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9 days in Scotland with husband and three sons in tow

I am over whelmed by all the travel options and we only have so much time...actually not enough time.
I will be traveling with my family ...husband and three sons (22, 20 and 13). Arriving in Glasgow on May 4 (we have some family obligations until May 7). After this we're going to take the train to Edinburgh for an overnight and then we will pick up car and head into the Highlands. And this is where I get overwhelmed by the choices... We would like to see st. Andrew, sterling, Inverness and maybe Skye and everything in-between. Have I missed anything? I have to limit our travel time to keep everyone happy and I need to find a mix between history, nature and culture. Oh, and we would really like to stay overnight in a castle. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Regards,

Posted by
1834 posts

When you take the train from Glasgow Queen Street Station if you buy your ticket after 9:00 in the morning you will get a good discount. You will not see everything there is to see in one visit so you might consider buying a Rough Guide to Scotland and using it to help plot out your driving route. It will also help you with the details such as how to get to the train station from the airport.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for the tip - I'm all about saving a wee bit of money. Where can I buy the Rough Guide to Scotland?

Posted by
1834 posts

Amazon, or any good book store. Amazon will be less expensive.

Posted by
1254 posts

If you have a Clan...one plan is to follow where they were historically. My Husband is a Campbell...so we visited all their Castles...My family was the Ogilvys so we followed the Stuarts. If you are MacDonalds go to Skye. Sterling Castle is worth a visit...it is near the Wallace Monument...there is a statue that curiously looks like Mel Gibson. I don't know if you'll find a real castle to stay in. Most that are not ruins or National Trust are Victorian Fantasies. Be sure to go to Loch Ness. Scotland is actually pretty small so you can travel fast on the A roads (Freeways). The smaller roads can be pretty scary...we even came across one with a steep grade that said "You have been warned" Good Luck.

Posted by
9914 posts

Kathleen, interesting idea to follow the Clan. This may be a very ignorant and naive question, but is there a website to help find the places important to one's Clan?

Posted by
3428 posts

Here area few websites with clan maps (there are lots and lots). One note- there are actually several 'branches' of the McDonald clan- some ARE Isle of Skye (Lord of the Isles) and some are 'mainland'- around GlenCoe, etc. You may need to get into some deeper research if that is your clan (I am related to both, by the way). http://scotsfamily.com/clan-map.htm http://www.rampantscotland.com/clans.htm http://www.censusfinder.com/scottish-clans-map.htm If you really want to drive, look for responses from Pamela on this board. She LOVES to drive the wee roads of Scotland- and most of them are WEE- some are even single lane. Personally, we just use the trains and an occassional bus. Not knowing your intersts, here's one suggesstion: Edinburgh- 2 days train to Aviemore- 3-4 days (lots to see and do including lots of outdoor activities, castles and distilleries) and the Caringorm hotel LOOKS like a miniture castle outside and a hunting lodge inside
train to Inverness- 4-6 days- do day trips to Isle of Skye and Eliean Donan castle, Great Glen, Glencoe, etc. You could also drive on this itnerary , but I can't recommend routes as we just used the train.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for your ideas - we've already rented a car, picking up in Edinburgh so I think we'll stay with that mode of transportation. I'll get out my trusty map and see how your suggestions work via the roads.
The Clan idea is interesting, so I'll look into this too.

Posted by
1254 posts

There are plenty of Tartan Woolen Shops which have maps of Clan locations in most of the bigger towns. One area I really enjoyed was the Borders area. There is a lot of Mary Queen of Scots history there. Plus ruins of Abbeys, Roman walls and Sir Walter Scots House.

Posted by
9914 posts

Toni and Kathleen, thanks for the links and ideas!

Posted by
117 posts

Michelle, We drove 2,000 miles in England and Scotland a couple of years ago. We loved Stirling (don't miss the William Wallace Monument) and St. Andrews. My only recommendation for driving is to have a GPS. We have a Garmin and downloaded the maps for the UK. It was invaluable.

Posted by
484 posts

If you are short on time, then may I suggest that you skip Inverness and head to Loch Lommond, Stirling, and Isle of Skye. Skye is much more dramatic in scenery than Inverness. Also, you may want to look-up Oban. You can take boat day trips from Oban to Mull/Iona and see Fingal's cave. Oban has a distillery if you are into whisky. Oban is near Fort William and Glencoe.
Best Wishes to you for a wonderful trip with sunny weather.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks everyone for your great ideas. Barb, I looked up Fingal's Cave and it looks amazing...now I'm really torn about visiting Inverness.
Do you have any accommodation suggestions re: your suggestion about heading to Loch Lommond, Stirling, and Isle of Skye and or Oban. Is it possible to do all of this over 2 nights/3 days?

