Ideas for Scotland trip

Mar 1st, 2014, 02:57 PM
  #1  
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Ideas for Scotland trip

Going with a group to Gleneagles, Scotland for 5days. They will provide hotel and some activities including golf and falconry. We would like to extend our stay but move to a different area. I'm considering Aberdeen for 2 or 3 nights and am interested in doing the "Castle Trail" in that area. What is the best way to get to Aberdeen from Gleneagles? We are a little leary of renting a car and driving ourselves. Would we need a car to do the Castle Trail or could we book it through a tour? Any different ideas appreciated also.
Thanks!
pittner2 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2014, 03:10 PM
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>> What is the best way to get to Aberdeen from Gleneagles? We are a little leary of renting a car and driving ourselves. Would we need a car to do the Castle Trail or could we book it through a tour? <<

The only convenient/practical way to tour Aberdeenshire/Deeside and the Castle Trail is by car. And definitely traveling from Gleneagles to the east coast - you'd want a car. I strongly urge you not to stay IN Aberdeen but in one of the small towns/villages along the Dee.

The driving is very easy since you won't be in any cities . . . But if you are staying 5 days at Gleneagles my guess is you are not on any sort of budget so you could hire a driver guide if you really can't face renting a car/driving.
janisj is online now  
Apr 6th, 2014, 03:58 PM
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Thank you so much for your response! I have now booked the Aberdeen Marriott near the Aberdeen airport (using reward points). Now my question is should we take the train from Gleneagles to Aberdeen, then rent a car right at the Aberdeen airport (Marriott has a free shuttle) so we can rent it and return it to the same location? We will be flying out of the Aberdeen airport. Also, when I checked out rental cars, they all came up manual transmission. Can you rent automatics in Scotland? As I mentioned in my post, we have never rented a car in UK. Thank you for any helpful advice. We are very excited to see beautiful Scotland.
pittner2 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2014, 06:25 PM
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I'm not 1/10 as familiar Scotland as Janisj, but I don't think there's a train between Gleneagles and Aberdeen.

Based on our too-short time in Aberdeenshire several years ago, I wouldn't choose Aberdeen as a base. And unless you absolutely have to, not the Marriott near the Aberdeen airport. I would guess that neither the location nor the hotel will exude much Scottish charm.

From Aberdeen, you will spend a lot of time driving on slow but scenic small roads, and will have less time visiting castles that you might like. That is one of the reasons that Janis suggested staying at a small town along the River Dee.

We first visited Edinburgh, then rented a car at the airport, and headed up the coast. We spent a lot of time at Dunnottar Castle, which I believe remains a favorite of everyone in the family. From there, we made our way to our two-night stay at Tor Na Coille, in the small town of Banchory. We really loved the place; very welcoming and relaxing. We ended up eating dinner there both nights.

During our one full day in the area, we first drove to Glenbuchat and Kildrummy Castles; they are quite ruinous, which we liked (and knew about beforehand). We also visited the not-ruinous Craigievar, Fraser and Drum (wedding being held while we were there) castles. The next morning, we went to Crathes castle. We then drove west, stopping at Balmoral just to look, then touring Braemar (wonderful tour guide). Then Glamis castle, settling for the night in Dunkeld. The next morning, quick stops at Elcho and another one I can't recall the name of, before our mid-day flight from Edinburgh.

We love castles, and saw a variety, from ruins to still lived in. And if you google map all those castles, you'll see that we did a lot of driving. I don't know what you'd be able to enjoy from Aberdeen.

I don't know how easy it is to rent an automatic in Scotland; we had a manual transmission; I have driven manual transmissions all my life, so that didn't bother me. I was the driver on this trip. Yes, the driving could be stressful at times, and required both me and my DH navigator to keep reminding me to "stay left" at certain points. Other than that, and the first 1/2 day where I kept grabbing the door handle instead of the gearshift, we did just fine. But something like that, everyone has their own comfort levels.

