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Scotland Itinerary

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Sep 27th, 2012, 11:08 AM
  #1
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Scotland Itinerary

Husband and I have been invited on a trip to Scotland with sis and bro-in-law late October/early November for bro-in-law's 60th b'day. They like to visit big cities so she has planned that. We like the rural areas and we are planning that. We fly into Edinburgh for a few days, then 3 days in Aberdeen (with a day trip thrown in-Balmoral) and then rural area and then to Glasgow for a day before returning to Edinburgh. My dilema is we will be leaving Aberdeen on Monday morning and expect to arrive in Glasgow sometime on Wednesday. Is it possible to drive to the Highlands in that short of time without spending the majority of time in the car? Or drive to Oban/Glencoe? Or somewhere else interesting? I have been looking at the map and can't decide on a route. We have been to Ireland several times so we know what the driving could be like in Scotland which we don't mind. Can any of you Fodorites help? Looking forward to replies.
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Sep 27th, 2012, 12:02 PM
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Why Aberdeen?

Scottish author Chris Brookmyre used to append this line to his author's auto-bio: "he no longer lives in Aberdeen. Oh, yes."

We stayed in Maryculter about 6 miles from Aberdeen and right on the Dee River to see the Castle Trail, and it's within driving distance of a good swath of the whisky trail. But it's NOT in Aberdeen so it's not subject to Aberdeen traffic (which sucks - longest travel delay we had in Scotland was at the intersection of the A90 and A96 just outside Aberdeen). Aberdeen can be viewed in a . . . 1/2 day or so (check out the Highlanders Museum [google for actual name] where we met some of the old boys depicted in some paintings of WWII battles). The area is better as a base of ops for the Eastern Highlands, coast and castle trail. And if you use it for that reason, then stay outside the city so that you can get out and tour around without fighting traffic.

Balmoral shouldn't take a full day and you can do it yourself.

Oban/Glencoe is completely across the country from Aberdeen. In Scotland, a four-lane (two in each direction) highway is a big deal. In the US, it's a side street. Google says it's a four-hour drive, that's probably a low-ball figure. Plus, if you do the drive you should stop at Glamis (home of the Queen Mum and childhood home of HRM herself) and Perth (Scone Palace) so that makes it a longer trip.

You probably need more time in Edinburgh than Glasgow. Edinburgh is great - Dublin does not come close so don't think "we've been to Dublin so we know how much time to give Edinburgh."

Oh yeah, the days will be REALLY short - Edinburgh (55+ degrees N) is on a latitude north of Edmonton, Canada (53+) and Aberdeen (57+) is north of that. People who've lived there can better estimate the timing, but sunset at 4-430 pm may be about right (in Gdansk in December, sunset was before 3 pm and Gdansk is at 54+ deg N).
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Sep 28th, 2012, 03:16 PM
  #3
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Leaving Aberdeen Monday to arrive in Glasgow on Wednesday gives you plenty of time.

Spend the Monday night in or around Fort William. You can either cut across through Aviemore or else slightly longer up to Inverness and then along Loch Ness with a stop at Urquhart Castle. This is about 169 miles and will take just over 4 hours to drive, giving you plenty of time to stop along the way.

Next day head for Oban, visiting Glencoe on the way. Then head down the coast to Lochgilphead and Inveraray (castle and Jail) and spend Tuesday night round here. This is about 105 miles and will take just under three hours to drive - again plenty of time to stop and enjoy the scenery.

Wednesday, drive to Glasgow along Loch Lomond. This is about 60 miles and will take about 90minutes to drive.

For ideas of what to stop and see along the way have a look at Undiscovered Scotland. Follow your route on the map pages and follow the links to text pages with pictures and information. There are so many super places that I'll leave the choice to you.
http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/
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Sep 29th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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"Why Aberdeen?Scottish author Chris Brookmyre used to append this line to his author's auto-bio: "he no longer lives in Aberdeen. Oh, yes."

I love this--kind of like Woody Allen saying his movie is about how beautiful the world is except for parts of downtown Pittsburgh.

If you really want to enjoy rural Scotland I guess I'm wondering why you are spending your precious visit in urban Scotland? If you want to see the Highlands then spend your time seeing them (and a day in the car rarely suffices). Check Fodors for some good suggestions re Highlands auto tours. Aberdeen is not a magnet, Glasgow increasingly so, Edinburgh far more but heading north of Edinburgh through Perth ... and on to the Highlands-a real rural treat.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 10:16 AM
  #5
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"They like to visit big cities so she has planned that."

Perhaps that is why Aberdeen. I'm rather surprised by the negativity about Aberdeen which is a pleasant city with some nice old buildings particularly in the older part round the university. There is some excellent scenery around it with distilleries and castles...
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Sep 30th, 2012, 12:00 PM
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Nothing at all wrong w/ Aberdeen, but to spend time there during a short visit to Scotland seems an odd use of time . . . just MHO
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Sep 30th, 2012, 12:35 PM
  #7
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Surely it all depends on what you want to do and see....we are all different and the places I might want to spend my time in may not be those other people would choose. It's a pity the OP hasn't been back yet to respond to replies.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 02:49 PM
  #8
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Thanks to everyone for your replies! We have been out of town for a few days and just now getting back to trip planning. Talked to brother-in-law today. Just as a note - birthday celebration is in Aberdeen as they have friends there from previous visits. Also using it as a base for day trips. Per your suggestions, day tour to Balmoral has been canceled. We are doing the malt whiskey trail and castle tours around Aberdeen. We are nixing Glasgow which will give us more time to explore. We are still checking into Oban, Glencoe, Pitlochry, Perth, possibly Skye, etc. We realize the days are short so we plan on rising early and being in a pub by sunset. We have been known to go back and visit a country we like and see what we missed the first time.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 02:53 PM
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"We are doing the malt whiskey trail "

No you aren't (there is no e in Whisky - at least not in Scotland . . .)
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Sep 30th, 2012, 05:03 PM
  #10
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That da** spell checker!
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Oct 1st, 2012, 05:13 AM
  #11
 
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You do need to take the weather into account. In late October/early November it's likely to be cold, rainy, snowy or foggy and maybe all of these in one day, especially as you go further North. The days will be short as you will lose an hour of afternoon daylight when British Summer Time ends on the 28th October. The weather over to the islands will be very unpredictable and only Skye may be accessible via the bridge.

In any case, tourist stuff on Skye or Mull will mostly have ended for the year and Oban will be very quiet. I'd stick to the East Coast from Aberdeen and the larger cities.
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Oct 1st, 2012, 04:19 PM
  #12
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Thanks Robicund. We will take that into account.
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