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RLC3 Nov 11th, 2014 05:36 PM

Scotland trip June 2015
We are planning a trip to Scotland in June for two weeks. It is a special family trip as we all have Scottish roots, there will be eight of us in the group. Our budget is flexible, but we always like to find the best price in the best location. This is our tentative itinerary, fly into Glasgow from US, drive to the Ardnamurchan area of Scotland to self catering spot for four nights. We would like to visit the Clan Cameron museum, Glencoe, and the Isle of Mull during our stay at this location. After this we would spend one night in Skye, looking at the Eilean Iarmean. From here we would travel east to stay either in the Inverness area or Aberdeenshire for two nights. We have looked at the Bunchrew House, or south east to Grantown on Spey at Culdearn House or Castle Hotel, Huntley. We are still researching this option. Our interests are Loch Ness, Culloden, Cawdor Castle, and surrounding area. We would then travel down to Edinburgh for two nights, not certain where, but in the city center, then to Loch Lomond, where we have found self catering for three nights. I would love to hear how this itinerary sounds, and any recommendations for bed and breakfast/ hotel stays in the Skye, Inverness/ Aberdeenshire area or Edinburgh. Thank you, the forum has always been a tremendous help.

janisj Nov 11th, 2014 06:03 PM

Whoa! slow down . . . especially w/ 8 people in tow. The driving is slow and the scenery will blow you away.

One night on Skye make very little sense. It takes time to get there and then it takes a lot of time to get to your next stop on the mainland so you'd essentially have about 1/2 a day on Skye . . . total waste. IMO either stay on the Isle 2 or 3 full days -- or skip it. Eilean Iarmean is on the far eastern end of Skye . . from there to the Trotternish peninsula is nearly a 2 hour drive w/o stops.

From Sleat (Eilean Iarmean) to Huntly is a 4.5 hour drive <u>without a single stop</u>

Both of those drive times are for one car, not 8 people in multiple cars. You'd probably have to add another 20%+

How are you planing to travel? Two rental cars? Because few if any vehicles will hold 8 plus all the luggage. You'd need 2 mid-sized or large cars or 3 small cars. And that only adds to the time it takes to get around.

Your first day is nigh on impossible . . . From GLA to pretty much anyplace on Ardnmurchan will be close to a 5 hour drive - at least some of you probably seriously jet lagged

RLC3 Nov 11th, 2014 07:01 PM

HI Janisj, Thank you for your help. The first place is located in Strontian, which lists a couple of hours from Glasgow. I am happy to learn the correct distance. We will rethink our itinerary! We are considering renting a van to travel altogether, does that make sense?

historytraveler Nov 11th, 2014 07:36 PM

Please go to one of the map sites for determining distance. For Scotland, I like but others work as well. You will need to add an additional 20/30% to their suggested travel times. I'd get the travel times and distances worked out before deciding on places to stay.

janisj Nov 11th, 2014 08:59 PM

>>The first place is located in Strontian, which lists a couple of hours from Glasgow. <<

Strontian from GLA (Glasgow airport) is an absolute minimum of 3 hours, more likely 3.5 or 4 if this is your arrival day and you are dealing w/ multiple cars.

If you are looking at on-line mileage calculators . . . you need to add 30%+ to the times - best case. That is open roads, no construction, and no sheep in the road.

>>We are considering renting a van to travel altogether, does that make sense?<<

Not a great idea. First of all a 9 passenger van is ENORMOUS and you will be on very narrow roads - sometimes single track. A single track is a one lane road for two way traffic. Secondly - a van seating 8 or 9 does just that -- seats 8 or 9. it won't also hold 8 suitcases and 8 carry ons. You really will need to either hire a driver/guide who owns a mini bus, or rent 2 or 3 smaller cars. The smaller cars will cost less and give you more flexibility.

Hooameye Nov 11th, 2014 11:21 PM

In the UK, "vans" are for carrying goods and don't have rear seats or side windows, what you're thinking of is a minibus as Janisj has noted.

Rubicund Nov 12th, 2014 03:42 AM

We have stayed at Culdearn House in Grantown and can thoroughly recommend it. The rooms and food are both fantastic and it's across the road from the river too.

RLC3 Nov 12th, 2014 07:02 AM

Thanks to all! Considering this now, renting two cars, at least. Still making our way up to Stronian for the first 4 nights. (We love this area, even with the initial drive from Glasgow). Skipping Skye altogether and spending 3 nights in the Inverness/ Grantown area (we love the looks of Culdearn House, thank you Rubicund). Then down to Edinburgh for 2 nights, still searching for lodging, and on to Loch Lomond for 3 nights. Does this sound a little less rushed/better?

jane1144 Nov 12th, 2014 07:13 AM

Am I missing something? Could you do your Loch Lomond stay at the beginning to shorten your first day's drive. Then carry on and fly home from Edinburgh?

RLC3 Nov 12th, 2014 07:25 AM

The self-catering place we want to stay is not available until the last leg of our trip, we did try that route. We are finding best rates with Icelandic Air out of Glasgow.

janisj Nov 12th, 2014 08:34 AM

A 3+ hour drive right after an overnight flight can be a HUGE problem? Could be merely difficult, but could also be deadly. If the self catering place is firm . . . then I seriously consider flying in a day earlier and staying the first night either on Loch Lomond (the west shore of the Loch is only about 45 minutes from GLA), or better yet IN Glasgow and not collecting the cas til the next day when at least some of you will have recovered.

