Scotland Itinerary Suggestions

Apr 20th, 2005, 10:33 AM
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Scotland Itinerary Suggestions

My husband and I are going to Scotland on business - we arrive in Edinburgh on May 20 - our assignment starts the evening of May 21 - we are done on May 25. We will have 5 days for touring. departing for home on May 31 from Edinburgh. do not want to spend all of our time in the car, but of course are willing to do some travel. My husband is a professional photographer so we are always searching for scenic/slice of life visuals. I know nothing about Scotland except everyone raves about Edinburgh. thanks for your help - everyone was very helpful last summer when we went to Ireland for a fabulous vacation.
EZT is offline  
Apr 20th, 2005, 03:00 PM
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You could easily spend 5 days in Edinburgh; even with a day trip to Glasgow.

Will you drive? Or would you prefer to limit yourselves to public transport?

Would you prefer urban or rural? Seaside or country?
sheila is offline  
Apr 20th, 2005, 04:33 PM
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We will probably rent a car (or driver and car, if that is not cost prohibitive) as public transport is not flexible enough for my photographer husband. We would probably prefer less urban, we like both seaside and countryside.
EZT is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 08:53 AM
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If your preference is for "less urban", I would avoid Glasgow but do visit Edinburgh, a city which rightly deserves the raving that everyone does about it, and there is a lot of natural beuaty right in and near the city such as Calton Hill, Arthurs Seat, Pentland Hills. (Climb the Scott Monument in Princes Street Garden for great views.) Also Loch Lomond is gorgeous even in the rain, as well as Loch Ness - monster or no monster, it still beautiful and surprisingly unspoiled.
Daisy54 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 11:45 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions - I am just starting my research and this is quite helpful. Since our first six days in Edinburgh are on business, we will have only a couple of hours a day to explore. (actually I will have more, my husband will be the one that is working) - during the business portion of the trip we are staying at the Sheraton Centre. I imagine we will move to more affordable lodging in or around Edinburgh for 2 or 3 nights and then perhaps go further into the country for 2 more nights. Last night we will spend in Edinburgh since we will be leaving early in the morning. So those are my limitations as far as sightseeing. 5 days and 6 nights of pure vacation time after the business meeting. We are more interested in spending quality time in a few places than spending all of our time in the car. when you are traveling with a photographer, you could spend an hour in one spot getting that perfect shot. Oh, we will have a day and a half on the front end in Edinburgh before the conference begins. Thanks in advance for any additional suggestions.
EZT is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 02:05 PM
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We were in Scotland a few weeks ago. We particularly enjoyed a day spent east and south of Edinburgh. Dirleton Castle, surrounded by lovely gardens, is in a pretty little town. Tantallon Castle is in a dramatic setting by the sea. Dryburgh Abbey was incredibly peaceful and pretty. We barely scratched the surface of this lovely area. Perhaps you would want to consider this part of Scotland.
DDA is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 02:29 PM
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Most folks (me included, usually) would probably steer you to the north and west. But DDA's suggestions are VERY good. The east coast has some amazing scenery and wonderful ruined castles and abbeys w/i just a few miles of each other.

East and south of Edinburgh you will find not only the Direlton (terrific castle ruin surrounded w/ a beautiful garden), dramatic, clifftop Tantallon Castle and the absolutely ethereal Dryburgh Abbey . . But also St Abbs Head -- think of the Big Sur of Scotland, Melrose Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey, several stately homes and castles like Floors, lots of other castles. And just a bit south into very northern England is Lindesfarne (Holy Island) which you can only reach at low tide - don't worry, the tide table/road opening times are clearly posted). On the Island is a ruined priory, a castle a village and some terrific views.

If you want to spend an extra day in Edinburgh, you would then have 4 days to see this area. By basing yourselves in a well located village like Melrose, Kelso, Duns or thereabouts you could take short day trips to all the above places and your husband will use up a LOT of film (or memory cards)
janis is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 02:43 PM
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Ok; so the bottom line is you have 3 days and 2 nights out of Edinburgh. My immediate suggestion is Central Highlands and Fife.