Most rental places, unless you're dropping in a different country, will allow pickup and dropoff in different locations.
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2014, 08:22 PM
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Just a couple of quick notes right now:

>>Also, when I checked out rental cars, they all came up manual transmission. Can you rent automatics in Scotland?<<

Of course there are automatics in Scotland -- they are less common and cost more but they are available . . . What companies did you check? AutoEurope.com is a good place to start.

>> . . . but I don't think there's a train between Gleneagles and Aberdeen.<<

Yes - Gleneagles actually has its own station - it takes about 2 hours w/ no or 1 change. BUT - W/ 5 days at Gleneagles . . . Unless you plan on sticking to the golf course or equestrian center and seeing nothing else, you really REALLY want to have a car there. There is a lot to see in the area but you'd need a car to tour around. And I personally would not stay at the Marriott nor IN Aberdeen at all if what you want to do is tour the area.

Don't be concerned about the driving - except for in a few city centers (Glasgow/Edinburgh/Aberdeen/Dundee a bit) the driving is flat easy. (Which is another reason to not stay IN Aberdeen)
janisj is online now  
Apr 7th, 2014, 04:41 AM
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I don't have any problems with your plans at all. I would take the train to Aberdeen, and I think that there is nothing at all wrong with staying at a free airport hotel with all mod cons instead of a Quaint Country Inn, though there are plenty of them in the area. I would rather spend the money on food and drink.

This area, except for the docks in Aberdeen itself, is pretty upscale, so there are lots of places to eat and visit. Fyvie Castle (where a friend grew up) is north of the airport, Crathes Castle and its gardens are south of there. The distances aren't large, and you can practice your stick shifting on the B roads between Aberdeen Airport and Banchory.
Ackislander is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 03:13 PM
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Thank you all for the helpful feedback! I just checked on AutoEurope.com and you are right, they let you choose automatics. This is a great relief for us! I now plan to book the train right from Gleneagles to Aberdeen, then rent the car there. We won't need a car in Gleneagles since the group (its a business/incentive type trip) has booked many excursions and options for us, some group dinners, etc. I already did book the Marriott since we did all five nights free with points! We do plan to follow the "castle trail" (I downloaded the brochure), but would like to do other options as well, like visit the coast, or beaches, or historical sights. Any must see things that are doable from the Marriott area?

Thank you all again so much, it is so helpful having such great feedback.
pittner2 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 06:10 PM
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OK -- free is good

The Castle trail will take up one full day (and could easily take two days). Up the Aberdeenshire coast is good -- Bullers of Buchan/Slains Castle/Cruden Bay (a great golf course)

http://smalltownoilwife.blogspot.com...chan-walk.html

Deeside/Balmoral/Braemar

Then definite MUSTS are Crathes Castle/Garden, Dunnottar (though it is undergoing some repair work this year), Stonehaven and farther afield - Glamis.

http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Crath...en-and-Estate/
http://www.dunnottarcastle.co.uk
http://www.stonehavenguide.net
http://www.glamis-castle.co.uk
janisj is online now  
Apr 18th, 2014, 06:47 PM
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One warning: they may promise you an automatic but you don't always get one -- for reasons not necessarily the fault of the rental company. The bigger and busier the location the better chance of an automatic. The vast majority of drivers in Britain and Europe prefer manual transmissions so naturally they have many more of that kind of car.
Mimar is offline  
Apr 19th, 2014, 05:40 PM
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And you do know that even with an automatic, the steering wheel will be on the right.......
oliverandharry is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 02:45 PM
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Hi everyone, just got back from Scotland on Tuesday, absolutely awesome! Thank you to all for your help and suggestions! Yes, we got an automatic car and my husband did great. We visited all sites suggested by janisj, beautiful! Did lots of castle, and found great stops along the way each day. I would like to recommend also the town of Huntley, home of the Huntley castle, but more importantly Dean's Shortbread factory and cafe. Yummiest place ever - I got all my souvenirs there! We would not have had such a great trip without all of your help. Hope we can visit Scotland again, it is so gorgeous.
pittner2 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 02:59 PM
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Glad you had a good time. Yes - Huntly castle is wonderful . Did you make it to the Falconry Centre just outside of town?
janisj is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 05:29 PM
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Glad you had a great time and appreciate your returning here to let everybody know.
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