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Scottish Highlands For Two Days

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May 22nd, 2015, 06:52 AM
  #1
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Scottish Highlands For Two Days

Hello,
We are visiting the Scottish Highlands for the first time with our three children: 10, 15, and 17. We will have two nights. We plan to take the sleeper train from London to Glasgow and from there launch into two nights in the Highlands. Does anyone have any suggestions? We were thinking of taking the Jacobite train north and then going to Isle of Skye and on to Inverness.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
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May 22nd, 2015, 06:58 AM
  #2
 
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that Jacobite special train runs over the West Highland railway - one of the most scenic in the U K and Europe - take it to Maillag - then you can take a ferry over to Skye - spend however many days there then drive or bus to northern Skye and take the bus or drive to Kyle of Lochlash - to catch another really scenic train to Inverness - you need no car for that portion.

For lots of info on Caledonian sleeper trains and trains in general in Britain check www.seat61.cm - great advice on discounted tickets; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. Be sure to book those sleeper trains early to get the lowest rates - walk up fares much much higher.
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May 22nd, 2015, 07:08 AM
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I would suggest getting a daytime train London to Glasgow (it only takes 4.5 hours or thereabouts from Euston). If you travel up in the morning and check into a hotel around lunchtime then you can have the afternoon and evening in the city, then travel on to the highlands the following day. Also, I'd try to spend more than 2 nights in the highlands if you possibly can as its a long way to go for such a short time.
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May 22nd, 2015, 07:23 AM
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The Jacobite will essentially take an entire day (if you go out and back), and to visit Skye and Inverness you'd want a car - so it seriously complicates things. You can't rent a car on Skye and drop it somewhere else. There are a couple of small local rental agents but they don't allow one way rentals so you could use one to explore Skye but you'd have to take public transport to go back to the mainland/Inverness or anywhere else.

2 days simply isn't enough time for the Jacobite, Skye, and anything else. In Fact 2 nights (which really only nets you 1.5 days) is barely enough for just Skye. To do the Jacobite, explore Skye, and tour around more of the Highlands you are really talking 4 or 5 days. You need to decide which you want • the Jacobite, or • touring the highlands for 2 days.

You say you have 2 nights -- where are you going after that? To Edinburgh? Back to Glasgow? To Edinburgh? Somewhere else?

We can give you better advice if we know the whole itinerary . . .
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May 22nd, 2015, 10:07 AM
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Of course in addition to the Jacobite steam train you also have regular trains that roll thru the same Harry Potter venues and scenery - peerhaps quicker than the special excursion train.
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May 22nd, 2015, 10:10 AM
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>> peerhaps quicker than the special excursion train.<<

no -- they take the same route and in about the same duration.
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May 27th, 2015, 10:00 AM
  #7
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Thank your for all of the input. We are spending three nights in London, then overnight train to Fort William. We have several hours there for walking and then on to the Jacobite train to Mallaig. We thought we'd spend the night somewhere around there and then on to Inverness the next day for a night. We finish the trip with three nights in Edinburgh. We have a student interested in going to University there. I realize that this is really pushing a lot in to our time up north. If we have to spend the night somewhere near Mallaig do you have any recommendations and should we even try to get over to Skye?
Thank you for all of your help - we really appreciate it!
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May 27th, 2015, 10:25 AM
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>>We thought we'd spend the night somewhere around there <<

There really isn't much 'there' there. Mallaig is interesting for an hour or two but not for an overnight stay. Without a car Mallaig is really you only 'nearby' option -- this is very VERY rural territory. And taking the ferry across to Skye would only be to tick a box -- you wouldn't have time to see any of the island if you intend to go to Inverness.

But one option: It would be complicated -- but train to Mallaig, ferry to Skye, local buses back off the Isle to the Kyle of Lochalsh, train to Inverness. Staying in Kyleakin or Kyle of Lochalsh would be best for transport reasons

https://www.stagecoachbus.com/getTim...25%2f05%2f2015

Or - As much as I dislike Ft William itself (the area is great - the town not so much) -- consider taking the Jacobite out and back and spend that night in Ft William.

Then you'd end up in Inverness the next day -- which again is in a terrific area but the city itself is meh.

The Jacobite and no car does complicate your VERY short time in the area.
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May 27th, 2015, 10:26 AM
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But one option: It would be complicated -- but train to Mallaig, ferry to Skye, local buses back off the Isle to the Kyle of Lochalsh, train to Inverness.>

tis what I did and not complicated at all - know schedules for trains - ferries go frequently - buses link each port on Skye.
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May 27th, 2015, 11:14 AM
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Complicated for less than one day on Skye . . .

