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Scotland Highland Help!

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Feb 12th, 2012, 06:18 AM
  #1
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Scotland Highland Help!

Is this trip to ambitious?
Fly into Edinburgh, spend two days
Drive to Oban, spend two days going to Loch Ness, etc
Drive to Keswock to overnight
Drive to Stadford upon Avon spend two days
Drive to Conwy spend two days and head home from London

Interested in history, castles, and Shakespeare.
Thanks for all input!
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Feb 12th, 2012, 08:12 AM
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It would be better to do the Conwy(Wales) part before Stratford, oitherwise you are doing a big backtrack. By "keswock" I assume you mean Keswick in the Lake district.

From Oban take a trip to Mull and Iona. Iona has the Abbey where many of Scotland's early kings (including Macbeth) are burried. Dunstaffnage Castle is just a few miles outside of Oban.

Conwy has its own castle, city walls to walk, a Tudor merchant's house and lots of odd bits of history. Beaumaris is a wonderful castle complete with moat. Great photo ops during your visit. Caernarvon has its wellknown castle and some Roman ruins. Penrhyn Castle is a nineteenth century magnates castle fantasy. Interesting collection of toys. All within easy drive.

Harlech is a bit farther afield. I took the train from Conwy to Penrhynhyndeudraeth and changed (short wait) for train to Harlech as I was tired of driving. Harlech overlooks the sea from a high cliff and is a great view from below and the sea is a great view from the castle. A steam railway is used on part of the train trip. On the way back from Harlech, I stopped at Blenau Festiniog (where you change trains)and visited the slate mine. There is a decent road to Harlech and there are lots of interesting spots along the way.

The really tough day will be Oban to Keswick--over 200 miles, if I read my map correctly. Much of it on Motorway but even that can be dicey with traffic jams or raodworks. Check Michelin.com and add some time as they tend to be optomistic.
There are people here who will chime in with better estimates than I as they have probably done that drive or enough parts of it to know what to look for.
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Feb 12th, 2012, 08:19 AM
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How many nights are you spending at each place?
The drives from Oban to Keswick (I presume) and Keswick to Stratford will take at least 4-5 hours for someone who is used to driving in British traffic conditions, so by the time you stop for lunch and check in and out of hotels, most of your travelling day has been used up. You will also have to retrace your journey to travel to Conwy from Stratford. If you are only going there to see a castle you may as well spend longer in Ediburgh and see the castle there and maybe take a trip to Dirleton Castle near North Berwick which is a ruined castle where you can wander round without many restrictions.
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Feb 12th, 2012, 09:40 AM
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"Is this trip too ambitious?" Yes.
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Feb 12th, 2012, 02:51 PM
  #5
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Conwy to Stradford makes more sense.
Is Oban worth seeing? My impression from the guide books is that the Highlands aren't to impressive. Am I way off?
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Feb 12th, 2012, 02:56 PM
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Yes, Peter, you are way off. Oban is lovely; it tends to be a way station rather than a destination. It's also a slightly odd place to go to see Loch Ness from. Doable, but odd.

This may sound like a stupid question but what do you think of as a castle?
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Feb 12th, 2012, 03:11 PM
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"My impression from the guide books is that the Highlands aren't to impressive."

OMG! Just OMG -nothing else to say.

"Am I way off?"

Yes.

"Is this trip to ambitious?"

Yes.

Other random thoughts (other than OMG

• Oban is not a base for "Loch Ness, etc."

• You have 1.5 days in Edinburgh, 1.5 days for Oban and everything else you might want to see in Scotland, no time at all in the Lake District, and less than a full day in Wales. Does that look like it makes sense?

• You say 2 days in Wales/fly home from London. North Wales is a half day drive from Heathrow.

• Sit down w/ a guide book - but NOT the one that said the Highlands aren't impressive - and a map, and rethink everything. from
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Feb 12th, 2012, 03:42 PM
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I'm in a shame spiral

Should I skip Wales and spend more time in the highlands? The Rick Steves book seemed to love Wales (3stars) compared to the Highlands (1. Star).

Sorry for probably pretty dumb questions....
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Feb 12th, 2012, 03:54 PM
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"The Rick Steves book . . . "

That is ALL you needed to say (in fact I suspected you meant a RS book). Trust me --he may provide good info for other parts of Europe, but for the UK he really is a putz (nicest word I could think of - and I've met the man -- twice).

