Quick Trip to Scotland-itinerary help

Old Feb 8th, 2023, 04:26 AM
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Quick Trip to Scotland-itinerary help

Hello all! Our daughter invited us to tag along with the family to London for a few days and we've decided to take a quick trip to Scotland after they leave London. This is a last minute trip and I've managed to get tickets to LHR for the London leg and air tickets from LHR to EDI arriving in Edinburgh at Noon. I've rented a manual car, for my husband to drive to do a driving tour of Scotland. He has driven in the UK before but probably 12 years ago now. After watching some videos of different itineraries this one caught my eye but I'm not sure that it may be too rushed. We've never been to Scotland before so we'd like to get a taste of everything. Impossible I know. It's like Thanksgiving meal. You put too much on your plate and don't enjoy it as much if you had portioned properly. But here is what I have. Please let me know if it's doable. The young people on the video made it look so easy! We are in our mid to late 60's and quite active. Thank you for all your kind advice!

3/30 Arrive EDI at Noon. Pick up car at rental agency.
Drive to Loch Lomond, Luss Pier, Inverary Castle photo op, Kilchurn Castle photo op, hotel near Ft Williams

3/31Leave hotel
Glenfinnen Viaduct photo op, Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle photo op, Portree hotel
4/1 Old Mann on Storr hike, Drive around Isle, Kilt rock, Mealt Falls and any other pretty photo op stop
4/2 Leave hotel
Inverness, Culloden, Blair castle, Pitlochry hotel
4/3 Leave hotel
Drive back to Edinburgh, check in to hotel
4/4 Explore Edinburgh
4/5 Flight back to US

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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:03 AM
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That is quite a bit of driving in a short time.

Some examples: EDI > Luss > Inverary > Kilchurn > Ft William would take a minimum of 4.5 hours and possibly more . . . without a single stop. so including LHR (maybe 3 hrs including getting to the airport and security at LHR), flying to EDI, getting car, and the drive/stops/lunch you are talking 11-12 hour day.

And Portree > (Eilean Donan, Urquhart) > Inverness > Culloden > Blair Castle > Pitlochry is a 5+ Hour drive - again without a stop. And there are easily 5+ hours of stops including quick ED photo stop/Urquhart/lunch/Culloden/Blair Castle

A minor thing in the scheme of things, but:
"3/31Leave hotel

Glenfinnen Viaduct photo op, Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle photo op, Portree hotel"

Since you'd be leaving Skye via the bridge Eilean Donan fist better on that day.


I'd reconsider what my musts were. You've picked a lot of interesting/scenic places but they are far apart, you don't have much time and there many other sites that are as scenic/historic as the ones you've listed.

There are many options for a marvelous loop including amazing castles, scenery, etc in a much shorter drive starting/ending in Edinburgh.
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 07:08 AM
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(Pardon the snide. It's all meant in good fun.)

If you ate that much and that fast at Thanksgiving, you'd be in the emergency room long before the pumpkin pie.

It's just too much, and if and when you find yourselves in horizontal rain or in mist that hides pretty much everything, you'll think about how you could be sitting in some cozy pub enjoying a whisky or visiting with an interesting local.

Now you might be able physically to do all these things (depending on ferry timetables etc.) but I fear you're grossly underestimating how long it takes between places, particularly in the Highlands, and particularly if you plan to get out of the car and roam through the gloaming. Some of the destinations are self-defeating. Eilean Donan Castle (which is mainly a romanticized reconstruction dating from the 20th Century) is on the mainland east of the Kyle bridge, so including Eilean Donan in the same day as other Skye activities, then staying overnight in Portree, involves a lot of backtracking.

So I'll just throw out a possible alternative route, one you might not like, but hey, no charge for looking. Here's a map - https://goo.gl/maps/HSwg8doXbi5gm9QK9

This would be my suggested timetable, which is still very ambitious on its own.

30 March - EDI to Glencoe, including possible side trip down Glen Etive if conditions permit. Overnight Glencoe village.
31 March - Glencoe to Tobermory, Isle of Mull, via Glenfinnan viaduct and Kilchoan ferry. Overnight Tobermory
01 April - Day touring Mull, Duart Castle visit or drive-by, ferry to Oban. Overnight Oban.
02 April - Visit Kilmartin Glen (prehistoric monuments) then drive to Inveraray, possibly visit Inveraray Castle. Overnight Inveraray.
03 April - Inveraray to Edinburgh via Loch Lomond, possible stop in Luss. Drop car, overnight Edinburgh.
04 April - Day in Edinburgh
05 April - Depart

This itinerary swaps Mull for Skye and includes a number of mainland destinations that will require much less behind-the-wheel time. Google the places on the map or use Undiscovered Scotland - Undiscovered Scotland: Home Page to help the research.

You simply don't have time for Inverness or the Cairngorms on this trip. In fact, I'd actually argue that you'd be better off staying closer to Edinburgh and visiting places that are within day-trip range, like parts of the Scottish Borders, or destinations in Fife, or the East Lothian, Berwickshire and northern Northumberland coast (Holy Island, Bamburgh etc.) But I understand the draw of the Highlands and all the iconic photo-ops. This loop hits a couple of them, and is doable, if still rushed.

Ferry timetables (for Mull) - Summer Timetables | Scotland West Coast | CalMac Ferries

Last edited by Gardyloo; Feb 8th, 2023 at 07:14 AM.
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 09:05 AM
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You are lucky that the clocks go forward on 26th March,giving you an extra hour of light in the evenings. Otherwise you would be covering some of that trip in twilight if not darkness.
As others have said you are trying to do far too much. Driving in Scotland can be slow, the weather is totally unpredictable, and can make driving miserable at best, dangerous at worst.
Gardyloo's suggestions are good. Heed them.
Return another time for the full Scotland experience at a slower pace. The country deserves more than a drive by photo op.
Remember also that fuel is expensive compared to the US, and even more so in remote parts.
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 12:42 PM
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Thank you so much for this advice! I am looking over your recommendation going to the Isle of Mull. As much as I would like to follow my original plan I knew in my heart it was too intense. I think I'd have to have twice as much time to do it all. I'm so used to sunny Florida that the rainy weather in Scotland will undoubtably slow us down.
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Old Feb 8th, 2023, 02:30 PM
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I might also look at ideas on the east coast since your are flying in/out of Edinburgh and leave the western isles for another trip.

I do love Urquhart and especially Kilchurn, but Dunnottar is superior to both IMO. St Abb's Head and Tantallon are as dramatic as Skye/Mull, Holy Island (Lindesfarne) is a reasonable stand in for Iona, Glamis Castle would be a good substitute for Inverary and Blair Castle. The Fife fishing villages (Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, etc.) are different but as enjoyable as Tobermory or Portree. All of these are much closer to EDI/Edinburgh and are on the east side of the country which tends to be drier than the west coast.

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