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Scotland in 3/4 days

hi

Me and my wife are planning to visit ireland (sept 10-15th) and scotland from (Sept 15th -18th/19th).

Apart from Edinburgh and Glasgow what are the other must places to visit given our base would be edinburgh.

Also what would be the temperature and sun set timings in both countries be in Sept.

What car rental company is advised and how much would it cost for our period of stay? Any hidden costs that we need to be aware of?

Whats the present fuel prices?

Guidance required.

Toms

Posted by
9110 posts

With just three or four days you don't have time for much except Glasgow and Edinburgh - - maybe one little day excursion, but that would depend upon your interests.

Wunderground has your astronomical, weather, and climate scoop.

Use whatever car company has the best deal on Kayak. Figure on about thirty-bucks per day for a cheap, small car for such a short period. Hidden costs only creep in when you don't read the fine print on a consolidators site. Figure close to eight bucks per gallon, but you'll get forty miles or so per in a small car.

Posted by
152 posts

Toms,

I'm no expert, but I'm renting from National Car Rental for our trip in October. They had the most of what I needed, at the locations I need, and at a good price. Also, they allow you to select a car with automatic transmission, which is crucial for me. If you have a discount code, i.e. from an alumni association, it will probably include an additional driver at no cost. Bring your own GPS or smart phone app, to avoid the cost and the learning curve in renting one with the car. See if your credit card will cover the collision damage waiver, otherwise it will be very costly to buy from the rental company. Or, you can include it in a trip insurance policy for relatively low cost, if you buy a policy.

Be prepared for very narrow roads. Stay alert. Have fun.

Jerry

Posted by
5461 posts

I agree with Ed, that with only 3-4 days you don't have a lot of time, particularly if you're doing both Glasgow and Edinburgh. I would suggest that you think about what you want to see in Scotland. Edinburgh is the capital, and has lots of historic sites and things to see. Glasgow is also, historic, but the nation-level history is in Edinburgh. Glasgow is wonderful for understanding what the Scots brought to the industrial revolution, and has a great contemporary music scene in the west end. Then there is the rest of Scotland, which is bigger than you think. :)

If you want to get a glimpse of the countryside of Scotland you do have some choices. You can take that rental car and drive up to Perthshire. Glen Lyon, just beyond Loch Tay is beautiful and not hours and hours from Edinburgh. If the borders attract you--the land of ruined abbey's and many a battle with England, you could settle in Melrose for a night and explore that area including Jedburgh, Selkirk, Abottsford and more. Another option would be to try the Trossachs. This is the area that Sir Walter Scott features in poems and most notably in Rob Roy. Balqhidder Glen is beautiful. Loch Katrine has a fun steamship that you can ride. And the scenery in general is beautiful. Or you could go west from Glasgow and go to Arran. I've not been, but it sounds wonderful. Or you could go west to Argyll, the home of the Campbells. It's a beautiful area as well. Kilmartin Glen has some wonderfully ancient sites.

Pam

Posted by
3287 posts

Be prepared for some rain and some wind - a jacket is not just an accessory. We just got back last night, and while Aug. is the rainy month, that means on average Sept will only have 1 to 3 drier days than Aug. We did have some lovely, less-rainy days, too. Apparently July was unseasonably hot this year, but still not in the 90's.

Saw gas prices ranging from 1 pound 27 pence to 1 pound 36 pence per liter - about 8 bucks a gallon as Ed noted. Our tiny, pretty gutless Hyundai i30 returned a remarkable 50 MPG, however!

In between Edinburgh and Glasgow is Falkirk, with its canals and Falkirk Wheel (which we didn't see), Stirling, with its famous castle (which we saw from below but didn't get time to visit), and Doune, with its own castle (where much of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed and was a very nice castle in its own right and we really enjoyed a great visit for 60-90 minutes).

Get a magnetic green letter "P" to stick on the back of your car (not a red "L", and Scotland doesn't use the green "L's" that Rick describes), which may buy you a little more patience and buffer zone from local drivers. I'm glad I got a 2-pack; the first one blew off during a windstorm. A shop called Ali's Cave on Lothian Rd, just south of Morrison St, to the west of Downtown Old Edinburgh has "P" 2-packs for 2 pounds.

