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Driving routes

We( myself, my husband and 22 year old son) are traveling to Scotland for 2 weeks at the beginning of June and I am currently trying to firm up our driving routes. I have a couple of questions about which route to take and if I will be able to fit the drive in the time available.
The first trip is from Oban to Skye via Glencoe and Glen Etive. We are trying to catch the 13:40 ferry from Mallaig to Armadale. We are traveling June 7 which is a Friday. The next ferry would be at 17:50which we feel is too late. My question is, do we have time for the detour down Glen Etive? We would eat an early breakfast on Oban and get on the road early. If we do this route can we get lunch on the ferry?

The second trip is from Portree to Inverness. Michelin shows 2 routes, the first sends us up A890 and coming onto Inverness from the North, and the second follows A87 along Loch Ness. We would like the most scenic enjoyable route and do not feel the need to see Loch Ness but would like to see Urquhart Castle if it fits into our itinerary. We are traveling on a Sunday . We will tour Culloden and Clava Cairns while in Inverness area.

What I have learned while planning this trip is that we will not have enough time to do every thing we want to do and still enjoy ourselves!! Guess we will just have to come back.

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, Tdawg,

You're right about not having enough time to see everything! I've been to Scotland 25 times, and I'm not even close to seeing all that I want to see!

You may have to skip Glen Etive if you want to make that 13:40 ferry out of Mallaig. Glen Etive is longer than it appears on the map, and because the road through the glen is single track with passing places, you're not going to make much more than 15 to 20 m.p.h.

The roads from Oban to Mallaig are good - well developed two lane roads. If you're going by way of Glencoe, you'll probably want to stop to walk for a bit, and/or take photographs. Make sure to give yourselves enough time to get to Mallaig. Fort William to Mallaig via the A830 is less than 50 miles, but you'll need about 90 minutes for the journey. Don't forget that you need to get to the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before departure time.

The ferry trip is only 35 minutes, and they don't serve full meals on short haul ferries, so you may be able to get tea/coffee/soft drinks, and packets of crisps. Best thing to do is to get some takeaway sandwiches from the Co-op in Mallaig once you get there. (If you have time) The Co-op is about a three or four minute walk from the ferry terminal. As there are three of you traveling, one could stay with the car in the ferry line while the others go to get food. There is a small takeaway in Armadale, once you get to Skye. After that, your next place to eat would be in Broadford.

If you've made reservations for the 13:40 ferry, try your best to get there in time. As the projected tidal tables have cancelled all the following scheduled sailings until 18:00, that last ferry is going to be fully booked. If, once you get to Fort William, you think you're not going to make it, then take the A82 up to Invergarry and the A87 to Skye. If that happens, call CalMac to see if you can get a refund. Chances are the 13:40 will be fully booked, so if you let them know ahead of time, CalMac can give someone else your space.

As far as your choice of the northern or southern route from Portree to Inverness, either route passes through spectacular scenery. However, if you're planning on visiting Urquhart Castle, you should take the A87 to Loch Cluanie, the A887 to Invermoriston, and the A82 north to Inverness. My personal preference would be via the A890, as it features spectacular views over Loch Carron. You could still visit Urquhart Castle from Inverness. It's a fairly short drive down the west bank of Loch Ness.

The good thing about when you're traveling is that there will be lots of daylight hours. As you get closer to the summer equinox, you'll have broad daylight until well past 10 p.m.

Best wishes for your travels. Enjoy Scotland!

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)

If I may say so, you'll definitely be back!

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Mike, I was afraid that we did not have time. When I planned our itinerary I was going by usual ferry schedules when we had more options and now that the schedule is posted I find limited options. We will just look at it as more time on the Island of Skye...not a bad thing at all! The extra daylight hours are an added bonus. We were in Alaska 2 years ago in the weeks leading up to the solstice and found we had to force ourselves to go to bed and get some rest because of the long days!

Posted by
590 posts

And don't forget that if you are bringing a car on the ferry you need to book in advance.

Skyegirl

Posted by
590 posts

Sorry forgot to say that lunch on the ferry - well not if they are still using the small ferry that was on last time I went across a couple of weeks ago - there was no cafe. But if the bigger vessel is back then there is a cafe serving snacks. Personally I'd pick up something in Fort William at Morrison's supermarket and eat it on the ferry.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Skyegirl, we will make our reservation before we leave. And we grab some food before getting on the ferry.

Posted by
941 posts

Hi again, Tdawg,

To emphasize what Skyegirl said, the three scheduled afternoon ferries from Mallaig to Armadale between 13:40 and 17.50 are not sailing on June 7th. That means that there will be a lot of competition for those two ferries. You need to make your reservation as soon as you can. If the 13:40 is already fully booked, the 17:50 would get you in to Portree about 8:00 p.m. Don't forget that you're sailing on a Friday, which means that a lot of weekenders will be heading for Skye from the Central Belt and elsewhere. If CalMac have any sense, they'll put one of the large ferries on those two runs.

If you're unable to get a booking, you can always take the A87 to Portree, and take the A890 on the way to Inverness.

If you wait until you're in Mallaig to pick up some food, the Co-op supermarket is more fully stocked than the Spar, and it's closer to the ferry slip.

Best wishes and good luck!

Mike (Auchterless)