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Highlands in late October

Hello, fellow travelers.

My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon in Scotland in late October. We're hoping to spend 3-5 days in the Inverness area and I'm looking for recommendations on day trips, events and activities. We really enjoy hiking and outdoor activities. We're renting a car and will be coming up from the Edinburgh area and then heading up to the Orkneys, then to Skye after that. Any suggestions?

Posted by
18720 posts

I'd keep things as flexible as I could, consistent with knowing I would have a place to sleep. I haven't researched lodging demand for October and don't know what you're facing there. I had rather bad luck with the weather in western Scotland in July. With a car you'll have the option of heading east if the west looks grim.

Posted by
1177 posts

Many of the Historic Scottish sites are open only in Season: April to September. Only major and easy access Castles, etc. may be open to view in late October. Some accommodations close for the season, too. Many do not consider that Skye is the same latitude as Juneau Alaska and higher than Newfoundland ...so you can expect wet Marine weather in Late October. You can drive to Skye;so you don't have to worry about Ferry cancelations. So if you are prepared for that and check out all you want to do, it could be an interesting adventure without the crowds. There are many events and activities that celebrate the Autumn Season, maybe Halloween. Look at www.visitscotland.com and www.instagram.com.historicscotland for some good up to date ideas.

Posted by
506 posts

I assume you mean October 2020? If not then you may find it tricky to get good accommodations at short notice. Also Orkney to Skye by car is more than a days drive. If you are using an online travel planner such as google, then bear in mind that the travel times are highly inaccurate for the Highlands. You will probably want to add 1/2 as much again to whatever google tells you.

October is likely to be windy and wet especially near western coasts. Many attractions e.g. castles close at the end of September or start of October. For hiking suggestions checkout www.walkhighlands.co.uk

Hope this helps
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
2725 posts

Instead of staying in Inverness itself, consider Nairn, which is about half an hour east -- just beyond Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle, also near Clava Cairns. Nairn is said to have the warmest, driest climate in Scotland (all things are relative ...) There are lots of B&Bs in town; I can recommend Tali Ayer.

Culloden Battlefield's visitor centre is open year round, but with reduced hours in winter. Clava Cairns are free to visit and open year-round. Cawdor Castle closes as of October 6 this year, but 'In addition, private tours can be arranged, and by appointment only, during the closed season from October to April. Contact us to find out more.' https://www.cawdorcastle.com/welcome-to-cawdor-castle/opening-times-and-prices/

You may also want to try spotting dolphins in the Moray Firth. You can do it from certain locations on the shore, or take a boat trip, but it looks like most boats stop for the season some time around mid- to late October, so you'd need to inquire about booking. https://www.moraydolphins.co.uk/

Posted by
453 posts

JMac I agree with Skye girl on this web site for help on many things. https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ I planned my trip to the highlands so we could do some hiking and site seeing and this website has a ton of helpful planning information. I used it for mapping and planning our trips between hikes and locations and it is awesome. We went out to Skye and spent a few days up on the Trotternish Portree area wonderful hikes, sights, people. Don't miss Quiraing, Storr, and the Fairy Glen near Uig. Get familiar with the website and it was a great great planning tool. We stayed at a very private B&B near Carbost, only two rooms and would be great for newly weds. https://www.blabheinn.scot/ We particularly enjoyed the Glen Coe area too and early October was great weather and small crowds. Skyegirl is also spot on regarding drivng in the Highlands, take heed.

Posted by
68 posts

Hello, I've just returned from 2 wonderful weeks in Scotland. We spent much of it in the highlands and although it was early, rather than late October, it might help. We found that things were beginning to shut down for the season so some cafes, hotels, etc might be closed but nothing we wanted to see was actually closed. Many sites like castles, museums, etc. switched to shorter hours on October 1. This, for the most part, meant they close about an hour earlier than in the summer time. We also were able to get same day accommodations everywhere we went without problem. I would not count on this necessarily but we ended up having to do it and had no problem at all. We had rented a camper van but decided we would be more comfortable in hotels so just found one every night.

Posted by
5544 posts

Inverness or a town near it is great base for day trips. I've done both. At that time of year, I would probably lean toward staying in Inverness as places do start to close as you move toward the end of the month.

Now for the hiking--or walking as it is called in the UK! Have you found the website WalkHighlands? It's a great resource. You can only town and village website to see what walks are suggested. You can see that it is sorted by region. Pick the Highlands and then look at Loch Ness, Glen Affric and the Black Isle. One of my favorite walks is in Glen Affric. I've done the walk around the Loch which was a day hike and I've just walked in and back out. It's a beautiful Glen.

To see the walks near Nairn, just the Moray section. Culbin Sands is near Nairn. It's forestry land and has wonderful walks along the coast of the Moray Firth. In early fall you see lots of sea birds and seals.

You can get to the west coast for day trips. You will less light, but I bet you could still do one if you wanted to. Ullapool might be a good one The town is interesting and there are some nice walks in the hills immediately behind the town.

Another west coast possibility is Torridon. It's a beautiful area. (Well, to be honest, all of Scotland is beautiful to me.) You might find Applecross is too far with the light, but Gairloch is doable.

If the weather in the west disappoints, think about going North along the coast. Dunrobin Castle is right on the Coast. Look in Dornoch, Lairg and East Sutherland section.

And of course, you could go south to the Cairngorms. The Rothie Murchus Estate has lots of trails.

If you want to walk you will want to pay attention to the weather. Also, I would strongly recommend walking boots if you are going to go off-road and on trails. I love Scotland, but it's a boggy place. :)

Pam