Scotland in June

Old Mar 29th, 1999, 10:35 AM
  #1  
Patty
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Scotland in June

Six of us will be traveling to Scotland in June for 10-12 days. We will be flying to Edinburgh from Frankfurt (where my sister is stationed). We're looking at staying in Edinburgh for several days then north to the Inverness area and then west to Glasgow environs. We will be renting a car/minivan and going the B&B route. I'm looking for any suggestions of unique and interesting places to see. I'm interested in trad. music and if we could find a local festival or ceilidh that would be great. Somehow, we've got to be able to make one of Natalie MacMaster's concerts as she will be touring in the area during that time frame. Sheila or Tony, do you have any suggestions for places to go or see? We're interested in castles, ruins, historic places, and just roaming the countryside. I haven't posted very often here, but I check in every day just to read the very interesting posts and indulge my love of travel. Thanks for any ideas or suggestions. We are really looking forward to this trip!
 
Old Mar 29th, 1999, 01:54 PM
  #2  
Sheila
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Ok, castles, ruins, historic places or the countryside; that narrows it down a bit!!!

I'll leave Tony to do Edinburgh since he is clearly a resident.

Leave towards Perth, and cross the Forth Road Bridge; you pass the rail bridge, one of the modern wonders of the world on your right, and you don't even have to slow down.

Just over the river (the Forth) Dunfermilne is on your left. Robert the Bruce, the hero king who won bannockbrn is buried here in Dunfermilne Abbey (although his heart is buried at Melrose in the borders); go back onto the main road and you will shortly come to Loch Leven, where Mary Queen of Scots was locked up in the castle on the island (v. romantice..the story of the escape- she then fled to her cousing in England for succour. She, locked her up for 20 years then beheaded her. perfidious Albion!) There is a very pretty bird reserve at Vane farm on the south side on the loch.

Just before you come to Perth you cross over the "Wicks of Baiglie" and can see right down the tay valley to Dundee. Myth says that Julius caesar made it this far, and seeing the broad fertile valley stopped and said "Ecce Tiberus!" (Look, the Tiber!)

Perth is a very nice little city; capital of Scotland before Edinburgh and imbued with history. There are two large parks on the dge of the city centre, the North and South Inches.(Inch is from the Gaelic innis- a meadow)The story goes that a particular Eal of perth wanting to be buried in the City Church, St John's, told the town magistrates " If you give me six feet, I'll give you two inches"

Take time to climb Kinnoull Hill which proudly overlooks thetown and the tay and is surmounted by a folly castle built by another Earl of Perth, who had done the Grand Tour and thought that the Tay valley was just like the Rhine except it didn't have castles on its hilltops- so he faked a couple.

Then drive on to Dunkeld, a lovely town on the Tay, with a beautiful historic square, a cathedral and some wonderful views. There's a pub in the village (the name of which i can't remember but it's the second one on the street on the right immediately over the bridge- you can't miss it) which is owned by Dougie Mclean one of Scotland's greatest contemporary singer songwriters. It can be a fine place to spend an evening.

If you then take a wee detour west to Aberfeldy and Loch Tay you will pass Breadalbane Castle, former home of the Marquis of Breadalbane, and now a golf course! and come to the lovely 18th century planned village of Kenmore. the Loch is stunning. And if you're up to the walk, go along the north side to Ben Lawers and drive up to the National Trust visitor centre. Time it right and then walk up to the top. Don't do this if it's raining unless you're nuts!

Then drive back down to Pitlochry (if you go along the north side of the river you pass the Farleyer Hotel, which has a stunning bistro..It's not cheap mind you). Pitlochry is a tourist dive so don't stay long; although it is a good place to get your tweeds and tartans and woolens and things...if you've got any money left after Edinburgh and lunch at the Farleyer.

Go north again and stop at Killiecrankie and see the famous soldier's leap. If you don't know the story, learn the song.

A couple of miles further on is Blair Atholl, another planned village and a superb castle for a visit. the Duke of atholl is the only person is the UK licenced by the Queen to have a private army.

OK; I've been on-line about half an hour so far and I've only got you half way to Inverness. I'll come back tomorrow and add the next bit
 
Old Mar 29th, 1999, 02:15 PM
  #3  
Sheila
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Oh, I forgot. the two best places in Edinburgh for folk music are 2 pubs (surprise!) One is the Tron and the other is Sandy Bell's. Sandy Bell's also used to produce a news-sheet "Sandy bell's Broadsheet" and I think they still do, which lists all the folky stuff going on all over Scotland. So go there first to find out what the options are. I tried to do a web search just now but I'm crss eyeed and didn't really find anything. I gave up after about 100 entries!
 
