1 1/2 days in the Highlands--what to see?

My mom and I will be leaving Edinburgh on a Wednesday morning in July, and we're staying in a B&B just south of Inverness that evening. We have to take the ferry to Orkney on Thursday afternoon. I'm wondering if this sounds like a reasonable itinerary for that day and a half: Drive from Edinburgh to Glen Coe, take 2-3 hours to drive around there. Go to Fort Augustus to see the locks of the Caledonian Canal. Drive to Urquahart Castle, then into Inverness for dinner before coming back down to our B&B and checking in for the evening (it's right on Loch Ness). The next morning, check out of the B&B, see Culloden Field, and then drive up A9 to Dunrobin Castle for a few hours (they have a falconry demonstration at 11:30--always wanted to see that!); continue driving up to the ferry to Orkney. I'm debating if we'll have time for Stirling Castle as well--maybe not? Any ideas/alternatives?

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1254 posts

I wouldn't stop at Stirling Castle if the weather is good, because that will leave you more time for Glencoe. You might want to have time to walk a bit there - there are some easy 30-60 minutes hikes and an excellent visitors' center.......We were underwhelmed by the Caledonian Canal locks, but we enjoyed Urquhart Castle........Is your B and B on the north shore? If so, you don't need to go into Inverness to find a decent restaurant. Inverness can be a pain to drive in - lots of one-way streets.....Next day, in addition to Culloden try to find another 30 minutes or so for nearby Clava Cairns.......Have you checked your ferry schedule? It's a couple of hours drive to Thurso.

Posted by Kathy
135 posts

We're staying on the east side of the loch, just south of Dores (it's the Pottery House, FYI), so it looks like we'll have to go almost all the way to Inverness just to get onto the other side of the loch from the castle. Also, the B&B's website warns everyone that there is only one place to eat dinner within walking distance, so I figured it'd be easier to get something to gnaw on if we go into town. But I'll have to look into getting something south of town but north of the B&Bgood idea! I was tempted by Stirling, but I figured we'll be getting enough castles and neat old buildings between York (which is where we'll be before Edinburgh), Castle Howard in the Moors, Edinburgh, and Dunrobin Castle. Also, I thought about Clava Cairns, but since we'll be in Orkney for four days, we'll be getting PLENTY of those up there! I want to see more scenery in the Highlands than anything else, although the canal sounded like it'd be something interesting and definitely different than all the old ruins. The owner of the B&B we'll staying at in Orkney told me to allow 3 to 3 1/2 hours to get from Inverness to Gills Bay (we're taking the Pentland Ferry to St. Margaret's Hope $40 cheaper and 30 minutes shorter ride than the Scrabster-Stromness ferry, even though we'll have to drive the length of Mainland Orkney to get to our B&B which is only a few miles from Stromness, but I figured it'd be a good way to get an overview of the place and I don't mind driving). Since we'll be making a few stops on the way there (Culloden and Dunrobin), we'll probably end up taking the 4:30 ferry instead of the 1:30.