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Two day road trip advice sought

Hello! My husband and I will be in Scotland for a VERY short weekend. We are arriving at Glasgow Airport on a Thursday morning in March and renting a car to drive north. We will be looking for mostly Scotch tasting experiences and destinations. I have identified two places I am debating for our first night, each has some downsides and I have no problem with either. We will be spending our second night in Dufftown to do the Distillery Walk there on Friday afternoon and hopefully go on a distillery tour before that. On the third day we will be heading back down to Edinburgh for a night before leaving on Sunday morning.

Below are the two places I'm considering for our first night in Scotland and the various reasons for them:

  1. Pitlochry - shorter drive the first day. I understand this is a picturesque town with the benefit of two distilleries within walking distance of a number of cute B&Bs. We would plan to stop at Stirling Castle on the way up.

  2. Aberlour - further drive the first day but more time up in Speyside where our preferred Scotches are made and closer to our second day destination of Dufftown.

A place that we considered and rejected due to distance was Glenmorangie (husband's favorite distillery).

If there are suggestions for can't miss sites (a la Stirling Castle, scenic views, best lunch spots on this route), please let me know! Also open to abandoning Dufftown if there's another place that has a similarly high concentration of Scotch tasting opportunities. We are mostly trying to avoid the problem of Scotch tasting and then driving afterwards - no one needs that!

Posted by
4548 posts

Pitlochry is more than a 2 hour drive with jet lag and on roads that you don’t know and at that time of year, possibly snowy. Please don’t do it. Aberlour is more than 4 hours driving from Glasgow. Please stay the first night in Glasgow and be realistic about what you can see in 2.5 days.

Posted by
3 posts

I appreciate the concern, but this is our plan. Two hours over the course of the day is quite manageable and we will be heading to at least Pitlochry on our first day. Any suggestions for what to see on the way?

Posted by
558 posts

We arrived at Pitlochry from another direction, so no advice on what to see between Glasgow and there. But most definitely take the tour at Edradour. Of the 4 distillery tours we took, it was definitely the best, and the whisky lover among us liked the whisky there the best.

Posted by
4548 posts

Sorry. Two hours plus driving with jet lag in potentially bad weather is, frankly reckless and unfair on other road users.

Have you looked into the possibility of taking a tour that would allow you to taste more whisky without the worry of driving?

Posted by
2710 posts

Regarding the concern about driving after Scotch tasting: are you are aware that Scotland has one of the world's strictest blood alcohol limits for drivers? I believe that what many people do is drink in the evening right by their lodging, go to bed and don't drive until the next morning when your body has had time to get rid of the alcohol. Either that or have a teetotal designated driver. I echo the suggestion that you find a tour to take you to the distilleries you want to visit.

See https://www.gov.uk/drink-drive-limit

Posted by
489 posts

I echo the concerns already raised about driving such a long way after a long haul flight, on what are narrow roads, and possibly with snow and ice to contend with. You might think you will be fine, but what about the effect you may have on other road users?

I also second the point about tasting and driving, although I note that you don't want to do that anyway - which is reassuring.

The best place to sample of variety of different whisky is in a bar rather than at a distillery, where you can only taste the one(s) they make.

Pitlochry is a pleasant little town, so that would be my suggestion. There's sure to be a nice pub where you can settle down to taste some other whisky aside from the ones from the 2 local distilleries!

Jacqui

Posted by
5513 posts

Also, in Pitlochry, you probably walk to the Blair Athol distillery. That's what I did. I walked through town to get to it, and then along the Tay back to my hotel. It was lovely.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the feedback, all. We will be attentive to the weather for guidance on mode of travel and plan to head to Pitlochry.

Posted by
931 posts

Hi, rjop88,

Allow me to add my tuppence. As you'll be heading up the A9 to Pitlochry (or Aviemore, if the weather is good), you'll be going right by Stirling Castle. As your flight is arriving in the morning, you'll most likely hit Stirling by 10:00 a.m. (M8 to M80 to M9). You can visit the castle, and the Wallace Monument if you have time, Dunkeld is worth a visit, as is Dunblane for the cathedral. The A9 will take you directly to Pitlochry, or Aviemore, which would put you within an easy drive of Dufftown.

The best thing you could do is to spend your first night in a hotel with a well stocked bar. There's nothing like tasting a good single malt in the country where it was distilled. That way, you'd get a good night's sleep, and be ready for Dufftown the following day. In March, you shouldn't have any trouble getting a hotel at the last minute, even without a reservation.*

You can probably check out the five day weather forecast for the A9 before you leave for Scotland. That will give you some idea if you should stop in Pitlochry, or push on to Aviemore. Weather in March can be really iffy. You could have clear sunny days, or an Arctic blast with snow. Just be prepared for anything. Aviemore is a skiing area, so you may encounter snow there, moreso than Pitlochry.

I don't think that I could take just being in Scotland for three days. I need at least three weeks!

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)

  • = If ski season is in full swing, and you decide to make for Aviemore, you probably will need to make a reservation.

p.s.: Whatever you decide to do, if the weather is bad, please make sure that you're at your first night's accommodation before nightfall. There's nothing worse than trying to negotiate the A9 in the dark, during a snowstorm. Or even if the snow has ended, and the road is a slushy mess. I'm speaking from experience.