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Realistic driving times between Edinburgh and Skye

The HB and I are scheduled on the RS Scotland tour next summer, ending June 27. After the tour we plan to rent a car and drive to Skye for a few days. I thought to drive to through Ft. William and Glenfinnan (HP fans) and take the ferry from Mallaig. We'll spend two or three days touring Skye before driving back the other way (I know we should spend longer, but we are heading to Greece for a week after and only have a few days to spend). How long will it realistically take to drive to Skye, including the ferry? Google maps has it at approx. 6 hours there and 5.5 hours on the way back.
Thanks for your responses!

Posted by
631 posts

They are reasonable estimates with a few points to bear in mind:

The outward timing assumes immediate connection with ferry, there could be a wait of up to 90 minutes, you need to get the timetable and coordinate with it. It would be very annoying to leave Glenfinnan and just miss a ferry leaving you sat in the waiting area when you could have had more time at Glenfinnan!

Also outward routing via the Glasgow area could be affected by peak hour traffic. This route gives you the road alongside Loch Lomond but I'd opt for going via Callander and Glencoe (and may do if this lousy summer ever improves!!).

Coming back use the Spean Bridge, Laggan, Perth route. As well as the different, and very nice, scenery this heads towards Edinburgh on the M90 and goes over the new bridge across the Forth (which opens at the end of this month so isn't in Google Maps yet). The current road bridge will close to most traffic, timings will be the same. http://www.forth-bridges.co.uk/queensferry-crossing.html

Posted by
274 posts

Thanks for the reply. Trying to keep it loose, but know I"ll feel awful if I don't see the train going over the aqueduct. Geek that I am!

Posted by
1798 posts

Check with your rental company... ours specified we cannot take a ferry with the rental....

Posted by
631 posts

check what they mean by ferry, travel around some parts of Scotland is almost impossible without a ferry. Taking cars on the big international ferries may not be allowed because they won't be insured outside UK.

Posted by
631 posts

by the train I assume you mean the Jacobite steam train for tourists? Too early to say for next year but this sumer theyhave 2 in use and monday-fridays they pass each other at Glenfinnan station around 3:15PM - so double the chance! The standard travel magazine photo of the train on the viaduct taken from slightly higher up and outside the curve is taken from a public point although it needs sturdy shoes/legs to reach it. http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/56.8722/-5.4390

Posted by
274 posts

Thanks for the responses! I put in a "fake" date on the ferry to see what it would cost and the sailing times, but the site wouldn't allow me to continue without the registration number. I guess we'll have to wait to rent the car to find that out, and if we don't, and can't reserve the ferry ahead of time, then the plan is to at least watch the train cross the aqueduct (times are published on the train website) and then drive back. Not ideal, but worth it.

Posted by
631 posts

my godson took his camper van on the ferry last summer without bothering to reserve. At peak times you may have to wait but often you can just turn up and pay at the harbour.

Posted by
2107 posts

the site wouldn't allow me to continue without the registration number.

choose the "registration unknown" option on the calmac site

Posted by
737 posts

The Calmac website shows summer 2017 pricing and timetables without starting a booking, once you select the Mallaig route. I booked in March for June sailing this year without a rental car registration number. Advance booking is essential particularly if your dates include days with extreme high/low tides when there are fewer sailings. Coming from Edinburgh, to avoid the stress of rushing to make the outbound ferry to Skye, I chose the flexibility of driving onto the island, and took the ferry when returning to the mainland.

Posted by
270 posts

Have you looked into taking the HP train trip? I believe it does a round trip twice a day. We weren't aware of it until the day we were in the area. To view the train going over the viaduct you have to climb a hill. The climb is not difficult (we are in our 50's) and you will most likely encounter other fans making the trek. I am not sure the approximate time the train comes through that area. We were very lucky as we arrived only a few minutes before the train went across.
Good luck!

Posted by
274 posts

We have looked into taking the Jacobite Steam train but decided we would rather see it than be on it. We've done the Napa Valley Wine train and were a bit disappointed, and feel like it might be the same. I definitely want to reserve the ferry but won't know the registration of the rental car. I'll see if I can just call, or figure it out someway. Thank you for all the responses!
edited response: the steam train website publishes the approximate times the train crosses the aqueduct. Twice a day in each direction.

Posted by
6 posts

I watched the video about how busy Skye has become. We won't have those issues in late
September will we?

Posted by
63 posts

I visited Skye in mid-May and did not find it to be overrun nor did I see the conditions described in the video.

Posted by
631 posts

main season is July and August, outside this most kids in most european countries are in school so tourist numbers drop off