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Need a base town to stay in for day trips along Western coast.

Hi, I will be going to Scotland this summer with 4 other family members, including a 4 year old, for 7 days total. Because it is the little one’s first long haul trip and we want it to feel like a vacation, means no tight itenerary to rush through, we want to pick just 2 cities as our bases and do day trips from there. We know we want to stay someplace on the Western side first so that we get to relax with scenery and let our little one hopefully see some of the wildlife (loves animals especially sea creatures) and stretch our legs. We hoped 2 nights,3 days would be spent there. We do not want to rent a car so can anyone suggest where it is best to take day trips (no more than 2 hours each way max) from by means of public transportation (train, ferry, short ride bus)?? IS Oban or Fort William better situated and with more transportation options? We are on a budget but hope we can find an airbnb or b&b.

The second part of the trip another 2 nights and 3 days we are spending in Edinburgh and day trips wherever we can find them. Any day trip suggestions? Our son loves animals, fossils (any fossil hunting from here or western side?), we love history, museums and archaeology.

And the last day in Glasgow as we will spend the night there and leave very early in the morning for the airport.

Additional question - Is a day trip to Loch Ness with a little one possible from Edinburgh?

Posted by
3355 posts

I haven't been to Scotland yet, we are going this summer. I have done lots of research however and I can most definetely tell you that a day trip to Loch Ness would be too much with a little one from Edinburgh. More than 2 hours each way.
We choose to stay in Oban over Ft. William.
Good luck with your trip!

Posted by
7626 posts

Fort William is your ideal place on the western side of Scotland. Access to the sea, mountains (it's in the shadow of the highest peak in the U.K.), and it's not a huge city, so it won't have the urban feel of Glasgow or Inverness, which you'll get to experience later in your trip. Loch Ness from Fort William is doable.

On our 2 trips to Edinburgh, we found more than enough to do just in town, so we didn't take any day trips, and I can't offer personal suggestions there. My sense is Loch Ness might be doable, but it would be a very loooooong day, both for a little one and for the big ones!

Posted by
3122 posts

I agree Fort William would be ideal for your first 2 nights & 3 days. It's served by train and bus. You could spend one day doing a round trip on the Jacobite Steam Train and see awesome scenery. Just north of Fort William is Old Inverlochy Castle (a ruin -- fun to stand under the castle gate and see how Ben Nevis is framed just so) and, at Banavie, Neptune's Staircase (locks forming the western end of the Caledonian Canal). You could hire a taxi to take you to both of these in one short trip.

You could take a day trip from Fort William to Loch Ness. The bus to Inverness stops at Drumnadrochit
The bus stop will be near either the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition or Urquhart Castle, I'm not sure which. It looks like the travel time is about 1.5 hours on the bus each way. Fort William has a large TI office that should be able to advise you.

For affordable meals, the big Morrison's supermarket north of the train station in Fort William has a well-stocked cafeteria that's a great value. Of course you can also buy groceries there to make your own meals & snacks.