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Edinburgh--Oban--Glencoe--Steam Train--Inverness--then what?

We have almost finalized our planned itinerary for June trip.

This is what we are tentatively planning for an 8-9 day itimerary.

Fly into Edinburgh and sleep 2 nights

Rent a car
Drive to Oban (sleep 2 nights). Take a day trip by ferry to Mull or whatever strikes our interest..
Drive through Glencoe ....stop to enjoy the scenery. Continue to Ft William to take the steam train Round trip to Mallaig
(Suggestion on a town and accommodations for 1 night overnight?)
The plan is to proceed to Inverness ....from there, we are torn whether to go towarss Aberdeen and back down to Edinburgh via the coast leisurely over a few days OR head towards Skye?

**I should add that my husband loves old castles and I could look at the ocean and mountains all day and be content.

Posted by
1193 posts

Look at Visit Scotland Web site for some great ideas. Also Secret Scotland and Historic Scotland. Galloway and Dumphries have a lot of historic sites with medieval castles with not so many tourists looking for Jacobites. Don't miss Stirling and Lithlingow. Look at the World Heritage site; we enjoyed visiting New Lanark which is a icon of Scotland's Industrial age. There are many things to see and do in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Look at Google Earth Map to see which routes go near the sea.

Posted by
1834 posts

My guess is that if you don’t already have reservations to sleep on Skye, you may be too late, so that could be the deciding factor in which way you will go.

Posted by
2774 posts

If you go another 10 miles east of Inverness you'll find the lovely town of Nairn, famed for having the warmest & driest climate in Scotland. (I know that's not saying much, but still.) Nairn is convenient to Clava Cairns, Cawdor Castle, and Culloden Battlefield. It has a beach and marina, whale watching on the Moray Firth, and a couple of golf courses. I can recommend Tali Ayer B&B though there are lots of other B&Bs in town. The restaurant The Classroom is excellent.

I haven't been around the coast via Aberdeen, but have driven down the A9 from Inverness through the Cairngorms, with a detour via Blairgowrie to visit Glamis Castle. Would happily do it again.

Posted by
696 posts

Since you will be traveling by car you might consider a side-trip to Inverary and visit the castle. It was the site of Shrimpy’s residence on “Downton Abbey”. If you make it to Skye you might consider a visit to Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh. If you go to Nairn, as suggested, you will be near Ft. George. Are you aware of the possibility of midges whilst in the Highlands?

Posted by
941 posts

Even though you don't have reservation bookings for Skye, don't give up on it. The majority of B&Bs on Skye don't advertise on the internet, so you won't find them there. If you know what dates you'll be on Skye, and can't find anything on the internet, try calling the tourist information office in Portree. 011 44 1478 612992, or the tourist information office in Broadford 011 44 1471 822713. They should be able to help you find something.

If you completely strike out, there is much to see and do in Aberdeenshire, although the scenery won't be as spectacular as that of the Highlands and Islands.

From Inverness, you could start out by visiting the towns of Nairn, Forres, and Elgin, along the A96. However, the small fishing towns along the coast should be visited for their charm and views. Findhorn and Lossiemouth, off of the A96, then turn east on the A98 at Fochabers, toward Cullen. Just before you reach Fochabers, the B9104 will take you to Spey Bay, where you have a decent chance of seeing dolphins (also below the Kessock Bridge, in Inverness).

Once you're on the A98, side roads will take you to the fishing villages along the way. Buckie, Portnockie, Portsoy, Cullen (which gave its name to Cullen Skink, a delicious fish chowder), Banff, Gardenstown, and especially Pennan, where many of the scenes in the movie "Local Hero" were filmed.

Once you get to Fraserburgh, which is relatively unremarkable, the A98 becomes the A90, which will take you in to Aberdeen. Just south of Peterhead and Boddam, take the A975 toward Cruden Bay. About a half mile south are the Bullars of Buchan, a chasm dug out by the sea. It's a fascinating place, and if you hit it just right, the noise from the sea rushing in and out makes a great sound. Best of all, it's free.

Just a wee bit south of the Bullars of Buchan is the path out to Slains Castle, which was built in 1597. It's now in ruins, but Bram Stoker stayed nearby in 1895, and Slains is supposed to be the inspiration for Dracula's castle in his 1897 novel.

Stay on the A975 until it rejoins the A90 just north of Aberdeen. If you enjoy beautiful beaches, Balmedie is just a couple of miles south of the A975/A90 intersection.

Aberdeen is not a particularly attractive city, although it has many historical sites. The discovery of oil in the North Sea in 1973 was a great boost for the city, but it has lost its distinctive Scottishness, and prices have gone up accordingly. You can still find reasonable accommodation, however, if there are no major conferences in town.

The beach is quite attractive in good weather, as is the old fishing village of Footdee ("Fittie"). There are many parks (Duthie and Hazlehead being among the best). The Winter Gardens at Duthie Park would rival botanic gardens just about anywhere. The floral displays and the cacti displays are gorgeous.

Aberdeen is one of the places in Scotland where you're most likely to see dolphins. From the Torry Battery, just south of the harbor, there is a dolphin watching station, which is open year round. The friendly guides have binoculars which you can use.

In the area around Aberdeen, there are many castles worth visiting. Castle Drum, Crathes, Craigievar, Fyvie, Tolquhon, Castle Fraser, are among the many. But one or two would be enough. Hiking up Bennachie (about two hours up and back) is an Aberdeen tradition in good weather. It's near Inverurie.

Dunottar Castle, south of Stonehaven, is a must. It's in a spectacular location, overlooking the North Sea. It's in ruins, but well worth a visit. Just south of Dunottar is the RSPB bird sanctuary at Fowlsheugh, where you'll see thousands of seabirds perched along the cliffs. If you go all the way out to the end of the trail, past the observation hut, you'll have a pretty good chance of seeing puffins.

Whichever adventure you take, have a great time in Scotland!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
941 posts

Once you leave Aberdeen, you can take the coast road to Dundee, passing through Arbroath, where you can visit the Abbey; Montrose, where you can visit the monument to Bamse the Sea Dog and World War II hero; and Dundee, where you can visit the RRS Discovery, which took Commander Scott on his first voyage to Antarctica.

After you leave Dundee, cross the Tay Bridge and take the A92 to the A914, then the A919 to the A91, and on in to St. Andrews. Even if you have absolutely no interest in golf, and can't tell a mashie from a niblick, St. Andrews is a great little town to visit. The castle is worth a visit, and you can walk on the beach where they filmed the opening scenes from "Chariots of Fire."

After St. Andrews, take the A915 to Kircaldy (pronounced "kir-cuddy"), then the A921 to the Forth Road bridge, and back to "Auld Reekie."