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9 day (8night) itinerary suggestions - July 2018

As many of the other posts in the forum asking for itinerary suggests, we have potentially scheduled too much. We are not big city people - we love the country side, hiking and are road-trippers here in the US. We don't love major tourist traps - don't think we'll be doing much but driving by/viewing Loch Ness. My husband is would also like to do a Scottish Whiskey tasting while we're there as well. It will just be my husband and I. Specific details are up in the air, but here's what we're currently thinking about for our trip. Drive times I list don't include stops, so I know it will be much longer but it was a start to see what could work. Any thoughts of feasibility and suggestions for must-do-stops along the way would be appreciated.

July 7-15:
Day 1: Arrive Glasgow ~6:00pm - get rental car, eat? - Stay near Stirling
Day 2: Stirling Castle AM, drive to Edinburgh (~1.5hrs), hike Arthur's seat PM, local pub/wander - Stay in Edinburgh
Day 3: Edinburgh Castle AM, St Giles Cathedral - noon concert, lunch leave for Inverness (~3-4hrs) - various stops (Edradour-Ptilochry; Culloden) - Stay somewhere by Inverness
Day 4: Drive to Skye via bridge (~3hrs); Eileen Donan castle, ??? Try to do some hike on Skye - Stay on Skye
Day 5: Explore Skye, drive to Ft William (~3hrs) (Ferry Armadale-Mallaig - prebook), Glenfinnan: train viaduct, Wallace memorial - Stay Ft Wiliam
Day 6: Hike Ben Nevis (weather permitting) - Stay Ft William??
Day 7: Drive to Balloch (~3hrs) via Glencoe, Oban, Trossachs Ntl Park - Stay Balloch
Day 8: Loch Lomond Highland games - Stay Balloch
Day 9: Rtn to Glasgow, flight AM


Posted by
2774 posts

First day, I'd urge you to stay right by the airport in Glasgow and pick up your rental car in the morning. At 6 PM yes, it will still be light, but driving while jetlagged is not a good idea. Glasgow has at least 3 hotels right on the airport campus, literally easy walking distance from the terminal.

Day 8/9, how early is your flight out of Glasgow? Driving from Balloch should be straightforward and take about an hour, but you never know about roadworks, taking a wrong turn, delay turning in your car, etc. Personally I wouldn't want that stress so I'd spend the night at the airport, unless it is an afternoon flight.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you, epltd.
Staying the night in Glasgow isn't a bad idea. Rest up well and then hit the road early the next day.
Also a thought for the last night. But this actually brings up another related question...
Is there anywhere I could get realistic travel times between locations? I know driving is slower across Scotland and there are some variables but it seems like there should be some general averages to be able to go from.
When I looked up information about Balloch to Glasgow airport it said ~17 miles and about 34 mins. However, you said it would probably take an hour. An hour for 17 miles is definitely a BIG difference and thus might be worth adjusting that portion of our trip or all of the trip if everything is approximately doubled the estimations I found.
Thanks again for the input!

Posted by
168 posts

Is there anywhere I could get realistic travel times between locations?

I have always used Google maps for this when driving in Scotland. Even though I live in the country and know what the roads are like, it is still a useful guide.

You'll likely have to factor in time for coffee and toilet breaks and of course photographic opportunities.

You do not need a car in either Glasgow or Edinburgh and both cities have good public transport services. You can reach Stirling Castle by public transport too. A car in Edinburgh will be more hindrance to you than help. So pick up your hire car when you leave Glasgow and head off to Inverness.

You need to book accommodation for Skye now. It is enjoying a tourist boom and for the last few years has proved extremely popular with travellers. If you cannot secure accommodation on Skye you need to look at places like Plockton or the Kyle of Lochalsh and drive on to the island from there.

Posted by
2774 posts

Realistic travel times -- that is a bit difficult because everyone drives a bit differently, but the estimate I gave from Balloch took into consideration the idea that it might be the morning rush hour. The Erskine Bridge is a very major connection point and if it is tied up (like you'd expect for, say, the Oakland Bay Bridge or New York's Whitestone Bridge) then the traffic will add greatly to your driving time. The times given on Google Maps assume no traffic, I believe.

I haven't used the Secret Scotland site to estimate time, but you could try them.

What I do is look at how many miles a trip leg is, consider the time of day and day of the week, as well as any metropolitan areas or chokepoints (e.g., Erskine Bridge), and whether we'll need to stop for a restroom break. And whether it's highway or secondary road driving. I look at the mileage in view of how it would go if I drove that many miles from my home, which is in an outer-ring suburb of a major US city.

Posted by
2774 posts

Another thought about travel time: I always calculate it door to door, allowing for the time to walk out of our hotel, get in the car... and at the other end, get off the main road and navigate to the specific destination, find a place to park, walk up to the entrance, etc. Because that's what really matters if we are driving to catch a flight, or to tour a castle that closes at a certain time. The lady in the ticket booth doesn't care what time we exited the Motorway, she cares what time the castle closes and what time the last tour starts.