Islay / Skye / Jura... other?

Jul 19th, 2010, 07:29 AM
  #1  
mdn
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Islay / Skye / Jura... other?

Hi,
3 of us are going to Manchester, UK for a wedding. We land in Manchester on a Monday morning (around 9:00 am) , August 30. We'd like to go straight to either Islay, Skye, Isle of Jura or one of the other recommendations in the Highlands. We have until Thursday evening to return to Manchester, with the wedding on Saturday.

Looking for natural vistas, wildlife/cattle, good food & Scotch, of course! Any suggestions? I've seen fans of Islay extol its virtues (thanks, Sheila!) and others who were smitten with Skye. What's possible with the few days we have (Monday-Thurs), without feeling rushed. I have never been to Scotland (friends have been to Edinburgh). Also, since we will arrive in Manchester after a long flight from Boston/NYC, we may go on until Glasgow from Manchester & halt for the night before ferrying across... unless you all say recommend ploughing through until we reach final destination.
Once I can decide on which place to go to, there's enough info on these forums to help with restaurants & inns. But any insights are welcome!!!
mdn is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 09:42 AM
  #2  
 
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I would have flown open jaw into GLA and out of MAN -- much easier for what you want to do. But if you've already purchased your flights I'd consider flying from MAN up to GLA and flying to Islay from there. (I love all three islands -- but w/ your whisky criteria Islay probably wins out). You'd get

Getting to Islay by land (train/car/ferries) will be a slog and even the next day you may be too jet lagged to pull it off w/o 'issues'.

Once on Islay, you can rent a car if you want - and then on Thurs fly back to GLA/MAN.

I'd spend the whole time on Islay - there is plenty to keep you busy. (or maybe return to GLA Wed and spend some time there)
janisj is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 10:30 AM
  #3  
 
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I spent a week on the Isle of Skye in the first week of September that was idyllic. I did easy hikes every day, but even so, I had a car.

I stayed here, in one of the coastguard cottages offered by the hotel (check recent Tripadvisor for recent reviews since my trip was more than 3 years ago):

http://www.duntulmcastle.co.uk/accommodation.php

http://www.walkingworld.com/home/index.asp?mid=717

I ate dinner every night at the hotel, and the food was farm-and-sea oriented, fresh and tasty, and the bar of the hotel had a full range of Highland whiskies, plus a lot of local beers and ales that were new to me and a delicious revelation.

For lunch every day, I picked one of the many nice restaurants on that northern end of Skye, relaxing between the easy hikes I took.

The views, the rainbows, the rising morning mists, the birds, the sealife, the many rabbits, cattle, horses and SHEEP -- plus the real deal Skye terriers -- made it all a joy.

I wish I had some point of comparison to offer, but I don't.

Have a great trip whichever place you choose!
zeppole is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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janisj's suggestion is really the only one that makes sense with your time allowance. Fly to Glasgow then to Islay. Doing any other island or trying to drive is logistically out of the question.
historytraveler is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 02:31 PM
  #5  
mdn
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Ah ha! Sounds like Islay is the most feasible option. That should work well as I am partial to Islay malts : ) Is it just as beautiful as Skye? I want to see rabbits scurrying about!! : )
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Jul 19th, 2010, 07:24 PM
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" Is it just as beautiful as Skye?"

yes - but in a different way. Islay, Mull, Skye each of them are worth your 3 days - but each is unique.

Skye is wonderful --but in its own way, Islay is wonderful-er (and I actually prefer Mull/Iona myself)

Skye would be great -- but you can't fly to Skye and you don't have time to drive there and back from Manchester. The combination of MAN > GLA by train or plane and then train/ferry/local buses on Skye is just too time consuming/complicated. Simply isn't practical. And there IS that little whisky detail. Talisker is on Skye -- but on Islay, there are at least 8 distilleries.
janisj is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 07:31 PM
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If whisky is the important part, by all means chose Islay. It is an interesting island with plenty of beauty spots, historic sites and lots of highland cows. For real wildlife you can always make the short ferry ride to neighboring Jura, where the deer far outnumber people. BTW they also make a very nice whisky on Jura, I prefer it to the brews from Islay.

