In May 2015, We'll be in Edinburgh area for 4 days and then have 10 days to drive from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye and Lewis and return to Edinburgh. Any suggestions on a circle route either heading north toward Inverness or west past Glasgow to see sights and ending somewhere on Lewis before heading back to Edinburgh. How much time in places. Hotels/B&B and restaurant recommendations that shouldn't be missed. We like to travel without reservations. Will we need them that time of year? Thanks for any wisdom you can share.
have a look at this website,for a small fee they can plan a route for you and help you to get to places off the beaten path.
Google map something like this and see if it suits you. It hits a lot of the high points, total mileage is about 800 miles. Edinburgh, Glencoe, Corran and Lochaline ferries to Mull / Iona , Tobermory and Mallaig ferries to Skye, Uig ferry round trip for Harris / Lewis; Skye bridge then Eileen Donan, Plockton and Loch Torridon; Loch Ness for Urquhart Castle, back to Edinburgh.
Unclegus and Cynthia, thanks for the info.
The Secret Scotland website has helped already Unclegus, as it has a ferry closure to Lewis from Ullapool posted for the timeframe we would be traveling. That alone probably saved us some unwanted angst. The owners of Secret Scotland have said they'd get back to me.
Cynthia I'll look at your thoughts right away and see how they work out on the map timewise. Thank you both.
Glad i was of help. i have never used that website but have passed it on to several people who have been very happy with their service
I don't know what your planned activities include but if you are a hiker visit this site for great maps and reviews of hikes in the highlands and out on skye. It is an awesome site for outdoor activities as well as map help. They help you pick out various levels of hikes for hikers of different skill levels. www.walkhighlands.co.uk then enter locations you hope to visit.
Our trip last August included 3 nights on Skye, but we could have easily added another day or 2 (or more) with plenty to see and do - hikes, driving the Trotternish Peninsula, etc., and we didn't get to the south end of Skye. Narrow Scottish roads are even narrower on Skye, sometimes down to a single lane, with occasional Passing Places for traffic to get by, and sheep aplenty. Hopefully May will have fewer tourists on the roads, all trying to navigate on the left side of the road. In August, there were lots of cars and motorhomes with Continental European plates, brought over by ferry no doubt, but being steered from the "wrong" side of the car for the UK, and they sometimes didn't keep to their side of the center line!
Thanks all for the input. It really helps!
Too bad about the Ullapool Ferry. That would have been my first suggestion. We spent 5 days on Lewis and Harris and loved every minute. Are you planning to hike? There are some wonderful walks. I was really glad that we went all the way to the Butte. The lighthouse is impressive and you're staring right west across the Atlantic. We stayed in two places. First we were near Carloway at Doune Braes Hotel. We enjoyed it and it was conveniently located for our walks. The Broch is very good and the Stones are not far away. We then stayed at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert. Very convenient for the return ferry to Uig. Although had you thought of going down to North Uist and taking the ferry back to Skye from there?
I would head north to Inverness, but don't just fly up the A9. Take a bit of time. At the very least you can stop off at Queen's View north of Pitlochry. If you wanted a more winding route there are lots of other options. One would be to head west just about 13 kilometers north of Dunkeld (nice place to stop and have a short hike and check out the cathedral and the old bridge. ) You take the A827 to Aberfeldy. Here is another nice walk--the Birks of Aberfeldy. Then you can go over the mountain to Kinloch Rannoch on the B846. After Weem and before truly heading north up the mountain, you could take a side trip up Glen Lyon to Fortingall and see the oldest yew in the UK and a gorgeous Glen. The B846 takes you to Tummell Bridge, but there is a wee road off to the left that takes you further out the Glen to Kinloch Rannoch. Once there admire the view of the Loch and then head back east and you will end up at The Queens View, so you can stop for a coffee or tea and admire the view. If you're running late, once you're over the mountain don't take the wee road... There are other ways to wend your way north, but that is my favorite.
Once leaving Inverness you can go straight south on the north side of Loch Ness. That is the busy highway. It's the A82 to the A887 to the A87 and on to Kyle of Lochalsh. It's no slouch on the scenery front. Another way would be to cross the Moray Firth continuing North on the A9 until the A835. Head west until the A832 where you turn left. You can take the A832 all the way to Kinlochwee and drive south through Torridon on A896, or if you are short of time the A890 west and south through Glenn Carron. The A832 connects connects back with the A896. This route takes you to the aforementioned A87. If you take the long cut, you may be tempted to go out to Applecross. If you have time, do not resist temptation. It's a magnificent road.
