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Hitting the road in Scotland - Itinerary

Old Apr 23rd, 2007, 09:46 PM
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Hitting the road in Scotland - Itinerary

A major deadline has passed and now I can finally focus on nailing down our Scottish itinerary. There are other legs (countries) within our vacation, but they are less time in each region so I think those are going to be ok.

So I ask advice in fine tuning my Scottish Highland itinerary. It will be me and three older family members, who love walking and the like but will depend on me to be the tour guide. I've been to Scotland before, and this trip will focus on Highland areas that are new to me, a counter clockwise trip. I like architecture and enjoyed the landscapes no matter how windswept and isolated =-) We want to drink whisky too...

I really wanted to see the Falkirk Wheel as it's a engineering marvel, but dont' have reason to go between Glasgow and Edinburgh =-/ Any other cool engineering marvels?

We'll be renting a car and staying at B&Bs with 6 highland days.

This is the preliminary plan:

2 nights in Edinburgh

Day 1: Edinburgh to St. Andrew's for a half day, then drive to Stoneheven (hope this isn't too ambitious) to sleep.

Day 2: Drive from Stoneheven through the Banchory area visiting Balmoral and other sites. (we're bypassing Aberdeen) Drive north to stay at the Grantown-on-Spey area for the night.

Day 3: Truck on through Inverness as I don't want to stop there, but I would like to find somewhere to visit/stay the night between the Grampian Mountains and Isle of Skye. Any suggestions?

Day 4: Isle of Skye

Day 5: Trossachs Region, probably stay in Glencoe

Day 6: Head to Glasgow as I will finally visit the Willow Tea Room (didn't know about it the first time I visited Glasgow). The whole reason for my trip to Scotland last time was for Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture.

Stay in Glasgow 2 nights, before heading off to Poland =-)

Is my plan too rushed, too much driving? I don't want to speed through, but at the same time I really want to enjoy different places while making it to my destination in a timely manner.
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 04:51 AM
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Actually - you itinerary isn't bad at all. Some long drives but all doable w/o much stress.

Some short comments:

Yes, Edinburgh > St Andrews > Stonehaven is fine in one day.

I personally would not stop over between Grantown-on-Spey and Skye. It it is a reasonable drive and that would give you more time on Skye or you could add the extra time time to the Trossachs or Glasgow. (to give you an idea - many people manage a day trip Inverness to Skye and back or vice versa)

For an engineering site on your route - there is Neptune's Staircase just before you get to Ft William from Mallaig

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...nal/index.html
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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hi janisj,
Thank you for replying. Since the Grantown-on-Spey drive to Isle of Sky can be completed comfortably in a day, then maybe I can minimze the distances on the front end of the trip.

My concern is that I'll have enough time in the Balmoral area and also want to fully enjoy the whisky stops in that Grantown-on-Spey area. So would it be better for the first day to stop in Montrose/Arbroath area giving us more time in St. Andrew's?

Then I would probably have to stop somewhere btween Ballater and Tomintoul along the A939? I would like to not have to be on such a move if I can spread it out, just want to make sure I have enough time to not be rushed.

We could spend more time in the Trossachs but only if the first distances aren't too rushed. I'm also having a hard time booking a room in the Stonehaven area, so may have to stay further south in Montrose.

So I seek advice about the St. Andrew's to Inverness legs of the trip, how to better split up the days and drives there.

Thanks for the comments =-)
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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If want to add more time up front - then I would stay somewhere in Fife/St Andrews the first night. That would give you the whole day to explore St Andrews and the fishing villages - and maybe Falkland Palace/Garden.

Next day up the coast to Dunnottar/Stoneheven and then along Deeside for the night. There are a LOT more B&Bs/accomodation along the Dee than in Stonehaven so it might be an easier find . .

Edinburgh > St Andrews or Crail

Then Deeside

Then near Grantown -- that would account for the extra day you gained. . . .
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 03:34 PM
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Mademoiselle, I had a somewhat similar trip for my first trip to Scotland in 1999. I don't know where you've already been, but can give you our itinerary, and impressions,which may be of some assistance.

We flew into Aberdeen and out of Edinburgh, and did a counterclockwise (or 'anticlockwise') route. Here's where we stopped:

Day 1: Aberdeen to Deeside/Ballater, Crathes Castle on the way)

Day 2: drive through Grampians/Whisky trail to Drumnacrochit, stopping at Glen Grant distillery, Pluscarden Abbey (my favorite spot in Scotland), Nairn for lunch, Culloden. This was the end of August, and it was dark as we went through Inverness to Drumnadrochit. This was a bit of a long day. We loved our stops, and of course, could have seen more.

Day 3: Glen Affric (stunning!), Loch Ness (short stop for photos and souvenirs), to Skye past Five Sisters (beautiful drive), Eilean Donan (we toured; wish we hadn't), very short time on Skye (but LOVED the Sleat Peninsula), ferry to Mallaig, drove Road to the Isles, Glenfinnan, to Spean Bridge for fixed seating at dinner. This was far too ambitious, another day in here would have been GREAT. Would have stayed on Skye.

Day 4: to Trossachs via Glen Coe, Rannoch Moor, Green Wellie Stop/ Tyndrum, Balquihidder/Loch Voil, Achray Forest. Stay in Aberfoyle.

Day 5: Aberfoyle (Scottish Wool Centre, Sheep Show, Doon Hill walk, Stirling/Stirling Castle

Then to Edinburgh and Glasgow for the last 5 nights.

