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RS Scotland Tour Add-ons-Isle of Skye by train or rental car? Orkneys?

Rick's tour is great, but we want to add on a few days. It will be mid-May. We have from Wed. am in Edinburgh until we fly out of Glasgow on Sunday.
We are curious about the Isle of Skye, and there is a one day tour offered there by a local. We could take a combination of train/bus to get there, through Mallig, stay 2 nights, with one day to look around, with the tour or by renting a car there. Then a bus goes over the bridge, past the castle, to Inverness, where we could board the train to Glascow.
Or we could rent a car from the Edinburgh Airport, and return it to the Glasgow airport. I have driven in Australia & Iceland, on the left side of the road, with a standard trans, but not for about 8 years. While the train offers less flexibility, it might be nice to sit back and enjoy the scenery without the stress of driving.
There is a ferry to the Outer Hebrides from Oban, or perhaps to the Orkneys that could be explored.... We enjoy remote places with natural beauty and some hiking. This will be at the end of 4 wks of travel, so while we would like to see as much as we can, a slower pace might make for a better conclusion. Any thoughts or input would be appreciated. We'd prefer not to overlap too much with what we have seen on Rick's tour .
A final option would be to end up back in Glascow on Fri night, to explore there before flying out on Sunday. Thanks for your suggestions.

Posted by
1293 posts

Public transport will limit where you can get, given the size of the country and the density of the population. The best choice is probably car.

For Orkney, hint - never Orkneys, just Orkney, the best is flying and hiring a car. Surface travel can eat your time getting up and back. The train from Inverness meanders hither and thither on the way to Wick and Thurso. Plus the ferry.

I would consider Mull, Iona, Islay or Tiree, but a car is probably a necessity.

Posted by
5078 posts

On our summer 2013 trip, we used Flybe air for a quick, relatively cheap flight for a visit to Orkney (I would've said Orkneys, but MC's post cleared that up). Once we flew back from Kirkwall, Orkney to Inverness, we hired a rental car and drove to Skye.

Orkney offers wondrous Neolithic sights, WW II history, and might offer some fine solitude and hiking options, but we only had a couple of days, so we didn't get to any of the outlying Orkney Islands. Our only hike, on a muddy trail in the rain, was from the Tomb of the Eagles museum/shop to the Tomb site (highly recommended).

For natural beauty and hiking, Skye offers a lot of that - but you might not have much solitude, as it's popular, and you'll likely see other folks on the trails. Skye roads can be much narrower than on mainland Scotland, and sheep abound, so the driving can be somewhat more challenging than simply cruising down a Motorway. We managed to avoid hitting anyone or anything with our manual-shift rental, but you might be sharing the road with other tourists not necessarily skilled with driving on the left side of the road, and some of them are in their left-hand drive cars brought over from Continental Europe, and they can stray a bit over the center line! That was true in August, but May might have less of those Belgian, Dutch, and Italian (and North American) drivers on Skye.

By the way -- hope you didn't intentionally spend much time on the left side of the road in Iceland, as they drive on the right, as we do in the USA :-)

Posted by
914 posts

On our last trip to Scotland the hubby and I headed to Orkney. It was fabulous and we will be going back someday! We took the ferry from Aberdeen and had a rental car ready on Orkney. Then took the Thurso and the train down to Inverness and then Glasgow for flying out. If you are into stunning natural and manmade beauty Orkney is the place for you. Their Neolithic World Heritage Sights are out of this world, and they have uncovered more since we were there.