Seeking input for Scotland itinerary

Old Mar 29th, 2011, 09:16 AM
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Seeking input for Scotland itinerary

We're tentitively planning a trip for the late August-September time frame. Current thought is to fly into Edinborough, spend 3-4 days there, then rent a car for about a week to explore, before returning to Edinborough to train to London, where we will stay another 4-5 days.

I'm not concerned about the cities at this point. I would like some ideas on a plan for getting a feel for Scotland in the week we'll have a car, keeping in mind we do NOT want to spend a lot of time in the car. We are interested in scenery (and walking/hiking), visiting whiskey distillery's, and castles (especially scenic ruins...)

~Liz
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Old Mar 29th, 2011, 09:51 AM
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Edinburgh is mobbed in August because it is festival season. The city swells to 1.35 million people or more and its normal population is about 450K. Get your hotel planned NOW because vacancies will be tight.

There is no such thing as a whiskey distillery in Scotland, they're all whisky distilleries (don't ask, just go with it -- same applies to Canada, but Ireland manufacturers make whiskey). Much of what you SOUND like you want to see will be easily available in the Highlands around Dufftown and lands near the Spey River (there are scores of whiskies labeled or described as "Speyside" for a reason).

Wait for Shiela or JanisJ to ring in with specifics on how to structure this.
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Old Mar 29th, 2011, 10:10 AM
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Thanks! Yes, I'm aware I need to book Edinburgh quickly...

Do I get points for NOT calling it Scotch?

~Liz
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Old Mar 29th, 2011, 10:20 AM
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Well as far as a castle goes, there is a good one in Edinburgh and also not too far from there, about 35 miles is Stirling Castle. We visited the Oban Whiskey Distillery a couple of years ago and very much enjoyed it. Please take a look at this link for great planning information on Scotland. http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/
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Old Mar 29th, 2011, 10:28 AM
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The north east is fantastic ( around Aberdeen up to Moray coast, across to Elgin ) lots of distilleries, castles, coastal villages, stone circles etc. Then, head for Inverness and then to the Isle of Skye and back down to Glasgow
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Old Mar 29th, 2011, 11:39 AM
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Do check Pitlochry web site - particularly "accommodations" and "theatre". It's on the main train line - as are the places mentioned above - and also very easily accessed by car. Because it is an "Old Victorian Watering Place" there is an unusual amount of accommodation which makes things a LITTLE easier at that time of the year.
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Old Mar 29th, 2011, 02:19 PM
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Hi Liz. We, too, are visiting Scotland for 2 weeks in September and need help with our itinerary. Since our needs are somewhat similar, I thought I'd tag along with your thread. Please excuse me if I've rudely horned in. If necessary, I am happy to start my own thread and I hope that the experienced posters will advise me of the proper etiquette.

My husband and I are flying into Edinburgh on September 5th and have booked 4 nights. On the 9th, we will drive to Pitlochry for 3 nights. (I have read that Pitlochry is quite touristy, but we have decided to stay there because of the Highland Games on the 10th and we were able to book a room at the well-recommended Craigatin House.) We are flying out of Edinburgh early on the 19th so we'll return the car on the 18th and spend our last night in Edinburgh. That leaves 6 nights for us to plan. We tend to prefer a "base camp" approach and envision staying in two additional areas for 3 nights each. I suspect that one of those areas will be in or around Glasgow as we do enjoy cities and have heard good things about its dynamic character. The problem is that, after reading for days, we can't decide where else to base ourselves. The entire country is so spectacular and has so much to offer (a good thing as it means we can't really go wrong). We're considering one of the western isles (Mull or, maybe, Arran), Fife (maybe base in Crail), or southern Scotland and the Border Country. The Cairngorms and Moray coast look interesting too. It looks like we'll just have to come back again and again to experience it all. We are fit and active empty-nesters in our late 50's who enjoy walking, nature, scenery, architecture, history, ruins, gardens, people and good food. We'd appreciate any ideas anyone has to offer.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 12:45 AM
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We're going to Scotland in September too and will wait to see what Fodorites recommend! Thank you in advance! We do have tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the last night. We're also planning a 2 night Rabbies Trailburners trip to Skye. Anyone familiar with that travel company?
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 12:56 AM
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You may get points for not calling it Scotch, but you lose them for whiskey

I'll give more serious input tonight
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 02:12 AM
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Have a look at my trip report for Scotland from last year:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...d-354860-2.cfm
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 06:04 AM
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I have not had the experience that many other Fodorites have in Scotland, and I have enjoyed almost all of the spots I have been in. However, Mull remains my all time favorite!

When I took my nephews to Scotland, we spent two days on Mull. visited Torosay Castle, and another nearby, took a ride on a tiny train, ate supper on the pier at Tobermorey,
picnicked in wonderful laybys, visited Iona and Staffa and watched puffins coming and going on Staffa. Wished for more.

