Our 1st adventure and exploration of Scotland in 2018 was wonderful and trepidatious. We rented a car from a company whose name matched ours, so the agent upgraded us, even though we admitted we are not related to the owner/founder of said rental car corporation, so instead of a compact we were bequeathed a Mercedes luxury sedan, thank you very much! From Edinburgh to Stirling to Glasgow to the Isle of Mull, we thought there was a good chance one of us would be sacrificed to the cause. Either his demise would come in the form of a head-on collision or I would go by way of an unfortunate but inevitable encounter with a medieval stone wall. In Edinburgh we thought we were destined for perennially swirling around a big city roundabout, the least of our concerns, but still disconcerting. So, as a result, while we pledged to one another to return to Scotland because we absolutely loved everything else we experienced there, we also pledged, in stone, never to rent a car in Scotland ever! The time has come to immerse ourselves into planning our return, fall 2023. We welcome recommendations comparing bus to train travel, specifically Edinburgh to Saint Andrews, perhaps Braemar (Do you recommend the highland games there? The one in Stirling was charming akin to a small town county fair in the US). Back to Edinburgh, we would continue on our way to York, Stratford Upon Avon and London.
I have been to Scotland about four times and will be going back. I have yet to rent a car. It's all been done by a combination of train, bus, Loganair and Rabbie's Tours.
The same hold true for the rest of Great Britain. Trains, buses and day tours.
It takes a little research but it can be done.
Oh my! I am so sorry that you had that experience. I wish I could just come and drive you everywhere! I miss driving in Scotland. Well, heck I've on Manhattan now so I miss driving in general. :).
The train does go to St. Andrews, so that is easy. You have to take a taxi or bus for the last little bit, but people do it all the time so it is not an odd journey. I think that the journey to Braemar would require bus or driver. Although if you are going to the games, maybe look to see if there is a tour operator that can take you there.
The train goes up the middle of Scotland--think the A9 to Inverness and then either north to Thurso or west to Kyle of Lochalsh. Or you can branch over to east to Dundee. There is of course also the line that goes up the west coast side and ultimately takes you to Malaig where you can catch a ferry to Skye.
There is a new train line that takes you into the Borders.
To get off those main tracks you need buses.
Another recommendation for Rabbie’s Tours. We did a day tour from Glasgow, but I know they have multi-day trips. Maybe combine that with some easy train trips.
You might get some use out of this website:
For info on all rail travel in Scotland go to the Scotrail website, timetables, maps etc.
The rail line to St Andrews was closed in the 1960s if I'm not mistaken. But trains stop in nearby Leuchars, a 10 min bus ride from St Andrews. In addition there are direct coaches between Edinburgh and St Andrews.
The Traveline Scotland website was my source for bus schedules two years ago. It also includes trains, but as I was planning my trip I found its rail schedules didn't always align with the info on nationalrail.co.uk, which is what I have used for trains throughout Great Britain. Therefore, I would not trust the train-schedule information on travelinescotland.com.
I too have always found the Scot-rail website to be very useful. https://www.scotrail.co.uk