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Bo2642 May 21st, 2019 01:18 PM

Scotland itinerary-please take a look. Any help would be appreciated.
 
My two adult daughters and I will be visiting Scotland in September. It's a quick trip, only 10 days not counting flights, and we know that we can do little more than get an overview of the country. That being said, we'd like to make the most of our time and so are asking for your help. \Our itinerary is set regarding accommodations, but if anyone has suggestions on how to flesh it out, your input would certainly be appreciated.

We arrive in Edinburgh on the morning of Wednesday, September 18, and will be in the city until the morning of Saturday, September 22. We will immerse ourselves in the cultural things the city has to offer, but if on the 21st, we'd like to take a day trip out of the city by train, what would you suggest re the destination? Perth, St. Andrews, Dundee, someplace else? It would probably be helpful if you would take a look at the whole itinerary before coming forth with suggestions. But we would love to find ourselves someplace with historical interest, a farmers market (it would be a Saturday), a colorful fishing village, etc.

We leave for Oban about 9:30 AM on Sunday Sept. 22. We will save Stirling for the end of the trip so will not be stopping there on the way. We need some help though in plotting out the route. We would like to see something other than the sides of a busy motorway. Given that because of time constraints some motorway segments perhaps can't be avoided, are there any routes that would let us get a feel for the areas we're passing through? We will have all day to make the drive. We just have to be in Oban by 4 PM for our reservation at Finn Falconry for the Hawk Walk Experience. That reservation is the only reservation set in stone for us for the whole trip. Something to keep in mind is that we won't have a compact car. I know, I know, but we are three women, each with a suitcase, though not huge ones, and each with a carry-on. Not all of the stuff can be accommodated in the trunk and will have to go in the backseat along with one person sitting there. We will have a mid-size, a Volvo V40, so probably best to stay away from extremely narrow roads. Any and all suggestions for stops along the way, which of course would include Loch Lomond, would be welcome.

A must stop for us in Oban will be the Oban Distillery. Their Scotch is one of my son-in-laws favorites, and he said that now we know what to bring him back when we come home. We may have to delay our time there until the next morning if we can't fit it in on Sunday. Their hours are 9:30 to 19:30 every day in September. We may not have much time in Oban other than the Falconry and the Distillery, but if there are any thoughts, please feel free....

We will not be spending the night in Oban, but will drop down south of there to Kilmelfort where we will have a quiet evening at the Crow's Nest. The condo owner says it's about 30 minutes from Oban, and we know how sometimes 30 minutes stretch into 45 min, 1 hour.... But we're ok with that. It's a lovely accommodation in a beautiful setting and a good place to decompress after having had a full itinerary up until that point. Lunch, dinner? We like food, but we're not foodies, so we'll just see what's available and go with that.

September 23 (Monday) will find us on our way to Skye with accommodations for 2 nights in Portree. We may be beginning the day with the Oban Distillery tour as mentioned above, but other than that the day is ours to see what it brings. What would you say regarding points of interest? It looks like Glencoe would be the focal point for rugged beautiful scenery and lots of history which I certainly have to bone up on. I did a search of my maiden name when I was in Edinburgh a decade ago and I think it was associated with the MacDonald clan. Before the trip I'll check and be sure, but references to the MacDonalds are all over this area, and I suppose it would be a good thing to learn a bit about my background. It looks like there is a humble little folk museum in Glencoe that could give some insights into the everyday history of the area.

It appears tha A82 is the way through Glencoe to the Isle of Skye, but are there suggestions for stops after we pass Ft. William on our way to Portree? No problem getting late into Portree. We will have a whole day on Skye the next day. Not a lot of time, but ok for us for now.

September 24 (Tuesday) whole day on Skye, and we will have in mind things we would like to see and do, but a lot will depend on the weather. According to some of janisj's posts, it could be pouring rain to the extent where we might not be able to see much, but that's ok. One of things that has kept us sane during disappointments as we've traveled is the phrase, "Oh, Well. Plan B...or C". We travel when we can, and we see what we see. and that's fine.

