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13 Day Itinerary - Please advise

Hello,

We have one month in the UK, flying into Edinburgh and out of London. We like scenery, culture, art, wildlife, and major sights and not so much into eating or drinking. We are two people, and my Mother is a senior but fit. Is this a good itinerary for the 13 days in Scotland? Haven’t yet marked out the exact sights but seems these stops are what most people recommend.

  • Edinburgh 3 nights
  • Train to Glasgow 2 nights. Pick up car in Glasgow for one week rental
  • Pitlochry 1 night: On way to Pitlochry, see Stirling Castle, Falkirk Wheel, Salmon ladder; Leave Pitlochry and see on way to Glen Affric: Inverness, Loch Ness
  • Glen Affric 1 night: Leave Glen Affric and see on way to Portee: Eilean Donan Castle
  • Portree 2 nights: Tour Skye & Walks Leave Skye on Ferry at Armadale to Maillage to drive Road to the Isles
  • Glencoe or Oban 1 night: Leave Glencoe or Oban and see on way to Glasgow or Hadrian’s Wall: Loch Lomond
  • Hadrian’s Wall 1 night
  • Return car to Glasgow and take train to York for 2 nights
  • Train to London
  1. Are these the good places to stay and is it enough time in each place?

    1. Are there caravan parks with cabins so you can do self-catering (like in Australia) outside of Glasgow and Edinburgh? I don’t mind preparing our dinner when we are in the countryside if can save costs and also because of a somewhat restricted diet. Or can you recommend any places to stay – not hostel/backpacker but maybe like an AirBNB, VRBO or campervan cabin.
    2. Need to reserve the car ferry from Armadale to Maillag on October 2?
    3. Worth driving down to Hadrian’s Wall? Should we skip Glasgow or add on a couple of days and have a shorter London trip?
    4. Can you buy a train ticket with a stopover in York or do need to buy two separate tickets (Glasgow-York; York-London), which costs about the same as one Glasgow-London ticket? I studied the train ticket sites but it is a little confusing.
    5. Is it worth stopping in York for 2 nights?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated…Thanks very much!

Posted by
3203 posts

We're leaving tomorrow for 2 weeks in Scotland, and are planning on seeing some different things than you've listed, including the Shetland and Orkney Islands way up north, but that means we won't likely have time for Glasgow this time around. We're allowing 3 nights for Skye, and are staying further west than Portree, but in general it looks like your've got a good list of locations and sights. Others on this forum may have more insight.

I mainly wanted to say that on a previous trip, which began and ended in London, we visited York on the way back from Edinburgh. It was easily worth 2 days and nights. We still haven't fit in any of Hadrian's Wall, but it remains on our wish list. Enjoy your month in the U.K.!

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the info about York. Have a good flight tomorrow and a wonderful trip, Cyn!

Posted by
25 posts

Online you can read about Mortonhall Caravan & Camping Park outside Edinburgh. It has self-catering rentals and is on a bus line into the city and looks promising, though I have never stayed there--research toward our next trip. I would recommend a day trip to Stirling rather than a fleeting visit; the castle and Bannockburn museum will fill the hours. Check the festival theatre schedule to see if you can see a play in Pitlochry. I want add a recommendation to see the Hexham Abbey when you are near Hadrian's Wall; it is a microcosm of history and one of my favorite memories.

Posted by
484 posts

I am concerned about your logistics. I would group Stirling with Loch Lommond. Then, head over to Oban. Then, go to Isle of Skye area and Eileen Donan Castle. Etc.
To make your life easier. Go to Rabbie's Trailburners online. Look up an itinerary. Then, modify it for your own purposes. That way, you don't have to reinvent the wheel with travel sequence.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for your advice! Revised the itinerary to do a counterclockwise loop taking in some of the Wester Ross. Would you please advise what to do in these areas given that I am with my Mother in her late 70s who can do easy walks. Most of the reviews I've seen are for more challenging hikes so not sure what to do in certain places.

  1. From Glasgow, rent car for 9 days and head to Pitlochry 1 night

    • Drive to Cairngorms (Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail) > Culloden > Drive by Iverness > Loch Ness > Urquhart Castle (Is all this doable in a day?)
    • Where to stay the second night? Go to Glen Affric (Plodda Walk)? Or skip Glen Affric and stay in Inverness?
    • Head to Ullapool – what is there to do for a day?
      OR go up to Gairloch and Poolewe and then head down and stay in Torridon?
  • What to see in Loch Maree?
  • Drive to Applecross via Bealach na Bà and then backtrack to Eilean Donan Castle
  1. Stay in Plockton (1 night) or continue to Portee (2 nights)? How long does the Castle and drive take?

