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England/ Scotland Itinerary Feedback

My husband and I are planning a two week trip, August 23 - September 6, 2014, and this is the itinerary we are considering:
8/23 -Arrive Edinburgh (Stay 3 nights.)
Military Tattoo (Tickets have been purchased for 10:30pm showing on 8/23.)
8/26 - Rent car and make our way to Isle of Skye (Stay 2 nights.)
8/28 - Make our way to Inverness (Stay 2 nights.)
8/30 - Make our way to Dunoon for the Cowal Highland Gathering (Stay 1 night.)
Very excited to watch the games and dance competitions.
8/31 - Make our way back to Edinburgh to return car and fly to Kirkwall. (Stay in Kirkwall 1 night.)
Going to see Skara Brae and some of the other sights on the islands.
9/1 - Fly from Kirkwall to Edinburgh to catch another flight to London.
9/1 - 9/6 - Stay in London and visit friends/ see sites.
9/6 - Fly out of London

I am most concerned about the Skye, Inverness, Kirkwall parts of the itinerary. Would it make more sense to stay in Inverness, or somewhere else, and day trip to Skye and surrounding sites? What about the car rental if we stay in a central location and day trip? The tattoo, gathering, and Skara Brae are must sees for us. We've looked up the prices for the flights we've listed, and if this is the best itinerary, we're ok with the costs.

Any feedback you can provide would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!!

Posted by
54 posts

Hi Cynthia-I feel like that Edinburgh to Skye drive is going to be a beating. We did Portree to Oban in one go and it was sincerely some of the most gorgeous scenery I've ever seen, but it was not an "easy" drive, and not short, and yours would be even longer. That said, we loved Skye and would highly reccomend it. We didn't love Inverness itself, just used it as a base to do Elgin, Dufftown and the distilleries, and Culloden. All in all, I understand the hard dates that you've got in place and it doesn't look like a lot of ways to swap it around (short of only staying two nights instead of three in Edinburgh), and it looks doable as long as you go into it with a good perspective about how much time you'll be spending in the car.

Posted by
2436 posts

Are you flying into Edinburgh on 8/23 from North America? And then going to the Military Tattoo at 10:30 that night? How are you going to stay awake that long? Have you flown overseas before, and if so, have you had any problems with jet lag the first night. If at all possible, try to leave before the 23rd. Or perhaps you aren't flying so far on the 23rd, in which case you can ignore this comment.

I think you are trying to go too many places that are too far apart for too short of a time. Only one night in Orkney - that doesn't give you much time. I think you need at an absolute minimum one full day. Two would be better. Of course, I don't know what time your flights are, but the transportation has got to take half of each of your two days there, even if the flight is short. Perhaps you could skip staying in Skye and stay three nights in Inverness, do Skye as a (very long) day trip, and add a night to Kirkwall. I have no idea where Dunoon is, so I can't comment on that. I would have suggested skipping it, but it sounds like that is important to you. I think you need to focus on your highest priorities and not try to do too much.

Scotland is a fabulous place; I hope you have a great trip.

Thanks for the advice and insight Peggy! We're actually up for some driving as we think it will be beautiful to see some of Scotland by car. We've been playing around with staying in Inverness as a "base" and day tripping out from there. Did you stay on Skye or just day trip to it?

Great questions Carol. In answer, we are flying out of the Washington DC area on the night of 8/22. We will arrive at EDI around 4:30pm in the afternoon. We plan to grab a bite to eat on the way to checking into our hostel and then taking a nap before the tattoo if need be. I've traveled abroad before and am familiar with jet lag but my husband is not. We're also fairly good at sleeping on planes and in the airport between flights. I'm hoping this trip won't be much different in that regard to other trips we've made. :)

The thing that's really throwing a wrench in our plans are the dates for the Cowal Highland Gathering. We definitely want to see the games and dancing but we're not married to this particular event. However, I haven't been able to find any other gathering/ games events that are taking place within our timeframe. I guess we could plan to visit the Cowal Gathering on the Friday instead of the Saturday, but then we'd miss the caber toss and the massing of the bands. Do you think it would be a mistake to miss those things or do you think the Friday day of events, general as they are at this point, would be sufficient? If we did visit the Cowal Gathering on the Friday versus the Saturday, that would give us an extra day in the Orkneys. Decisions, decisions!!

Thanks so much ladies for both of your input. This forum has been immensely helpful. :)

Posted by
2436 posts

Cynthia, I haven't seen any kind of Highland games or gatherings, so I am not really qualified to answer your question. Not that that will stop me. :) I would be inclined to go on Friday in order to have an extra day in Orkney - seems like a good compromise.

If you sleep well on planes and are prepared to nap before you go to the tattoo, maybe your first day will work fine. It seems like a late night could prolong jet lag, but you would know better than I what you can handle.

I like the way you are trying to get in a variety of experiences. Sounds like fun.

Posted by
3203 posts

"9/1 - Fly from Kirkwall to Edinburgh to catch another flight to London."

Consider taking the train from Edinburgh to London unless you are in a real hurry to get from one to the other. The train ride is quite scenic and a great experience, IMHO.

Posted by
54 posts

Hi again-
We did two nights on Skye, in Portree, although we were really only there a day and a half, basically. Left Inverness, did Castle Urquhart and Eilean Donan on the way and then on to Portree. The next day on Skye, we did Dunvegan Castle and Talisker, and lots of driving and walking about. Then the next morning we were off to Oban. As I said, that drive was hands-down the most gorgeous of the trip...I was driving and there were several times we'd come around a bend and I would literally have to remind myself to keep my hands on the wheel and my foot on the gas, because I just wanted to stop and stare at the surroundings. There was other scenery in Scotland that was very, very beautiful (Iona, the Campsie Fells, Loch Ness) but for sheer breathtakingness, none of it beat the Road to the Isles.

Thanks so much ladies for the insight! I will definitely be checking out some of the places you mentioned in your post Peggy.

I think you're right about the day we'll arrive Carol. It will be a long day, but we plan to sleep in a little on Sunday morning to make up for it. :)

Posted by
2049 posts

Hi Cynthia,

We went to the Military Tattoo last August. It's fantastic. You will love it. Are they mailing you the tickets or do you have a reservation? If you have to pick up the official tickets at will call, familiarize yourself with the map of Edinburgh and where the will call is in advance. We had a hard time finding it and wandered around for an hour until we got there (and yes we had a map). Remember, you will probably be jetlagged and disoriented and may need some extra time to get oriented. Have a great trip.