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Scotland to London

My husband has a week long business trip in London the last week in October. We are trying to determine where in Scotland we can fly to before taking a train to London for the week. We have about 3 - 4 days in Scotland depending on what people think we can get done in that time. We would love to get an overview of some of the beautiful sites in Scotland. We will have to arrive in London on a Sunday. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Sonja

Posted by
886 posts

I would suggest Edinburgh. Lots to see in town, and easy to get day trips to other parts of Scotland. 3-4 days is not a lot, you could spend most of the time just in Edinburgh and not get bored. I flew to Edinburgh via Amsterdam, avoiding the madness at Heathrow. It's a short connecting flight and it's easy to get a bus from the airport to downtown.

Posted by
16674 posts

Edinburgh is a city, a nice one to be sure, but if you want an "overview" of Scotland I suggest you get out of Edinburgh. Your flight will likely arrive in Edinburgh and you should spend a night or two there. Then take the train north to someplace interesting (we loved Bridge of Orchy in the Highlands, but weather in a October may be iffy). Then train down to Glasgow and to London from there.

Posted by
103 posts

It depends on where you're located and where exactly you're heading in Scotland. The two main airports in Scotland are at Glasgow and Edinburgh - both have direct flights to the US and Canada and are relatively close to each other, to an extent you can pick on the basis of which has the cheapest flight, direct/quickest routings etc from your particular city, although each is clearly better for some destinations than the other.

With only 3 days you have very limited time to see anything, so if you're looking for scenery you may be best heading straight to the Highlands (although you don't mention if you want to hire a car or use public transport - although hiring and driving a long distance after a long transatlantic flight may be inadvisable). For much of the Highlands, particularly the popular sights in the West Highlands, Glasgow is a better access point.

Bear in mind you don't need to travel to Edinburgh to catch a train to London, there are also direct trains from Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness and overnight sleeper trains to London from those places plus Ft William. Taking one of these options may help save time with your limited schedule. There is also a vast choice of domestic flights from Scotland to London which may be a better option than the train in some situations.

My husband and I leave for a trip to England/ Scotland in a couple weeks. From the research I've done, if I were you, I think I'd start out in Edinburgh and then day trip from there. By Googling day trips from Edinburgh, you will see you'll have tons of options!

Posted by
5678 posts

Yes, you can do lots of day trips out of Edinburgh, but then you are in the bus a lot. :) Here's a suggestion. Don't stop in Glasgow or Edinburgh, but connect with a flight to Inverness. Pick up a car. Spend the night either in Inverness or drive to Grantown or one of the other small towns in Speyside if you are interested in Whisky. Take the next two days to drive back to Edinburgh and catch a flight or train to London. If you want to see Lochs and mountains, you will want to head southwest from Inverness past Loch Ness to Fort William. Then you can go down the west coast through Glencoe and back to Edinburgh. The Speyside would take you through Castles and maybe down to St. Andrews, or back into the interior and Perthshire.

Pam

Posted by
2 posts

These are great suggestions! I haven't decided how to get to London, are the sites pretty on the train? If not, we may just fly so we have more time. We might fly into Edinburg and rent a car for day trips unless that isn't a great idea. We definite want to get out of the city and just see the sites. Sounds like Inverness would be good too?

Posted by
1657 posts

The areas the train goes through on the way south are beautiful landscapes. Flying from Scotland to London may not actually save that much time when you consider check in times, transfer times to the airport etc, the train will give better views.

Posted by
103 posts

Whilst flying into Inverness looks attractive on paper it is a very small airport with limited flights/routes/airlines and hence it might not be as good an option as it seems to try to fly to there from the USA - The limited airline/connection opportunities may very well mean a significantly more expensive/longer flight than to Glasgow/Edinburgh and hence rather outweigh any benefits of flying to Inverness in the first place. It depends to some extent on where exactly you're starting from, so still worth looking into, but not automatically the best option. Inverness airport does have plenty flights to London, so it may be of more use at the end of your visit to Scotland.

Inverness in itself is a nice enough place, but its quite small and I wouldn't necessarily spend time there given how short your visit is. It's more of a staging point and transport hub for parts of the Highlands.

I'm not sure I agree that the train south is that scenic, maybe the first 60-90mins are relatively scenic (not mind blowing) and then pretty avg imo. From Inverness it's a bit more scenic for 2-3 hours more, but that journey takes about 8 hours so would eat up a lot of your limited time. If you're going from city centre to city centre then the train is competitive with the plane, but if you're starting out in the countryside with a car or in the Highlands then flying may fit better. As mentioned the overnight sleeper trains may be a good option to maximise time (www.sleeper.scot).

