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SCOTLAND - Itinerary, Lodging Help Please


Jun 26th, 2013, 05:32 PM
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SCOTLAND - Itinerary, Lodging Help Please

Can anyone answer a few questions and help by looking over some possible itineraries?

- if you could visit Skye, Inverness or Loch Ness area, which would you chose and why?
- what activities/sights characterize these three different areas?
- how many nights stay in Glencoe is sufficient to enjoy the sites without rushing?
- how many nights in Edinburgh suffice for a good introduction to the city?

We have some possible itineraries - which looks best, and why?

- Glencoe 4 nights, Loch Ness/Inverness 4 nights, Edinburgh 2
- Glencoe 3 nights, Loch Ness/Inverness 4 nights, Edinburgh 3
- Glencoe 4 nights, Loch Ness/Inverness 3 nights, Edinburgh 3

Perhaps you can recommend a better combination of nights for these above areas?

Or - we could do the following:

- Glencoe 4 nights, Skye 4 nights, Edinburgh 2
- Glencoe 3 nights, Skye 4 nights, Edinburgh 3
- Glencoe 4 nights, Skye 3 nights, Edinburgh 3
- Glencoe 4 nights, Skye 2 nights, Mull 1 night, Edinburgh 3 nights

This is a choice of Loch Ness/Inverness versus Skye in the end - travelling as a family with young teens - the best accommodations for us are in Loch Ness/Inverness but we keep hearing wonderful things about Skye and how it is one of the nicest places in the country.

Which makes the best addition to a once in a lifetime trip to Scotland with 10 nights open? Skye or Loch Ness? And which itinerary looks the best (and why)?

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Jun 26th, 2013, 06:16 PM
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What time of year are you travelling? I ask because if it's this year, and in next few months you'll need to consider the Tattoo in Edinburgh will affect accommodation. Here's the Tattoo site for dates: www.edintattoo.co.uk/tickets

Skye is stunning and of course you want to see Loch Ness. I'm guessing you're travelling by car? Why not go for option 2: Glencoe 4, Skye 3, Edinburgh 3. You'll cover all the things you want to see and still have time to relax on Skye. Map out a direction of travel and you'll find that other spots like Pitlochry, Aviemore, Oban, Loch Lomond, Falkirk (for the wheel) and Stirling will all show up on the routes to take.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 06:25 PM
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OK -- what sorts of things are you doing. Are you into very serious hiking/climbing? If not you would need more than one day (or partial day) in Glencoe.

Inverness is not a place to stay over. There is a TON of things to do in the general area, but not IN Inverness. 2 to 4 days for the general area if you want to visit a distillery, Ft George, Cawdor Castle, Culloden, the dolphins in the Moray Firth, Urquhart Castle, etc. Loch Ness itself won't knock your socks off - but most people just 'must' see it so drive along it, visit Urquhart Castle and get out of Dodge. Compared to other lochs, it really is pretty run-of-the-mill .

It sort of looks like you made lists w/o knowing what there is to see/do in the various places.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 10:19 PM
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Well, on our trip last year we stayed in Callendar, Skye and Loch Ness and passed through Glencoe.

Have a look:


I would have liked a little more time in Glencoe but not 3-4 days (and not at the expense of anything else we did, especially Skye).

We did Edinburgh on a previous trip:


As janisj says, tell us a little more and we can help.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 07:04 AM
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I can only address your question re: lodging and only in Edinburgh. We recently stayed here and we highly recommend it.

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Jun 27th, 2013, 08:26 AM
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Inverness - bit of a dump really. Give it 30 mins. to buy groceries and head for the hills

Loch Ness - I would rate at about #1000 in the list of great Scottish lochs. Noting wrong with it - just ordinary in the context of Scotland.

Skye - astounding

Daylight - important to consider the time of year and how far north you are going. Daylight will range from about 7 hours a day to about 19 hours a day depending on these factors.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 08:29 AM
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What do you plan to do in and around Glencoe? Numerous hikes?

Definitely Skye over Loch Ness/Inverness.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 08:59 AM
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Sometimes you have to wonder if people ever read what they have written and try to figure out how they would answer a similar question about their own country.

What are your INTERESTS? Without knowing a bit about that, NO one can tell you if 4 days in Glencoe is too much or too little. The same applies to any other place you name.

I might spend all 10 days in Edinburgh and someone interested in hiking/climbing might spend all 10 in Glencoe. As asked your question is unanswerable.

All you can hope to get is what someone ELSE would do, not what YOU should do.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 10:52 AM
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First time poster; cut them some slack.

tG_l, some personal views. First, if you're traveling with teens, can we assume this will be during the summer? Presumably this summer? If so, then the reason you're finding it easier to locate accommodations around Inverness is that it's simply not that attractive an area for the bulk of visitors. Loch Ness, as stated, is attractive enough, but compared to other lochs and inlets in the Scottish Highlands, it's pretty ordinary, legends and romantic notions aside. Inverness is a busy but not especially scenic town, somewhat overwhelmed with traffic.

