Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

need help fine tuning my Scotland itinerary

need help fine tuning my Scotland itinerary

May 9th, 2003, 06:29 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
need help fine tuning my Scotland itinerary

This is a wonderful forum! Also my first time posting a message. My husband & I will be in Scotland June 8-June 22. I have an ambitious plan to see most regions of the country. We enjoy beautiful scenery and love to get a feel for the slightly less tourity view of a new vacation spot. We are less interested in big cities, want to see a lot of stone circles and ancient sites, a few castles, a distillery or two, wildlife, especially puffins. We do like to keep on the move for trips like this, so the driving is okay. We're renting a car.

Day 1 Arrive Glasgow 8am Sunday
take Guide Friday for overview, no hopping off, then to Glengarry Castle for the night via Helensburg to tour Hill House, stopping at will along the way

Day 2 Possibly tour Urquhart Castle, then to Inverewe Gardens via Beauly and Garve, stopping at Falls of Mesaach, overnight at Rubha Reidh lighthouse

Day 3 to Skye, drive the Isle, stopping at will, overnight in Portree? or somewhere toward the south

Day 4 ferry to Mallaig through Ft. William and Oban to explore Kilmartin area, ferry to Lochranza, overnight at Catacol Bay Hotel

Day 5 tour Arran, ferry to Androssen, then to Ayr

Day 6-7-8 in Ayr and environs for Clan McWhirter gathering with planned activies including Tam O'Shanter, attend church in Maybole, tour castle (perhaps a family castle)

Day 9 to Edinburgh via Moffat, Grey Mare's Tail and Melrose Abbey, through Peebles then north to the city

Day 10 Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile and City of the Dead tour, overnight in Edinburgh, probably at Ashdene House B&B

Day 11 the coast road to Stonehaven via St. Andrews, Dunnottar Castle, perhaps Crathes Castle, overnight where?

Day 12 to Brodie Castle (husband's grandmother's maiden name), Culladen Battlefield and Clava Cairns, overnight in Daviot

Day 13 day trip via bus to Orkney, overnight in Daviot

Day 14 to Stirling then Glasgow, hotel near airport

Day 15 9am flight to Detroit

Places I want to go but can't find a way to fit in: Islay, Lewis and Harris, could trade Skye and Arran, but have to be in Ayr the night of Day 5

In addition to the "which islands should I see" problem, I can't decide the best way to Nairn, am thinking Banchory to Alford then to Elgin and Nairn -- want scenery but not crowded roads with lots of switchbacks

Other than the usual objections to the different spot each night that I see posted - any suggestions? Am obsessed with planning this trip! and reading and re-reading messages on this site!

I apologize for any and all spelling mistakes and the length of this message.

suzyq is offline  
May 9th, 2003, 08:35 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
Well - I have a LOT to advise about your planned route. But most will have to wait until tomorrow because I have to log off in a few minutes. BUT - my first impression is you have scattered your trip ALL OVER the place.

You are going from Glasgow N to Glengarry, then all the way to Inverewe, then S to Skye, then farther S back by Glasgow to Ayr, then NE to Edinburgh, then N to Stonehaven, then NW to Brodie/Culloden, then waaaaay N to the Orkneys, then waaaaay S to Stirling.

This is a very helter skelter routing. and things could be much better grouped.

The only places that seem to be set in stone are your arrival and departure dates and the stop for the clan gathering.

Given those limitations you could arrange a MUCH easier itinerary with hundreds of miles less driving seeing the same places.
janis is offline  
May 9th, 2003, 08:51 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
A fresh perspective is always welcome. I pictured the route as two loops so we didn't have to go through any areas twice - but less driving and seeing the same sights sounds great.
suzyq is offline  
May 9th, 2003, 09:32 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 69
You guys sounds like workhorses! I know that after a week of one-night stays, I'm exhausted and can't wait to get home. I would suggest that you pick a few, maybe four, bases from which to explore the surrounding areas. That way you get to immerse yourself in a town for a few days before moving on. You can become temporary regulars at the local pubs.