The distances were all quite manageable, but it all depends on how much you stop. We packed a lot into some days, and, while I wouldn't necessarily plan it the same way, we had a great time. Two nights in the Trossachs was too much for us. It would have been better to have a night on Skye, then one night in the Trossachs, stopping at Stirling on the way to Edinburgh/Glasgow. We would rather trade the kind of scenery we saw further west for that of the Trossachs.

When we left, I vowed that all my future free time in Scotland would be as far west and as far north as I could get.

As it has turned out, we've been back to Scotland for 8 more weeks over 3 more trips. These trips have been with my daughters' bagpipe bands, and we have stayed in Stirling or Glasgow for the bulk of the time, with just a few free days, which we have spent in Glen Affric, Spean Bridge, and Oban (and some stops along the way.) We've also gone on day trips with the band to Pitlochry, Crieff, Dunoon, and Perth, and I've seen a bit of those towns. BUT I'm still waiting to get back to the north/western Highlands and the Islands!

If this were my trip, I'd add time to the west, and not as much in the center.
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 03:46 PM
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btw, now that I know about Fodor's, I'm certain that trip I took would have been quite a bit different!
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 04:11 PM
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Since you're interested, if you can figure out a way to see the Falkirk Wheel. It really is very interesting. Are you sure you can't fit that in somehow on your day from Edinburgh to St. Andrews?
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 09:21 PM
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I really appreciate all of the wealth of info in noe847's post. I even printed it out to go through my new handy road atlas to fine tune my route and places to stay. I now have a renewed burst of energy to plan this trip and am really excited.

After reading about your listing of the wool center at Aberfoyle, I'm definitely stopping there. I have been searching for a Pringle factory and didn't have much luck the first few times. I finally found a link to one in Inverness, but this wool ceter sounds like it would satisfy my purchasing stops =-)

Thanks again!!

Oh and GoAway, I'm thinking that now that I have one extra day (thanks to Janisj's suggestion, I can spare the time to drive east toward Edinburgh for the Falkirk wheel before arriving in Glasgow. It is really cool and I only found out about it after I had visited Scotland, and was very sad to not have seen it.
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 03:31 AM
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Another vote for the Falkirk Wheel. While you're there you could visit the remains of the Antonine Wall although there's not much to see.

IMO when you've toured one distillery, you've toured them all. But if you look out nice pubs within walking distance of your accommodation, you'll be able to try lots of malts at the end of the day !

Not sure if you know about www.theaa.com - it's quite useful for routes although I find I need to add at least 1/3 on to the timings.

Presumably you're not picking up the car until you leave Edinburgh ?
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 10:26 AM
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Hello,
I think I was hesitant about the wheel because I thought that on my way north, I would bypass the Firth bridge (another cool engineering marvel, which is one of my all time favorite bridges, but I can just go back the way I came toward Edinburgh and still drive the Firth bridge on my way to St. Andrew's.

I think I was also worried about navigating through city streets so early on into renting the car. When pulling out of the airport in Auckland we were terrified, so I thought I'd save the maneuvering through non highways for awhile later. The wheel is so cool that, I shall get right into it =-)

Thanks for the AA link, I'm going to see if my AAA membership can get me an International Driver's License.

You're right, I will be picking my car up right when leaving Edinburgh. I'll drop the car off in Glasgow as I really dislike driving in cities and rely on public transport. Cities are ok, but big metropolises like SF make me park the car and take the metro and busses everywhere, it's less hectic for me than trying to find parking.
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 04:58 PM
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"I'm going to see if my AAA membership can get me an International Driver's License."

It is an International Driver's Permit (not License) and there is ABSOLUTELY no reason you'll need one. It is merely a translation of your own license so is useful in non-english speaking countries. Of no use what-so-ever in the UK . . . .
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 12:03 AM
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Mademoiselle, you have absolutely the right idea about not driving in the cities.

But when you say "I think I was also worried about navigating through city streets so early on into renting the car.", do you mean in order to visit the FW ? It's not in Falkirk, it's in the country, so not a problem.
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Mademoiselle, I don't know that I'd term the Scottish Wool Centre a 'must-do' or even whether I'd necessarily recommend it. Nor would I recommend staying in the town of Aberfoyle (although it worked out well for us, because my daughters, 11 and 13 at the time, were enchanted with the over-the-top tartan theme of the hotel we stayed in.)

The Wool Centre was was down the road from our hotel, so we just stopped in while we were taking a walk. The show they were doing at the time showcased lots of obscure breeds of sheep. It had tons of corny humor and really was a laugh, and great for families. I don't remember the shopping there as being anything special, but at the time my skin was pretty sensitive to wool so I wasn't looking too closely. It's definitely a tourist place.
http://www.foreverscotland.com/mini_...ntre/index.htm

There was a really nice woolen shop, called Ragamuffin, that has two branches: at the ferry pier on Skye and on the Royal Mile. Not discount, however, but beautiful things. http://www.ragamuffinonline.co.uk/
http://www.ragamuffinonline.co.uk/Location/Scr_Main.htm
(you can get a panorama of the inside of both stores)
I bought a scarf there that I really love (not wool!)
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Old Apr 27th, 2007, 12:06 PM
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I've been to the Scottish Wool Centre more times than I'd like to admit (I frequently stay in the Aberfoyle/Callander/Loch Ard area - usually for a week at a time and end up taking my traveling companions) and it really is not a major must or even worth a detour. If you are staying nearby - it is a fun diversion especially if they have dogs running sheep.

Now, Raggamuffin on the other hand is a high end shop, creative (and expensive) and full of really wonderful things.

I'm not sure if the James Pringle wollen mill/tartan center is still open in Inverness - it has probably been 8 years since I've been - but it was well worth it back then. Some weaving displays and bargains (and not so bargain) on good quality woolens.
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