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Tentatively planning Scotland late May/early June 2011

Tentatively planning Scotland late May/early June 2011

Old May 12th, 2010, 03:56 PM
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Tentatively planning Scotland late May/early June 2011

At this point I don't want to lock myself into an itinerary, but I do need to figure out if I'm in the ballpark for comfortable driving times. We spent 5 days in Scotland in 1998, and had some LONG drives. I learned then that 110 miles in Scotland can be like 400 miles in Oregon!

We'll be 65 and I've promised DH to not make it too grueling. I usually like to mix boutique hotels with b&bs, also mix my one-night stays with some 2-night ones.

OK, very tentatively, as DH hasn't helped me interpret ferry schedule yet:

Leave Alaska. Either fly charter to Frankfurt, then 'something' to Glasgow. Or, fly through Seattle which probably means a British Air transfer at Heathrow. Goal is to land in Glasgow.

Overnight at b&b in Glasgow, so luggage can catch up. That's also in case we've had a 14-hour all night flight.

Drive Glasgow along Loch Lomond and stay in either Ballaculish or Glenfinnan (if it's reasonable to drive that far).

Take ferry to Skye. Stay one night in vicinity of Sligachan maybe, two nights Portree. Wishes there are: seeing Talisker, Dunvegan Castle, and maybe lunch at Three Chimneys.

Take ferry to Tarbert on Harris. See Callanais Standing Stones, maybe stay at a nearby b&b, if it's not feasible to catch ferry from Stornaway.

Take ferry to Ullapool. See garden at Inverewe. Spend 2 nights at Torridon (either hotel or inn, depending).

Drive to Kyle of Lochalsh. See Eilean Donan Castle. Then overnight where? if planning to continue on with ferry to Mull from Lochaline following day.

Two nights Tobermary.

Then ferry to Oban. Do not need to overnight there; have stayed there before.

Additional planning is hazy. Maybe on to Kennacraig (spelling) to catch ferry to Islay. Since it's 2 1/2 hours or so, assume cannot do all that having left Tobermary in a.m. ??

Maybe an overnight on Islay. DH wants to see 3 distilleries.

Then possibly to Lochgilphead (sp) on to Inverarary then Glasgow.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 04:27 PM
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OK -- it makes sense now

Seeing that you are going to the outer islands after Skye, maybe this tweek, and another couple of thoughts . . .

It looks like you mean 3 nights on Skye -- great. But if so there is no reason to pack and move from Sligachan to Portree. Pick one or the other and stay put.

Sligachan is sort of the crossroads of the whole island and convenient to everywhere. Portree is farther north and w/ more "there" there. Either would be fine -- Sligachan - more convenient to everywhere, Portree - more 'town'. I'd pick one, not both.

One of your days (probably the day you arrive on Skye) you'll want to explore the south/east end of the isle. That is when you can make a 30 minute detour across the bridge and back and take a peek at Eilean Donan.

Now - Instead of Torridon -- you could stay in/near Ullapool and use it as a base for all over the area. After leaving Ullapool - drive across on A835 to Inverness and the A82 down the great Glen to Ballachulish/Glencoe. This would be the longest driving day of the entire trip but still doable.

Torridon is beautiful -- but the roads around there are mostly single track and you (or you DH) will have already seen enough single tracks to last for a while

Just some thoughts . . . .
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Old May 12th, 2010, 06:09 PM
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Thanks janisj,

I know I had read that Skye is only 50 miles long, but in searching through old threads a few weeks ago it seems like I ran across the recommendation for staying two places. I wasn't sure if we'd have time to do all that exploring on the southern part of the island, then drive to Portree all in one day from Glenfinnan or wherever.

I also didn't realize it was only 30 minutes across the bridge and back to the castle.

In 1998 we did drive the road from Inverness (actually from Craigellachie,) up through Inverness, Ft. William and on to Oban in one day. Another reason why I was looking at Torridon.

Also, if I went the route through Inverness, wouldn't I have to backtrack from Inverewe Garden?

I had been wondering if the road around Torridon was hairpin curves on cliffs. In my piles of boxes of literature I did actually run across a couple of small group tours that drove that road, so thought maybe it wasn't so bad.

One other reason: if I take the ferry to Skye, I would not have seen the road to Kyle of Lochalsh.

This gives me lots to think about, and probably lots of questions about singletrack roads. DH had to back uphill on a gravel road on the edge of a cliff in a line of traffic on Maui several years ago. Not a fun experience.

How far apart are the passing spots? I know he will not rent a little car.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 06:40 PM
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If you are going to see three distilleries on Islay, you will have to spend the night there. Islay is too far for a sensible day trip in any event.
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Old May 12th, 2010, 07:32 PM
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Thanks Nikki. Would we also need a night at Kinnecraig? Or could we ferry from Mull, drive south, then spend a night on Islay?
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Old May 12th, 2010, 10:26 PM
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"I ran across the recommendation for staying two places."