Second, Edinburgh fills with visitors and doesn't empty until after the Edinburgh Festival (and attendant side festivals like the Fringe) at the end of August/first of September. Not a bad thing, but competition for space is intense and prices go up and stay there, so if you're mulling 2 vs. 3 vs. more nights, don't fiddle around - you may find your options get reduced as time passes.

The Glencoe vs. Skye options assume you'll have a car. Unless you're into climbing or long hikes, Glencoe itself won't have a lot to offer besides a bed after the first night. Oh, you can drive to some very scenic places within an hour or two of Glencoe, but that goes pretty much for anywhere in the Highlands. Skye, on the other hand, offers much more diversity in terms of scenery and culture - mountains, castles, the rugged west and north coasts, a smattering of true "Celtic Fringe" culture (spoken Gaelic here and there, for instance.) But again, while it's a big island, you might find yourselves getting itchy after 2 or 3 days.

We don’t know you, of course, but traveling with “young teens” presents its own challenges for many of us, specifically, what to do when the boredom factor sets in? Visiting the Scottish Highlands involves looking a lot at scenery – is that okay with your kids? (I know mine started zoning out right after the first majestic view down the glen.) Distillery tours aren’t going to be on the agenda, and unless they’re really interested in history, one or two battlefields or castles might do the trick.

Which is to say, the cities have a lot more in the way of distractions, things to do, etc., so if I were putting together a 10-day plan from scratch, I’d probably weigh it more heavily toward Edinburgh than to the Highlands, maybe 5/5.

For the Highlands bits, you could do a route like this - http://goo.gl/maps/4MCdA - stopping at Eileen Donan Castle near Dornie, then Skye, then returning via the ferry to Mallaig and the “Road to the Isles” back to Fort William and Glencoe, thence Edinburgh. This is a very scenic route with a good selection of sights and environments.

I’d also mention that there are a number of terrific day trips one can make from Edinburgh into the countryside – fishing villages in East Lothian or Fife, castles and ruined bits in the Borders, and so on. You could even do a (long, but feasible) day trip to Alnwick in Northumberland, if they’re Harry Potter fans (Alnwick Castle was used for numerous HP scenes.) So even if you’re spending more time in Edinburgh than you planned, you don’t have to spend it in Edinburgh.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Oops - My post should have said >>what sorts of things are you doing. Are you into very serious hiking/climbing? If not you would not need more than one day (or partial day) in Glencoe.<<
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Jun 27th, 2013, 01:54 PM
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Thank you for advice, travel links, and for cutting us some slack on being new.
Gardyloo - thank you for your notes - and for considering the kids in your advice.

Travel in August, by car, 10 nights in Scotland
Tattoo tickets are in hand for last night in Scotland
Jacobite tickets are in hand for Glencoe portion (day trip - round)
No interest in distilleries, pubs, and tours
Scenery, mountains, coastal, castles, culture, wildlife
Activities - archery, clay pigeon (if allowed), mountain biking, market
Hiking - Ben Nevis, some hiking elsewhere - spectacular scenery/vista
Fishing if we are not rushed would be nice, fly fishing lesson would be perfect
Would be great to find a woollen mill or kilt maker
Strong interest in attending Highland Games - maybe Glenfinnan or Crieff

The kids will do maybe one good major hike and one or two minor hikes
They would love archery - interested in music and Scottish culture
Fans of James Bond (Mom is too) - kids like Skyfall especially

We will give Inverness and surrounding area a pass - no problem there
With exception of Loch Ness and the castle - but we must at least drive by to check it out.

1. Plan will be to enter Scotland via Glasgow - take A82 - see sights en route to Glencoe
2. Stay Glencoe, then move onto Skye, or Loch Ness area (for nicest lodging)
3. Consider working in a castle stay - one night (two if on Mull), in area during trip
4. Continue onto Edinburgh, taking in sights on route
5. Finish in Edinburgh with some sightseeing, the Tattoo
6. Leave Scotland - drive out to England along Hadrian's wall

One day in Glencoe will be used toward the Jacobite train.

There are bits in England at the beginning and end of this itinerary - already planned. The exception is a castle stay we had booked at Langley castle to sightsee along the wall. We will likely sacrifice this as staying there would reduce our time in Scotland to around 8 nights only.

