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GreenDragon Jul 23rd, 2007 07:43 PM

Itinerary to Scotland 2008
OK, I have a group of 9 family and friends coming to Scotland next year, and here is my itinerary. Comments and critiques welcome! We are all interested in beautiful landscapes, historical sites, song and drink, meeting people.

June 13 Fly to Edinburgh
June 14-16, stay in Edinburgh
June 17-19, stay in Inverness
June 20-22, stay in Orkney
June 23-25, stay in Lewis
June 26-29, stay in Skye
June 30-July 2, stay in Mull
July 3-July 5, stay in Glasgow
July 6, fly out of Glasgow

There are several reasons for choosing the above route. Mom used to live in Edinburgh, so she wants to see how it's changed in 40 years (!!). We have ancestors from the area around Inverness (McKenzies). We wanted to be in the Orkney Islands during solstice to be new agey among the stone circles on a 3-hour sunset/sunrise :). We wanted this to be more highlands and islands than 'tourist trap' Scotland. We will have three cars, and will be able to escape eachother if needed - most of our stays will be at B&Bs.

Suggestions are welcome! We love finding out-of-the-way gems, great pubs, restaurants, etc. Thanks!

GreenDragon Jul 23rd, 2007 07:44 PM

Forgot to add:

I have a website with information for all our trip members at:

It could help others doing group trips as well.

amelie Jul 24th, 2007 05:19 AM

wow, this is a big undertaking! I got nervous when organizing trips for just four of us. Good luck!

Do you need somewhere to stay in Edinburgh? I'd recommend the Knights Residence (apartment hotel) on Lauriston Street. We stayed there in a two bedroom apartment in June, and it was really nice. I think it was around 90GBP a night but rates probably change. Great location too, and it has been #1 on tripadvisor for awhile. I posted a review on there with pics which should be posted within the day I'd think (my Aberdeen review just got posted and I wrote that first).

janisj Jul 24th, 2007 08:12 AM

Looks like a great itinerary. Covering lots of territory but nice long stops just about everywhere.

Whereabouts near Inverness is the family from? My only major suggestion might be to no stay IN Inverness itself but nearby. But if the family actually lived in I'ness it might make more sense to stay in teh city. But outside of the city towards Beauly to the west or Culloden or Nairn to the east would be nicer stops.

Renting houses would be great - but being in summer most would require a 7 day booking so B&Bs are probably your best bet. But you probably know finding B&Bs large enough for all 9 of you may be a tall order so staying in neighboring places may have to be an option in some areas.

janisj Jul 24th, 2007 08:13 AM

oops - That should be " . . . might be to not stay IN Inverness itself . . . . "

sheila Jul 24th, 2007 01:46 PM

Oh wow! Great Itinerary. Couple of comments:-

How are you getting from Orkney to Lewis?

I assume you're travelling from Tarbet to Uig when you leave?

How are you getting from Skye to Mull?

I'm just trying to focus you on timetabling these bits of the trip.

Now. Can we take teh landscapes for granted. They're just THERE. And I assume you know where the historic stuff in Edinburgh is.

There's nothing historic in Inverness, but by going a few miles you can do Brodie, Cawdor, Culloden, Clava Cairns, Ardersier, Cromarty, and Rosehearty.

On Orkeny see maes Howe, the Stones of Stenness, Skara Brae,a Broch or two, the Tomb of the Eagles and both Stromness and Kirkwall.

I'm useless of Lewis/ Harris, but make sure to see Callanish and Harris's beaches.

On Skye, forget history and just do landscapes.

Mull- go to Iona.

I always find Orkney disappointing when it comes to song, but pick small pubs and you'll find nice people all oper

GreenDragon Jul 24th, 2007 06:14 PM

Amelie: Thanks for the tip on Edinburgh apartment. I'll definitely look it up! My dad is trying to get RCI (timeshare) points for the Edinburgh portion, but that isn't likely, as it's for less than a full week.

Our McKenzies are from Strathpeffer, where I've been before for the 2000 highland games. The 'ancestral castle' is Castle Leod, which isn't open to the public, but can be arranged ahead of time. We were looking at a B&B down the coast that used to be an old church, thought it might be interesting. Clava Cairns, Culloden, Cawdor and Beauly are all on the list :)

We are planning on doing ferries from Thurso to Stromness and back, drive to Ullapool, ferry to Stornoway, drive to Tarbert, ferry to Uig, drive down to Mull, ferry over and back (and yes, spend some time on Iona), and then drive to Glasgow from there. I've calculated ferry costs for cars and people, and unfortunately can't find a
'hopper' pass that covers enough :)

Every item on your list for Orkney and Lewis are on mine :) With several days in each spot, it should be fine.

