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Scotland & England itinerary help May2018

My two sisters and I are planning a two week to the UK in mid-May 2018. I would appreciate other travelers' advice on our itinerary. We haven't booked anything except airfare yet. The main thing we all agree on is that we definitely don't want to feel rushed from place to place. That's primarily why we're going self-guided instead of a organized group tour. Below is the plan so far. (We also wanted to fit in a daytrip to Bath while in England, but I'm not sure how to squeeze that in.)
Day 1 in London (we're flying into there)
Day 2 train to Edinburgh
Day 3-5 exploring Edinburgh
Day 6 rent a car and drive to Isle of Skye
Days 7-8 explore Skye
Day 9-10 take ferry to Isle of Lewis /Harris and explore isle
Day 11 take ferry from Lewis/Harris to mainland and drive to Inverness
Days 12-13 Explore Inverness
Day 14 Fly from Inverness to London
Day 15 Fly back to USA

Thanks.

Posted by
2520 posts

why fly into London when you are spending all your time in Scotland.Look at flying into Glasgow or Edinburgh.
no chance of you fitting in Bath with this plan.

Posted by
771 posts

I think this is do-able, but I'd forget Bath. It's not going anywhere and as we always say about our trips, you can't do it all, have to save something for the next time!

Inverness, which we found perfectly pleasant if not over exciting, can be pretty much explored in a day, but you might want to extend the couple of days you have up there to 'Inverness and environs', like Loch Ness, etc. Scenery up there, is of course, wonderful.

I'm sure you have a list of places that you want to visit at each place, and I'm sure you'll get further suggestions on this very forum. If you can't change the flights and make it an exclusively Scotland trip, then the northern half of the railway journey to Edinburgh at least is pretty scenic and in the scheme of things, not that long a journey. Dependent on flight arrival times I believe there is - or used to be - an overnight sleeper train from London through to Edinburgh (we need the redoubtable Nigel, the fount of all knowledge on these things to add his twopennorth on whether this is a viable option) which might save you a hotel stay in London - never that cheap - and give you a bit more time once you get over the border.

The only other word of advice I have is, that in my experience the airport at Inverness is pretty small, with aircraft to match, so check what the baggage allowance is on the flight back to London - may set the tone for your packing for the entire trip!

Hope you have a great time - Scotland rarely disappoints in my view!

Ian

Posted by
12544 posts

You can also read what Man in Seat 61 has to say about the New Caledonia Sleeper.

https://www.seat61.com/CaledonianSleepers.htm

The problem for people flying from the US is that it would make for a very long and inconvenient first day. The train that stops in Edinburgh and allows disembarkation there does not leave London until 23:00. That means they would have to stay up through the entire day of arrival after the long-haul flight, and store their luggage for the day while they do some sight-seeing.

An alternative, which we have actually done, would be to take the train directly from Kings Cross Station to York upon arrival in London, and spend a night (or preferably two) there. It is only a two-hour journey, and we arrived mid-afternoon, in time to check in to our hotel, take a refreshing shower, and go out for a walk and early-ish dinner before retiring for the night. It made for a nice soft landing after the long journey.

York is a lovely town to explore, and right on the way to Edinburgh. With four nights allotted to Edinburgh, they could easily take one away and add it to York.

I have never understood Rick Steves’ fascination with Bath.

Posted by
771 posts

Lola -

As a Yorkshireman, I am compelled to agree with you about York! And, yes, it would make a great first 'jumping off point'.

My original thought was that if you were to fly in to London in the evening/at night, it might make a bit of sense to take the sleeper straight to Edinburgh rather than spend money on a London hotel for a few hours before moving on by train the following morning.

As veteran of several long distance sleeper journeys (Russia, Chile) I do realise it's not the most refreshing way to spend a night, but it is a good way of maximising your time at your end destination. It might be the only time when jet lag induced slumber is a boon!

I do understand the Rick Steves obsession with Bath though. I have friends who live nearby and have visited frequently. But York does have older and just as interesting (if not more so ) charms. I'm delighted to see the place getting good reviews on here lately too!

Ian

Posted by
12544 posts

Hi Ian, most flights to London from the US are overnight flights that arrive there in the morning, or around noon, either of which would make for a long day waiting for the late departure of the Caledonian sleeper to Edinburgh.

There are exceptions, of course, such as a BA flight from JFK that departs at 7:35 am and arrives at Heathrow at 19:45, probably in time to make it through immigration and to Euston station in time to board the train. It that would mean rising around 4 am for the flight, so again it would be quite a long day.

It since they already have their flight booked this suggestion may be moot.

Maybe I should give Bath another chance sometime. . . But I would rather return to Yorkshire!

Posted by
771 posts

Hi Lola -

Well, re Bath I suppose it helps if you have the benefit of locals with insider knowledge! Our friends live just outside Bath in the splendidly named Limpley Stoke.

As regards Yorkshire....well, of course!

Ian

PS We plan to fly to Alaska next year and the flights are via Seattle. I believe they leave London unconscionably early too!