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Itinerary Help - 3.5 Days Starting Glasgow

My mother and I just booked a two week trip in October starting London, on to Ireland, and then finally flying out of Inverness. The main goal of this trip is genealogical in nature. Our family is from Glasgow so that is a must for at least one full day. I would appreciate any recommendations on how you would fill the rest of our itinerary. We are happy to rent a car or take public transportation. It seems like working our way up the coast with perhaps a side trip to an island or two would be a good option, but I would love any recommendations that you could offer!

Our Schedule

  • 10/14 - Arrive no later than midday in Glasgow
  • 10/15 - 10/17- In Scotland
  • 10/18 - Depart Inverness (early)

We're spending 4 Nights/3 Full days in each country. I know it's not long, but my mom has multiple sclerosis and the symptoms are starting to intensify so she wants to make the most out of this trip before she's not able to travel like this anymore.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Posted by
2565 posts

First of all, best wishes for your mom's health, and hats off to her for making the most of the opportunity to travel!

Between Glasgow and Inverness you have many, many choices and I think they're all pretty good, so you can't really go wrong. However, the days are short in October and you only have two days to work with, given that 10/15 is taken up by genealogical research in Glasgow. Plus, you'll want to sleep in Inverness the night of 10/17 in order to be near the airport for your morning flight.

So ... one option is to choose a location to sleep the night of 10/16 somewhere along the main train line Glasgow-Inverness, which goes via Stirling and Perth, Pitlochry and Aviemore.

See https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Glasgow/Inverness

For example, you might get off in Stirling and see the castle, then catch another train, travel to Pitlochry and stay the night there.

See http://www.pitlochry-scotland.co.uk/things-to-do/

Next day, continue toward Inverness. A stop at Newtonmore would let you visit the Clan MacPherson Museum, if that holds any interest for you.

Some attractions have shorter hours of opening in October than in the high season, so check on that as you make your list of places to visit.

Posted by
17 posts

This is an excellent suggestion, thank you! Do you happen to know if we purchase a ticket from Glasgow to Inverness, can we get off an and on as suggested, even with an overnight? Or would we need to purchase a ticket from Glasgow to Stirling then from Stirling to Pitlochry, etc.? I tried googling this and haven't had luck finding an answer. Thank you again!

Posted by
80 posts

I'm sorry to hear about your mom's illness and understand that you want to see as much as possible, but 3 days is an incredibly short visit and you'll find yourself very rushed - Scotland is bigger than it looks on a map and it can take much longer than many people think to travel between places, particularly in the Highlands. As such, you simply don't have time to do side trips to the islands etc.

If the main aim of your trip is genealogical and you family came from Glasgow then I'd tend to suggest focussing on that area, not bothering with Inverness (which whilst pleasant enough, is fairly small and not packed with things to see) and fly home from Glasgow instead.

Glasgow is a large sprawling city so - even though public transport is good - if you want to see places associated with you ancestors you may want more than 1 full day. Do you know where in Glasgow your family came from?

There are also a number of museums etc in the city that might provide some historical insight into your ancestors lives - i.e. the tenement house, the people's palace, the provands lordship, the Riverside (transport) museum, perhaps summerlee industrial museum in Coatbridge or new lanark world heritage site.

You could still see the Highlands with this approach by taking a day tour from Glasgow with the likes of rabbies or Discover Scotland - this would let you see a lot. You could also take a day or 2 trip on the W Highland train line.

If you're sticking with your original itinerary I'll answer your question about train tickets - basically it's complicated, but the short simple answer is generally no - you'd have to buy separate tickets.

Given you said that your happy to hire a car then I'd strongly recommend this option over public transport tbh, as it will be more flexible over public transport and save having to clamber on and off trains and busses with luggage etc. One you are finished in Glasgow then hire a car from the airport (to avoid driving in the city centre - not recommended imo). To get to Inverness you've got 2 main routes, either:

  • The A9 via Stirling, Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl, Aviemore etc. (Similar route to the train).

  • Or the (longer) A82 via loch Lomond, Glencoe, Ft William, Loch Ness etc.

They're both very scenic with nice places to stop, but I'd tend to say the A82 route may have more striking scenery. Take a look at the places online and see where you'd like to see and stay overnight. You could do these routes in a day but it's rushed with a lot of time in the car on busy twisty roads so better done over two days, particularly as the light is getting shorter in October.

Posted by
2565 posts

I agree with the previous comment that renting a car might be a better choice if your mom currently has mobility limitations. We have an elderly family member with some limitations and have found it a bit stressful just in local travel when we use train and bus. Also, with two of you you'd be paying two train fares and then probably using a taxi to get from train stations to your desired destinations, so the cost of a car rental wouldn't really be that much higher.

I recommend getting an automatic, renting out of Glasgow airport, and asking the agent in the parking lot (the one who puts you into your car) what signs to follow at the roundabouts leaving the airport campus to make sure you get onto the motorway headed in your desired direction. There are at least 2-3 roundabouts plus the motorway entrance, and the signs are not self-explanatory to a visitor because they post the names of towns/cities, not compass directions like north-south.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you both for the suggestions! This definitely helps in our planning and research!

Posted by
2565 posts

Choosing between the A9 and the A82, having driven both I'll mention that the A9 is more like USA highway driving. Parts of it are dual carriageway (divided highway). You'll want to be aware that in Britain the inside lane (right lane, since you're driving on the left) is only for passing. You're not supposed to cruise along in the fast lane, as we generally do on US highways. The A82 is more like a country road, sometimes 4 lanes but often just 2 lanes (1 in each direction). Travel is slower, so you need to consider not just the distance but also slower speed, probably averaging around 30 mph.

Personally I think the scenery is awesome on either route.