On the north side of the Forth, Dunfermilne is on your left. Robert the Bruce, the hero king who won Bannockburn is buried here in Dunfermilne Abbey (although his heart is buried at Melrose in the Borders); go back onto the main road and you will shortly come to Loch Leven, where Mary Queen of Scots was locked up in the castle on the island (v. romantic..the story of the escape- she then fled to her cousin in England for succour. She locked her up for 20 years then beheaded her.) You can take boat trips from Kinross.
Vane Farm Bird Reserve is on the other side of the Loch.
Then go due east to the coast. There are lots of other nice places, like Ceres, Falkland Palace, the East Neuk villages, Pittenweem, St Monans and Leven - a stretch of picture-postcard little fishing villages, with Anstruther, Crail, etc, leading toward St Andrews.
In Anstruther visit the fishing museum, then have the best fish in the world for your lunch. After that drive along the coast to Largo, home of the 'original' Robinson Crusoe. When Daniel Defoe wrote about Robinson Crusoe, he was writing about a real person. His name was Alexander Selkirk and he came from Largo in Fife. Defoe was an English spy up in Scotland in the 1700's and nicked the story.

In St Andrews, take a trip underneath the castle. It can be a bit of a squeeze so if you are claustrophobic then probably best to pass on this one. John Knox used to live in this castle - also get chance to see the bottle dungeon. St. Andrews with its ancient university, its cathedral (we do have a lot of them, don't we?) and the home of golf, the Royal and Ancient, is seriously worth a visit. It has one of the best beaches in the world- the West Sands, which is where they filmed the opening sequence of Chariots of Fire- shame about the weather- and one of the best ice cream shops in the world (Jannetta's) apart from being a lovely little town.

Restaurants in the area which are very good would include the Ostler's Close in Cupar, the Cellar in Anstruther, the Cellar in St Monan's and the Peat Inn at Peat Inn.

When you’re finished with Fife, cross the river Tay and turn left to Perth, and on to Dunkeld and Pitlochry.

Most of Perth's interest lies in its history- ancient capital of Scotland- and in its place in Scottish literature. Just north of Perth, 2 miles or so, is Scone Palace, worth a visit itself, which was the site where the kings and queens of Scotland were crowned, seated on the Stone of Destiny.

The town's 12th century Church, St John's is worth a visit. It contains the remains of an Earl of Perth who is supposed to have told the town's baillies "If you give me six feet, I'll give you twa Inches"- a reference to the two parks on either side of the Old town, the North and South Inches (from the Gaelic Innis meaning meadow). In addition it is where John Knox preached the destruction of the monasteries at the start of the Scottish reformation

Sir Walter Scott wrote a novel called "the Fair Maid of Perth" and her house and that of Hal o' the Wynd, can both be visited. This will tell you all about Clan Chattan and Clan Kay and the battle they fought (staged?) on the North Inch. Next to Hal o' the Wynd's house is the City Mills which has a restored oatmeal and some nice craft shops. The City Mills Hotel, which I think is now called the Stakis, is another converted Mill, done so the lade can be seen flowing underneath.

If you walk along the Tay, you can see where the houses in the Watergate had their gardens which led down to the river, where Kate Barlass held off the soldiers come to capture and kill the king.
The town has really good shopping centered around the High Street and Old High Street. On the north edge of the town is the Caithness Glass factory where you can see the glass being made and, of course, buy from the factory shop. Caithness Glas is presently in receivership- like Chapter 11- but I believe the shop is still open

There are a lot of nice walks along the river and through the North Inch, through the Norie Millar gardens on the north side of the river, Branklyn gardens on the North side of the river, Kinnoull hill with its folly, and Buckie Braes and Callerfountain.

