I wasn't sure whether to post this in Scotland or England so starting here. I'm planning a trip for May 2022 and this will be our first time here so I'm looking for itinerary feedback. We will be flying into INV on May 5 and out of LHR on May 29.
To give some context, here's what you need to know about our interests:
Scotland is a heritage trip for me. I am descended from Clan Hay and so some of the points of interest are related to my interest in walking in the footsteps of my ancestors.
My husband's father is from England (London area) so we have a lot of time baked in there as we will be staying some of those days with his cousins in Kent.
We prefer smaller towns to bigger cities.
We are planning to pick up a car. No we haven't driven in the UK before so there will definitely be a transition. We have driven all over France and Italy though (which I know is different).
We both love the outdoors, hiking, and history. I also love literature. That's framed a lot of this planning.
So here's what I've drafted:
Fly into Inverness and spend 4 nights here. We will pick up a car on day 2 or day 3 here so that we can do day trips to Loch Ness, Culloden, and Clava Cairns.
Drive to Delgatie Castle near Turriff, doing a whisky tour on the way. I have Knockdhu, Glenfiddich, Cardhu, and the Speyside Cooperage Visitor Center on my list. I love whiskey (am a member of my local Women Who Whiskey chapter) and several months ago we did a virtual event with Margarett Waterbury and these are some of the distilleries she recommended in that event and in her book. Spending 2 nights at Delgatie Castle, which is the Clan Hay Cultural Centre and also my family branch shield is on the castle so I thought this would be cool.
Drive to Stonehaven, stopping at the Loanhead of Daviot stone circle and Dunnotar Castle en route. Spend 1 night in Stonehaven (it's really just a stopover). Alternatively thinking of staying in Aberdeen as St Machar Cathedral has my family branch shield on it and has some importance. But I'd like to see Dunnotar as well and we really prefer smaller towns so I'm leaning toward Stonehaven.
Day trip through Stirling to Edinburgh. We would like to see the Battle of Bannockburn visitors centre and the Wallace monument at a minimum, maybe the castle. We would continue on to Edinburgh staying 3 nights. No specific itinerary here, just exploring the town. I really love Harry Potter so I definitely want to do a walking tour around that.
Leave Edinburgh and day trip through Gifford stopping to hike to Yester Castle which was built by one of my ancestors. Continue on to Durham where we will spend 1 night.
Day tour/hike of Hadrian's Wall from Steel Rigg to Housesteads to Vindolanda - this is a bucket list item for both of us. Drive on to Haworth in late afternoon where we will stay 2 nights. I'm a Bronte sisters fan and want to see the village and (if we're up for it after the previous 2 days) hike out to Top Withens and/or Bronte Falls. I could save Haworth for a future Lake District trip I just thought it would go well with our next destination, and I recently re-watched Jane Eyre with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson and it has me yearning to see the area. :)
Drive on to York day tripping through Leeds on the way. We will drop the car in York and spend 3 nights here. Plan to just explore the city and maybe do a river cruise one day here.
Train to London. We plan to spend 4 nights in London seeing sights there and then 4 nights with my husband's cousins in Gillingham, Kent. We fly out of London on May 29.
So that's it. It's a lot but I think it's doable. Thoughts? Recommendations?