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2-3 days for highlands--where to go

We will be spending 15 days in the UK. We start in London (3 days), get a car,travel around based in Cotswolds(3 days) hit North Wales for a day (1 night) and have a long drive to Scotland (I know it will be a long, 8 hr drive). At the tail end we do 3 days in Edinburgh, train to York (1 night) train to London (1 night). That leaves us 3 nights in the highlands. I'm thinking Oban/Glencoe area 1 night (it will be that late night after driving), 1 night on Skye (as we would like the drive to Mallig anyway) and 1 night somewhere in Perthshire (Bernam or Killin)as we want to see the 4:00 shepdog demonstration in Kincraig and some sphering too). First--does this seem doable? Should we skip Skye and instead do a day trip to Mull/Iona and spend more time in the Oban/Glencoe/trossachs area? We want to experience the culture and some history, things we can't see at home (hence skipping the well-placed lake dist.)and natural beauty. We are not big tourist crowds/shopping people. We are a family of 4 (kids 10 and 12).

Posted by
5574 posts

You have a heck a lot of driving on this trip. Have you done trips like this before? You might want to check the via michelin site for times and routes. It's very good. So, you want culture, history, and natural beauty. I would think about going to Birnam or Dunkeld and stay for three nights. From that area you can easily drive up to just north of Pictolochry to Blair Castle with a stop at Killiecrankie pass. Or you could go south to Scone Palace and see where the Lords pledge their fealty. You can go north on the A9, but get off at the Queens View exit and drive west to Rannoch--following a bit of the "road to the isles" and then go south over the mountain on a single track road. When you're over the mountain either take a detour west to Glen Lyon or go to Aberfeldy and hike the Birk's of Aberfeldy walk. You can then circle back to Dunkeld. At least one night go to the Music Bar and hope for some traditional fiddle music. (Best odds are later in the week rather than early.) You can also tour the cathedral and see the little houses. You'll still be doing a bit of driving, but don't have to be constantly packing and unpacking. Pam

Posted by
1358 posts

You have planned too much in your limited time....a common problem with us. We don't allow enough time to travel, eat, find housing, rest and visit sights.

Plan your itinerary on a worksheet with details for each day and your estimated expenses. You will see that it will take more time and more money than you expect. I have learned that much in 20 years of travel.

Posted by
756 posts

Hi, maybe skip skye as tempting as it is. Possibly if you are heading to mallaig take the foot ferry over to The Forge on Knydart, and spent a night in the remotest community on the mainland.Very weather dependent, be a slow and relaxing day, after the long drive north.
Theres quite a few "wigwam" campsites spread over scotland , might be fun.
I'll make your trip harder, the Yorkshire dales is far prettier than the Lakes.Maybe allow a bit more time for at least half a day there and a bit more time for York.Malham Cove, Buttertubbs Pass, Tan Hill Inn, Forbidden Corner,Masham brewery tours.

Posted by
2154 posts

Skye is probably my favorite place on earth, but I'm not sure you will enjoy it much with so much driving and so little time there. It might make more sense to spend two or three nights in Oban. the Mull/Iona trip is great -- we actually did the one that includes Staffa, which I highly recommend -- Staffa is spectacular and very different from the other islands. We also spent a day hiking on Kerrera (sp?), a small island off Oban, which was a lot of fun.

I think you have a great itinerary, but the mad dash all over Scotland in the middle might just wear you out and take away from the rest of the trip.

Posted by
8 posts

Go straight to Mull. Skip Skye. Be warned, many of the roads on Mull are one lane w/ passing zones. The drive from the ferry port (Mull to Iona) to Tobermory is an all day trip, and absolutely beautiful. Expect to wait for sheep to yield the road to you...and take someone who really likes to drive.

The drive from Oban to Glencoe is spectacular. Take the B roads, they are worth it.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all for your insightful replies. I think we will skip Skye and spend a day in Mull.(so now 2 nights in Oban area) Now to pack it back up a bit(I can't help myself)...can we do Mull (lunch in Tobernary, enjoy the drive) AND 2 hrs in Iona if we start with the early ferry and take the late one back? We will spend the other day driving to Glenfinnan viaduct (HP fans), Loch Sheil, Glencoe with a stop at the visitors center, and then up to Kincraig for the 4:00 Sheepdog show. We plan to retire in Birnam that night and then hit Stirling on the way to Edingurgh the following morning. We like to stay busy with the kids (unfortunately relaxing is not in my kids vocabulary)but is this still too busy?

Posted by
2154 posts

In his book and on a video, Rick recommends a tour (I think it's Bowmans) that takes you to Mull and Iona. You take the ferry to Mull, take a bus across Mull, take a ferry to Iona and have a couple of hours to explore Iona on your own. They also offer one that stops at Staffa and gives you an hour or so to explore that island. Both tours leave at 10 in the morning. The two island tour gets back at 6 I think, and the three island tour gets back at 8. It's a long day, but a fantastic one. I think the kinds would enjoy the ferries and would enjoy exploring the islands. And it would be easy on you to have all the transportation arrangements made.