Places to eat- Let's Eat is without doubt the best place in town. Patrick’s is a bistro behind the Sherriff Court which is on Tay Street), which is quite good, and Littlejohns, Paco's and the Filling Station, are all cheap and cheerful.

The Willows tea room in St John's Square is very good for coffee/ tea and cakes and things.

Dunkeld is a very classy town on the banks of the Tay. The square is owned by the National Trust and there are a couple of good places to eat and shop.

The Cathedral is special, but so is the square with its National Trust houses. Some very good antique shops (never pay what they are asking)

On the west side of the A9 at Birnam you can walk up Birnam Hill from behind the station (it's signposted, or "waymarked" as they say in the fancy mags) You know the stuff about "When Birnam wood shall come to Dunsinane" from Macbeth? Well, that's where's it's from.

There's a pub in the village (the name of which I can't remember but it's the second one on the street on the right immediately over the bridge- you can't miss it), which is owned by Dougie Mclean one of Scotland's greatest contemporary singer songwriters. It can be a fine place to spend an evening.

I’m not a huge fan of Pitlochry itself because it’s so full of tourist shops, but it’s a fine enough place to spend an evening and has a lovely little theatre which runs a summer season in Rep.

Day 2. Stay there.

An easy trip is Blair Atholl which is a planned village and is very pretty in a slightly twee Victorian style, and it houses Blair Castle, home of the Dukes of Atholl and the Atholl Highlanders. V impressive in the grand style.

On the way you pass Killiecrankie where you can see the famous soldier's leap. If you don't know the story, learn the song. Another famous battle

Another easy trip out from there is to take a wee detour west to Aberfeldy and Loch Tay. You will pass Breadalbane Castle, former home of the Marquis of Breadalbane, and now a golf course! and come to the lovely 18th century planned village of Kenmore. Further west you will come to the Crannog centre- well worth a visit; then Kenmore itself. Kenmore is a beautiful planned 18th Century village, with a very old hotel- reputed to be the oldest in Scotland. The food is good without being excellent. Burns is supposed to have stayed here, and carved his name in the glass on a window. There's a super craft shop in a converted Church between the beach at the bottom of the loch and the Hotel, which does soup and sandwiches for a quick and nutritious lunch.

From the village there are a number of nice walks. You can go through the arch into Taymouth Castle estate- golf course now- and wander along the riverside. You can go over the river and turn left into what was the old policies and walk along the loch side and through the old gardens.

It's quite wild when you get past the time share stuff; and you can climb Drummond Hill above the north side of the loch. There are a range of waymarked paths.

And if you're up to the walk, drive along the north side of the loch to Ben Lawers and drive up to the National Trust visitor centre. Time it right and then walk up to the top. Don't do this if it's raining unless you're nuts!

I did the next bit for a girl who was staying in the area a week, so you may need to pick the wheat from the chaff.

Starting at Dunkeld you will find nearby the Loch of the Lowes which is a wildlife reserve owned by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. It's one of the osprey sites and they should be there, so you should visit.

Further north a couple of miles, at Inver is the Hermitage, also owned by the National Trust, a lovely place to walk in the trees along by the river Braan. There's also a nice walk up the hill above Dunkeld, which I have directions for in a mag.

Next Aberfeldy. the obvious place is the Birks. Do you know your Burns?
"Bonnie lassie, will ye go
will ye go
will ye go
Bonnie lassie, will ye go
tae the Birks o Aberfeldy?"

Mmm…. I think it loses something in the non-singing.

Nice walks along the riverside. There's a pub in Aberfeldy called something like the Black Watch. It's just at the junction of the Weem Road and the main road through the town. The Weem Hotel used to be great and it still has some character and is worth a visit, but we had a meal there a couple of years ago and it was a disaster.

Nearby you have Castle Menzies, which is open to the public and is worth a visit. Lastly on this bit is the Ailean Craggan, which has a horrible modern appearance but excellent food, good beer and good crack and company.