Sojourntraveller Nov 12th, 2014 08:51 AM

Far too much moving around for my taste and especially with 8 people. People being people, every time you move will be a pain in the butt as well as costing you a lot of valuable time that could have been better spent IN places, seeing/doing things. Edinburgh for only 2 nights which means basically only 1 full day actually spent IN Edinburgh makes no sense to me whatsoever. Edinburgh is in my opinion one of THE best cities in Europe to visit. I would not suggest less than 3 full days IN Edinburgh as a bare minimum.

Have you travelled with these 8 people before? Do you know how much luggage they will bring? If some of your 8 are the kind of people who pack 2 large suitcases for a 2 week trip, you need to pay careful attention to the vehicle issue. It could end up costing all of you more money to accommodate the luggage of some of you.

A typical 'van' that seats 7 and you might rent would be a VW Sharan. See photo here:

Comfortable for 4 people and their luggage. Absolute hell for 5 or more people and not likely to take their luggage as soon as you lift one of those back seats up to sit on. You'd need 2 of them for 8 people. For cars that seat 4 or 5 I would expect you would need 3 cars to have any chance of getting the luggage in.

An actual 'minibus' such as a Ford Transit 17 seater needs a commercial bus license and as noted is not exactly small road and small parking space friendly. You'd also have to pile the luggage on the seats.
Obviously, that's totally impractical.

Mimar Nov 12th, 2014 09:21 AM

Are you experienced travelers? Do you know how you'll react to the combination of an overnight flight, possibly with little sleep, and also jet lag? Remember people in the UK drive on the left, an adjustment for those of us who aren't used to that. You'll need at least 2 wide-awake drivers.

How many rooms will you need for the 8 people? 4 doubles? That's a lot for B&B's. Or even smaller guesthouses.

I don't think Loch Lomond worth such a big hunk of your limited time. Certainly not at the expense of Edinburgh. Was there a special reason you want to go to Loch Lomond?

If it was my trip, I'd start with several days in Edinburgh. So that individuals or subgroups can tour while others recover from jet-lag. And stay in the center so you can drop back for the odd nap.

janisj Nov 12th, 2014 09:27 AM

I agree that Edinburgh (unless you've been a few times before) merits more time. Staying the first night on Loch Lomond would kill 3 birds w/ one stone:

• Net you more time in Edinburgh; • get a Loch Lomond fix; • and greatly ease the drive up to Strontian.

RLC3 Nov 12th, 2014 09:44 AM

Janisj, I am working on something for the first night, certainly want to be safe. Luckily, we have seasoned Scottish travelers in the group whom have driven in the country before. Sojourntraveller, thank you for the VW Sharan link and tip, we will go with at least two. I agree with you about Edinburgh, only 3 of the travelers have not been to the city and hope we can show them the highlights, as we only have a certain amount of time we can travel.
Great tips, and help!

Sojourntraveller Nov 12th, 2014 11:46 AM

I think Enterprise or National rent Sharan's. Not all do or even an equivalent. Avis for example does not.

The 'only have a certain amount of time' comment is simply yet another version of 'to see as much as possible' phrase which people use but which confuses the word 'many' with the word 'much'. The way to see as much as possible in any given period of time, is to spend your time IN places, not in BET

Sojourntraveller Nov 12th, 2014 11:47 AM

Finger slipped. This forum is a pain with no Edit function.

As I was saying, to spend time IN places, not in BETWEEN places. Move less, see and do more.

tom_mn Nov 12th, 2014 12:17 PM

A Passat or Vauxhall Insignia will comfortably seat 4 adults with baggage if a van is too much money.

Has anyone in your group driven in the highlands? It's not the single track roads to worry about, those are low speed, it's that the main high speed highways are often narrow (as little as 8 ft lanes, it varies, the US standard is 12 ft lanes) and these cause the most stress to drive. Either a Passat or Sharan is 6 ft wide, so you can do the math on the clearance. A lot of the coaches bombing around the highlands barely fit in their lanes going straight and won't on the curves.

It is a shame to miss Glasgow completely, it's quite a nice city really, and you will be right there. Stopping there for the first night gives you that first half a day to see something.

scotlib Nov 12th, 2014 05:39 PM

If you're possibly looking at multiple cars, perhaps you'd consider one other means .. Rabbies, the Scottish small group tour company, does private tours,

If thinking you can't get far enough off the beaten track. I took a Rabbies multi-day trip one time and some of the roads were plenty narrow.

I've been writing with questions about doing a 16-person group trip and my quote so far has been for £600 per person for 6 full days - with driver/guide (more expensive than plain driver) - 5 nights B&B accommodation - and also the ferry rides from Oban to Iona in the so-far proposed route.

At first glance it's £200/day for 8 instead of 16, but the cost would be lower with a plain driver and no ferry cost to include if you weren't looking to go there. You'd be in one vehicle, comfortable, room for luggage, you set the itinerary/road/pit and photo stops .. getting a quote only takes the time to write and ask. If it weren't such a big group, I'd not be posting the idea.

janisj Nov 12th, 2014 05:49 PM

scotlib: that is an interesting idea. Rabbies is a really terrific company and they already only do small groups so a private small group is well w/i their expertise.

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