Scotland family trip advice

Old Jan 27th, 2016, 02:55 PM
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Scotland family trip advice

We are off for another summer adventure and once again I need your expert advice,
We are attending a wedding near Edinburgh this summer with our three kids (6,11,13). We have just over three weeks total for our trip.
Here is the bare bones of what we have so far. I'm literally at the beginning of my planning as you can see.....
June 24 fly to Heathrow from Canada
June 25-29 - WHERE TO GO? Possibly stay in London?
June 29- July 3 wedding festivities in and near Edinburgh
July 3-17 - WHERE TO GO? Possibly 5-7 days in Scottish highlands and Skye and then somewhere else.
JUly 17 fly home from Heathrow


I haven't been to the UK since I was a teenager and the rest of my family has never been.

Wish list:
We want to do four days in London either at the beginning or end of the trip.
Visit Scottish highlands and somewhere near Skye to see the coastline. Possibly stay 3 nights near Skye for some exploring.
Stay in a castle ( one of my childhood memories and one I want to pass along to the kids) somewhere?
My husband is Irish so he has a special interest in that - but not a requirement

The last two weeks are where I really need suggestions, Scotland is too small for this much time, maybe England? Ireland? Or even fly somewhere else in Europe - Holland? Denmark?
We will be renting a car so can easily get around.

We are an active family and love being outdoors. A little time along the coast would be perfect for us.
We prefer to set up a home base for minimum 3-4 nights rather than moving too much.
We are interested in history but by no means are we history buffs. We don't want to travel from one historical site to another. Maybe a little whiskey sampling mixed in? Biking?

Thanks in advance, this will be the third major trip you have helped me plan!!!
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Old Jan 27th, 2016, 06:00 PM
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>>The last two weeks . . . Scotland is too small for this much time,
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Old Jan 27th, 2016, 08:42 PM
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janisj I would love some of your top picks since you seem to have spent lots of time in Scotland. We will Iikely spend about half of our trip there..
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 02:24 AM
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I'd second Janisj's comments about Scotland. It is a wonderful destination and in late June you will have really long days.

Scotland does seem small compared with Canada, but it packs a lot of scenery into that small area. Distances may not look that big on the map but driving times are slow, especially once you get off the motorways and main trunk roads.

You could spend a marvellous two weeks in Scotland. As well as Skye, you could continue to the Western Isles (Outer Hebrides). Catch the ferry from Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris. This string of islands gives you a completey different idea of Scotland and you could easily spend several days exploring here. Or you could head north to the Orkneys with some of the best prehistoric remains in the world. Visit the stone age settlement of Skara Brae which is 5000 years old. You can still see the stone beds people slept in and the cupboards where they kept precious belongings in. Then visit Kirbuster Museum which is an unrestored farmhouse still with its open central fire and stone beds, just like Skara Brae.

Further north is Shetland again very different with a strong Norse feel.... You also experience the 'simmer dim' as the days are so long, there is hardly any night. Again there are several islands to explore here, all easily reached by ferry. Visit tiny Foula with a population of around 30 on a Britten Norman Islander Aircraft. This is possibly the most isolated place in the UK and the flight alone is wonderful. You will probably fill th aircraft, so may need to book in advance. One of you may even be lucky enough to sit beside the pilot.

In fact you could easily spend a week plus between Orkney and Shetland.

If you are an active family, Scotland has some of the best hill walking in Europe.

Get yourself a good guide book - DK Eyewitness Scotland is one of the best as it has lots of pictures, enough information to really whet the appetite and the maps are reasonable. It also covers many of the hidden gems ignored by the other guide books. You will easily fill up your two weeks.

As well as this, have a look at some of the sample tours on this website. They will give you an idea of what you can do in those two weeks.
http://www.secret-scotland.com/Conte...and-tours.html
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 03:24 AM
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Hi,

Scotland will be enough.

