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Scotland without a car help with planning sites

Hi , my 60+ yearly mate and I are planning a 17 day trip to scotland in September.
I need some help narrowing things down and hope you all can help.
I want to identify some hubs where we can perch for a few days so would appreciate suggestions of good cities, such as Oban, Inverness, We don’t want to rush and w@nt to appreciate nature and the locals. We aren’t into castles or churches.

What we want to do:
1. Nature and hiking (See Loch Lomond, highlands, marine wildlife)
2. See skye or other isles.
3. Hang with locals and explore pubs.
I know we are limited without a car but are comfortable with busses or trains or hiring private or shared transport. We can also work with firms like Rabbies or Timberbush.

Thanks In advance for your help.

Days 1-3 explore Glasgow
Days 17-19 explore Edinburg and take off.

Posted by
9632 posts

If you want to explore without a car you may need to utilize tour companies. I have taken tours with Rabbies and they are excellent. They have tours from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

There are also some beautiful rail journeys in Scotland. Probably the most famous is the West Highland Line from Glasgow to Fort William to Mallaig. Rail services are pretty good and anyplace they don't go, there is probably a bus service.

Don't rule out the Orkney Islands. An easy flight on Loganair from Glasgow, Edinburgh or Inverness. There is also a ferry.

If you are making a circle of the country from Glasgow around to Edinburgh--clockwise--I can recommend a couple of days in Dundee.

Posted by
560 posts

Depending on how much "nature and hiking" you like, I recommend spending part of your time doing a multi-day hike (having your luggage transported from inn to inn). We spent 8 days hiking the West Highland Way, but you can do parts of it. Check out Contours https://www.contours.co.uk

They have many options, and can work with you to customize your trip. For example, we took a rest day after 4 days of walking. From our experience, I highly recommend hiking in the Highlands. It was one of my favorite trips.

Posted by
2 posts

A couple of days spent in Glasgow would be more than enough to capture the local architecture and some of the museums and other a attractions. If you like pubs then you’ll be at home here and the restaurant scene is booming so you’ll be spoilt for choice. The good news is that Loch Lomond and/or Loch Katrine is an easy day out from Glasgow and there’s a great distillery (Glengoyne) less than 40 minutes from the city and a number of operators run minibus tours to here. At the end of your trip I suggest you give yourself a little more time in Edinburgh, there’s so much to see and do - and all easily walkable, so no need to worry about transport.

As other posters have commented on when the question gets asked, beyond Scotland’s so-called Central Belt (which links Glasgow and Edinburgh), direct trains will get you to most of the other bigger cities and towns but this will leave you in most instances in the city/town centres from where you need to pick up local buses or even taxis to get out and about to explore the surrounding countryside. All doable but needs extra planning.

Try getting in touch with www.culturalperspectives.co.uk. They’re new and based in Glasgow I believe and specialise in small group, bespoke tours, mainly art and architecture which might not be your thing (too niche?) but I know they’ve taken folk from Glasgow and up through Glencoe and out to the islands of Mull and Iona.

Closer to Glasgow, the Isle of Arran is also feasible (direct train from Glasgow to Ardrossan, then 1hr CalMac ferry to Brodick). Not sure of local buses once on Arran which might limit your freedom but they have a brewery and distillery amongst the local attractions. That said, unless you’re planning some serious all day trekking (Goat Fell?) you’ll find enjoyable walks I’m sure, or you can hire bikes. There’s just one significant road that runs round the whole island and even here there’s often barely room for two cars to pass so no need to worry about traffic. As with most parts of rural Scotland dealing with traffic is rarely a problem; coming face to face with sheep blocking single-track roads can sometimes be an altogether different problem but it’s all part of the fun so Enjoy.

Mike

Posted by
2732 posts

I believe you can get to the Cruise Loch Lomond dock in Tarbet by train or by bus from Glasgow. From there the boats will take you to various places around the loch, you can get off and hike for a while and then catch another boat back. Another of their docks, in Luss, is on the bus route (but not the train route) from Glasgow.

https://www.cruiselochlomond.co.uk/cruises

You mentioned Inverness, but I'd advise staying in Nairn instead -- a smaller town about 1/2 hour to the east, near Culloden Battlefield and the Clava Cairns. Nairn has whale watching on the Moray Firth, and a picturesque marina. I can recommend Tali Ayer bed & breakfast (but there are dozens of others in town) and The Classroom restaurant. Nairn is on the bus route from Inverness.