My partner and I are flying in and out of Glasgow April 21-May 9. We have 18 travel days and plan on renting a car and doing the NC500 counterclockwise. Our priority sights include Edinburgh, Orkney Island, and Isle of Skye (the catalyst to my booking this trip!). While in Scotland we'd like to do a couple of distillery tours (Highland Park, Talisker, Oban), get in a couple hikes, and see some castles. I think we've worked out our itinerary but I'm concerned maybe we're trying to fit in too much. Any advice/suggestions would be much appreciated! We are not picky on lodging and would like spend max $70/per person/night on lodging (hopefully including breakfast).
April 21- Arrive in Glasgow 10am. Either take the train or bus to Edinburgh, arriving about noon. Check into airbnb. Spend 2.5 days in Edinburgh.
April 24- Pick up rental car in Edinburgh and head north for Inverness. Spend 2-3 hours on Loch Ness and continue North to airbnb in Brora.
April 25- Check out Dunrobin Castle and falconry display in the AM. Continue on to John O' Groats then catch 7:00 pm Scrabster ferry to Orkney Island.
April 26- Full day exploring Orkney Island
April 27- Another day on Orkney, return to Northlink Ferry at 9pm for early morning sailing.
April 28- Arrive Thurso about 8:30 AM. Drive to Durness and check out Smoo Caves. Continue along A838 and then A894, lunch at Kylesku Hotel. Overnight somewhere between Lochinver and Achilitibuie.
April 29- Continue driving south along NC500/A835-832 hitting Gairloch, Poolewe, and Loch Maree. Overnight somewhere between Torridon and Shieldag.
April 30- Early to rise. Drive around the coast to Applecross. Have lunch in town then attempt the Bealach na Bà. Stop in Dornie to view Eileen Donan castle. Arrive on Skye late afternoon/early evening.
May 1 - 3 Explore Isle of Skye (*considering spending 4 days on Skye instead of 3)
May 4- Take Armadale ferry to Mallaig. Drive along A830 to Glenfinnian for obligatory Harry Potter photos. Overnight somewhere around Oban/Glencoe. Hit Oban Distillery tour if time allows.
May 5- Glencoe. Hoping to do some hiking today.
May 6- Leave Oban/Glencoe area and drive south on A82 along Loch Lomond. Overnight somewhere in the area.
May 7- Drive on to Stirling Castle in the AM. Spend a few hours touring the castle then drive to Glasgow. Drop off rental car. Overnight in Glasgow.
May 8- Full day in Glasgow
May 9- Fly out of Glasgow 10:45 AM.
It's a lot of driving, however I think I have it planned out where we are driving about 3-4 hours a day. Is there anything I should cut out/consider particularly in the Oban/Glencoe/Loch Lomond area? Are we doing ourselves a disservice by only spending one full day in Glasgow? Also, I'd love to find a great Mayday/Beltane celebration since we'll be in the area. Is there anything significant that happens on this day on Skye?
Thanks for any input/advice!! We can't wait for this trip.