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Scotland 9-10 days

I will be traveling to Scotland May 2019. I have 10 days, my son has 9.
Is the following itinerary too ambitious?

Arrive Edinburgh on 5th.
2 full days in and around Edinburgh

8th drive to Pitlochry for one night. Distillery, S. Crannow, Balmoral

9th drive to Inverness stopping at Culloden enroute.
1 full day at Inverness to go to Findhorn

11th drive to Portree, Dunvegan Castle, Trotternish Pennisula
1 full day - Talesker Distillery, Fairy Pools

13th drive to Glencoe then Oban (send son off to Glascow or Edinburgh via train)

14th return to Edinburgh

Thank you for any help you can offer!
Virginia

Posted by
125 posts

I'm a bit confused here.

Day 8; Balmoral Castle is not in Pitlochry or very nearby. It's about a 90 minute drive away.

I also do not understand what you mean by S.Crannow?

There is a good little distillery just outside Pitlochry (Edradour) which is worth a visit. Is this the one you mean?

Posted by
5 posts

I thought enroute to Pitlochry we could then visit a distillery, visit Scottish Crannog (sorry had it misspelled) AND drive out to Balmoral then come back to Pitlochry for one night. Please say if that is too ambitious and which to eliminate if so.
Thanks!

Posted by
125 posts

I think your plan for Day 8 now that you have explained it, is too ambitious.

If you wish to visit Balmoral Castle then I would not stay in Pitlochry, but rather Ballater or Braemar which are about eight miles in either direction along the A93 from the castle. You could drive to the crannog centre from Edinburgh, then drive to Ballater or Braemar for a nights lodging.

The next day visit Balmoral as soon as it opens (10.00am) and drive to Inverness after that. The battlefield at Culloden is accessible at all hours, but the visitor centre would close at 5.00pm I am guessing. The visitor centre is well worth a look, so get there in time to see that then you can spend as much time as you wish on the battlefield itself.

Are you aware that Balmoral Castle is extremely restricted in terms of what you can see inside the castle? Only one room of the castle proper (the Ballroom) is open to the public, so this maybe something to eliminate from your itinerary to allow you more time to do something else.

Posted by
755 posts

Hi, Virginia,

Yes, there is a Santa Claus. Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Anyway, it would be possible to visit the Crannog Centre and Pitlochry on the same day, while overnighting in Braemar or Ballater. The Crannog Centre is not too far from Pitlochry - from Edinburgh, take the Forth Road Bridge to the M90, the M90 to Perth, then the A9 to Ballinluig. From Ballinluig, take the A827 west through Aberfeldy to Kenmore, then follow the south bank of Loch Tay to the Crannog Centre.

Retrace the A827 back to the A9, then it's less than five miles to Pitlochry.

To maximize your daylight driving time, you'd need to get a relatively early start out of Edinburgh, and not spend too much time at the Crannog Centre or Pitlochry. Therefore, you may have to make a choice between a distillery and the Crannog Centre. Pitlochry to Braemar will take at least two hours, unless it's lashing down rain, as you'll want to stop to take in the scenery. But if you're only going to be visiting the distillery, and not wandering about Pitlochry, you may have time for both.

From Pitlochry, take the A924 west to Bridge of Cally, then turn north on the A93 for Braemar. You can save about 20 miles by taking the B950 east from Kirkmichael, which meets up with the A93 near Blacklunans. On the A93, you'll be heading through Glenshee and over the Devil's Elbow, through some beautiful scenery.

From Balmoral, you can take the B976 north to the A939, which will take you through Tomintoul and Grantown-on-Spey, all the way up to Nairn. From Nairn, it's only a few miles on the A96 to Inverness. However, if you get an early start from Balmoral, you could branch off the A939 at Dava, on to the A940, which would take you to Forres. From Forres (check out the floral garden and topiary in the town park!), it's only a few miles to Findhorn, so you could knock that off of your itinerary instead of having to backtrack from Inverness.

Whichever way you go, you will see some astounding scenery!

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
2291 posts

Too ambitious? You already know the answer. The real question is, do you want to experience Scotland or the interior of a car? Distances in Scotland are deceptive. The time estimates on Google Maps are way short. A vacation with one long day of driving to visit someplace you're really keen to see that doesn't offer a convenient overnight lodging is one thing -- a vacation filled with such days is not, IMO, a vacation. Your choice, though.

Posted by
5 posts

Ok so maybe the plan should be 3 nights in Edinburgh.

3 nights in Inverness.

3 nights in Portree. Travel out as much or as little as we want.

1 night in Glencoe .

Does this sound more realistic because you are correct I don't want to spend the whole trip in a car!

Thanks for any input.
Virginia

Posted by
277 posts

Personally, I can't think what on earth I would do with 3 nights in Inverness! But then I live here on Skye, so I suppose I can go across to Inverness whenever I want. Culloden - yes fine, I get that totally, but what are you going to do with those other 3 nights. It is not the most scenic part of the Highlands and is very much a working town. The very central bit is pretty, with the river, and I suppose you will be using it as a base. But 3 nights seems an awful lot to me.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you, I will trim Inverness down to 2 nights. One day to see Findhorn and one day to see Culloden Battlefield.

Would Portree be a central (best) spot to stay 3 nights to then see the Peninsula, Talesker Distillery and Fairy Pools and Dunvegan Castle.

Would you recommend staying in Oban or Glencoe for a night?

After the first bit in Edinburgh, I am just trying to see the best parts of the countryside and Highlands.

Thanks for your help!
Virginia

Posted by
755 posts

Hi, Virginia,

One thing about Inverness is that it's centrally located for the Highlands, and now that the roads are two lane instead of one lane with passing places, it's possible to do a day trip to Ullapool, or Lochinver, or Applecross, etc., and be back in Inverness in time for supper and live music at The Gellions.

Findhorn is about 1 1/2 hours from Inverness, so you could easily do Culloden and Findhorn in a day, with stops at Elgin (Cathedral) and Lossiemouth (great beach) if you are running early.

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
277 posts

Hi again Virginia

You have left it rather late to book accommodation on Skye, so I would be less concerned about where on Skye to base yourself, and more concerned with finding something with decent reviews and availability for the dates you want. It is possible to drive from one end of Skye to the other (North to South) in around 1 hour 30 minutes, and from West to East in much less (e.g. Dunvegan to Portree is around 30 minutes).

Many small accommodation providers use airbnb and booking.com.

Best wishes
Jacqui

Posted by
755 posts

Hi again, Virginia,

I just looked at your original post. You mentioned that you're traveling with your son. Is there anyone else in your party? If it's just the two of you, you're going to need twin accommodation. Twin accommodation on Skye is almost as rare as sighting haggis in its natural habitat, so if you know your dates, you need to start looking really soon.

The Dunollie Hotel, in Broadford, has a few twins, and the Skyewalker Hostel in Portnalong has a pair of en-suite twins. If you can't find any twins, look for "family" accommodation. That usually means a double bed and a single bed, although sometimes it's a queen and a single. If all else fails, you could get a bundling board.

Best of luck!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Mike!
There will actually be 4 of us. My husband and myself and our son and his fiancé. I just mentioned him because he has one day less to travel with us.
I will get right on finding rooms today.
Thanks again!!
Virginia

Posted by
2291 posts

About Inverness -- yes, it can work as a central base. An alternative to the east is Nairn, a smaller town with a great many B&Bs and some nice restaurants. It is near Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle, and the Clava Cairns. You can also go whale watching on the Moray Firth from there. We stayed at Tali Ayer B&B and highly recommend it.