  2. Leave Skye on Ferry at Armadale to Maillage to drive Road to the Isles

  3. Glencoe 1 night: What is there to do in Glencoe?

  4. What is there to do in Loch Lommond?

  5. Hadrian’s Wall area 2 nights: Hexham Abbey

  6. Drop car back at Glasgow (if drop car at York it costs an additional USD80)

Posted by
1579 posts

We visited Wester Ross for two nights in June, 2010. ....There were few places where we could actually see Loch Maree, since most of the land surrounding it is private.....We thought Loch Torridon and Glen Torridon were the most scenic spots in Wester Ross.....The Pass of the Cows road to Applecross is a real nail-biter. It's single-track up at the top - if another car is there , you have to back up and hang the back end of your car over the mountain-side. If you aren't thrilled by the thought of doing that, you can also get to Applecross by the road that goes around the north and west edges of that little peninsula.....Glen Affric is more of a hiking destination than a place to stay. There's a lovely B and B, Tigh na Bruach, on Loch Ness, a bit west of Urquhart Castle - you might enjoy staying there.....If you want to see Hadrian's Wall (the best bit is around Once Brewed) , you might consider returning your car at the York train station instead of going back to Glasgow. It won't cost you that much more and it would be much more convenient. From the train station, it's an easy walk into York. There's a lovely hotel right across from York Minster. One full day is enough to see the York highlights (shambles and minster). The next morning, there are frequent trains from York to Kings Cross in London....Hope this helps.

Posted by
5452 posts

I find your itinerary very, very full.

Are you planning on getting up one morning, picking up a rental car and drive to Pitlochry and spend the night. That will take 2-3 hours including picking up the car unless you have traffic. But you want to see Stirling Castle--allow at least two hours factor in another half hour transportation. And I think you are underestimating the attraction of this castle and the town. But you are stopping off at the Falkirk Wheel on the way--factor in another hour. Clearly, you can do this, but it is a 7-8 hour day by the time you factor in lunch and any stops or distractions.

Day two is on to the Sculpture trail. It will take you a little over an hour to get there. i assume that you will spend an our or so there. It will take you another hour to get to Inverness--so it's lunch time. Why are you going to Inverness? Are you skipping Culloden? If you just want to go to see Loch Ness and Urquhart castle, go straight there. It will take you an hour and a half or so. If you have a good place to stay, Glen Affric is stunningly beautiful, but you need to include time to walk in the Glen in my opinion to appreciate it. If you don't have time for that, then i would toward Ullapool. Strathpeffer would be a good place to stop.

All the places that you describe in the west, Ullapool, Gairloch, Applecross have stunning scenery. I would suggest picking one of them and stopping and doing some short walks. The hills above Ullapool are lovely and provide marvelous views. Loch Maree has some lovely walks. Also near by are the Inverewe Gardens. All these places can certainly be seen from the car window, but are truly enjoyed with some stopping and walking. Believe me, I have done both.

If you want to go to Skye from Ullapool, you will backtrack and it's nearly a four hour drive. Have you looked at the maps on Via Michelin? This just isn't very practical.

I think that you should plot this trip on Via Michelin and see how long it takes to go to each place. I really fear that you are driving all over Scotland, but not leaving yourself time to see anything.

Pam

Posted by
1239 posts

I am with Pam, one of the problems is Scotland looks, like Ireland, Wales, Austria, quite small on the map, but that does not translate into short distances on the road. I would certainly say think about cutting the destinations but lengthening the time in them. To get to the Cumbria end of Hadrian's Wall is a good two to three hours from Glasgow. From Oban you are probably doubling that. And that is not taking into account any rest stops on the way, any hold ups due to traffic.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you all for your valuable input and I realize it was pushing it a bit far. I revised the itinerary and dropped Hadrian's Wall, Ullapool and Glen Affric to add in some more time on Skye.

  • Edinburgh 3 nights
  • Train to Glasgow 2 nights then Falkirk Wheel > Stirling > Pitolchry 1 night
  • Pitolchry > Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail: Culloden > (see Urquhart Castle if there is time, otherwise stay in Inverness 1 night)
  • Inverness > Loch Clair Walk > Torridon > Applecross > Eilean Donan Castle > Plockton 1 night
  • Skye 3 night
  • Ferry to Maillage and see sights to Fort William

This description of backing up on the road to Applecross and hanging off the mountain raises the hairs on my neck!

Now I have 1 nights left and should return the car by 9:00 am in Glasgow the next day. Where should we stay - go straight to Glasgow and stay overnight (by the time we get there the car rental will be closed so don't really want to have to deal with finding car parking in the city)?

Then we train to York.

Is this itinerary more doable?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
5452 posts

This looks much better. Kilmartin Glen is interesting. You can climb up Dunadd and see if you can put your foot in the footprint. You could then drive on to Inveraray and spend the night there.

Pam

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you Pam, that is the perfect stopover. Didn't know about Kilmartin Glen and that seems very interesting. Really appreciate everyone's help!