Sept 25 (Wednesday) --Isle of Skye to Inverness, via Loch Ness. We certainly want to make that obligatory stop for the Eilean Donan Castle and the remains of the Urquhart Castle. Are there any thoughts about Fort Augustus? Wednesday night in Inverness. No special plans. Just thinking of it as a stopover, but it would be so nice to find a music venue.

September 26 (Thursday) Inverness to Stirling. Here's where our plans are pretty thin, and we need help. We wish the Queen were not in residence at Balmoral Castle because we would love the visit what's open to the public. We wouldn't mind passing through the area if there are points of interest or if it would just make a lovely side trip. What we would very much like to do is be in Leault (off the A-9) at 4 PM to see the working sheepdogs. We'll certainly be missing our dogs by that time, and this will give us a dog fix. Other than that, we're open to suggestions. A distillery, an interesting town, anything that any of you have enjoyed which would be on the way to Stirling where we will spend two nights (Thursday and Friday).

September 27 (Friday) whole day in Stirling. We've saved Stirling for last because we didn't want to hurry through the castle on our way to Oban. So we will do that castle tour and also we will go to Lerrocks Farm Argaty, Doune, for the Argaty Red Kites. Other than that, we hope there's some good shopping, some entertainment during the evening, and whatever else comes our way.

September 28 (Saturday morning)--drop the car off at the airport and check in for our flight home.

So the about is the bare outline of our trip. Hopefully we will come across places where there is music, where we will see sheep on the roads as is the case in Ireland, and any and all things that will add richness and texture to our travels. We would love to hear from anyone who might have thoughts or suggestions, and any input would certainly be appreciated.

scotlib May 22nd, 2019 09:00 AM

Hi Bo2642,

For the Saturday, there's a farmer's market right in Edinburgh, Welcome to Edinburgh Farmers' Market - Edinburgh Farmers Market

My favorite visits when in Edinburgh are the People's Story, https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/...s-story-museum and almost across the street the Museum of Edinburgh, https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/...seum-edinburgh

If the tower room video is running at the People's Story, I recommend that for views of daily life into the 80s.

I've visited Edinburgh 5 times and the trip reports are linked to my profile. I've done trips out of Edinburgh with minicoach tours (ex: Rabbies, https://www.rabbies.com/en ) and train and coach. https://www.travelinescotland.com/ can help with journey plans.

If you want to see other than highway on the driving parts, I can attest that setting a GPS to avoiding highways/toll roads will get you a definitely scenic route!! (That was the trip with my sister and we did survive, lol).

Enjoy the trip planning. Have lots of ideas and then be ready to select one or allow serendipity decide. Cheers.

janisj May 22nd, 2019 09:31 AM

Just random notes for now - it is a very detailed OP and a lot to digest, just skimming now, will come back later when I have more time::

>>We will have a mid-size, a Volvo V40, so probably best to stay away from extremely narrow roads.<<

Are you renting? If so do not get your hearts set on that model. You will get the model that agency has when yu collect it. Hopefully in the same size class.

>>Oban Distillery. Their Scotch is one of my son-in-laws favorites, and he said that now we know what to bring him back when we come home<<

He won't be with you - right? So you visiting in his stead really won't mean that much. You can get the whisky anywhere. Just don't jump through hoops or miss something else to fit in touring Oban. Fine IF it fits - but there are lots of other distillery tours.

By anychance are you staying at Melfort Village time share? (Not a lot of 'condos' in that area). Even by the fastest route - via Glencoe and the bridge - that is a 5 hour drive without any stops. With even just an hour at Glencoe, and a photo stop at Eilean Donan it wil take just about the entire day. So your 2 nights on Skye will net you one day for a VERY large/slow island. If you go via Glencoe/Glenfinnan/Mallaig the drive is only about 30 minutes more but then you have stops at Glenfinnan and wait for the next ferry to factor in so absolutely a full day's drive.

More later when I read the rest . . .