It's a difference between "doing" a town and "experiencing" a town.
faile626 is offline  
May 9th, 2003, 09:41 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
I have paid a deposit at Glengarry Castle, can get all but 10 pounds back if I cancel more that 14 days out. I want to stay in a reasonably priced castle, doesn't have to be that one, although I've seen some positive comments about it on this site.
suzyq is offline  
May 9th, 2003, 09:56 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 69
Suzyq, perhaps Glengarry could be one of your bases (if you can afford it...I'm rather, er, thrifty, and am just in awe of that place!).

I would just re-think your plan, with the idea that you're looking for a few bases to take day trips from, instead of two grand circles that require daily movement to new hotels.
faile626 is offline  
May 9th, 2003, 10:21 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
faile626: Glengarry Castle is a splurge - not a rate I want to pay for several nights. Am trying to offset the higher priced city accommodations with lower priced B&Bs in smaller towns.

This probably sounds crazy to a lot of people, but I don't take a vacation to relax, I take it to see and do -- for stimulation I suppose. My husband and I are workhorses - he typically works 12 hours a day - I often work 10. For him no cell phone or email is a great escape! Our real life is pretty routine.
suzyq is offline  
May 10th, 2003, 05:22 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
I would congratulate you on an imaginative holiday plan rather than the standard adoption of the routine- even if the shape of my country kind of requires the routine

However, I think you could do better groupings; based on south then north.

Glasgow (1) then Fife (2) then Edinburgh(3) then Borders(4)then Arran(5) then Ayr(6-8), then Helensburgh, (9) then Islay(10) then Oban(11) then the Uists (12) then Skye (staying at Glengarry)(13) then Nairn (14) then Glasgow (15)

I've ditched Orkney and Dunottar, added Islay and the Uists (I don't think with the other stuff I can get you to Lewis) and I'm assuming an evening flight. You could probably ditch the Uists and put Stonehaven back in, if you'd rather.

You understand, i wouldn't do this. But if I were going to do it, this is how I'd go about it.
sheila is offline  
May 10th, 2003, 10:38 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
Sheila. Thank you for your input, I knew there had to be a better circuit, Janis picked up on it right away, too -- but I just couldn't see it. Now back to my maps!

For the southern route may look at adding the Lothians or venturing down into Dumfries and Galloway on my way to Ayr and skipping Arran.
suzyq is offline  
May 10th, 2003, 08:14 PM
  #10  
ron
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,675
I think it would be a shame to skip Arran if the only gain is simplifying your routing.
ron is offline  
May 11th, 2003, 02:39 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
I, on the other hand, would skip Arran if you're not thirled to it; or you could skip Helensburgh (which with the exception of Hill House, is not a big deal- it would also lose you the run up Loch Lomond, tho') and go to Tarbert from ayr, via Arran. ie the opposite trip to the one you were plannning. It ends you up in the right place for the Islay ferry and reduces backtracking to a minimum
sheila is offline  
May 15th, 2003, 07:56 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
Thank you for the suggestions. I've rerouted us - have made it slightly less hectic, I think, and am willing to leave our overnights in the south to just stop when we want.

Day 1 arrive Glasgow 8am
to Stirling area, overnight there

Day 2
possible detour to Falkirk Wheel, then to Culross and the coast to St. Andrews, overnight in Edinburgh

Day 3
Edinburgh

Day 4-5
North Berwick, Scottish Seabird Center, St. Abbs, Melrose Abbey, Grey Mare's Tail, Moffat, Biggar, North Lanark, overnight in Ayr

Day 6-7-8
Clan McWhirter gathering in Ayr

Day 9
Ayr to Invergarry, Hill House, Glen Coe, gondolas at Ben Nevis, overnight in Glengarry Castle

Day 10
possible stop at Urquhart Castle, Inverness area, distillery, Brodie Castle, Clava Cairns, Culloden, overnight in Daviot

