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99 Days Till Departure What Do You Think?

We will be leaving the US on May 1 and returning on May 16th. I have listed below the item of interest AND I completely understand that in no way will we see all of these places. We opted for a rental car the entire time as we prefer not to be on any tour groups. I like to come and go as I please. I know the first thing that will pop into everyone's head...on DAY 1(jet lag day) we have something planned. We prefer to keep moving the first day with at least one activity, have dinner then pass out. Is there any places on my list that I should absolutely cross off? Any bad experiences? Also, when should I get my ferry tickets to get the car over to Mull?

May 02, 2020 (Saturday)

Roseleaf Bar and Cafe (lunch), Inchcolm Abbey Cruise, Craigie’s Farm Deli and Cafe (Groceries for Sunday Breakfast)
The Ship Inn (Dinner)

May 03, 2020 (Sunday)

Lady Janet Anstruther’s Tower, Andross Farm Shop, St. Monans Parish Church, St. Fillans Cave (pick up the key at The Cocoa Tree)
Anstruther’s Fish Bar (Lunch), Kellie Castle and Garden, St Andrews Cathedral/St. Rule’s Tower, Kingsbarns Distillery,
Eden Mill Distillery, Forgan’s (dinner and night cap)

May 04, 2020 (Monday)

Blacketyside Farm House (Breakfast), Burleigh Castle, Balvaird Castle, Dunkeld Cathedral, Edradour Distillery Victoria’s Restaurant (Lunch), Edzell Castle and Gardens

May 05, 2020 (Tuesday)

Dunnottar Castle, Crathes Castle , Drum Castle , Castle Fraser, Craigiever Castle, Rustico (Dinner)

May 06, 2020
(Wednesday) Inverness

Glennfiddich Distillary, Benromach Distillery, Brody Country Fare (Lunch), Cawdor Castle and Gardens, Culloden Battlefield Clava Cairns, The Mustard Seed (dinner), Hootananny (drinks and music)

May 07, 2020
(Thursday) Isle of Skye

Cuillin Brewery ,Eilean Donan Castle, Urquhart Castle, Brothers Point, Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock , Leault Falls

May 08, 2020
(Friday) Isle of Skye

Dunvegan Castle, The Neist Point Lighthouse, The Oyster Shed, Talisker Distillery

May 09, 2020
(Saturday) Oban

Inverlochy Castle, Fort William, Steall Waterfall, Castle Stalker

May 10, 2020
(Sunday) Oban

McCaigs Tower, The Oban Distillery, Dunstaffnage Castle, Dunollie

May 11, 2020
(Monday) Oban/Mull/Iona

Duart Castle, Tobermory Distillery, Eas Fors Falls, Abbey/Nunnery, St. Oran’s Cemetery

May 12, 2020
(Tuesday) Edinburgh

The Alpaca Trekking Center, Doune Castle, Sterling Castle, Red Lion Inn (Lunch), Birds & Bee’s (Lunch), Dunfermline Abbey
MidHope Castle (Lallybroch Castle), Preston Mill and Phantassie Doocot, Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Palace)

May 13, 2020
(Wednesday) Edinburgh

Deacon’s House Café (Breakfast), Edinburgh Castle,Gladstone’s Land, Princess Street Gardens, Cadenhead’s Whiski Shop
Whiski Rooms (Lunch), St. Giles Cathedral ,The Real Mary King’s Close ,Scott Monument

May 14, 2020
(Thursday) Edinburgh

The Bluebird Café (Breakfast),Royal Yacht Britannia, Calton Hill, HolyRood Palace, Craigmillar Castle, Rosslyn Chapel, Melrose Abbey

May 15, 2020
(Friday) Edinburgh

Urban Angel (Breakfast), Museum of Edinburgh, John Knox House, National Museum of Scotland, Greyfriars Kirk,
Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar

May 16th 2020 Back to the US

Posted by
1523 posts

Congrats Nurse Cyndy on an itinerary well planned.

Posted by
8063 posts

Keep yourself open to change on your Oban days. Pick the best weather day for the trip to Mull and Iona and if the 1st full day is going to be pretty go ahead and do the tour then instead of gambling that the next day will be fine also.

