My wife and I will be in Scotland in April for a couple weeks. Our itinerary is Edinburgh to Oban to Isle of Skye to Inverness to Stirling and back around to Edinburgh. We'll be renting a car for the trip. My question is are there any recommendations that aren't in Rick Steve's book that people found enjoyable (or even one that was low on his list that you found much better)? We will hit many of the biggies, but I'm curious about any gems or great experiences... Thanks!
On my way down from Skye to Oban I did the drive out to Applecross. Simply stunning. I didn't use Rick Steves book for my trip so I don't know if it's in there or not, but it should be.
I agree. Applecross drive is stunning.
I haven't read or seen any of Rick Steves' thoughts on Scotland so I will just let you know what I liked when we drove around in 2016.
Glen Etive near Glencoe. Beautiful drive to a lovely destination. Some great hills to hike.
Ben Nevis. I am an old mountain runner so couldn't resist a gentle trot up and down Britain's highest peak. It offers some amazing views. It would be a pleasant morning walk for anyone who is healthy and sound of wind and limb.
Neptune's Staircase at Fort William is worth having a look if there is a boat "climbing the stairs".
In Skye a quick walk up to the Old Man of Storr is worthwhile.
The drive up the NE to the Quirang and also further to the far north of the Isle is lovely. Sweet little open air museum up there too, worth a stop.
There is a nice Broch worth visiting near Struan.
Great views of the Cuillans from Sligachan Hotel, photo ops at the old bridge.
You can take the ferry to lovely Raasay. Dolphins usually escort the ferry across.
DunCaan is a walk with staggering views.
Calums Road is worth the drive, check the history.
The drive further north along the wedt coast is just magic, Applecross via Bealach Na Ba (spelling?) up to Torridon and beyond.
Kinlochewe and Bienn Eighe are beautiful.
At the other end of the country we found an amazing castle called Caerlaverock not far from Dumfries.
My interests are probably nothing like yours and certainly nothing like Mr Steves but it might be worth checking out some of these places on the net to see what you think.
Let me third the Bealach na Ba to Applecross. It's one of the most stunning roads in Scotland, especially if you stop at the summit to look back over Loch Kishorn and Loch Carron. If you don't fancy making the return trip, the coast road goes around the Inner Sound and South Loch Torridon to Shieldaig.
Another great road is the B869 from Lochinver to Kylesku, via Stoer and Drumbeg. You can enhance that journey by taking the "Wee Mad Road" from Loch Lurgainn to Lochinver.
Handa Island, near Scourie, is definitely worth a visit. You can see puffins in summer, and get dive bombed by bonxies (great Scrabble word).
Farther south, the island of Ulva is definitely worth a visit. It's off the west coast of Mull. Some good low level hiking to be found there. Also, if you do go to Mull, and you're going to Skye from Mull, take the ferry from Tobermory, then the road from Kilchoan through Ardnamurchan and Moidart to the A830 at Lochailort. It cuts out a lot of backtracking, and the scenery is spectacular.
You may also want to visit the islands of Eigg and Rum, which are accessible by boat from Mallaig or Arisaig (No cars allowed - you have to leave your car on the mainland. I prefer Mallaig, as the car park is next to the police station!) Both Eigg and Rum are fascinating places to visit. Eigg was featured in a segment on "60 Minutes" last year, and the crew didn't want to leave! If you go there, you'll know why. You can also take a three island, non landing cruise (Eigg, Rum, and Canna) from Mallaig on CalMac.
According to Mr. Steves and his cohorts, nothing exists in Aberdeenshire east of Ballater, but there is some great scenery there, and the largest collection of castles within easy driving distance of one another anywhere in Scotland. Crathes, Craigievar, Huntly, Fyvie, Drum, Fraser, and Haddo House, for starters; and the ruined castles of Tolquhon, Slains, and especially Dunnottar, thrown in for good measure. The spectacular coast south of Stonehaven contains one of the largest seabird colonies on mainland Scotland (Foulsheugh), and north of Aberdeen, there are the beautiful beaches of Balmedie and Newburgh, the latter of which has a huge seal colony.
If you enjoy hiking, one of the best direct hikes on Skye is from Loch Coruisk (accessible by boat from Elgol) to Glen Sligachan, and on to the Sligachan Hotel. You'll be hiking in the glen between the Red and Black Cuillins.
I'd also highly recommend the island of Arran, which once again doesn't feature in Mr. Steves' book. It does feature in the Lonely Planet guide, which is well worth borrowing or buying. Arran has some gorgeous scenery, with mountains in the northern part, and a great coastal road in the south. The Highland fault line runs directly through Arran. There are some really charming villages scattered all around the coast, and a couple of great castles (Brodick and Lochranza).
I know that you won't have time to visit all these places, but I hope that you can fit some of them in to your itinerary. Scotland is an amazingly beautiful country, with the friendliest people and some of the best food.
Best wishes for your travels!
Instead of staying in Inverness, we went to Nairn, which is about half an hour east -- on the other side of Culloden Battlefield and Cawdor Castle. We chose Nairn because of a family connection, and we really enjoyed the small-town atmosphere and walking to the marina and the beach. Also, Nairn is said to have the warmest and dryest climate in Scotland. There are plenty of B&Bs in town. We stayed at Tali Ayer and absolutely loved it << https://www.tali-ayer.com/ >>. The restaurant "The Classroom" is very good.
We were just in Scotland last week and drove from Edinburgh, through Callender, up to Glencoe. It's a stunning drive! We spend about 3 hours in the afternoon out a little road that we saw and took a chance on...it goes to a little place called Glen Etive. It's about 5 miles long, single land (with turn outs), and has some of the best scenery I've ever seen. There were rivers, waterfalls, herds of deer and many stags, and beautiful farms. One of the prettiest days I've ever experienced. I wish I could post pics on this forum sometimes - it was just beautiful.
2 votes for Glen Etive then.