Do you mean your husband is Irish or do you mean he is American/Canadian with Irish ancestry? I only mention this because, while it makes sense to you, to us in Europe, it can be very confusing.

While the song about Skye is interesting I'd not forget the eastern islands (which is what they are geographically). I think that Orkney is far more interesting than the western Isles, some of the sites are from 5000BC, the mix of Viking/Scots and English blood is more interesting and the whole religion thing is more toned down. (I just noted that ESW has covered this well above). You'll find some of the smaller isles in Orkney have cycle hire at ferry terminals but google is your friend here. Also look at SUSTRANS website http://www.sustrans.org.uk/scotland which focuses on developing traffic free cycle ways. In Orkney the level of car traffic means that the main roads are pretty safe. You'll also find that the arts/crafts movement in Orkney is world standard (amazing levels of silver and wool working) while the Islands have the worlds highest density of archeoligists.

I did I write up about 3 years ago, if you follow my name back you should find it.

Whisky (no e in the proper stuff) is certainly available all over, there are some good trails but note that Scots drink and drive laws are as tight as they are on continental Europe (which means very tight). You'll also find the tourist trails are set up to extract money from you at a sensible rate.

Danish and Dutch cycling are both wonderful. Again I did a bike tour of Denmark last year (look back at my name) and if you want more cycling ideas look at www.mybikeguide.co.uk

Shetland makes Orkney look like the mainland. There are a few brief festivals on Shetland, if you are going then you need to book rooms.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 03:38 AM
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Scotland is plenty.

You will have wonderful long days, the people are friendly, and the scenery and history are incredible.

Other than on motorways, most trips will take you at least twice as long as they would in North America.

Some places that sound great (Inverness and Dundee, for example) are not, the countryside is astonishingly empty, and cars are best avoided in Glasgow and Edinburgh. All kinds of nifty things to discover.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 09:34 AM
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Don't have time right now to list all my fave's -- can post more later in the day . . . But as you can see above, I am not the only one who suggests you stick to Scotland. There is enough to fill all of your time and much more and it really is an ideal destination for families.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 12:41 PM
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With a family and three weeks to spend, I would rent a house for a week, possibly on Skye, which is stunning and has all different kinds of scenery, castles, and ancient ruins, but I only suggest that because I have not been to many other islands which I believe are also wonderful. When I visited Skye I wished we were staying longer, and you do have the luxury of time.

The scenery in Scotland is as beautiful as anywhere I have ever been.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 04:33 PM
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ESW thank you so much. I have been researching cottage rentals on Skye and there seem to be some great options. All seem to be a week long so we may spend a full week there and really take in the natural beauty. We are fans of staying in one place rather than jumping around anyway. Orkney could be a really good option too. I will investigate further.

bilboburgler My husband has Irish HERITAGE…yes it is a much different thing so my apologies. Thanks for the website. The idea of a bit of cycling and something a bit off the beaten path is really appealing. My mother's father was from the Orkneys so there is some heritage there for me as well. I will definitely check out your write up.

Ackislander when you say the countryside is empty, do you mean not much to do? The wedding we are attending for a few days is north of Edinburgh at Mar Lodge in Cairngorms National Park. So maybe that is enough time in the countryside? We love the ocean since we live in Vancouver so the islands are definitely appealing! Any favourite spots?

Nikki I think we are on the same page. Were there any particular areas of Skye you loved? We love anything to do outdoors from hiking to biking to kayaking and beach time (although we do have a 6 year old with us!).

janisj Thanks for finding time to write later. I look forward to it.

After all of your amazing input, I feel like we need to commit a week to Skye for sure. Any suggestions for a cottage to rent?

