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Scotland in 7 Days

Old Apr 30th, 2017, 03:00 AM
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Scotland in 7 Days

Hello folks,

I along with my wife and son (11 yrs) will be reaching London on 15th May '17 at about 11:00 hours. We intend to travel straight away to Edinburgh and stay over night (maybe even the next day to make it easy after a long flight). Need to get back to London on 22nd May.

Once at Edinburgh, I will be hiring a car and plan to visit the Isle of Skye apart from the other popular points of interest. I believe there are thee routes (by road) to the Isle of Skye. So will really appreciate your valuable suggestions as to which places should i cover ?

Thanks for your time and reading in advance.

Cheers
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Old Apr 30th, 2017, 05:36 AM
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Can you give us a bit more information?

1. How are you getting from London to Edinburgh? Flying? Train from central London? Driving?

2. Where are you coming from and where will you be going after Scotland? It might make a difference in our suggestions.

3. What interests you and your family? History? Scenery? Do you want to take walks or hikes? Is there a particular reason you want to go to Skye or is it just the island's (well deserved) reputation? How about historic cities and towns?

4. What sort of budget are you employing? Bed and breakfasts, hotels...?

5. Can you describe your "style" as you travel? Go-go v. stop-and-smell-the-flowers? How many hours per day are you okay behind the wheel?

The reason for these questions is that - obviously - a week is a woefully inadequate time to see anything but a tiny percentage of the things Scotland has to offer. Priorities have to be set, but we don't know yours. You could easily spend four days in Edinburgh and three going and coming back from Skye, and still have nowhere near enough time to get a feel for either.

There are two road routes to Skye, a northern one that accesses the island via a road bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh, and a southern one that uses a ferry from the port of Mallaig at the end of the "Road to the Isles." I would suggest both, one coming and one going. The northern (bridge) route will take you past iconic Eilean Donan Castle and the Road to the Isles will take you past the equally iconic Glenfinnan memorial to the Jacobite rising of 1745 as well as the "Harry Potter" railway viaduct.

A focus on Skye and the western Highlands will take time away from other beautiful and fascinating areas, such as the Borders (the region straddling the English border to the south) or the northeast of the country with its fishing and whisky heritage. But it's possible to include more of these areas if you don't mind a "fly-by" itinerary, which sacrifices detail for variety.

Here's a possible - but very aggressive route that would include the picturesque fishing villages on the south coast of Fife, just across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh, then via St. Andrews and historic Fortingall up to Skye via the Kyle Bridge. It then returns to Edinburgh via the ferry and Glenfinnan, past Glen Coe and magnificent Glen Etive to the Trossachs, and finally through Stirling with its important castle and historic nearby battlefields.

Map - https://goo.gl/maps/mq1qpxWMovK2

But as I say, this is ultra-high-speed and will mean you're flying past places that merit a lot more time. Give us a better idea of your priorities and style, and more help will be forthcoming.
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Old Apr 30th, 2017, 07:21 AM
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We do need more info from you as Gardyloo says.

BUT -- staying 2 nights in Edinburgh (which would just about be a must since you you will have been traveling 1.5 to 2 days just to get there) leaves you a grand total of 5 days free so you simply can't do much more than visit Skye.

It basically takes a full day to get from Edinburgh to Skye and another nearly full day to get back (or to Glasgow)

That doesn't seem a good use of your very limited time -- half a day to get to Scotland, a full day to Skye, another day back from Skye and another half to 3/4 day getting back to London is a LOT of travel . . .
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Old Apr 30th, 2017, 11:22 PM
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Hi Gardyloo/Janisj,

First of all, really appreciate your time and inputs. I will be landing London (Heathrow) on 15th May at about 11:00 hours and intend to go to Edinburgh by train. Guess will be in Edinburgh by the evening. Again need to be back to London on 22nd May (by train either from Edinburgh or Glasgow)

Yes points of interest would be just out of reputation, intend to stay in hotels.

