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Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

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Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

Hello Everyone!

My husband and I will be visiting Scotland for the first time in July for one week and we're very much looking forward to it. Our tentative trip plan is outlined below and I would greatly appreciate any suggestions on it.

Thursday:

Arrive at Glasgow airport. Take train to Edinburgh.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday:

Visit Edinburgh. Take the train to Inverness. Rent a car.

Saturday to Wednesday:

Visit the Scottish Highlands. Is Inverness a good base? Would you recommend any other quaint towns/areas? We're hoping to find a self-catering option for 4 nights, rather than move every couple of days. Interested in visiting Skye, Orkney Islands, and open to other suggestions. We're really hoping to find a beautiful, quiet Highland base where we can get away, take day trips and just enjoy each other's company.

Our interests: Photography, Hiking, Historic sites (Callanish stone sites, Castles, etc.), possible whiskey tour/distillery visit?

Wednesday: Drop off car (in Inverness?). Take a train to Glasgow. Spend the night there and fly out on Thursday morning.

Are we too ambitious? Are there other areas/places to consider as a base? Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer!

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1. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

If you want self catering in July you'll probably need to take it for 7 nights. Or you could use hotels and B&Bs.

If you want to stay on Lewis book soon as accommodation is scarce in high season.

Inverness is a large town and not really quaint but has more bars, shops and restaurants than you'd find in a rural area or village

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2. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

Honestly, I think a day trip to Orkney from Inverness is a little ambitious. There's lots to see on Orkney even if you don't visit all of the islands and I don't think one day really does it any justice (though I think everybody should go there at least once in their lives).

I believe it took us around 3 hours to get from Inverness to John O' Groats to get the ferry. That meant leaving at the crack of dawn so we could get there early enough to enjoy the first day (we stayed a couple of nights). I can tell you that driving along that coastal road in the pitch black with the rain and wind was no fun. The scenery on that drive is stunning (we drove back during daylight hours) and it's one I'd recommend just for grins if you can see where you're going :-)

Edited: 3:31 pm, February 21, 2013
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3. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

Can you be a bit more specific about the days and where you intend staying eg Saturday is down for both Edinburgh and highlands? What time does your flight arrive and depart?

I don't think your time allows a trip to Orkney or the outer Hebrides (do you mean Callandish stones on Lewis?). Travel in Scotland takes longer than you might imagine, so do yourself a favour, settle somewhere for your four days and don't rush madly about seeing nothing. Or a least a couple of nights in two chosen spots. Look at the west / Skye /. Plenty of threads on here on any given place or question to read up on and lots of helpful websites too. Just google Scotland. Look at books, internet, see what interests you and what sort of place you would really like to spend your time away in. Self catering in July is normally let by the week. Hundreds of very nice B&B's in great locations or maybe someone can recommend a short let self catering. Or a country hotel? Seems you want some R&R in a great spot, so don't cram too much in. Enjoy.

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4. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

hi

you may find self-catering a litle hard to find so B&B may be your best option......

wife and i ar fast approaching 60 and have reched the stage where we have lived just over half our life in england - where our boys are born and brought up

they are now 26 and 28

4 of the last 6 years they have been around when we were planning a mid-summer break - ie late june when the nights are long

is going on vaction with mom and dad a bit boring when you are in your early 20s?

how many times out of 4 did they make the trip? 4 of course!

why? location location location

first year we all went to the island oh harris in the outer hebrides

nest year wife and i stayed in the boathouse of the torridon hotel (see website) - boys were on their gap year

next 2 years all four of us went back to torridon's boathouse

following year we went to SW wales

and this year they wer settling down with girlfriends so wife and i went alone to the outer hebrides from barra to lewis\harris (use calmac websire for ferry crossings) returned to mainland at ullapool and then to the etreme NW ad NE of the mainland

if i were you id spend my none edinburgh time driving in a long loop - book b&b acom in advance so you dont have the worry of knowing where you are staying

from edinburgh drive up to inverness

leave inverness headed for ullapool

but soon head south via achnasheen and kinlochewe to torridon

at torridon take the 'dead-end' road to diabeg and back

then on to shieldaig - leave the road and drive thru the village - its lovely!!!