You will love the place no matter where you choose to stop!
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 06:59 AM
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Just a quick noteabout the castles on Mull that I mentioned. When I googled them to check my spelling, Torosay is currently on the market and will have only limited openings this summer. The other castle I mentioned is Duarte. It is a medieval castle. The website undiscovered scotland, mentioned above, is a great source of info.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 07:12 AM
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I went to Scotland for three weeks into the highlands and islands in 2008 - search my trip report for details. However, if you want castles, distilleries and scenery, I would definitely consider the area around Grantown-on-Spey and/or Aberdeen. It's near the 'Castle Trail', the 'Whisky Trail', and right on the edge of the Grampian Mountains and Park. Lovely place! Lots of everything nearby.

Other option could be Aran, which, from what I understand, is all of Scotland in miniature. I'm sure Sheilaritchie could offer more details
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 08:35 AM
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A few years ago I hiked the Speyside Way with 3 friends, then spent a week across the Forth from Edinburgh in the little village of Aberdour. There's a castle (ruin of), a pair of beaches and small boat harbour, golf course, and a few places to dine. Aberdour is on a train line that runs from Edinburgh across the famous Forth Bridge and up the coast. My friends and I spent one day hiking up the coastal way and training back to Aberdour, and the remaining days and some evenings) in Edinburgh. The train trip was quick and efficient, and always crowded.

If you enjoy old trains, try the Jacobite Steam Train that runs from Fort William to Mailaig and back (nickname = Harry Potter Hogwarts Express). It's a great train ride - go 1st class - you'll have a private compartment with a steward to serve you tea and biscuits [cookies].

If you find yourselves in Dufftown, settle in and visit the several whisky [Scots spell it without the "e"] distilleries, most famous/largest of which is Glenfiddich.

And if you want to get away from everyone and everything, Rannoch Moor is remote, beautiful, emotive. Drive on the A82 to the village of Bridge of Orchy, turn West on the little narrow road to Inveroran Hotel. Get out and walk a few miles on the ancient military road that traverses Rannoch Moor (it's now part of the West Highland Way). But be aware of the weather - because "civilization" is not out on the moor.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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I'm really getting excited about this trip! Thanks to all for all the good tips! I welcome more!

RachelLS, thanks for the specific hiking and train info, sounds right up our alley.

~Liz
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 11:54 AM
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As for Aberdeenshire: we stayed at the Maryculter House Hotel in Maryculter, a village about 6 miles west of Aberdeen. It avoided city traffic and let us escape for castles. Don't stay in Aberdeen proper.

Here's some info: http://www.aberdeen-grampian.com/use...rail-1.1mb.pdf

As for the Castles listed on that pdf, I don't think Corgarff Castle is worth a trip. We spent time at Fraser and Drum, both interesting, and stopped off at Crathes. Don't bother with Balmoral -- her majesty will be in residence so your common corpus won't be allowed in.

RT to Rachel -- I'm hoping Glenfiddich isn't the most famous distillery. If it were, I'm thinking the whisky wouldn't sell here because whisky should have FLAVOR and the two best-known "Glen" distilleries (Glenfiddich, Glenlivet) are short on that -- no mixing with water required.

Arguably the most famous single malt whiskies (Johnnie Walker is NOT a single malt) from Scotland are The Macallan, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. The latter two are on Islay, which is nowhere near the Highlands, and known for their strong peat flavo(u)rs. The Macallan is near Dufftown in the Highlands and is a traditional Highland whisky aged in sherry casks.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 01:29 PM
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My husband loves the MacAllan, the Laphroaig and the Glenfarclas 105. There is a pub (Craig Bar) in Grantown-on-Spey (not the only one that does this, I'm sure) who has a big blackboard with about 20 different whiskys listed, with taste descriptions (i.e., light, peaty, salty, etc.). My husband went through about a dozen shots (with half-pints of Guinness to clean his palate between each, of course) one night. Luckily, our B&B was about a half block away - well within staggering distance! (Kinross House, if anyone is interested, FANTASTIC hostess!)
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Old Apr 3rd, 2011, 12:32 PM
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Thanks a million for all of the helpful replies. We poured over each and every one and devoured the awesome trip reports. GreenDragon, your photographs are absolutely spectacular! We've decided to base ourselves in Edinburgh, Pitlochry, Grantown-on-Spey and Glasgow for this trip, and look forward to returning some day to explore the western isles and other parts of the country. We can't wait until September!
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Old Apr 4th, 2011, 05:49 AM
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Oh, I'm glad you chose Grantown-on-Spey, it's a lovely area. Be aware that our GPS did not work in the town at all. I think there's a nearby military base, as we saw several RAF planes go overhead, and the Craig Bar has lots of RAF memoribilia on the walls - possibly the signal gets blocked.

Enjoy!!!
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