Old Mar 29th, 1999, 11:27 PM
  #4  
Tony Hughes
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Hallo Patty...

Sheila, your answer was fairly comprehensive (and sensible - so different from the ones i usually post) - not sure if i should bother with a posting...but I will share what knowledge I have.

Patty, do a search on Scotland as I answered an 'interesting things to do' posting which Sheila answered as well. It was called 'underground Scotland', I think and is only about 2 or 3 weeks old.

As far as Edinburgh is concerned, i can think of another pub which houses traditional/folk music. It's the Ensign Ewart which is situated near the entrance to the Castle - can't miss it.

What i would say, though , is that you should take a trip along the coast of FIfe (I am a Fifer by birth) and view the wonderful coastline and old fishing villages - Pitenweem, Anstruther(have some local fish - best haddock in the world), St Monans, Elie etc . Don't miss Largo, former home of my (distant) relative Alexander Selkirk (or Selcraig). He was the original 'Robinson Crusoe'. Daniel Defoe heard about Selkirk's adventures whilst he was in Fife during the 18th Century (Defoe was an English spy, as it happens) and decided to rip-off the story and pretend it was his own. As you may know, Selkirk was left on Juan Fernandez island (now called 'Robinson Crusoe' island) off the Chilean coast for four years before making his way back to Largo. Go look at the statue, it's a nice little town.

I think one of the most beautiful places in the World is Glenfinnan, where the monument is now. This marks the (supposed) spot where Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - first set foot on Scottish soil and raised the 'standard' (flag thing) proclaiming his right to the British throne. Beware of midges, though - like mosquitoes.

I happen to know of a few decent b&b's in Edinburgh that I always recommend to Americans and, indeed, i am meeting some that i helped out on this forum in a couple of weeks.

If you require and help with accomodation in Edinburgh, Patty, just email me.
 
Old Mar 30th, 1999, 07:20 AM
  #5  
Patty
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Tony & Sheila, Thanks so much for the info! I did a search (probably should have done that first) and found the posting Tony refered to. It all sounds very interesting. Culloden was high on my list to begin with and now I've got all these other places to check out! Looking forward to the next installation, Sheila.
 
Old Mar 30th, 1999, 08:29 AM
  #6  
Sheila
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Here's the next instalment

From Blair Atholl, go north again on the A9. You will pass a place called House of Bruar which markets itself as "the Harrods of the North" It's a real fancy shop and I hate to say it but I love it. Worth stopping.

Next up yu will come to Dalwhinnie- great whisky, great distillery. I don't know if it dies tours but it's worth stopping if it does. Come off the main road somewhere north of here and carry on on the old main road- less traffic and more scenic.

You come to Newtonmore and Kingussie I can never remember which comes first, but at the first one there is a superb 17th century barracks built by the English to keep the Scots down after Culloden. Worth a trip. It's immediately adjacent to Insch Marches which is another bird reserve- lots of brilliant ducks and waders ( did I mention I was into birds?) Carry on up the Spey until just before Aviemore and turn right as though you were going to Grantown on Spey. You come first to Rothiemurchus which has all sorts of visitor facilities, then to Abernethy estate, which is also owned by the bird people (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds- like the Audobon) At their Loch Garten reserve you can see Osprey which are wonderful fish eating raptors which live in Africa in winter and come to visit us in summer. They always come back to the same nest so the RSPB have a live TV camera showing evrything that is going on. In June you should have young in the nest. In anycase, Rothiemurchus and Abernethy are remnant Caledonian pine forest- our oldest trees; and I guarantee you, that, unless you are made of stone, a walk off the track will make your skin tingle. You have the sensation of being where generations have been before. If you go up into the hills here ( quite a long walk- 4-5 hours, but worth every minute) you may well see Golden Eagle. By going back to Aviemore and going to the ski slopes at Cairngorm, you can take the chairlift well up the mountain; but we'll all hate you for doing it the easy way. If you carry on towards and past Grantown you are into the whisky country of Speyside. Glenfiddich distillery at Dufftown may not mmake the best malt in the world ( ther's no such thing as a bad one) but it probably does the best tour.

Back to the A9 along the Spey and you drive on to Inverness capital of the Highlands. (Aviemore is like Pitlochry but modern- avoid it like the plague) you have the Cairngorms Mountains on your right and the Monadliath Mountains on your left. It's just grand.

Just before you get to Inverness turn right and go back as far as Culloden-6 miles.(as an alternative to this you could carry on east from Dufftown and arive at elgin and come up the A96, stopping at some of the Moray fishing villages on the way. Culloden will appear on your left before you get to Inveness.

