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Itinerary Advice Please

Hubby and I love to travel -- seeing and doing -- and we handle busy well, as long as we can take rest breaks. We hate shopping. We love walking, but I wouldn't call us trekkers. We both love history, especially the real deal as opposed to dry museum displays, and we tend to brush up on the history before we go. As you can imagine, Scotland captures our imaginations. Unfortunately, I can only take 2 weeks from work (and as it is, I will have to go back to work the day after we return -- UGH!)

Here's what I'm thinking:

1 ARR 17:45 Glasgow (Sleep Glasgow 2 nights)
2 Glasgow
3 RENT CAR. Drive along Loch Lomond, Lunch in Inveraray; Distillery tour in Oban (Sleep Oban 2 nights)
4 Island hop: Mull, Iona, Staffa
5 Glencoe (museum), "Road to the Isles", viaduct in Glenfinnan enroute, Ferry to Skye and on to Portree (Sleep Portree 3 nights)
6 Trotternish Peninsula, Dunvegan Castle

7 Talisker Distillery, Fairy Pools hike
8 Skye Bridge, Eilean Donan Castle, past Loch Ness, to Inverness (Sleep Inverness 2 nights)
9 Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns, Cawdor Castle
10 RETURN CAR in Inverness. FLY to Kirkwall. RENT CAR in Kirkwall; see Scapa Flow. (Sleep Kirkwall 2 nights)
11 Prehistoric sites, Kirkwall itself.
12 RETURN CAR in Kirkwall. Early morning FLIGHT to Edinburgh. (Sleep Edinburgh 3 nights)
13 Edinburgh
14 Edinburgh

--- LV 11:40 Edinburgh  ARR 18:35 San Diego

Any obvious places where I should tighten things up? Leave things out for more breathing room? Sites I'll hate myself for missing (or wish that I hadn't spent the time on?) I have no interest in visiting Nessie, though might stop in at Urquhart castle if it works. I haven't noted all the places we'll stop along the way -- just the big sites. (I like to plan the big things so that the puzzle pieces fit, but I also take copious notes in my iPad, filed by location, as I read up on locales, with other ideas of things to do "as the mood strikes." Thank God for iPads: it serves as a camera, RS Guidebook, books for the plane, trip journal, and pre-trip planner all in one, backed up to the cloud as often as I have Internet access.

THANKS IN ADVANCE. This forum is amazing.

Posted by
5669 posts


If it were me, I would take the car on to Mull and stay on the Island. I really liked Tobermory. Om the next day, I would drive to Fionnphort to catch the boat tour to Staffa and Iona. THe next day you can catch the ferry to the mainland. Of course, you can go the way you've planned back to Oban, or you can go this route. Depends on how off the beaten track you want to get.

You're going to wish you had more time, but that's the way it is on vacation. You've only given yourself one day in Orkney. You can see a lot--Ring of Brogdar, Stones of Stenness, Brogdar Ness, Maeshowe, but look what else is there. So, having suggested the time on Mull, I'm now retracting it and suggesting you add the time to Orkney. Mull is lovely, but you are going to Skye. So, if it were me, I actually would head straight for Glencoe from Glasgow. Spend the night in the Fort William area. Then reach Skye the next day. Spend your three nights on the Island and then add the additional night to Orkney.


Posted by
459 posts

My input would be if you are going to be up in the Trotternish Peninsula area be sure to cut across from Quiraing (of course dont miss Q!) over to Uig and do a short visit to the Fairy Glen! Really unique spot, we had a great 1 hour walk around the glen and it ws awesome. Also a pretty easy hike is out to the coral beach near Dunvegan, nice flat hike out to the beach, unusual spot again, can do the walk and bck in 1.5 hours, give the link I attached a look for hikes out on Skye and in the highlands, its a great website that looks to me to be well suited to provide help for your trip. I used it for 8-10 hikes on skye and over near fort william/glencoe/ and the viaduct.. hope it helps, it is great for directions as well!! I totally agree with Pam's advise on Ft. William/Glen Coe and then out to Skye for three days!! dave

Posted by
186 posts

FWIW I'd suggest you don't actually go inside Eilean Donan castle if this was your plan. Just take photographs of it from the road and then continue on your way.

It is in a fabulous setting and is an iconic building, but these days that's as far as it goes for me. Your research will tell you it's not authentic and is very modern in comparison to other Scottish castles. IMHO it's a victim of it's own success and my visit there in August 2014 was spoiled by the vast hordes of tourists inside. There was no time to stand and stare and take things in because of the crowds and the experience really was rather unpleasant. I knew it wasn't the original building and that didn't concern me.

Family commitments meant we had to visit in August, otherwise we might have visited once the main tourist season had ended and possibly enjoyed our visit more.

Posted by
1254 posts

I think some of your trip depends on when you are visiting. I think September is best because it is just past Summer tourist season but the weather can still be decent. You can run into rain but it is still warm. You will always have interesting weather on bring water proof footwear and rain layer. We actually purchased rubber wellies after having to walk glassy paths to all the castles. A lot of the remote tourist sites such as castle ruins will close for the winter season starting in October. In my own personal opinion the "Highlands" has been romanticized at the expense of the majority of the rest of Scotland which has a lot of history and spectacular sites to see.
Check Visit Scotland Site and Historic Scotland Site to see what you might be missing. The Abbeys of the Borders.
Most of the Midieval Castles. Mary Queen of Scots Historic Trail. Sir Walter Scots Home. Stirling. Linlithgow. You do have the right idea on the Whisky Trail. In Inveraray visit the Campbell Clan Headquarters. Most everything on your list is probably worth a visit, however, Oban is mostly for catching the Ferry.

Posted by
5669 posts

In defense of Eilean Donan, I will admit it was probably not until my 9th or 10th trip to Scotland that I finally saw it and toured it. It had it's points. And I don't think I would be quite so harsh on giving the inside a total miss. The views up the loch from the castle were nice and we enjoyed it. I will say that Stirling and Edinburgh are much, much better.

Posted by
1102 posts

I absolutely loved the Orkneys and would give it more time if you can. Dunstaffnag Castle is nicely ruined and easy to get to from Oban. You can also take a tour that gets you to Mull, Iona, and Staffa from Oban.