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Scotland: Trossachs, Skye and Loch Ness -- an indy_dad trip report

Scotland: Trossachs, Skye and Loch Ness -- an indy_dad trip report

Jun 10th, 2012, 11:24 AM
  #1  
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Scotland: Trossachs, Skye and Loch Ness -- an indy_dad trip report

I had really high expectations for our Scotland road trip and it actually lived up to them (the fantastic weather didn’t hurt). Thanks to Scotland regulars janisj, sheila and others for helping me pull it together. I ended up utilizing quite a few resources to shape this trip into what I wanted.

As usual, I’ve posted photos and commentary on my blog:
http://ukfrey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06...highlands.html

I’ve pared my 500+ photos down to “only” 200 or so (and my kids are in half of them) – it’s still quite a long entry. You can just flick through the pictures if all my explanations bore you.

For the trip report type info, see below.

Timing: 9 days / 8 nights during the first of June coinciding with the English half term school break and the long Queen’s Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

Itinerary
Day 1: Drive from Derby to Callander with stops at Falkirk Wheel, Doune Castle
Day 2: Stirling Castle, National Wallace Monument, Bannockburn Battlefield and Visitor’s Centre
Day 3: Trossachs (Ben A’An walk, Inchmahome Priory, Bracklinn Falls (Callander) walk)
Day 4: Drive from Callander to Portree via Killin (Dochart Falls), Glencoe, Glenfinnan & Mallaig/Armadale ferry
Day 5: Trotternish Peninsula, Skye (multiple walks and sights)
Day 6: Skye (Talisker, Dunvegan Castle, Neist Point)
Day 7: Portree to Loch Ness. Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness Exhibition, Glen Affric.
Day 8: Culloden Battlefield, Fort George, Clava Cairns.
Day 9: long drive from Drumnadrochit to Derby via Perth

Lodging
3 nights at Annfield Guesthouse in Callander. Wonderful. Great hosts. Great food. Nice house and our preferred size (7 rooms). We liked having multiple dinner options within walking distance. £68prpn (required 2 rooms). Made us a pack lunch on 2 days and surely didn’t make any money on it (£5 pp).

3 nights at the Skye Holiday Apartments (self-catering), Portree. Just off the main drag. Walking distance to grocery and restaurants. Very basic and functional; nothing fancy. 2BR/1BA with lounge and kitchen. Washer/dryer (handy for middle of trip). £105/nt. Portree was a good location for what we were trying to see. I also prefer being in town for multiple restaurant options within staggering distance.

2 nights at the Glen Rowan, Drumnadrochit. Highly rated. Felt more like staying in their home (with associated rules) so a little cozy for our preference. Friendly enough. Decent but not as good as the Annfield. Similar price of £70prpn (also required 2 rooms).

Restaurants -- see blog. I’d go back to all except for Lade Inn and possibly Loch Ness Inn. My favorites were Cobbs on Loch Ness and Sea Breezes in Portree. Did not try Three Chimneys.

Walks
Excellent site in general: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/

We did:
Ben A’An near Loch Katrine
Old Man of Storr (Skye)
Quiraing (Skye)
Glen Affric (20-30 minutes from Drumnadrochit)
Plus some shorter ones in Glencoe and Callander

All were reasonably well marked and did not require maps, compass, etc. Glad we had proper hiking shoes/boots.

Driving
I’m used to the left so that’s not an issue. I also had my own car and GPS/sat nav. It’s best if you aren’t in a hurry but it really wasn’t that bad. It was motorways up to Glasgow/Stirling and 2 lanes most everywhere except on Skye. The main haul from Armadale to Portree was 2 lane and most of the peninsula loops were single track. That said, even the “main” single track roads were easy enough with frequent and easy to see passing places. The only real tedious parts were on the spurs (to Quiraing) and outer parts (to Neist Point). Overall, I found it easier than say Ireland, North Wales and England for that matter.

We logged 1400 miles over the 9 days with the bulk of it coming over the 3 main travel days.

Planning tips
I was struggling until I purchased a large paper map (Ordinance Survey Tour map in my case) and started pinning/writing where things actually where. That helped with the grouping and later prioritization. I was focused on scenery and history with decent food options. This was a non-city trip this time.

I purchased the Michelin Green Guide but that style doesn’t suit me. I backed up to an Eyewitness Travel top 10 to get some ideas and then bounced them off the forum here. I also used my already purchased Rick Steves GB and newly purchased Scotland the Best to fine tune.

We love Scotland and were glad we finally got to see some of the scenic bits. I’ll start thinking of where in Scotland we should visit next. There’s a good chance that it will overtake some of the more exotic continental options that I’d been planning for next year.