Without trying to be negative, also have a Plan B in case the ferrys are cancelled due to weather.

Posted by
215 posts

@ Pam

Not really sure how busy the ferry will be in May. I am a little concerned to not get my tickets in advance with prior experience in Greece with ferry tickets. Everyone ensured me when we were going to Greece that ferry tickets would be easy to get. WELL, we spent two more days in Athens since all the tickets to get a ferry off the island were booked. I absolutely agree the weather in Scotland may be temperamental just a little nervous not having a ticket ahead for a specific date and not being able to go just for that reason.

Posted by
8063 posts

Well, my experience is limited on that but the day our RS group took the ferry to Mull and then Iona in June 2018 the guide bought the tickets either the night before or the morning of. There were a number of people in line to purchase tickets when we boarded.

If others have more experience and have a different take on it, by all means, listen to them, lol!

I am concerned about the logistics here. Some of the sites you list for one day are not particularly close to each other. Also, I travel in "savor" mode. Some travel in "pack in the sites" mode. Even so, it seems like you are trying to pack in a lot in one day. For example - your May 14 date - Rosslyn Chapel and Melrose Abbey are not in Edinburgh. You can take a public bus to Rosslyn Chapel from Edinburgh. Melrose Abbey is in a different town. (I was there as part of a Rabbie's day tour.)
Stirling Castle requires a train trip (or vehicle trip) outside of Edinburgh.
I would not have a car in Edinburgh. (Walk or bus)
I would cross off Urquhart Castle in INVERNESS (not Isle of Skye).
You seriously need to rework your itinerary. Ask yourself questions. For example: How many castles do I want to see? Which are the best ones? How many distilleries? Where are they located? So on.
I would get a piece of paper and list out each day. Then, add sites (restaurants, also). Then, add an option or two as a contingency (bad weather, attraction closed, etc.)
If you are self-driving, you need to allow travel time between locations. You could spend several hours just driving to a new location. That needs to be factored in.
P.S. I would cross off Melrose Abbey. Why? Its' location. Also, it's small and in ruins. Robert the Bruce's heart is buried there in a simple manner - no major monument. Doesn't take long to see. More of a stop-over site, if convenient.

Posted by
215 posts

@Sunbaked in Florida

As I mentioned in the post, I am fully aware that in no way I can see all of these places in each day. The bolded cities are where we will be sleeping for the night so some of the places we would visit are in transit, such as sites in between Oban and Edinburgh. We will not need to train to Sterling Castle (if we even go) since we will be driving from Oban. Our Edinburgh accommodations are not “directly” in the historic district and we have a private car park. We typically are pretty good with taking the public transit or walking since we are active so using the car is not a necessity the last few days. I will definitely look at my route planner again as well and maps since it appeared the items were either in vicinity of, or in transit to our accommodations. I thought the laundry list of items each day gave me an option A,B or event C but heck I may be wrong there as well. Also let me know if you are familiar with any of the restaurants I had listed since u mentioned putting some down.Thanks for the input on Rosslyn...

Posted by
42 posts

I just looked at the Alpaca Trekking Centre, but sadly, the day we'll be in Stirling is the one day they're closed!

Posted by
1706 posts

You have a lot of visits to Whisky distilleries on your itin. We found 2 to be more than enough. The distilling process is very similar and therefore you may get “whiskied out” unless you are a huge whisky fan!
I might also suggest a visit to The Museum Of Island Life on the Isle of Skye. We really enjoyed it.
And do the three island tour out of Oban. We loved Staffa-puffins and geology galore!

Posted by
215 posts

Did you look at the dates for the Mini Trek? It appears there are more dates open compared to the 60 minute trekking which is set for only Saturday/Sunday? I did not actually call to get tickets but super excited this is a possibility.

@Diveloonie the only two distilleries are that are a must see for the hubby are Glennfiddich and Edradour.. I agree all of these would be a little overwhelming. Now if we were talking wine I may not think this way!!! I have an extras on the list in the event we stay at places longer than anticipated, weather and traffic plays a factor, or we just want to rest.

Any other experience with these sites??

Posted by
42 posts

We'll be in Stirling on a Wednesday, and that's the one day they're completely closed :(

I guess I'll just have to plan on another Scotland trip after this one!

