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Scotland itinerary

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Aug 18th, 2015, 05:13 PM
  #1
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Scotland itinerary

Thank you so much for all the help we have received already. We're still working on our trip to the UK in June 2016 and have decided to go to Scotland for most of the first half of the trip (we start with two nights in London after our flight from Seattle.) Last half of the trip will be in Cornwall, followed by two more nights in London before the return home.

We plan on taking the train from London to Edinburgh and staying two nights in the city. We've set aside 6 nights for seeing a portion of Scotland before returning to Edinburgh for one night and then flying to Cornwall.

During those six nights, we are hoping to see Loch Lomond, Eileen Donan Castle and Culloden before returning to Edinburgh. Is this a realistic itinerary, and if so, how would you plan your overnights with the most convenience for driving and the most charm for location? We also want to have time for some hiking/walking, so if this is too much car time, please let me know.

Thanks again for all the help!
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Aug 18th, 2015, 06:10 PM
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OK -- first of all. I would suggest you combine all your London nights together and all your Edinburgh nights together. This will eliminates extra/unneeded packing and moving.

Maybe something like this:

Land at LHR and the same day fly up to Edinburgh and stay 3 nights. Then collect a car and spend your 6 days touring around Scotland. Drop the car and fly down to Cornwall. Then train up to London for the last 4 nights.

6 days is enough for Loch Lomond, Eileen Donan Castle and Culloden - and more. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs for 2 nights, then on to Skye via the ferry for 2 nights seeing Eileen Donan as you leave Skye by the bridge enroute to the Inverness area. Where you can stay 2 nights turn in your car and fly down to Bristol, collect a car and head down into Cornwall. Then you can drop the car in Plymouth or Exeter and take the train up to London (or you can drive to London if you want to see places in Somerset/Dorset etc. (Heathrow is the best place to drop a car near London)
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Aug 18th, 2015, 07:16 PM
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Thank you for responding, Janisj. The idea of flying from Inverness to Bristol is great! Saves backtracking to Edinburgh. As far as combining the London nights, that's not likely because from past experience we are really tired after flying Seattle to Europe and adding another flight/train trip might put us over the edge. Hence the two nights in London when we arrive, and since we are doing a 7 night rental in Cornwall (Friday to Friday), we only have 2 nights in London before our flight home. That gives us 4 nights total in London, even if it is split. And we try to travel light, so the packing/unpacking should be tolerable.

We are planning on dropping our car in Truro after the rental in Cornwall and training to London from there.

Another question, I am assuming we will need to make reservations for the six-night Scotland loop in June and it's not prudent to seek accommodations as we go?

Thanks again!
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Aug 18th, 2015, 07:34 PM
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>>from past experience we are really tired after flying Seattle to Europe and adding another flight/train trip might put us over the edge. <<

I agree - and would NOT recommend taking the train up since that would require heading in to London. But flying from LHR isn't hard. Your first/arrival day is pretty much shot anyway so getting the travel out of the way really helps me. In fact -- you could even fly from LHR up to Inverness. Sleep off the jetlag. Just something to think about.

>>Another question, I am assuming we will need to make reservations for the six-night Scotland loop in June and it's not prudent to seek accommodations as we go?<<

Not really -- except I'd ALWAYS pre-book accommodations on Skye if you decide to go there. June is not high season/busy since British/European schools generally don't let out til July. You can stop in at any Tourist Info center and they can find you rooms for that night or for where you decide travel the next day.
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Aug 19th, 2015, 05:44 AM
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If I were using those 6 days- finishing in Inverness to fly to Bristol- looking for charming locations and some hiking/walking, I'd go up to Stirling and spend some time there in the old town, taking in the castle if I weren't castled out from Edinburgh, head west and stay in Drymen, walking a wee bit up the West Highland Way from Balmaha; next day I'd go up the west side of Loch Lomond, taking in the sites, then high tail it to Arisaig. It'll take about 3 hours to get to Arisaig from Tarbet, so you need to leave that travelling time. Lots of nice evening walks around Arisaig.

Day three take the ferry from Mallaig to Skye and mooch about there for 2days.

Day 4 leave Skye. Pause for breath at Eilean Donan (I wouldn't, but I suppose you MUST).