Posted by
484 posts

Wow, you really have a tight time frame. Unless you are really into golfing, I would skip St. Andrew. Again, for the amount of time you have, I would skip Inverness. I mentioned day-boat trips from Oban. These trips really take the entire day. You may want to visit the official www.visitscotland.com or www.scotland.org. It may seem overwhelming at first. But, talk to your family, make a list of must see and do's. Then, prune it down. For instance, do you want to see a castle? Horseback riding? Churches? Museums? Bike riding? You may just want to relax and spend a second day in Edinburgh. There is much to see there including its famous castle. Rabbie's Tours has one day tours from Edinburgh that will get you around. You don't need to see every castle. So, you may want to pick one or two and add other activities. Gaelic is spoken in Isle of Skye area. Good Luck.

Posted by
484 posts

I had a brainstorm after I got off the computer. Check-out rabbies.com. Pick a 2-3 day itinerary that interests you and our family. Then, just follow that itinerary on your own. In other words, rabbies did the research for you. That way, you have realistic time frames and travel routes. Rabbies probably will even tell you about how much time is alotted for each site. Rabbies has this down to a science after years of running tours. Also, I found better rates in booking directly with B&B's than through hotel booking sites. You can just email the B&B's for price quotes.

Posted by
3 posts

Ardconnel in Inverness A+, use a GPS.. Dont do the Wallace Monument, waste, but see the Stirling Castle. Go over to St. Andrews only 35 miles from Sterling. GO to Hotannany in Inverness. Ard Na Said in Edinburgh an A.. Have fun....It is a great country. Dont miss Nessie either.

Posted by
12 posts

Hi from Florida
We spent a week in Scotland last Christmas out in a town called Aberfoyle in the Loch Lommand area. Beautiful !! Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sterling worth a day trip. Would skip St Andrews unless you were traveling that side of Scotland - the ruins are nice but agree that unless you golf you won't have much to do. We also traveled by car but without a GPS. The maps are enough. Stop in all the small towns - we made friends we are still in contact with over dinner. Have a great trip. I am jealous and would love to go again. Alas, we are heading to London for the holiday this year.

Posted by
5669 posts

Wow, I would not skip Inverness. I would agree that unless you are true Golf Aficionados I would defer St. Andrew's until another visit. So, I would leave Edinburg and head to Stirling. The castle is fantastic and you can see the history from the castle and understand the strategic importance. (Remember your Braveheart!) Then head north. Either motor on through to Inverness, or better yet stop in Dunkeld or Pitolchry. In Dunkeld there is a great bar, called the Taybank where you can hear good music, eat good food and drink good whisky or ale. In Pitlochry there is the festival theatre. Check to see if something interesting is playing there during your time frame. There is a great castle just north of PitlochryBlair Castle. Once you get to Inverness, you want to go to Culloden. You can also see the Clava Cairns. (If any of you are fans of Outlander it's a stone circle similar to the book.) You can then go to Loch Ness. If you want to keep on the road head west and explore that area. I am not sure how much time you have and so it's tough to make recommendations. You can drive to Kyle of Lochalsh and see Skye and then drive over the bridge to the Ferry to Mallaig the next day. Then drive south via Fort William and Glencoe and Ranoch Moore to Glasgow. That would be a long day so stop off somewhere if you'd like. I'm afraid that the only castle I stayed in was the other direction in Tarbert in Argyle. It was great, but I think I would save it for a second trip. You will love Scotland a lot and so you can count on the second trip. ; ) Pam

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks you everyone for all of your great advise. This is the first time I've used this type of service...and I'm really impressed with how generous everyone has been sharing their ideas etc. We're almost set...here's our schedule so far. Glasgow for 3 nights (family obligations) Edinburgh - 1 night Inverness - 2 nights Isle of Skye - 2 nights Last night - somewhere new the Glasgow airport I wish we could find one more night in Edinburgh, but it would mean taking a night away from Inverness. We've decided to skip St. Andrews - another trip awaits. Regards,
Michelle