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Scotland this summer - some initial planning questions

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Dec 5th, 2013, 02:02 PM
  #1
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Scotland this summer - some initial planning questions

We've taken longer than usual to figure out where to travel this summer, but we've decided on Scotland. I know I have a lot of research to do, (I've done some basic reading), but I wonder if you could help me a bit so I can delve further. So, a few questions.
1) When - We've tended to travel May/Jun or Sept. I know there are some big festivals in Edinburgh in particular, and I think I want to avoid those crowds. I also would like warmer weather, so a little later than usual might be better. What about the latter half of June? Is that a good time?

We don't like to flit about, but stay in 4-5 places for 2+ nights each. We like cultural things, and historical things (looks like there are some wonderful castles). We LOVE eating. We look forward to some wonderful hiking, maybe some horseback riding. I also like to stay under 4 hours of driving when we're moving around (and I figure we'll be driving most of this unless it makes sense to train a portion). SO

2) What would be a good itinerary? Edinburgh of course, Glasgow. Isle of Skye seems very intriguing. Is it possible to combine a this trip with some time in the Lake District, Keswick maybe? I don't know much about the various areas, that's what I've been trying to read about mostly.

3) Is the weather better (and by better I mean drier) in any particular area?

4) We're in the Washington DC area - would we do best flying to and from Glasgow? (I guess that depends on itinerary).

Anyway, you can see I'm on the very front end of this. I always like to nail down an itinerary first, snag airfare and THEN start looking for accommodations. Thanks in advance for any help you give.

Alice
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Dec 5th, 2013, 02:22 PM
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There is no one known who can predict the weather in Scotland on any given day. It can rain on any of the 365 days in the year.

So my advice is to EXPECT rain and if you get a day without it, that's all to the good. Whether you go in May, June or September you will get rain. In any month you will get rain.

Have a look at this link. Note the average temperatures for each month as well as the average rainfall. Now combine the temperature and rainfall with the average humidity and think about it. It is not so much the temperature as it is the DAMP which is all year round.
http://www.holiday-weather.com/edinburgh/averages/

This is not to say you cannot get a week of 70 plus and sunshine weather but planning on getting it is just not possible. July and August, the warmest months have an average temperature in Edinburgh of 59 degrees.

What all this should tell you is don't leave home without an umbrella. Or a good rainjacket at least.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 02:25 PM
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Forget any consideration of the weather, just absolutely impossible to generalise.

On the 24 th March two years ago I was swimming in the sea 24oC, same date last year our local road was 15 under snow. Vaguely, generally over the past few years May and September have been less wet than July, August.

If you would like to visit The Lakes, it is very possible to take the direct United flight into Manchester, two drive to Keswick then onto Scotland, Glasgow is another 2 hours from Keswick. Then take a one way connection flight back from Glasgow to Manchester. The Lakes has the highest rainfall figures in Britain.

How long do you have in total?
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Dec 5th, 2013, 02:38 PM
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I can't believe I didn't start with the length of the trip! We're planning on two weeks, so I hope we'll have plenty of time to see lots of the area.

And I'm definitely planning on bringing both rain jacket and umbrella. And a nice rain HAT I picked up in Switzerland during a particularly rainy trip one year. Last year we were in Southern Spain, I'm sure we didn't see a drop!

Dulciusexasperis, thanks so much for the link.

Alice
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Dec 5th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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We traveled in Scotland for about 2 weeks. We picked up the car in after our stay in Glasgow and returned upon our arrival in Edinburgh. You can find my trip report by clicking on my name.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 04:05 PM
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If you want to fit in the Lakes, then fly open jaw . . . In to MAN and home from GLA or EDI or vice versa.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 07:01 PM
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1. You may want to trim your itinerary! It seems a bit of a reach. Getting to Skye from Glasgow is quite a drive, then you've got to get back south eventually.
2. If you're serious about hiking, go in May--long days and before the midges. You won't like the midges, but they'll like you.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 10:47 PM
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See if these help. We probably preferred the Callander/Skye/Loch Ness trip but all were enjoyable. Our week long trips were at the end of May and the weather has been fantastic but there's no way to know.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...s-and-more.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-with-kids.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...e-district.cfm

Great walking site:

www.walkhighlands.co.uk
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Dec 6th, 2013, 11:41 AM
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indy_dad, thanks so much for the links, lots to look at. gmshedd, I wasn't worried about midges before, but now I am. Maybe May IS better... And I am worried about too much driving.
janisj, will definitely consider open jaw if there's no penalty.
Michael, I check out your trip report.

After I check out all this good information, I'm sure I'll have more specific questions. Everyone is so helpful.

