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Travel plan for 14-16 day tour of Scotland

I'm trying to tweak our trip to Scotland and need some input and advice. We're planning to spend 3 nights in Edinburgh, then pick up a car and drive via East Neuk to St. Andrews and then up to Pitlochry or Dunkeld (which do you prefer?) to do some walks see some sights and sleep. Then on to Aviemore and the Cairngorms where we'll spend 2 days and nights. From there a drive up to Thurso, stopping to see sights (suggestions?). We'll spend 2 nights there since we want to do a full day tour of Orkney Island, and the trip leaves early in the morning from John O'Groats and returns at night. From Thurso we'll drive to Durness and out to Cape Wrath. We want to drive down the west coast. Can we make it all the way to Ulllapool, or should we sleep in Scourie or Lochinver? We want to see Inverewe Gardens and then head down to Skye via Plockton. Should we sleep there, or go directly to Skye? We plan to spend 2 days and nights on Skye. From there we plan to drive to Glasgow stopping in Glen Afric, Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and do some walks. Should we sleep in Glen Coe? We can sleep 2 or 3 nights in Glasgow and perhaps do a day trip out to Stirling and Loch Lommand.
We're planning to leave on May 11 of this year, but I won't make plane or B&B reservations until I've heard from all of you! Thanks in advance for your time and advice.

Posted by
6782 posts

Hi Diane-our itinerary this past August was a bit different from your plans, as we had 2 days and nights in Orkney, and didn't see any of the towns you mention along the northwest coast, but we did stay in Fort William after visiting Skye for a few days. Ben Nevis, of course, rises just outside of town, and after departing Fort William, we reached Glen Coe in a matter of minutes. We drove thru the glen in a soggy, pouring rainstorm but great hiking opportunities appeared along the entire route - had the weather been drier or had we felt like slogging thru the rain, it would've been nice to have gotten out of the highway traffic for a while and enjoy the spectacular scenery and impressive hillsides on foot.

We skirted the town of Glencoe, so don't have any suggestions or recommendations, but our B&B in Fort William, Seafield House ( ) was outstanding.

Posted by
5677 posts

Hi Diane,

Here are a few ideas.

I haven't done any walks in the Pitlochry area, so I can't weigh Dunkeld/Pitlochry on the walks. Dunkeld is smaller. It's pub is smaller and more village like. Pitlochry is bigger. It has more tourists. If there is something at the Festival Theatre that you want to attend then that would trump the things I like about Dunkeld.

There are some things to visit on your way north to Thurso. After crossing the Kessock Bridge you are on the Black Isle. You cross it and then cross the Cromarty Firth. You'll head north east along the firth. You should look for oil rigs. They are often sitting in the firth waiting to go out to the North Sea.

The next firth that you cross is the Dornoch Firth. It's quite spectacular with the sands. I would recommend a side trip to Dornoch. You might also want to explore the coast line at the mouth of the Dornoch Firth on either the north or south side. We took a half hour and explored and enjoyed the views. In Dornoch is an old cathedral and you should drive out and take a look at the golf course. It's known internationally and is a classic links course. You can park near beach. Watch for golf balls!

The next place ins Dunrobin Castle just north of Golspie. It's the home of the Sutherlands and the core of the castle is quite old. The gardens are wonderful and there's a very funny museum in the gardens.

Barely a mile along the road on the right is the Carn Liath Broch (parking is on the left). It's nice to stop and see it. You can also walk down to the North Sea if you wish.

We stayed in Lochinvar. We did the trip in reverse. If you decide to do this you should take the detour at Unapool and drive the coast road around to Lochinvar. It was amazing. I can't find much on the web other than comments about an amazing road. You would think that there would be pictures. But it is Assynt and one of the more amazing parts of Scotland. Here's the feature page from one of the towns.

I think that the Ullapool area is just wonderful. So, I'm going to push for time in the area.

The drive from Skye to Glasgow via Glen Affric and Glencoe is long. If you do this, I would spend the night near Fort William Spean Bridge. BTW, take stop off and see the Commando's memorial just before Spean Bridge. It's for the Commandos from WWII who trained in this area. Great views of Ben Nevis too.


Posted by
14 posts

Pam, Thanks so much for all your great information! We will make use of it and perhaps contact you again. Diane