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2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

Montreal, Canada
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2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

Hi! My friend and i are planning a 2 week trip to the Highlands in 2010 and are desperately looking for ideas from those in the know. It is a girlfriend getaway (leaving the guys at home!) and although we definitely want to take in the gorgeous outdoors and the incredible history, we are also looking for places to sleep, eat, drink and be merry where we can meet people and have fun.

We are overwhelmed with the possibilities and although we know we definitely want to visit Skye and Aviemore/Cairgorns, we wish we had more time because it is so difficult to choose where to go.

We can either go in mid-April, beginning of September, or if you tell me July August is better we can manage then (more difficult with our schedules however).

We will rent a car so will be mobile, we can either fly in to Edinburgh or Glasgow from Montreal (we live in Montreal, Canada).

Any help will be truly appreciated!

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1. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

Hi there. Our organisations run the www.visitaviemore.com website. The site is crammed with accommodation and over 100 different activities and things to do in and around Aviemore and the Cairngorms. The site lets you search by activity or by area so is a great 'shop window' on what is going on in the area.

Have a look at the site and if there is anything we can do to help just send an email from the contact us page.

If you are on facebook have a look at 'Aviemore and the cairngorms' page, it has losts of chat going on about the area.

The site also lists events that are happening throughout the year. April is a really special time in the Highlands as spring starts to fill in the forests. July/Aug can be very busy as it is when we have many families visiting during the school holidays - but there are just loads of events and things on during the summer. September is a bit quieter and again a great month, sometimes the Sept weather can be better than July. Has that helped!?

Please do drop us a note if there is anything else we can help you with.


PS I am going to a conference in Quebec this weekend and fly back via Montreal - small world.

Loch Ness
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2. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

You can't come all this way and not see Loch Ness!

Its easy travelling distance from Aviemore.

An idea is to spend a few days in the area, and if you come in mid September you are in time for the Loch Ness beer festival at the Benleva Hotel in Drumnadrochit -this is run by two brothers who would be delighted to host some lovely ladies from Canada - just ask for Allan (who knows all about the best places to walk in the area) or Steve (who knows all about the beers).

Lots of other places to stay / eat locally and Urquhart castle is just up the road plus some great walks, horse riding, cruises on Loch Ness and a variety of things to do from celidhs to a visit by scottish opera depending on the time of year.

Info and a what's on guide can be found on www.visitlochness.com .

I hope that you have a cracking trip!

Charlotte, North...
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3. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

Aviemore and Inverness are among my favorite destinations. Lots to see and do in both places. The Caringorm Hotel in Aviemore is a nice small hotel with a hunting lodge feel. The food (and whisky) there is among the best ever. There is a microwbrery in the village that gives tours and samples. You can easily get to the distilleries in the area by train or bus (I prefer those to cars in Scotland). Also, the steam train is nice as is the funicular ride up Mt. Caringorm. There are hikes, horseback riding, canoeing, etc. Inverness is lovely. Walk down the river through the center of town at sunset. Take a cruise up Loch Ness to see Urquart Castle ruins and if you wish, take the bus up to Drumnadrochit (village at top of Loch) -great pubs and resturants as well as some nice souviener shopping (not too kitshity). In Aviemore we stay at the Caringorm Hotel and in Inverness at the Royal Highlander.

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4. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

In the last few years we have seen some of our best sunny weather in April and this is a good time to travel as the tourist crowds have not yet arrived in large numbers. Try to time your visit for after Easter as most of the tourist attractions re-open at the Easter Holiday weekend.

2 weeks gives you enough time to cover a fair amount of ground. I would suggest that you allow sometime for exploring the very scenic area around Gairloch where there are some great beaches, although not so much in the way of man made tourist attractions. For me, the scenery around Loch Maree and Glen Torridon is more attractive than Skye.

I'd also try to build time in to your tour for driving down the west coast of Scotland. Especially the coastal road from Mallaig to Arisaig and, if time allows, the drive south from Oban to Lochgilphead.

