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first trip to Scotland itinerary

Hello all - flights are purchased and I've been working hard at piecing together an itinerary that hits a lot of highlights that we want (beautiful scenery, castles, history, whisky, etc). It's our first trip and I find that it's hard not to try to pack too much in - so much to do and not enough time! I'm hoping we have a good start at a sensible itinerary. It'll be myself and my husband, we're in our mid 30s, we like walking/hiking but nothing too technical, we'll rent a car but my husband will probably do most of the driving. On that note, does anyone know if any of the car rental companies allow you to buy additional driver insurance for just one day? We'd like to visit a couple distilleries in Speyside and I need to do the driving as he'll be doing the drinking. On to the itinerary:

Friday October 4: Arrive EDI 9:10am. Visit Craigmillar Castle, Real Mary King's Close, explore Royal Mile.

Saturday October 5: Edinburgh Castle, Scottish National Gallery, Gladstone's Land (may or may not be open, I'm supposed to email them back in a few months), Haunted Tour.

Sunday October 6: Explore Dean Village in morning. Pick up rental car. Stop at one of the following - Doune Castle / Linlithglow / Stirling Castle. Advice on which one to pick based for variation in comparison to other castles we will see on our trip? Drive to Glencoe, sleep for the night.

Monday October 7: Explore Glencoe in the morning, would like to do a short hike in this area. Ferry to Isle of Skye. Need to pick a base for the Isle. Need to pick an afternoon activity for this day - will aim for flexibility and structure activities around weather forecast and logistics. We have experienced light hiking in Ireland in rain and am confident we can get by in good spirits in rain as needed.

Tuesday October 8: Trotternish Loop. I'd like to visit the Skye Museum of Isle Life but it looks like they may be closed in October. I've sent them an email inquiry.

Wednesday October 9: Explore Isle of Skye - Fairy Pools, Dun Beag Broch, Talisker Distillery, Neist Point Lighthouse. I've decided to skip Dunvegan castle as the interiors don't look to be my favorite (I tend to prefer more rustic interiors). We could pick a hike or area to visit on the island in proximity to these areas?

Thursday October 10: Drive to our base in the Speyside area (looking at basing in Aberlour), quick stop for pictures at Eilean Donan on the way. Thinking of skipping Loch Ness and Urquhart since I've read so much conflicting opinions on them...I'm contemplating visiting the Isle of Raasay this morning instead (scenery looks amazing) and then make the drive to Aberlour?

Friday October 11: Whisky tours - probably Aberlour and Glenfiddich. My husband needs to do his own research and pick his preferences but these both sound very good. As it's a Friday night, it would be fun to be able to be in a base that would have some live music this evening.

Saturday October 12: morning drive back to Inverness. Stop at Clava Cairns, then visit Culloden Battlefield. Drop rental car at Inverness Airport and catch 3:00-4:40 easyjet flight to London Gatwick. Need to decide if we want to try to stay in London itself or close to LHR airport this night.

Sunday October 13: flight home at 12:50 out of LHR.

I had thought about going back down to Edinburgh to fly out instead of Inverness. Downside is that it's a couple more hours of driving. Upside is we'd save a little money on car rental and we could catch a cheaper flight to LHR early in the morning from EDI. If we fly out of EDI we would probably skip Isle of Raasay and visit Culloden on the way to Aberlour instead.

How does it look? Should we cut or add in places? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our plans. Thank you very much!

Posted by
9447 posts

Just a comment on Speyside distilleries. We loved Cardu and Craggenmore . Both are now house favorites. I adore Talisker, too.

Posted by
16996 posts

If you decide you want to stay out at Heathrow on your final night, I can recommend the Premier Inn near Terminal 4. It's about a 15-minute walk from T4 through an enclosed walkway. The hotel is fairly new and apparently a bit under-utilized. I've twice booked single rooms there in the £40 to £60 range, and I think doubles are about the same price if booked well ahead. I like not having to depend on a taxi or some sort of courtesy shuttle to get back to the airport, though you must still get to the correct terminal for your departure.

