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Just got home from Scotland

We just got home from our 3 week trip to Scotland, and I thought I'd share an "executive summary" as I get around to my normal report.

This trip was a "jam packed" type with a rental car and few multi-night night. Not for everyone, but we like to see lots of things. I know others might hate this travel style. Also, our favorites are birding/ruins/music.

In 21 days, we had one evening with a little rain. Otherwise over 60F every day with lots of sun.

Day 1/2 Fly from west coast US to Glasgow (via Iceland). Got off the flight, took a bus to Queens Street and got on the train to Aberdeen. Spent the evening at the Blue Lamp with the Aberdeen Folk Club's weekly session.

Day 3 Walk/bus around Aberdeen, wife did a bunch of reading about her kin at Kings College Library. Spent the evening at The Northern Bar with a splinter group of the Aberdeen Folk Club.

Day 4 Get rental car in town and headed north to visit my "estate" (my wife bought me a lairdship of 1 sq foot of land after last trip, Slains Castle, Bullers of Buchan, Pitslago Castle, then Rosehearty.

Day 5 Troup Head RSPB, Bow Fiddle Rock, Craigmin Bridge, Elgin Cathedral, to Nairn with surprise house concert at the B&B.

Day 6 Clava Cairns, Culloden, Cairn Laith, Whaligoe Steps, Sinclair Castle, to Wick.

Day 7 Duncansby Head/Stacks, John o'groats (for flat tire replacement on a bank holiday miracle), Dunnet Head, realized Puffin Cove was restricted, Smoo Cave, to Durness.

Day 8 Rock Stop Museum, Allt Chranaidh Falls, Wee Mad road, Knockan Crag NR, tp Ullapool. Crazy accordion musician at pub.

Day 9 Rhue Lighthouse, Falls of Measach, to Shieldag and on to Locharron. Finally a little rain and too cloudy for the best chance for the Aurora.

Day 10 Attendale Gardens, Invergary Castle, Falls of Foyer to Fort Augustus.

Day 11 Crarae Gardens, Royal Castle of Tarbert (saw adder!), Kennecraig Ferry to Port Askaig to Bowmore.

Day 12 Loch Gruinart, Machir Beach, Port Mor Cafe, Finlaggan, Bridgend Woods

Day 13 Mull of Oa, Kildalton Cross, three Distillery walk - half by car, half walk - only drinking for wife :-(

Day 14 Early ferry from Port Ellen, The Red Lion (Outlander) in Culross for lunch, to Anstruther with harbor stroll.

Day 15 St. Andrews Castle & Cathedral, Montrose Wildlife Trust, Fowlsheugh RSPB, Dunnattar Castle, to Stonehaven.

Day 16 Cullerie Stones, Culsh Earth House, turn in car in Aberdeen, fly to Sumburgh, Sumburgh Head to Lerwick. Great session at The Lounge.

Day 17 Muckle Voe Lighthouse, Frankie's for lunch, Fort Charlotte, Town Hall (stained glass), great session at Marlex. (Second trip to Shetland, so don't list what we missed!)

Day 18 Ferry over to Bressay to visit wife's 19th century house ruin, and Heritage Museum, then lunch in Lerwick and ferries to Yell and Unst, Muness Castle, Clivocast, Keen of Hamar, to Baltasound.

Day 19 Bobby's Bus Stop, Hermaness Reserve for fabulous gannett and puffin viewing, Victoria's Tearoom, Boat Haven, Heritage Museum, Skinbladner.

Day 20 Ferries back to Shetland mainland, Sumburgh Lighthouse (again), flight to Edinburgh. Fabulous Edinburgh Shetland Fiddlers session at Digger's (just two of us in snug).

Day 21 Train/bus to Glasgow for LONG flight home to PNW.

Wouldn't do anything different except maybe one lodging choice in Wick. Too much to see with too little time. Back to Scotland in 2026.

Posted by
2553 posts

May is often the best month for Scotland weather-wise.

Posted by
647 posts

We always visit the Isles in May. Even had great weather in late April and early June.

Posted by
14166 posts

What an excellent time you had! I love your Shetland sights - I enjoyed the Victoria Tea Room (northernmost tea room in the UK, hahaha!) as well as many of the other sights you saw. What a place!

Where did you all stay for your night/s in Aberdeen? Just curious. I stayed at the PI last August which was fine but may do something different when I go back to Orkney/Shetland in 2025.

Pam

Posted by
6842 posts

So many wonderful destinations, jjgurley! I'm getting nostalgic just looking through it. Especially Slains Castle and the Bullers of Buchan. Two of my favorite places.

Posted by
2866 posts

What a great trip! Thanks for sharing. Eagerly waiting for the long version.

Posted by
6629 posts

Thanks for sharing this, but now I need a nap! In awe of your driving skill and stamina. What are you, 25 or so? ;-)

We're going to Scotland in August, a much more staid itinerary, but flying Icelandair as you did. Can't wait for your full report.

Posted by
978 posts

A pity you could not have made it a bit earlier for the Shetland Folk Festival on the first weekend in May. A totally mad weekend. It was our first visit to Shetland and we tagged on a couple of nights on Unst. Did you stay in the Baltasound Hotel - also totally mad in a 70s tribute way. And the weather was incredible that week - sunny, warm and no wind.