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Planing a trip to Scotland, could use some help!

Hello,

Taking a trip to Scotland end of May to fist week of June 2017 and was looking at the Arran, Mull, Skye Isles. Just wondering how long should I take for each Island and where are the best B and B's? What to do there? This is a dad, adult daughter trip that we have talked about for years. We have 15 days and I also want to see the Highlands and Edinburgh plus my great aunts home in Blantyre. This is my first time to Scotland and we're wide open to other ideas! My daughter and I love castles and want to see as many as we can. Any help would be great! We're like the wind and can go anywhere. Thanks for any help.

All the best, Monte

Posted by
503 posts

We did a trip through the Highlands including Iona, Skye and Orkney last year. As for how much time it really depends on what you want to do/see - although fitting all of that in with a trip to the Aran Islands (off the coast of Ireland) might be a wee stretch! Since most of what you listed is in Scotland, I'd recommend flying to Glasgow and renting a car. Taking trains to these areas is challenging at best and this trip is best done via car! . Mull is lovely and one could spend quite a few days there depending upon what you like to do - but I'd say a full day should be sufficient to see most of the Island - we did a one day tour out of Oban to Mull, Staffa and Iona. From there you can jog up to Skye and take the ferry over if you like or drive farther up and drive to the Island - again it really depends upon what you want to see!!! We spent three nights and two days and could easily have spent more!! From there you could continue up the coast - highly, highly recommend a trip to Orkney! Spent three days there and it was absolutely gorgeous - lots of Neolithic sites to visit if that interests you. From there we drove down through Fort William and then through the Speyside area to visit some of the distilleries. If time is an issue, you could drop the car in Inverness and then take the train to Edinburgh. Given the shape of the Highlands, it takes longer to drive from Point "A" to Point "B' which is something to keep in mind when planning your trip. However the roads are very good and it's a gorgeous drive.

Posted by
2926 posts

The "Secret Scotland" website has suggested driving itineraries you can browse for free. https://www.secret-scotland.com/

Blantyre will put you near Glasgow so you could either go out to Blantyre on a day trip or stay there overnight. You should decide whether to fly open jaw (arrive Glasgow, depart Edinburgh or the other way around) or make a full loop to end up in the same city where you arrived.

The Isle of Arran is not high on most tourist itineraries, which will be great for you if you want to be off the beaten track. You could ferry there from Ardrossan (summer months only) and leave out of Lochranza. The latter will put you near Tarbert, and from there you can drive to Oban to take the ferry to the Isle of Mull. Returning to Oban, you can drive via Fort William to Mallaig where you catch a ferry to the Isle of Skye, or drive around on land to the Kyle of Lochalsh Bridge. (Or take the Glenelg ferry).

Castles (ruined and habitable) are all over the place. Some of the less famous ones are listed here https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/attractions/castles/16-fairytale-castles/

Hope this helps! (If you haven't bought the Rick Steves guide to Great Britain, know that it has a robust section on Scotland.)

Posted by
2926 posts

P.S. You mentioned end of May. Be aware that Tarbert hosts a major yacht regatta and golf tournament at the end of May, and accommodations for many miles around are booked up far, far in advance. I can recommend the Stonefield Castle Hotel, a few miles north of Tarbert -- but check your desired dates ASAP.

Posted by
1830 posts

Hey guys, thanks for the help1 This is fun and madding to find places to see!
All the best, Monte

Posted by
1 posts

My husband, myself and our 18 year old daughter took a two week tour of Scotland and Ireland this last summer. It was our first time there. We are from the United States so things were very different for us. We drove a rental car but beware, everything is opposite of the United States. (Exit on the left, fast lane is the right lane, round-a-bout direction is clock-wise, etc...) We didn't make any reservations before leaving the US. Instead I devised a map of where we wanted to go with the map beginning and ending at the Edinburgh Airport. It's very hard to determine how long it will take you from one destination to another since the roads are very winding and there are different places to see and things to do in between. However, I did determine the general area that we would like to stay each night. I then researched and found different B&B's and made a list of them. I would reserve our B&B when we had a good idea each night of the area we were sure we wanted to stay. It gave us the freedom to take our time and do what we wanted without being on an agenda. We also only brought backpacks. I purchased our backpacks from IKEA. Each backpack had a day pack that zipped on the front, handles and wheels if we wanted to use them. The wheels also zipped in behind a panel when we weren't using the wheels. Loved them! They were also allowed on the airplane as a carry on. No fighting luggage crowds. Was also great when transferring between flights with different carriers.

Castles are amazing but they mean far more if you can learn the history of the area and the castle before going. Make a map like I did then learn about the areas within your mapped itinerary. One of my favorite castles was the Carnasserie Castle near Kilmartin in western Scotland. It's not gorgeous but it's amazing. You will be there the same time of year we were there. We had perfect weather, flowers in bloom, sheep grazing, sun shining....just sat on a little knoll and soaked in the gift of beauty from God. Perfect! Would have been the perfect place for a picnic. Our route started in Edinburgh then went to - Dundee - Perth - Laggan - Fort William - Glencoe - Oban - Kilmartin - Inveraray - Dumbarton - Ardrossan - (ferried to the Isle of Arran) - Glasgow - Edinburgh. We took many back roads through villages and seen many castles pop up out of no where. We stayed at B&B's and enjoyed local foods, stories and company from people from all over Scotland. I suggest being flexible with your schedule and enjoy meeting the locals. Another tip: Make a video/photo journal as you go and make sure to keep it updated daily. Otherwise, it's too easy to forget the amazing experiences you will have.

Posted by
1830 posts

Hi guys, Thanks for the help. We did put together a 15 day trip with your help, I think we have a great trip planned! My daughter and I are very excited about what we have planned! Thanks for you input. It was most helpful!

All the best, Monte