Posted by
68 posts

Hi Julie,
Scotland is one of my favorite countries to visit - just soulfully beautiful. I would love to go back yet again, and Skye is so wonderfully compact to maneuver, yet it offers so much.

Try to do the Bella Jane boat trip - it leaves from the small port of Elgol (where you can park) and take you to otherwise unaccessible Loch Coruisk (unless you are a good climber) - really lots of wildlife, beautiful clear water, and opportunity to hike.

Took my son here while we were training around Britain when he was 11 -- he's 32 now (!!!) - but still remembers this as one of his favorite trips - we usually stayed in Family rooms at country hostels, but here we stayed at Coriusk House BnB, an ancient croft, just lovely, with red deer coming around at dawn (upscaled by new owners now). We'd walk down hill to Elgol everyday, hardly ever seeing another soul (except wildlife, eagles, sheep, and highland cattle) --and about a 2 hour hike back uphill on the way back. Elgol is located about 45 minutes Southwest (more or less) from Broadford - I know you have a car which is convenient - we used the PostBus. This is a quieter and untrammelled part of Skye -- check out the website.

One other thing, we loved Stirling Castle, very similar to Edinburgh castle, but many fewer people, quiet, and some rooms a little eerie -- we stayed in Stirling on one trip and avoided Edinburgh. The old town (including the Kirk and truly very spooky graveyard) is definitely worth a walk-thru - to see where King James the 6th (of Scotland, 1st of England) - was baptized, and many unmodified buildings from Elizabethan times and prior. -- Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
909 posts

Hi, Julie,

Interesting program on the telly Friday night about your town!

Your itinerary sounds busy, but doable, with the exception of October 10th. As you'll be touring in early to mid-October, you'll have about 11 hours of daylight each day, so you need to avoid as much evening driving as possible. You want to be able to see as much of the scenery as you possibly can.

October 6th.: I'd go with Linlithgow Palace, as it's unlike Stirling or Doune. Depending on which way you go to Glencoe, you could drive by both Stirling and Doune. If you're exploring Dean Village in the morning, you're probably not going to get out to EDI to pick up your car until noon. Linlithgow would be on your way to Stirling. If you're Outlander fans, Blackness and Midhope (Lallybroch) castles are nearby. Given the time it will take to drive to Glencoe, you may not get there before dusk.

October 7th.: It's about three hours driving from Glencoe to Mallaig for the ferry to Skye. Be sure to make a reservation for the ferry. Don't miss the last ferry, because it's a long way around to the bridge!

October 9th.: Good plan. Everything on your list is on the Northwest of Skye, and the Duirinish Peninsula. Check with the Edinbane Inn to see if they have a traditional music session going on on either of your two nights on Skye. Check out the WalkHighlands website for a list of hikes on Skye. They are listed in order from easy to ridiculous.

October 10th.: This is a tough day. You'd need at least two hours for Raasay. That includes your round trip ferry plus an hour on the island. You may have to skip Raasay, as even if you take the earliest ferry, you're not going to get off of Skye until the afternoon, meaning that you'd get to Aberlour well after dark. If you want to visit Eilean Donan, you'd definitely have to skip Raasay. Unless you have time to tack it on after your schedule on the 9th.

If you want to bypass Loch Ness, you'd have to approach Inverness by way of Achnasheen. From Inverness, you can take the A96 east to Elgin, then the A941 south to Craigellachie and Aberlour. Otherwise, from Skye to Inverness, it's the A87 to Loch Cluanie, the A887 to Invermoriston, and the A82 up the west bank of Loch Ness.

October 12th.: Personally, I'd spend the extra night in Edinburgh, stay near the airport, then catch a commuter flight down to LHR for your early afternoon flight on the 13th. That would save you the hassle of getting from LGW to LHR, and you probably would not want to stay in London proper with a 12:50 p.m. flight the next afternoon. Not only that, but you could possibly book your luggage straight through to your final destination, and avoid Easyjet's exorbitant luggage charges. Upside is that you get to spend an extra night in Scotland! :) And see more of the wonderful countryside! And not have to rush through Culloden and the cairns!

Best wishes for your plans!

