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Scotland Advise: Isle of Skye or Glen Coe

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Feb 12th, 2016, 12:14 PM
  #1
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Scotland Advise: Isle of Skye or Glen Coe

Hi All.

I was hoping to get some travel advise for a trip my girlfriend and I are taking to Scotland this year. We are planning to do a 7 day trip at the beginning of September. This is our first trip to Scotland and we want to make the best of it and see a lot of things. My girlfriend is really interested in history and wants to see a lot of castles and some of the cities. I am very much an outdoors person and want to see the beautiful scenery Scotland has to offer. The highlands and the Isle's really appeal to me. We have read and agree that to truly experience any place here we should spend at least 2 nights at a location so we have to narrow it down to 3 places to stay.

As of right now, we plan to fly into Edinburgh for the first 2 nights. This will give us the opportunity to see castles and experience some of the things the city has to offer. We plan to spend the next 2 nights in Inverness with plans to visit Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. The next 2 nights are where we are trying to make a decision on. We have settled on either staying in The Isle of Skye or Fort William/Glen Coe area. This is where I was looking for some travel advise from others that have been to both.

I really want to take in as much of the Scotland scenery as possible. I have been doing a lot of research on both places and the scenery at both locations seems awesome. I would really like to see the Cuillins of Skye and The Quiraing as basis points for things I am interested in Skye. As for Glencoe I have heard some of the scenery there you can't miss and there is great hiking there. I would like to maybe do a hike in the Lost Valley in Glen Coe.

We can really only choose one of these places. Based on what we are looking for, what would be a suggest of the best place to go. I really want this to be a great vacation and do not want to leave with any fear of missing out. Any recommendations on this would be greatly appreciated.

- Luke
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Feb 12th, 2016, 01:14 PM
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Looking at your itinerary and number of days, I would suggest the Glencoe area. It is an awesome, historic and hiking area. That said, the Isle of Skye is so beautiful, I would plan a future trip there for at least 5 days, then taking in either other islands or the Wester Ross area. Been to Scotland twice, and can't wait to get back.
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Feb 12th, 2016, 01:43 PM
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Based on what you're saying, I'd suggest maybe dropping Inverness and spending two days in Glencoe and three on Skye, both of which offer excellent hiking and scenery. Climbing to the Quiraing, and somewhat beyond was a highlight of our visit to Scotland.

I found Inverness rather dull, and many other lochs equal or surpass Loch Ness. I did enjoy exploring Urquhart castle. If you do go to Inverness, take a look at the nearby Clava Cairns site.

I'm sure one of our resident experts will be along with further ideas.
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Feb 12th, 2016, 01:44 PM
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My opinion: Unless you have family connections to Inverness and the Great Glen, I'd skip it altogether, and reallocate those days to Skye and the western Highlands. That way you could visit both Skye and Glen Coe, and see a lot of beautiful and historic country in the process. Inverness is (in my view, others may disagree) a pleasant but fairly ordinary town, and Urquhart Castle is (again, me) not all that great, or maybe I'd say famous beyond its merit.

Here's a map showing a possible route: https://goo.gl/maps/Za5RYYyf7Wm

This would take you from Edinburgh to Plockton, one of the most picturesque villages in Scotland, via some beautiful country and past famous Eilean Donan castle.

Plockton is a few minutes from the Skye bridge at Kyle. Do your tour of Skye, then take the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig, then east on the Road to the Isles, past historic Glenfinnan (Harry Potter connections) and through Fort William to Glencoe village. Visit Glen Coe (and I'd recommend adjacent Glen Etive) before heading back to Edinburgh, maybe with a stop at Stirling Castle on the way.

This will give you some of Scotland's most dramatic landscapes, with plenty of castles, lochs, options for walks, country pubs, the works. Highly recommended.

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...tle/index.html
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...kton/plockton/
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...nan/index.html
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...coe/index.html
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...ive/index.html
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.u...tle/index.html
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Feb 12th, 2016, 02:10 PM
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I am fairly certain that most people will give the nod to Skye and in doing so rave about it being so beautiful. It is that, but it can also be very crowded. This past year I was at the Quiraing and there must of been at least 75 people there. Not like in the old days where you might be by yourself or with only a few other souls around. Likewise on a Friday evening I couldn't find a restaurant with seating ( for one) until after 8:00.

Glencoe is very bit as scenic and will also have crowds, but they will mostly be people that stop for a hour or so at the Visitor Centre and move on. If you stay at the Claichaig Inn ( highly recommend ) you'll likely have a much better Scottish experience. Skye's history is a little more convoluted while the massacre of 1692 is familiar to many and more easily to get one's head around in a short period of time.
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Feb 12th, 2016, 02:29 PM
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I'd skip Inverness -- there definitely is a lot to see in the area, but Loch ness is faaaaar from the most scenic body of water, and while Urquhart is an interesting site -- it is also far from the most dramatic castle ruin.

