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DancingBearMD Oct 13th, 2009 06:51 AM

Need itinerary help--2 small kids and a week in Scotland
Our family--me, my wife, 9 yo son and 4 yo daughter.
Our time frame--arrive morning of July 1 in Glasgow, fly out of Glasgow 1 pm on July 8.
Mode of travel--rental car.

Interests--Whatever the kids might enjoy (and we would enjoy with them). We'll be arriving after a week in London, so my thought is to start out heading for open air in the Highlands and hit Edinburgh at the end of the week, something along the lines of the following:

July 1 Drive from Glasgow through Glen Coe and via the Road to the Isles to Skye. If this is too ambitious, where would we stay along that way?
July 2 On Skye
July 3 Skye to Inverness via Loch Ness.
July 4 Inverness to Edinburgh.
July 5-6 Edinburgh and environs.
July 7 Edinburgh to Glasgow

Any thoughts welcomed!

mbgg Oct 13th, 2009 07:11 AM

You can drive from Glasgow to Skye in 1 day but if I remember correctly it will take about 5 hours.
I would skip Inverness and go directly to Edinburgh.
You might also consider skipping Glasgow entirely and flying in and out of Edinburgh instead. This would free more time for the Highlands.

lks6671 Oct 13th, 2009 08:05 AM

My family spent a week in Scotland last Easter - w/ kids 4 & 6, at the time. We had a fabulous time, but we catered most of the trip towards the kids and avoided the larger cities.

We flew in & out of Edinburgh and toured only the highlands. Spent a few nights in Drummnadrochit (sp?? apologies) right on Loch Ness visiting the usuals - cruise on Loch Ness (recommend one of the smaller ones), checked out Urquhart Castle ruins, spent a day hiking (I use that term lightly) in Glen Affric, and another day in Inverness/Culloden Moor. Must admit, some whining in Inverness - but we did not visit the castle, which looked quite interesting (ran out of time). My opinion would be not to stay in Inverness, but somewhere along the Loch - much more scenic and interesting for the kids (walks/streams/Nessie spotting/etc). I found Inverness a little depressing, to be honest...but lots to do in that general area, and if we had more time I would have done one of the cruises on Moray Firth or the like. At Culloden Moor, the new visitor center has a room where talks are given, specifically for children, throughout the day. We did this before we took the main tour, and it made everyone's experience that much better.

From there we drove on to Oban for a few nights. We did just a day trip to the Isle of Mull, which was fantastic. All ferries were quite full, and we were lucky to get our car on board considering we didn't have a reservation. Make sure you look into this ahead of time if applicable. Add a bit to the est. driving times - seems as though all roads we encountered were one lane each way (if that) and very windy but, totally beautiful. If any of the over 18's are interested in whisky, there are many distilleries to visit, but many also do not allow children - for obvious reasons. You can easily check these in advance if you're interested. While we were on the west coast, we also rented a row boat for a few hours and did a little fly fishing on a scenic little loch near Oban. None of us knew what we were doing, and no one caught a thing - but this is the one thing that the kids still talk about.

It still ranks as one of our most successful vacations, because as my son put it - 'you didn't drag me into a single church, shush me all the time, and argue with Dad about which subway we should be on'. I think you have picked the perfect destination for a family vacation.

historytraveler Oct 13th, 2009 09:06 AM

I'm always a bit bemused by those that suggest one ignore Glasgow and fly to Edinburgh instead. Now if I had to choose a favorite between the two cities, I'd pick Edinburgh, but Glasgow has plenty to offer. In addition it's a realtively short trip (45 minutes via train) between the two and access to the Highlands is just as easy.

I don't know where you're traveling from, but it is a long trip to Skye from Glasgow not to mention the time element in getting a rental processed etc. Most first timers to Scotland think <B>Skye </B> and <B> Loch Ness </B> and unfortunately miss out on all the wonderful places in between. I don't have time to work out a better itinerary for you now, but I am sure one of the Scottish experts will soon post a better plan.

DDA Oct 13th, 2009 11:30 AM

We had our 5 year old grandson with us in Scotland last fall--he particularly enjoyed spending the night in a castle. We stayed in Borthwick Castle south of Edinburgh. I would assume that there are many possibilities depending on your itinerary.