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: I second celtic0103's recommendation for the Bella Jane. I've done that trip three times now - the first time was a one way hike in to Sligachan from Loch Coruisk. If you're interested in hiking, that's a grand one. And best of all, midge season will be over!

p.p.s.: Just noticed your question about the car insurance. No, you wouldn't be able to take insurance for just the one day without turning the car in, and initiating a new hire. So if your husband would like to sample some of the water of life, perhaps you could drive from the distilleries to your lodging, and then your husband could take over the next day. If you haven't driven a standard transmission before, and you're planning to drive, best to rent an automatic. It's not difficult to drive a stick shift, but you probably don't want to learn on the fly on unfamiliar roads. If you're taking car insurance, rather than relying on your credit card for coverage, check to see if you have to pay extra for a second driver.

Posted by
590 posts

I've been struggling a bit to try to find the most logical way to piece our trip together and have been unsure if I'm on the right track or not. I dislike one night stops and drives that are too long. It seems really hard to avoid both when planning a roadtrip in Scotland! That is, when you have limited time like we do. Should we be considering any other alternative ways of mapping this out where we could spend the end of our trip in Edinburgh and not split our stay up in Edinburgh? I'm thinking "out loud" here...what about taking a train to Inverness upon our arrival at EDI? There is an 11:38 and an 1:36. We could spend two nights in Inverness - visit a couple distilleries on Saturday as a day trip via rental car and then visit Culloden Sunday morning before driving to Skye. We could then spend a few days on Skye. Maybe instead of overnighting in Glencoe we could overnight in Stirling so we could use the car to visit the castle(s) before dropping the car in Edinburgh? I think I need to go back to the drawing board to see if this thought process makes any sense when I actually lay it out in more detail.

laurel, thanks for the tips on the distilleries! He has yet to try Cardu and Craggenmore but has had the Talisker and has really enjoyed it. My interests were piqued in Cardu when I read that it was started by a woman. Some of his favorites are on Islay but that doesn't seem to fit in as well on this trip so we will have to return. In the meantime, I'm going to take baby-steps in learning to appreciate scotch more before our trip :)

acraven, thanks for the tip on the London hotel.

celtic0103, thanks for the tip on Elgol - it sounds very lovely. We will have to see if we can fit it in! And Stirling sounds great. I wish we had more time because I'd love to fit in some more castles if we could. I have read that some people prefer Stirling to Edinburgh Castle. I'll look to see what options we might have for flying out of Glasgow. Hadn't even thought of it!

Mike, you're an absolute wealth of information, thank you so much for the detailed response and all the great ideas and helpful tips! I'm going to process through all your suggestions and see what might make sense if I reorganize. I know I could easily spend a day touring all those castles you've suggested as they all look pretty interesting to me. I wonder if I restructure if we might end up with a bit more time for an extra castle or two outside of Edinburgh. I was afraid with daylight hours we may not be able to get to Raasay and make that drive. Also, we don't have to bypass Loch Ness, but we definitely don't have to stop, either. Is one or the other route reliably quicker?

Yes, we are definitely going to rent an automatic. My husband can drive manual but we figure it takes some of the stress out to have the automatic. He drove very well in the tiny roads of western Ireland. I'm afraid I would have scraped a rock wall if I had been the one driving there!

P.S. Mike - yes, not too happy about the game! I was really hoping our Kansas City boys would make it this year. Heartbreak as always!

Posted by
2578 posts

I'm going to suggest you take a deep breath because it looks like you're overthinking this, trying to wring every last advantage out of a lovely trip. Scotland has so much beauty, you will not see it all, but just enjoy what you do see. Before our first trip there, I talked to a couple of different friends who'd been there and they both regretted having too many places on their list and thus rushing from place to place.

The one thing I do advise nailing down is to choose your desired base on Skye and book it ASAP. It is such a popular place that it fills up far in advance. If you send an email and don't get a timely response, invest in a phone call -- at this time of year, some staff may be on vacation so emails may pile up.

Posted by
909 posts

Hi once again, Julie,

To reinforce what epitd said, by all means you should arrange your lodging on Skye as soon as you finalize your travel plans. Even in October the accommodation books up quickly. This far in advance, you shouldn't have much of a problem; however some of the B&Bs close down in mid-October.