By skipping the jaunt north to Inverness you can spend 2 nights on Skye and 2 nights in Glencoe. Do realize there is good reason Skye is called the Misty Isle - I think I visited Skye three times before I saw a darned thing . . . but that third trip was A-Mazing!!!

In September you are likely to have decent weather -- but just be prepared to alter your plans. In September and only being two of you you can change plans on the fly - I'd go where the weather takes you.
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Feb 12th, 2016, 05:50 PM
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I went to Scotland last July/August. I'm sure you've heard the stories about Scottish summers, but they came true for us. We encountered some beautiful days but also some bouts of torrential rain. Good to be prepared!

Given that your girlfriend was interested in castles & cities, I thought I'd throw in another idea. We started out Scotland time with a couple of nights in Edinburgh. Then we spent a leisurely day driving out to St. Andrews (lovely town, great position on the water, cathedral is a wonderful ruin to walk around, plenty of nice restaurants for lunch.) Then we drove to Drummond Castle Gardens (only for the gardens, the house is private).

We ended at Doune where we stayed overnight at a very comfortable b&b. In the morning, we walked to Doune Castle (featured in Monty Python & the Holy Grail, surprisingly good audio guide which really brings the place to life)

After Doune Castle we drove up to Glen Coe for a couple of nights. We did some short hikes and also drove up to a whisky distillery. I wasn't interested in whisky (my husband was) but the drive was beautiful.
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Feb 13th, 2016, 01:44 PM
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Thank you everyone for all of the great advise. This was my first post on Fodors and can't believe the great response and the thought put into your posts- we both sincerely appreciate it. Will continue to use Fodors for any future trips. Based on what everyone is saying, we have decided to cut out Inverness.

Any suggestions on great places to stay in Skye?

-Luke
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Feb 13th, 2016, 02:58 PM
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Now that you have decided on Isle of Skye, I would first plot out your itinerary, deciding how you will enter and excite the Isle, by ferry and or bridge. Distance and timing between your other 2 locations could help decide where to stay on Skye. Driving in Scotland takes way longer than one anticipates and if you need to catch a ferry, for example, you need to take that into account. We had long drives before getting to Skye and had to backtrack to see the Eilean Donan castle, highly recommended, near the bridge. We also had booked an early ferry from Armadale 2 days later, stopping in Glenfinnan Viaduct and Glen Coe.

Thus said, we stayed about 30 minutes from the ferry at the Duisdale House, and drove up to Talisker Distillery near Talisker. There is the Sligachan Hotel, which looked very nice - outstanding and dramatic setting, great views and hiking from there. Check out reviews on Trip Advisor, or other sites.

Here is a wonderful website to help you plan: http://www.isleofskye.com
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Jul 28th, 2018, 03:48 AM
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We were at the beginning of May on Isle of Skye. The accommodation in Glenelg, from where we traveled daily on the island's ferry. It's very useful way to travel Skye.
Kris
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Jul 28th, 2018, 08:36 AM
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We went to Skye and Glencoe last September and they are both gorgeous! On Skye if you want to hike the Quairang you should stay somewhere near Portree. You can do a loop where you can see Fairy Glen (highly recommend but go early as parking is an issue) then go over to the Quairang. It too is a popular place but there is more parking. We parked down by the cemetary and just started the hike there. Bring rain pants! It rained off and on most days we were there but then the sun came out and we saw some beautiful rainbows!. We left the Quairang and drove to Kilt Rock then on to the Old Man of Storr (my husband hiked up it but I ran out of gas.) Then it's pretty quick back to the Portree area. We stayed at a self contained cottage called The Snug in Edinbane. There are also some great listings on Airbnb for Portree. I'll try to put in a picture. We loved both Skye and Glencoe. We started the hike to the Hidden Valley but didn't make it the whole way. There is one point where there is about a 24 inch path around a mountain with a VERY large drop off. We met some people coming down who said there was a water crossing up ahead where you had to remove your shoes and the water was really rushing. We chickened out but maybe you are more adventurous. I was bummed as I really wanted to see it but we did some other equally beautiful hikes. Again, pack those rain pants!

Kilt Rock. It had just been raining then the sun came out!
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Jul 28th, 2018, 08:57 AM
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"Any suggestions on great places to stay in Skye?"

Cullin Hills in Portree was great. Below is the view from front of hotel. Restaurant in hotel is good, and we had a fantastic dinner at Scorrybreac in town (about a 15 - 20 minute walk).




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Jul 28th, 2018, 09:18 AM
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Folks -- the thread is 2+ years old! Not quite sure why kolaniasty registered to top it . . .
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Jul 28th, 2018, 09:57 AM
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You are quite right! I am glad you are on the ball. I'll have to be more careful to check the dates. And I finally posted a picture!
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Jul 28th, 2018, 10:02 AM
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>>And I finally posted a picture!<<

Well -- it was good practice - and the photo is beautiful
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Jul 28th, 2018, 04:14 PM
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What I remember most about Glencoe was feeling very, very glad that I wasn't a MacDonald. The atmosphere of the glen was downright oppressive as we drove through.
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