I may be totally wrong but have made a raw itinerary as below:

15th May Reach Edinburgh by train
16th May Edinburgh
17th May Leave Edinburgh(self drive)to Glencoe via Stirling
Reach Fort William and stay overnight
18th Fort William to Skye (by road) through the Kyle of Lochlash (is it possible).
19th Skye
20th Skye to Inverness - Loch Ness and back to Inverness to stay overnight
21st Inverness to Pitlochry (or any other place) and then to Edinburgh. Stay overnight
22nd Edinburgh to London

Not very sure of the above hence would like suggestions. Don't want to make it very hectic. Can also take the other route as suggested by you. Just want to stick to the basics and visit places as time permits. Scotland has a lot to offer and a classic tour would require a fortnight to say the least.

So in nutshell i have just seven day to spare and would like to make the most of it.

Once again thanks a lot for your valuable time and suggestions.

Cheers,
Avinashh
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Old Apr 30th, 2017, 11:36 PM
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Hi Gardyloo,

Your mapped itinerary seems very good, and covers a lot of places. So given the seven days we have, which places should be stay overnight. Others will be toured by road.

Can omit few cities to make it easier and more relaxing.

Looking forward for a wonderful trip, thanks a bunch to you folks!!
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Old May 1st, 2017, 05:58 AM
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Couple of things.

First, with your schedule, in my opinion you need to squeeze every moment out of your time, so for that reason I'd fly to Edinburgh rather than taking the train. Between the cost and time required to get into central London from Heathrow then the cost of the train itself, the airfare can be quite competitive. The cheapest land alternative as of now is around £55 - £107 for tube, train or HEX to Kings Cross then to Edinburgh, v. £93 for one of the several British Airways flights that you could connect to with an 11 AM arrival. The plane would get you to Edinburgh in the early afternoon, the train not until mid- to late evening. For the difference of 20 or 30 quid (or less) and much less hassle wrangling bags, etc., I'd fly.

As for the route, this is up to you, but most of us regard Inverness as a place easily skipped, no disrespect intended. Eliminating Inverness and Loch Ness from your route would free up more time to see things, and, honestly, Loch Ness is not all that scenic. Nice, but not in the first rank (again, just my view.) And I'd also cut Stirling, particularly if your main objective is Stirling Castle. It's magnificent to be sure, but you'll be able to visit Edinburgh Castle, which is equally magnificent and more convenient.

Similarly, Fort William is more a place to fill your tank and get your last Big Mac before the Hebrides, rather than a place to stay overnight.

One day on Skye isn't very much. Be mindful that you're going to be there in mid-May, when there can be days where every scenic thing on offer is obscured by clouds and/or sideways rain. The weather comes off the Atlantic with a vengeance sometimes, or else you can be caught in mist and fog that doesn't let up. Romantic and atmospheric maybe, but not conducive to roaming in the gloaming.

So here's a driving route I'd suggest - https://goo.gl/maps/4KkyUrDvDsK2

And a day-by-day -

15-May London - Edinburgh
16-May Edinburgh - Glen Coe via Glen Etive
17-May Glen Coe to Skye via Mallaig
18-May Day on Skye
19-May Day on Skye
20-May Skye to Edinburgh
21-May Day in Edinburgh
22-May Edinburgh to London

If you fly from Heathrow to Edinburgh, I'd suggest staying near the airport, since you'll want to pick up your car at the airport rather than someplace in the city. There are decent and affordable hotels near EDI including a couple of options in historic and picturesque South Queensferry, a few minutes from the airport.

Drive past Stirling toward Glen Coe. Drive down Glen Etive (the turnoff is just before you enter the top of Glen Coe) for a stunning baptism into highland scenery and driving on single-track roads.

Spend the night in Glencoe village (several options) then the next day take your time to travel to Skye via the Road to the Isles, with a stop at the Glenfinnan monument, in one of the most beautiful locations in the country.

Others are more familiar with where to stay on Skye than I am; most people find that Sligachan is preferable to Portree as it's (a) more scenic and (b) better located for getting around the island. I'll defer to their judgement. I happen to like Plockton, a very picturesque village located on the mainland side of the Kyle bridge, but that would make touring Skye more complicated as distances would be longer.

Leave Skye via the Kyle bridge. Stop for a photo-op at Eilean Donan castle, then motor directly back to Edinburgh via Spean Bridge and over to the A9. There are several convenient short detours off the A9 - Blair Atholl, Pitlochry, Dunkeld... along the road back to Edinburgh. Drop the car back at the airport then take a cab or the tram into the city for your last two nights.