But PQ -- you need to explain where you are coming from - that for you the train/ferries/buses are just about the most important/enjoyable part of the travel experience. Not necessarily being anywhere, but the transport

>>buses link each port on Skye<<

In this case the only port that matters is Armadale since there is no time to get to the other end of the island.
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May 27th, 2015, 12:02 PM
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Be aware that the buses from Armadale to Kyle of Lochalsh where you'll catch the train to Inverness are not always timely. Don't expect the bus to be waiting for you as you depart from the ferry and don't expect the bus to depart on time either. They might or they might not. Life on the Isles is at a different pace and buses are primarily for locals, not tourists.

Honestly on Skye all you'll see is the drive along the Sleat Penisula and without being able to stop at the Clan Donald Centre, Armadale Castle/Gardens, take the scenic loop up through Tarskavaig, Tokavaig and Ord, or see Isle of Ornsay, it's hardly worth the time. I love the Isle of Skye, but you really won't see enough to make the trip worthwhile. I will say that the train from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness is a very scenic route.
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May 27th, 2015, 12:19 PM
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>>buses link each port on Skye<<>

Oops I meant to the bridge for buses over to Kyle and train. I did it in reverse and yes I was on a whirlwind rail trip for research purposes without time to linger in a kind of place that is novel but to me would seem rather boring (not saying that it is - just what I thought - my time could be spent better elsewhere) - I had to change buses after coming over the bridge..So yes I took the Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Inverness - looked around that plain blah town and took the next train to Kyle - crossed and got the bus to Armadale, which seemed like a cute enough town and area and then hopped the boat to Maillag, which you IME have pegged correctly - a transit town at best and took the West Highlands train thru the GORGEOUS RANNOCH MOORS - to me the highlight of any British train trip I've taken - to Glasgow to hop the night train back to London.

I was younger than than now and would never do such a whirlwind trip but the connections were all very simple.
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May 27th, 2015, 12:56 PM
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If I redall correctly the bus from Armadale did not go right to the ferry port but I had to walk a fair distance - so that could be a problem for folks with large luggage.
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May 27th, 2015, 02:14 PM
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The buses arriving and departing form Armadale are very close to where one disembarks from the ferry. I do not know where they stop in Kyle of Lochalsh.
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May 27th, 2015, 02:57 PM
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PQ: you likely haven't been on Skye in a generation (or two) so your memory may be a bit foggy. The buses stop RIGHT there.

>>to Armadale, which seemed like a cute enough town <<

There is no 'Town' - it is barely a hamlet w/ a harbor/ferry slip.

BUT --- the OP has children including a 10yo. I would not try it.
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May 27th, 2015, 04:23 PM
  #16
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You have all been most helpful. I have much to think about and I was wondering if any of you have hired a driver to take you up the coast to the Kyle of Lochalsh. Perhaps we could spend the night there.
Thank you all very much for helping me figure out this puzzle!
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May 27th, 2015, 04:24 PM
  #17
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Here is another thought....Should we skip a night in Inverness and have another night in Skye?
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May 27th, 2015, 05:13 PM
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>>Should we skip a night in Inverness and have another night in Skye?<<

Not if you won't have a car IMO. A single backbacker can manage w/ local buses and hitchhiking but a family of 5 -- nope.

Skye is fabulous (much better than Inverness) . . . but not when you are stuck on foot in the sometimes (often) inclement weather. Now, you could rent a local car on Skye -- but you'd have to return it on the island and take the train to Edinburgh the next day -- a VERY long journey. Kyle of Lochalsh to Edinburgh takes two changes and 6.5 to 8 hours depending on which train you catch. From Mallaig it takes 6.5-7 hrs w/ one change. So basically ALL day lomg.

You have sort of painted yourselves into a corner w/ the Jacobite and not having a car. The train is fun -- but it will determine what else is possible.

To be practical and w/ just 2 days -- take the Jacobite out and back and stay both nights. The Jacobite returns to Ft William at 4PM. You can't "see/do" Scotland in one day so just use this time for your Jacobite excursion and then go enjoy Edinburgh.

You'll see plenty of gorgeous scenery out and back
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May 28th, 2015, 05:17 AM
  #19
 
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Base in Fort William - convenient for hopping on the train - yes and take the Jacobite train one way and a regular train back. No luggage to deal with on a day trip and if you have little time for Skye then it would not be worth unless you could spend a few days.
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May 28th, 2015, 07:32 AM
  #20
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Thank you for all of your input. I have reconsidered (and spoken to the Harry Potter fan in our family) and I think we will cancel our Jacobite train ride. It looks like a good option to go to Oban and use that as a base for a couple of nights and explore the Isle of Iona.
You have all saved us a couple of frustrating days and we know that we just need to plan another longer trip to the Highlands!
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