Killin is a strange mixture of awful tourist tat and outdoor shops. There's a lovely view at the Falls of Dochart at the top end of the town.

On the south side of Loch Tay you will find the Ardeonaig Hotel- lovely from the outside and reputed to have very good food. Expensive for staying so I never have.

Glen Lyon. Driving west from Weem you come to Fortingall (if you don't take the turn off for Kenmore) It's a pretty but dull village with a row of thatched cottages. It's famous for 2 things- in the churchyard is a 300 year old Yew tree which is meant to be the oldest tree in Britain; and legend has it that Pontius Pilate was born here. Yes, really! His Da' was meant to have been a legionnaire here when he was born. I haven't been in the hotel for years but it has character and used to do great afternoon teas.

Just past Fortingall you get into the Glen proper. Some people think it's one of the most beautiful in Scotland. I certainly think it's very special. There are lots of lovely walks. There are Munros (mountains over 3000 feet high) on both sides of the Glen. At the top you come first to the hamlet of Brig of Balgie. The Post Office has a tea room and the whole affair is run by my friend Kate Conway. If you go down to the side of the river here you can walk up as far as Meggernie and then come back to the road and home again. Or drive on up to the dam.

The drive from Brig of Balgie over the hill past Ben Lawers to Loch Tay side is beautiful. Ben Lawers is owned by the National Trust and there is a very good visitor centre which is worth a visit. They own the mountain for the alpine flora. It's a deceptively easy looking mountain. You’re just a few miles from Killin.

Then head rapidly west through Crianlarich, Tyndrum, and south-west to Dalmally. Along the top of Loch Awe and down into Oban

Oban is worth an hour to look round and you could do the distillery tour (or you can visit the ditillery in Pitlochry- Edradour) then CONCENTRATE on Kilmartin Glen. If you're at the right time of year, the gardens at Arduaine are stunning.

Go south through Kilmartin, stopping only to see…the stone circles, standing stones, chambered cairns and lots of other evidence of our prehistoric ancestors. Go to Dunadd, which is where we are supposed to have crowned the Kings of the Picts and climb the hill and see if your feet fit the grooves in the stones. The cross the moor (a National Nature Reserve) to Crinan. There is a pretty little canal which goes the 8 miles from Crinan to Ardrishaig and a wee song which goes..
The Crinan Canal for me
I don’t like the wild rolling sea…”

Stop at the Crinan Hotel and have afternoon tea overlooking the Atlantic.

Now I had a couple of thoughts about places to stay. I like the Cuilfail Hotel at Kilmelford. It’s a country pub with rooms. It suffers from being on the main south route, but I think you might like it.

A further option for you would be to take a quick side trip across the Atlantic to Seil Island. The village of Easdale at the far end is still one of the prettiest places. Left over from the slate mining of the 18th and 19th century, it’s rows of pretty white painted cottages looking over to the island of Easdale. Boat trips round the Corrievreckan whirlpool. There’s a hotel with rooms at the Bridge, called the Tigh an Truish (the House of the trousers).

At the bottom of Kilmartin Glen head east to Inverary, a glorious planned village, built by the Campbell Duke of Argyll (boo, hiss). Visit the castle and the jail (read R.L. Stevenson’s “Kidnapped” before you come). There’s also a terrific restaurant called the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar just outside the village. Loch Fyne is where “Finnan haddies” come from- essentially smoked haddock. You will see little roadside signs inviting you to purchase and should try to do something about this

