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Itineray help 13 nights in Scotland no cities please

My husband and I are traveling next April and renting a car. We were planning on a trip for England/Scotland/Wales and realized not possible in our time frame. My husband on a trip to the north of Ireland feel in love with the Poisoned Glen and Glenveagh in Donegal. He describes them as the Irish Highlands (not sure the Irish do) and has now decided he wants to spend our time in Scotland in similar type surroundings. He is most uncomfortable in cities so while I know we are missing out, that's the way it will be.

We are interested in castles, historic homes/gardens, woolen mills, military, and he is fascinated by the Falkirk Wheel (only to view not to ride). He would also like to see distilleries especially those with historical architectural uniqueness- I'm sure he will also find a way to enjoy the beverages as well. We are not golfers or hikers. Trying not to drive for more than 3-3 1/2hrs a day.

We fly to London and on to Belfast for two days/nights. (Yes, I know that Belfast is a city! He wanted to go to the Titanic museum and we did an overnight last we must go back and spend more time as he loved it so much!) Then to Edinburgh and drive to Alnwick for two nights.

13 nights:

When leaving Alnwick plan on stopping at Lochcarron Visitor Center and either Floors Castle or Hopetoun House possibly spending night in Falkirk or Stirling.
Next day a bit of time in either or both and headed to Glencoe. Most likely staying in Ft William at the hotel at Neptune's Staircase. What would be a better route for scenery? Would Callander be a nice for a shorter stop?

From here we are thinking 2 nights Torridon/Ullapool.
2 nights Inverness or Nairn (someone on this forum suggested in another post as alternative to Inverness) to visit Loch Ness (just to take a peek) Fort George, Cullonden, Cawdor and would like to do the funicular railway if we have a nice day.
2 nights Rothes for whisky touring
3 nights Pitlochry (as it looks lovely and seems so much to do in an easy distance)for Scone Palace/Glamis Castle/Blair Atholl perhaps Balmoral but am considering drive from Rothes-Ballater-Pitlochry to cover this. I've heard it may not be the best royal palace but when eliminating cities seems like a thought.
Final night outside Edinburgh or Stirling if not at beginning of trip.

I believe this leaves us one extra night where would you add? I was thinking it might be good to add to Torridon/Ullapool in case there is bad weather during that part would give us a more leisurely visit and not be driving challenging roads in challenging weather. I am also thinking of Dunrobin after Ullapool or perhaps Dundee after Pitlochry to see the new V&A and the Discovery.

I've read many of the itineraries and advice on this forum and I realize that I may be missing a lot by not going to Skye or the other islands but it didn't seem like we have enough time to do them justice and we are from coastal Massachusetts in a pretty fishing village are avid boaters on our ocean and lakes. In addition most of our travel has been coastal Ireland. Our last trip to Ireland was way too ambitious and I do all the driving so am looking to go at a more reasonable pace this time. Please read this not only as explanation but also apology. I realize I am asking your help and don't want you to think I am not valuing the advice you've previously given. Just looking for something else for this trip but invite your thoughts on our plans. Please let me know what further information you need and thank you so very much!

Posted by
506 posts

A few initial thoughts on your itinerary and driving times.

It might be good to see if you can fly Belfast to Newcastle rather than Edinburgh. It's much closer to Alnwick and would save you backtracking. You might want to consider adding your extra night in Northumberland and taking in some of the sights which match your historical interests For example, Hadrian's wall which has a Roman Fort at Housesteads, Durham Cathedral (amazing place), Holy Island and Lindisfarne, Bamburgh Castle. I could go on and on, but apart from the scenery being less spectacular (no mountains just hills), it seems that this area might match your interests better than Ullapool.

Alnwick to Falkirk will likely take more than 3.5 hours.
Callander is a pretty little town with some interesting shops and tea rooms etc. A good lunch stop on the way to Fort William/Glencoe.

Fort William to Ullapool is again likely to take more than 3.5 hours. Given that you have said you are not hikers I wonder whether spending two night in Ullapool is too much? You'll be seeing the Highland scenery from your car, but you don't want to drive more than 3.5 hours a day.

Rothes is not far from Inverness and Nairn. You might be able to find one base to cover everything you want to do in this area.

Pitlochry is a very good base and a nice little town.

Hope this helps
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
1177 posts

We were in Scotland in April; it wasn't cold but we did have some light showers and even some snow flurries at higher elevations but driving was no problem. Some web sites you might enjoy are Visit Scotland, Secret Scotland and Scottish Heritage. Since you are driving I will recommend going to Galloway and Dumfries which have several ancient castles and cathedrals and quaint villages plus many other historic sites including a John Paul Jones Museum! He did some raids in Scotland since he was a home boy and knew the territory. Edinburgh is a good walking town and doesn't seem that big to me. The Castle is wonderful and has good views. Being from the Pacific NW I need more than scenery to impress me. Bon Voyage

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you, Kathleen!
I will look into your suggestions, I appreciate your info as well on the weather and driving. If we can we may go to Edinburgh on the final day to at least see the castle it seems a shame to miss. You are from a very beautiful area!
Thank you again,

Posted by
1276 posts

By cities, please remember our population as a country is smaller than some cities. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, Aberdeen and Inverness are all cities.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you for the correction and reminder! He is ok with small cities for the most part but was overwhelmed with the overview photography of the RS Edinbough program and why he ls feeling uncomfortable but he also doesn't want to go to our local cities or anywhere that draws large crowds. Farm boy in a fishing village. I'm just glad he agrees to travel abroad and as he picked this libel country want to do it justice within his comfort level. .

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you, Skyegirl! I hadn't considered adding the night to Northumberland and that's a great suggestion!

We wanted to fly to Newcastle but the flight we would take gets in and by the time we rent a car we wouldn't be on the road until 4pm ish where Edinburgh we would be by 1ish. Thought we would tour the east coast on the way down making stops rather than spending the extra time in Belfast.

I'm leaning toward Torridon as a base over ullapool but could also do a night in each.
I share the concern about Rothes/Nairn being so close. I picked Rothes as it seemed centrally located for the whisky route and got a great deal at a hotel there. I'm not sure it makes sense to add nights there to do the others tourist items but will run the drive time on via Michelin. otherwise I will rework this section of the trip.

Thank you very much for all your recommendations! I have been spinning my wheels so to speak trying to get the fine tuning done.

Posted by
3334 posts

Go ahead and ride the Falkirk Wheel. It gives extra perspective on how it works and gives a great view.

Stirling Castle was a far more enjoyable experience for me than Edinburgh Castle. I think even your crowd adverse husband would enjoy it.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks, Carol! Good to know and a confidence builder for me planning! I've been a bit at a loss not having a "must see list". I've just always wanted to go and am hoping if we're in a lovely place with a few options it's going to work out.

Posted by
1177 posts

I have to agree that Stirling Castle is cool, too, because the interiors have been restored to look more like a Stuart Era Palace. While in Stirling do not be shocked by the Power Generating Windmills. Edinburgh Castle is a Museum of Scottish Military History and one of the oldest Castles in Scotland. Both are vivid memories.