As far as taking the train to Inverness once you arrive, that would at least put you up near the distilleries that you want to visit, as well as Culloden and the Clava Cairns. The A82 to Invermoriston, then the A887 to the A87 at Loch Cluanie would be the easiest way to get from Inverness to Skye, or vice versa. The Achnasheen route is a bit longer. And if you can swing three days on Skye, all the better. That would give you time to visit Raasay, and do some hiking.

If you're going from Skye to the Trossachs and Stirling, the fastest route would be through Glencoe, so at the very least you'd get a feel for the place, and know if you want to spend more time on your next trip to Scotland. (And there will be a next trip!)

If you're hiring the car in Inverness, then you would have the option of dropping it off at either Glasgow or Edinburgh. Edinburgh makes more sense, as you plan to visit the city anyway. You could even drop the car off early at EDI, and spend time in the city without having to find a place to park. Then you can catch that connecting flight to LHR on the morning of the 13th.

I just found out that many of the distilleries in Scotland are owned by Diageo/Seagrams, including Cardhu and my personal favorite, Talisker. I don't know how much of a difference that makes in the distilling process, but I suppose it makes for easier distribution in North America. Perhaps next time over I'll try to find an independent distillery to support!

Keep asking questions. We're all here to help!


Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: That Friday night program was about BTK, but I certainly sympathize with you about the Chiefs. I was hoping that it would KC vs. NO this year. It would have been a better game than the one which just transpired.

Posted by
479 posts

Just to chime in to say that the advice you've been given re Skye is spot on! I would choose a central base (Portree, Edinbane, Dunvegan, Carbost etc) to facilitate your visit as it looks as though you are planning to reach all points of the island. Do not miss out on Elgol and a boat trip, but it is not a good place to base yourself as your dining options will be limited to the one B&B (really more of a small hotel now) that is there and the drive in and out, while beautiful is long (and not for the faint hearted if you are not used to our roads).

Raasay? Yes go there for sure. There is a distillery there now and as far as I know it is independent.

Museum of Island Life. Run by volunteers and closed right now so you probably won't get a reply to your email (yet or maybe ever!). However, I am pretty sure it is closed in October. However, do not despair as you can peer over the low fence and take photos of the wonderful old buildings.

Some B&Bs won't have released their availability for October yet (we haven't!) but do email or call places you are interested in. Just to give you an idea on how busy this place is, we only have one B&B room at our place and we are 85% booked from April to end of August. I haven't yet opened up dates in Sept and we normally close after the first week in October, as do lots of smaller places. Main agents used by providers here on Skye are Airbnb and In October some of the restaurants will also be winding down, so be sure to ask your B&B/hotel for recommendations and think about booking meals too.

Posted by
590 posts

Thanks everyone for letting me bounce ideas and all the great feedback. I want to plan this trip right and get a good balance of seeing things but not trying to do too much - your help is so appreciated. I've explored rearranging our trip and I think this new version is a bit less complicated than my first itinerary. It's been hard to judge how much time we need at places because I've seen such a wide variety of itineraries on the forum - some people do Skye in a day! The new itinerary gives us more time on Skye and I'm guessing that really makes more sense considering the time we are investing to get there. We can save the Speyside area for another trip.

Friday October 4: Arrive EDI 9:10am. Train to Inverness - looks like these tickets are classified as "anytime of day"? Has anyone had problems with a train being full and not being able to get a seat? Stay somewhere in Inverness - only thing I'd like to try to do this night is find a pub with some traditional music.

Saturday October 5: Pick up rental car around 9am. Quick stop at Clava Cairns. Visit Culloden (11-2ish?). Possible stop at Glen Ord for a distillery visit. Drive on to Isle of Skye. Not sure if fitting in the distillery visit is doable or not, I've contacted them for tour times on this day. We'd probably be getting to our base probably right around sunset, which is 6:40.

