Scotland Highlands Help

May 31st, 2009, 03:31 PM
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Scotland Highlands Help

My husband and I are planning a trip to the Scotland Highlands in 2 weeks and need help. We have 6 days to spend in the highlands and would love recommendations. We basically want a romantic trip and would like to hit the highlights of this area. We also love castles! Is this enough time to visit the highlands and the Island of Skye? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Our trip will start and end in Edinburgh.

Promethia is offline  
May 31st, 2009, 04:42 PM
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Scotland is a small country but the highland roads are not motorways and you have to double your time of travel per distance, if you drive. Perhaps for such a short period as 6 days a railpass (+ferrypass) would suit you better and let BOTH of you enjoy the scenery. If you have your heart set on Skye, the train mileage from Edinburgh to Inverness to the Skye ferry boat at Kyle of Lochalsh is 282km + 133, = 415 km, so figure out your driving times.
I would rather recommend taking the train from Glasgow (easy shuttle from Edinburgh) to Mallaig which goes thro wonderful highland scenery, and there is a ferry at Mallaig that coordinates with the train to take you to Armadale in southern Skye. E.g., the 8:21am train from Glasgow connects with the 1:45pm ferry to Armadale/Skye, ariving at Armadale at 2:15pm
[].....but once you are on Skye you will have to rely on the PostBus or local Bus service to get around...and NEVER arrive in Skye on a Sunday!
If you really want to see the highlands, you should get off the train a couple of stops before Mallaig, to visit Arisaig and Morar....all of the above can be accomplished by car but it will be less romantic and you will have less contacts with the locals.....and there are plenty of castles in Skye!
I wish you good weather!
scotty09 is offline  
May 31st, 2009, 11:41 PM
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Hi, Promethia. You can see a lot in 6 days, and you can certainly include Skye.

The "Highlands" is not a defined area as such. We do romance to a band playing, so would you like to narrow down your likes a bit? What sorts of hotels do you want to stay in?
sheila is offline  
Jun 1st, 2009, 05:48 AM
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We prefer to stay in small hotels or B&Bs with character. I think we'd like to visit some castles, quaint villages and a national park. We love the outdoors and would love to spend at least 1 day hiking. I have no interest in shopping or doing anything too touristy.

Do you recommend any towns or parks in Scotland or Skye?
Promethia is offline  
Jun 1st, 2009, 12:03 PM
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This is one of many options. If you like it we can flesh it out for youbr /> Day One- Edinburgh to St Andrews

The Forth Rail bridge is worth driving past. The estuary of the Forth widens to superb beaches (with wonderful links golf courses behind them) and in Fife you have St Andrew's, home of golf (and the beach where they filmed the opening sequences of Chariots of Fire). To get there you go past Loch Leven, where Mary, Queen of Scots was kept imprisoned on one of the islands.

If you want to play golf, and you can’t play at the Old Course, there are courses all the way up through Fife. Amongst the best are Elie, Lundin Links, Ladybank and Crail

Day 2 - Dundee to Tomintoul

Cross the Tay Bridge to Dundee, then cut across country to Glamis (castle) then go on to Blairgowrie where you pick up the A93 to Glenshee, and down to Braemar and Deeside. This is where Lizzie Windsor has her summer place, much beloved of American tourists. It's also in a beautiful location and therefore worth the visit. Just at Crathie, which is where you will find Balmoral, if you're daft enough to want to, there's a sign to Royal Lochnagar distillery.. It's not the best whisky in the world but there's no such thing as a bad malt and it does a good tour.

Come back onto the A93 and continue east a few miles till you see signs pointing left to Tomintoul. Take that road and go over Gairn Shiel to Corgarff then turn left towards Cockbridge and up over the Lecht to Tomintoul.

By now, you have crossed two of Scotland's highest roads, and it's not yet tea time. There's a very good whisky shop in Tomintoul (much better than the tourist trap on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh) and, incidentally, there is also a very good wood carver right next door. I would suggest staying here.

Day 3, Tomintoul to Drumnadochit (but not in a straight line).

Go back on your tracks a bit and follow the road down to Dufftown. Here you will find Glenfiddich distillery. Still not my favourite dram, but probably one of the best sellers in the world and almost certainly the best tour.