If sheer scenic splendor draws you, pick Skye, but it is also much more touristy. So it all depends on your taste.
HollydaleK is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 12:25 AM
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The plus from your point of view is that you get Jura thrown in.

There are 8 operational distilleries on Islay plus the maltings) and one on Jura - do not tour them all. YOU CAN get round Islay and as far as Craighouse on Jura by bus, but you will feel much free-er if you hire a car(from Mackinnons on Islay), and you will get much further if you do.

When are you going? If you email me, I'll send you the looong monologue on what to do and see that I did for marie-claire many years ago.

(Arghhh! I want to go to Islay!!)
sheila is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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mdn,

Perhaps you've already done this, but have you checked the cost of changing your air tickets? It might be affordable and give you completely flexibility in getting to where you most want to go.

I'm not suggesting this so that you pick Skye. I've not seen the other places on your list, nor the additional ones mentioned, and you have personal priorities too. I'm only saying I wouldn't base this decision on the fact the air tickets you bought rule out some of the choices logistically. First, I'd see if I could afford to change the tickets.

Just one more comment on Skye, which is that it is a fairly large island with a distinct divide between north and south, and it appeared to me that the touristy parts of it were concentrated in some specific towns, mainly in the south, although the hub of Portree in the north is a tourist/commercial hub. There are a few popular hikes in the Trotternish, which means other walkers on the paths plus the rabbits. But it is otherwise rural scenery and not much else. I spent all my time in the Trotternish.

But it may be that other islands have even fewer towns and visitors, and more of what you want to do.
zeppole is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 07:09 AM
  #10  
mdn
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Good suggestion zeppole. Problem with changing tkts at this point is that (i) it's expensive (ii) I have a couple of friends whose itineraries are more complicated than mine and thus it'll be more difficult for them to do open-jaw. No worries though as it sounds like all of these places are quite incredible!
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Jul 20th, 2010, 07:52 AM
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Ah, I see. I agree that all the islands are alluring. Have a great time!
zeppole is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 10:58 AM
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mdn: the rest of us responding have been to all three places -- and Islay really is the one you want. E-mail sheila --she is a real Islay expert on here. I've only been a couple of times.

Skye is wonderful -- I've been there probably 9 or 10 times. But even changing your tix doesn't really make Skye the better option.
janisj is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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mdn

Physically what you are asking can be done but the window to the most expedient way of doing it will just have closed.

Flybe operate a low cost service directly from Manchester airport to Islay but the service ends for the season two days before you land! Posters should take note of FLYBE they operate a good hub service from the Uk to some weird and wonderful places.

In terms of possibilities - flying to Glasgow would save that much time. The drive from Manchester to Glasgow takes less than 3 hours. By the time you have collected your bags, checked in and taken the (roughly) 40 minute flight, you will have nearly racked up 3 hours. ie you will lose all of Monday and Thursday.

That leaves driving, which will, which ever way you look at it, lose you the same two days.

The islands are beautiful but we have used both approached - pack them in fast and taken slowly but less coverage. I'd recommend the second approach. After a trans-atlantic flight and then a full days travel you may need two days sleep to recover.

How about some equally beautiful areas of the north? - North Wales, The Lakes and South West Scotland are all half the distance and up there with the highlands.
yanumpty is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 11:38 AM
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Ah - but you forgot the whisky bit, didn't you

Not a lot of single malt distilled in N Wales or the Lakes, now is there?

"The drive from Manchester to Glasgow takes less than 3 hours. By the time you have collected your bags, checked in and taken the (roughly) 40 minute flight, you will have nearly racked up 3 hours."