Bo2642 May 22nd, 2019 03:21 PM

@scotlib Thanks for the People’s Story Museum and the Museum of Edinburgh recommendations. I followed the links, and their offerings are the kinds of things we enjoy. Regarding the Edinburgh Farmers Market, their setup looks amazing, and were I home and picking up things fo cook, I’d be there in a minute. So this is a farmers market in the purest sense, but I had in mind something more like a street fair where vendors sell handicrafts and such in addition to produce and cheese.


janisj May 22nd, 2019 04:13 PM

Some more:

>>I think it was associated with the MacDonald clan.<<

Then you will 100% want to stop at the Clan Donald Centre at Armadale Castle. https://www.armadalecastle.com So Loch Melfort > Glencoe > Glenfinnan > Armadale > Portree will be a REALLY long day. I don't see how you could fit in an Oban distillery tour that morning because you'll want to be on the road early than that. Would Talisker suffice?

I love Deeside but I just think a detour over that way is too much because of your other long days. If it was me I'b be inclined to simplify things and just head 'straight' to Stirling. Maybe with a stop at or Dunkeld. Inverness > Dunkeld > Stirling is about a 3 hour drive. Inverness to Dunkeld is about 2 hours. so it would be possible to visit Dunkeld Cathedral in the late morning and get to Stirling in the mid afternoon. Then it is about an hour down to Stirling and plenty of time to tour the Castle.

As for Stirling - I love the castle but there is no way it takes all day. Since you could visit it the afternoon before - you could easily do Doune Castle, Inchmahome Priory and just general touring through the Trossachs/Loch Lomond/ etc on the 27th.

Bo2642 May 22nd, 2019 04:22 PM

janisj You’ve given me a lot to think about. First of all, you’re right about the Oban Distillery. No need to take a tour in order to pick up a bottle of Scotch, so that’s now off the list. The girls and I are not Scotch fans, so maybe some tastings down the road to see if we can learn to actually enjoy it, and maybe a tour somewhere else, but you’ve saved us time in Oban.

I misspoke about the Crow’s Nest being a condo. It’s actually a stand alone accommodation.
Regarding the Volvo, it would be nice if that were waiting for us. We had one three or four years ago in the Netherlands, and it was great. Auto Europe has reserved that OR similar. I know what you mean. We will probably get the similar. Whatever. Just as long as the person in the back seat has room to breathe.

What has given me pause is the extra long driving day between a Oban and Portree. Poor planning, but we’re locked in so it is what it is. S we’ll have an early night at the Crow’s Nest and the distillery is off the list, we’ll get an early start and get on our way. It seems that every trip I take there’s always one big driving day.

I was thinking that our stop at Eilean Donan would take place on our way from Skye to Inverness.

We do want some time in Glencoe, but after that, what to do? One guidebook says that the drive between Fort William to Mallaig for the Skye ferry has loch-and-mountain views along with a nice stretch of coast near the end. Does that square with your experience?

Just one full day on Skye is very little time, we know, but we’ll see what we can and be ok with that. I think that my girls and their hubbies might return someday for some good hikes and linger in nature much longer than we will this time. Danny, my son in law, is already looking ahead. I can’t do much in regards to hiking. Sciatica after spine surgery and on the mend with a broken femur, but I digress.

Thank you janisj. You come through in a big way for those of us who need help.


Bo2642 May 22nd, 2019 04:37 PM

@janisj. Our posts crossed. Let me just digest your last one and the get back to you.

janisj May 22nd, 2019 04:37 PM

>>I was thinking that our stop at Eilean Donan would take place on our way from Skye to Inverness.<<

I posted that originally after only skimming the OP. Now I agree that Oban > Glencoe > Mallaig > Armadale > Portree TO Skye, and Portree > Eilean Donan > Inverness FROM Skye makes most sense.