You've already seen the post for Culloden so I won't bore you. Bu don't niss it.

Inverness is at one end of the Caledonian canal, which you need to see. It has nice pubs and hotels, but is essentially a sweet little town with little to keep you in it. It's what is nearby that matters.


I'll do that bit later.
 
Old Mar 30th, 1999, 12:51 PM
  #7  
Sheila
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There are so many things I should be doing instead of this...but it's such fun.

Ok leaving Inverness you crss the Kessock Bridge over the Moray Firth. You should stop at the tourist information office just over the river. It has a live closed circuit TV linkup to a Red Kite's nest; and you may see Dolphins in the river from the car park If you decide to do one of the dolphin boat trips please pick one of the boats which is "approved" ie doesn't hassle and hound the dolphins all day.

Depending on what time you have left after you've followed this lowintensity tour, I would take the extra day to go to Skye. Keep ging on the A9 until just before Dingwall and then urn left towards Garve. You cross open moorland all the way across Scotland from the east side to the west. It's very grand (but nothing to what you are coming to!)

Drive down to Achnasheen then Lochcarron and at Lochcarron take the south side of the Loch. You will shortly pass one of the best signposts in the world. It says "Strome Ferry- (no ferry)" You may not notice it however because if you are watching the scenery you will think you have died and gone to heaven. You haven't. That is still to come.

(Can I just put in as a caveat that it may be raining- it usually is on the west coast of Scotland. If it is you should reconcile yourself to seeing nothing further till you leave the country.)

A few miles past the Strome Ferry turning yu will see signs to Plockton on the right. Take the detour. It's on every calendar of Scottish beauty spots you have ever seen.

Back on the main road yu come over the last hill and see the Isle of Skye ahead of you. You came to the village of Kyleakin, where they have built the most godawaful bridge over the sea to Skye. Skye is lovely and romantic and is where Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped to after Culloden, dressed up as a maid to Flora MacDonald and about which the song was written (actually he went from South Uist to Skye, not from the mainland, but why spoil a good story.)

Conscious of the fact that you have only a few days left, rather than do the whole island, just go up as far as Portree, and then come back. As you come south you are approaching the Cuillin which are the most stunning mountains in Scotland. Stop and enjoy. Take half a day and walk up an easy one- Blaven or Bruch na Friath.

Stop for a meal at the Seagull at Broadford. then turn right and follow the road down to Armadale. The Isle Oronsay hotel is a wonderful place to stay; but it is not cheap. (the Sligachan- the climbers' hotel is).

From Armadal take the ferry to Mallaig and by following the road across to Fort William you pass Glenfinnan recommended by my fellow countryman in the preceding post.

Fort William is a bit of a railhead town but does sit below the majesty of Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain.

From Fort William drive down to ballchulish then take the diversion through Glencoe. This is where the evil Campbells slaughtered the MacDonalds after Culloden. ther's a long story but I won't bore you with it. There's a great song about it though. It's a tremendous place with overbearing hills. It's not called the Glen of Weeping for nothing.

I think that better d for now. I'll get you back to Glasgow tomorrow


 
Old Mar 30th, 1999, 02:49 PM
  #8  
Patty
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Sheila,

You are great! Thanks for the wonderfully detailed itinerary. I want to go now!! Can't wait for the last installment. I just know we're going to love it.

Patty
 
Old Mar 30th, 1999, 04:45 PM
  #9  
Karen
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What absolutely wonderful discussions from Sheila and Tony....who could add a thing? We have been to Scotland many times, in June, especially Fife, where my mother in law was born...Tayport, and most of the cousins still live. We love Aberfeldy, Pitlochery and so many of the places Tony mentioned, and of course, are partial to Fife. I do have a superb B&B on the Whiskey Trail...200 year old large home owned by Veronica Grubb and her husband...will try to find a bit of info. on it. I believe it is in Craigllachie. She does not serve dinner, but there is a terrific hotel just down the road, on the River Spey, and they serve wonderful meals. Veronica was great...she realized we wanted ice in our rooms so we could have cocktails before we went to dinner...the only ice ever brought to us anywhere.
 
Old Mar 31st, 1999, 10:01 AM
  #10  
Sheila
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Right, where was I?

Coming out of Glencoe you have a choicce which I suggest is time oriented. You could have gone straight down the coast to Oban instead of turning off at Ballachulish. Now I would suggest that you go back to Dalmally and on to Oban.