It was still light at 9:15 PM the past 2 weeks (until past 10:00 farther north, in Shetland), but you'll be there at basically the Equinox.

Posted by
5461 posts

Hi Cyn, I'm wondering where you got the stats on more rain in August than September? That doesn't match what I've seen. Check out the weather info here.

But, Toms, all this means for you is that you need to always travel with your rain gear. Have a good water proof, not resistant, jacket. I like a hood. I don't like umbrella's. I do like to treat my shoes with waterproofing. :)

Pam

Posted by
3287 posts

Hi Pam-my recollection, after perusing charts and lists in various guidebooks some time ago, was that August was generally the rainiest month, overall. Several locals we spoke with seemed to agree, but we didn't discuss precipitation patterns in much detail. However, glancing back now in a Lonely Planet book, which shows average rainfall by month in millimeters, not days, it says July and August are tops for Edinburgh (175-180 mm) with September a bit drier (155 mm). However, for Glasgow, August thru January is the wet period (over 100 mm each month, with August a bit wetter than September), while February thru July are drier (generally 75 mm or less, and April is the driest month of all, although July is much wetter than April). For Fort William and also over in Stornoway on Lewis, however, August is wetter then spring or early summer, September is wetter then August, and it really gets rainy from October thru January. Inverness, on the other hand, is definitely rainiest in August, then drier in September, then rainy again October thru January, before the spring "dry" season, if you believe those Aussies at LP. I also now see that Rick's Great Britain book suggests that, for Edinburgh, both August and September have the exact same number of rainy days (16), but no indication of how hard it will rain or how long the rain will last on a given day.

So, my general sense had been that it appeared Scotland got a bunch of rain in August, which tapered off in the fall - clearly now that's not true for some parts of Scotland! Sorry if I misstated things. Of course, when a hurricane moves from the Caribbean to the eastern coast of the US, then parks itself over the UK, it gets really wet no matter what some average weather chart says.

But rereading Toms' original question, he asked about temp. not moisture, so I was "all wet" from the outset. :-) Lonely Planet indicates (generally) September highs in the mid 50's and lows in the mid 40's. Rick suggests maybe a few degrees warmer (60 degree Farenheit highs for Edinburgh in Sept.).

Bottom line: prepare for rain and savor any dry moments, and it won't be too hot nor too cold, but keep a jacket handy.

Posted by
675 posts

The north west got pasted the other week over 600tons of rock and mud blocked the Ullapool road,still one way convoy in operation now I think.

Posted by
5461 posts

My own view on the weather in Scotland is this: It changes, but you should always prepare for rain. If you look at the stats:

  • September has the most rain--water falling from the Sky.
  • December has the most rainy days
  • The warmest month is July
  • The most sunny days is in May
  • The most hours of sun is in June

But all that said, on your trip, the weather will vary all over Scotland. It is probably most likely to rain in the west. If you care about finding sunshine and rain free travels in Scotland, the best thing you can do, is be flexible in your travels. Check what the weather says the night before and head for the sun. The mountains and sea mean that the weather is very, very local.

If you bring good rain gear with you and the right attitude you can deal with whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

Pam

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you all for your valuable insights.

is there any particular car hire agency which is trust worthy with no hidden costs that I can utilize either from
•airport
•city center

Posted by
3287 posts

After checking several agencies for our trip earlier this month, we decided on Arnold Clark. They had a location in downtown Inverness, and we turned the car back in at the Edinburgh airport. There was a nominal fee for turning in the car at the airport, and the paperwork was pretty extensive when we picked up the car -- we had to initial and sign off on a lot more things in the contract than we've seen with most other car hire places (including two others in remote parts of Scotland that weren't served by Clark). That made me suspect that they distrusted the customer, and that we might have some surprises at the end.

One of our B&B hosts said he'd had a bad experience buying a car from them once, but we didn't discuss the details - he just said to be wary of them. They appear to be a major Scottish car dealer, in addition to car renter, so maybe all the detais in the contract are just how they operate. In the end, we got a small car (advisable for both Ireland and Scotland, as the roads are narrow and parking spaces are tight) that got 50 MPG (great when gas is $8 a gallon!), and we didn't hit any sheep or other vehicles, so the detailed costs in the contract appear to have been upfront and complete, and the price was good. We'll see when for sure when we get our Visa bill next month, but overall it was a good experience.

