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2 week itinerary help

Hi all! We are taking a 2 week trip to Scotland next year with family. We'll have 2 kids and our party will be splitting for a portion of the trip. Could you look at our suggested itinerary and give me your ideas? Is this feasible? Anything to add? We're looking forward to castles, scenery, short scenic walks (no more than 3-4 hours), Fraser sites (family name).

  • Friday- arrive and explore edinburgh
  • Saturday- explore Edinburgh/day trips
  • Sunday- travel to Balintore Castle (Angus) via St Andrews

  • Monday- Explore Angus/ Day trips. Glamis Castle?

  • Tuesday-Head to Royal Deeside via Dunnotar, Drum, Crathes? Is
    it a better option to move these castles and Explore the
    hikes around Royal deeside instead?

  • Wednesday- Explore Fraser Castle (spend a lot of time here) and at least one more nearby.

  • Thursday-Head to Inverness via Fraserburgh. Visit Fyvie on the way. Maybe Craigievar as well. Stop along
    Moray coast for dinner. (rest of party head on to Skye)

    LONG day of driving, but plenty of stops to break it up.

  • Friday- Explore Inverness- Clava Cairns, Culloden, Moray Coast

  • Saturday- Explore Loch Ness on the way south.
    Meet back up with rest of party at Glenfinnan viaduct.
    Drop some of the family at Fort williams train station.

    Head to Pitlochry for the Highland games @ Blair
    Atholl Castle (husband really doesn't want to drive the 2 hours in the morning so we're going the night before)

  • Sunday- Highland Games then drive to Glencoe or Oban
    (still leaning toward Glencoe)

  • Monday-day trips from Glencoe or Oban, (some options. very open to more suggestions: jacobite train, isle of
    mull, hiking)

  • Tuesday- day trips from Glencoe or Oban

  • Wednesday- Travel back to Edinburgh via Stirling castle stopover Edinburgh or Falkirk/Stirling to leave next morning.

Posted by
513 posts

Gosh! To me that sounds a very breathless gallop around Scotland. You don't say how often you intend changing accommodation during the trip, but it feels as though you'll be in a new hotel or B&B nearly every night, which to my mind doesn't make for a very relaxing holiday.

You won't want a car in Edinburgh, so I'd suggest not collecting it until you intend leaving Edinburgh. Driving in the city is no fun and parking is very expensive. Personally I would pick up a rental car from the airport rather than in the city. You can easily get public transport back out to airport to collect your car.

I'm not sure how old the kids are, but there's an awful lot of castles on your list. Might there be danger of castle fatigue?

You don't say what time you will arrive on the first day, or where from. How much time will you actually have to explore Edinburgh? On the following day I think you can see a little of Edinburgh or do a day trip, but not both.

The Saturday, Loch Ness, Glenfinnan, Fort William, Pitlochry day sounds especially busy. It will take you probably two hours to drive from Loch Ness to Glenfinnan without stops, then about 30 minutes back into Fort William, from where it will take you another 2 and a half hours to drive to Pitlochy, and all that assumes no stopping en route and light traffic. By the way the car park at the Glenfinnan viaduct is nearly always full in the summer months and there is very little other safe parking. People do park on the road verges, but it is very unsafe to do so. Crowds come to see the Jacobite train pass by on the viaduct.

After the Highland Games you are looking at a minimum of a 3 hour drive to Glencoe or 3 and a half hours to Oban and as you probably know already you are backtracking to the west. If you decide to do the Jacobite train then you need to book well in advance and the first section of it will follow a route you've already driven when you went to Glenfinnan. Personally I'd lean towards a day trip to Mull.

You should just about be able to fit in a decent visit to Stirling Castle on the way back to Edinburgh. Assuming you are flying out of Edinburgh the next morning I'd suggest staying near/on the airport rather than in the city. Then you can maximise your time in Stirling and possibly fit in the Kelpies at Falkirk, which are lovely when lit up at dusk.

Walkhighlands.co.uk is a very good hiking resource, with detailed maps and graded walks. If you intend to do any serious hiking you will want to bring proper hiking boots with you, possibly collapsible walking poles and waterproof & breathable over trousers and jacket. Gloves and a hat are a must at all times of year too! You don't say when you are coming.

Just a note on the party going to Skye. They are really only going to have one full day on Skye, which is a large island with poor roads, and which takes much longer than people think to get around. They will need to have prebooked accommodation well in advance as things get booked up very fast. Most people would be booking around Christmas 2020 for summer 2021. If they intend to bring a car on the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig (to get back to Glenfinnan) that will also need to be booked in advance.

Hope this helps.

Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
1359 posts

What time of year are you visiting this beautiful country?

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for the feedback Skyegirl. I know it seems like a lot. And this is the paired down lost! Oy!

My boys will be 10 and 13. The castle stays and Fraser, Edinburgh, and Stirling carless are the only must sees, we'll take their feedback in on the trip and adjust accordingly, doing more hikes or something if they're tired of castles. They are currently "helping" plan, so as of now they're very interested in seeing many of them. One of the boys likes to photograph things, so he's looking forward to them.

The Saturday is A LONG day. This seems from the fact that half of our party is continuing onto Skye while we do Loch Ness. Believe it or not, cutting Skye from our itinerary was one way to show our trip down a little! Part of the group will be leaving from Fort Williams on that Saturday, so we planned on going to send them off. But it adds a lot of drive time, be driving straight to Pitlochry from Inverness. We may cut the send-off out. Or, alternatively, we can move our visit to Lock Ness to the day before and not spend as much time in Inverness.

We do plan on staying in each location for 2 nights, with the exception of Pitlochry. We are truly going there only for the games, which a bucket item for my husband.

Posted by
513 posts

Late May is a good time to come to Scotland. You'll still want to pack lots of layers as it could still be chilly and you could get caught in the rain at any point. Have fun with the planning and feel free to come back with a firmed up itinerary. This is a very friendly forum and there are plenty of people who live here and who have visited multiple times who will give you good advice.

All the best
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
4 posts

It looks as though it may be cheaper for the departing portion of our party to fly out of Inverness instead of catching the train back to Edinburgh and flying out. This will cut down our drive time substantially on Saturday. Hooray!

Is Fraserburgh worth visiting? We originally going to stay in the Peterhead area to do our castle tours from, but I've heard some negative things about the Peterhead/Fraserburgh area. Now we've moved our touring location to Ballater instead, but that makes the trip to Fraserburgh and on to Inverness a pretty long travel day. Would it be better to skip the area altogether?

Posted by
1359 posts

Your boys are a great age to enjoy the evening haunted tours of Edinburg. There are several vendors. The tour guides usually wear period dress, and take you into the caverns under the buildings, weaving colorful tales of the history and horrors of the city.