The difficulty is not suggesting things to see, but working out how you can fit all into your 2 weeks.

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5. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

Here's an itinerary I came up with for some visiting friends, it gives a decent look at what Scotland has to offer.

With a few places a bit of the natural trail.


Fly into and out of Glasgow

Day1 Glasgow to Oban

Head North west out of Glasgow looking for the signs for Loch Lomond.

The National Park here is the first hint you'll have of what is to

come in Scotland. The loch here (lake) is a freshwater one, fed from

the mountains and rainwater. These days there's a visitors center as



From the head of the loch at Balloch head towards,  Crainlarich/Tyndrum

or The North on the A82

This is the usual tourist route up through Crainlarich - Tyndrum and Glencoe.

I have a better idea, at  Tarbert about 25Kms down the A82 There's a

left hand turn off marked Arrochar.

It's a short drive over the hills and down onto your first sea loch in Loch long

(lake attached to  the sea)

Arrochar is a nice place to stop for lunch but if  it's a nice day get

a few food items and have a picnic on the top of the Rest and Be

Thankful some 10 Kilometers further up the road you'll still see signs of the old drovers road in the glen (valley).


From Arrochar turn west and travelling on the A83 look for the signs

for Inveraray.


This stretch is about 35Kms.

At Inveraray look for signs to Lochgilphead, (there is a more direct

road to Oban from here should you be tired, look for the A819 to

Dalmaly then it's the A85 to oban)

From Lochgilphead there's a the A816 road to Oban which is very scenic and in the Strath Of Kilmartin you'll find many neolithic sites includin Dunadd, said to be where the Scots first gained a foothold in Scotland when they arrived from Ireland.



This is quite a long days driving but much of it very relaxing, as the

roads in Argyll and Bute are lovely with not too much traffic.

Oban is a medium sized Highland town where you can find plentys pubs, B & Bs and plenty of places to eat. It's a good place to try your

first Fish and Chips, maybe a evening walk, if you have the energy, to

McCaigs Ampitheatre like folly on the hill.

Pubs abound a good place to avail yourself of some of the great Scottish Ales, sold around town.

Ther are gift shops to look around and the harbour area is quite picturesque

Ok sleep tight in Oban, tomorrow the Glencoe Massacre and the road to

the isles.

Day 2 Oban to Fortwilliam

From Oban head inland again to Tyndrum on the A85 about 9

-10 Kilometers along this road you'll come to Connel bridge, Here are

the Falls of Lora, which if you time it right and catch the ebb tide

are very spectacular, as an entire loch empties back into the sea.

Here's a link to the information and photos


Continue on this road  to Tyndrum where you can take the A82 North.

This road passses over the beautiful and lonely Rannoch moor, before

taking you one of the most beautiful Glens in Scotland, Glencoe, the

mountains here are especially impressive and Glenco is a pleasant

place to stop and have lunch either in the Glen itself for a picknick

or at the Clachaig Inn.

A old old pub from the days of climbers in tweed britches.

Good food and a decent pint of beer. Lots of young folk biking and trekking frequent the place so it's quite lively.


From Glencoe you can go direct to Fort William on the A82, via North

Ballachulish or take a detour around Loch Leven on the B863,  which

brings you out at North Ballachulish.

Stop for the night at Fort William but if time allows then take the

short trip up to Glen Nevis at the foot of Britains Biggest mountain.

Ben Nevis. A truly magical spot where they filmed a good part of the move The


Fort William has many places to stay and lots of pubs restaurants.

Good Supermarkets here if you need something.


Enjoy Fort William tomorrow we head to the Island of Skye via Mallaig

and small fishing port.

Day 3 Fort william to Skye

From Fort William we head west, on the Road to The Isles, to the

island of Skye, The drive to mallaig where you pick up the ferry for

Skye is beautiful, one of the most picturesque in Scotland. The road

takes you past the entrance to the Caledonain Canal which links Loch

Leven with Loch Ness.