Oban is a lovely little town right on the coast dominated by a folly on the hill overlooking a lovely and very busy harbour. Lots of the western Islefs ferries sail from here. If you've left enough time, take the day trip on the ferry to Iona, the cradle of Christianity. St Columba came from ireland to educate us heathens, and set up his staging post here. ther is a lovely mediaeval Abbey and beautiful beaches and to get there you sail up the Sound of Mull and past Staffa (Fingal's cave- Mendolssohn's Hebridean Overture and all that), so you get to see the outside edges of Mull and the arnamurchan peninsula too.

If you don't have time to do that it is still worth going to Oban anyway.

If you go the direct route from Fort William missing out Glencoe you should visit the Pierhouse at Port Appin, if not to stay (double rooms are about £70 b&b) then for some of the best seafood with one of the best views in the world.

South from Oban, you drive down to Lochgilphead then up Loch Fyne to Inverary ( another planned village from the 18th century) Visit the jail and you are in "Kidnapped" country.

The castle belongs to the Duke of Argyll Chief of the clan Campbel (boo; hiss!) and is a great visit.

then stay on the main A83 crssing the road known as "the Rest and be Thankful" (and when you see it, you'll know why) and come down to Tarbet on Loch Lomond, Scotland's largets loch. Personally I think it's overrated, and only has the following it has because it's so close to Glasgow, but there are those who swear by it... it's OK

The road will bring you out at Dumbarton and then you ae 20 miles along a motorway to Glasgow, your destination. If you still have time there are one or two things to see in Glasgow too- the Birrell gallery, the Willow tea rooms, the School of Art; the Necropolis; George Square; great shopping; the Clyde, the Clyde, the wonderful Clyde, the name o' it thrills me and fills me wi' pride...; the People's Palace... but I'm an east coast girl and I don't hold with this west coast stuff ( at least, not south of Arrochar).

Then go to sleep for a week.

I have just realised that by leading you to Skye I missed out Loch Ness ( which I would willingly do, but you _are_ American...Instead of going north to Dingwall, as an alternative, you can go down the north side of the Loch. Stop at Castle Urquart, see the piper; hope you see the Monster, then turn right at Invermoriston and follow the road to Dornie. It's still worth going a few minutes to the north to plockton, and pick up the previously advised route.

If you want to pick the bones out of that lot; and any other recommendations; let me know what you think are the must have and I'll time route for you. I'd probably prefer to do it by e-mail- cos the typing time is offline.

Let me know if you want any more info.

 
Old Apr 2nd, 1999, 09:23 AM
  #11  
Patty
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Sheila,

Thanks so much for taking the time to put together the itinerary. I've sent a copy to my sister in Heidelberg. Have to wait and see what she thinks we can do in the time we have. You're right about Loch Ness. It's definitely a must do on our list! I guess it's an american thing although I think we'll skip the museum.

Tony, did you get my email?
 
Old Apr 3rd, 1999, 03:50 AM
  #12  
Tony Hughes
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Patty,

I am currently in Copenhagen for a few days and will be back in Scotland on tuesday. If the contents of your email can wait until tuesday then that's ok. If not, sorry.

I disagree with Sheila's 'Loch Ness' comment. Not just for Americans/tourists, a beautiful place to stay or visit.

Anyway.
 
Old Apr 4th, 1999, 04:24 AM
  #13  
Sheila
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I agree with the comment about Loch Ness. It is beautiful. I wouldn't want to stay there in summer because of tourist numbers, but it is of course a personal choice.

My personal choice, if going to Skye would be to take the north route and avoid the loch; but that's why I put it back in as an alternative
 
Old Apr 7th, 1999, 02:41 PM
  #14  
Tony Hughes
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I refuse to go to Skye on account of those *English-imposed* bridge taxes. Beautiful place but the tols spoil everything.
 
Old Apr 7th, 1999, 10:55 PM
  #15  
Alice & Dennis
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Everything I read from Sheila & Tony has brought back so many memories. We took a tour through the Highlands of Scotland in 1986. In June of 1996 we rented a car & drove through other places in Scotland. It is by far my favorite place to visit. My grandfather (MacDonald) was born in KerriMuir & lived in Dundee, before moving to the US when he was 19. The places and the history of Scotland that Shiela shares with you are the wonderful, because when you travel on your own, there isn't a tour guide explaining the area's and sights to you. So donít forget to bring all her messages.

The one thing I was disappointed in when we took the tour was that some places I would have liked to stay longer. We did go to Inverness, Oban, Fort William, Ullapool, Isle of Mull, Isle of Skye, Iona, & Glasgow. Iona was such a beautiful quaint and interesting place. If you have time, takes Shiela's advise and visit.