That Loch Melfort > Skye is your only 'awful' drive day - what I'd so is get a really early start - it is about a 90 minute drive to Glencoe so you could just have 'nibbles' in the morning and plan on breakfast at the Clachaig Inn or the Glencoe Visitors Centre.

janisj May 22nd, 2019 04:38 PM

>>@janisj. Our posts crossed. Let me just digest your last one and the get back to you.<<

We did it again . . . :)

Gardyloo May 23rd, 2019 06:29 AM

I'm going to risk scorn (well, I hope not, maybe just being ignored is sufficient for my poor ego :( ) but I'm going to level and say I'm not particularly in love with this plan, given that it's late September we're talking about. I know you say your accommodations are booked, and maybe they're immovable, but switching dates shouldn't be all that complicated at this stage IF you wanted. It's not the peak period for lodging demand in the Highlands.

Here are my views, take 'em in the spirit intended.

I would focus on the Skye/Wester Ross area or on Oban/Mull/Argyll, but not both. It's not just that the Kimelford - Glen Coe - Portree day will be long, it's also that it will require you to rocket past places and through countryside that's some of most historic and scenic in all of the Highlands.

I would also agree with Janis that two days for Stirling is (again, my view) around 1 1/2 days too many, especially when it comes at the cost of doing something different with those hours.

If you read the Scotland threads on this board you'll see a general dismissal of Inverness as a destination on its own; it's main function is as a government and commercial hub for the Highlands. It's reasonably close to some interesting places (aside from Culloden) but nothing so first-tier that it merits the attention it gets. Again, the question I'd ask is, "What could you do with those hours that would be more enjoyable?"

What if...

1. You swapped Mull for Skye? You can reach Mull much more quickly from Oban than driving all the way to Mallaig for the Skye ferry. Mull offers wonderful scenery, another main town (Tobermory in this case) with its share of red and blue buildings, and access to all sorts of things like a couple of distilleries, standing stones, remarkable day trips to Iona or Staffa, castles... the whole deal. Yes, I know you'd skip Eilean Donan, but Duart Castle on Mull, seen from the Oban ferry, is no slouch.

https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...1ff6bb5916.jpg

Here's an imaginary route that focuses on this area rather than Skye. https://goo.gl/maps/yw42wCxDV9ck3xx8A . This clockwise route would take you from Edinburgh through Glasgow and up Loch Lomond to Rest and Be Thankful, then along (gorgeous) Loch Fyne to Inveraray, home of the Campbells (Inveraray Castle). From there it's around to Kimelford via the incredible Kilmartin Glen, with its cluster of standing stones, stone circles, burial cairns, carved crosses in the churchyard... You'd then cross over from Oban to Mull and explore that island. You could visit historic Iona from Fionnphort (excursions also available from Oban) and maybe see Fingal's Cave on Staffa. There's a nice wee distillery in Tobermory, wonderful drives and walks, and a real feel of the Inner Hebrides quite similar to Skye's. You'd return to the mainland and head back to Edinburgh via Glen Coe, Glen Etive (a "don't-miss" in my book) and Stirling.

Or, 2. If Skye is non-negotiable, then I'd consider dropping Argyll and heading there directly. Here's THAT route - https://goo.gl/maps/gojM7diF2fa7mWNe7 . Also clockwise, this would take you through Stirling to Glen Etive and Glen Coe, then out the Road to the Isles to the Mallaig ferry and over the sea to Skye. Spend your time on the island, then cross the Kyle bridge and past Eilean Donan to Inverness. On the way back to Edinburgh, spend a night in Fortingall, a lovely little village (with a terrific hotel) set at the mouth of Glen Lyon. Glen Lyon is one of Scotland's most beautiful, and in the autumn (which it probably will be by then) the light bouncing off the autumn leaves can turn the whole valley into a wonderland.

https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fod...fc1cd87bcd.jpg

So like I say, maybe for naught, but I'd give some thought to the "less is more" argument that would come from making your route a little more compact.

