the a.m. and then an easy drive back to Dalkeith.

janisj is online now  
Feb 26th, 2006, 05:57 PM
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I think janisj's suggestions are a perfect refinement to your already well thought out itinerary. We saw just a bit of Skye and cannot wait to go back to see more. Glen Coe is beautiful, but unless you were planning to do some sort of hike around there, the visitor's center, lunch, and some pulling over at the appropriate places to take pictures will give you a pretty thorough view (is it ever not foggy and atmospheric in Glen Coe?)

We always stop at the Green Wellie Stop near Tyndrum (just past where the A82 and A85 meet). It is a total tourist trap, but it does have a great selection of wellies (boots and garden clogs, green and otherwise) in various price ranges as well as other outdoor gear. And clean restrooms.
noe847 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2006, 08:05 PM
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Do any of you have good advice about where to stay around Inverness? I was looking at Beauly and Drumnadrochit. I have been reading about Glen Affric and thought it would be nice to stay in that general vicinty. Any accomodation - especially B&B - recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks - Patti
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Feb 28th, 2006, 08:50 PM
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Now that you have an itinerary,let's get to the important issue: You will see many cute, shaggy highland cattle, but they seemed to cross right in front of our car or be chewing along side the road most often on Skye. (We're from WI, too.) I drove my mother and mother-in-law around Scotland for 10 days and fell in love. Just had to return with my husband the following year.
katt58 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2006, 08:58 PM
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There is not much actually in Glen Affric. In 1999 we stayed at a b&b in Drumnadrochit (good location, b&b was fair). We drove into the glen from there (about 45 minutes???)

In 2005 we stayed at the Tomich Hotel, near Cannich (http://www.tomichhotel.co.uk/)
We enjoyed the hotel very much, but it is not as cheap as a b&b would be. The hotel has a dining room and also a pub for food. The breakfast was quite nice.

From the Tomich, it is a fairly short drive to Glen Affric. There is a reputedly beautiful waterfall back beyond the Tomich (Plodda Falls) but I was not able to budge husband or daughter to go there in the rainy weather that set in for us (we really got soaked with the intermittent rain at Glen Affric, but it was otherwise a most beautiful hike).
noe847 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2006, 09:05 PM
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Let me clarify: When I said "there is not much actually in Glen Affric", I meant accommodation! The Glen is one of the most beautiful spots that I have seen in Scotland. We enjoyed our first taste of Glen Affric in 1999 so much that we returned in 2005 for two nights. We will return to this spot, and I hope to see the falls also.
noe847 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2006, 10:19 PM
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The Lovat Arms in Beauly gets a good name.
sheila is offline  
Mar 1st, 2006, 05:49 AM
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I'd second the Lovat Arms. I haven't stayed there but rented a cottage for a week just up the river from Beauly. the hotel looked very nice. Beauly is a good jumping off place for anything around Inverness, the Black Isle and the west coast.
janisj is online now  
Mar 1st, 2006, 07:36 AM
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katt58 - thanks for answering the MOST important question about the cattle! I appreciate it. Are they only found on Skye? I have another probably sounds really dumb question. As far as Glen Affric goes - how do you know when you are there? Is there a big sign that says - here is Glen Affric - or are you just supposed to know that you are in that area? From the pictures I have seen - it looks gorgeous. I am so hopeful for some clear days - maybe not sunny days - just clear days!
yellowrose477 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2006, 08:04 AM
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Don't worry you'll find your Highland Cattle or Heilan Coos all over the place.

There are a few in a field next to the car park at Invermoriston which must be THE most photographed bunch in the whole country. Everyone who stops at the car park to either make use of the excellent public toilets (important info on a long drive) or to go to the falls seems to get their camcorders or cameras out!

If you are very lucky, although it will still be a bit early, you might see some calves on your travels - and no you won't be able to take one home no matter how much you'll want to!

Happy hols - not long now!
Kippy is offline  
Mar 1st, 2006, 08:35 AM
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Kippy,

Well, I'm glad to know that we possess photographs of THE most famous Highland Cattle in all of Scotland!

That's what was so great, though, about not being on a tour when we were in Scotland. We saw a reference to Invermoristan Falls on the map, thought it sounded interesting, so we stopped. The Falls were beautiful! I'm so glad we took the time to see them (and the famous cattle!)

Jan (twina)
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