Posted by
9110 posts

Fifty miles per gallon? There's got to be some rough math in there somewhere. I've been winding up with the shrimpy Fiats lately and, with just one person and not much junk, I'll get into the low forties with a long highway haul and am lucky to hit forty just knocking around on the back roads.

Speaking for Edinburg only, it's cheaper to rent at the airport than down in town, but figure in the tram costs to get out there and see what happens. (It's been so long since I've picked up a car in Glasgow that I have no idea what the deal is.) Figure less than thirty bucks a day for a small manual - - add maybe another ten or fifteen for an automatic. Just use Kayak and grab the best deal. There won't be any surprises - - unless you don't bring it back with a full tank.

I don't know why Cyn picked Arnold Clark. From all I've read, they're a Hogan's Goat operation with crappy prices when it comes to rentals.

Posted by
1239 posts

Arnold Clark as a dealership operation has an 'he hem' interesting reputation. Probably because they grew quite large quite quickly.
If the car was a diesel then 50 + mpg sounds right for a Hyundai i30, which is what I drive interestingly and is what I get according to the computer. Remember this will be Imperial gallons which are almost 1 litre bigger than US gallons.

At moment the fuel prices are about £1.30 per litre for diesel, a few pence cheaper for petrol but not significantly. According to the news in the car this morning, these are the lowest they've been for about three years.

Posted by
3287 posts

Ed and MC (And Toms) - Arnold Clark seemed to have decent prices in our research, and they responded to our e-mail inquiry (which some others didn't), and for better or worse, it felt like we were dealing with a "local" British firm rather than a Hertz or Avis corporate behemoth. At any rate, our Huyndai i30 (nice to have a rear set of doors on that car, compared to the Ford Ka cars we had on the Shetland and Orkney Isles) with unleaded petrol and a manual gearbox, carrying 2 people, 2 "light" suitcases, and 2 rucksacks, indicated up to 50.2 average accumulated MPG on the dashboard display. Maybe that's fuzzy Korean math or their sensors weren't quite right, and I didn't take the time to compute our actual miles driven and fuel consumed, but it beat everything else I've driven (such as my old 1967 Impala back in the 1970's) by a lot! It was virtually brand-new, with less than 900 miles on the odometer when we picked it up. A hot rod it was not, and passing the few cars that were actually going much slower than we wanted to go (up to 60 MPH on small "A" roads) took some effort and a lot of clear road ahead to effect the pass. The tiny Ford, incidentally, handled surprisingly well, and had a fair amount of pep, but was indicating about 40 MPG with unleaded and manual 5-speed. Mind you, we were in 4th gear a lot, with lots of twists, turns, slowing traffic, and hills (especially on Skye in August), so if we'd been cruising in 5th gear we might have set a new fuel economy record! Nice to hear we got a bit of a break on the fuel prices - maybe makes up a little for past trips to Continental Europe, where every trip seemed to be right when the Euro was at a new peak against the dollar :-)

Full disclosure - upon finally turning in the car, after a day of driving thru heavy rain and heavy traffic from Ft. William to Edinburgh, the dash indicated 49.7 MPG. And Arnold Clark doesn't provide very good maps, so acquire your own and/or resort to a GPS unit. Also, the Hyundai was rented with no passenger floormat and an undersized, flimsy piece of rubber for the driver's side, so some small quantity of the "ahem" sheep "substance" our shoes and hiking boots accumulated on our travels (despite rigorous efforts to scrape them clean) will undoubtedly remain in the car's carpet, unless they are extremely thorough in their shampooing after each rental. If you drop any snack food on a rental car floor, the "5 second rule" should not apply!

Posted by
1239 posts

Cyn, the petrol 1.4 i30 gets a claimed 47 mpg on the combined cycle, so low 50s could easily be possible!! it is also slightly under powered for size of car, mainly to get in to the lower tax bands, which fits with your experience. The diesel for example has a lot of power for its size and happily will do over 100 mph in the right circumstances and has six gears for cruising.

Realistically I would say those cars, class C in Europe, Compact in the US, are the largest you would probably want given the fuel prices and a road network they built by pouring tarmac over cattle tracks. Most family cars around here are that size. Some smaller.