This is pretty high speed stuff but ought to give you a decent feel for the country, enough to entice you to return when you have more time.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 06:34 AM
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I was going to post very similar points as Gardyloo's.

Just to emphasize a few points: Flying from LHR up to EDI (or GLA) will make much more sense than schlepping across London to catch the train. (IF you had were already in central London the train is a better idea -- but not when you are starting from the airport.)

Also Inverness and Ft William are two of the very few places in all of Scotland where I would NOT stay if I had limited time.

And do realize that the driving will be much slower than you may be used to (and the on-line calculators are pretty useless IRL). So even w/ Gardyloo's much improved plan, you will still be spending a lot of time in the car.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 07:10 AM
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We're flying into London en route to Edinburgh same day. We chose a late afternoon flight out to EDI and to tour nearby Heathrow (Windsor/Eton) on our landing day precisely because we didn't want to drag ourselves and the hobbits across the London area to catch a train that would take 4+ hours.

It's MINIMUM 5.5 hours from any London airport (other than Stansted, maybe, but I don't know the connections) to Edinburgh by train. You're either flying into Gatwick or Heathrow (you don't say which). From Heathrow to Edinburgh by train, you need to take the Piccadilly line to Kings Cross then a train from Kings X. The Piccadilly Line takes minimum 45 minutes once you're on board. The train from Kings X takes 4:20 to 4:45, depending upon its calling points. From Gatwick, it will take about an hour to get to Kings X by train and then your train time to Edinburgh.

In other words, fly.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 08:12 AM
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I'll just add that you have been given some excellent advice by Gardyloo, janisj and BigRuss.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 07:01 PM
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Hello folks,

As mentioned earlier I will be reaching Heathrow on 15th May at about 11:30 hours. Would like to take a low cost carrier (I believe from Stanstead/Luton or Gatwick, Heathrow on BA)to reach Edinburgh.

Thanks a lot for the detailed road map. Yes you guys are right given the time I have its better to fly from London to Edinburgh. Either ways it will work out better for me.

Gardyloo your day wise itinerary seems very good. Just that we would like to stay in Edinburgh during the first leg (ie because will be traveling a lot to reach London/Edinburgh). So once done with Edinburgh, will start car journey upwards. Is there any way I can rope in Inverness/Loch Ness while returning back from Skye - Edinburgh ? You guys are again right, Inverness/Loch Ness score a lot of brownie points as are popular destinations but maybe over rated! But have to give in if wifey and son are bent upon. Can do while coming back to Edinburgh and make it a stopover point if possible. Again maybe wrong, need your advice?

Thanks a ton guys , your valuable suggestions and time is much appreciated.
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Old May 1st, 2017, 07:26 PM
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>>Would like to take a low cost carrier (I believe from Stanstead/Luton or Gatwick, . . .
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Old May 1st, 2017, 07:33 PM
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Back again folks,

As Gardyloo suggested this

15-May London - Edinburgh
16-May Edinburgh - Glen Coe via Glen Etive
17-May Glen Coe to Skye via Mallaig
18-May Day on Skye
19-May Day on Skye
20-May Skye to Edinburgh
21-May Day in Edinburgh
22-May Edinburgh to London

Here can we do the reverse, I mean start from Edinburgh go up north to Skye bia Loch Ness/Inverness

Come back from Skye to Edinburgh through the Kyle, GlenCoe Glen Etive and other places ?

Do let me know your thoughts? Thanks a million , again
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Old May 1st, 2017, 07:47 PM
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Of course, another option is the night train. You wouldn't have to worry about which flight to book, in case your inbound is late.

You could take the night train clear through to Fort William and cut out a lot of driving, although you'd have to check what that would cost in the way of drop off fees.

https://seat61.com/CaledonianSleepers.htm
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Old May 1st, 2017, 08:02 PM
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Actually if you are considering the sleeper train - taking it to Inverness would make more sense. There are national rental chains at Inverness so one can rent a car and visit Skye, Glencoe Glen Etive, and finally drop the car at Edinburgh.

The sleeper will save you the cost of one night hotel -- but the fares are high unless booked WELL ahead and you've left things quite late.
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