Notices

Scotland by car or rail??? - advice pls

Old Jul 20th, 2004, 06:39 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Scotland by car or rail??? - advice pls

Hello, I am going to Scotland for 17 days starting August 27th and would greatly appreciate any input or advice you might have (this is my first time to Scotland). One of the things that I am considering is whether to rent a car or to get a Rail Pass. I have heard that the West Railway Line from Glasgow to Mallaig is stunning, but am wondering if a car will cut down on traveling times? I would also love to get away from the cities and am not sure how reliable public transportation is. Here is my draft itinerary (open to any suggestions you might have):

1) Arrive 8am - Glasgow
2) Day trip to Blair Atholl for Bowmore Blair Castle International Horse Trials and Country Fair?
3) Glasgow to Argyll
4) Ardrishaig, Argyll - Pony Trek; evening in Edinburgh
5) Edinburgh
6) Edinburgh
7) Edinburgh to Inverness
8) Inverness
9) Inverness - Braemar Gathering?
10) Inverness
11) Inverness to Skye via Kyle of Lochalsh
12) Skye (lodging in Sleat)
13) Skye
14) Skye to Ft William
15) Ft William
16) Ft William to Glasgow
17) Glasgow, return to NYC

As a side question: I am a young woman travelling alone and have read that Scotland is pretty safe, just wanted to double check that this is true.

Thanks!
Kat
[email protected]
mairnets is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2004, 07:28 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You are going to have a wonderful trip - but I would re-think your itinerary. You are zigzagging all over the place. Glasgow up to Blair Atholl, back to Glasgow, over to Argyll for one day and across the counrty to Edinburgh, then up to Inverness and back down to Skye and back to Glasgow.

If you are going up to Blair Atholl I would not travel all the way back to Glasgow. You could just stay the night in the area and then up to near Inverness, then over to Skye, down to Argyll, to Edinburgh and then home. This would not put uyou near the Braemar games but there are other highland game you could probably fit into your schedule.

This is not the only route you could take but look at a map and try to arrange things so there is less to-ing and fro-ing across the country.

This would be a lot simpler by car - and except for in Edinburgh and glasgow, the driving in Scotland is pretty easy.
janis is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2004, 01:43 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kat, I hope you have a lovely time. To help out with advising you, can you tell us a bit about what you like?

There are two very beautiful rail routes through Scotland (some of the others are no slouches either) but the West Highland Line and the line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh are particularly spectacular.


I think having a car doe little to cut down travelling times, but, given Scotland's geography, it adds a huge amount of flexibility you just won't get with public transport.
1) Arrive 8am - Glasgow
2) Day trip to Blair Atholl for Bowmore Blair Castle International Horse Trials and Country Fair?
3) Glasgow to Argyll

The closest you can get to Ardrishaig by train is Dalmally. How on earth you get from there to Ardishaig by bus defeats me. This is one you would be far better to do bus from the outset.

4) Ardrishaig, Argyll - Pony Trek; evening in Edinburgh

I think you'd spend a vast part of that day just travelling, unless you had a car.

5) Edinburgh
6) Edinburgh
7) Edinburgh to Inverness
8) Inverness
9) Inverness - Braemar Gathering?

This one is also not easy to do by public transport. I suspect there are organised trips to piggy back on tho'.
10) Inverness
11) Inverness to Skye via Kyle of Lochalsh
12) Skye (lodging in Sleat)

Eilean Iarmain?

13) Skye
14) Skye to Ft William
15) Ft William

Believe me, that's more of anyone's life than should be passed in Fort William. Stay somewhere nice instead.

16) Ft William to Glasgow
17) Glasgow, return to NYC

Scotland is very safe. Not without dangers, of course, but they are few and far between
sheila is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2004, 08:08 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Janis & Sheila - thank you so much for your input so far! I think my goal is to see as much of Scotland as possible w/out a frantic pace - Scotland offers so many options, part of me wants to sample a bit of everything offered and the other part wants to dive deep and really feast. I definitely want to explore the Highlands and to spend a few days in Edinburgh; I am fascinated by Scotland's history and would love to learn more about the culture (the real culture, not commercialized hype which is why I am hesitant re Braemar Games). I also desire to take a few days to relax since it is vacation and see the wilder parts of Scotland - lots of nature, not too many people. I am planning on staying mainly in B&Bs and hostels since they seem to be more social than hotels.

I am rethinking the itinerary a bit (to cut down on the "to-ing and fro-ing" and save myself from the overdose of Ft William). I think I am probably going to rent a car - seems to be the better option (I will just have to come back in the future to ride the rail). I am thinking of going to Edinburgh first in the trip (Aug 28-31), but with the festivals on, is that crazy?