I will work on some restaurant recommendations for you later. I'm tired tonight. Keep asking questions. You are on the right track.

Posted by
490 posts

I'm only commenting on Skye as that's my area of expertise!
1) 7th May looks too busy to do all on your list. Fine if you plan to do a drive by on the Old Man of Storr, but to climb up and back will take a couple of hours at least. I'd want to see the Quiraing too while I was up that end of Skye if I was you - much more spectacular than the waterfalls.

2) Neist Point is best at sunset or in the evening as the sun sinks west behind the Outer Hebrides. Oyster shed is open 12-5pm, so only suitable for lunch. You will need to book Talisker distillery well ahead of time if you want a tour.

You will also want to be arranging your accommodation and meals well ahead of time on Skye.

Best wishes
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
799 posts

I was underwhelmed by Princess Street Gardens in Edinburgh - it was mostly a grassy park with some flower beds. If you’d like to see a garden, I heard very good things about the Royal Botanic Garden; we didn’t get there, alas. I would also recommend The Georgian House, in New Town, as a comparison to Gladstone’s Land. I’ve spent a lot of time visiting US restorations of late 18th century houses (Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, etc) and I really enjoyed comparing the Scottish version to what I have seen in the US.

Posted by
558 posts

Edradour was the best of the 4 distilleries we visited, even for my sister and me -- non-whisky drinkers. They have a cream whisky which was amazing! Unfortunately it is not exported, but we bought a bottle and enjoyed it on the remainder of our trip. It is a beautiful location and it was the best tour. Enjoy.

Posted by
28 posts

The castles you mention on 7 May are not in Skye.

Also surprised you are not planning to see the best part of Skye which is the Cuillin Mountains -the best in the UK,

If you are visiting Talisker (good idea) you will get a decent idea of them.

However the best idea is driving to Elgol to get the very best view and hope for good weather,

Posted by
215 posts


Yes, on May 7th I am aware that these castles are not on Skye. These castles are though are potentially in route to Skye from our Airbnb in Inverness. The places bolded is where we are sleeping that night. Thank you for mentioning the Cullin Mountains. I agree the pictures are amazing and is on the list as a back burner. All of these items for each day are always A,B,C options. I know we cannot fit all of them in!

Posted by
6111 posts

For your May 5 day (sleeping in Aberdeen before and after):

We had an almost perfect day a couple of years ago that consisted of:
1) morning visit to Craigievar Castle (gorgeous,fancy, fixed up, lovely countryside around)
2) lunch — on our drive towards Stonehaven we stopped to lunch at a restaurant out in the country, the Cowshed, and loved it (we were lucky to get in).
3) on to Stonehaven and Dunnottar castle — a perfect contrast to Craigievar as Dunnottar is all wild seaside ruins with quite a steep hike to get there and back.

We also enjoyed driving along the river Dee, but we were staying that way a little bit outside Aberdeen.

Here's the link for the Cowshed — it's not charming from the outside, it's a modern building set along the roadside, but the food was wonderfully prepared and delicious, and its location was handy not too far after Craigievar on one of the routes to Stonehaven/Dunnottar.

Posted by
678 posts

Hi NurseCyn -

I think I’ve said it before hereabouts but I do believe if you’ve seen one distillery you’ve seen them all - and I say that as a confirmed whisky drinker! So maybe that information will help ‘thin out’ your itinerary.

I’m also surprised that more is not made of trying to get a little closer to the Black Cuillin mountains - they are our only true Alpine style mountains and incredibly impressive. They are serious hiking undertakings so I wouldn’t recommend that anybody climb them unless I had an inkling of their abilities. That said, for the fit, capable and preferably experienced, the walk up into Coire Lagan from Glen Brittle, while stiff, is really worthwhile for getting into spectacular mountain scenery. Easier to get to views are from the aforementioned Elgol (and cruises up to Loch Coruisk from there) and from the classic viewpoint at the Sligachan bridge.

I’ll be interested to hear if you get to the Falls of Steall (you can get quite close to them by driving up Glen Nevis as far as you can go, but they are still a bit of a walk from there) AND if you cross the ‘bridge’ to the other side of the river!

Have a great trip!