DancingBearMD Oct 13th, 2009 12:08 PM

Thanks for the replies. I'm fixed on flying out of Glasgow (I was lucky to get the frequent flier tickets from there). We've been planning on taking the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Glasgow. It occurs to me that one option would be to take the Sleeper instead to Inverness and make it a one-way drive from Inverness to Skye (via Loch Ness), then Skye to Mallaig (making it then the Road FROM the Isles) through Fort William and Glen Coe to Edinburgh. A quick check on the rental car sites indicates no one-way drop charge from Inverness to Glasgow.

Also since our flight out is not until 1 p.m. we could stay in Edinburgh until our date of departure and just drive from there straight to the Glasgow airport.

Again, all thoughts welcomed.

Benn Oct 13th, 2009 03:37 PM

Have you considered taking the sleeper London- Fort William?

DancingBearMD Oct 13th, 2009 06:14 PM

I could take the Sleeper to Fort William, but I wasn't sure what the rental car availability would be there--anybody know?

historytraveler Oct 13th, 2009 06:21 PM

If going to Loch Ness then it does make sense to take the Sleeper to Inverness although in saying that I'm not familar with the details. I'm assuming that you are and it works well with your current schedule. It is certainly easier to travel from Inverness ( and not that you need or even should stay in Inverness as there are better places nearby) to Skye, Mallaig, Glen Coe and Edinburgh. Still a lot of travel for just seven nights.

DancingBearMD Oct 14th, 2009 11:40 AM

Thanks, historytraveler. As about the only thing the kids know about Scotland is Nessie (thanks to Scooby Doo, etc.), we are pretty much loched into at least driving by Loch Ness. I don't think we'd plan to take a boat trip on the Loch. If we go to Inverness, the plan would be as follows:

July 1, arrive in Inverness, drive to Skye via Loch Ness and Eileen Donan Castle. Sleep on Skye.

July 2 on Skye

July 3 Drive from Skye toward Edinburgh via Mallaig, Glenfinnan, Fort William and Glencoe. Is Glencoe the right place to spend the night to break up the trip from Skye to Edinburgh?

July 4 complete drive to Edinburgh. Sleep in Edinburgh.

July 5 and 6 stay in Edinburgh.

That gives us one more night somewhere. I don't want to be hopping around too much, so should we spend that extra night in Skye or Edinburgh, or at our mid-point stop between?

Alternatively, if we depart the Sleeper at Fort William, the itinerary would be:

July 1 arrive Fort William early a.m., drive to Skye via Glenfinnan and Mallaig. Sleep on Skye.

July 2. Sleep on Skye

July 3 Drive from Skye towards Edinburgh, but with requirement of seeing at least the southern tip of Loch Ness. If we go this way where should we sleep between Loch Ness and Edinburgh?

July 4-5 Edinburgh, same as above (and with the same additional night to spend somewhere).

janisj Oct 14th, 2009 03:21 PM

To maximize time and simplify your itinerary, I'd think of taking the sleeper to Edinburgh the night of June 30 arriving July 1 early AM. Stay that night and the next in Edinburgh.

On the morning of July 3 pick up your car and drive to Inverness (but don't stay there - it is just the fastest route to Loch Ness). You'll see great scenery and can book a BYB on the west side of Loch Ness for the night of July 3. The kids would LOVE to stay in a place close to Loch Ness and be able to watch for Nessie all night (it will be light VERY late)

Then drive the A87 across the bridge to Skye and stay the nights of July 4th and 5th on the island. Then on the 6th take the ferry across to Mallaig and drive the Road to the Isles 'backwards' to Ft William and Glencoe. Stay the night of the 6th somewhere in the Trossachs (Callander, Crianlarich or anywhere would do).

