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6 days in Scotland at the end of June - transportation thoughts?

Hi everyone - my partner and I will be in Scotland at the end of June for a few days. Does this sound reasonable?

1 - arrive at Heathrow in the morning at 6:30am; make our way to Euston station for a 1030 train to Glasgow (is that enough time to not be stressed about it?); evening in Glasgow

2 - pick up rental car and drive through the highlands (Loch Lomond, Fort William and the viaduct, Glencoe, Loch Ness); sleep in Inverness

3 - Culloden battlefield in the morning; make way south to Stirling and tour castle; on to Edinburgh for late afternoon / evening

4 - day in Edinburgh, sleep there again

5 - drive to Roslyn Chapel and then on to Hadrian's wall; if time, check out Durham and cathedral; sleep in Newcastle

6 - turn in car at Newcastle train station and train back to London (would there be time to drive to fit in York cathedral and train to London from there, or would that just be too ambitious? we wouldn't mind getting back to London in the late afternoon or early evening); sleep in London

7 - fly home

We're used to being on the go on vacation, so the thought of doing all of this doesn't worry us; but we do wonder if the distances and timing to get around to the sites seems right. Thoughts?

Posted by
49 posts

Another question - would it make better sense to rent the car starting at Heathrow and head directly up to Glasgow instead of taking the train there the first day?

Posted by
977 posts

It would make more sense and also make life a lot easier, if you flew straight into Glasgow or Edinburgh instead of London. Can you change your flight?

Posted by
2128 posts

The only sensible way to start your first day is to fly from LHR to Glasgow - taking the train wastes a day - driving up is madness.

Days 5 and 6 are a quite rushed, and, as it appears you're not really spending any time in London, it would be more efficient to fly from Newcastle to LHR for your flight back home. That would free up more time in the north.

Posted by
102 posts

I'm sorry but I think you're trying to pack far too much into what is a relatively short visit. This is compounded by the fact that despite your trip being focused on Scotland (plus alittle in the north of England), you're flying to/from London which is around 400 miles away, thus using up a fair bit of your valuable time sitting on a train travelling from your arrival point to where you're actually going!

I'd definately look to fly straight to scotland, or if youre flights to London are set already, at least book a connecting flight on BA to Glasgow. You're arriving off a long overnight flight tired and likely jetlagged, the last thing you want to do is fight your way for at least 60-90mins to the other side of London on the underground with your bags in rush hour conditions of packed tube trains/stations, followed by another 4.5-5 hours of not particularly Scenic train journey. Hiring a car at Heathrow and driving up is infinitely worse than the train!

I realise that there's perhaps a cost saving on paper from flying to London, but Glasgow and Edinburgh (and to an extent Newcastle) are reasonably sized airports with direct flights to the USA and a wealth of connecting opportunities, so there should be some kind of reasonable routing and fare available. If you've not booked your flight already then I would look to fly directly to and from Scotland. Newcastle isn't too far to drive a back to Glasgow, so you could fly in and out of Glasgow - Icelandair often offer good deals from your neck of the woods. If you prefer to fly into Glasgow and out of Newcastle then you should be able to get an open jaw type fare from one of the airlines that serves both airports - off the top of my head that would include Air France/KLM, Aer Lingus and British Airways.

If you have booked the flights into London already then it may be worth contacting the airline and asking if you can add connecting flights with BA up to Glasgow and down from Newcastle onto your existing itinerary. If not then I would book a seperate connecting flight with BA up to Glasgow. Because it's not on the same ticket you will still need about 3 or 4 hours between your arrival time and departure of the flight up to Glasgow because you need to get your cases and check in again. OK this is still a bit of waiting around at Heathrow but it's still easier and quicker on the train.

If none of the above is possible and you must take the train then 4 hours between arrival and train departure time is an absolute minimum. You can have headwinds, congestion/stacking at LHR, slow baggage claim/immigration, delays on London transport (which can be Common, particularly at rush hour) - quite quickly you're rushing to catch your train. Obviously the train journey from Newcastle to London is a bit shorter and not after a long-haul flight, but it's still will probably easier to fly from there to Heathrow.

Notwithstanding the transport issues you're itinerary is too much IMO and you'll find yourself travelling/driving nonstop and not doing many places justice - You've no time to see anything particular in Glasgow, day 2 is really far too much and needs cuts, days 3 and 5 are busy too. One day in Edinburgh is not enough either. Bear in mind many roads in rural Scotland are narrow and twisty and it'll often take a long time to travel between two places that look close on a map.

Sorting out your transport issues might help a bit but to be honest I would look at cutting out a fair few things as well. Unless your heart is set on it I would cut the north of England and focus on Scotland. Driving all the way to Durham is a bit of a detour - it's a nice town but I don't know if I'd go all that way just for that. York is way too much matching top everything else!

Posted by
88 posts

I agree that travel time could be reduced.
1. spending a day getting from London to Glasgow is inefficient , probably stressful, and could be expensive, cheap train tickets can't be used on later trains and full fare could be over £ 100 each ( check nationalrail website for prices ).
2. Dropping the car off in Newcastle also cuts into your tourist time.
Day 1 Fly to Glasgow ( hopefully combining with existing ticket ). You should arrive in Glasgow by noon and could knock off a few sights and overnight at Fort William.
Day 2 With the time made up in day 1, you should br able to finish up in Sterling.
Day 3 after Sterling you would have time to see Roslyn Chapel and get to Edinburgh.
( you could drop off the car here, Durham or York as Newcastle seems to be off your path ).
Day 4 Edinburgh
Day 5 drive to Hadrians Wall, then Durham ( or train direct to Durham, if no car ). You could drive or take evening train to York. You could also take an early morning train on Day 6.
Day 6 spend the day in York, take an evening train to London and on to Heathrow and stay at an airport hotel.
Day 7 fly home.

Posted by
458 posts

lisa i would agree with the overnight in Ft. William...the Glencoe area is awesome but screams for some leisurely viewing/hiking in my opinion, the driver will miss much if you just cruise thru. Also for me if we had not been at the viaduct when the train steamed through it would not have had the same impact...my wife is the Harry Potter person so tht part meant little to me but seeing the train pass was pretty cool, that will require some planning. I would reach out to the train folks or a visitors center in Ft. William or Glenfinnan to get a schedule for train if the viaduct is high on your plan list. You can get nice info on the hike to the viaduct at http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/glenfinnan.shtml here. there will be other helpful information regarding the areas you are interested in at this website including driving directions if you work the site correctly. We loved Glencoe and the Rannoch Moor as we drove to Ft William from Edinburgh. get a small small car!

Posted by
49 posts

Thanks everyone - our travel is somewhat hampered by a very nervous flier; small, connecting flights are generally out - hence, the train. But the suggestions above have given us some ideas on how to restructure it a little to maximize time for the sights...

Posted by
5669 posts

The flight from London to Edinburgh or to Glasgow are hardly connecting flights! The trip to Glasgow is about the same miles as to St. Louis from Chicago. And the Edinburgh trip is about the same as flying from Chicago to Minneapolis. You wouldn't fly to Chicago and then take the train to either of those locations would you? : ) The flights are a little over an hour so they are not an up and down such as you get flying between places like Chicago and Madison.

Plus, when you take the train you'll need to wend your way out of Glasgow. Whereas when you fly into the airport you are out of the city and on your way north quite quickly.

Don't get me wrong. I like the train, but when my time is limited.... It's just a pity with so few days ate you are spending a full day on the train.