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Feedback on our Preliminary Itinerary planning

Looking for feedback on our preliminary itinerary. This is for travel in May 2024. We are 4 active people, with 2 being young adults.

Day 1 - Edinburgh

Day 2 - Edinburgh

Day 3 - Edinburgh to beginning of West Highland Way hike... Will use transportation recommendations of the tour/outfitter to get us to the start of the hike...

Day 4 - WHW Hike

Day 5 - WHW Hike

Day 6 - WHW Hike, arrive in Fort William

Day 7 - Fort William to Portree/Skye... pick up rental car in Fort William... route is via ferry at Malliag

Day 8 - Isle of Skye (Trotternish Penninsula, climb Old Man of Stor or Quiraing)

Day 9 - Isle of Skye (Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery)

Day 10 - Portree/Skye to Inverness area... via Skye Bridge Road (Loch Ness, Urquart Castle, Eilean Donnan Castle, Caledonian Canal)

Day 11 - Inverness Area (Inverness, Culloden, sheepdogs, etc)

Day 12 - Inverness to St Andrews (Speyside Distillery tours (Aberlour or Glenfiddich or Glenlivet), Craingorns NP)

Day 13 - St Andrews to Edinburgh... (golf in St Andrews)

Day 14 - Edinburgh

We really would prefer to stay at a hub for a couple of days and explore from there, rather than single nights at hotels.
Am I going to have a problem getting a rental car in Fort William?
Have I crammed too much in here? Because we also want this to be a vacation :)
Thanks in advance!

Posted by
4081 posts

Four days to walk the West Highland Way?- that is really hard going. 6 to 8 days is the normal time taken. It is not a walk in the park. Your pace is 24 miles a day which in that terrain is a very fast pace indeed.
Please rethink, or you'll end up in Hospital not the Isle of Skye.
This is a vacation not an endurance test. Day 3 isn't even a full day of you are transferring from Edinburgh.

Posted by
4 posts

Should have added, we are only doing a section of the WHW. It will not be bad. It will only be part of the northernmost section to get a flavor of hiking town-to-town. 😄

Posted by
1594 posts

Eilean Donan Castle is the one you see on all the tins of shortbread and calendars. The outside is really impressive but the interior less so. The castle was actually rebuilt from a ruin about a hundred years ago. This is one to admire from the outside - either from the car park area (always very busy) or you can buy a ticket (£3 last month) that allows you to cross the bridge and walk round the outside of the castle.

If time allows on Day 10, after visiting Urquhart Castle, consider taking the A831 from Drumnadrochit to Cannich. before heading to Inverness. Here you have the choice of continuing on the unclassified road up Glen Affric, through the Caledonian Forest to the car park for the start of the Dog Falls walk. You may not have time to do all of it, but the walk as far as the Falls is worth doing.

Alternatively, take the road through Tomich and then follow the signs for Plodda Falls. The last part of the road is a bit rough but will be fine if taken slowly. There is a parking area and it is just a short and very easy walk to Plodda Falls with their viewing platform above.

If visiting Culloden, do also try and fit in a visit to Clava Cairns too - its only a 5 minute drive and they are wonderful.

Posted by
491 posts

We did Storr and Quiraing hikes along with the west side of the Trotternish in one day. If you want to catch the north and east sides, you definitely have to limit it to one. We spent one day on each side. There's also Fairy Pools to consider. I was a little disappointed in how crowded everything was on Skye, and we were there in early June. All the car parks were highly developed (and fee based).

I'll 2nd the Eilean Donan comment. Impressive on the outside, but not so much inside.

A shorter diversion than Plodda Falls would be to stop at Falls or Foyers right on the east shore of Loch Ness. Probably not as impressive, but a really short walk from the road.

Definitely add Clava Cairns. Culloden will take longer than you think as it's fairly spread out and the walking tours move pretty slowly. We were there for nearly 2 hours and felt rushed.

I've given up golf, but getting a tee-time will require long range planning.

One thing I've discovered (duh!) after several Scotland trips, is that unless you never expect to get back to Scotland, focusing on one area will let you see and do more, and when you return you can shift your focus rather than drive similar routes with simply different stops. For example, trip one might include the Cairngorms, St. Andrews, Aberdeen,
Orkney, Inverness, Dundee etc. while trip two might include Harris/Lewis and/or Shetland, Islay, Oban (and islands), Fort William, Ullapool, etc. Wish I'd realized that strategy years ago!

Posted by
1594 posts

Picking up on the comment about Golf at St Andrews... It's not as easy as you might think and you might change your mind when you see the fees... . I've copied the answer from this thread

There are seven different golf courses at St Andrews. Have a look at their website.

The most famous is the Old Course, but you can’t just turn up and play. It is very difficult to book as you need to make a booking with 2 or 3 other players to make up a round (or whatever they call it... I’m not a golf player). There is a ballot you can enter 48hours ahead which gives golfers in the area a chance to play BUT there need to be at least two players... The other courses also need prebooking and there need to be at least two players.

Only the Balgove Course doesn’t need advance booking (but I’m not sure if the minimum of two applies here). Note this is a 9 hole course.

Do you have clubs, so will you need to hire them? You can hire clubs , but they recommend booking in advance as stocks may be limited for on the day requests.

If the logistics of trying to play golf don't work out, how about booking to go on a guided walk of the Old Course instead? This takes you round the 1st, 17th and 18th holes. Again you would need to book this in advance and the tour lasts about 75 minutes.

Posted by
1594 posts

A lot depends on what bradcraft means by ‘climb’...

The Black Cuillins are spectacular seen from below but I would have thought they were at least as challenging if not more challenging than Old Man of Storr and Quirang. Distance alone puts them in a different category.

Even the Walk Higland website (the Walker’s Bible) describes then as ‘the most spectacular and challenging mountains in Britain. These are peaks of which dreams are made - and nightmares! Many of their summits require scrambling or even rock-climbing to reach...’

Posted by
4 posts

“Climb”… good point… mainly just to get in some good hiking and adventure. If it needs special equipment, we aren’t doing it. If it’s more than a challenging trail/hike, then we aren’t doing it. 😃 If my overly adventurous sons want to do more than that, then my wife and I will enjoy a quiet day in town.

But it does sound like, from the feedback, that these are reasonably central locations from which to explore the areas where they are located. And that the distances between them are reasonable. And that the # of days allotted to each location is reasonable to get a good flavor. It also sounds like there is far more within reach of these hubs than we can possibly hit in the time we have at each place, and that is as it should be! I rather leave some to see the next visit and have a full, but not-too-full, trip this time.

Posted by
1594 posts

You have the right attitude, especially aoppreciating you may need to leave things for another visit.

Check out Old Man of Storr and the Quirang

The top part of the Old Man does get steep and rocky but you don't need special equipment apart from a sturdy pair of boots and waterproofs (plus sun screen, water etc). You can always let the 'adventurous sons' go further up while you drop out and enjoy the views.

Again with the Quirang, you may not want to do the full circuit, but the bottom part walking up from the car park is easy and gives a good flavour of the scenery (stunning!)

If you've not found the Undiscovered Scotland website, it is a wonderful resource of ideas and things to do. It covers many places not found in any of the guide books. I use it to plan all my Scotland visits.