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6 night Highland road trip itinerary

Hiii Fellow travelers-
A lot of great info on the travel forum....but would love opinions on my specific situation...
To give some details I’m planning a trip to Scotland in late July 2019 landing in Edinburgh on Thursday. I am spending two nights and then picking up a rental car Saturday am. I have to drop the rental car off at Prestwick airport for a wedding in Girvin by 4pm the following Friday so I have 6 nights and a little more driving time on the 7th day for the road from Edinburgh to Prestwick. I’m looking for a highlands itinerary and am thinking Edinburgh to Inverness (1N) to Isle of Skye (2 or 3 N) to Glencoe (1N) to Loch Lomond (1N) to Prestwick......

Soooo
6 nights enough time to do this? Looks like it’s 4 hrs min a day driving and a bit less from Glenco to Loch L and Prestwick but of course I’ll be stopping along the way..
Any recommendations on places to stay at?
Best roads/routes to take?
Best alternative locations for the most epic views?
I like hiking and exploring, would love a few epic castles, photo taking of course...but am probably doing this solo if that matters :/
Any Major stops or “attractions” I cant miss?
Weather is always up in the air right?

Looking for any recommendations as I may be a lil unsure of what I am about to embark on....it will be my 1 solo driving trip and yess my 1 st time driving in a foreign country on the left side (right side US driver here)! But I KNOW I can do it!!

Thanks for the encouragement and recommendations

Looking forward to an adventure of a lifetime 😁:)

Posted by
3336 posts

We had a couple of days over Dec/Jan to drive around the Highlands and stumbled upon Glen Etive. It was stunningly beautiful with herds of stags, lakes, waterfalls, farms, etc. Spend about 4 hours driving along, stopping to take pictures, and just marveling at the light and the views. Highly recommend driving out the tiny, narrow road.

Posted by
5547 posts

I think you are trying to cover far too much ground, some on narrow, slow moving roads when you haven’t driven abroad before - plus it’s school holiday time, so places will be busy and you are wanting too many 1 night stops. I would eliminate Inverness and focus on the west coast as you want some time out of the car.

Even at that time of year, the weather can be mixed.

Skye - have you checked accommodation availability? Many places get booked up a year in advance. Ideally, you need 3 days on Skye to cover the island as many roads are single track with passing places.

Have 2 nights in Glencoe. If you can’t find accommodation on Skye, have 4 nights here. One day trip is Glen Etive, another is Fort William/Ben Nevis (only climb it with proper equipment and maps) and the best day trip would be a drive round the stunning Ardnamurchan peninsula, taking the short Corran ferry, driving along Loch Sunart, out to the lighthouse and then loop back via Fort William.

Drop an overnight stay at Loch Lomond, but stop here on the drive to Prestwick to break the journey.

Girvan is 30 miles from Prestwick airport.

Posted by
707 posts

Great concept. Several thoughts though:

I assume the car is needed because you will be bringing wedding related luggage. Could you drop that off with friends before the epic tour - it might simplify things (time to drop off finery versus time to devote to tour while not driving). Or, at least see if you can pick up the car in Edinburgh and drop it in Glasgow.

I did a similar tour many years ago but did it entirely by rail and bus. If you can get there by rail (example Edinburgh to Inverness 3.5 hours) it can make sense to just get a car for the Inverness - Skye segment-Glencoe segments. You may want to check out the Scotrail website which covers what trains/buses/ferries can be included.

https://www.britrail.net/passes/scotrail

Inverness is a good home base (not that far to go back south to Aviemore, or west to Skye or down to Glencoe and back.

For epic views and hiking I love the Cairngorm Mountains/NationalPark (main town is Aviemore). The West Coast around Skye is great too. Not that many castles left, but lots of "Great Houses" open to the public - check out the tourist information sites in the towns you plan to stay in.

Have fun.

Posted by
2940 posts

To the east of Inverness you'll probably want to visit Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle. Just east of the latter is the town of Nairn, which I can recommend as a pleasant alternative to Inverness. The B&B called Tali Ayer is wonderful, and there's a lovely restaurant called The Classroom.

The Isle of Skye has awe-inspiring scenery, but so does the mainland in that region. We stayed at the Dornie Hotel, just a stone's throw from Eilean Donan Castle. The hotel is nothing fancy, but clean and affordable with helpful staff. It has a nice pub restaurant that is popular with locals. If you drive up-up-up the hill overlooking Dornie, you get a truly amazing view of the intersection of the three sea lochs.

Along the western shore of Loch Lomond is the village of Luss, which has a lot of charm; it also has "pay & display" parking and coin-operated public restrooms. You can take a Loch Lomond cruise from the dock there. Luss is not right on the main A82 route; you have to turn off and if you blink at the wrong moment you may miss the sign.

At the southern end of Loch Lomond, the restaurant at Duck Bay has huge picture windows (as well as outdoor seating) with a commanding view of the loch. Duck Bay is also a motel, though we didn't stay there so I can't speak for the quality of the rooms.

Prestwick is in Ayrshire, near Robert Burns country, if that literary connection is of interest to you.

https://www.macsadventure.com/walking-holidays/discover-the-life-and-work-of-robert-burns-in-scotland/

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions so far! I am not married to anything as "what do I know" ...if Skye is too much distance/time and mainland is just as impressive I'd be willing to skip...it's just that I think of Skye when I think of Scotland and have this twitch about not checking some of it out when I had the chance....there are still B&Bs available so hopefully I'll get confident enough to decided within the next week and lock it down!

Ideally I was wanting to hit these places which seem on the way or in the same vicinity once I get to Skye..
-Donan Castle
-Old Man Storr
-Brothers Point
-Kilt Rock/Mealt Falls
-Quiraing (sunset?)
I'm ok with not exploring all of Skye and sticking to the above area for 2.5 days....Glencoe area sounds beautiful from your descriptions...don't want to stretch myself too thin but I am typically a go go sorta person so usually do well with a packed schedule.....I'll have 4 more days with my bestie and her husband's Scottish friends after the road trip for some "fellowship" and relaxing so excited to see all I can while I can!

Thanks for the ferry suggestions didn't even think about those!
Day one am now thinking to drive to Donan Castle and make that night one for an early start the next day to Skye...I'll have to start a bit late on Day 1 one since rental car earliest pick up is 9am
Day 2 + 3 stay on Skye
Day 4 get to Glencoe via Mallaig Ferry (hopefully)
Day 5 day trip Glencoe area
Day 6 Day trip from Glencoe and or + drive to Loch Lomond for the night?
Day 7 Drive to Preswick/Girvan in time for Pre-wedding rehearsal dinner

I'm feeling better about the revised plan but still open to any new recommendations....I almost wish I could just go and see where the road takes me buuutt it looks like I'll be hitting the BUSY season- hopefully everyone sleeps in and the early bird I am can have some time with out hoards of people!
really looking forward to the trip- but I guess I need a rain coat! :)

Posted by
2940 posts

On your revised list of priorities, the only one I've been to is Eilean Donan Castle. As you probably already know, it's very popular with photographers in the view from the shore. The castle itself is a rebuild ca. 1920s; the interior is attractive but not authentic in the "historical purist" sense. So, if you are short on time and you really want as much time as possible to explore the Isle of Skye, I'd say to just admire Eilean Donan from the shore and move on. If you stay that first night at the Dornie Hotel, you can get up early and photograph the castle in the morning light -- the sun's angle is good then. In the afternoon you're shooting into the sun unless you catch it at sunset, in which case you may get a beautiful dramatic silhouette.