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Elgin, Inverness, Isle of Skye

I'm attending a good friend's wedding in Elgin and am trying to figure out a few things to do prior to the wedding. Specifically, I'd really like to try to get over to the Isle of Skye. However, in reading several of the forum posts, it seems like Skye may need a couple of days? Also, not sure if travel time will throw a wrench in the whole thing. Here are the details:

I'm flying into London (from the States) 3 days prior to the wedding and am supposed to meet up with friends the next evening in Inverness. Unfortunately, these evening plans break up the few days that would've been perfect for visiting Skye (but as its with the bride, I can't say no!). That leaves me with 3 options:

  1. Try to squeeze in a visit to Skye on the way from London to Inverness (roughly 24-36 hour period)
  2. Head from London straight to Inverness, visit with friends and then try to squeeze in a visit to Skye the day before the wedding (though this would require going from Inverness to Skye then back past Inverness to Elgin)
  3. Skip Skye completely and just explore around Inverness

The other challenge is transportation as I've read that you really should have a car when traveling to Skye. At this point, we've yet to decide on mode of transportation (i.e. train/flight/car) for getting from London to Scotland - open to suggestions! Would love to hear any advice or thoughts on how achievable it would be to go to Skye or if its better left for another time. Also, if Skye doesn't make sense, what are other potential options (I'm considering Loch Ness/Castle Uruqhart)? Definitely would love to hear general advice on getting from London to Scotland as well (budget friendly preferred!)...

Thanks =]

Posted by
5455 posts

So, day one you arrive in London, early AM. Day two you must be in Inverness for required dinner with the bride. Day three is free.

It will be very challenging to fit Skye into this trip. You could connect to Inverness from London. I bet is mid day before you get to Inverness. Then you rent a car and drive to Skye. It's a three hour drive from Inverness to Portree. You arrive exhausted. And it takes you four hours at least because you keep stopping for views and pictures and because you are tired.

You spend the night in Portree. You probably crawl into bed around 8 PM--you may last to 9 PM if you are strong. So, you can then spend the morning exploring Portree. You don't really have time to go to Dunvegen, You might have time to stop off at Eilean Donan on the way back. It is a beautiful drive from Skye back to Inverness and you probably appreciate it the second time. So in my mind, for all the effort to get to Skye, you don't get to see very much. If your time is very limited, you really must have a car on Skye as the public transit is minimal.

Alternatively, you could take the train to Kyle of Lochalsh, and then a bus to Portree--but in my mind that sounds even more exhausting.

A realistic thing to do would be to fly to Inverness on the first day. Explore Inverness, get your bearings, have a good night's sleep and then do a round trip train ride from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and back on day two. You should be able to get back in time for dinner, and get a glimpse of Skye and enjoy one of the most scenic train rides in Scotland. :)

On day three you could take a day tour to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, or take the train to Toni's favorite Aviemore.

It looks like a very small country, but there are lots of lochs, hills, and wee roads which will slow you down.

Pam

Posted by
9 posts

Pam,

Thanks for the advice! That was what I was afraid of...had a feeling it just wouldn't be enough time. I think your suggestion to try for Skye on day 2 is the most realistic option. Just curious on how long the train ride is from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh? Would the round trip leave time to get out and do some exploring? Also, being unfamiliar with Kyle of Lochalsh, is this a good place to do sight seeing or is this more of a gateway to the rest of Skye?

Really appreciate all the ideas - thank you!!

Allison

Posted by
5455 posts

I checked the train schedules on Scotrail and the earliest train they show leaves at 8:58 It's a two and half hour train ride, that is gorgeous. To get back to Inverness by 5 o'clock you will need to catch the 2:37 return train. The next later train doesn't get you back to Inverness until 8 PM. Now, depending on when you're traveling the train schedule may change. You could post the question in the transportation forum.

Kyle of Lochalsh is the little town/old ferry port the mainland with Skye. Now there is a bridge. Here's a link to Undiscovered Scotland's Page. I really think your time is too tight to explore Skye. It's really a big island. Viamichelin shows the drive from Kyle of Lochalsh to Portree as taking an hour. My experience is that you need to add at least 25% to any of their estimates. You would need to hire a car which you can do in Kyle of Lochalsh. And, this is your first visit so you would be wanting to stop and take pictures. :) It might be easier to see if you could book the taxi to take you to Elgol--have lunch looking at the gorgeous view of the Cuillins and then get back to Kyle for the train.

One thing you might do is take a taxi to Eilean Donan. It's easy to get to, is beautifully situated on the Loch and is nice tour.

And you should think about not being totally exhausted for dinner with your friend. This is only your second day and there will still be some jet lag....

Pam

Posted by
9 posts

Pam,

Thanks so much for your help! This is perfect - was just trying to get an idea of timelines to help make some decisions. Totally agree that Skye is far too big to try to squeeze in but like the idea of visiting Eilean Donan castle. Agree that we don't want to be too ambitious as we'll probably still be catching up on sleep.

Overall, lots to think about :) Will be sure to post further train inquiries in the transportation forum.

Thanks again!