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Looking for Itinerary advice in Scotland - Mull, Iona, Glencoe, Oban

Hi folks!

Canadian here looking for itinerary advice for a trip to Scotland in August.

We have a portion of the trip planned. We will do Edinburgh for 4 nights, pick up the car and drive to Inverness for 2 nights (not exactly sure what to do around Inverness yet - any advice here welcome also), then drive to Skye (Portree) and stay for 4 nights ending Aug 11. We then want to be in Glasgow for the night of August 16.

That leaves us four nights in between (Aug 12-15) where we are really confused about our itinerary. We would like to explore Mull, Oban, Iona, Staffa, Glennfinnan viaduct, and/or the Glencoe area [if too many places, something could be dropped]. We will have a rental car. We also have booked a B&B in Oban (for Aug 14-15); it is cancellable, but there's a fee to cancel and B&Bs seem to be filling up so we most likely want to keep it anyway.

From what I've been researching I am thinking about two options...

Aug 12 - Depart Skye. [Do Glennfinnan on the way from Skye to Kilchoan? unsure.] Take Kilchoan ferry to Tobermory. Explore Tobermory. Stay in Tobermory or somewhere else on Mull.
Aug 13 - Drive to Fionnport, take ferry to Iona. Explore Iona. Return to Mull and explore Mull more. Maybe Staffa too? Stay in the same place as Aug 12.
Aug 14 - Explore more of Mull in the morning to afternoon. Take Craignure ferry to Oban before the evening. Tour the Oban Distillery and town, have dinner. Stay in Oban.
Aug 15 - Day trip from Oban to Glencoe, maybe a hike somewhere. Dinner/sleep in Oban.
Aug 16 - Drive from Oban to Glasgow, return car.

Aug 12 - Depart Skye. Drive through Glenfinnan to Glencoe. Explore Glencoe with remaining time. Overnight in Glencoe/Fort William area.
Aug 13 - More exploring of Glencoe, probably a hike somewhere. Ovenight in Glencoe/Fort William area.
Aug 14 - Drive from FW/Glencoe to Oban. Tour the Oban Distillery and town, have dinner. Stay in Oban.
Aug 15 - Day trip to Mull/Iona/Staffa by doing a tour from West Coast Tours or Staffa Tours. Dinner/sleep in Oban.
Aug 16 - Drive from Oban to Glasgow, return car.

The advantage of Option 1 is that it lets us see more of Mull, which seems lovely. The disadvantage is that there's some backtracking involved with going from Oban north back up to Glencoe (which would have been close to Glenfinnan). The advantage of Option 2 is that there's a bit more hiking involved, and logistically it seems a little easier--for instance, we wouldn't have to coordinate the ferries as well, but the disadvantage is that we probably won't get to see/explore much of Mull.

For those who have been to Tobermory - is it worth a stay? Is there much to see or do there?

For our interests (in case it helps), I find myself falling in love often seaside/port towns/cities, so hence my interest in Tobermory (e.g. I loved visiting Whitby in England). We do like hiking also -- we are not super serious hikers, but we do enjoy a moderately strenuous hikes from time to time. And of course we like good scenery and food.

Hoping for any advice on which one of these would be better! I've been bouncing these ideas in my head, with not much resolution and I can't decide which one to go with. Or maybe there's some other option that I haven't thought about. Any advice is appreciated!


I live in Edinburgh. Covering quite a bit in your itinerary. Our roads are not great , no such things as motorways past Perth.

In my opinion - miss Inverness. Hate to admit it but I fiind it vey unattractive.

If you are going to Skye - are you using the Skye bridge? Instead of Inverness - head to a beautiful village called Plockton - on Kyle of Lochalsh - book 2 nights there. Accommodation is scarce - there are 3 small hotels and numberous b & B's. Needs booked now - superb seafood restaurants. Again needs booked in advance. From there short distance to Isle of Skye bridge. The applecross drive can be done from Plockton - beware though - at time single tracks roads - busy in summer. (As is Skye)

I am assuming you will be taking ferry from Armadale on Skye to Mallaig - will drive past Glenfinnan monument - but before you reach there - stop at Morar beach. White silk sands - I defy anyone not to take their socks and shoes off - the place is magical. Glencoe is wonderful - along here is Glenfinnan Viaduct - the famous and iconic Harry Potter rail bridge.

Oban is ok - not sure I would want to stay more than couple of nights. (Just an opinion)

Mull - Iona is fabulous and always draws me to visit - one of my favourite places. Staffa is fab - the famous cave plus if you are lucky can see puffins. sit on cliff - and they come to you.

Overall - just relax and enjoy. Have a wonderful holiday. Watch out for the midges - wear some sort of protection.

Posted by
768 posts

Hi Shads -

Of the two options my preference would be for option 2. It makes more logistic sense and gives you more time to explore Glencoe. As I am a confirmed hiker, this would be my first best choice, unless of course the weather thumbs it’s nose at you!

That said, there is not much hiking in Glencoe that is not strenuous, although it’s a fantastic area to walk and climb in. Even the route into Coire Gabhail where the MacDonalds hid their rustled cattle requires a rough negotiation of a boulder field. There’s a good ‘made’ footpath up beside one of the ‘Three Sisters’ that will take you up to the lochan of Stob Coire Nan Lochan, but when it runs out the ascent onwards is more testing. Along the left hand side as you approach from Fort William runs the Aonach Eagach across the tops, mainland Britain’s narrowest ridge walk - I wore a harness on that and we carried ropes, just in case. We didn’t need it, but some would welcome it, given the unnerving exposure in parts. An easier (but not easy) walk to the rounded summit of the Pap of Glencoe gives stupendous views in all directions on a good day. At the head of Glencoe stands my favourite ever mountain, Buchaille Etive Mhor - I mean, just look at it! No really easy ways to the prominent peak (Stob Dearg) on that one!

The oracle to consult re walking here is the other RS - Ralph Storer- whose book ‘100 best routes on Scottish Hills’ is something of a bible. You will need the OS map of the area and compass and be properly equipped for hill walking, which includes sturdy footwear and total waterproof body cover and the rest before venturing up towards the tops.

If you are not equipped or keen to work up a bit of a sweat on your hikes, then Glencoe is probably best looked at from the road with a short exploration walk into the valley. Don’t miss the drive down Glen Etive though (right turn near the head of the Glen as you ascend). And no visit to Glencoe is complete without a call at the Clachaig Inn (if on the tops DON’T use the Clachaig gully to descend to it, it’s dangerous!). The newly refurbished Kingshouse on the moor heading south from Glencoe had tame deer mooching whatever they could get off tourists when we passed through earlier in the year. Nice to get close to them, but probably sensible not to feed them.

Have a great trip!


Posted by
453 posts

Hey we loved Glencoe and did the hidden valley hike and a couple of others in the Glencoe/Ft Williams area. We had a great meal at the Loch Leven Seafood Café which is across Lock Leven from Glencoe. Here is a great website that helped us with our entire trip for choosing hikes and with our driving directions between trail heads, places of interest etc. It is a wonderful resource. We spent 3 wonderful days on Skye while out that way as well. We went to Cape Breton this fall for the Celtic Colours festival, a totally awesome week of music, food and hiking out in Cape Breton and met some great folks from Toronto! It is not to be missed if you enjoy the highlands! We stayed at this B&B in Fort William and loved it.