Any ideas if we might catch some Aurora Borealis? I know they aren't common in the summer, but perhaps it's a possibility :)

Sheila, I think your message got cut off? Small pubs are great, that's one of the highlights of any trip to the Isles :)

janisj Jul 24th, 2007 06:50 PM

Oh - that is great - staying in/near Strathpfeffer/Beauly would be great (instead of Inverness).

The CalMac "hopper" fares do save a lot of money - I doubt any of them cover all your ferry trips - but maybe a combination of some ferry packages and some single tickets would work out. I can't bring the site up just now and my "hard copy" of their catalog is several years old so probably too many changes to be useful.

janisj Jul 24th, 2007 06:51 PM

oops didn't mean to click post - you probably know CalMac doesn't serve Orkney . . .

GreenDragon Jul 24th, 2007 07:41 PM

Yup, I saw Orkney was either Northlink or something with a P... the P ferry seemed cheaper overall by a bit.

Yeah, none of the hoppers cover what we need, and the groups never add up to less than the single tix would be. Ah well! As long as it's pre-budgeted, all is good :)

This was the near-Inverness B&B I was thinking of, it's actually in Urquhart:

janisj Jul 24th, 2007 08:39 PM

Looks interesting - but for your purposes, I personally would look closer to I'ness around Beauly/Strathpeffer or on the Black Isle, or possibly between I'ness and Nairn. Urquhart is about 40 miles east of Inverness so not at all convenient for touring around where your ancestors are from.

GreenDragon Jul 25th, 2007 07:29 PM

OK, I'll look a little closer in :) Probably near Strathpeffer, that was such a nice little town as I recall, with a pretty spa, and a wonderful falls just north of it (Rogie Falls, I think)>

janisj Jul 25th, 2007 07:57 PM

yep - Rogie Falls.

Somewhere in the Strathpffer/Beauly/Fortrose triangle would be a good base -- right in the middle of your family's area, near the castle, and still convenient to visiting places just east of Inverness like Culloden/Clava Cairns, Fort George, and Cawdor/Brodie csatles.

When I get home I'll see if I have any links to B&Bs around there (a couple of times, I've rented a cottage up the River Beauly a bit, but they only rent by the week)

janisj Jul 25th, 2007 08:42 PM Is a very nice place - but it only has room for 6 people :( maybe 3 could stay in a neighboring B&B??

Like this one that also only sleeps 6 or 7

This one is on the outskirts of the village and is large enough for your whole group

sheila Jul 26th, 2007 01:05 PM

I guess I did get cut off, but I have no idea what I was going to say.

The Lovat Arms in Beauly is nice.

GreenDragon Jul 27th, 2007 02:51 PM

Wonderful selections, janisj - I really like the look of them all. I've got 'em bookmarked, thanks!!!

chadwickap Jul 27th, 2007 03:04 PM

first impression is that your itinery is quite ambitious. dont underestimate the travel time between your venues. ( we live in edinburgh but confess we havent been to many of your choices.)Is there a boat connecting your islands or are you going via the mainland?

GreenDragon Jul 28th, 2007 07:01 AM

Oh, yes, there are ferries for each of our island crossings.

I've driven in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, and know that an average of 35 mph is about the best we can hope for, especially up in the highlands, due to road quality and sheep traffic :)

The longest travel day is a very long one, going from Orkney to Lewis. There's the ferry, then the drive from Thurso to Ullapool, then another ferry. Luckily, we can relax on the ferries, and there isn't much driving on either end to/from the ferries, once we're on the islands.

janisj Jul 28th, 2007 07:37 AM

Actually, I don't think your itinerary is overly ambitious at all - given the you do know about that one killer travel day.

GreenDragon Jul 30th, 2007 04:27 AM

The only other time I've been to Scotland (well, not counting when my mom was pregnant with me) was a 'plaid blur' tour, where we were in a different B&B each night. Four nights - Perth, Inverness, Skye, Oban. Never again!

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