Aug 27: Glasgow - city tour
Aug 28-30: Edinburgh
Aug 31-Sept 3: Inverness/Great Glen
Sept 4: Kyle of Lochalsh/Skye
Sept 5-7: Skye
Sept 8-10: Argyll
Sept 10: Argyll/Glasgow
Sept 11: Day trip to Gilnockie Tower, Dumfries (I'm an Armstrong on my father's side)
Sept 12: Fly out from Glasgow

Re: Eilean Iarmain - I was looking at staying at Kinloch Lodge, do you recommend Eilean Iarmain instead?
mairnets is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2004, 08:55 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This new route makes a lot more sense and would be a lot easier on you. But you might think about doing it in the reverse direction (Glasgow, Dumfries, Argyll, Skye, Great Glen, Edinburgh). That would get you into the city after the festivals are over. IF you can get accomodations in Edinburgh at this late date your plans are fine - but finding decent places to stay can be a problem. By the 2nd week of Sept most of the crowds will have left and rooms are much easier to find.

You don't need (or necessarily want) a car in Edinburgh, so you could turn the car in when you arrive in Edinburgh and take the train and/or bus to Glasgow to fly out.

(But IF you can find a room - do go to Edinburgh at the front end - the festivals are terrific.)
janis is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2004, 02:44 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Since you have reservations about Braemar, which are somewhat justified, you may want to think about coming to the Lonach on the 28th. Untill a few years ago I would have said it was the most "authentic" games left, but we have had aminor problem of an incursion of film stars. The Games haven't changed, tho'.

I love Eilean Iarmain. Nothing against Kinloch Lodge, but it's much more soulless.
sheila is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2004, 06:05 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've done some more rethinking with my itinerary and gotten more specific as to what I think I will do with the days - is this going to be too crazed?

Aug 27: Glasgow to Strathdon - stay at Auld Cummerton? do you have any other suggestions?

Aug 28: Strathdon - Lonach Games

Aug 29: To Inverness - Culloden, Clava Cairns, St. Andrews Church; stay at Inverness Hostel

Aug 30: Inverness - Thinking of going on Tony Harmsworth's Discover Loch Ness & Discover Wilderness With Boat Trip - Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Glen Affric, Drumnadrochit included (10:30a - 8p)

Aug 31: Inverness - Maybe a day trip to North Highlands? not sure where to go or if I should wait for another trip

Sept 1: Inverness - any suggestions or should I add an extra day to another part of the trip???

Sept 2: Kyle of Lochalsh/Skye - Eilean Donan Castle; stay at Eilean Iarmain

Sept 3&4: Skye - Hike in the Cuillen Hills; Armadale Castle Gardens and Museum of the Isles; any other suggestions? (I want to keep the time in Skye geared toward relaxing)

Sept 5: Skye to Argyll - Road to the Isles, Glenfinnan, Glencoe; splurge to stay in Hotel Ardanaiseig (probably 2 nights)

Sept 6: Argyll - Loch Awe area; Fishery; Kilmartin Glen?

Sept 7: Argyll - full day pony trek @ Brenfield Farm in Ardrishaig; stay in Lochgilphead or Invereray since off to Borders next day?

Sept 8: Argyll to Edinburgh - by way of Gilnockie Tower, Dumfries and Langholm; stay at Walton Hotel? (Walton has parking, but I will probably ditch the car when I get to Edinburgh)

Sept 9: Edinburgh - Old Town: Mercat Royal Mile Tour, St. Giles, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace & Park

Sept 10: Edinburgh - Princes Street, National Museum, Portrait Gallery?, Royal Botanic Gardens?

Sept 11: Edinburgh/Glasgow - maybe a walking tour of Glasgow?? unless there is something in Edinburgh I have missed; do you have any suggestions on where to stay in Glasgow? My flight leaves at 12noon the next day, not sure how difficult it is to get to the airport

Sept 12: Glasgow/NYC - enjoy breakfast & start planning return trip
mairnets is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2004, 07:55 PM
  #8  
ron
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,675
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I can't comment on most of your trip, since I have never been north of the Trossachs. But....
Sep 8. Langholm? I thought I was the only person that visited there. What's the attraction?

Sep 11. Try to give Glasgow a full day. To me, it is a much more interesting city than Edinburgh. Sheila will send you all the information if you ask. The walking tour is good, as is the Burrell collection, Pollak House, any of the Rennie MacIntosh buildings, the cathedral, necropolis, museum of religious art, etc.

If you are just looking for a basic hotel, try the Premier Lodge Charing Cross. Getting to the airport is easy. Buses (rte 905, I think) run every 10 minutes, take maybe 20 minutes.