Go via Plockton to Invergarry and up Loch Ness; stay somewhere on the Black Isle- Cromarty. make your trip to Culloden next day, and take in Clava Cairns as well. Day 6 you could do Inverness or a Boat Trip or go to Dornoch, or climb a moutain, or ANYTHING. Fly early day 7.

As an alternative, leave Culloden to last, and see it just before a late flight to Bristol on Day 6. Less back tracking
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Aug 19th, 2015, 07:42 AM
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A couple of random thoughts...

I travel from Seattle to Edinburgh fairly often and I would heartily endorse janisj's suggestion that you simply transit Heathrow rather than staying over in London. If that means (due to your timing at the end of the trip) more days outside London altogether - be they in Scotland or England - that's not a high price to pay in my view.

And there are more (and frequently cheaper) one-stop routes to follow than SEA-LHR-EDI, for example fly from Seattle to Chicago or Newark on United, then United's nonstop (one from both ORD and EWR) to EDI, or Seattle to JFK on American, then AA's nonstop to EDI, or Delta from Seattle to Amsterdam connecting to KLM, or Lufthansa to Frankfurt then EDI... I've done all of these except the United ORD and the (brand new) AA flight from JFK. In all these cases the total travel time is comparable, or sometimes less, than via Heathrow, because you go through UK border controls at EDI (piece of cake) rather than queuing at Terminal 5.

Anyway, what about this as a slight reworking of your plans?

Fly to Edinburgh and spend four nights in the city. This will give you time to work off your jetlag, it will be easier on the system (and cheaper) than schlepping into London. (Oh a note on the train alternative... £$ ouch!) And really, Edinburgh is seriously worth the extra days.

Then do a counter- (anti-) clockwise loop through Scotland - north to Inverness, out to Eileen Donan/Plockton/Skye, ferry to Mallaig and back along the Road to (in this case, from) the Isles to Fort William, then down through Glen Coe to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, then drop the car at Glasgow (or just keep driving.)

Air connections between Scotland and the southwest of England are, frankly, lousy - just regional carriers like FlyBe, with rather high prices and infrequent schedules.

If it was me, I'd probably opt to drive. You can get from Glasgow to Bristol in around six hours, or you could stop in the Lake District en route, or shoot past Bristol to Exmoor and keep on the lookout for Hobbits. Six or seven hours in the car, stopping where or when you please, vs. the return-car-get-to-airport-check-bags-queue-for-security- blah blah routine - is probably quicker, too.

Or consider the train. A few years ago we took the train from Edinburgh to Plymouth - not a bad journey at all, and reasonably quick. Note that Plymouth might be a better destination than Bristol if your target is Cornwall.

Anyway, that would leave you with two London nights, which personally I'd spend in Windsor instead - very close to Heathrow, cheaper and frankly more relaxing than London (at least to me.)

Anyway, just some suggestions to consider.
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Aug 19th, 2015, 09:27 AM
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If it was me, I'd probably opt to drive. You can get from Glasgow to Bristol in around six hours, or you could stop in the Lake District en route, or shoot past Bristol to Exmoor and keep on the lookout for Hobbits. Six or seven hours in the car, stopping where or when you please, vs. the return-car-get-to-airport-check-bags-queue-for-security- blah blah routine - is probably quicker, too.>>

but the OP is coming to Cornwall and if they stop off along the way [which is the only point of driving all that way, IMO] they will never get here. Not to mention the appalling traffic on many of the motorways, which we had the pleasure of only last week.

despite the cost of Flybe, [and it will be only one way after all] IMO it would be the best way to get from Scotland to Cornwall, and you can fly straight into Newquay from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.

the plan to get the train from Truro back to London is a great one - it's a classic railway journey especially crossing the Tamar on Brunel's famous bridge and the stretch around Dawlish. Make sure that you are travelling in daylight so that you can enjoy the scenery. i would also suggesting travelling first class if you can - it's much more comfortable and less crowded.

where are you planning on staying in Cornwall?
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Aug 19th, 2015, 10:11 AM
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Flying in to Newquay would be great -- I only suggested Bristol for choice of car hires and one way drop offs. I've never rented in Newquay so didn't know what/who is available there. But in any case - flying to somewhere in the SW would be my choice- the drive from Scotland to Cornwall would take forever and likely be quite congested in places. Now -- IF one had 4 or 5 days to meander down (and not on the motorways), then sure, I'd drive.
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Aug 19th, 2015, 10:46 AM
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JJ - Hertz, Avis, Eurocar, Budget - all operate at Newquay, and Hertz have a depot at Truro station, which is just as important.

