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Scotland for 15 Days - What should I change about this plan?

1 - Edinburgh
2 - Edinburgh
3 - Speyside
4 - Speyside
5 - Cawdor Castle, Inverness
6 - Ullapool area
7 - Plockton area
8 - Isle of Skye
9 - Isle of Skye
10 - Isle of Skye
11 - Lewis and Harris Island
12 - Leave the island, drive to Glencoe
13 - Glencoe area
14 - Glencoe area, Lake Fyne
15 - Trossachs, Stirling Castle

Here's our 15 day plan for Scotland. We're a couple in our late 30s + bringing a couple in-laws. We're a bit more inclined to countryside than city (we live in NYC so already get a lot of that). Anything that you think we should change? We realize skipping Glasgow may be a controversial topic :)

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, kuha,

You are definitely not going to have enough time on Harris and Lewis. On some days, there is only one sailing from Uig, which would most likely give you less than 24 hours to explore one of the best areas of Scotland. Even if you catch the early ferry from Uig on a day when there are two sailings, you are still going to be pushing it to see as much of the unspoiled beauty as possible.

Personally, I would take the early ferry to Tarbert on day 11, spend the better part of two days on Harris and Lewis, and skip the Glencoe tour on day 12. It's a fair drive from Uig to Glencoe, ever farther if you're returning from Stornoway to Ullapool.

Make sure you check the ferry schedules to see which sailing serves you best.

Best wishes for your travels!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
4280 posts

What Mike said! And you don’t say when you are going, so keep an eye on ferry schedules - especially to Lewis and Harris. You will definitely want more time here than you have allotted.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks both. We are going late sept / early oct. I did check the ferry schedule - as is, the schedule above assumes first day we arrive at 09:30. Second day we would leave at 16:20. So about a day and a half. But I hear you guys on it being not enough time there.

A few follow-up Qs...
Is your thoughts about less Glencoe that we've already been through many pretty glens at that point?
Is two days in Edinburgh not doing it justice?
Is it still worth going to Lewis and Harris given we will have just spent 3 days on Isle of Skye plus 2 days in Plockton?

Posted by
1652 posts

I am in the midst of planning our trip to Scotland for next year so I am certainly not an expert. But it seems to me that you are staying in a lot of places for 2 weeks. I would be concerned about spending too much time in the car driving from place to place. And packing and unpacking and checking into hotels. I realize you are young and probably have more energy than I do, but what about the in-laws? Are they your spouse's parents? Which means they are older.

I have also been told while planning my trip that you cannot rely on Google drive times because a lot of the driving is rural driving on one track roads. You should add at least 20% to the Google map driving times.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, point taken about lots of movement - have had the same thoughts actually. maybe we need to drop out some destinations

Posted by
886 posts

Too many stops for just two weeks, and Edinburgh deserves more time. I had three weeks and ended up removing Lewis due to the amount of time it was going to eat up getting there and back. I also removed Glencoe on the advice of the company that helped with my driving tour as they said there wasn’t a lot to see there as it focused on people who want to hike the mountain. Ullapool and Plocton are very scenic areas, but there is otherwise not a lot to do, you don’t need to spend a night in each you can stop for an hour or two and spend your night elsewhere. I drove from Inverness to Ullapool, then spent the night in Gairloch before going to Skye. I seem to recall there was a nice garden I visited. I think I also made a stop at Rogie falls somewhere along the way which was a nice walk. If you leave Lewis in you itinerary and remove Glencoe you could add another, more interesting stop before you get to Sterling. I would suggest Oban or Inverary. Glasgow is interesting, but if you don’t have the time you can see it next time, and you will likely want to return again because Scotland has that effect on people.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi again, kuha,

Is day one the day that you arrive in Edinburgh? If so, you're not going to see a lot as you'll most likely be pretty wiped out from the overnight flight. However, if that is actually day two, get a good night's sleep the first night.

If you are heading to the Trossachs after Glencoe, Loch Fyne is pretty far out of the way. Unless you have a specific reason for visiting Loch Fyne (Inverary Castle? Kippers?), you may want to eliminate that section of your itinerary.

If Calum's Seal Trips are still operating during your time in Plockton, I'd highly recommend it. That, and Islay and Colonsay, were among the highlights of our last visit.

As has been pointed out, there's not a whole lot to do in Glencoe if you're not planning to do a lot of hiking. A day and a half would be more than enough.

Edinburgh is worth at least two full days.

The ferry to Tarbert departs Uig at 9:30. Arrival in Tarbert would be at 11:10 a.m. You'd still have enough time to do a tour of the island, but you'd have to be very specific about what you want to see. Make sure that you don't sail out on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, as there is only one sailing at 2:10 p.m. Also, if you take the 16:20 out of Tarbert, it doesn't arrive in Uig until 18:00, which means that you'd still have to drive all the way across Skye in the gloaming, and you would most likely not reach your lodging near Glencoe until well after dark. If you plan to take this route, you may want to consider staying somewhere like Kyle of Lochalsh, or even as far as Invergarry, before heading on to Glencoe in the morning.

Don't forget that the roads are not fast. What appears to be a relatively short drive usually isn't! :)

Hope that helps in some way. Have a wonderful visit, and I can say without doubt that you will definitely return!

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
406 posts

When a friend and I were in Glencoe in early August, what we enjoyed the most by far was getting off the main road and driving the Glen Etive road. It's a paved, flat, single lane road (with "laybys" for passing cars coming in the opposite direction). Little traffic. No trucks ("lorries") or tour buses. The scenery is so lovely that it was the filming site for James Bond's childhood home area. It's about 45 minutes to a loch, where the road ends at a parking lot...but the return drive is just as lovely because you're seeing things from the opposite angle. There are good You Tube videos about the Glen Etive road. If driving this road is of interest to you, I would set aside half a day for the Glen Etive road alone. Then stopping along the main, more heavily trafficked road through Glencoe could take a few hours.

Apart from driving the Glen Etive road, I do agree with the prior comment that there's not alot to do in Glencoe unless you're into hiking.

Posted by
139 posts

We loved Isle of Skye so good to stay there three days. We were at the Rockview B&B in Portree - owner a chef and she was wonderful. Small B&B. AND we really liked Inverness - perhaps another day there?

Posted by
886 posts

I forgot to mention, the drive out to Applecross is stunning, see if you can fit it in. I drove
out there after Ullapool and before going to Skye. If the weather is bad I would skip it as you wouldn’t see much.

Posted by
470 posts

Yes the weather can be bad on Bealoch na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) on the to/from Applecross
It was so windy when i was there i couldn't open my car door