Alice
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Dec 6th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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When planning your itinerary go to www.aaroadwatch.com and use the route planner to get an idea as to distances and travel times. Be sure and add at least another 30% to their times.
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Dec 6th, 2013, 05:07 PM
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I've typically used viamichelin for travel times - do people prefer aaroadwatch? Is it better for the UK?

Alice
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Dec 6th, 2013, 05:13 PM
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no matter which one you use -- the AA, via Michelin, Google maps, etc . . . you need to add from 30% to nearly 100% to the travel times. The calculators all give 'perfect world' times w/o considering, construction, traffic, sheep in the road etc.

In general, the more rural/narrower the roads the more you need to up the drive times, though even on motorways/dual carriageways the estimates can be wildly optimistic.
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Dec 6th, 2013, 06:34 PM
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Hi Alice9,

I enjoyed a trip during the 2nd half of June back in '10, http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...stonehaven.cfm

What's the saying? There's no bad weather, only poorly dressed travelers .. or some such I've had really good weather luck, but the time I needed an umbrella, I did fortunately have one with me. On each of my trips, I think the weather forecasts generally showed drier weather on the eastern side of the country.

ps: visiting in June will be great for eating fresh fruits. Visit Stonehaven and have a strawberry tart at Robertson Bakers. I had a tart that tasted heavenly!

Enjoy your time researching and planning a trip to Scotland.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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We were in Scotland a few years ago at the end of June, early July for 2 weeks, had really decent weather. Some showers, clouds, but no rain-outs, and many sunny days. But do go prepared both in clothing and having enough days at a base for some rainy weather.

When we go back we will plan around The Scottish Game Fair, it was an absolute highlight.

http://www.scottishfair.com/

We will also be sure to return to Skye, it was beyond beautiful. We loved our B&B

http://www.cartersrestskye.co.uk/
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Dec 7th, 2013, 10:00 AM
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I agree, even viamichelin travel times must be taken with a grain of salt, and I know what you mean about country roads. We were once held up almost half an hour by a flock of sheep in Ireland!

scotlib and wrenwood, you are helping convince me towards the latter part of June. And I have a lovely rain jacket I picked up in the Dordogne at a market a few years back that will be perfect for Scotland. I did not know about the Scottish Game Fair, I will check it out.

And I have to figure out if I can include Skye in our itinerary without driving a million miles. Might need to sacrifice something else.

And yes, the planning is a large part of the fun. My husband doesn't look at a thing until we're on the plane there.

Alice
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Feb 17th, 2014, 06:55 AM
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For your flights I believe US Airways (now American) fly from Philadelphia direct to Glasgow during the summer months - that may be the best option for you.
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Feb 17th, 2014, 01:35 PM
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Alice9

I cannot tell you how much fun the Scottish Game Fair was. This is not a Fair with Scottish "Games" only, but it centered around rural life, hunting, fishing, and conservation. We thought we would be there for a while, then go to Scone Palace. We never made it to Scone Palace we spent the whole day at the Game fair.

This youtube video gives you a brief idea.You can search for other videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCoWKEXlOrY

There are wonderful shopping opportunities ( sweaters, outdoor wear, jewelry, food) more than one ring with events ~ pipes, the famous "Sheep Show", dog trials and herding, tons of stuff for kids, fishing, falconry, I could go on and on. The Food Hall is amazing, don't eat before you go!

We only encountered midges at one spot, Badachro for 1 night. The rest of the time at Skye, Glencoe, Loch Ness, no midges.

By the way we almost didn't go to Loch Ness, I thought it would be too touristy. Loved it, the history there is amazing.

I think someone else mentioned Dunnotar Castle. Google an image it's breathtaking

If you travel fairly regularly I wouldn't add the Lakes, save for another time.

We were there for 2 weeks (we also live outside of DC) The driving in Scotland really isn't bad as the landscape is so stunning. Another reason you will not make as good of time as Google Maps or Via Michelin says. When you get back home to I-66 and 495 you will think it was all a dream!
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Feb 18th, 2014, 08:57 AM
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Thanks, wrenwood! I'm pretty satisfied with dropping the Lakes for this trip and I have duly added driving time to all the estimates I'm getting from websites.

I'm glad to hear midges weren't a big problem for you, I've been worried about that (although I'm aware that worrying won't make any difference at all).

And as soon as we start driving home from Dulles, reality hits pretty hard!

Alice
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Feb 18th, 2014, 10:24 AM
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If you need to get somewhere quickly and without stopping, even in summer there isn't that much traffic around. It is possible to knock at 20% off those websites travel times.
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Feb 18th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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Well, I think that for the most part, we WILL be stopping,(that's part of the fun,right?) and we'll allow for the extra time. I assume weather could be a factor in travel time, but I don't think we'll have anything so tightly timed that it will be a worry.

Alice
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