Scotland Itinerary

Old Nov 13th, 2016, 09:13 PM
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Scotland Itinerary

I'm ready to bounce a very preliminary itinerary off of you fine folks, this one being for a 9-day Scotland leg of a combined Ireland/Scotland trip. I know how this works as I've used Fodor's numerous times for trip planning, so don't be afraid to rip this apart. This is very preliminary with nothing booked yet except for the main flights to and from Dublin. The premise for this one is that we (a) do not have any 1-night stays for the efficiency of it, and (b) do not have any longer that 4 hour drives between stays. Other versions of this itinerary have some 1-night stays with shorter drives, so that's just the natural trade-off.

Day 1 - arrive EDI around 2pm, rent a car, drive to the Trossachs through Stirling (standard stop at Stirling castle), possibly stop first in Falkirk for the sites there, stay overnight somewhere around Aberfoyle/Drymen/Balloch.
Day 2 - explore the Trossachs and Loch Lomond all day and stay night 2 at the same place.
Day 3 - Drive 3.5 hours (per MapQuest) to Dorie, stopping at Glencoe at least, and other places along Lock Lomond time permitting. Overnight in Dorie. We are proposing this instead of going into Skye to save the 30-60min additional drive to stay under 4 hours.
Day 4 - Day trip into Skye, visit Eilean Donan Castle, stay night 2 in Dorie
Day 5 - Drive 3.5 hours to Aviemore, stopping at Loch Ness and Inverness. Overnight in Aviemore/Kingussie.
Day 6 - Explore Cairngorm National Park, stay night 2 at the same place.
Day 7 - Drive 2.75 hours to Edinburgh, possibly with side trip to St. Andrews if we want to stretch it out. Overnight in Edinburgh.
Day 8 - Explore Edinburgh, stay night 2 in same place.
Day 9 - Explore Edinburgh, day trips out from Edinburgh, stay night 3 in same place.
Day 10 - Return car, Fly back to Dublin for the 2nd half of the trip.

Less detailed summary:
Arrive Edinburgh
Drive ~ 2hrs
2 nights Trossachs
Drive ~ 3.5hrs
2 nights Dorie
Drive ~ 3.5hrs
2 nights Aviemore
Drive ~ 3 hrs
3 nights Edinburgh
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Old Nov 13th, 2016, 09:15 PM
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Oh, I forgot to ask the standard question. How accurate are MapQuest times in Scotland? According to a guidebook I'm also using, they seem pretty accurate, but I want to double check with the experts.
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Old Nov 13th, 2016, 09:34 PM
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>>Drive 3.5 hours (per MapQuest) to Dorie, stopping at Glencoe at least, and other places along Lock Lomond time permitting. Overnight in Dorie>Day 5 - Drive 3.5 hours to Aviemore, stopping at Loch Ness and Inverness. Overnight in Aviemore/Kingussie.>Day 7 - Drive 2.75 hours to Edinburgh, possibly with side trip to St. Andrews if we want to stretch it out. Overnight in Edinburgh.>How accurate are MapQuest times in Scotland?
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Old Nov 13th, 2016, 09:45 PM
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(if you aren't flying in long haul ignore this bit)

One other thing. Since Day 1 is your arrival after flying over night into DUB and on to EDI I would not plan on driving at all. That will be one hellacious 24+ hour travel day all in. I would consider flipping the itinerary and placing Edinburgh at the front end. If you reverse everything you would be staying in the Trossachs/Stirling area on your last night and it is an easy drive from there to EDI . . . as long as you are not jet lagged.

Re where to stay in the Trossachs -- I'd probably choose Callander first, Aberfoyle 2nd, and maybe Doune 3rd. I wouldn't stay in Drymen or at the south end of Loch Lomond since much of what you'll be exploring is north (Stirling, Doune, Inchmahome Priory, Loch Katrine etc.)
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 06:48 AM
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janisj, thanks again for the quick reply.

Yes, Dornie, my bad.

That's a shame about MapQuest if true. We did a recent peak-season New Zealand trip where MapQuest times were within 10% of actual, and we considered this trip to have similar features/constaints of that trip. However, I understand that peak season in Scotland will have more visitors than peak season in New Zealand (yet another reason to love New Zealand!).

