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!