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Drive from Glascow to Fort williams and back to Edinburgh

Has anyone done this drive in a day? I am taking a group of Girl Scouts and they really want to see the area above Fort William Harry Potter of course. We are short on time and I wondered how crazy is it to try and drive a loop in one day. Maybe doing the train to Mallaig from Fort William or just continue driving, I am not sure if there is a route to turn around and head south from there still researching. Leave early and lots of stops...arrive late. Thanks

Posted by
5563 posts

Via Michelin has at 2 hours and 36 minutes from Glasgow to Fort William. That takes you through Glencoe, Obviously, the return would be the same, so you have a minim of five hours plus bus time. If you want to go on to Glenfinnan, it will take at least another half hour. So, now you're at six hours bus time with no stops and no traffic. So, yes, it's doable, but do you want to do it? BTW if you're going all the way to Mallaig and back, it would be nearly 7.5 hours with no potty breaks or food breaks. So, take care.

Pam

Posted by
26046 posts

There are trains on those routes, of course they are also equipped with toilets and the steam trains also have food. When is the trip, please?

Posted by
5563 posts

And when you take the train you can move around and take pictures. You won't see the famous Viaduct, but you'll travel over it!

Pam

Posted by
34 posts

We are leaving on June 23rd from Glascow in the morning. Now we are thinking about driving up thru Isle of Skye and spending the night in Inverness. From Inverness going to Edinburgh stopping at Stirling Castle. How does that sound? More reasonable for stopping and taking in the sights.

Posted by
5563 posts

Yes, that's more reasonable, but still long. You have the advantage of lots of light. I would still make an early start on the first day. If you want to actually go Skye, you will want to have a reservation on the Mallaig ferry and then drive over the Bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh. Eilean Donan Castle is just a mile or two further east from Kyle. There are two ways from there to Inverness. The southern route takes you past Loch Ness, and the northern route is past Loch Carron. Both are beautiful.

If you're throwing some history into this trip along with Harry, you might want to stop by Culloden before heading south. The battlefield is very emotive and the visitor center is quite good. And if they want to see a stone circle the Clava Cairns are nearby and a very quick stop.

Stirling is wonderful. Don't miss it.

Pam

Posted by
7 posts

Kathy,
In September of 2012 I drove from Glascow to Edinburgh via a similar route you describe. We picked up a rental car in Glascow and drove to Oban (stops at Loch Lomond, Inveraray and quick roadside photo ops). The next day we drove to Inverness with stops in Glencoe vistor center, Fort William, and Loch Ness. Then on the third day drove from Inverness down to Edinburgh (stopped at Blair Castle). I'm from Nevada and lived in the West all my life. I looked at the distances and figured there would be no problem with any of the three day drives for stops, lunch break, and a good relaxed pace. I regularly put more miles on a family trip between Nevada and Arizona than the whole three days I had in Scotland. What I didn't consider is the narrow and winding road conditions (watch out for that little curb along the road that you will wack if you try to overcompensate when the tour bus is coming from the other direction!), weather, and the surprising amount of tour buses on these small back roads. Throw in the left side driving and working a standard with the left hand instead of the right and I say that my driving time was about twice what I anticipated. I went at a much slower average speed than I anticipated before the trip. I still enjoyed the road trip and saw amazing country and scenery but after each leg of the trip I was fairly exhausted from the drive which was mentally taxing. Between Inverness and Edinburgh it was mostly highway driving which was faster and easier. By that time anyway, I was getting use to the road signs, roundabouts, driving condtions, etc. But if I did the drive you describe in one day, it would have been a chore not a pleasurable experience. Everyone is different but for me the three days was the least amount of time I would have liked for the trip. RS said in one of his shows that there are more sheep on the road up there than cars but I would remark that there are more tour buses on the road than sheep and cars combined. And since they take up the entire narrow lane and then some (big side mirrors almost always inching into my lane, better scoot over but watch that little curb!) they keep you on your toes all the time. Just make sure you take these things into consideration since you want to enjoy the trip yourself and not feel pressed.

Posted by
837 posts

A couple of thoughts. You mention the train and Harry Potter. I believe that the Hogwarts express is the train from Ft. William to Mallaig. However, I think that it leaves fairly early, like between 8:00 and 10:00 and I believe that there is only one each way, each day. A bit challenging with a start from Glasgow. You mention the Isle of Skye. I wouldn't spend any time there, given your schedule. However, if you do take the train to Mallaig, it appears that the main road to Inverness is via Kyle of Lochaish. Unless there is substantial interest in the battles between the Scots and English, I would not stop at Culloden.

Posted by
5563 posts

I'm going to give you a second opinion on Culloden. If you have no interest in understanding a pivotal moment in Scottish do give it a miss, but if you like to learn the context and background of a country, understanding what happened in 1745 explains a little bit about Scotland. Also, the Clava Cairn is very nearby and is good to visit. I like Fort George. The views of the Moray Firth are wonderful and its interesting to be on a working base that is so old.

Pam