October 6, 7, 8: Isle of Skye

Wednesday October 9: Drive to Stirling, leave Skye early around 8am. Definitely like Mike's idea of driving through Glencoe - we could take a short stop here and definitely take a gander at the area for a return trip. I'd like to try to visit Doune Castle on the way in to Stirling. We'd have to get there no later than 2-2:30 as it closes at 4. Overnight in Stirling and drop rental car.

Thursday October 10: Stirling Castle in the morning. Train to Edinburgh.

October 11, 12: Edinburgh

October 13: morning flight to LHR to fly home

I've done some brief searching and yes - some places are definitely already booked on Skye. And some are very expensive. We'd like to stay somewhere that we can walk to some pubs/restaurants in the evening and not have to drive. I know Portree fits into that category and it seems fairly central so it could be a good choice. I definitely want to get our plan nailed down so we can find good accommodation that works well for us.

The scenery on Raasay looks absolutely incredible so I definitely like the idea of being able to visit and do a hike. From what I can tell the distillery won't have their own stuff ready until 2020 but it looks like they're doing early tastes of what they do have? It looks like a fun stop and has good reviews.

What kind of scenery/wildlife might we expect on the Elgol boat trip in early October? Is there a chance we wouldn't be able to go due to rough water at this time of year?

Thanks again everyone for all of your help!

Posted by
484 posts

We were in Scotland end of Sept, early Oct this year. Loved Inverness!

My thoughts.... I see you have a revised schedule, but keep working at it. We split Edinburgh to 1 day on the front end then 3 days on the backend of our stay. We did the "Whiskey Experience" in Edinburgh and let's just say it was an excellent primer on Whiskey in Scotland, unless you know everything already. And you can both partake and not have to drive.
We rented a car and for an extra $9/day you can have another driver, I don't know if you can pick and choose the dates.....

You are definitely covering the Island of Skye.... We stayed just out of Portree in a B & B. Great place and great view, but we needed the car to go into Portree. I guess some people would walk it.
Hint from the locals: if you decide to take a ferry to or from Skye, reserve on line and be flexible. They close down the ferries many times due to rough waters. We happen to get a ferry, but was told it was the first day in many that the ferries sailed.
We had a friend that planned most of our trip, even though I could have done this. It was their first time in a long time traveling overseas and she was very excited to stuff way too much into each day. Also she used google maps to calculate time from one point to another... Needless to say, it didn't take long to realize that you really can't see 2-3 sites in the morning, eat any lunch, see 2 sites in the afternoon, hike around, find parking, find next prearranged lodging and find a place to grab dinner.

Posted by
909 posts

Hi yet again, Julie,

A few quickies for you, as you seem to be getting your itinerary really organized.

First of all, your train to Inverness should definitely not be full in October. Don't forget to allow time to get in to the city (Edinburgh). If your flight arrives at 9:10 a.m., you still have to pick up your luggage and get through Immigration. After that, you can catch the tram in to Central Edinburgh. The tram stops a short way from Waverley Station. It's just after the Scott Monument.

Broadford to Elgol is a very nice drive, with Blaven opening up in front of you as you make the loop around Loch Slapin. If you have made reservations for the Bella Jane, make sure to leave them a contact number where you can be reached. Someone will call you if the weather is too rough for the boat to go out. As Elgol is the terminus of the B8083, you have to return the way you came. While you're at Elgol, walk down to the shingle beach below the primary school. The view up Loch Scavaig to Camasunary, with the Cuillins in the background, is one of the prettiest views in Scotland.

Depending on the weather, the Bella Jane stops at the Loch Coruisk jetty. You can get off the boat for an hour and a half to explore the south end of Loch Coruisk, or you can stay on the boat for the return journey. You may see dolphins - they'll often follow the boat, and you'll definitely see seals on the rocks near the Loch Coruisk jetty. Loch Coruisk was a favorite of the 19th. century painters, due to its remote location. They really built up the reputation of the loch, and Victorian tourists arrived in droves to see what it was all about. However, to get the best impression of the loch, you need to cross the Scavaig River on the stepping stones (impossible after a rainfall, unless you're wearing welly boots), and view the length of the loch from the east side. It's actually pretty impressive, nestled among the Cuillins, but only on a day with low clouds. BTW, you get tea and biscuits/cake on the return journey on the Bella Jane.

