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Tips on a trip to London, Edinburgh and Speyside

Tips on a trip to London, Edinburgh and Speyside

Dec 18th, 2012, 09:08 AM
  #1  
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Tips on a trip to London, Edinburgh and Speyside

Hi
I need help in organizing a trip to the UK. We are four travelers: my parents, DH and I. I´ve never been to the UK before, my parents and husband have been to London.

The idea for this trip came from my husband who collects scotch and wants to do a scotch tasting in Scotland and visit the distilleries. His favorites are Johnnie Walker, Macallan and Glenlivet, the distilleries for these 3 brands are in Speyside, so we decided to go to London, Edinburgh and Speyside.

Before starting all the planning I want to know how many days I should plan for every city. We have between 11 and 13 days for our trip. We are going from around March 19th until the 30th.
I was thinking 4 or 5 nights in London, 3 nights in Edinburgh and 3 or 4 nights for the whisky trail. Do you think that will be enough?

For the whisky trail, where can we stay? I found some nice B&B´s in Inverness, should I look for any other places where we can stay? Is Inverness close enough?
What other things can we do around Speyside aside from visiting the distilleries?

Do you recommend driving, flying or train between our 3 destinations?
I guess we need a car in Speyside, where can we rent one?

Any additional info on hotels, restaurants, and things to do is very welcome.

Thanks in advance for your help, I know I can always count on great advice from this forum.
Gabrielle26 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 09:44 AM
  #2  
 
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Never having done a Scotch tour I can't comment on that part - but I think 5 night in London is the minimum (since you will be very jet-lagged the first day) and 2 or 3 in Edinburgh.

Train between London and Edinburgh makes sense. After that you will probably want to rent a car to be able to get to all of the different places you want and see something of the countryside.
(We have always done road trips from London towards the north - but stopped in several places before getting to Edinburgh. This might be worth your time depending on your interests - Your? Hadrian's wall?)
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 09:54 AM
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Three nights in Edinburgh would be about right for me. I'd probably take a whisky day and add it to London, but I've never done the whisky trail so that may or may not be a good idea. The train between London and Edinburgh is great - about 4-4.5 hours, city center to city center. Much easier than flying, though you deal with your own luggage. (Actually, if you plan to rent one car, you'd probably want to pack light anyway - cars in the UK tend to than in the US, if that's where you're from, meaning you likely won't have as much trunk space.)

For hotel and restaurants - how much do you plan to spend per room per night? Would you need two rooms, I'd guess?
jent103 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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Do you recommend driving, flying or train between our 3 destinations?>

car or train if you want to see some of the pretty Britain in between those destinations. I am partial to the train and there are so so many running everywhere in the UK - go to www.nationalrail.co.uk for all the scheudles and fares. For a party of 4 people you may want to investigate some kind of Brit Rail Pass since the Party Pass version offers the 3rd and on person on the same pass 50% off the regular price the first two pay - and the pass lets you simply hop on any train anytime throughout Britain - such fully flexible fares can cost a ton - if you want to lock yourself into a generally hard to change or often even to refund train-specific train weeks ahead of time you can get the limited in number deep discounted tickets (see National Rail site above) - then that would be the best - cheapest that is but not to everyone the best - depends on whether you desire flexibility to hop any train anytime or not.

For Scotland rent a car in Edinburgh - a short drive northwest out of town puts you in the lovely Scottish countryside, where trains are just not a useful option there.

For loads of great info on British trains I always spotlight these IMO fantastic sources - http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id11.html; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com - check the latter's commercial link to Rail Europe U.S. for BritRail Pass prices - passes are not sold at British train stations as Brits themselves cannot use them - only for foreign tourists.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 10:14 AM
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OK I've been to every place on your list (except Johnnie Walker -it is a blend after all). Does Johnnie Walker even do tours - I thought the only Walker related tours were @ Cardhu?? But Famous Grouse or Bell's are the only blends I drink so what do I know. You can easily see any distilleries you want in one day --so I would plan 2 nights/1 full day on Speyside. There is MUCH more (non-whisky-related) to see in the area but your whole trip is too short to manage anything else.

A doable plan: Fly into London; Visit London for 6 days (extra time to account for jetlag etc.); take the train to Edinburgh and stay for 3 nights; train to Inverness and rent a car for 2 days; Stay on Speyside for 2 nights/1+ day. Fly to London from Inverness (or to whichever gateway city you find good fares) /fly home.
janisj is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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As janisj suggests, consider flying open jaw into London, then out of Edinburgh which saves backtracking to Heathrow.

Also google "whisky trail tours" - lots of websites with info
sofarsogood is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 11:47 AM
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I'd add a night to London but the rest of the time is fine because you can tour around the Highlands from Speyside. Inverness is not Speyside - it's further west. You're closer to Speyside if you're in Aberdeen and closer yet if in Elgin. Look up Dufftown, which is the hub of the area for distilleries.

