I am having trouble planning a solo trip to Scotland and I need some advice from someone who can help me with the logistics. I would be traveling on Icelandair’s stopover option and would like to include Scotland in the trip. Since I will already be spending a few days in Iceland, I do not have a ton of time to spend in Scotland. I know some will say I should spend more time in Scotland but my sister has already told me I will be going with her at some future date so if I don’t see everything I will not be crushed.
I was originally going to fly into Glasgow (Aberdeen is also an option on limited days) and take the train directly to Edinburgh since nothing in Glasgow interests me, at least not this trip. No matter what, I will spend at least 2 full days in Edinburgh. I was then going to do a 3 day tour of the Highlands with Loch Ness/Urquhart Castle/Isle of Skye included. Unfortunately I don’t think it will hit everything I want to see on Skye and the cost is getting pricey with a single supplement. Also most tours include a stop at a whisky distillery and as a (mostly) teetotaler, this is a waste of my time. So I am looking at other options, preferably on public transport. I will drive short distances but I am not a fan of driving on the left. I did it in Ireland and I prefer to have a passenger who can warn me before making boneheaded traffic blunders.
After wrestling with logistics, I've narrowed it down to three options. Option one is to fly into Glasgow and take the West Highland train to Maillag. On day 2, I would rent a car to travel around Skye and leave the car at Kyle of Lochalsh (I found a local car rental business that will let you do that), then take the train to Inverness. I would need to find a tour or rent a car to see Culloden/Loch Ness/Urquhart Castle. On day 3, I would like to take the train to Edinburgh but make a stop in Stonehaven to see Dunnottar Castle. Problem is, I will have my luggage with me and understand it is a walk from the train station. I pack light but this would be inconvenient (and may be forbidden by the castle).
Option two is to save the West Highland line for a future trip and take the train directly from Glasgow to Inverness (hoping the view is as spectacular). I found a day tour leaving from Inverness that will see everything I want on Skye plus Loch Ness/Urquhart Castle so that would take up all of day 2 and I would have to spend a second night in Inverness. On day 3, I would take a taxi to Culloden, take a taxi back to Inverness to check out of my hotel, take the train to Aberdeen then to Edinburgh with the stop in Stonehaven (still have the luggage problem though). And I'm not sure if the taxi is the best option to get to Culloden.
Option three is to fly to Aberdeen, backtrack to Inverness on day 1, do the Skye/Loch Ness day tour on day 2, on day 3 take the train to Aberdeen and leave luggage at a hotel, take the train to Stonehaven and back to hotel for the night and then leave for Edinburgh the next morning. I’m just wondering if day 3 would be a waste of a day just so I can store my luggage. Or should I take the train all the way to Edinburgh and do the Stonehaven train trip as a day trip from there?
I’m big on efficiency especially time and cost so if someone can make recommendations that would make this trip work, please let me know. I hate the idea of backtracking but that may be the only way to make it work. Best scenario would be luggage lockers at the Stonehaven train station.