As you won't have a car in Inverness, I'd recommend the Premier Inn at Nessbank, if you haven't already made a reservation. It's right on the River Ness, and about a five minute walk to the center of town via the Ness Bridge.. You can walk about two minutes north and take the Greig Street Pedestrian Bridge, which is an excellent way of getting to town. The Premier Inn Nessbank is about a 10 minute walk from the train station, or you can take a taxi.

As far as traditional music, your best bet would be either The Gellions, on Bridge Street, directly across from the tourist information office; or Hootenany, which is right around the corner from The Gellions, on Church Street. To get to Hootenany, just go through the close (alleyway) from Bridge on to Church. Apparently Hootenanny does good meals as well. The Gellions is more of a traditional pub, with bar meals.

Also, while you're on Skye, there are traditional music sessions several nights of the week, at various locations around the island. The Edinbane Inn usually hosts a session a couple of nights a week, and often on a Sunday afternoon; the tourist information office in Portree has a list of the sessions throughout Skye.


Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: Make sure that you make a reservation from Armadale to Mallaig if you're taking an early ferry. From Fort William, take the A82 south through Glencoe to Crainlarich; the A85 to Lochearnhead; then the A84 to Stirling. The A84 goes right by Doune Castle.

p.p.s.: You can pick up a good AA road atlas for 1.99 (pounds) at most Tesco supermarkets which have a filling station. They are 8.99 (pounds) just about everywhere else.

Posted by
479 posts

Hi again Julie
If you want to be able to walk to pubs and restaurants (plural) from your accommodation on Skye, then Portree is really your only option and even Portree is a village! Alternatively you could base yourself in Edinbane (Shorefield Guest House is nice or you could stay at Edinbane Inn). In addition to the well regarded Edinbane Inn, which as Mike says has live music a couple of nights a week, there is the newly opened Edinbane Lodge, which does fantastic food and I believe they are in the process of getting some B&B rooms up and running. So while there are only two eating options in Edinbane, they are good ones!

Even in Portree you will want to book your evening meals as the place gets very busy. I am no expert on the evening dining scene in Portree (as I live out on the west of the island) but I've had good lunches in the Antler Bar of the hotel on the village square, and Caroy House. Café Arriba has a nice vibe too. I've heard good reports of Dulse and Bose too.

Another potential option could be the tiny hamlet of Lochbay. There, right on the sea shore, you have the Stein Inn - the oldest pub on Skye, with B&B rooms and just a short (15 seconds) walk away is the MIchelin starred (but not at all fussy) Lochbay restaurant.

As for Elgol and boat trips. Yes the boats do get cancelled in bad weather, so best to call them and book your places but be prepared for disappointment if the boat can't go on your given day. If you take the short cruise into Loch Coruisk you will see tons of seals, a whole host of different sea birds, and you may get lucky and see dolphins (we have seen them on all our trips with the Bella Jane).

And on the Armadale to Mallaig ferry. Yes, again they are weather dependent, but I'd have thought early October would be less risky than a winter sailing (I am due to head off island on Thursday and am watching the weather forecast with interest). You get a refund if they can't sail, and you'd then need to take the Skye Bridge and head south via road.

Posted by
1666 posts

You are getting good advice. You'll love Scotland! I have a few thoughts.

Definitely do the evening Ghost Tour in Edinburgh. It's a lot of fun!
Linlithgow and Sterling are a tossup. We saw both. I had to see Sterling because the MacMillan Chief's father's portrait hangs in the dining room.

Buy "In Search of Ancient Scotland". You can find used copies at Amazon for a reasonable price. It is full of little known and out of the way sites to explore. For instance, near the village of Stein in North Skye, there's Dun Hallin broch. It is in the field behind some houses. You pull up to his house and ask permission to walk up to it. It has a commanding view of Loch Dunvegan.