A bit further along the road you'll see the Glen Finnin Viaduct or as

it's know these days " Harry Potter Bridge" as it appears in all the

films as Harry Heads to School on the Steam Train.

The drive to the coast takes you past some nice landscapes of lochans

and mountains as you head towards the coast.

The ferry from Mallag is a short sail and if the weather is good

offers some good views out to Eigg and Mull. You can find all the

details on the link below.


Skye has loads to see and do and as you drive around you'll notice

there is a mix of gaelic and Viking place names

Just some of the places I would reccomend are Elgo, The Quirang, The

Old Man Of Stor, Portree, Dunvegan Castle,

There are a lot more places besides. I would stay two nights in Skye,

first in Portree, for a bit of pub life and if your lucky some local music. The second night I would spend in in Kyleakin, which is a lovely, little spot and close to the bridge to the main land.The backpackers hostel here is very lively as is the pub just up the road, as well as backpacker accomodation the guys has some B & B type rooms which ar great ask at the hostel to see them.

Skye is a little bit more expensive than the mainland but a very

beautiful place to visit.

So on day five I show you some of the most rugged and lonely scenery

Scotland has to offer as we take the back roads via Loch Carron,

Shieldig, Torridon, Gairloch and ending up in the lonely


Day 4 Skye to Ullapool

On Day four, we leave the island of Skye and again we take a different

route from the normal one to Inverness. Instead we'll take the the

beautiful road through Torridon on our way to Ullapool.

A nice detour is to take the short journey to Just acros the bridge

take to lochside road to Eilean Donan Castle surely one of the

prettiest castles in all of Scotland!! The stuff of Tartan biscuit tine for sure LOL

Take the A87 to Dornie and the Castle is close by


Going back the way you came you now look for the A890 road to Achmore,

which you see as you drive back the way you came. The road starts near

to Auchtertyre.

This road is very quiet and takes you to New Kelso.

Where you can choose to go via (on the A896) Loch Carron, Sanachan,

Tornapress, Shieldig, Balgy and Annat on the way to Kinlochewe

Or via (on the A890/A832) Coulags, Balnacra,  Glen Carron Lodge,

Achnasheen, Badavanich and Incheril to Kinlochewe.

Which is a good place to stop and grab something to eat.

The scenery both roads will be nice but I would choose the first

option, we did this a few years back and it was really stunning.

One of the highest passes in Scotland is here, the Bealach Na Ba

(literally "Pass of the Cattle"), the pass road from Tornapress

(between  Lochcarron and Shieldaig) to Applecross. It climbs from

more-or-less sea level to over 2000ft and is the highest road in


From Kinlochewe the scenery is equally stunning with some really big

mountains, Follow the A832 to Gairloch, a very scenic village with

views of mountians and seas all around. the white painted cottages

really add to the atmosphere here.

Plenty Bed and breakfasts and a couple of small shops/pubs.

The bay with the back drop of the Torridon mountains makes this place quite special.


(the link above, is a great website for exploring the places I mention)

Remember this is quite a lonely part of Scotland make sure you have

enough food & water on board!!!

this is quite a long day out so you need to leave early in the

morniong to really enjoy the drive without getting too tired.

On Day 5 we'll head for the Royal Town Of Dornoch via Ullapool a

fishing village, which is getting close to where my mum and Dad stay

in Helmsdale, we know this part of Scotland very well  as does my Dad

so make a visit and he'll let you in on all the secrets of


Day 5 Gairloch to Dornoch

So From Gairloch we'll wander again through, some lonely spots, so

again water and food, you never know when you might get hungry.

Take the A832 heading for Poolewe,  Londubh and Drumchork  keep on

this road through Little Gruinard, Inchina, Badbea, Ardressi,

Dundonnel, eventually you'll join another main road where you will see

Ullapool signposted to the left Ullapool is a good place to stop for

lunch it's a typically beautiful West Coast Fishing village.

There's a  book shop/come restaurant here, that has a open log fire,

great books and gifts and reasonably priced food. Recommended for

scones and tea/coffee (you must try scones they are a Scottish)

tradition. As are the home made soups you'll find everywhere!!