We need to decide whether to skip London this trip and do it another time which means we could fly right into Edinburgh/Glasgow?
That leaves us with one week left. If we skip London, then I have two thoughts:
1. Fly to Ireland for a week in a cottage in the countryside. My husband is super keen to go and it might be a nice contrast to Scotland. We can fly home from Dublin.
2. Skip Ireland and drive north to the Orkneys and then back home via GLasgow/Edinburgh
Thoughts? Keep in mind we have three kids (6,11,13) so they are always ready for something new and exciting!!!
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 05:52 PM
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>>The wedding we are attending for a few days is north of Edinburgh at Mar Lodge in Cairngorms National Park.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 06:24 PM
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June 24 flight from will undoubtedly be arriving June 25 not the 24. Give yourself a day or two to recover from a long flight and jet lag.

your wedding venue is hours from Edinburgh. You can fly into Edinburgh perhaps and explore the city. I would not want to drive until I felt more rested, especially on the "other" side of the road.

you can look on the website for the National Trust for Scotland for additional rental properties.

You will have long hours of daylight but you can also have rain and cool weather in the northern most islands.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 07:36 PM
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Jamie's and maxima, yes the wedding venue is a few hours away and yes we arrive on the 25th. We don't have to be in Mar until July 1st and are staying for the weekend until July 3. We will have lots of time to recover from jet lag.
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Old Jan 28th, 2016, 07:38 PM
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Sorry janisj spellcheck got me. Yes, you became Jamie's!
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 12:45 AM
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jetlag, the narrow roads, the sheep. take care
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 01:09 AM
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France, no need for apologies, it just confuses the heck out of us

I speak as person of Spanish Jewish heritage from about 1492.... which must make up about 1% of my DNA
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 04:50 AM
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Inverness and Aberdeen is a beautiful area too, it is deeper in Scotland. You can visit Dunnottar castle, it is close to Aberdeen. if you are going to spent in Scotland 7 days, try to find at least 2 days for Edinburgh, it is amazing!
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 01:23 PM
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>

Careful, Bilbo, the Canucks don't spell whisk(e)y with an "e" either and theirs doesn't compare.

Considering the wedding will be near Aberdeen, stay in that area afterwards and visit whatever castles and distilleries (the area is shot through with both) come to mind. And slipping the hobbits a dram will calm the little blighters a bit.

Inverness is meh, the area around it isn't. And the kids would probably love Dunrobin Castle.

Because Aberdeen is "near Edinburgh" the same way Ottawa is near Montreal, you're not going to commute between the two. Spend 3-4 days in Edinburgh at the end.

As noted above, I'd stay in Scotland the whole time.
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 04:24 PM
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Thanks everyone.
BigRuss you guys are on top of your spelling here on Fodor's!! I'm not a whisky �� drinker myself so no surprise I can't spell it either!!
We will definitely explore Edinburgh for a few days.

Here is what the trip looks like as of today:
June 25 (6nts) arrive in Edinburgh. Stay there to get over jet lag. Explore the city and places close by
July 1 (2nts)drive to Mar for the wedding
July 3 (1nt) drive to Isle of Skye, stop overnight on the way.
July 4-9 (5nts)Isle of Skye cottage rental
July 9 (1nt) leave Skye, overnight somewhere on way to Glasgow ( or maybe Edinburgh depending on flights to Dublin)
July 10 (4nts)fly to Dublin and drive south to a cottage along the coast. I found a great Airbnb on a farm in Brittas Bay, Wicklow. Apparently there is even a surf school close by which sounds fun with our older kids.
July 14 (3nts) drive to Dublin and stay for two full days of exploring.
July 17 home to Canada

Questions:
Is Skye too far to drive in one day from Mar? I know traffic is slow so don't want to push it. Where would be a good overnight spot?
We need to find accommodation everywhere!!! Any suggestions?
Am I missing anything obvious here in terms of logistics?
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 05:06 PM
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>>Is Skye too far to drive in one day from Mar?
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Old Jan 29th, 2016, 06:01 PM
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This keeps happening -- I posted and it took, but the thread didn't top . . .

So this is just ttt
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