Hope that helps others with their plans.
indy_dad is offline  
Jun 10th, 2012, 12:46 PM
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Another great report/blog!

I was in the same Doune/Stirling/Callander/Lake of Menteith area about two weeks ahead of you
janisj is online now  
Jun 10th, 2012, 02:00 PM
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another great trip report! Wonderful pictures. I love seeing your family enjoying their adventures. (By the way, "oh shoot!" would not be the words I would use when I saw the rest of the hike to the top.)

Thanks for sharing!
irishface is offline  
Jun 10th, 2012, 02:52 PM
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Gorgeous views. Your children are great hikers!

I'd guess that was a sick hedgehog as they don't usually hang around like that.
sassy_cat is offline  
Jun 10th, 2012, 09:05 PM
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Thanks for the comments.

@irishface -- "oh shoot" was just the blog version

@sassy_cat -- according to the girl, the hedgehog was running across the road and she stopped her bike and that's when it froze up. It wasn't there when we returned so hopefully he's alright
indy_dad is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 03:11 AM
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We stayed at the Annfield Guesthouse in Callander in April. It's deserving of its good reviews/ratings, but we did think Callandar a little "tired-looking" compared to our last visit 6 years ago.
Gordon_R is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 03:39 AM
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Thanks for another fascinating trip report. I am sure there must have been times when the kids weren't smiling, but all your memories will be good ones. It's good to see the photos of the food you ate as well. British food has really changed in the past twenty years.

In contrast to other trip reports, not a single whinge. Did you truthfully not spend any time watching the pickpockets?
chartley is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 04:23 AM
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Ah, indy_dad, that sounds like the hedgehog was healthy and you were lucky to see it!

A hedgehog used to live in my garden when I was young (complete with fleas!) and we regularly fed it cat food at night. They're interesting animals.
sassy_cat is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 04:30 AM
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love your blog!
amelie is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 05:18 AM
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ira
 
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Hi ID,

Thanks for sharing.

It's helping me plan my visit.

ira is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 12:15 PM
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In contrast to other trip reports, not a single whinge. Did you truthfully not spend any time watching the pickpockets?

Not too much to whinge about on this trip. It's not always perfect and we do find that 9 days or so is enough family time until the next one.

One whinge: We didn't get any good photo ops of hairy cows and that was high on my daughter's list. How's that?
indy_dad is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 03:59 PM
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Indy_dad,

Fantastic blog and pictures. We are looking forward to our visit to Doune, Stirling and Falkirk.

Do you remember how much time you spent at Doune and Stirling? It will help in our planning.
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 09:19 PM
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Hi Europeannovice,

We spent about an hour at the Falkirk Wheel and 1-1.5 hrs at Doune Castle on our first day (the drive up). It's a smallish castle with about 15 items to listen to on the audio guide.

On our Stirling day, we arrived at the castle when it opened and probably stayed 2.5 hrs. One could stay longer but we also wanted to see the National Wallace Monument (1.5 hrs ?) and Bannockburn (1-1.5 hrs) in the same day. There's also a lot of similarities with Edinburgh Castle which we had also seen on a previous trip.

Hope that helps.
indy_dad is offline  
Jun 11th, 2012, 11:26 PM
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Lovely report; lovely pictures. So glad you had a good time.

The Quiraing is not the summit; it's the whole land-slidey area.

And you should try MacSween's haggis if you're back
sheila is offline  
Jun 12th, 2012, 08:54 AM
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Thanks, Sheila. Your early info really started things off for me.
indy_dad is offline  
Jun 12th, 2012, 12:22 PM
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As an aside, some fellow ex-pat co-workers took a similar (in the broadest since) trip around the Highlands the same week. It's not necessarily the trip I would take, but they also have some nice photos and commentary.

http://schetzelsintheuk.wordpress.co...and-adventure/
indy_dad is offline  
Jun 12th, 2012, 12:39 PM
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We spent about the same amount of time at Doune and Stirling Castles. We visited many of the same places you did, and enjoyed them lots! You really should have found the Fairy Glen, though - a delightful little hike up to the small cave, and weird/bizarre formations to see. And Three Chimneys was definitely worth it, we went for an amazing lunch.
GreenDragon is offline  
Jun 12th, 2012, 03:34 PM
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indy_dad:

Nice report.

Sandy
SandyBrit is offline  
Jun 12th, 2012, 05:28 PM
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Thanks so much. We are looking forward to our brief visit. We will report back.
europeannovice is offline  
Jun 13th, 2012, 02:43 PM
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indy dad: Thanks for your report, again. We did several of the activities you reported on: Bracklin Falls hike, Clava Cairns. How on earth did you get the scenery pictures? We could never find a place to pull over. Maybe you have a roof camera? ;-)
eastenderusvi is offline  

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