Follow the road down to the Spey at Aberlour (or Charlestown of Aberlour, to give it its Sunday name)You are right in the heart of Speyside, on the Whisky trail. If you want to see more, almost evry second distillery is open to the public. If you have a favourite, ask at one of the tourist offices if they do a tour and just go along. The Macallan is pobably the best Speyside whisky, but Aberlour itself is a good second. Follow the river to Grantown then go up to Nethy Bridge on the south bank. Outside Nethy Bridge you will find Abernethy Forest and Loch Garten which is a huge nature reserve and is worth stopping at to see the Ospreys.

Drive on to Aviemore, close your eyes so you miss it (a travesty of 1960s planning) and go stright up to inverness on the A9. Spend a little time in Invernes and either spend the night here or ( my choice) set off down Loch Ness towards Drumnadrochit, and find somewhere to stay on the Lochside.

Day 4- Loch Ness to Skye

Get up early and drive quickly down the Loch and then strike west to Kyle of Lochalsh and cross the bridge to Skye and spend the whole of the next day there. You can visit Dunvegan Castle, the Cuillin mountains, Portree, Isle Ornsay, Broadford, Uig, the Clan Donald centre and many more. Scenery terrific. Accommodations available include the Rosedale hotel in Portree and the Isle Ornsay Hotel, both of which are excellent but in different budget categories. An available castle is Kinloch Castle owned and run by Lady Clare MacDonald who is also a gourmet chef

Day Four- Skye to Glasgow

Take the ferry from the south end of Skye at Armadale to Mallaig then drive right east to Fort William through Morar and Arisaig. Drive down the coast road to Oban, through Kilmartin Glen and past Dunadd to Crinan; back to Lochgilphead and over to Inveraray. Cross the Rest and be Thankful to Arrochar on Loch Lomond, go down the lochside and back into Glasgow . That’s a long day and could be easily split
sheila is offline  
Jun 1st, 2009, 05:48 PM
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sheila always gives good advice, and that would be a very good loop. We covered a good bit of that territory making a loop in the other direction that, like your trip, lasted six days, and if you're interested in reading about it, click on my name and check out my trip report from 2007. I will note that the Scotland experts suggest staying in a more scenic small town rather than staying in Inverness as we did, and had I a chance to do it over again, I might have opted to stay on Skye proper, rather than Plockton, but I had a difficult time finding accommodations that I really liked for our party of 3.
twk is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2009, 12:28 PM
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Promethia, we just returned from 6 days in Scotland and 7 days in the UK. In Portree, Skye, we stayed at the Coolin View Hotel. One of the best views in town (looking right over the Harbour), very friendly staff and one of the best restaurants in town a few doors down. We were very well satisfied! We also stayed at a very nice B&B in Ballachulish (just south of Glencoe village)called Ardmore House.
mikej48 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2009, 08:38 AM
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I might add that if you are looking for a romantic vacation you consider a stay at Ord House in Ord on Skye. Ask Nicola for bedroom 1.
kelticshaman is offline  
Jun 6th, 2009, 07:16 AM
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Not sure why, but I'm having a hard time figuring out how much time to spend in each location and where to get a hotel. I've made a list of the following areas to visit: Edinburgh, Stirling, Pitlochry, Iverness, Loch Ness, Skye, Oban and possibly the islands of Mull and Iona. Is Glasgow worth a stop?

My husband has already been to Edinburgh so we only want to spend 1 day there. We arrive in Manchester, England on Saturday (have to fly to Machester for work), and plan on driving to Edinburgh. We have to be in Machester the following Saturday so we have 6 full days. Any ideas on an itinerary?
Promethia is offline  
Jun 6th, 2009, 09:01 AM
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You only have 5 days besides the 1 you plan in Edinburgh - there is no way on Earth you can visit Stirling, Pitlochry, Iverness, Loch Ness, Skye, Oban Mull/Iona and possibly Glasgow. Unless you want a series of one-night stands and just seeing Scotland from your car windows . . . .