We also stayed at small B&B's. One in Uplawmoor, near Glasgow was a working dairy farm. We got to meet their 17 new calves. In Linlithgow, we stayed on a farm that raised Clydesdales. They were empty nesters and rented out their spare bedroom. We used it as our base to visit Edinburgh. We returned about 9:00 at night and were immediately surrounded by a group who tried to get me to buy a kiss from a young lady. She was wearing a disposable hospital smock with a menu of kisses on the back, including prices. It turns out she was getting married in a few days and was out selling kisses to add money to her dowry! They didn't realize we were from the US and apologized. We joined in the fun and I paid top dollar, but settled for a peck on the cheek. Since we were such good sports (for 50 somethings) they invited us to join them on their pub crawl!

Posted by
590 posts

Thank you all for the additional info and tips - they are very welcome and much appreciated!

tgreen, it's a balancing act, isn't it?! I want to avoid trying to cram too much into our trip. I also don't want my husband to get tired of being behind the wheel while we go from place to place. I don't know how much rest he'd get if I actually do drive because I'm guessing he'll be sitting on the other side of the car worried the entire time while I do drive, lol.

DougMac, thanks for the tip on the book and the Dun Hallin broch looks wonderful. I would absolutely love to see it. Those are precisely the kind of things I'd love to find during our explorations! And oh my goodness, your kiss story is too good to be true. What a special memory :)

Now I hate to ask this question as you all have given me so much great advice for Skye already, but I need to know, are we making the right choice to visit Skye in early October? I had made the assumption when I was read general statements that said that autumn was a good time to travel to Scotland to experience beautiful colors, scenery, and decently good weather chances - that this would include Skye. I've been looking at some previous years' weather statistics and it looks like the rainfall starts picking up in Portree around October and that the weather could be a bit of everything. Considering that our time on Skye is focused on experiencing the natural beauty of the island, it would be a shame to get completely rained out. Even with good rain jackets and waterproof boots I'm guessing we could realistically take a few hours of walking around in rain and wind before we would tire out. I don't mind some mist and moodiness (I actually enjoy it) but just wondering how strong of weather we could/should expect and if we're making the right decision to visit Skye this trip? Or should we spend some time in an area like Glencoe instead and save Skye for another trip? It looks like the rainfall average from this past October 2018 was quite a bit less in the Glencoe area compared to Portree - 300mm vs 500mm, a difference of about 8", which seems like a lot!

Posted by
909 posts

Hi, Julie,

Weather on Skye can be a real crapshoot. You could experience glorious sunny weather, or it could it could be dreich and rainy the whole time you're there. But if you save Skye for your next visit because of the possibility of rain, it could be even more rainy on your next visit. If it's a light mist, you go hiking. If it's a torrential downpour, you find a nice pub with a blazing fire!

As they say in Scotland, "If you can't see the mountains, it's raining. If you can see the mountains, it's going to rain."

Jacqui (Skyegirl) lives on the island year round. She'll be the one to tell you more about the (potential) weather.

A' the best,

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
479 posts

Hi Julie
You asked about the weather in October. As Mike (Auchterless) says it's variable, but that applies all year round. The first time I came to Skye was in mid March and we had a whole week of temperatures in the mid 70s (f). This summer was exceptional as I believe we managed something like 23 days straight with no rain. The autumn was also pretty good. However, it is undeniable that Scotland (and the western UK as a whole) experiences a climate influenced by the Atlantic Gulfstream. So we get our share of rain! It's fairly rare for it to rain solidly for a whole day here, we are much more likely to get showers (that can be incredibly heavy, or a fine mist that still soaks you to the skin) followed by spells of sunshine. What I particularly like about Skye is that changeable nature of the weather. It means that the colours are always changing and as we live right by the sea, the appearance of the water changes minute by minute. It is also usually breezy here. And breezy to Scots can mean anything from a gentle wisp of air, through to 70mph winds!

Personally, I wouldn't let the weather influence a decision to come here. If you want to see Skye (and Scotland as a whole) you just have to take the plunge weatherise. I would be very surprised if the conditions were any different in Glencoe. It is not that far from us!
Best wishes
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

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590 posts

Thanks Mike and Jacqui. Sounds like Skye weather can be like Kansas weather, just with an ocean influence. We had snow, sleet, thunder and lightning last night!

I’ll keep working at this and figure out what’s right for us. I really appreciate your help!