I am getting a late start on this, due to a trans-Atlantic move, and need someone to help clarify my trip. We will be in Scotland October 19-28, so about 9.5 days (need to get back to England by evening of 10/28. I had initially thought we could see most of the highlights, but now I think that would lead to too many hours in the car - and we are in the great position of being relatively close and can go back again. So I am trying to do, say, 1/2 of Scotland this trip, and 1/2 on another trip. My issue is I want to thoroughly do the first half this trip, so that I don't have to back track and see things I missed, while making the second trip cohesive and avoid cutting through a lot of the areas we will have seen on the first trip. Does that make any sense? :)
We'll have our own car during the trip.
We are active and like hiking, walking trails, stopping at Scottish Heritage Pass sites, etc. Have I built in enough time to chase down fairy pools, waterfalls, the odd horseback ride, kayak trip, etc? We are usually out the door by 8/8:30 and don't fall into bed until 10:30/11.
October 19, 20 and 21 - Edinburgh
Monday, October 22 - Rosslyn Chapel, Linlithgow, Falkirk Wheel, culross, sleep in Stirling
Tuesday, October 23 - Stirling (drive to Glasgow to sleep)
Wednesday, October 24 - Glasgow
Thursday, October 25 - Drive from Glasgow to Islay, via Loch Lomond. Sleep on Islay/Jura
Friday, October 26 - Visit distilleries, beaches, sleep in Oban (probably take one of the last ferries off Islay.)
Saturday, October 27 - Visit Mull/Iona/Staffa (is it worth sleeping on Mull or better to sleep on Oban?)
Sunday, October 28 - Find as scenic a route as possible back to the Midlands of England.
In this scenario, is Islay worth the time, or is it better to find hiking, sea views elsewhere? We both do love Scotch, although Islays aren't our favorite.
Future Trip #2
Day 1 - Drive from England to Glencoe
Day 2 - Drive through Glencoe to Skye
Day 3 - Skye
Day 4 - Skye
Day 5 - Drive to FAR northern Scotland? (is Thurso, Ullapool, or the Orkney's worth the expense of time and money?, if we did far n. Scotland, we would push everything another day and cut Perth and St. Andrews) or stay in Inverness if n. Scotland isn't worth it.
Day 6 - Inverness/Culloden
Day 7 - Loch Ness, Balmoral
Day 8 - Glamis Castle, Perth, St. Andrews
Day 9 - Scenic route to the Midlands of England
Any thoughts are much appreciated, as are tips of sites we should see along the way, or scenic drives that get us off the A roads.