Day 11
Orkney day trip, overnight in Daviot

Day 12
to Inverewe Gardens via Beauly and Garve, stopping at Falls of Mesaach, overnight at Rubha Reidh lighthouse

Day 13
Skye, overnight Portree or Ardvassar

Day 14
to Glasgow via Oban, Kilmartin, overnight near airport

Day 15 9am flight to Detroit

Better?

suzyq is offline  
May 15th, 2003, 11:21 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Nothing wrong with it (she grumphed) but you dropped the highlight of your tour. What happened to the Queen of the Hebrides?
sheila is offline  
May 16th, 2003, 03:42 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
As much as I want to see Islay, it seemed so time consuming to get there. Thought it would make more sense to make our second visit to Scotland an island rover focusing entirely on the western isles.

Why do you say Isaly is (was) the highlight of our tour?



suzyq is offline  
May 16th, 2003, 06:06 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
It's entirely personal suzyq. I just think it's the loveliest island and my favourite(? I'm thinking about that...) place in the country. And no-one goes because it's not on the beaten track. In 4 years I've only persuaded two Fodors people to go, and I had to TAKE one of them.....
sheila is offline  
May 16th, 2003, 12:24 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 129
Sheila,
We're going to Islay at the end of our 10 day trip (leaving Tuesday). Hoping the weather improves slightly. Thanks to all who helped us with planning. will post trip report when we return.
NorthSideSue is offline  
May 17th, 2003, 02:04 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 21
Okay, final itinerary - decided that I was including some places that I thought one SHOULD see in Scotland, but that were not that important to us. So..

Day 1: arrive in Glasgow 8am. To Melrose Abbey via Moffat, Grey Mares Tail, overnight at Rutherford House in West Linton

Day 2: Falkirk Wheel on the way to Sterling, all day in Stirling and environs, overnight in Stirling/Callendar

Day 3: to Kennacraig, stopping in Kilmartin along the way, late ferry to Islay

Day 4: Islay

Day 5: ferry hop to Ardrossan, overnight in Ayr

Day 6-7-8: McWhirter Clan gathering

Day 9: Ayr to Invergarry, Hill House, Glen Coe, gondolas at Ben Nevis, overnight in Glengarry Castle

Day 10
possible stop at Urquhart Castle, Inverness area, Brodie Castle, Clava Cairns, Culloden, overnight in Daviot

Day 11
Orkney day trip, overnight in Daviot

Day 12
to Inverewe Gardens via Beauly and Garve, stopping at Falls of Mesaach, overnight at Rubha Reidh lighthouse

Day 13: Skye

Day 14: Skye, then to Glasgow, overnight near airport

Day 15 9am flight to Detroit

This is worksheet #5 in my Scotland itinerary spreadsheet, and the last. I am obsessing over the plan, but I can't help it. Now I just have to assemble all the pertinent info from my 6 travel books (most were gifts) into a packet I can bring with me, along with my Rough Guide and Blue Book.
suzyq is offline  
May 17th, 2003, 02:40 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
suzyq: You are going to see some fantastic country - still a little scattered but all of the days are doable.

A couple of minor suggestions -

On day 1 when you visit Melrose, be sure to hop over to Dryburgh. The Abbey is in some ways even lovlier than Melrose and they are less than 9 miles apart. And the route goes over Scott's view with a great view over the Tweed Valley.

On day 9 -- both Hill House and Glen Coe are really fabulous. And they take longer than you might expect. You can easily spend 2 or more hours at Hill House if you are at all into Mackintosh. The visitors' center at Glen Coe doesn't take that long but to wander around the glen or stop at the wonderful Clachaig Inn in Glencoe village it will take a couple of hours. Probably difficult to get to the gongolas in a reasonable time.

Do stop at the Clachaig - they have a lot of real ales and a roaring fire. You can walk in from the Visitors center or drive around through the village and down the glen.
janis is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:48 PM.