Scotland itinerary -- please critique!

Dec 15th, 2004, 12:56 PM
  #1  
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Scotland itinerary -- please critique!

Sheila et al., please review this tentative itinerary for my first trip to Scotland -- March 19-27.

We are two females in our early thirties, leaving the hubbies at home while we enjoy the most scenic parts of the Highlands and islands, find Nessie and do some serious shopping.

Other than "dress warmly," are there any tips/suggestions/changes you folks can contribute? Thanks!

Saturday -- arrive Manchester, England (this is reserved/confirmed/set in stone) 8:30 am, train to Stirling. Explore Stirling, spend night in Stirling (Kilronan House).

Sunday -- Explore Stirling, rent car, drive to Oban, ferry to Mull. Spend night on Mull (Glengorm Castle).

Monday -- Explore Tobermory, ferry to Oban, drive to Skye. Spend night on Skye (where?)

Tuesday -- day/night on Skye.

Wednesday -- Loch Ness (must see Nessie), spend night near Inverness (Sheila has suggested Drumnadrochit or Invermoriston).

Thursday -- Drive to Edinburgh, spend night in Edinburgh (where?)

Friday -- day/night in Edinburgh.

Saturday -- train to Manchester, spend night at Manchester aiport.

Sunday -- depart Manchester 12:15 pm
beachy1 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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That's a whole lot in a short amount of time. It's do-able, and most likely enjoyable. But could you add a couple days? Just asking.

Ms. Go and I covered a lot of this same ground this year. Search this site for our trip..."12 spectacular days in sometimes sunny Scotland". Actually, I'll top if for you now.
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Dec 15th, 2004, 01:11 PM
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Have you looked into the cost of a RT bmi flight from Manchester to Edinburgh? That might save you some time on the train and buy you an extra day in Scotland at the end of your trip. We did this last year, although our MAN-EDI segments were part of our round-trip from Chicago. Unless there are seasonal changes to the schedule, I recall that bmi has five or six flights per day between these cities. Just an idea.
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Dec 15th, 2004, 01:13 PM
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Thanks, mr_go! I have actualy read your report, on the advice of your dad! He helped me so much with my Italy planning last month Anyway, my traveling companion is a teacher, so our timeframe is indeed set in stone. What would you suggest cutting out? Our search for Nessie?
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Dec 15th, 2004, 01:19 PM
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Yes. It's a lovely loch, but the scenery on Skye was a far bigger deal to me. And Inverness is somewhat out-of-the-way relative to your other destinations.

Glad our report was helpful!
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Dec 15th, 2004, 01:21 PM
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It was very helpful. I will keep you posted! I need to e-mail Bob the Navigator and report on Italy, too
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Dec 15th, 2004, 01:48 PM
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OK - a few minor suggestions here.

You don't need to ferry back to Oban to get to Skye. I would take the ferry from Fishnish to Lochaline and then drive to Mallaig through Moidart. This route would save you some time and the scenery is lovely. (or you could take a ferry from Tobermory to Kilchoan which is an even shorther drive to Mallaig, or Tobermory to Drimnin)

Second - I would not take the train from Manchester to Stirling -- I'd take the train to Oban and spend the night there -- or maybe even pick up a rental car in Oban and head straight over to Mull.

Then after heading staying a day/night or 2 on Skye - I'd drive along Loch Ness - there is really no need to stay near Inverness. I'd tour along the loch, visit Urquhart castle, and then visit Culloden battlefield and then head down the A-9. You can easily drive from Skye (across the bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh) to Loch ness, visit the castle, visit Culloden and start south in about 6 hours - so this would save you a full day of your limited time.

I'd probably stay that night somewhere near Blair Atholl or Dunkeld. Then the next day you can visit Stirling and have enough time to actually visit the castle - it is vast and takes several hours.

Then on to Edinburgh, drop the car and stay there a couple of nights.
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Dec 15th, 2004, 06:02 PM
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Here's a hint for you regarding the ferry from Oban to Mull:
If you make a reservation for the ferry (recommended) be sure to arrive at the ferry and be in line more than 30 minutes prior to the ferry departure. Otherwise you will lose your reservation. The ferry people are quite strict about this. They will let you go on stand-by - you may or may not get on the ferry, though. This happened to us, we eventually got on a ferry but not the one we had reserved.
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Dec 16th, 2004, 04:52 AM
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Your question on where to stay in Skye... my DH and I stayed at a delightful, clean, friendly B&B near Broadford on Skye called Tir Alainn (beautiful country in the gaelic). The proprietor was sweet and talkative, the view is spectacular, and the room comfortable and filled with tartan fabric

He even sang to us as he prepped breakfast! As I recall, the cost was £20 pp, and it was one of the best evenings we had on our trip.

Skye is gorgeous, and definitely worth a good couple days... we only got one day, and didn't feel it was enough.

Warning: Just cuz something is 10 miles away doesn't mean you can get to it quickly. The road on Skye doubles back and forth along the coast, reminding me of fjords!
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Dec 16th, 2004, 05:27 AM
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I'd second a couple of suggestions above. Both BA and BMI fly from Manchester to Edinburgh on a daily basis. The flight is less than an hour long. On BMI you can get a flight from £12 (plus taxes) one-way, see:

www.flybmi.com

I also second the suggestion of not returning to Oban on the ferry. See www.calmac.co.uk for the ferry timetables.
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Dec 16th, 2004, 05:28 AM
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Janis and Dlemma -- Wonderful tips! I love you Fodorites I will consult with my traveling companion and keep you posted on a revised itinerary.

GreenDragon -- we will definitely check out the Tir Alainn! Thanks!
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Dec 16th, 2004, 05:31 AM
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Maria_H -- we have considered flying from Manchester to Edinburgh, but decided we wanted to END our trip in Edinburgh rather than begin there. However, if the flight is that short, it sure beats wasting most of a day on a train! We'll look into it!
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Dec 16th, 2004, 06:02 AM
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It's a nice short flight, rather than a boring motorway drive on the start and end of your journey. The airport is outside the city centre of Edinburgh, so easy for a quick getaway, at the start of your journey. As the airport is relatively small, there should also be less delays getting your cases too.
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Dec 16th, 2004, 06:10 AM
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It's 236 miles from Manchester to Edinburgh 4 to 5 hours (boring) driving. It's 31 miles from Edinburgh airport to Stirling. The AA web site is good for checking driving routes:

http://www.theaa.com/travelwatch/planner_main.jsp
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Dec 16th, 2004, 06:12 AM
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travelwhirls
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Can you advise on a good hotel in the old town section of Edinburgh?
 
Dec 16th, 2004, 06:22 AM
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Maria_H -- Wow. When I look at it that way, it seems silly NOT to fly into Edinburgh from Manchester, even if we just grab a rental car and head right back out of town! Thanks!!
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Dec 16th, 2004, 06:24 AM
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travelwhirls -- I would suggest typing "Edinburgh" into the search box in this forum. Also, I find great hotel reviews on tripadvisor.com!
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Dec 16th, 2004, 07:22 AM
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Just a thought - do check out the opening times of any castles, etc you plan to visit. A lot of tourist attractions in the UK don't open until Easter weekend (some later) so the first day many open will be Good Friday 25th March.
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Dec 16th, 2004, 09:11 AM
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http://www.milford.co.uk/scotland/accom/h-a-1794.html

Here's the website for Tir Alainn... had to go find it
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Dec 16th, 2004, 09:11 AM
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Whoops, that wasn't the OFFICIAL site... this is....

http://www.visitskye.com/
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