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Itinerary Help for Isle of Skye: Late September to October 2020

Please excuse me if these issues have been raised before, but I am NEWBIE when it comes to traveling
I'm in the preliminary stages of planning a trip to the Scotland Highlands for Mid-September to October (14 days) 2020
Hubby and I are avid hikers and love nature!
I would appreciate any comments/criticisms on this preliminary trip plan:

Fly into Edinburgh (no car/ stay 3 nights)

Bus to Portree (rent a car in Portree/stay 3 nights)

Car to Sligachan Hotel (stay 3 nights/explore Cuillin Hills area)

Return rental car to Portree

Bus from Portree to Glencoe (stay 3 nights)

Bus to Glasgow ( stay 1 night)

Fly out of Glasgow

Any criticisms/suggestions will be greatly appreciated! Thank you very much!!

Posted by
27431 posts

I suspect thus isn't what you want to hear, but October is the rainiest month of the year on Skye, per the weather-summary chart on Wikipedia.

I didn't rent a car during my trip to Scotland this year, and I didn't go to Glencoe, but I'd imagine a car would be handy there. It would allow you to drive to a less-rainy area.

Posted by
1469 posts

The Trains with bus connections can take 19 hours. Why not just rent car from Edinburgh and drive which takes 5 hours to Portree. Or stop by Glencoe on the way. I personally feel that 2 night stays would be enough time in each of the locations mentioned; meaning that you can add in other locations to visit on your route. You could fly out of Edinburgh, even if you are visiting Glasgow as they are not that far apart, or in and out of Glasgow which is less busy. Check your ticket prices to see which airport (s) work the best from your departure city. Mid September to October can be wet and windy on the west coast of Scotland. Just dress for the weather. It will be Sunrise 730am DLT and Sunset 630pm DLT. You'll have less of a crowd, but might run into some seasonal closures. Bon Voyage.

Posted by
27431 posts

Two nights on Skye would give a visitor only one day there, which I think would be really, really short.

Posted by
1226 posts

Gosh this sounds a lot of bother - using buses for a trip that would be much more flexible if you just rented a car from Edinburgh airport when you leave the city (after your first 3 days) and then returned the car to Glasgow airport when you depart. Your car would enable you to get to the start point for the various hikes you will probably end up wanting to do.

On Skye there is little point in staying 3 nights in Portree and then moving around 10 miles down the road to Sligachan for another 3 nights. There is plenty to see on Skye for a week, so you might do better to just rent a vacation cottage for a whole week, or pick one B&B for your 6 nights, somewhere centrally located. Check out Walk HIghlands for ideas of walks on Skye and elsewhere in the Highlands. Personally, I think you could drop to 2 nights in the Glencoe area to add 1 night to Skye and open up the possibility of renting a cottage while here on Skye. If you book before Christmas you should find plenty of choice. There are some really good rental companies out there including LHH, Unique Cottages, and Wilderness Cottages.

Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
1226 posts

Just to follow up with a note on buses, and to correct info in a post above.

The Caledonian Sleeper is the name of the night train that runs from London to Scotland. As far as I am aware there is no bus service that carries that name. Indeed, as far as I am aware there is no direct bus service from Edinburgh to Portree (or anywhere else on Skye). Citylink operate the main cross country bus services in Scotland, and their two Skye services run to Glasgow (via Fort William), and Inverness. I guess you could get a bus from Edinburgh to Inverness, and then from Inverness to Portree, or alternatively from Edinburgh to Glasgow and then from Glasgow to Portree, but it would be a very long journey. If you rent a car you can stop as you wish to explore and sight see.

Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
1457 posts

Glencoe is a tiny village. If you are using it as a base for dayhikes a car would be the best way to get to trailheads.

Posted by
1317 posts

Hi Jane -

I’m sure you are good hikers, but be advised that the Cuillin Hills, especially the Black Cuillin are the roughest, toughest hills in the whole of the UK and perhaps the only Alpine mountaineering in the country. So not to be taken lightly. There are many guides on Skye who will escort you on journeys up and across these fabulous hills if you are not confident on the terrain or the navigation. I would also recommend getting hold of Ralph Storer’s little book on the routes up the peaks of Skye and Raasay, as well as the usual recommended kit (waterprooofs, layers, maps, etc., etc.).

The weather in October can be benign or awful, there’s no way of knowing, but the days will certainly be much shorter and daylight will be limited to around 8.00 am until 4.00 pm. Something else to bear in mind if you are setting off into the Cuillin hills which are major expeditions.

That said, the Skye peaks are stunning and some of the best days out I’ve had in the hills anywhere, but they are not to be underestimated. Oh, and the gabbro rock will tear chunks out of the soles of your boots - occupational hazard on Skye I’m afraid!

Have a great trip!