Then over the Rest and be Thankful to Loch Lomond; head north east at Balloch, through Stirling to the outskirts of Edinburgh.
sheila is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 03:40 PM
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Sheila's post on 21 April should be enough to fill your days and then some. Depending on your interests there are loads of variations. Nature - Huge sea bird colonies at St Abbs Head, Scottish Sea Bird Centre at North Berwick, both on the coast south of Edinburgh (the Bass Rock, just offshore from North Berwick, has one of the world's largest colonies of gannets, a spectacular sight when fishing as hundreds of them dive from up to 100 feet). Dunkeld (Loch O The Lowes) the osporeys are nesting this year, last I heard they had eggs and we're waiting for them to hatch. Visitor centre gives a brilliant view. Vane Farm on the south side of Loch Leven has several pairs of ospreys fishing in most years. Hermitage at Inver / Dunkeld - an easy walk of about a mile from the car park takes you to a Douglas Fir which is probably the tallest living thing in the UK.
Fortingall (Glen Lyon) - a typo I think - the yew tree is claimed to be 3,000 years old, not 300. I've got to say it's a straggly old specimen and you're not allowed to get too close (it was nearly killed off by souvenir hinters cutting bits off to take home).
History, as well as Sheila's recommendatons - if you're familiar with the story of how the diagonal cross of St Andrew became Scotland's national flag, this is claimed to have happened at Athelstaneford which could be included in a day trip along with Sy Abbs Head. Dunfermline has close connectons with Margaret, an 11th century refugee who landed on the Scottish coast and ended up marrying the king. She was later canonised and with St Andrew is Scotland's patron saint.
Perth eating places - I think Littlejohns has closed. If I'm mistaken and Littlejohn's lawyers read this, I am ever so awfully sorry and will never do it again.
Aberfeldy - the pub called the Black Watch is in honour of a Scottish army regiment of the same name which was raised in Perthshire, Fife and Angus. There's a monument to the regiment by the old bridge in Aberfeldy. I'm told that the soldier who posed for the statue was later executed following a "mutiny" when Scots regiments were ordered to sail overseas to fight, haviong previously been promised that they would only be asked to serve in defence of the realm on home soil - never been able to confirm if this is true but it's a good story.
Dunkeld - the music pub Sheila refers to is called the Taybank and has it's own web site. I don't think Dougie MacLean owns it any more but fromwhat I've heard, the music is still good.
I'm getting more and more jealous as I write this. Have a great trip.
Craigellachie is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 04:11 PM
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Blast. I thought I'd editted out all the anachronisms!

Littlejohns has been closed for a couple of years. The rest is still true but I did eat in Patricks a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty............mixed

The 300 was defintiely a typo. But I don't agree the tree is straggly. Actually, considering what's been done to it, it's nearly a miracle.

According to the Forestry Commission- who are NEVER wrongbr />
"The most impressive feature of the woodland in Reelig Glen is the stand of Douglas Fir trees, well over 100 years old with an average height of 160 - 170 feet, around 50 metres.One specimum measured in 2000 was over 200 feet in height.This tree was recently remeasured along with all other contenders for the tallest tree in Britain and was confirmed at 62m (204 feet)making it the "TALLEST TREE IN BRITAIN" After a local competition we have decided to name it "DUGHALL MOR""

So, we were both wrong. I thought it was the Grand Fir at Ardkinglas.
sheila is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 04:45 PM
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The Fortingall yew is a venerable old soul, no argument. Maybe parochialism but I think the one in Balbirnie Park, Markinch, is a better specimen, though probably much younger ("only" 1,000 years or so).
At risk of turning us into a couple of anoraks Sheila, the height I've seen for the Douglas Fir at the Hermitage in Dunkeld is 212 feet. And no, I'm not offering to climb up with a tape measure to check this. By any chance, and without wishing to be cynical, I don't suppose the contender in Reelig Glen happens to stand on Forestry Commission land?
Craigellachie is offline  
Apr 21st, 2005, 08:03 PM
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Wow, this is an amazing amount of information to digest. Give me a few days to read and comprehend. Thank you so much!
EZT is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:27 AM
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Oddly, it is. But they also run the Perthshire's Trees scheme which includes teh Hermitage (which I know is owned by NTS)
sheila is offline  
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