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8 am to 8pm (one day!) in INVERNESS- how can I manage to see....

I am frustrated that I can't find a tour or guide for my fairly simple wants:

I arrive at 9pm (flight) on May 25.
I leave at 830 PM (train) on May 26. (edit - sorry I didn't put PM I forgot about people using the 24hour clock)

(no I can't extend - always the first questions).

I can't find a package trip that does what I want (following)
I am freaked about renting a car and driving small roads on the OTHER side of the road (and the time involved in
renting and returning).
I haven't been able to scare up a friend to drive me around (or a driver).

CAN I do this by public transport (busses):

Urquart Castle
Ness Center (near by)
Culloden - but more importantly - the CAirns

Do you have any suggestions for how to do this?

Posted by
430 posts

Don't know how you got so tight on time, but the chronically curious always find more things to do than there are hours in the day. Being part Scottish, I saw all those things by bike when I was there a long time ago and here's the deal--
The sun will rise about 4:30 am on May 26 in Inverness so plan on not getting a lot of sleep. Culloden is reachable by bus in 15 minutes
or less from Inverness- it's only a 3-mile ride with buses leaving every 30 minutes beginning at 5:42 am on May 26. The Visitor Center is open from 10am-4pm. When I was there, the battlefield was not fenced off and it was freely accessible.
The Loch Ness Center does not open until 10 am so you can scratch that off the list.
The bus ride to Urquhart Castle takes 35 minutes for the 17-mile trip, but the first bus leaves Inverness at 8:45am-- too late for you to make your train at 9:00am. Uber is your answer if you really want to see it. A regular taxi costs around $50 each way
If that's too steep my advice is just see Culloden and the Cairns (the Cairns are 1.5 miles from the battlefield) and work in some castle ruins elsewhere in Britain- there are dozens to choose from!
Slainte Mhath.

Posted by
1247 posts

There are several choices of Loch Ness Cruises from Inverness mentioned online. A bus to Urquhart, if available, could seem to take forever since even Scots agree it is a wee bit of a boring drive. Culloden gets a bit muddy and is really only interesting if you had some of your ancestors die there, mine were Clan Ogilvy. The Cairns were off limits to group tours for a while because of the impact of the Crowds, maybe you can take a Taxi. I recommend that you visit some of the historic palaces and castles that are open to view such as Castle Brodie, which is charming.

Posted by
11264 posts

Your times make no sense. Your headline says 8AM-8PM but the body of your post says 9PM-830AM. Which is it?

Posted by
430 posts

I was going by the times in the text. That does change everything, doesn't it.
If you do have 12 hours then you’ll be able to take the buses. As mentioned above, you’ll need to check if the Cairns are currently open to the public.

Posted by
6 posts

I edited it.

I forgot about the 24hour clock - so several of you missed the PM in the header and went for am in the body.

I have about 12 hours day time

if I get up at 8am and catch the train at 8pm (we will call it....20:00, yes?) then I have about 12 hours.

Posted by
6 posts

Someone above mentioned some bus times -
When I use google maps and select public transport I am not getting such short rides as you mention - seems like it is more like 45 mins - are you using a different/better ap?

(I live in nyc and google times are generally pretty accurate) -

Posted by
6 posts

Kathleen = you mention the Cairns were off limits when you were there -please tell me when that
was. So much changes so quickly - especially in these odd times....but I see NOTHING anywhere
indicating they are not approachable.

Thank you for the date you were there and if you can point me towards any confirmation of
the closure.

Thanks again.

Posted by
430 posts

Go to Enter Inverness to Urquhart Castle. It will give you all the transit options- buses, driving, walking etc. and estimated time durations. You can get actual bus times and schedules by clicking the right side of the bus information. Because the Loch Ness Visitor Center is about 2 miles from Urquhart Castle, you will need to coordinate your timing of the buses
so you don't have to walk the 2 miles, which would take an hour. Alternatively, Rome2Rio says a taxi will cost about $10-$13.
On a clear day, renting a bike and riding to your attractions would be optimal. It’s flat bike ride without hills.

Posted by
11264 posts

Have you looked at Rabbies Tours? They have departures out of Inverness (you can filter to Inverness tours only further down the page and on the left.) And if they don't have one you like, they can put one together for you. I have taken a few day tours with them and they are wonderful. The company gets high reviews on this board.

However, it is only a week away and I'm not sure if they could put something together that fast.

Posted by
473 posts

Checking the Historic Environment Scotland website, Clava Cairns are open and freely accessible daylight hours.

For Culloden Battlefield, you need to catch the number 2 service which takes you to Culloden Moor. Timetable here.

Clava Cairns is 1.4 mile walk from the Battlefield and there isn't a bus.

Urquhart Caslte - catch the 919 Inverness to Portree bus service, It is a two hourly service and takes 35 minutes.
Timetable here.

The Loch Ness Visitor Centre is in Drumnadrochit, so you woiuld need to catch the 919 between the two. You may not have time to do this.

It probably makes sense to do Culloden and Clava first as there is a later bus back from Urquhart Castle than from Culloden Moor.

Posted by
6 posts


The tour companies were contacted already (last week) to ask if they would be back in time for my Train.
EAch of them very kindly replied (basically) no, as they couldn't predict the traffic. They also kindly suggested
I change my leaving time (sigh) and one even said - Just take a bus instead of the train. (I explained tickets
were already purchased).

So - unless you have an IN with one of the companies and can hook me up, they do not seem to be viable for my time.

My questions about the busses was sincere - DO THEY RUN ON TIME/on the SCHEDULE (near me, in nyc, the busses are not always on their posted schedule). I have checked with google maps, but have only used Rome2Rio for longer travel in the past - it didn't occur to me to use it for within a city - I will compair their times with what google gave me. Thank you for reminding me that R2R could be used for short trips.

As for the suggestion of a private guide, I contacted four last week alone (i had tried others, earlier) - at the recommendation of the first - who also sent me a link to (something like private guides of scotland). None were available.

I did already check for car/driver - and other than BESPOKE tours (running upwards of 400gbp a day) I found none.

I travel a lot - and - as I said, I am frustrated at having so much trouble getting this to work.

Posted by
611 posts

The best advice you have is from wasleys who has given you highly detailed information about the bus services to the places you want to visit. Bear in mind that Culloden is in the opposite direction to Loch Ness, so doing both in one day will be a stretch.

Buses generally run on time unless there is a traffic issue - which of course nobody can predict.

Inverness is not a town with a huge tourist infrastructure, it's a working town and its main function is to provide the infrastructure and services that those of us living in the highlands and islands require. Also you have left it very, very late to book private drivers etc. So sadly, I am not surprised that you are not finding any availability. If you are staying in the centre of Inverness it may be feasible to get a taxi out to Culloden as it's not that far. You could then get the bus back into town.

Good luck with your trip. I hope you enjoy Inverness and the environs.

Skyegirl (Jacqui)

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks to those who took time to reply with information/suggestions.

The biggest takeaway was from Skyegirl - Inverness is not a tourist oriented town. Noted.

I am a pretty half full kind of person - so whatever I get to see / experience of the area will be more than most of the people in the world will have. Winning.

After countless messages to lists, tour agencies, friends, forums, bus companies, hotel/airbnb folks over the past couple months, I am basically back where I started:

crossing my fingers that the busses run on time.

and...a little over a week from now, I will be able to write my notes and reviews and comments - and I will perhaps lead with: Inverness is NOT a Tourist Town....

Thanks again for your input.