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3 days itinerary for castles-dramatic scenery after EDI without car (sorta)?

We are an active family of 5 with 2 teens, 1 college age. Where would be the best place as a base for 3-4 days (after staying 2 nights in Edinburgh) for a highlands DIY tour of castles-dramatic scenery using public transportation? We could rent a car one day.
We were thinking of taking the train from Edinburgh to Stirling to see Stirling and Doune castles, and then onto Inverness, using it as a base, renting a car one day to tour coast and castles, taking the train to Kyle of Lochalsh round trip (if this has great scenery), maybe bus to the Cairngorms for hiking/biking. Should we include Isle of Skye? That would mean a very early start and a long day, or having to spend the night at the end of an already very fragmented trip starting in Italy.
Also, would be be better basing out of Aviemore? We want to see dramatic scenery #1 and some castles #2 (as we will have seen Stirling, Doune, EDI, and HolyR and maybe Linlithgow), and #3 active walking/hiking/biking. But we don't want to do hike through a forest that we looks like we could be in NH. Looking for something unique to Scotland.
We are departing from GLA. We prefer a 3-4 day stay as a base with day trips, but could revise, if it was really "worth it." I've read RS info and done hours of research, but would love to get advise from those who have been there. Esp. suggestions for great day trips from the base. As we are 5 persons--organized tours such as Rabbies, etc. add up, so looking for DIY things via public transit or maybe a car for 1 day.

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I agree that choosing a base for 3-4 days is better than hopping around. I think you'll find, though, that you're better off renting a car for your entire 3-4 days outside of Edinburgh. The car will begin to feel like home, and you won't be bound by train/bus timetables and routes. The rental cost for the extra days should be less than what you'd spend buying train/bus tickets for 5 people.

If you want to see Linlithgow you could do it as a day trip from Edinburgh without having to change hotels; ditto for Stirling.

Aviemore is a small town but it has a big TI office very oriented to walking (hiking) and other outdoor pursuits. Inverness, being a sizeable city, offers more variety in terms of restaurants, shops, etc. From either of these you could take a day trip to the Isle of Skye or out in that direction along Loch Ness. Urquhart Castle and the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition are both worthwhile, IMO. All along the A82 and A87 you'll see awesome scenery.

If you take another day to visit Fort William you can see Old Inverlochy Castle (a ruin) and Neptune's Staircase at Banavie, and there are places to walk (hike) nearby. Or you might prefer to head east through the Cairngorms. Near Inverness there are places to go whale watching on the Moray Firth. Another day trip could be to the western shore of Loch Lomond, or you could stop there on your way to Glasgow. Check Cruise Loch Lomond and Sweeney's Cruises for boat trips on the loch -- really lovely if the weather cooperates.

At Glasgow airport there are at least two hotels right on the campus, literally easy walking distance to the terminal. The Holiday Inn is excellent; Holiday Inn Express is OK but not as nice.