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Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

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Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

My girlfriend and I are planning a 10-day trip to Scotland in late April 2014. We're planning to fly into Glasgow and pick up a car at the airport and drive throughout the journey. I've been to Scotland twice before, but my girlfriend has never been there. My previous trips were based in Edinburgh and I took a couple of day trips (once to highlands and once to Loch Lomond/Trossochs).

For this trip, we're interested in natural beauty, scenery, and wildlife. We want to have time each day to hike and to be able to see ocean/lakes and hills/mountains. We also want to include Islay in the itinerary as we both love Islay Scotch. If there are other "must see" distilleries, we'd be open to visit them (we love peaty/smoky Scotch). We're not planning to spend much, if any, time in Glasgow or Edinburgh as we'd rather be in the countryside. I'd appreciate any suggestions for an ideal itinerary for such a 10-day trip and any suggestions for affordable lodging.

Provisionally, I was looking at something such as the following, but I am open to changing this if there are other places we should consider visiting. I don't know if this is too ambitious and/or if we will be missing "must see" natural beauty. I also wonder if it would be better to spend more time in fewer places instead of trying to go to so many places. There is a tension between wanting to see as much as possible and wanting to relax/hike in places to enjoy them.

Day 1: Glasgow to Loch Lomond to Tarbert (overnight in Tarbert)

Day 2: Tarbert to Islay (overnight in Islay)

Day 3: Islay (overnight in Islay)

Day 4: Islay to Oban (overnight in Oban)

Day 5: Oban to Glencoe to Skye (via Mallaig) (overnight in Skye- where?)

Day 6: Skye (fairy pools) (overnight in Skye -where?)

Day 7: Skye to Loch Ness (via Kyleakin/Kyle) (should we try to go up by Ullapool or go via Fort Augustus?) (overnight near Loch Ness)

Day 8: ? (highlands or Speyside) (overnight ?)

Day 9: ... to Stirling Castle to Glasgow (overnight: Glasgow)

Day 10: Fly home from Glasgow

Any suggestions are appreciated! Thanks for any feedback you are willing to offer. Cheers!

Finlaggan
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1. Re: Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

''I also wonder if it would be better to spend more time in fewer places instead of trying to go to so many places. There is a tension between wanting to see as much as possible and wanting to relax/hike in places to enjoy them'

Agreed, and I think you've gone some way to answering your own question!

Looking at your interests and priorities, I suggest you concentrate your limited time on Islay, Skye and Speyside. Maybe something like this:

Day 1: Glasgow to Loch Lomond to Tarbert (overnight in Tarbert)

Day 2: Tarbert to Islay (3 overnights on Islay)

Days 3 and 4: Islay, with possible side trips to Jura (or Colonsay if it happens to be Wednesday!)

Day 5: Islay to Skye via Oban, Fort William and Mallaig ferry (3 overnights on Skye - Portree is conveniently central for touring the island)

Days 6 and 7: Skye

Day 8: Skye to Speyside via Skye Bridge, Loch Ness and Inverness (overnight at Speyside)

Day 9: ... to Stirling Castle to Glasgow (overnight: Glasgow)

Day 10: Fly home from Glasgow

The above would give you two clear full days on Islay and Skye, which would enable you to get a bit under the skin of these wonderful islands, and also do some proper sightseeing, hiking and distillery visits. You will pass Loch Ness on day 8 and can stop for a stroll and some monster-spotting on its banks - to be honest, that's all you need to do!

I hope this is helpful. Have a great trip!

Edited: 11:59 am, January 20, 2014
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2. Re: Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

Dhmellor,

Thank you for taking the time to write back! I've enjoyed reading many of your posts over the past couple of months while I've been pondering/planning the trip and your recommendations are always spot on. I was excited to see your reply to my post. Wow...thanks!

Your suggested schedule sounds very reasonable and exciting.

The only remaining issues are figuring out the best deal and any tips/tricks on renting a car from Glasgow airport. I'll try to search around to find out advice about that (if you have any recommendations, let me know).

I'll also be searching for the best places to stay in the various places (balancing beautiful views/accessible location with affordability).

I'm also going to continue searching for "must see" attractions/hikes/viewpoints/distilleries in Islay, Skye, and Speyside.

Thanks again for your help with the schedule. I appreciate it!

Dan

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3. Re: Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

Hope you enjoy the trip. I should add that days 5 and 8 will call for an early start - on day 6 you'll need to catch the 07.00 ferry from Islay :-(

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4. Re: Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

Sorry, I meant on day 5 you'll need to catch the 07.00 ferry from Islay!

chicago
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5. Re: Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

What a great post! Thanks Dan and DHMellor! This is exactly the itinerary that I have been searching (and searching) for. One question...would we be able to visit the isle of Mull by following this itinerary? We are not planning to go to Loch Ness...if that helps at all.

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6. Re: Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

It depends how much time you've got. If you have more time than OP's ten days, then of course Mull can be fitted in as a side trip from Oban. If you only have ten days, here is a modification of my earlier suggestion which includes a brief visit to Mull.

Day 1: Glasgow to Islay (3 overnights on Islay).

Days 2 and 3 Islay: with possible side trips to Jura (or Colonsay if it happens to be Wednesday!)

Day 4: Islay to Oban to Mull. 3 overnights on Mull.

Days 5 and 6: Mull. SIde trips to Iona etc

Day 7: Mull to Skye direct (not via Oban) using short ferry crossings to Locahline or Kilchoan, then very scenic drive to Mallaig and ferry to Skye. 3 overnights on Skye.

Days 8 and 9: Skye.

Day 10: drive to Glasgow via Skye Bridge, Fort William, Glencoe, Loch Lomond.

7. Re: Scotland Trip in April 2014 -Glasgow, Islay, Skye, Highlands

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