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Scotland before hiking Coast to Coast Trail

We are flying into Edinburgh and have 5 days to wander and de-jetlag before hitting the Coast to Coast Trail out of St. Bees. A couple of things we'd like to see is Rosslyn Chapel and perhaps York. Does anyone have any suggestions how to craft an itinerary?

Thanks and Happy Trails!

Posted by
16893 posts

You might start with Rick's prioritized list of Edinburgh city sights as well as the similar one for Glasgow, which is less than one hour away by local train. Trains to York take about 2.5 hours each way, so a day trip is doable there, too. Are you trying to get to the Highlands, as well, or will you have enough rural scenery during your hike?

If you're not planning to get a BritRail pass (versions for either Scotland or the whole island), then train tickets are cheaper when purchased for roundtrip travel and at least one day ahead, or preferably earlier.

Posted by
5677 posts

Hi Robin,

There are lots of things that you can do from Edinburgh in the city and with an hour or two max.

First, here are my favorites in Edinburgh.

  1. The Castle: I always go there first thing right after my transatlantic flight. I like it as there is some walking outside and the views of the city are spectacular and are a great orientation. There is also a lot of history the you can learn about too , which can help with other sites.
  2. Gladstones Land: This is right off the Royal Mile. It's typical of the Medieval tenements. These were the first sky scrapers.
  3. The National Museum: This is off the Royal Mile, but is a great museum. Go if you have a rainy day. You start in the basement with prehistoric time and by the time you are on the top floor you are in the 21st century! There is a good restaurant on the roof. Also, nearby is Grey Friars with the famous dog story. And, in the evening Sandy Bells is close by for traditional music.
  4. The Georgian House: This is over in New Town which Georgian so not so new today. The Georgian House does the same thing for that time period that Gladstones Land does for the earlier time period. Also, when you are in New Town check out the restaurants on Rose Lane. On Thistle Lane is the Oxford Bar, famous from Ian Rankin's books.
  5. Dynamic Earth: This is not for everyone, but if you like geology and want to know something about geology in Scotland as opposed to North America, it's can very cool. Lots of kids though. I also enjoy Holyrood Palace and Holyrood parliament building. I've toured both.
  6. Stretching your legs: There is a nice walk by Leith Water, or you can climb Arthur's Seat. Or go to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Speaking of Leith, the tour of the Royal Yacht is good.

Day Trips

  • Glasgow: You can do this easily by train. There is a lot to see. My priority would be the Riverside Museum, but Kelvingrove is good and there
  • Stirling: Great Castle with a recently restored Renaissance Palace. Argyll's Lodging is interesting as well. You can get there by train.
  • Walk in the countryside: You can take a train to Birnam and Dunkeld. They are on opposite sides of the Tay and connected by great bridge. Dunkeld has a lovely town centre with an old cathedral. It was the original seat of the Scottish Church before they moved it to St. Andrews. But, the best deal are the walks. You can do the Hermitage walk, or walk in Birnam Wood. :)
  • St. Andrews: If you are a golf fan, you can do this in a day. The train takes you almost there and then you catch a bus for the last few miles. (I always find this odd. It feels so very American. The train doesn't go to Madison, WI, it goes to Columbus 20 miles away. )
  • Day Trip Tours: There are lot of these. I think that I would be open to doing the ones to the Borders that would include Roslyn Chapel and the Abbey's. But, I think that the ones to the Highlands have too much bus time for me.

That should be a good start for you.