Then stay the night of the 7th somewhere along the SW bit of Loch Lomond. This would leave a very easy drive to GLA the morning of the 8th. (OR - you could drive to GLA the evening of the 7th, turn in the car and stay the last night in one of the airport hotels)

mbgg Oct 14th, 2009 10:16 PM

These new itineraries are much better and very similar to what I did this year.
If you are interested in walks I recommend for detailed information about walks at any level.
On Skye I did the Talisker Bay and the Fairy Pools walks (both near Carbost) and they are suitable for children.
If you take Janisj's advice and stay overnight in the Trossachs, I recommend this B&B in Crianlarich:
Reasonable pice, great breakfast and fantastic view.

alihutch Oct 15th, 2009 01:42 AM

If you can manage a wee stay in Glasgow then you should go the the Kelvingrove Museum (the most visited attraction in the UK outwith London) and the transport museum is just opposite. They are also right by Kelvingrove Park which is lovely and at the top in Park Circus you have great views of the city. Both are very child friendly. It seems a shame to fly into such a great city and see nothing of it.
As you only have a week and small children, you seem to be doing an awful lot of travelling about and driving. btw Loch Lomond is only 45 mins drive from Glasgow.

DancingBearMD Oct 15th, 2009 05:08 AM

Thanks again for the responses, much to think about and research. Based on ViaMichelin and GoogleMaps I'm expecting something like 3 hours' driving time between Inverness and Portree, a bit longer if we're going Fort William to Portree to account for the ferry ride, and about 6 hours' driving between Portree and Edinburgh--do those times sound realistic?

janisj Oct 15th, 2009 11:09 AM

Do not base any drive times on those sorts of calculators. They are to say the least 'overly optimistic'. Via Michelin and AA are probably the best - but you need to add between 30% and 40% to the drive times.

My proposed itinerary does still include one long driving day (between Edinburgh and Loch Ness) - but it would be the easiest driving day road-wise so a bit longer would be OK.

Don't over estimate what you can see/how far you can drive in a day -- especially w/ kids in the car.

Gordon_R Oct 16th, 2009 03:30 AM

Do you kids suffer from car sickness? Many of the roads in the highlands are hilly and twisty, so backseat passengers in particular can feel queasy if they're susceptible (and unused) to this.

alihutch Oct 16th, 2009 03:56 AM

It just all sounds like an awful lot of driving hours, which seems a waste to your time and rather tough on your kids. It isn't even all dual carriageway from Inverness to alternates sections of single carriage way and dual, so not really that easy a day.

DancingBearMD Oct 16th, 2009 05:43 AM

Maybe I'm missing something, but it doesn't seem that bad to me. I'm leaning toward three nights in Skye, one night on the road from Skye to Edinburgh, and three nights in Edinburgh. Even adding a fair amount of time to the ViaMichelin timetables (which BTW are based on an average speed of about 40 mph), that's perhaps 3.5 hours of driving on the first day, followed by staying put 3 nights, then a long perhaps 7 hour drive broken into two parts (mbgg, the West Highland Lodge looks great, and it's right on our route), followed by 3 nights staying put before we fly home.

This is essentially janisj's route except that we don't have to drive from Edinburgh to Inverness, and we end in Edinburgh instead of Glasgow.

Each driving day will be broken up with sightseeing. We've done 9 hours of driving in a day (albeit largely on US interstates) many times. The kids aren't prone to carsickness at all (my wife will probably have to hit the Dramamine).

janisj Oct 16th, 2009 08:00 AM

"<i>We've done 9 hours of driving in a day (albeit largely on US interstates) many times. </i>"

You cannot possibly compare the two. Total apples and oranges. I live in CA and drive from northern CA to LA in a day all the time (7 - 8 hours on a good day). I lived in the UK for 5 years - no comparison. 4 or 5 hours of driving in the highlands is a LOT. That 40 mph average will be the very best you will likely manage anywhere on your route. There are these things such as caravans (travel trailers), lorries (trucks), sheep and cattle on the road, single tracks (two way traffic on a one lane road where you have to wait in passing places for oncoming vehicles - on your route the only places you'll find these are on Skye), and lots of other possible hiccups.

Just don't plan on going too far in one day - especially if you plan on stopping at any sites along the way.

alihutch Oct 16th, 2009 08:11 AM

You could do Inverness to Edinburgh on the train...takes 3.5 or 4 hours....

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