Sep 12. Think about more Glasgow for your next trip.
ron is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2004, 08:20 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
well - actually ron and I are the only ones to visit Langholm

You trip is really rounding into shape. Just one comment -- There really isn't anything much of interest IN Inverness. There is a LOT outside of the city. But I'ness itself is mostly a bustling business/commercial center w/ a river running through it. If you use your time there to visit to the east (Culloden, Clava Cairns etc.) the south (your day trip on 8-30), and N-NW (the Black Isle or farther north into Ross/Caithness - or even a day trip up to the Orkneys), then staying that long in Inverness makes sense. Otherwise, drop at least a day from there and add it anywhere else along your route.
janis is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 07:31 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ron - interest in Langholm started b/c of the Clan Armstrong Museum (Armstrong on my father's side)
mairnets is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 07:43 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Auld Cummerton will be fine. It's well located. (and tell Bruce Luffman I sent you

Go to the dance on Saturday night- make sure you're not too sensitive a soul.
On the 31st consider a Puffin Tours trip to Orkney.

I would consider 2 days in Inverness long enough.

Take another day on Speyside on the way north.

As to Skye, you might like to think about looking at the Cuillins and walking in the Quiraing or somewhere.

Try Adelaide's in Bath Street in Glasgow. I have a Glasgow info doc. if you email me for it.

I too have been to Langholm.

sheila is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 08:30 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 488
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
First let me say I am very envious of your plans for visiting Scotland. I've been there four times and it's still not enough. Might I suggest that while you are in Inverenss that you make a visit to Culloden, the site of the last battle ever fought on British soil and the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie. It's a very evocative place esp. if you have any Scottish blood in your veins. It's 5 miles east of Inverness and very easy to get to by either car, public bus or tourist bus.
Daisy54 is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 06:27 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
sheila - re attending the dance: "make sure you're not too sensitive a soul"? I'm very curious to know what this means...

unfortunately, Auld Cummerton is booked (as is almost everything else in the area) so it looks like I will be staying at Creag Meggan B&B in Bridge of Gairn, Ballater
mairnets is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2004, 09:12 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I was surprised there were still rooms in the village. Bridge of Gairn is beautiful, tho'.

The whole glen goes to the dance- at least those under 35. Some of them will have started drinking at breakfast time. It's.................


robust
sheila is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2004, 07:36 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When I went to Scotland I only had 7 days. I had to rely on rail and it is a great system in Scotland.

1. Edinburgh overnight
2. Edinburgh - Dundee - Stirling overnight (Stirling town & castle are a must see)
3. Doune, Port Monteith, Ayrshire, Falkirk - Inverness (this was a 12 hr. day)-had a tour guide that drove. I got to see everything and didn't have to worry about traffic.
4. Inverness - Elgin (real pretty town with interesting ruin of a cathedral)- Aberdeen
5. Inverness - Edinburgh (Royal Mile)
6. Inverness - Wick
7. Inverness - Kyle Lochalsh - Skye
8. Inverness - Fort William (only place I would not go again. It is pretty but nothing special.) - Culloden Field (awesome visitors centre, must see) There is not much to see in Inverness but it is a nice place.
I got the best price for a room in Inverness and it was a great central place to do all the day trips from. A rail pass is a good deal. You can travel as much as you want for a certain amount of days.

Depending on what you want to see, day trips by rail are terrific. The train runs fairly frequently. I would do day trips first then rent a car for special trips. Spend a couple of days in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. I didn't get to Galsgow but I will someday.

If you want a copy of the raillines I can email you one. That way you could see where you could go in a day.

You are going to have such a great trip!



lauriemae is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2004, 02:12 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
decided to do the Puffins Express Orkney overnight trip on the 31st (great recommendation btw) - looking at staying in West End Hotel in Kirkwall, any other suggestions re where to stay?

also debating whether to stay in the hostel at Inverness or to B&B it - maybe the Felstead Guest House...thoughts?
mairnets is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2004, 08:50 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I stayed in a B&B but it was out of season. Hostels are probably more reasonably priced and you'll find others that are travelling like you. I was alone and found most people travelled with groups so didn't want to mingle at all.
You'll go past Wick to go to the Orkneys. It is an Viking town.
lauriemae is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2004, 10:28 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,178
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
mairnets,

Both Ron's & Sheila's recommendations for your last night in Glasgow are fine but here's a link to a previous thread on budget accommodation in the city which might also help:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...en_name=JJBhoy

Most of the places mentioned in this thread are chains & so aren't especially charming but they're centrally located & would be fine for one night.

Jim
JJBhoy is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
catherinehaas
Europe
11
Jan 25th, 2016 04:05 PM
classiqueP29
Europe
10
Apr 9th, 2008 12:58 AM
weruio1
Europe
22
Apr 13th, 2006 12:28 AM
njc
Europe
4
Apr 21st, 2004 02:11 PM
Pearl03
Europe
5
Apr 9th, 2003 09:15 AM

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 - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO