Dear Scotland natives, enthusiasts, and fellow travelers:
We are two travelers on a tight schedule to experience three countries in 4 weeks (England, Scotland, Ireland) between June 11 and July 10, 2019. The England itinerary is already set and now I find myself fitting Scotland into 10 days using only public transportation. I have it in the budget to splurge on a private tour/driver for a day, otherwise I am sticking to bus and train. I realize that this puts a damper on our independence but I find it too stressful to deal with driving in unfamiliar territory on the "wrong" side of the road ;) little joke there.
I am concentrating our Scotland travel on the western side and coast and skipping such highlights as Inverness, Cairngorms, and surrounds. We live in Montana, USA, a state rich in mountains, alpine lakes, and outdoor recreation, so I thought nothing in the Cairngorms would be missed but I'm torn about Inverness. If we're not that interested in Clava Cairn, Loch Ness, or Culloden, is this destination still worth our time?
We've both been to Edinburgh before so won't spend more than 2 nights and are most interested in cultural events like cèilidhs & highland games, unique food/drink, linguistics & dialect differences (I'm a student of linguistics), coastal wildlife like basking sharks and puffins, plus meeting locals.
Here's our rough itinerary for June 22 to July 1 with # of nights undetermined:
Arrive in Edinburgh via train from York on 6/22 for 2 nights. We haven't booked our train travel so we're still flexible about where to begin our trip. Lodging has free cancellation, too.
Possible day trips to Stirling and/or Pitlochry.
Isle of Skye, perhaps a boat tour from Elgol if we can access the departure port via public transportation.
Oban or other coastal home base for boat tours of the Inner Hebrides. Any tours to recommend?
Would like to fit in Ceres Highland Games on Saturday 29th June, but I think we'll have to backtrack. However, that could work if we were to depart for Ireland from Edinburgh instead of taking the Cairnryan ferry.
Depart for Ireland on July 1. Any suggestions for ferry vs. budget flight?
E & A from Bozeman, MT