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I'm blessed with 7+ days in Scotland on my own, between two tours England and Scotland. I'm planning on renting a car and venturing on my own to places not covered by the two tours. Here is something I've planned but I'm not sure of the timeframe.

Day 1 Edinburgh to Stirling Short trip for stops and laundry
Day 2 Stirling to Aviemore, stops along way (Highland Folk Centre and Crannog)
Day 3 Aviemore to Ullapool and ferry to Stornoway., Pick up ferry by 4 pm....
Day 4 Stornaway by way of Isle of Harris to Portree, Skye
Day 5 Stay in Skye
Day 6 Skye to Glencoe
Day 7 Glencoe to Glasgow
Day 8 Glasgow, tour with an old friend
Day 9 Edinburgh, second tour starts tomorrow

I know I have a lot of one nighters but I can't seem two work out how to do it otherwise. Your thoughts would help.

Posted by
901 posts

Hi, sweetshell1956,

I think you're spreading yourself too thin for what will basically be a week on the trot.

Aviemore to Ullapool is a good four hour drive. There is no ferry at 4:00 p.m. Ferries Monday to Friday depart Ullapool at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. If you take the 5:30, you won't get in to Stornoway until 8:00 p.m. Unless you're travelling in June, it's going to be dusk by the time you drive off the ferry. The Saturday ferry departs Ullapool at 7:00 p.m., and the Sunday ferry leaves at 6:30 p.m.

Unless you leave Aviemore at 5:00 a.m., you're going to have to take the late afternoon ferry. Don't forget that you have to be at this particular ferry slip 45 minutes ahead of departure, otherwise you may lose your slot to standby cars.

Given that the ferries from Tarbert to Uig depart at different hours each day, you may have as little as 12 hours on the islands. And that includes sleeping time and driving from Stornoway to Tarbert. That's not nearly enough time to fully appreciate Lewis and Harris. Unless you have a bucket list to fulfill, your time would be better spent with an extra day on Skye, or a day on Mull.

Days six through nine are very doable. Days three and four are the ones you need to reconsider. If you truly want to visit the Outer Hebrides, you could eliminate staying overnight on Skye, spend day five on Harris, then take the Tarbert to Uig ferry on day six, drive straight across Skye, take the Armadale to Mallaig ferry at the other end, and drive on to Glencoe from there. It would make for a long day, but your total driving time would only be about five hours. Doing that, though, you'd completely miss all that Skye has to offer. Again, you'd have to be very aware of the ferry schedule. There is only one ferry on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Tarbert to Uig, and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, if you miss the 7:20 a.m., you're not going to get to Skye in time to catch the last ferry to Mallaig. You could always take the Skye bridge, but that will add lots of drive time, and you probably wouldn't reach Glencoe until late evening.

I hope that this information is of some help to you in formulating your plans.

Good luck!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
458 posts

Just to add that I completely agree with Mike (auchterless). Especially driving on your own, on unfamiliar roads, some of which are single track (traffic in both directions shares one lane with passing places), and with long days, this is a recipe for a very unhappy trip.

If your heart wants to see the islands, then why bother with Stirling and Aviemore? Mike is right that you need to carefully look at ferry schedules and you need to reserve in advance, but you might be able to do something like;
Day 1 - Edinburgh to Ullapool (a long drive but you could stop for lunch and afternoon tea en route).
Day 2 - Ferry to Stornaway. Explore Lewis and see the Callanish standing stones for example.
Day 3 - Explore Harris (joined to Lewis - it's really one island) e.g. walk on Luskentyre beach
Day 4 - Ferry from Tarbert to Uig, Skye.

Day 5 - Explore Skye.
Day 6 - Ferry Armadale to Mallaig and then proceed as per your original.

You need to take into account the length of the day, there's much less daylight in winter (basically 0900-1500 hours), than in June (almost light for 24 hours).

Depending when you are planning to do this you will also need to book your accommodation well in advance.

Best wishes
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
1524 posts

Agree with both previous posters. Too much moving around, but if you can work out to see Skye, it’s amazing! I wish the RS tour of Scotland would go there.

Posted by
901 posts

Hi again, sweetshell1956,

Just a note to add to Skyegirl's excellent recommendation - as you mentioned laundry, you could save it for Stornoway, use the self service laundrette near the college, and enjoy an inexpensive meal at the cafe next door while your wash is going.

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)