then take coast routte to applecross and then back to the 'main' road via the highland pass (highest road in the uk)

then round loch carron and via plocton to kyle of lochalsh

take the bridge to skye and spend as much time there as you can manage

cross back to the mainland by ferry to mallaig

then via fort william ballachulish glencoe and crianlarich to loch lomond

either main roads to edinburgh

or if time take a look at glasgow en route

or cyt acros country and come into edinburgh via stirling and thte trosssachs

it sound ike a lot of driving

bit the very best part of scotland is the scenery and ther is no better way to see it......

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5. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

Wow. Day trips from Inverness. Sorry, this is way too much driving, as others have said.

I suggest you look at your options and use http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/index.jsp to work out timings.

http://www.calmac.co.uk/ run all the western ferries and you can check sailings and timings.

I know you're not keen on moving from place to place but I think you will not enjoy the routes you've planned. They'll wear you down, and you wont see very many nice places.

I would recommend the opposite strategy to what you've planned: work out a route which loops round some areas, and stop nightly.

If you hire a car in Inverness, be careful who from. Only the big boys will allow a drop-off in Edinburgh. Check Avis and Hertz obviously, but also look at Europcar and Enterprise.

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6. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

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7. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

As mentioned above, I think you would find it difficult, if not impossible, to get 4 nights self catering in July. Many places are booked already, and 7 days is usually the minimum.

I think hiring a car, and doing a wee drive every day would be the best bet. Inverness to Gairloch / Lochcarron / Ullapool (all on the West Coast) is only an hour and a half, so we are not talking huge journeys. A day trip to Orkney is NOT an option - even if you can get there and back (it's a two and a half hour drive each way allowing for en route scenery watching) you would have no chance to see anything in Orkney,which is worth two days on its own.

So....overnight in Inverness, over to Lochcarron (via Attadale gardens?) and then Skye if you really need to be on an Island at some point). Overnight on Skye (Portree?). Drive around the island and back on to the mainland the next day. Make sure you go over the "Bealach" road to Applecross, stay at the Applecross Inn or a local B&B. Next day head North up the coast road, stay in Gairloch. En route, look round the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve, and Inverewe Gardens (6 miles North of Gairloch) . One more overnight stop in either Ullapool or that area, and then back to Inverness. The only website I'm aware of is www.visitwester-ross.com, but it does cover the entire Wester Ross area from Lochcarron northwards.

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8. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

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Removed on: 6:05 am, February 22, 2013
Edited: 6:05 am, February 22, 2013
St. Louis, Missouri
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9. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

Thank you everyone for the great suggestions! (I was a bit surprised to see that two posts had been removed?)

After doing some searching, I did find a few 4-day self-catering options with availability (mostly within a half hour's drive of Inverness). But after reading your suggestions, I'm starting to rethink that strategy.

Eco-Friends - I agree with not trying to "cram too much in." We'll be coming to Scotland after a 5-day stay on Iceland so I'm hoping to slow the pace a bit once in Scotland. As for Edinburgh, we wanted to see some of the highlights of the city on Thursday and Friday and then take a train on Saturday to the Highlands.

Toofpik- You mentioned that you stayed on the Orkney islands for a couple of nights. Do you have an area/place to recommend staying if we do go that route?

Beeble1022 - I can see why your sons would want to go on vacation with the family! Thank you for the driving suggestions. They seem like some great routes.

Derek G - Is it unreasonable to think that we could rent and return the car to Inverness? Do you know if the rental companies in Scotland allow one-way drop-offs?

Tribbleslayer - Thank you for the route suggestions.

A few other questions: Would a 5-day stay in the Highlands be enough to divvy up between the Orkney Islands and the West Coast/Skye? 2-3 days in each area? Or is the travel time between the two too far? Are we missing out if we only spend a little time in the Inverness area?

Thank you again. I really appreciate the help.

Edited: 11:33 am, February 22, 2013
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10. Re: Itinerary Help and Highland Base Suggestions

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Removed on: 5:05 am, February 27, 2013