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Skye or East Coast- Tentative Itinerary Review

Husband and I are heading to Scotland later this month. It is our first time, but have been to Ireland and driven in the past. We are renting a car to allow flexibility, when we leave Edinburgh. I think Skye looks amazing for Days 6 and 7, but not having luck finding accommodations so leaning towards taking the East coast back to Edinburgh. Those with experience in the area, please review and comment on our proposed itinerary. Should we head towards Skye( if we can find places to stay) or East Coast

Tentative Itinerary
Day 1- arrive in Edinburgh mid day- Check into hotel (staying near the castle). Sightsee in the city.

Day 2- Pick up rental car in am- Drive to Oban by driving through Sterling and stopping at the castle (Sleep in Oban)

Day 3- Take Mull/Iona boat tour (sleep in Oban)

Day 4- Head North towards Glencoe- Stop and do a train ride and back to Mallaig (Overnight tbd)

Day 5- Drive towards Inverness and overnight in Inverness or Nairn

**Day 6- Drive towards Dunnottar Castle and maybe Balmoral? (overnight tbd)

**Day 7- Destination tbd

Day 8- Drive back to Edinburgh and return car (Overnight in Edinburgh-tbd-near airport? w/ early am flight departure)

Posted by
2926 posts

You're trying to cover a lot of ground in a short time. With only 8 days, I would simplify the itinerary and try to avoid 1-night stays as much as possible. You will enjoy the trip much more if you give yourselves time to breathe and soak in the atmosphere of a few locations instead of rushing from one to the next.

That said, in Nairn I can recommend the Tali Ayer B&B (there are lots of B&Bs in town, though!) and for dinner The Classroom. Nairn is convenient to Cawdor Castle, Clava Cairns, and Culloden battlefield, and the town has a picturesque beach and marina as well as a couple of golf courses.

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, dacil31,

Don't give up completely on Skye. It has become the hottest tourist destination in Scotland, outside of Edinburgh. If all else fails, try calling the Tourist Information office in Portree, and give them the dates you expect to be there. Most of the B&Bs on Skye do not list on the internet. They don't need to - they know that they'll most likely always be full. The TI office should be able to put you in contact with B&Bs that are not full yet. Expect to pay about 80 to 90 pounds per night. If Portree doesn't know of anything, you could try the TI office in Broadford. They cover more of south Skye.

Telephone numbers are (from the U.S.):

Portree: 011 44 1478 612992
Broadford: 011 44 1471 822713

If you're planning to take the Jacobite from Fort William to Mallaig, you can save time by returning on the regular train.

If the Skye part of your holiday falls through, you could take the A9 from Inverness to the A938 at Carrbridge (a very nice small town), then the A95 to Grantown on Spey, then the A939 south through Tomintoul to Ballater, which will put you within a few miles of Balmoral Castle.

If you're staying in Nairn, you could take the A939 all the way to Ballater. If you're going to Balmoral, you should also visit Crathie Kirk, which is just across the street. It's the church that the family attends when they're in Balmoral on summer hols.

Once you leave Balmoral, you can take the A93 east to Aberdeen. Just past Banchory is Crathes, one of the best of the Scottish baronial castles in Aberdeenshire. The gardens at Crathes are gorgeous at this time of year. From Crathes, you can take the A957 (the Slug Road) to Stonehaven, for Dunnottar Castle. You should have no trouble at all finding reasonably priced accommodation in the Stonehaven - Aberdeen area, as it doesn't register in the RS bible. Only problem would be if there is a major oil conference in Aberdeen while you're there.

As you're still up in the air for day 7, you could take the coast road (A92) out of Stonehaven, for Montrose and Arbroath. Once you cross the Tay Bridge at Dundee, you could visit St. Andrews, which is great for its historical aspect, even if you have no interest in golf. Out of St. Andrews, you could then take the A917 for the East Neuk of Fife, and visit the charming fishing villages of Crail, Anster, Pittenweem, and St. Monans. That will put you within striking distance of the Forth Road Bridge, and dear Auld Reekie.

Whatever you end up doing, and whatever you end up seeing, have a wonderful time!

Mike (auchterless)

Thank you so much for your input!
As great as Skye does look, I think we will be just as content with the amazing views on the east coast and thriugh Glencoe and islands off of Oban.

This leads me to another there any advantages to traveling through Oban and Glencoe by going North towards Inverness vs starting in Edinburgh and heading towards Aberdeen or Stonehaven to sleep for 1 night, thrn onto Nairn for 1-2nights (seeing castles and other sites along the way thrn nead south through Glencoe (still deciding whether or not to do a train to Malllaig and back) and maybe stay in Glencoe then head towads Oban for 2 nights then to Edinburgh for final night. (We have 8 nights total, with 1st and last in Edinburgh.)

Any feedback on reverse order?
Inn or B&B in Glencoe area?

***we prefer quaint towns vs. Larger cities


Posted by
941 posts

Hi, dacil31,

There's no disadvantage to reversing your journey. There are more quaint towns in the Northeast than there are in the west, especially those fishing villages around the East Neuk. Also, if you do get up to Aberdeen, the little village of Footdee ("Fittie"), which is at the east end of Aberdeen Harbour, is well worth a visit. You can park for free at Pocra Quay, and walk from there. It's like stepping in to another world. Check out the photos on the internet. Gotta love those meercats! Aberdeen's "red light" district is nearby, as well.

If you want to go straight to Inverness, then make your way down the Caledonian Canal toward Oban, it would take you about four to five hours at a reasonable pace to get there. Take the Forth Road Bridge to the M90 toward Perth, then get on the A9, which will take you straight there. Make sure that you take the branch of the M90 around Perth that takes you to the A9. Don't get on the A90 toward Dundee.

If you're overnighting in Nairn, you can follow the A9 until you get close to Inverness, then head east on the A96 for Nairn. Who knows? You may run in to Tilda Swinton there.

The one thing that might make a difference is that you may fall in love with some area on the west side of Scotland, and may want to spend more time there. If you haven't already booked your East Coast lodging, and don't have that time constraint, then you could have that extra time to spend in Oban or on Mull.


Mike (auchterless)