Putting that asside though -- I wouldn't recommend driving anywhere on arrival day, not to Scotland nor the Lakes, nor North Wales - too tiring and too dangerous. So actually Islay would be better in that they can get there w/o driving.

But your calculation is a bit off - they wouldn't get off the plane and immediately started driving. They still have to collect the bags, get to the rental agency, arrange the paper work, and fight the jet lag. And MAN to Glasgow is about 225 miles and easily 4.5 hours. So the flight might eat up 3 hours -- but the drive could eat up 6 or 7.
janisj is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 12:30 PM
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True enough about the whisky but North Wales is only two hours from Manchester airport.

Are we suggesting that mdn fkies to Islay via Glasgow - are the connections possible? - costs?

and the best single malts in the world are all available at Booths in the north of England.

On many transatlantic flights I have been out of action for a day due to bugs/lack of sleep etc - we usually don't plan any additional travel unless necessary.
yanumpty is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 02:15 PM
  #16  
mdn
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All good suggestions with only the best intentions at heart. I'll check with my friends and report back. Right now, one possible option is to fly from MAN to Glasgow on the noon departure, spend the afternoon & night in Glasgow and fly into Islay early the next day. More soon.
mdn is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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In terms of possibilities - flying to Glasgow would save that much time. The drive from Manchester to Glasgow takes less than 3 hours.

Actually takes about 3 and 1/4 and that's breaking the speed limit a lot of the way. There is a direct train from Manchester airport to Glasgow Central, which takes about the same time, but means you don't have to drive jet lagged.
Flying from Manchester to Glasgow is just bonkers IMHO.
alihutch is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 04:09 PM
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I seem to recall that one can fly to Inverness from Manchester. and from there the train to Skye is about 3 hours, where you can arrange to have a rental car meet your train. So if you are thinking of flying to spend a night in Scotland and moving on the next day an island, there might be a connection that works for you along those lines.

I also think destinations closer than Scotland have their appeal. However, if you need to see the stuff made rather than just drink it, then you'll head t Scotland.

I absolutely agree that all good suggestions are being made here "with only the best intentions at heart." That said, a statement like "Islay is really the one you want" is just plain unknown to anyone, even if they've lived on all your options. You and friends are basically unknown to us, and you all might want Jura but not being able to get there. Or Skye. Or other places -- and still have a great time on Islay if that's the best of all possible worlds.

So again, have fun -- I'm really not pushing for Skye and I would hate to see you arrive anywhere exhausted. But I'm concerned a sledge-hammer is being used here when one isn't necessary to steer you into one e-mail track and not considering North Wales or other tips. Have a great trip!
zeppole is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 07:03 PM
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alihutch: "Flying from Manchester to Glasgow is just bonkers IMHO."

Normally I'd agree w/ you on that. The difference here is they will already be at MAN so they can fly straight away.

However - for the new idea of spending the night in Glasgow, then yes, the train makes more sense IMO. Train from MAN to central Glasgow then bus to GLA and fly to Islay the next day.

If the times work out - I think flying MAN > GLA > Islay on arrival day would be great. But if the schedule doesn't mesh MAN > Glasgow by train and GLA > Islay the next morning is a good option.
janisj is offline  
Jul 21st, 2010, 10:44 AM
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Flybe do have flights on Mon evening that leave Glasgow at 17:15 to get into Islay 17:55 - see the sunset in Islay? There are good flights back on Thursday for £105 return.

However you have to get there - which will mean train MAN to Manchester then to Glasgow then bus/taxi to the airport. Leaves you 2 full days on Islay.

Still would question the logic of the whole thing - we have done similar routed flights/buses/boats/taxis in 28 hours to get to far away places in the Caribbean but at the end of a very, very long day we put our feet up for 2 weeks.

You will have two days and as I mentioned before any effect of bugs/jetlag will leave the whole thing in chaos.

I once took me 6 days on Cape Cod to get over jet bugs. The drive from Boston to the Cape following the day befores flight was hairy.

Course everyone is different which makes the world go round!
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