Edited to add - if you're looking for music, Edinburgh is really your best bet; anywhere outside the cities it's going to be a hit-and-miss (mostly miss) situation. Here's the Scotsman's recommendations for music in the capital - https://foodanddrink.scotsman.com/dr...ars-edinburgh/ . I'd personally make a bee line to Sandy Bell's.

janisj May 23rd, 2019 09:28 AM

I haven't read all of Gardyloo's post yet but just a couple of points:

>>I would focus on the Skye/Wester Ross area or on Oban/Mull/Argyll, but not both<<

I basically agree -- my posts were to take your current plans and massage them to fix them a little. But if it was MY trip (which it obviously isn'y) I wouldn't try to cover so much territory unless I had a lot more time. Like almost double. The places you want to see are pretty far apart, are connected by vast swaths of gorgeous scenery and sites, and are slow drives from one to the next. Scotland isn't a place one cane dash from one corner to the other - and if ones tries, they miss a LOT in between.

>>I would also agree with Janis that two days for Stirling is (again, my view) around 1 1/2 days too many<<.

I only agree with that re Stirling itself - the town/castle. But the area around Stirling is worth a lot of time -- in aggregate I've spent probably 2 or 3 months in the general Trossachs area over many years and it is one of my favorite parts of the country (not THE fav but definitely in the top 5).

I'll read the rest of Gardyloo's post later - got a late start this morning. But basically, your current plan IS doable, but other options would be easier, less hectic.

PalenQ May 23rd, 2019 02:07 PM

I really enjoyed Stirling on a day trip from Edinburgh - lovely regional town with castle of your dreams dominating it - we also enjoyed the macabre old jail (gaol) and its grim cells. Stirling Old Town Jail

But that's a half day at best - to make a full day and take in one of Scotland's national patrimonies - just outside of town the famous (for Scots) - The National Wallace Monument, which is:

– One of Stirling’s most distinctive landmarks, overlooking the scene of Scotland’s victory, led by William Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 where the Scots defeated an English army that had many many more men fighting for it. This is a place where history is something you can touch and feel, as you follow the story of Sir William Wallace, patriot, martyr, and Guardian of Scotland.

too bad Wallace ended up drawn and quartered years later when caught by the English!

For 150 years, this world-famous attraction has fascinated visitors with its exhibits and displays. Make The National Wallace Monument the high point of your visit to Stirling."-Stirling Tourist Office

THE MONUMENT HOW TO FIND US

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Monument

So for a full day in Stirling take a bus (if available- can't see anything on official site about that) or taxi out to the Wallace Monument.

janisj May 23rd, 2019 03:06 PM

>>So for a full day in Stirling take a bus (if available- can't see anything on official site about that) or taxi out<<

What on earth are you on about? Did you read the thread? Stirling is at the end of a driving tour and they'll have a car.

PalenQ May 23rd, 2019 03:28 PM

of you have enjoyed which would be on the way to Stirling where we will spend two nights>

And thus I posted about what's there to do in Stirling for a day! Options, janis options - and you also said: < I only agree with that re Stirling itself - the town/castle. But the area around Stirling is worth a lot of time -->

I only elaborated on what you mentioned.

Cheers!

<What on earth are you on about? Did you read the thread? Stirling is at the end of a driving tour and they'll have a car.> So? How does that factor in?

Bo2642 May 23rd, 2019 07:31 PM

@Gardyloo. You are being neither scorned nor ignored. You and janisj have both expressed strong opinions about the Oban/Portree segment being too hard and long a drive for one day. I’m listening.

Gardyloo, you are indeed a great PR person for Mull, and if I didn’t have a non refundable accommodation reservation to the tune of $560 in Portree, I might be inclined to switch it with Skye.

So let’s keep Skye in the plan. I can do an adjustment on all other accommodations with little or no penalties. I may have to forfeit $110 and change with the falconry in Oban.

