After spending two nights in Glasgow plan on driving to Portree on Monday 31st July to spend another 2 nights before heading to inverness to join RS 8 day tour. Will it be possible (or advisable) to make stops at Sterling Castle, Glencoe Valley with late lunch Fort William then continue along the road to the Isles via Mallaig-Armadale ferry. Have a ferry reservation for 17:20. I like driving and I am very comfortable driving on the left on 2 lane roads but not sure how accurate Google drive times are.
I live on the Isle of Skye and drive from Glasgow to my home pretty often. I allow 6 hours if not using the ferry and around 7 hours if using the ferry due to the waiting/check in time. I would say you'd not manage to see Stirling Castle and still make the ferry. Stiring is not on the route from Glasgow to Mallaig, so you'd be making a diversion and would probably want to allow a couple of hours for the castle visit. Better to head immediately north on the A82, passing through Glencoe and then Fort William. A nice lunch spot is the Highland Soap Company visitor centre which is just before the left turn from Fort William to Mallaig.
On good roads, the google times are pretty close assuming you go somewhere near the speed limit and don't run into too many tractors, sheep, or tourists with lesser nerve. The smaller the road, the more likely the issue. I usually round up estimates to the nearest 15 minutes, although 25% is safer. I try to avoid ferries at the end of a long day of driving just because of who-knows-what. In your case, you can check you progress in Ft. William and change course to the Skye Bridge.
Stirling Castle deserves at least a couple of hours to begin to do it justice - and then allow extra time to park and walk to and from the castle. Hoping to do Stirling, Glencoe, lunch, Fort William and make the 17.20 ferrry is pushing it. Also remember check in time is 20 minutes before sailing so you need to be at Mallaig and in the ferry queue by 5pm. Forget Stirling and push on north.
Thanks everyone so I will skip Sterling castle on the drive to Skye. Any suggestions for a scenic route and stops on the drive to Inverness from Skye, will need to get there by 1400. Will be doing Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle as part of the RS Tour so was planning an alternate route.
Two suggestions for your journey from Skye to Inverness.
- Take the historic Kylerhea to Glenelg turntable ferry to leave the island and explore the ancient brochs (towers) of Glenelg and then possibly journey to the end of the road at Corran for an al fresco lunch at Sheena's tea hut before returning via Glenelg to the main A87 road and proceeding to Inverness.
- Take the Skye bridge to leave the island and visit Plockton and/or Eilean Donan castle before taking the northern route to Inverness via Achnasheen.
Stunning scenery whichever route you choose.