From Ullapool we'll take a longer route to Dornoch.


Follow the A835  to Ardmair,  Strathcanaird, Drumrunie anfd Ledmore,

where you join the A837 and head east towards Dornoch, via Lubcroy, at

Rosehall you can continue on the A837 direction Linsidmore,  then the

A836 to Culrain, the Falls of Shin are near to Culrain, where you can

watch salmon leaping up a big waterfall.

The restaurant here is woned by Mohhamed Al Fyaed owner of Harrods who

has a big estate close by.

In Culrain you can choose to say a night at Carbisdale Castle but it's

dormitory accomodation only, but staying in a castle.....

If you choose to go to Dornoch follow the A836 to Bonar Bridge then

take the A949 through Little Creich, Spiiningdale, Whitface and

Clashmore before joinin the main A9 east coast main road. Dornoch is

well signposted from here it's a small road to your right..

Lovely village Dornoch it's where madonna got married.


A pretty little east coast village with an impressive cathedral this is a good place to stop for the night

Day 6 Dornoch to Bettyhill

From Dornoch it's a short hall north on the A9 to Helmsadale

Helmsdale is where my Mum and Dad live, so I know the area quite well

Here's just some of the places you can visit from Helmsdale, Turning west you could take a look at Forsinard, which is a peatland bird sanctuary, this is on the road A897

The drive up The Strath of Helmsdale is stirring and you'll see loads of deer and buzzards.

Bettyhill, which has the most beautiful beaches, is on the the B87i turn off some 10 Kilometeres short of Forsinard at Kinbrace on The A897.

Again the drive through, Syre Skail, takes you over high moorland a tight glans with tinkilng burns.

Spend the night here at Bettyhill and explore the little side roads to beautiful smugglers coves hidden away amongst the sea cliffs at places like Kirktomy, and have a drink with the locals at the Local Hotel.

Tomorrow John ”O” Groats and Back to Helmsdale around the northern Caithness coast

Day 7

Bettyhill – Helsdale

Take the A836 towars Thurso, this offers some great exploring, try taking the little side roads leading awayf rom the main throughfare, there's a surprise waiting at the end of very one. The road offer some great view across to the Orkney islands and if you keep you eyes peeled you can see the famous Old Man Of Hoy in the distance


Thuros is a bustling little town with all the usual facilities, not a lot to hold the visitors attention, continue on your way after stocking up.

Take the A836 to Jonh O Groats the supposed most northerly mainland point of the British Isles, there's a visitors center here for some lunch and well gifts.

Whilst here its worth going to see, the sea stacks at Duncansby Head, where as well as the stacks and a bracing sea air you'll find many seabird colonies.


Continue on the A99 to Wick, another higland town, which ios worth a walk around down by the barbour or Perhaps visit to the Old Pulteney Distillery to sample some whisky.

Even the local Tescos has some interesting features, it being one of the first “green” stores in the UK.

On to the A9 the main artery heading south, look out for the little harbours and coves at the Whaligo Steps, Latheron, Wheel Dunbar, or the hill oh many staine. and longhouses as well as Viking burial

chambers are all to be seen along the way with small detours from the A9 look out for the brown coloured tourist boards which point them out.

 What's left of clifftop Badbea is worth looking at, jus to remind ourselves of the inhumanity of the highland clearances where people made way for sheep as they were exiled from the lands in the glens.

Full circle, you'll be back in Helmsdale where you can stop at the B & B below


Before leaving Helmsdale visit Timespan for a look at highland life and how the local people

were cruelly thrown off their land to be replaced by sheep farming.

Great fish and chip here too.

Day 8 Helmsdale to Avimore

Leav in the morning and you can get to Golspie and do the big Burn Walk which only takes about an hour and is a lovely walk. You can then take in the Falconry show at Dunrobin Castle which is astonishing and very educational. Starts at 11.30am sharp.