There is no such thing as a Johnnie Walker distillery because Johnnie Walker does not MAKE original whisky, it BLENDS previously distilled whiskies. The blends differ by inputs and age - specific swill goes into JW Red, better blends at least 12 years old go into JW Black, malts only that are at least 15 years old go into JW Green (a "vatted malt"), 15-18 year old whiskies are blended into JW Gold, and seriously old whiskies go into JW Blue. Only the Green Label is pure malt whisky.

<> C'mon now, this is fish in a barrel - look here for a start: http://www.welcometoscotland.com/reg...rdeen-grampian

And your hubby needs to branch out - Glenlivet? I've had stronger stuff from water faucets. Some Highland Park, Talisker, Ardmore, or one of the peaty Islays - those will knock him on his a--.
BigRuss is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 12:13 PM
  #8  
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Hi

Thanks, I´m from South America, I will be flying from Ecuador to Madrid and then to the UK.

From your suggestions I think I will do 5 days in London, then take the train to Edinburgh, stay 3 days, rent a car and go to Inverness (does anyone know how long that would take?), if it is too long I would probably take the train and rent the car at Inverness, stay in Inverness for 3 nights, return to Edinburgh and fly to Madrid.

"For hotel and restaurants - how much do you plan to spend per room per night? Would you need two rooms, I'd guess?"
Yes, we need 2 rooms. We were thinking about $200 per room per night at Inverness and Edinburgh, for London I guess probably more.

janisj, yes you are right, Cardhu is where the tours related to Johnnie Walker take place.
Gabrielle26 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 12:16 PM
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BigRuss thanks, I will check Dufftown and look for places to stay there. I will also check out the link you provided.
Gabrielle26 is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 01:41 PM
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I would not rent the car until I got to Aberdeen. The ride up the coast on the train is lovely, and Aberdeen is much easier to navigate than Edinburgh. You are close to Speyside and to the valley of the Dee up to the mountains if whisky ceases to be of interest.

I too prefer Islay and other island malts to most Speyside malts, but I do love the Balvenie and the Grants whisky which is blended from it. The MacAllan is also worth drinking, and all these distilleries have the advantage of being a lot easier to get to than the islands.
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 01:54 PM
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You really don't have time to get to Islay, where some of my favorites are found, or to Orkney for Highland Park, but it shouldn't deter one from trying these really superior whiskies.
historytraveler is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 02:05 PM
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"Inverness is not Speyside - it's further west. You're closer to Speyside if you're in Aberdeen"

Huh? Of course Inverness is not Speyside, but from Inverness airport to Grantown-on-Spey is almost exactly 30 miles. And its about 35 miles from the center of the city. Aberdeen to G-o-S is 85+ miles.
janisj is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 02:41 PM
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Yeah, the distance is incorrect in my post. But she's talking about staying in Inverness - she could stay in Elgin or Dufftown or somewhere closer to the distilleries and see Aberdeenshire instead of staying in Inverness.
BigRuss is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 10:31 PM
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I didn't (and wouldn't) recommend staying in Inverness.

But even for Elgin - it is much closer to Inverness airport (approx 30 miles) than to Aberdeen (65 miles). Flying in to Inverness is just easier/closer to the places they want to visit on Speyside.
janisj is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 10:39 PM
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That should have said >>Flying in or out of Inverness is just easier/closer. . . << Train up and fly back or vice versa.

Also meant to add - for Dufftown -- it is almost exactly the same distance from both Aberdeen and Inverness airports. But the places they want to visit are Dufftown and westward - not east of Dufftown. So even for Dufftown - flying in or out of I'ness makes most sense.
janisj is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 08:35 AM
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<>

Yes and no - after all, she's trying to figure out what else to see in the area because three of the four travelers aren't wedded to the charms of distillery-hopping and the castles tend to be south and/or east of Dufftown, no? Can't visit the Gordon Highlanders Museum or the eastern castles or the coastal trail on the way to Dufftown from Inverness. Flip side - can't visit Cawdor Castle or Culloden or Clava Cairns from Aberdeen to Dufftown either. So there is a choice to make here.
BigRuss is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 10:33 AM
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Of course - I totally agree. But they simply don't have time to do all of that touring. Now, IF they had 2.5 or 3 weeks . . .
janisj is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 01:06 PM
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I didn't (and wouldn't) recommend staying in Inverness>

Well if someone wants the offerings of larger city - lots of restaurants, wide selection of hotels - I actually like Inverness - the kind of place where lots of travelers are coming and going - kind of an excitement not found in smaller towns - but if all depends on what one is looking for - and this is my opinion - Inverness is a nice watering-hole base for nearby Lake Ness and to see Nessie and a jumping off point to take the scenic railway or road to Kyle of Lochlash, gateway to the Isle of Skye.
PalenQ is offline  

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