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We are planning a trip to Scotland, London, and Southern Ireland this fall

We will arrive in Edinburg, September 13 and plan to spend two nights. From there we are planning to go to St. Andrews (possibly have lunch there) and then move along. Our main interest is to get to the Isle of Skye. We are trying to decide if we should take the road towards Aberdeen and then on to Inverness with stops at the Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness (maybe) and the the Eilean Donan Castle and Portree. From there we are thinking that we could take a train to London. We are meeting friends there on the 20th of September. My preference would be to stop for 2 nights each time but we may not need that much time. Would it be better to go up to Pitlochry and then to Inverness from there. Suggestions on best stopping points for this schedule would be great! We are to necessarily budget minded and love to stay in nice interesting hotels/b&b's.

We are interested in History, Photography and Castles and hope not to have to be rushing around. Any suggestions are most welcome.

Posted by
5562 posts

Starting in St. Andrews makes going north through Aberdeenshire makes some sense. Glamis, the home of the Queen's mother is a wonderful castle an hour from St. Andrews and just north of Dundee. I would then head west and connect with the A93 north. It will take you past Balmoral spend the night in Ballater. (Figure on a 2 hours.) Try to get up to Balmoral early so that you can stop at the Knock Gallery. There are great views from the garden of Balmoral and the countryside and a great gallery. From Ballater head to Inverness. On the way you drive right past Corgarff Castle--it beautifully situated in the hills. It's a tower house which was is very Scottish. It's under two hours to Inverness. You can stop at Culloden and then maybe a brief stop at Urquhart Castle. The views of Loch Ness are fantastic from Urquhart. Michelin's fast route takes you west along Loch Ness's north shore. Be sure to factor in time for pix. It's likely two hours to Kyle of Lochalsh and then another 45 minutes to Portree. Use ViaMichelin to plot your trip.

Here's an alternate route. This route still has you going to Glamis. I left it in, but you could take faster roads, the A91 to the M90 to the A9, but this route takes you up into the hills. You could skip Glamis and go to [Blair Castle][6]. It's about two hours to Blair Atholl from St. Andrews. This route also takes you through Dunked, very picturesque town square. Great place for lunch at the Taybank.

Check what is playing at the Festival Theatre to see if you want to stay in Pitlochry. Also, the Explorer's Garden is quite nice. I took a lot of pictures there. Also the Atholl Distillery is quite nice and photogenic as well. There are nice walks along the Tay, with nice back gardens.

I would drive down to Glasgow airport and ditch the car there. It's a pretty drive. Look into taking the Mallaig Ferry and south through Fort William, Glencoe, past Rannoch Moore and down the western shore of Loch Lomond. Figure on four hours at least with many many photo opps.

Pam

Posted by
4998 posts

Last August, we drove to Skye via the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh, then left Skye via the Kylerhea-Glenelg car ferry, eventually driving all the way to the Edinburgh airport. Just in case you were considering a train all the way from Portree to London, you'd need to get off of Skye first by car and/or ferry, before boarding a train on the mainland UK.

We had 3 nights in a B&B in the northwest corner of Skye, and visited Portree one day before driving and hiking on the Trotternish Peninsula.

Posted by
130 posts

Pam and Cyn,

Thank you so much for commenting. This is very helpful. In hindsight I should have booked our flight to Inverness initially. That might have been easier but we are using miles and I think I am stuck with what I have. We will have a car so we can have flexibility.

I will look into your suggestions and might have more questions. Thank you so much.

Posted by
130 posts

Cyn,

What is the name of the B&B you stayed in when you were in Skye. Did you love it and were you happy that you stayed there as opposed to Portree?

Posted by
4998 posts

We stayed at the Roskill House (www.roskhillhouse.co.uk), south of Dunvegan and close to the Dunvegan Castle, the Neist Point Lighthouse walk, and the Three Chimneys Restaurant all described in Rick Steves' guidebook. There, you're also on the west side of the island for visiting the Talisker Distillery farther south. It's an old (1890's) building, but tidy and charming, with just a handful of rooms, with a great shower, helpful owners, and a library of hiking guides and maps. Mind your head on the low beam if you go up the stairs, though!

Portree is certainly a bigger town with more shops and traffic/parking, but out on the northwest part of Skye there are good restaurants and we had fairly easy access for our drive on the Trotternish Peninsula. Driving on Skye does require some attention and patience, however, as there are lots of sheep about, and narrow roads with (at least in August) lots of tourists in rented cars, plus some who brought their own steering-wheel-on-the-left vehicles over on the ferry from Belgium, Italy, etc. and didn't necessarily always stay on their side of the road!

Posted by
453 posts

we had a great stay at the www.blabheinn.scot in october. we drove from edinburgh to ft william, three nights there and then 3 nights on skye at Bla Bheinn and then back to Edinburgh. Bla Bheinn is a very nice, private spot between Carbost and Sligachan. the B&B is awesome, the hosts great, two nice sized guest rooms. The location is somewhat in the middle of the island so it is not too far away from many things but also is not really really close to many things. The Fairy Pools are close, the Talisker distil is pretty close. I cant recommend the hosts enough they had maps, advice, great food and are nice people. give them a look and always plan to be on the road a bit longer than you planned for anywhere on Skye or in the Highlands.

Posted by
130 posts

Still working on our itinerary - Ft William or Inverness?

We will be driving from St. Andrews - looking for prettiest drive and which town would be more memorable? From there we are going to the Island of Skye and then we would be returning to Glasgow or Edinburg to travel to London -

Posted by
130 posts

jarrardd,

Thank you for your comment. I looked at the B&B and it looks lovely, but sadly, it is not available on our dates.