I find that sometimes, the folks who recommend moving hotels on Skye are planning their own trips and haven't actually been there yet. An argument could be made if you were staying one night way over on the SE end like Armadale or Isleornsay and then moving up to Portree or Uig. But Sligachan and Portree are only 9 miles apart.

I've been to Skye several times and explored all over the island -- and each visit I plonked down in one B&B and didn't move to another place. I've stayed up north, down south, near Dunvegan, and in the middle - and each time could easily get wherever.

"if I went the route through Inverness, wouldn't I have to backtrack from Inverewe Garden?"

If you stay the 2 nights in/near Ullapool -- you'd visit Inverewe one of those days and return to your hotel in Ullapool that night. It would be part of your daily touring around.

But your plan is OK too-- either way the drive south will be your longest driving day.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 12:03 AM
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"Would we also need a night at Kinnecraig? Or could we ferry from Mull, drive south, then spend a night on Islay?"

Depends on which ferries you take. Here is the schedule for the ferry from Kennacraig to Islay:

http://www.calmac.co.uk/Timetables-F...onsay-oban.gif
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Old May 13th, 2010, 01:28 AM
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Be aware of the Spring Bank Holiday( May 30th 2011) at the end of May in England...the schools are usually off for a week, so quite a lot of folks will be holiday-ing in Scotland. Not saying don't travel then, just be aware.
There is a at least one direct flight from NY to Glasgow and might be still something from Canada. If you are looking for 'something' from Frankfurt then check out http://www.skyscanner.net

Although you say B&B in Glasgow I might suggest the Grosvenor Hilton in the West End of Glasgow. http://www.hilton.co.uk/glasgowgrosvenor It's a great location opposite the Botanic Gardens and right on the road to Loch Lomond! It also has parking and there are loads of great restaurants within easy walking distance. My bf's parents stayed there when visiting from Oz in 2008
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Old May 13th, 2010, 07:59 AM
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Thanks so much. This is the kind of help I was looking for.

Janisj, I looked at the map last night. You're right. The two places which had been suggested Struan, and Sligachan are 15km and 18km from Portree. Guess I will plan on Portree. If I drive from Glenfinnan, take the ferry, and see a bit of the southern end of the island, hope that doesn't make the day too long.

Re: "the longest driving day". I was thinking of staying a night, at Torridon. So I wouldn't be driving all the way from Ullapool to Glencoe or wherever. Since I'm already needing to find some places to cut a night or so from the trip, I was looking at Ullapool and Kennecraig as possible places to make that cut.

Nikki, my CalMac schedule did arrive, I just need to have DH help me interpret it. I really need to time things so I'm on Skye weekdays when Talisker and Dunvegan are open, yet not on Lewis on Sunday when they are closed.

alihutch, thanks for the hotel idea. I did read that the West End sounded more fun. $20 cab ride from the airport, I think it said.

Lots to chew on here, and luckily several months to do all the reading!
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Old May 13th, 2010, 10:16 AM
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"I was thinking of staying a night, at Torridon. So I wouldn't be driving all the way from Ullapool to Glencoe or wherever."

That was my point - my guess is the drive from Torridon to Glencoe would take longer than from Ullapool. I've driven a bit in that area and from what I remember -- Torridon and all around there are single track roads, whereas from Ullapool you'd be on major roads. Not highways or even wide roads -- but at least they are two lane.

Torridon and Ullapool are each almost exactly 110 miles from Ft William - but the route is a little easier from Ullapool IMO.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 10:32 AM
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My goodness! Just out of curiosity I checked the aa route planner for the two routes:

Amazing.
Ullapool to Ft William = 111 miles 2hrs 42 mins
Torridon to Ft William = 108 miles 2hrs 46 mins

Now -- you can ignore the 2 hrs 40-ish mins bit altogether - but at least it shows they will take just about the same time. I'd count on 3.5 - 4 hours to account for 'real life'
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Old May 13th, 2010, 11:30 AM
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We discovered that "real life" the last time we drove 110 miles in Scotland! It was early September and starting to get dark as we drove in to Oban. Of course we had dawdled in a bookstore in Inverness and spent quite awhile walking around at Castle Urquhart.

That may be a part of the trip I leave in 'flux' for awhile until I get things more firmed up.

The single track roads. How far apart are passing places usually?

The ferry brochure, the Torridon hotel website, visitScotland, etc, all give various mileages for different places but I sort of suspect they are based on those aa or viamichelin (not real life) times.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 11:55 AM
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"How far apart are passing places usually?"

Sometimes just a few yards, sometimes a lot farther. But they are usually very frequent on roads that need them. I have a slide in one of my travel programs of a single track on Skye and there are 3 diamond passing places visible in about 400 yards. And a ewe and 2 lambs sleeping in one of them

The diamond shaped passing place signs are very easy to see in the distance.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 12:00 PM
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Janisj, I'm sorry. I see you answered this also on another thread. I've gone through so many beautiful brochures, that I'm over-enthused for something so far in the future!

The diamond shape sounds familiar. Maybe Ireland uses it too.
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