On return you can take the A87 east to the A82 South to Fort William and then south to Glasgow. Two suggestions are, 1. just before Invergarry, take the wee road up the Glen to Loch Garry. It's a very pretty glen and loch and no one else is there. 2. Further south, just before Spean Bridge and before the A86 joins the A82, stop and enjoy the views from the commando monuments. You can say thanks to them too, for the work that they did in WWII. This is where they trained.
Pam, you are a wealth of information. This will keep me pouring over the maps and out of mischief for a while!! Thanks for taking the time to help me.
Since Ullapool will be closed I guess we could drive to Skye and take ferry from Uig to Tabert & then drive north to Butt (with stops) but coming back we'd be retracing our steps to get back to Uig (hate to do that). Out of Inverness looks like several ways to get to Skye. Would like to see Loch Ness. Looks like multiple ways to get over to Skye from Invermoriston or Invergarry (if go there would pass thru Ft. Augstus-worth a stop?). Then when coming back go south from Uig to Mallaig to Ft Wm to Glen Coe or Oban Do we want to see Mull? I need a better map to find all the roads you mentioned.
i want to give an "amen" to Cyn about the driving on Skye, always give yourself an extra hour for short drives, maybe an hour and a half for longer drives! The roads are narrow. We drove up A82 from Edinburgh to Ft William and if you take the path to Glascow you mentioned you will go south on A82. It is a beautiful drive down south of Glen Coe, through the mountain passes and across the mor. I want to suggest once again to add a couple of hours to your expected time of travel. The driver of your car will get very little time to gawk at the totally awesome country side so plan for extra time so you can work in numerous "pull over" stops to absorb the undescribible rugged beauty south of Glen Coe and beyond. One of the great things about the highlands and skye is that the roadways provide numerous spots to pull over, many many more than here in the states, they are great for vacation drivers!! Give whoever is driving a chance to soak it in...and get good maps for skye as the roads are often hard to find. A couple of good ordinance survey maps for the areas you hope to visit are great, you might check with your B&B before you purchase...I envy your upcoming adventure as mine was last October!!
Doubling back at some point was probably guaranteed. Going from Inverness the road to Skye, the A887, is from Invermoriston about two thirds along Loch Ness along the A82, which is in Pam's suggestion above. This will take you out along Loch Duich and past Eileann Donan, before taking the bridge over at Kyle of Lochalsh.
Coming back I would suggest going via the ferry to Mallaig and then to Fort William. Even then there will be some doubling back to get to the Commando Memorial.
Thanks to all of you who gave input. Really is hard to decide what to see in 11 days as we want to see it all!! Just may warrant a return trip some day. Shetland and Orkney look interesting just because not everyone goes there. Lewis calls just like Tierra del Fuego because they are way 'out there'.
I used Secret Scotland to plan a similar trip a few years ago. It worked out great, but I still encountered a couple of locations that were closed on the route they planned so double check the web sights for all the stops you want to make for any unexpected closures. I made the drive out to Applecross after coming down from Skye, and before going to Oban. If you aren't afraid of narrow, single track roads then it's well worth the drive. Stunning views!
I recently spotted a book on my shelf that I had forgotten about that is quite good for planning drives in Scotland. It's Exploring Rural Scotland by Gilbert Summers. It doesn't help with the Borders, which is too bad, but it has great ideas for the North. I can only find the 1990 version. And now that I look at the publisher I understand why! NTC Publishing was a great little publishing company based outside Chicago that published textbooks and travel books. I even interviewed there back in the late 1980's! Sadly, they were purchased by McGraw-Hill and all they wanted were the textbooks. I just did a search to see if they sold the list, but sadly, no. So, grab that copy for $.99 and enjoy. But expect some changes.
I did do a google search on NTC travel books and found nothing. It's one of the sad things about publishing; Publishers with lovely books get sold when their founders retire and only the best sellers remain. The niche books just vanish. If anyone else finds the NTC Travel books let me know!
Anita, thanks for the tip as I just downloaded and printed 121 pages from Secret Scotland outlining an itinerary for a 10 drive. I'm sure from the time they put this together (this week) things will happen by the time we start driving mid May. Very impressed with all the information including recommended places to spend night and get good food.
Pam, thanks for your comments but won't have time to order the book and receive it before we leave. Thanks for all your input....a lot is being taken digitally.
Hi, we will be traveling in the Highlands of Scotland in the fall. Driving a similar route. Take a look at this website, northcoast 500 They are promoting it as similar to America's Route 66. They have been featured in quite a few articles about the drive. If you have Facebook here look up Northcoast 500. Here is an article about the drive LHH North Coast 500. Here is their official route here. It has loads of information! Not sure if you are heading this far north but looks beautiful. We will be driving approximately half of the road! Good luck!