Daytrips from Edinburgh - If you're going to relatively nearby places like Stirling or St Andrews then that's fine (although these are easily done by public transport), but if you're talking about many of the well known places in the Highlands then if you look at a map you'll see many of them are simply a fairly long way away from Edinburgh and hence not that great for a day trip, particularly in late October when the days are getting shorter and it's getting dark earlier. Given your short time this may be the only option, but it's a long time in a car/bus. I wouldn't personally hire a car and have it in Edinburgh either - The city can be quite congested and it can be difficult to drive/park with all the narrow/one-way streets, bus lanes, tram lines etc.

I guess you need to work out what you want to see and take it from there, but you have a very short time so don't try to see too much. Many people who've not been here before grossly underestimate the size of the country and how much time it takes to get from place to place (esp in the Highlands) and try to pack in far, far too much. From what you say the best option may be to fly in to Glasgow/Edinburgh dependent on final destination (or Inverness if decent flights are available), get a car and head straight into the countryside.

Posted by
1657 posts

The last comment about the size of Scotland is one that bears repeating. The distances can appear quite short on a map but the landscape means the roads meander a relatively large degree.

For bases, there is probably more you may be interested in Edinburgh itself, but is not the easiest to use as a base to get into the Highlands. Glasgow is a better base for that. Returning to the train, the more spectacular scenery heading central belt to London is southern Scotland and far north England, once into the English Midlands most of the farmland can look similar.

Not ugly, far from ugly, but you may be convinced you saw that cow half an hour ago. The East Coast Main Line does give a great view of Durham Cathedral though.

Posted by
5678 posts

I have flown from Madison Wisconsin to Kirkwall in Orkney in one long journey, so it is possible to do this. It really depends on when you are coming and what is available.

I am going to do a pitch for a first night in Inverness. It's a great starting point to go either west or east the next day. There are lovely restaurants, and if you want to try staying up after a transatlantic flight, you can go to Hootananny and hear some traditional music. Or you can go for a walk through the islands in the Ness river if you want some fresh air. Or if you arrive early enough, you can go to Culloden and check out the exhibit and walk the battlefield. Or get your stone circle fix in early by going to Clava Cairns.

I don't pretend that it is a "quaint village." Rather Inverness is where a lot of the business of the highlands gets done and a lot of that business is tourism. If you want quaint, there are some lovely towns nearby that I can recommend. We've stayed in Fortrose at The Anderson and in Strathpeffer at The Richmond.

Pam

Posted by
1657 posts

Sorry Pam, now you have set your cards to Inverness, I will bid for the Dear Green Place.

Glasgow is the pulsing heart of Scotland, home of a wide range of free museums, the keystone of the nation linking the Highlands and the Lowlands. Glasgow has the best shopping in the UK outside of London, friendly people and a wicked sense of humour.

And if you should ever tire of Glasgow, within an hour you can be in the Clyde Valley, in the Cowal Peninsular, by Loch Lomond, be in Edinburgh, in Stirling, in Ayr.

Pam, you knew I would stand for Glesga! Now for Unclegus to weigh in for the capital.

Posted by
6113 posts

For the short time you have available, you need to be based in Glasgow or Edinburgh and do a day trip from either out into the countryside. Inverness is better if you have a longer trip and the city itself is dull compared to Glasgow or Edinburgh. By late October, the clocks will have changed, so sunset will be c 16.30. The weather may limit what you can see and do too at that time of year.

3 or 4 days means only 2 or 3 nights and is one of these days travelling back to London? Take the train to London unless you are connecting straight to an outward bound flight as by the time you have got out to the airport, waited min 2 hours for your flight then cleared customs etc at the other end and travelled into London, the train will be as quick and less hassle. Take care though if taking the train on a Sunday as there maybe engineering work affecting the line.

Posted by
103 posts

Cleared customs? Coming from Scotland? I also don't think there's any need to be at any Scottish airport 2 hours before a domestic flight, particularly a small airport like Inverness. That's not to say the train isn't competitive from Edinburgh and Glasgow, but from Inverness it isn't - the train takes over 8 hours and there's no way that'll beat flying.

I'm not sure the weather will be a major issue in Oct, sure it might be a bit wet, but it's not like they're going to be battling snowdrifts!

Posted by
5678 posts

Alright you lot, I'm not suggesting that they spend the three nights in Inverness, but rather it be a starting point with possibly one night! My goal was to get them up north fast and then let them drive south to whichever city takes their fancy or whichever route takes their fancy. So, what I'm really proposing is a road trip in Scotland, rather than a stay-in-one-place trip to Scotland. :) To my mind it depends on what they want to see. It's hard to say when all you have is "beautiful sites in Scotland" to go by as the whole country (well maybe not Grangemouth???) is unbelievably beautiful. :)

Pam