Re: Aviemore, the location was more for easy access to Cairngorm NP. So can I assume that you are not impressed with Cairngorm if you recommend against staying there? This is why it's good to get multiple inputs because a frequent visitor friend of mine almost gave me the exact opposite opinion (he doesn't like Inverness as much).

Re: Edi first vs last, yes, we are considering the same thing. We have an alternate itinerary starting in Edi instead. Jet lag is not an issue for me, but I do have 3 other family members to consider. The thinking to do Edi last was that it would be more convenient to hit the EDI airport for an early morning flight back to DUB.

Thanks again.
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 07:38 AM
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Caingorm NP is fine -- but northern/western Scotland (in fact almost all of Scotland) is smack dab FULL of as good or better scenery. I wouldn't (me personally) make Aviemore/Cairngorm NP a priority.

>>The thinking to do Edi last was that it would be more convenient to hit the EDI airport for an early morning flight back to DUB. DUB and don't need an O Dark Thirty flight.
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 07:46 AM
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FWIW - we found this website quite good for calculating driving times and distances and it gives you a few route options:

http://distancecalculator.globefeed.....asp?state=SCT
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 07:51 AM
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I find that website (and the AA route planner) more accurate but still a little optimistic. Lots of narrow roads and especially in summer lots of caravans (RVs/Travel trailers) will slow you down. I think most locals and those very familiar w/ the roads can manage in maybe 10%± over those two sites. Visitors/first timers -- should add a little more.
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 07:58 AM
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janisj, your point about being close to EDI in Callander is a good point. We are looking at an 8am flight to DUB so it would mean an early morning either way (we're fine with that).

Re: Cairngorm, thanks. I'll think about that part some more.

LCBoniti, thanks for the additional resource. I'll check it out.
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 12:23 PM
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Also look at flights to DUB out of GLA -- you might get a better schedule. Either EDI or GLA are an easy drive from the Trossachs.
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 06:59 PM
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Good call on GLA, janisj ... there are a few more options from there.

As for the itinerary, I have modified it a bit after talking to some friends who have been, taking janisj's input, and doing some more research. Now it looks like this and I'm getting pretty happy with how it is looking, though I'm sure I will tweak it a bit more.

Day 1 - arrive EDI around 2pm, go to lodging, spend rest of day in Edinburgh
Day 2 - Edinburgh
Day 3 - Edinburgh and side trips (Falkirk/Stirling)
Day 4 - Drive straight to Inverness (3:15 hr) with possible stop at Cairngorm Mountain Railway and Cairngorm NP visitor center. Possible side trips to Culloden Moor and Nairn (Cawdor Castle, beach). Overnight in Inverness.
Day 5 - Drive to Portree (2:40 hr) with stops at Loch Ness/Urquhart Castle and Eileen Donan. 2 nights in Portree area.
Day 6 - Explore Skye
Day 7 - Drive 3 hrs to Glencoe area, explore, stay overnight.
Day 8 - Drive 1.5 hrs to Callander with stops along the way. 2 nights in Callander
Day 9 - Explore the Trossachs and Loch Lomond
Day 10 - Drive direct to either EDI or GLA for return flight to DUB.

Less detailed summary:
Arrive Edinburgh
3 nights Edinburgh
Drive ~ 3.25hrs
1 night Inverness
Drive ~ 2.5hrs
2 nights Skye
Drive ~ 3 hrs
1 night Glencoe or area
Drive ~ 1.5 hrs
2 nights Callander or area
Drive 1 hr EDI or GLA for flight out

Option to move one of the nights from Callander to Glencoe or Inverness or Skye.
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Old Nov 14th, 2016, 08:06 PM
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Your drive times a little optimistic but this is a nice plan over all.

For glencoe I'd try to stay here https://www.clachaig.com

And on Skye -- I'd think about Sligachan instead of Portree. http://www.sligachan.co.uk

Reason being, Skye is very large and the travel is very (sometimes VERY) slow. Sligachan is at sort of the crossroads of the entire Isle. Making a much more efficient base for your very limited time on Skye.