Glad you had a good time, and hope it was everything you wanted it to be.

Posted by
3287 posts

MC- I presume one of those ideal circumstances for going 100+ MPH is having no police about! ;-)

Definitely had a great trip - but with some downs as well as ups. Sadly, we didn't make it to Glasgow, and would like to return and have more time to see and do more! You have a fabulous part of the world.

And, regarding rental cars, as they say, your mileage may (literally) vary.

Posted by
9110 posts

Hmmmm.

I'll make a wild guess and assume that, since it was a British car, the computer is rigged for imperial gallons which is about twenty percent more than a U. S. gallon.

Despite being a dumb Marine, I can read to myself without moving my lips and do simple math in my head. That works out to forty and a little bit in regular United States American miles per gallon.

Since the British peddle their gas in liters, and every urinal in the world has 3.8 liter / 1 gallon per flush written on it, an alternate computation method is possible. Knowing the miles driven per fuel load is fairly essential. A stubby pencil and the back of an envelope is helpful. Computers suck unless you understand how they think.

I'm pretty good at computing fuel consumption. We'll save the story about the time I ran an airplane out of gas for another day.

Posted by
1239 posts

Cyn, I leave my heavy right foot for the German autobahn. Too many speed traps! ;-)

If you missed Glasgow, you'll have to come back soon.

Posted by
3287 posts

@Ed-so that means if you've had 4 beers, don't order a 5th, 'cause you've really already had five! I probably couldn't read anything scrawled on an envelope at that point, anyway :-)

@MC-funny, there were speed camera signs all over, but the only cops we saw out on the road in a week-and-a-half (maybe we just missed the others) were at an intersection that was backed up in all directions -- nobody was speeding through that place! Cheers!

Posted by
7 posts

hi
could someone give me some direction.
We land in edinburgh on 15th. We want to straight away go outside Edinburg and finish by 18th afternoon. Our plan is stay in a B&b's on ur travel path from 15th-17th. 18th we are back in Edinburgh to soak in the city for the next 2.5 days.

recommendations required
- Some areas we want to cover are glascow & Lochness.
- anything else around that is a must see for visitors
- cities/locations to stay while on the move. I mean not hotels or B&B but places.
- What is the best whiskey tour to take and where does is start from? Do i need to be part of a tour or can we do on our own.

Appreciate a clear direction as we are not familiar with the place. Unless there is a very definite reason to visit a historic site, we would like to avoid it since all of UK consists of these attractions in different forms. PLaces to chill out, visualise, realx is our focus.

Posted by
3287 posts

NW of Edinburgh & NE of Glasgow are Stirling (one-time capitol of Scotland) and Doune (great town), both with famous castles. Stirling's castle rivals Edinburgh's, and Doune's is a manageable size for a 60-90 minute visit, true to its 14th-15th century design (with a bit of 19th century restoration), and its audioguide is narrated by Terry Jones, who discusses filming there for Monty Python and the Holy Grail (bring your own coconuts or buy them in the gift shop).

Further northwest, Fort William puts you at southern end of The Great Glen (with Loch Ness/Inverness at the northern end), and at the water's edge but also at the foot of some of Scotland's highest, scenic mountains. Great seafood restaurant, too, at Crannog. Get there through Glen Coe, where you can visualize and chill (but lots of others will be hiking and hillwalking). Get there via the A82 road.

Posted by
5461 posts

Hi, in regards to whisky tours, there are so many that it's hard to know what to advise without knowing your whisky preference. If you are not a single aficionado then don't worry about it. Pick a distillery in one of areas you are visiting for other reasons. For example, I visited Blair Atholl distillery because it was convenient when I visited Pitlochry. It was a good tour. I wish I had toured Highland Park, but hopefully I'll get back to Orkney for that one! You do have to take a tour.

I would agree that Stirling has a wonderful castle and is a good town to visit. If you want to get further north and want a small town, look into Dunkeld, The Bridge B&B is very nice. And you could have a really nice pub meal, possibly with music at the Tay Bank.

You can be up to Inverness by mid morning the next day, and on to Loch Ness. It's really hard to advise as there are so very options.

Pam