I’m trying to wrap my head around both your and janisj’s input, but for now let me ask you this:

If we were to go directly from Edinburgh to Portree as you suggested in Option 2, would that not be just as long a driving day as the Oban to Portree day would be? If we made that into a 2 day drive where would be a good overnight stop?

janisj May 23rd, 2019 07:54 PM

>>If we were to go directly from Edinburgh to Portree as you suggested in Option 2, would that not be just as long a driving day as the Oban to Portree day would be?<<

I would not drive from Edinburgh to Portree in one go. Not speaking for Gardyoo -- but I think he meant using the same 22nd & 23rd en route to Skye via Stirling/the Trossachs and Glencoe. In other words hitting Stirling on the front end. This would have you on Skye on the same dates you have booked.

janisj May 23rd, 2019 08:01 PM

Pal: Not to waylay yet another thread but >>So? How does that factor in?<<

Do you even read what you write? You said they should take a bus or taxi to the Wallace monument -- okaaay It makes sense to take a bus or taxi when they are driving - not.

End of detour -- now back to helping Bo2642 . . . :)

Gardyloo May 24th, 2019 05:37 AM


Originally Posted by janisj (Post 16924534)
>>If we were to go directly from Edinburgh to Portree as you suggested in Option 2, would that not be just as long a driving day as the Oban to Portree day would be?<<

I would not drive from Edinburgh to Portree in one go. Not speaking for Gardyoo -- but I think he meant using the same 22nd & 23rd en route to Skye via Stirling/the Trossachs and Glencoe. In other words hitting Stirling on the front end. This would have you on Skye on the same dates you have booked.

That's right. I didn't do a day-by-day plan, but was rather trying to lay out a general itinerary that could be fleshed out with specifics once you settled on it. No, I wouldn't go Edinburgh to Portree in one go; I'd spend the first night in the Glen Coe area (or Glenfinnan depending on when you get away from Edinburgh and/or how long you spend en route.) That would make the second day (to Mallaig, ferry to Skye) more pleasant, and would actually give you the chance to drive around Skye a little before ending in Portree, if that's where you want to go. One thing that was in my mind is that by late September it might be getting wet (and this is anybody's guess, of course) and you'll be losing 5 minutes of daylight every day. Driving on single track roads in the gloom and gloaming can be unpleasant for some.

Edited to add...

It seems like there hasn't been a lot of discussion about your day's outing on the 21st. I had a couple of ideas that might offer some synergy with the rest of the plan.

1. Stirling. It's an easy train ride, and by doing it as a stand-alone destination you could speed up the drive to the Highlands the next day, perhaps allowing more time to be spent in the Trossachs or out in the Glen Coe/Glenfinnan area (if you choose the Skye alternative) or the same story on the return from the Mull alternative.

2. North Berwick. North Berwick is a very pleasant seaside community, with fishing boats bobbing, a sandy beach. You could Uber out to Tantallon Castle on the coast, overlooking Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth.

3. Dunfermline. Dunfermline Abbey is the highlight (Robert Bruce is among the kings buried there.) It's a very pleasant town, quite walkable.

4. Glasgow. Spend some time around Kelvingrove Park and the University of Glasgow. Have a meal at the Shish Mahal if you know what's good for you. ;) Glasgow Cathedral is also a remarkable place, often overlooked by overseas visitors.

5. Melrose. Take the Borders railway to Tweedbank, then it's a short cab ride to Melrose with its famous abbey.

6. St. Andrews. This requires a train ride followed by a bus or taxi from the Leuchars station, but quite easy. Ruined cathedral, castle, lots of golf stuff, run along the beach while humming the Vangelis theme (from Chariots of Fire.)

There are more...

PalenQ May 24th, 2019 08:11 AM

So? How does that factor in?>

Just a minor slip that I thought about later but useful for others perhaps. I take a lot of time to give info on Stirling and you pick at one little thing? And if Stirling is their last stop they could return the car there and take train back to Edinburgh or wherever they are flying out of.

Bette May 24th, 2019 09:25 AM

We visited Scotland for the first time in late August / early September. We only had 10 nights for this trip and we did include 2 nights on Skye. In order to make the most of our full day we hired Cameron MacRae from Scottish Car Tours to take around the Isle of Skye. It was a fabulous day and we saw so much! We also had amazing weather, which helped. You might consider hiring him to make the most of your short time on Skye.

About Scottish Car Tours

Good luck with your planning. You will love Scotland.


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