Portree is the only real town on Skye but IMO/IME location trumps having banks and shops nearby. Sligachan has a pub and restaurant on site.
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Old Nov 15th, 2016, 04:29 AM
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Thanks for the additional feedback, janisj. I realize drives times take no delay into account, so for now they reflect the otimistic times from Google Maps, the calculator from LCBoniti, and Fodor's travel guide.

Funny about Glencoe, I already confirmed availability for a family room at clachaig based on my accommodation search yesterday.

Point taken about Sligachan ... I'll look into it.

What do you think about 2 nights in Trossachs vs adding a night somewhere else?
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Old Nov 15th, 2016, 05:24 AM
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Old Nov 15th, 2016, 07:03 AM
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I was looking to see if you've said when this is all happening, and I didn't find it. When? Western and northern Scotland has a lot of weather, and it can impact drive times, activities, things like that. But also, in the summer daylight is very long; you're pretty far north.

I'll offer some purely personal observations.

First, I am far from smitten with the A9/Aviemore/Inverness/Urquhart part. I would echo janisj's comments from above - the north and west of Scotland is an embarrassment of scenic and historic riches, and with limited time I wouldn't fool around, I'd get as far north as possible as quickly as possible, and work your way south.

Here's an imaginary alternative map - https://goo.gl/maps/azrZhak8zZK2 - which, remember is reflective of my preferences, not necessarily yours, and which contains the following:

- Plockton, a picturesque little village (used in the Hamish Macbeth TV series) that is quite convenient to Skye, but which also would allow some day-trip exploration of some quite remote parts of Wester Ross, much less heavily visited than Skye. Google Torridon and Applecross for starters.

- It shows a visit to another island, Mull. Leave Skye via the Mallaig ferry, then travel through Morar and Ardnamurchan peninsula to Kilchoan, from which you can take the ferry to Tobermory on Mull. Mull is a beautiful island with some marvelous scenery, a little under the tourist radar compared to Skye.

- Then it shows a return to Edinburgh via Glen Coe and Loch Lomond. Alternatively you could overnight somewhere in the Trossachs like Callander, but I'm personally not as taken with the area if the comparison is the western Highlands and Inner Hebrides.

For an imaginary timetable, I penciled the following (showing overnight locations) -

1 Edinburgh
2 Edinburgh
3 Edinburgh
4 Plockton
5 Plockton
6 Plockton
7 Morar
8 Mull
9 Luss
10 GLA/EDI/DUB

Read up on these places using Undiscovered Scotland - http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/ and see what you think. But again (third time) this is just personal opinion.
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Old Nov 15th, 2016, 08:13 AM
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Gardyloo, Oh yes, sorry, I'm surprised I never mentioned the time. July 2017, so yes, VERY long days. We plan on taking full advantage of this.

Another bit of info is that we are a family of 4 with two kids (16 and 10), so I am looking for a bit of a cross-section of different things to see. Sometimes this means you might make certain sacrifices (though we try to keep those to a minimum and not cater solely to the children).

I'll definitely check out your alternative proposal.
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Old Nov 15th, 2016, 08:36 AM
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I like Gardyloo's itinerary. Mostly because it avoids Skye and includes some less crowded places. Now, I love Skye but during the height of tourist season it becomes very crowded...one reason for exchanging Portree for Sligachan as janisj suggested. You can't see Skye in one day but with early start you can cover some of the major sights.
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Old Nov 15th, 2016, 08:39 AM
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I second janisj's recommendation of Sligachan on Skye. We took her advice and found it to be the perfect location.
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Old Nov 16th, 2016, 10:48 AM
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Bookmarking. Great discussion for our planned 2017 Scotland et al trip.
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Old Nov 16th, 2016, 11:52 AM
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Glad we could help, dwdvagamundo. I find this type of back-and-forth one of the most useful ways to plan a trip.

BTW, I think I'm sticking with my 2nd itinerary that still goes through Inverness. But Gardyloo's suggestion is making me look at a more westerly driving route from Skye to Glencoe to Trossachs to hit a couple of the sites. Starting to book the accommodations now ... they are filling up and getting lodging for 4 is not trivial in this country.
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