Scotland trip report

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Jul 13th, 2006, 08:37 AM
  #1
hpl
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Scotland trip report

A quick summary of our recent two week stay in Scotland - an incredible trip with the most marvelous people (and great weather).

Edinburgh: We flew Denver - Chicago- London-Edinburgh. Uneventful and upgrading is certainly worth it. Easy baggage collection and a cab to our bed and breakfast - The Stuarts. A very nice place next to the Meadows and Bruntsfield links and about a 20 minute walk from the Royal Mile. Highlights in Edinburgh included the castle (almost a full day), St. Giles and Greyfriar Kirk, and HMS Britiania. We also took a tour bus around to get some additional insight to the city and it was worth it. Holyrood was closed for the Queen's visit and we were too tired to really enjoy what appears to be a marvelous national museum. Did the whisky visitor's center - kind of cheesy but a good intro to the process. We also took a day trip to Stirling via train; easy and enjoyable. The castle was great and we enjoyed it more than Edinburgh's which is more like a garrison or small town. We did use the tour bus but it took almost an hour to work its way from the train station through town and out and finally back to the castle; probably wouldn't bother again although the castle is a steep walk uphill.

Mull - cab back to the airport to pick up the rental car and drove to Oban for our ferry connections to Mull. Got there early and they were able to accomodate us on an earlier boat. Drove on to Tobermory - single track roads that I really enjoyed. They work so very well when you have figured the system out; use the passing places to meet oncoming traffic and let others overtake you. I also grew up with single lane country roads so it wasn't too intimidating. Mull was absolutely the highlight of our trip. We stayed in Tobernory at the Highland Cottage Hotel and it is highly recommended. We went to Iona one day and included a trip to Staffa; great sightseeing on both islands (even if we didn't see any puffins). Another day took us past Dervaig (stopped at some standing stones - creepy feeling) and Calgary (neat fine sand beach with very cold water) and then along the west coast of Mull; wonderful scenery and it felt like we had the island to ourselves. We'd happily spend a week there although it can be expensive.

Pitlochry - finished our two week stay in this busy Victorian town. It is touristy but hey, we were tourists. It's also amazing how much quieter it gets by the evening. We'd considered staying someplace smaller and further north but this was probably a better choice (lots of accomodation and eating options). We stayed at Tigh Na Clough hotel and it was a good choice - nice accomodations and good food. Driving trips in the area included stops at Scone and Blair castles, the Queen's View and a wonderful drive along Loch Tay. We also visited Dalwhinnie and Edradour distilleries; Edradour was the clear highlight since it's so small and you really get to look around, ask questions, and take pictures. Dalwhinnie was nice also; we just enjoyed the small feel of Edradour more. Another trip to Newtonmore to visit the Highland Living Museum was well worth it and we spent a couple of hours there.

We were pleasantly surprised at how good the food was especially compared to our trip 6 years ago to England; both casual and restaurant food was great. Notables were Cafe Grande (Edinburgh), Highland Cottage (Mull), and Moulin Inn (just outside Pitlochry)

If I had to pick the things that made this trip so successful, it would have to be the marvelous scenery and friendly people. All in all a great trip and we are already talking about going back.
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Jul 13th, 2006, 08:46 AM
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Nice report. Glad you enjoyed yourselves, and thanks for posting.
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Jul 13th, 2006, 08:54 AM
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Great report!

Your trip is the sort of thing I wish more folks would try. Enjoying a few places instead of driving to a new town every single night and never getting the feel of anywhere.

Glad you ended up staying on Mull instead of Oban - I really enjoy Mull. Exploring Iona and Staffa/Fingal's cave are highlights for me, and Calgary Bay - beautiful. Did you visit Duart castle or any of the beaches on the southern shore like near Uisken and Erraid island?
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Jul 13th, 2006, 09:13 AM
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I enjoyed reading about your trip. How many nights were you at each place? I have not yet visited Mull, although it is something I very much wish to do. I agree about Pitlochry - busy but fun. Did you take the walk back to the fish ladder? Not a long walk but it is lovely and does take you away from the crowds.

Last summer when we were in Pitlochry my husband decided to walk from town to our b&b (one or two miles away - very last minute booking) to check in. (We were tied up with performances in town until late in the evening, had to check in, and we didn't want to lose our fabulous parking spot in town.) He was gone for a few hours and was late getting to our dinner reservations. Turned out that he had decided to walk back through a path in the countryside and had accidentally "discovered" the Edradour distillery! He enjoyed it so much that we all went back the next morning on our way out of town. A very prominent bagpiper lived in one of those cottages next to the distillery. (I believe that he died last fall.) A very beautiful spot and a great find.
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Jul 13th, 2006, 10:55 AM
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It sounds like you had a great trip. The Pitlochry area is lovely. I love the Scottish Crannog Centre in Aberfeldy. A different era of history from all the castles.
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Jul 13th, 2006, 03:56 PM
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Nice report, and it sounds like a great trip.

Thanks for sharing!

Gayle
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Jul 14th, 2006, 04:23 AM
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Great report & I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. I really like Tobermory too & always wonder why I frequently see Oban suggested here as a place to stay - I think it's quite grotty.
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Jul 14th, 2006, 07:29 AM
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hpl
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A couple of quick replies:

janisj - we did visit Duart Castle and enjoyed it more than we expected. Our next trip will most certainly take in more of the south side of the island.

noe847 - we spent 4 nights in Edinburgh, 3 on Mull, and 4 in Pitlochry. I would have preferred more time on Mull but it is comparatively expensive.
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Jul 14th, 2006, 04:49 PM
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I'm with Janis, much better to visit a few places and spend some time in them than to try and see everything in one go. Thanks for sharing, and for all the nice things you said about our wee country.
When we visited Edradour several years ago I thought it was a brilliant piece of spin doctoring when the displays on the history of the founder's family talked about how bravely they fought in the 1745, but forgot to mention that they were on the Redcoat side!
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