For such a short visit I'd definitely drop Pitlochry, Oban (the town is nothing much really but it is the jumping off point for ferries to Mull and for seeing some really interesting countryside) and either Skye or Mull/Iona. Plus you can skip Inverness (Sheila's suggestion to stay near Drumnadrochit is better)

Sheila's itinerary is very good for seeing some of the best bits in your short time frame (though you will be moving for sure). If you want to see Stirling - then either head that way instead of up into Fife, or see it after Skye and don't venture towards Glasgow.

Just plan on averaging about 35-40 mph - that gives you an idea how much territory you can cover.
janisj is online now  
Jun 7th, 2009, 10:45 PM
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We just got back from 5 days driving around the Highlands - Glasgow to Skye and back, via Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Glenshiel. Any route that you select through scenic areas will be good. I recommend the following:
- assume 35-40 mph
- do not spend time in towns like Ft. William, Oban, etc.
- for planning hikes:
- you need waterproof gear, even for easy hikes.
- book all your B&Bs in advance (I was surpied that in May the majority had No Vacancy signs out). There are a lot of good websites that will help you (or just type in the name of the village in Google).
- Skye is rugged and barren and lacks the forested views of the mainland. I found it somewhat monotonous, although I very much enjoyed the hikes we did there (in the Cuillin mountains area).
mbgg is offline  
Jun 7th, 2009, 11:09 PM
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I second the recommendation for Aberlour on the Spey. Not only are there fine distilleries close at hand, Aberlour is home for the baking of Walker's shortbread cookies.
mohun is offline  
Jun 10th, 2009, 12:04 PM
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I'm almost finished with my itinerary. We ended up deciding to spend 2 days in the Lake District since we're driving up from Manchester. We're spending 3 nights on the Isle of Skye at the Duntulm Castle Hotel and then we are spending 2 nights near Loch Ness. Any hotel recommendations in the Iverness/Loch Ness area? We'd like to find a place that has great views and not too touristy.

Has anyone heard anything about Duntulmn Castle Hotel? It's a little out of the way, but it looks beautiful. Let me know.

Promethia is offline  
Jun 10th, 2009, 12:44 PM
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Duntulm is fine. Have a look at the Lovat Arms in Beauly
sheila is offline  
Jun 10th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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Duntulm Castle hotel is a great place -- but it is more than a "little out of the way". It's on the very tip of the Trotternish Peninsula and it will take you a long time to get anywhere from there.

it is about 25 miles from Portree whichever side of the peninsula you drive. Then much farther to other parts of Skye. So just factor that in to any of your touring plans.
janisj is online now  
Jun 19th, 2009, 08:33 AM
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Another option to consider is to travel by train to Inverness and then rent a car and head up to Dornoch, home of the world's greatest bed and breakfast, Kyleview House. I just finished an outstanding five night stay there. The views are terrific, there is championship links golf in town, and Dunrobin Castle is just down the road. The people are very nice, and the accomodations are very reasonably priced. Dornoch would be a great starting point for a holiday. You could even go to the Orkney Islands from John O' Groats for a day tour. Consider Dornoch.
morrismarb is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2011, 02:07 AM
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Sheila, my wife and I are planning to visit Scotland for the first time in mid-late May 2011 and have been looking at various options for car travel. Came across your post here from 2009 and just spent some time checking the route on my AA Big Road Atlas. We usually like spending more time seeing the country rather than the cities so it seems like an interesting plan.
I did have one question: is there any chance in the wide world I could possibly impose on you to give me a rough idea of the travelling times by car each day? (If it's too much of a nuisance, please don't worry).
gj05 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2011, 02:11 AM
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The routeplanner on (click for the classic version as it's more useful) is pretty reliable for driving times for non-locals - just remember it's DRIVING time and doesn't include sight-seeing or rest stops.
alanRow is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2011, 02:13 AM
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Just to add - their day 1 from Edinburgh to St Andrews - it's only a couple of hours by the direct route, it's far better to follow the Fife coast round and drop into some of the small villages there.
alanRow is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2011, 03:23 AM
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gj05 - it's better to start your own post with your own question. I was just about to comment on the OP's itinerary until I realised it's an old post from summer 2009.
Gordon_R is offline  

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