Hi there, my friend and I (both just out of college) have been working on planning an early July Scotland vacation. I've actually just finished booking the flight and accommodation for this trip (fully refundable, as is the times). I then stumbled upon this forum and found a lot of helpful stuff. I thought I would post my current itinerary and a couple questions.
As for our interests, nature certainly tops the list, closely followed by food. The two most important nature/hiking days I have planned, Trotternish Ridge and Bidean Nam Bien/Lost Valley, I have given an alternate day in case the weather is really drab on the first day and projected to be better the second day. I have done some research about the weather and it seems like it can vary greatly in one day, and that generally the best method is to just wait it out for a half hour or so. Any wisdom here is appreciated to get the best hiking weather (and views of course!)
I think seeing some castles would certainly be cool, ruins and intact ones alike. I have heard that once you've seen one castle you've seen them all... and I have at least 10 castles on the itinerary. I don't plan to spend a significant amount of time at any except perhaps Edinburgh Castle. So... Is Castle fatigue a real thing?
While everything is fully refundable, if Scotland is allowing foreign tourists in very late June/early July I would feel bad cancelling on BnB owners who have undoubtedly been struggling for the past year+. With that said, I wouldn't want to change the ending location for the days.
If this doesn't work out, then we will re-plan a similar trip for perhaps April or May of 2022. If that were the case I could make plenty of changes to where we were staying. One I would look at immediately is adding another day in Glencoe and maybe spending a night in Oban. After looking at the itinerary, is there any insight you might have? and what is the best time to visit the Highlands for a dry and less busy experience? (cold is fine, deep winter preferably not)
Day - Itinerary [Ending Location] - other notes
Day 1 - Flying from Chicago [Above (hopefully!) Atlantic Ocean]
Day 2 - Arrive at Edinburgh around 2pm, Get SIM cards and some cash, wander around [Edinburgh]
Day 3 - Edinburgh: Castle, Arthur's Seat, University of Edinburgh (Will likely be attending in Fall 2022 for my Masters) [Edinburgh]
Day 4 - Rent a car from city center, drive to Glenlivet, go for a hike, go to a distillery [Tomintoul]
Day 5 - Hike Ben Macdui or perhaps just Cairngorm, Urquhart Castle [Fort William] - no real plan if the weather is bad
Day 6 - Drive to Skye, Eilean Donan, Armadale (Dun Scaith Castle, Rubha Phoil), Elgol (Spar Cave), pick up some stuff in Portree [Dunvegan]
Day 7 - Trotternish Loop (Storr, Brothers Point, Quiraing, Fairy Glen), Neist Point if time [Dunvegan] - will flip with Day 8 depending on weather
Day 8 - Southern Skye: Oronsay Island, Carbost, Talisker Bay, Fairy Pools [Dunvegan]
Day 9 - Drive to Fort William, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Old Inverlochy Castle, Steall Waterfall [Glencoe]
Day 10 - Hike Lost Valley and Biden nam Bian, Clachaig Inn, An Torr [Glencoe] - Will flip to Day 11 depending on weather
Day 11 - Drive to Oban, Do an all day boat tour of Mull, Iona (or Treshnish Isles), and Staffa
OR Spend another majority of a day in Glencoe [Aberfoyle]
Day 12 - Hike Ben Aan, Doune and/or Stirling Castle, Dunmore Park, Return Car [Edinburgh]
Day 13 - Fly out of Edinburgh @ 8am
Thanks a lot and any insight is appreciated,