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1st trip to Scotland for 11 days

Planning on going to Scotland, arriving in Edinburgh on October 20th in the evening and returning home to Miami at 7;00am November 1st from Edinburgh.

My husband would like to include St Andrews, possibly Speyside for a whiskey tour, Inverness, Culloden battlefields and I would definitely want to include the Isle of Skye.

Is this a doable itinerary with a solid 10 days on the ground?
What would be the best path for us to take. We are planning to rent a car. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Best
SR

Posted by
1177 posts

On Skye in October the average amount of rain is 4.25 inches. You are just missing the 2019 Dramathon in Speyside which will be on the 19th, but is sold out anyway...I do imagine that there will be whisky left over. I do not know if St. Andrews will be soggy...but Culloden might be because it is a bit boggy already. I would just schedule some indoor activities: touring great Houses and Castles, Some wonderful Art Galleries and Museum such as the Edinburgh Castle and the Kelvingrove in Glasgow. And of course drinking...just be sure to designate a sober driver...or you could go on a tour for that activitity, or do a walking pub crawl. Visit Scotland is a good visual tour and Historic Scotland is a great for visiting Outlander sites.

Posted by
506 posts

It is doable but daylight will be in short supply and is likely to be cold, wet and windy (especially in the west on Skye). Have a look at a map of Scotland and you will see that you have two main routes to the Highlands, the eastern route via the A9 or the western route via the A82 and A87 which could take in Glencoe and Fort William.

If you are certain that you want to come to Skye then bear in mind that accommodation providers such as small B&Bs will likely be closed by the time you take your trip, so your options will be limited to the few hotels on the island. You will want to ensure that you can get accommodation so I'd plan that part of your trip first and build the rest around it. Skye is a 3 hour drive from Inverness and it takes about 1.5 hours to drive the length of the island. Many people underestimate the size of the island and the amount of time it takes to drive around here, as the roads are narrow (often single track with passing places) once you get off the main A87.

I'm sure the distilleries over in Speyside will still be doing tours and you could also check out Talisker on Skye. Note that WhiskEy is Irish and Whisky (without the E) is Scottish.

Hope that helps a little.
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you both for your reply’s. It sounds like the highlands may be to wet to see. That’s disappointing.
We are huge outlander fans , so that was something we wanted to do.

Posted by
260 posts

With a car, yes I think this is doable. My thoughts - start or finish with your time in Edinburgh for 2-3 days (either on the front end when you arrive or the back end just before you leave as your last site). I kind of like the idea of finishing with more time in Edinburgh after you get rid of your car, but you could make it work either way. You won't want/need a car in Edinburgh. St. Andrews makes logical sense for a 2nd site, and is about 90 minutes easy driving from Edinburgh. If you can spare a day to dedicate just to your drive to Inverness from St. Andrews (which is 3 hours plus but beautiful), you'll be able to enjoy the Cairngorms National Park, gorgeous little village of Pitlochry, busy outdoorsy hub of Aviemore, etc. and make the journey part of the fun that day. Inverness itself has no must see sites in town but is more charming than it gets credit for and is just 15 minutes drive or so from Culloden. You can visit Speyside and perhaps other local sites (e.g., Cairngorms National Park again, Loch Ness or even Dunrobin Castle near Golspie) from Inverness. The trip to Skye from Inverness is the outlier - it puts you 5 plus hours drive from Edinburgh. Skye is amazing, but you'll want to consider if you'll have sufficient time on the island to enjoy it and to justify taking yourself so far from Edinburgh given your time here. To make that work, you'll have to count the days and probably cut back a stay in a place or two to ensure you've accounted sufficiently for the drive times and other logistical parts of the trip. Someone else commenting here made the good point about daylight at that time of year - it'll get dark a little earlier and the usual caveat about Scotland applies in that drive times usually take longer than might be expected based on roads etc. However you choose to set this up, it sounds like a great trip!

Posted by
216 posts

Instead of adding a new thread...maybe just tag along on this one! In regards to the weather and daylight time when do the seasons technique change? We are planning a May trip and wonder if Skye and the Highlands will be overly wet or even snow??

Sorry to hijack the thread!

Posted by
63 posts

Regarding Outlander series sights, there are quite a few near Edinburgh (if a trip to the Highlands appears to be out). Rabbies has a one-day tour that includes quite a few sights (castles, etc.), including the town that "stood in" for Inverness.

Posted by
506 posts

May is usually a lovely month up here on Skye. You can never guarantee that it won't rain, but May is as good a time as any to come to Skye and the Highlands. The clocks go forward at the end of March, and from then on the daylight hours just get longer and longer, until mid June when it doesn't really get dark. Anyway, May would be perfect.

Posted by
560 posts

Don't let rain or wet ground stop you; just make sure you have appropriate clothing. Waterproof shoes (we saw most of Scotland in our hiking boots, even on dry days), and hooded jacket will help. We found the hiking boots were good even in cities when walking on cobblestones. We had rain pants, but that's because we were hiking for 8 days. And some of those days included significant rain, which kinda spoiled some views, but it didn't dampen the fun we had. But be aware, driving the narrow roads on the Isle of Skye took us much longer when you added rain/limited visibility to it. We did not drive around the Totternish Peninsula because we realized we wouldn't see much so no reason to deal with the traffic.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for all the info.
Is there another town you would recommend in the Inverness area that is more convenient to other sites?

Posted by
506 posts

Hi again Susan

There aren't any other sizeable towns near Inverness, but if you want to be a little closer to Speyside you could look at Nairn or Elgin. If you are going to include Skye in your plans then you could consider a couple of nights stay on the island, in which case Portree is the only sizeable village and has more accommodation and dining choices, especially out of season when you will be coming.

Best
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
1722 posts

I definitely suggest staying on the Isle of Skye. I also suggest you travel to Uig and points north. It's gorgeous.