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Question about Inveraray or Glencoe

Hi Everyone,

Whilst working remotely I am sneaking in researching our trip to Scotland in September. We will be arriving early Sept to attend my niece's wedding outside of London and driving up to Scotland. We plan 3 days in Edinburgh and then are heading to Skye for 3 days and then who knows-we have another 3 days to sort out before returning to Edinburgh for our flight back to Boston.

I am torn between overnighting in Inveraray (castle and jail) or seeing these and heading to Glencoe to overnight, hike the next day before heading to Skye.

Any thoughts would be most welcome. I know it is important to secure reservations in Skye and that is what I am working on, too! Thanks for any tips!

Posted by
931 posts

Hi -

I’m back relatively recently from my latest trip to Glencoe. Essentially Glencoe is a sparsely populated (if at all) valley with towering mountains on both sides. Some great hiking up there, but not to be underestimated in terms of difficulty - on our most recent trip those trying to do the Aonach Eagach, very experienced young climbers, fit strong, well equipped, were forced back by the amount of wet snow (as were another group who rather ambitiously tried to do the Ring of Steall, they didn’t even make the ridge) but hopefully the snow will be all gone by the time you get there.

I think I would always chose Glencoe over Inveraray, just because the natural beauty of the hills is what floats my boat. There’s not much in Glencoe - there’s the Clachaig Inn, or if on a budget there are two hostels, one independent, the other part of the Scottish Youth Hostels. There may be some places in the village of Glencoe, but the main place people stay is Fort William. Between there and Glencoe you might also consider Ballachulish and Onich.

Hope you have a great trip.


Posted by
21086 posts

ViaMichelin is estimating it would take nearly 8 hours to drive from London to Edinburgh with no stops at all. If your "3 days" in Edinburgh is really 3 nights, you'll actually have only 2 days there.

The drive from Edinburgh to Portree on Skye is estimated at 5 hours 19 minutes without any stops. It would be a rare visitor who did no sightseeing along that route. Stopping off at Glencoe for a night doesn't add much time at all, and even Inverary is doable since you'll have your own car.

I would just caution you about how iffy western Scotland's weather is. You simply cannot count on good walking/hiking weather on any given day, though the situation can be mitigated if you're willing to cart along heavy-duty foul-weather gear; I was not. The shorter your stay in any area, the less flexibility you have to match your local activities to the weather.

Posted by
2940 posts

I concur with ACraven about the weather and, more to the point, the long drive. If you can fly London-Edinburgh or London-Glasgow for the Scotland leg of your trip, you'll be much better off.

Not being hikers, we didn't go to Glencoe, but we liked Inveraray so much on our first trip that we made a point of returning the next year. The castle is really lovely, inside and out (including the gardens), complete with the duke's flock of black sheep. I believe you can hike on the castle's property up to the watch tower above the town, though we didn't try this. South of town toward Furnace, the Auchindrain Township open-air museum is absolutely fascinating if you have any interest in the history of everyday people, and it has miles of walking trails. There's also horseback riding at Argyll Adventure. Within a half hour's drive out of Inveraray toward Oban /Connel Bridge you can see the scenic ruin of Kilchurn Castle and stop in at the Ben Cruachan "Hollow Mountain" hydropower plant visitor centre (which sounds nerdy but is actually really fascinating).

Inveraray is a charming small town, all designed by one architect during the Georgian period. I can recommend Brambles for lodging and daytime meals, and the George Hotel for dinner and pub. There are several shops in town selling traditional Scottish woolens (but do read the labels as some are made in other countries).

Of course (not to be a wet blanket, but realistically), your entire plan depends on the virus situation by September, which is very hard to predict.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. We are supposed to be stopping in Manchester one night to visit our friend, then head to Liverpool for another night-if these are not guaranteed I think flying to Edinburgh is great advice and something we'd definitely do as we plan to fly from Edinburgh back to Boston.

I have read about the difficult hikes in Glencoe-and although we are very active and fit 50 somethings risk takers we are not (well, maybe I am bit, but not the husband) so we will proceed at great caution.

I just looked at the Clachaig Inn-very lovely!

So much to see and do-I just planning and getting tips from fellow travellers.