Accommodations at the start and end of the trip are booked in Glencoe and Edinburgh with flexibility - it's the middle of the trip that is missing. Options available for the middle of the trip:

- very nice self-catering w/a full bed for everyone near Loch Ness with castle & activities nearby
- self-catering on Skye - two singles, a double - bedrooms not the best but nice, near Edible
- self-catering on Skye - near Staffin, or near Elgol, but not as nice overall as above
- inn on Skye near Sleat area - older room first two nights/switch to nicer room last two, cots
- possible 1-2 nights Glengorme castle (Mull) or Inverlochy 1 night as long as not too rushed

Our preference is to change accommodations less frequently, but if these castles are really worth the trouble and time for a night, we would visit them.

For Inverlochy castle, we could possible pay a visit by having lunch there or tea (or picnic)? Perhaps on the same days as our ride on the Jacobite which is mid-afternoon.

Isle of Eriska has availability but we are not sure what the attraction there would be (seems more for adults - spa, relaxation, more modern rooms, etc.).


Glencoe - 3 to 4 night stay
Skye or Loch Ness area - 3 to 4 night stay
Edinburgh - 2 to 3 night stay

We could do 5 nights Skye or Loch Ness in self-catering but this would leave 3 Glencoe and only 2 in Edinburgh - plus 5 may be too much if the accommodation (and location) are not right.

With the castles it might be:

Glencoe - 4 nights very nice accommodations
Skye - hotel for 2 nights, older room
Mull - castle room for 1 night
Edinburgh - 3 nights

Glencoe - 4 nights again
Skye - 3 nights
Inverlochy - 1 night
Edinburgh - 2 nights

Glencoe - 4 nights
Skye - 2 nights
Mull - castle room 2 night
Inverlochy - castle room 2 night
Edinburgh - 2 nights

We would like to visit the following en route to Edinburgh from our "middle" stay:

- see Pitolchry
- stop at Wallace Monument and visit Antonine Wall
- visit Stirling for Falkirk Wheel, Castle and Bowness Motor Museum
- check out the Forth Rail Bridge

Indy-Dad - will visit your travel urls with interest (thank you). Also, checked Frederick Street and it is nice, but full (thank you for the recommendation). Looking at Nira Caledonia or Caledonia for Edinburgh (have space at both) - anyone familiar with these?

You can probably see why my first post was brief and general - hopefully the details here are helpful. Further replies would be great, and BTW, 10 nights in a city would kill us - we are already at 8 nights total for London ironically - fun in the city is good, but nature rules.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 03:45 PM
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Just time for a quick comment- getting ready for the NBA draft. . . .

All that detail would have been helpful up front. The thread probably would have taken a different direction. You may have trouble finding Edinburgh accommodations this late date. Some of the nice places book up 6 months to a year in advance for festival/Tattoo time.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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No problem - just didn't want to overload anyone, but since others asked for detail...

If you read through the post above you will see that we (thankfully) have accommodations for Edinburgh in hand. You are right - I don't think we would find anything there at this time.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 10:51 PM
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Ah, so Glencoe is locked down.

I've not done Ben Nevis, but friends have. It seemed more of a slog than others. I interpreted that as not good effort/view ratio! Here's their post.


I'll reiterate, do check out the Walking Highlands site for very good info on walks around Glencoe.


We really liked the Ben A'An walk we did but that's >1 hr from Glencoe. Probably closer to 2 hrs. I'm sure you can find something closer with some research.


I did like Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness but you could do that on your way back. Definitely do Skye instead of Loch Ness for your base.

I'm deducing that the type of accommodation is important. If possible, I'd focus on location more in Skye (if possible at this date). I'm biased but I wanted to be near the Trotternish Peninsula so Portree was a better fit for us.

Sligachan is often mentioned for a good central location.
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Jul 1st, 2013, 10:26 AM
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Be aware that Skye is enormous, and things take awhile to get to. For example, we stayed at a great B&B by Neist Point, and went on a morning wildlife boat trip out of Elgol (which was awesome, and I bet your kids would love it!), which is all on the island, but it's 63 miles and 2 hours apart. We thought we might make it to another activity that day, but we couldn't really. This meant that we basically did one "thing" a day: one hike, or one boat trip, or one scenic drive, etc. We did manage to get two hikes in on one day (the Quairing and Old Man of Storr), but one was a very abbreviated jaunt.

It seems like you have a lot you want to see in the "middle" area... you should consider spending a night in the area. We stayed in Pitlochry and got an early start (8am) towards Edinburgh visiting Doune Castle, Stirling Castle, and the Wallace Monument on the way and didn't get into town until 7:30 at night. Towards the end, we definitely suffered from exhaustion and were dragging ourselves between scenery and artifacts. Since you have even more sites in the area, that's something to consider.

More time in Edinburgh is better than less time. Yes, it's a city, but it's awesome.
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Jul 1st, 2013, 07:52 PM
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A gem of a comment Katiehab.