 
Old Apr 8th, 1999, 09:35 AM
  #16  
Jerry
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We travbeled through England and Scotland last year using BritRail passes and styaing at B&Bs along the way. Let me recommend Trafford Bank B&B in Inverness and while you are there, cross the footbridge over the clear flowing River Ness at sundown, and you may be able to hear the sounds of bagpipes and drums coming from one of the nearby hotels, mingling with the rushing water under your feet. Breathtaking!
If you journey through the Scottish Highlands from Inverness, you may want to stop at Kyle of Localsh and admire the new bridge to the Isle of Skye. But don't cross. The toll is 5 pounds 60 each way, making it one of the most expensive toll bridges in the world.
I too, recommend a side trip to Oban. Despite it being a tourist town it still retains much of the fishing village kind of charm. And sunset from the tower overlooking the bay is indeed memorable.
 
Old Apr 8th, 1999, 02:03 PM
  #17  
Sheila
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I too dislike the tolls on the Skye Bridge; but I would dislike missing the Cuillin or the ferry to Harris even more.

Give generously to the SKAT campaign when you're there; and make sure that going at least one way you sail from Armadale to Mallaig or back.
 
Old Apr 8th, 1999, 04:46 PM
  #18  
Fran
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Patty: Four of us travelled to Scotland in June 1996. We got a B&B in Jedburgh, just outside of Edinburgh. The owners are Sheila and Donald Walker. The B&B is called Lisheen. Sheila is the one we dealt with. She was so pleasant and even offered to some laundry for us. (we had been on a two week tour of Europe before getting to Scotland) The address is Lisheen
Ancrum, Jedburgh
Roxburghshire TD8 6TX
Tel01835)830310
It is a beautiful home in the countryside. My husband and I were so pleased to find this place after a whirlwind tour of Europe. It was heaven to relax in the country with great company. Sheila makes your stay such a memorable one. I can smell the grasses and flowers as I reminisce. I can also see the horses in the field--oh I want to go back.

From the Edinburgh area, we went to the Inverness area and stayed in Spean Bridge at a B&B called Invergloy House. The owner is Mrs. Cairn. The address is
Invergloy House
Spean Bridge
Inverness-shire
PH34 4DY
Tel: 0/397 712681

The rooms are very cozy. While in that area, we visited the Glencoe area and Ben Nevis -- a must see) Glencoe is one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland. We went to Fort Williams as well and enjoyed the entertainment at McTavish's Kitchen. The food was excellent. I had chicken and prawns done in a whiskey cream sauce on rice. My husband had Haggis and Neeps (turnip & potatoe)(I kept a daily journal of my trip) We also had great food at some of the pubs along the way.

From there we journeyed to Ford near Lochgilphead. Here we began our search for the MacMillan (our family name) Clan standing cross which we found on the Island of Kintyre. It's 521 years old. We rented a car and drove on those single track roads with layovers. The sheep just about got sheered right there on the roadway. What an experience. If you want more info the castles and Kilmory Knap Chapel that houses the standing stone, just e-mail me. I can give you directions.
The B&B in Ford is called Tigh an Lodan
Argyll
PA31 8RH
Tel: 01546
810287

It was a very nice place also, out in the countryside. These were excellent B&B's and I would go back to them. They are a little out of the way from the hustsle and bustle. Hope you enjoy your trip.
 
Old Apr 9th, 1999, 04:23 AM
  #19  
Jo
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I've had a quick scan through all your responses about Scotland, and didn't spot very much regarding the east coast, so I feel, as an Aberdonian, I should put my tuppence worth in.

If it's castles and ruins you're after, Grampian has loads of them!!! Good ones are Crathes, and Balmoral (The Queen's summer home) on the road from Aberdeen to Braemar.

If you fancy a ceildh, Inverness is probably a good choice. While you're there, you can take a trip in Loch Ness to see the Monster. Pick a trip that stops off at Urquhart Castle (a ruin), and take a picnic.
 
Old Apr 9th, 1999, 06:25 AM
  #20  
Ron
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Patty, it wasn't clear from your original posting whether you know Natalie MacMaster's tour schedule or not; in case you don't, there are only 2 dates in Scotland:

June 15 MacDuff Arts Centre, 39 Clergy Street, MacDuff, Aberdeenshire,
Tel: 01261 833646
June 16 Carnegie Hall, Eastport, Dunfermline, Fife,
Tel: 01383 314127

The complete tour schedule can be found at: http://www.NatalieMacMaster.com/Schedule.html
 

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