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Seeking Suggestions on Potential Itinerary

Currently, I'm planning a trip for 3 of us to Scotland in early - mid September. This is our first Scotland trip and want to see family / clan areas. This will be my third time driving on the left side of the road.

Would love to hear suggestions on the current itinerary below:

  • Day 1 - Arrive in Edinburgh from US. Pick up car and drive to Stirling area to B and B.
  • Days 2-5 - Stay at Stirling B and B with day trips to St. Andrews, Fort Williams area, and Closeburn Castle in Dumfries
  • Day 6 - Depart Stirling, drop off car, and head to Edinburgh
  • Days 6 and 7 - Tour Edinburgh
  • Day 8 - Leave for Ireland

Too much? Enough time especially considering the driving? Other ideas/suggestions?

Many thanks!

Posted by
2474 posts

It’s really not a good idea to drive right after a trans-Atlantic flight, tired and jet-lagged. Especially so since you would be driving on the left for the first time. You could stay in Edinburgh awhile, then pick up your rental car. [oops, third time. But still.]

Posted by
4984 posts

The Old Course at St Andrews is closed to golf on Sundays and you can walk the course, if interested. It's much more colorful to get a local, very inexpensive guide, and be entertained on that walk. Just an idea.....

Posted by
1826 posts

Since this will be your third time driving left, you should be OK with the 30 miles to Stirling. Stirling is not a good base for driving to Fort William since they are almost 100 miles apart. Better to do days 2-3 in Stirling, then head up to Fort William for a few days. Fort William is not particularly exciting, but is a convenient location for accessing many of the more scenic parts of Scotland. There are lots of nice B and Bs on the road west of Fort William. IMHO, I would spend one more day at the Fort William location, one less in Edinburgh.

Posted by
1961 posts

Where are your family based, as that will detereminge a fixed point in your itinerary. Places may not look far on a map but it will take a lot longer to cover the distance than you might expect. I think you are trying to cover too much. Less is more in places like Scotland and Ireland...

What is the reason for choosing Stirling for a base? As already pointed out, Fort William is a long way - you need to allow 2.5-3hours drive EACH way, which isn't going to give a lot of time there. What attracts you to Fort William and what are you intending to do there?

Closeburn Castle in Dumfries is the opposite direction and from Stirling involves skirting round Glasgow which can be busy, congested and not pleasant driving. You need to allow 2+ hours for the drive. I assume this is the clan connection? Have you checked out visiting as it just seems to be by prebooked guided tour only.

I would be inclined to do Edinburgh first, which would give time to recover from jet lag.

It would make sense to visit Closeburn Castle as a day tour from Edinburgh. It's not as far to drive and is a much nicer drive as it takes you through some lovely rural countryside (Pentland Hills and Borders into Dumfries)

Posted by
6710 posts

Since you’ve driven on the left previously and because Stirling is fairly close, driving to it upon arrival should be fine. It’s an easy drive mostly on the motorway.

If your B&B is in Stirling you may want to bookmark its location on Google maps to make life easier getting to it. The roads in town twist and turn which is bad enough, but we also ran into road construction/closed roads near our lodging so we had to detour to get to it. We stayed at Munro Guest House last September and there was paid parking across the street from it. Be advised that the Stirling parking meters only accepted coins. Every place else in the country accepted cards or coins.

In St. Andrews, there is a public lot near the golf museum. When we were there there was a tournament and the lot was closed for journalists’ use. There is additional free parking just past the museum along The Scores. We got lucky and got a spot there.

A couple places we enjoyed that were not on the original itinerary were Doune Castle and stopping along the waterfront to see the 1890s era Forth Bridge. Also near Stirling are the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks to all for your ideas.

Any experience with Rabbies day tours? I realize this might be an option to consider. Thanks.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, SC,

I'm with Wasleys on critiquing your itinerary. Fort William is too far from Stirling to be done on a day trip. and there is too much scenery in the Fort William area that you'd be missing.

I'd suggest staying in Edinburgh for your first three nights - if you haven't already done so, find accommodation with free or reduced price parking. On your first day, see as much of the city as you can before the jet lag kicks in.

On day two, spend it exploring.

On day three, take your day trip to St Andrews.

On day four, take the A702 straight south (well, actually south-southwest) out of Edinburgh. Once the A702 meets the A76, you'll be almost at Closeburn Castle. That is a very pretty drive. Visit the castle and surrounding area, then take the M74 to the M73 to the M80 for Stirling. Spend the night in Stirling. Not so pretty a drive, but it will save you time.

On day five, take the A84 west from Stirling to Lochearnhead, the A85 west to Crainlarich, then the A82 through Glencoe, and on to Fort William. Use Fort William as your base for exploring on days five and six. Stay overnight both days.

Day seven: Make your way back down to Edinburgh. Leave enough time to visit sites that you'd like to visit on the way, or if there are additional sites in Edinburgh that you'd still like to see, then take the shortest route possible back to the city. (A82 to the Erskine Bridge, then the M8 to Edinburgh looks like the easiest route.)

Day eight: Drop off the car, and jet off to Ireland.

Hope that helps!

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks so much for the itinerary ideas! Definitely worth a conversation with my co-travelers!