"Be aware that Skye is enormous"

I remember a cousin of mine (Scottish) telling me about a 3 week holiday with a motorhome she and her husband took around Scotland. During the conversation she told me that they 'had covered 900 miles in 3 weeks'. This as if it was a huge distance.

To them it was, since they rarely went more than 30 miles from home. Clearly a 63 mile drive in 2 hours is a meaningful journey to you Katie. While driving any distance is slower in Scotland due to the smaller/narrower and winding roads than in other countries perhaps, nevertheless, many people would not consider a 2 hour drive or 63 miles as being a meaningful distance. Compare it to people on a road trip in the USA who routinely expect to cover 5-800 miles in a day.

I'm not not 'having a go' Katie. I actually find it interesting how distances are seen differently in different places. Skye is a small island. The whole of Britain is only the 9th largest island. Skye is somewhere down around the 250th island by size. Hardly 'enormous'.

Everything is relative. I remember the school mums lining up to pick up their kids outside a small village school near where I lived at one time. All ten cars meant a 'traffic jam' every day there.
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Jul 1st, 2013, 08:41 PM
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>>I'm not not 'having a go' Katie. <<

Sure you are - you have a go at folks in just about EVERY post. Do you always have to be so overbearing/condescending?

Skye IS large and seems larger since most roads are single track and slow.

The driving in the USA or OZ cannot be compared to anything in the UK.
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Jul 2nd, 2013, 08:43 AM
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It would appear to me that YOU are the one 'having a go' janisj.

You have no way of knowing what my intent is regarding something I write. I specifically wrote I am not 'having a go' in order to make my intent clear.

I find it interesting that someone considers Skye 'enormous', it's as simple as that. As I wrote, the differences in people's perceptions is always interesting.

I have been on Skye several times. I do not consider it large at all and certainly not enormous. Perceptions differ, that was my whole point. It makes the use of the adjective by katie, a gem for me as I said. A gem is a good thing, not a negative.

It added an interesting point of view to an otherwise mundane subject of 'how many days should I spend in X' thread.
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Jul 2nd, 2013, 10:09 AM
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OK - You have attacked people for posting 'mind numbing' trip reports, and think normal questions are just soooo very 'mundane'. Ok we get it - maybe you are just too sophisticated for Fodors . . .
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Jul 2nd, 2013, 12:50 PM
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The comment about staying somewhere en route to accomplish this is a good one - I appreciate the consideration as we don't want to give up seeing something the magnitude of Stirling Castle because we had to blitz through such a fantastic country.

If we go straight from Skye to Edinburgh, we will be trying to sightsee on route. Travelling with kids means there is no way we will be up at 5 or 6 am to start our drive. There are a few things we are contemplating for 10 nights to take the "rush" out of travelling.

- stay South end of Skye to cut down on travel and bring us closer to the ferry terminal
- skip Skye and move from Glencoe to Edinburgh (less rushed)
- make our base in Loch Ness (only because available accommodations are so nice)
- as an alternate, make our base in the Perthshire hills (again - accommodation very nice)

Our options would be non-existant if we had found the lodgings we were looking for on Skye. We have a few options on Skye - one hotel-style with cots/travel beds, two cottages - they are just not as nice as the options at Loch Ness and the Perthshire area as Skye is in high demand.

If we made our base in self-catering, Perthshire, the trip would take a different form:

- stay Glencoe 3/4 nights
- skip Skye and Islands - travel to Perth (could stay 3/4/5 nights in self-catering)
- from Perth to Edinburgh for 2/3 nights

If centred in Perth, we would check out:

- Highland Game dates in area
- see Pitolchry, visit Antonine Wall, stop at Wallace Monument
- visit Stirling for Falkirk Wheel, Castle and Bowness Motor Museum
- possibly castle route drive that includes "haunted" Glamis and other must-sees in the area
- check out river boats, lunch, and Forth Rail Bridge en route to Edinburgh

As noted, we are staying in Glencoe to start no matter what we do (3 or 4 nights). Edinburgh at the end (2 or 3 nights). There is still the option of taking one night in Fort William en route to Edinburgh to make things less rushed, but this would only allow us an earlier rather than a later start heading to the city. Otherwise, we would be here to enjoy the castle primarily.

Available accommodations are important - we like to have somewhere comfortable to hang out as a family at the end of each day (and in the mornings) plus if the weather is brutal, it is nice to have somewhere good to stay - we might spend a fair bit of time indoors.

As for Pitolchry - very popular (and a great suggestion as it looks wonderful) but it is very booked up unfortunately. Your plan would have worked well Katie. Indie_Dad - thank you for responding - will for sure visit walkhighlands and check out post on the slog up to Ben Nevis.
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