Big Burn Walk/photos/98583310@N00/sets/72157618081633896/

Sutherland Coast


From here follow the A9 south in the direction of Inverness. The roads here is less dramatic than some you've seen but huge tidal bays are a big feature, so look out for seals.

Inverness is the biggest town in the highlands but is worth a look the old city center on the river is especially nice and there a huge second hand bookshop built in a old church.

From here it's a short hop to Avimore


Day 9 spent in Avimore

You'll no doubt be needing a bit of a rest so why not in Avimore, which offer good restaurants, shopping, bars, local sightseeing, mountainbike hire, walking, birdwatching a trip on a steam train aor the ski lif up into the cairngorms

Day 10 Avimore to Dunfermline

Heading south you amke you way through some very varied scenery, decidious forest, waide rivers and open moor.

Stop of in Pitlochry for lunch in a lovely village an take a look at the salmon ladder to see if you can spot any leaping Salmon


Continue south and spend a couple of hours in the Royal town of Perth.


Dunfermline also has a rich history and a walk in the So Called “glen” is a lovely way to see some of that history, for Robert the Bruce's burial placew to the cathedral and Monastry,

Day 11 – 12

You might want to base yourself here in Dunfermline to see Edinburgh as well, the traffic in Edinburgh is a pain at the best of times and with the new tram thing, being built it's even worse.

The train takes about 40 minutes from Dunfermline and you can leave the car in the car park.

This train goes over the famous forth railway Bridge


From Dunfermlne to Stirling is an easy drive too, there you can see Stirling Castle and the Wallace monument, hero of the film Braveheart.


You could even see Stirling on the way to Glasgow.

Other places of interest are nearbye Culross or “Cooruss” as the fifers pronounce or. Pittenweem and Criel on the Fife coasttraditional fife fishing villages




Day 13 – 14

Dunfermline to Glagow

The better route between the two is via Stirling

Take the A907 via Clackmannan to Stirling, then the A811 via Amprior to to Balfron and then follow the A81 to glasgow, this route is so much nicer than the motorway option on the other side of the Forth River.

In Glasgow see the sights and head for home.


I hope you have a wonderful holiday and hope you find my

tips usefull in seeing some of unfrequented Scotland, as well as the more well known ones

Happy Travelling

Auckland Central...
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6. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

We have just completed a 2 week self-drive tour of Scotland. We used an itinerary supplied by Secret Scotland (www.secret-scotland.com). They customised the itinerary to suit our needs, and it was superb. They were very helpful, and their advice worked out well for us in every detail (places to stay, places to eat, places to visit, places to avoid) The cost was very reasonable. I would recommend this service to anybody. In addition to their itinerary, we also had a GPS navigator, which took the stress out of making sure we were on the right track.

I have posted more details about this at tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g186485-i107-k3129…

glasgow scotland
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7. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

Hi, looking at some of the posts regarding roads in Scotland they seem to paint a picture of single dirt tracks strewn with cattle!

Roads in Scotland are well maintained and there is a comprehensive motorway network linking all the major Cities and with England.

All the major towns are served with "A" roads, some dual carriageway, that are in the main safe.

Only in the smallest of islands and the furthest northerly reaches where the population is sparse you will find single roads with ample passing places.

As for the time of year, if you go in mid April or begining of September it will be dark for around 8.30 at night, however if you come around June/July it will still be light at around 10.30-11.00.

Montreal, Canada
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8. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

thanks so much, I took a peek and your site has some great suggestions and info. I appreciate the invite to ask questions as i work my way through it. :o)

I was having some technical problems and could not access for a few days so I wasn't able to reply before you made your way down my way? You arrived just as the weather was getting colder, hope you had a good time anyway!

Montreal, Canada
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9. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

Sorry, was replying on this one to ACDMO on his trip to my neck of the woods. :)

Montreal, Canada
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10. Re: 2 Week Trip - looking for travel ideas

Wow. Thank you Cyberhippie, this is fantastic. Suggestions and ideas we won't get from guide/tourist books is exactly what we're looking for! This will give us so much to work with, now we just have to decide what month we're going....sigh.

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