I agree that will days to spare, I might well drive too, but I don't think that the OP is in that happy position.
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Aug 19th, 2015, 12:37 PM
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>>JJ - Hertz, Avis, Eurocar, Budget - all operate at Newquay, and Hertz have a depot at Truro station,<<

That is perfect for the OP then. Fly to Newquay and drop the car at Truro . . .
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Aug 19th, 2015, 03:58 PM
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I was just looking at FlyBe's prices, e.g. GLA-xBHX-NQY and at £130 - £200 per person I was just contemplating the math. No, it's not an especially fun drive, but certainly could be accomplished with one night on the road. If they were originating around Loch Lomond, it's not terribly hard to get to the M74/M6. But sure, dropping the car at, say, GLA then flying to Newquay and collecting a new one, would certainly be quicker.
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Aug 19th, 2015, 04:00 PM
  #12
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Hello all, I am staying in a rental near Lizard, annhig; I posted a couple of weeks ago about my trip and sent a link to the rental. Thank you, Sheila, gardyloo, janisj and annhig, for all your consideration of my itinerary. I appreciate it.

We're locked into Seattle-London, have a BA non-stop on the way there using FF miles, which took some effort to secure, and flying back through Chicago on the way back (couldn't get the non-stop on the return). However, I am seriously considering the advice to stay at Heathrow and fly to Edinburgh vs. going into London for two nights at the beginning of the trip, which everyone seems to think isn't a great idea. I know Edinburgh is much smaller and I assume a bit less stressful to adjust to with jetlag.

As far as the Scotland "loop," I like the ideas of Stirling and Balmoha and will think about exactly what we want to see. The Eilean Donan castle is a "would be nice" but not a must.

My husband, who hasn't driven on the left for 10 years, isn't up for the drive from Scotland to Cornwall. I think it would be very fatiguing for him. In fact, I will probably plan the Scotland loop to be less driving and more staying put (like maybe two 3-night stays) because I don't want him to flip out entirely. I think flying is still the best option.

With all this help, the itinerary is getting much closer to being finalized. Thank you, thank you.
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Aug 19th, 2015, 04:05 PM
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>>I think it would be very fatiguing for him<<

Not to worry -- it would be extremely tiring for anyone
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Aug 19th, 2015, 04:10 PM
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I've been doing the London for several days then train to Edinburgh for years, but several years ago flew BA from DEN to LHR then connecting flight to Edinburgh. I thought it might be exhausting too, but it wasn't at all.
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Aug 19th, 2015, 11:36 PM
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I was just looking at FlyBe's prices, e.g. GLA-xBHX-NQY and at £130 - £200 per person I was just contemplating the math.>>

those may be prices that are presently on offer, gardyloo but the schedules for next year aren't up yet - if the OP gets in early then she may well pick it up quite a lot cheaper. and have you costed in the petrol, possible overnight stop en route, etc. etc? In any event I wouldn't contemplate driving all that way in one day, even if I was sharing the driving with another person, which the OPs husband will not be doing, as I understand the situation. IMO it's just not safe to try to drive all that way in one go, though I know people do it.

apologies, voyager, for forgetting that it is you that is renting that lovely cottage on the Lizard. the fact that you are going so far down into Cornwall is another reason, IMO, for not saddling yourselves with a looooong drive from Scotland, or even "just" from Bristol, as you will be using your car quite a lot once you get to Cornwall.

Glad that all this "sharing of views" has helped!
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Aug 20th, 2015, 07:14 AM
  #16
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I tend to respond to a lot of posts for Hawaii and U.S. West Coast at certain times of the year, so no worries, annhig. Hard to keep track of all the names.

I will keep an eye on the flights to Newquay once we decide where our last night will be spent in Scotland. Thanks again. I will re-post if I have more specific questions about accommodations, etc. later.
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