Distances look short but travel takes a LOT of time. How many actual days between your arrival and departure (give us the dates), and which airport are you flying out of?
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Feb 12th, 2012, 04:27 PM
  #10
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Flying out to edi on June 23 and out of Heathrow on July 3rd.
This is a trip for our daughter who always wanted to go to Scotland. She loves history, castles etc. She has been to London before and Windsor castle. A stop at Stradford upon Avon is a must to see a Shakespeare play too.
Thanks for any and all help
Peter
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Feb 13th, 2012, 01:10 AM
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Castle? What sort of castles?
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Feb 13th, 2012, 01:48 AM
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I'm assuming Conwy may be there for the castle. But there's also a classic castle in Edinburgh.

As for the Highlands, well, it's a matter of taste. See if this helps make a difference:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGDFZfgNYlo
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Feb 13th, 2012, 04:12 AM
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Thanks for the video. The Highlands seems very nature centric .I guess what lent me towards Wales is that the guide book called it one of the most beautiful places in the UK. They made the Highlands seem like hours of driving amongst the hills . Is this off?
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Feb 13th, 2012, 04:19 AM
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You guidebook sounds very strange. Can you not find a real one that will give you more information? The Highlands are usually regarded as the most scenic part of Britain. But don't go if you don't want to. You can have a great time in Wales as well.

But you can go driving for hours amongst the hills in Wales too. What exactly were you expecting?
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Feb 13th, 2012, 04:57 AM
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Your current plan doesn't involve hours of driving in the hills - but it does include hours of driving on motorways.
I know which I'd prefer.

I think you need to borrow or buy another guidebook, and also decide on what exactly your priorities are.
Also define a castle - do you want intact castles that you can walk around and see rooms, or do you want ruins?

You say you want to see a Shakespeare play in Stratford. Have you looked to see what, if anything, is on during your time in the UK. Maybe, if that is a high priority, you will have to re-jig your trip around when you can get tickets.
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Feb 13th, 2012, 06:06 AM
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Are there many castles in Wales? Yes. Are there more castles in Scotland? Definitely - no matter your definition/mental image of a castle. Wales is wonderful. Scotland is even more so in a lot of ways.

You could have a great holiday in Wales -- but since you land at EDI, I personally don't see the point.

Start over. What you want is Scotland, maybe Stratford upon Avon and London. It is easier to get to Stratford by train from London than by car or train from Edinburgh. What I would do is visit Edinburgh for a couple of days,pick up a car, spend a few days touring a small part of Scotland, drop the car and take the train or fly to London for your last couple of days. Visit Stratford from London. Whether as a day trip or an overnight depends on if you want/can get tickets to an evening performance.
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Feb 13th, 2012, 06:17 AM
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Oh -and go to your local bookstore - find the UK travel section, go to near the end of the shelf(s) where the Scotland - specific titles are (don't go to the very end or you'll be back in Wales), and pick up a new guide book. NOT one w/ Rick Steves name on it . . .
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Feb 13th, 2012, 09:30 AM
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I was going to suggest doing Stratford form London maybe with an overnight to take in a performance at RSC, but janisj beat me to it . I believe trains depart from Marylebone Station.
Wales is great but Scotland better IMO and you don't have time for both.

There are plenty of good guidebooks. My favorites are Footprints and Lonely Planet. Peter Irvine's Scotland the Best is excellent too.
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Feb 13th, 2012, 09:43 AM
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Look for the DK book on Scotland. The pics should put paid to the notion of the Highlands as overrated.

And if you like castles, you're really going to the wrong side of the Highlands. There are some nice ones west of Loch Ness, but more gems are east of it. Aberdeenshire is filled with castles and on the way there from Edinburgh (or back), you can see Scone Palace, Glamis Castle (HRM's childhood home), and with a bit of a detour Stirling and Blair Castles.
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Feb 13th, 2012, 09:56 AM
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"And if you like castles, you're really going to the wrong side of the Highlands."

Since peterad is (hopefully) tearing up the first plan - he isn't on either side of the Highlands just yet.

Once we have him convinced, we can help w/ the itinerary/castles to visit.
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