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Suggestions on driving itinerary

Headed to Scotland in June for a week. Arriving in Edinburgh at 9:30 am and picking up our car. Most interested in the country side and small towns. The plan is to drive in kind of a clockwise circle ending up back at Edinburgh for a few days before we leave. As of now we were planning to leave the airport and drive to Glenco via Loch Lomand and Trossachs exploring around glenco and staying there the night. Next morning drive through Ft Willam to Malliag, ferry to Armedale then drive to Kyle of Loclash and stop at Eileen Doonan castle. Maybe on to stay at Ft Augustus or should we head to Inverness? Planning a day tour out of there to area distilleries one day and will have another day to explore the area like Culloden but wondering about other things or places in the area we should hit. That’s all I have so far. Planning to spend 2 full days in Edinburgh before we leave so looking for suggestions to add to the itinerary or welcome any feedback on changes.

Posted by
1264 posts

Driving on arrival when subject to jet lag is not recommended especially since you will be driving on the left side of the road.

Posted by
2801 posts

First of all, if you only have a week, you need to choose carefully which places in Scotland mean the most to you. Scotland is more spread out than many Americans imagine, and it takes longer to cover x number of miles by car in Scotland that it does on typical U.S. highways. Check out the Secret Scotland website to get a feel for realistic driving itineraries. What you don't want -- and what numerous Americans end up with -- is a Scotland vacation that's just a blur of sitting inside your rental car and never having enough time at any given stop to really experience being in Scotland.

Second, as noted, driving after a redeye transatlantic flight is hazardous. For this and other reasons, I highly recommend spending your two full Edinburgh days at the beginning of your week. Pick up your rental car from the airport on the morning of Day 3 and head out to the countryside.

Regarding your Inverness question, I can recommend the town of Nairn, about half an hour east of Inverness. It's near Culloden Battlefield, Cawdor Castle, and Clava Cairns. Nairn has many nice B&Bs; we stayed at Tali Ayer and would do so again any time!

Posted by
46 posts

Ok. So we spend first few days in Edinburgh then head to the countryside (Glenco first). I have researched Secret Scotland extensively for realistic distances and travel times. I do understand that we will have to choose wisely with just a week and that’s why I am trying to get advice on how far to attempt in a day and to choose the best routes to make the most of each day.

Posted by
527 posts

Hi Tammy

Really glad to hear you are not planning to attempt a significant drive on your first day. There is no point in having a car in Edinburgh - it will just be a major hassle to park (minimum of £25 for 24 hours parking) and driving in the city is not for the faint hearted and I say that as someone familiar with the city. So the best plan would probably be to pick up your car when you've had your time in Edinburgh. The tram to the airport is easy and so I'd recommend getting your car back at the airport. From where it's probably easier to head up the eastern side of the country than the western. So perhaps consider Edinburgh to somewhere like Pitlochry on the first day of having the car, maybe having stopped off in Stirling to see the castle if that's your kind of thing? Nice places to explore in that area and a good overnight base.

You could then continue up to either Inverness (or better still Nairn as suggested by another contributor). From there you can do your distillery tour and see Speyside. Unless you are a major Scottish history geek then Culloden is literally a field and a visitor centre, so perhaps of limited interest?

From there could you continue to Skye via Loch Ness and Eilean Donan castle. If you are planning to visit Skye you will want at least 2 nights on the island as it is much bigger than people expect. Your first night will just be your arrival night having stopped at sights on the way from Inverness/Nairn. So then you'd have a full day exploring the island and another night before heading for the ferry to Mallaig the next morning (you need to book the ferry in advance if taking a car on board).

From there you would have the scenic drive from Mallaig to Fort William and could continue south taking in Glencoe (just a pretty valley and wouldn't take much of your time unless you are planning some major hiking). You could overnight in the pretty town of Callander before heading back to Edinburgh airport.

So I'd say
Nights 1 and 2 Edinburgh
Night 3 Pitlochry
Night 4 Nairn
Nights 5 & 6 Skye
Night 7 Callander

Best wishes
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
1299 posts

I agree with the above, it gets you over the jetlag and also gets you into the idea of traffic circulating on the correct side, though to be honest you only get used to traffic travelling on the other side if you move to a country that happens and live there for years.

The other point is when you look at the map the distances may seem small, and the speed limit off of divided highways is 60 mph (100 km/h), and you will be over taken by a granny doing 70 on those roads, you need to time table stops, so about 40 mph (70 km/h). I still need to stop for the views and I live here.