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Highland Tours Help

Old Oct 1st, 2004, 03:44 AM
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Highland Tours Help

I am a student studying abroad at the University of Stirling for a semester. We have a one week break that I would like to get out and see some of Scotland during. I wish we could just rent a car, but since I am under 23, renting a car is really expensive and a great hassle. I've been looking into tours and have found one that looks promising: Rabbie's Highland Tours at www.rabbies.com. They do the driving and all tours are kept to 16 people or less. Has anyone been on a tour by Rabbie's that can tell me how it went? Or does anyone have other recommendations of a tour that went particularly well and would be available during the last week of October?
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Old Oct 1st, 2004, 04:46 AM
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I did the Timberbush tour of the western Highlands, including Oban. I was pleased with it, we were a fairly small group and we covered the area well. There were stops at castles, scenic overlooks and about 90 minutes in Oban itself, which was wonderful. I think all of the tours are fairly similar.
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Old Oct 1st, 2004, 07:29 AM
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As the name implies, this message is from my daughter. I will take a look at the website she cited, as well as try to find info on the Timberbush tour mentioned above.

Input from Sheila or other Scotland experts will be greatly appreciated.

I/we have already discussed with our daughter the various advantages of (hopefully) being able to do this with another university friend, and there is a chance that at least one of her "flatmates" (from Germany) will come along with her on the same plan.

I may "top" this, periodically.

Thanks in advance for any nfo you have to share with me or her.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Oct 1st, 2004, 08:51 AM
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Hi Rex's daughter,

We took a Rabbie's Tour in May 2003 and really enjoyed it. There were only 9 people, 5 Americans and 4 New Zealanders-a great group of people. Our trip was two nights in Oban and two in Portree. Driver was excellent and she regularly asked the group for input on activities, length of stop, etc--very accommodating. I enjoyed everything about it. We enjoyed having her doing the driving, telling us about the places and legends, having our accommodations handled. I am not one for tours, as a rule, but this one had plenty of independence planned into it. We chose where we wanted to eat and when, which was a real plus. Be sure to take just one smaller bag, as there wasn't too much luggage room.
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Old Oct 1st, 2004, 10:55 AM
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Hi RD,

I've never done one of these but, they get a good name. the ones to look for are Rabbie, Haggis, Timberbush, Mac and LRT, I think
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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 03:11 AM
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Rexs_Daughter---
I did a 7 day tour with MacBackpackers in August and absolutely LOVED it! They have 2, 3, 5, & 7 day tours, as well as a Jump-On, Jump-Off type. The people were amazing and the hostels we stayed in were clean & nice. Check out their website at:
www.macbackpackers.com
I was the only American on my tour but everyone was terrific and the guide could not have been better. Hope you have a great time exploring Bonnie Scotland!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 04:59 AM
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Thanks so much to everyone for all the responses! I think I have narrowed down my list to two choices of possible trips. The first option is a Rabbie's Tour (now that I've gotten some good feedback), the second choice is a trip to all of the Outer Hebrides, where I could hear some Gaelic and see the wildlife. Has anyone been to both that would have a recommendation? Are the islands better than the mainland?
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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 06:01 AM
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The islands are fundamentally better than the mainland. But they are much harder to get to.

Would you do it with a tour? Or on your own?
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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 06:15 AM
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Sheila,
If I went to the Hebrides I would use public transportation ferry/bus to get around the Isle of Mull and then ferry to get out to the Isle of Barra. I would do this trip with a friend. I have emailed a few bed and breakfast owners in Barra to ask their opinion of the RoyalMail PostBus to see what they think of it and if it is a reliable option for public transportation. I'm hoping they reply soon. Has anyone riden the Royal Mail PostBus?
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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 06:38 AM
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Hi RD,

I'm probably jumping to the wrong conclusion here, but just in case....

Your most recent message could be taken to mean that you intend to travel by ferry from Mull to Barra, which I don't think is possible - as far as I know you would have to come back to Oban & catch another ferry (apologies if this isn't what you meant!)

I used to have a timetable for the postbus but I'm afraid it's long gone. If you can't track one down through the Internet repost here - I'd be happy to try to get hold of one & post it to you.

Jim

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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 06:46 AM
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Me again RD,

Just found this web address for the Postbus service timetables & routes:
sshttp://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/postbus;jsessionid=SN3TJNYHGTTF4CRAZRZUOSQKEDGF0Q2 K?catId=7500097&gear=postbus

Jim
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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 06:51 AM
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This is starting to become a habit RD!

After my last post I decided to test the link I gave you & needless to say it didn't work!

If you omit the two letters "s" at the start of the web address (in other words start with "http...etc." you should be OK.

Jim
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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 06:53 AM
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Glad to see your thread is off and running and doesn't need any added help from me, further topping it. Your mother and sister and I have all read this, this morning and we're happy to see you are getting great advice.

Only thing further I hve to contribute is to remind Sheila and others that this is proposed for late October - - any seasonal considerations that have a bearing on how to decide? The days will be short, of course (though nothing like December) - - does it affect schedules of ferries and the like? It wouldn't likely snow in or around these islands, would it?

When does the UK change from daylight savings back to standard time?
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Old Oct 2nd, 2004, 07:06 AM
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I answered in the context of the question. The ferry timetable does change from winter to summer. Both can be found at http://www.calmac.co.uk/timetables.html.

If it were me, I'd skip Mull (yawn), get the ferry to Lochboisdale, see Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist and Berneray, come off to Uig, wander down through Skye and get the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig and then train back to Stirling from Mallaig.

Barra is lovely but the other 5 are linked by causeways and you will see more islands for your $
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Old Oct 3rd, 2004, 06:31 AM
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Sheila,
If you say the Isle of Mull is worth skipping, I may skip it, since as Jim pointed out, I would have to go and then come back to Oban to get out to Barra. However, there is a regularly scheduled ferry to Barra to go to both Lochboisdale and Eriskay. If transportaion isn't a problem, do you recommend going to Barra?
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Old Oct 3rd, 2004, 08:19 AM
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Absolutely. The only issue is the ferries. From Barra you can do Vatersay too (and Mingulay?)
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Old Oct 3rd, 2004, 04:46 PM
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My family of six toured the Highlands with Nicola Fraser of Highland Journeys
in June this year. We made up our own tour because that was our choice. She also conducts "set" tours for people that you can book into. She is from the Highlands and is very knowledgeable about the area and loves it so that you get a real "feel" for the place. It was gorgeous.
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Old Oct 5th, 2004, 03:59 AM
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Dear Everyone,
I think I'm getting closer and closer to having my full itinerary pinned down now that Calmac's winter timetables for ferries have been published. I have decided that getting a Explorer pass (which includes unlimited ferries, trains, and buses on the Isle of Mull) is the best deal. I think I will spend three days in and around Mull (including Iona and Staffa) and then three days in and around Barra (including Vatersay and Eriskay). I feel more comfortable and confident about going to the Outer Hebrides now that I have discovered a place where I can rent a bike! Thanks for all the help!
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Old Oct 21st, 2004, 11:12 AM
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For those of you wh contributed to - - or followed reading - - this thread, I thought I would provide some follow-up. Our daughter has decided to travel solo, and go without a tour. I think she has an excellent, and superb value/budget plan. I'm not sure it's appropriate tht I should share it publicly before she returns, but if there are others who want info, I will e-mail details upon request - - and encourage her to post info herself (maybe with links to pictures?) - - after she returns.

She had an excellent day-long outing, weekend before last going "hill walking" (she says we would call it mountaineering - - ascending to the summit from sea level to above 880 meters - - I've forgotten the name of where they climbed).

Thanks again to all.
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