Scotland scheduling

I have been reading Rick Steves Great Britain 2013 and was wondering how realistic the time allotments are for Rick's three week itinerary for Scotland. We will be in Keswick (Lake District) and want to drive north past Loch Lomond to Oban, stay overnight,then on to Inverness and down to Edinburgh the next day. Is this too much in too short a time? Any other suggestions? Daniel

Posted by Beth
Berkeley, CA, USA
32 posts

I think you are probably allowing more time than you need. With extra time you could go to Stirlin and/or St Andrews and also Glasgow (very underrated).

Posted by Kathleen
Camano Island, WA, usa
406 posts

I think that you might be pushing it from Keswick to Oban. Dumphries and SW Scotland has a lot to offer too, as well as the Borders with the ruined abbeys. Oban is only worth going to if you need to catch the ferry to the Islands...and Glencoe if you are a Campbell or MacDonald. Glasgow is actually worth a visit. Inverness is a long winding drive by Loch Ness...stop by Castle Urquahart on the way to Inverness, then it's around 200 miles as the crow flies south to Edinburgh...I think you need at least a week to see all the sights along the way.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
4295 posts

According to Via Michelin, this nearly a 5 hour drive. In my opinion I would add at least an hour to that. This includes a lot of time on an M roadexpressway. This route does not take you through Glencoe. The drive from Oban to Inverness is about 3 hours on Via Michelin, but you need to definitely add more time. The views are spectacular and you'll want to stop and take pictures. Make sure that you stop off at the Commander's Monument just past Spean Bridge. The views are wonderful and it's good to pay homage to the group of men who served as commandos in WWII. There are lots of temptations to veer off and explore other lochs and glens. Urqhart Castle is worth a stop. It's interesting to hear the story of the castle, climb around it and check out the views of Loch Ness. Via Michelin shows the drive from Inverness to to Edinburgh as 3 and a half hours. That's straight down the A9, a rather busy road and no time to explore places like Aviemore, Dunkeld, Pitlochry, Kilikrankie, and more. You can do this, but do you want to? Personally, I would try to add at least one day to this schedule. Stay an extra day in either Oban explore Mull or in Invernessgo to Culloden and see the Clava Cairns. If you can add two days, then do both. Pam

Posted by bob
hillsboro, oregon, usa
2 posts

Daniel, I just got back from the UK and took the exact route you are asking about. I too stayed in Keswick and drove to Oban. I went through Stirling and it took over 5 hours to drive to Oban. I spent the night in Oban then drove to Fort Augustus. I don't recomend trying this in only 2 days. The A roads in Scotland are a bit narrow and the drive from Oban to Edinborough via Inverness would be a bit brutal. I drove it in sections and it took longer than I expected. I wish that I would have stayed in Oban for at least 2 nights. My wife fell in love with its charm and homes clinging to the hills all around the town. Stop for a while , take a ferry to one of the Isles. If you plan to do this in winter be prepared for winter driving conditions. This could add hours to your driving time. Once you leave Glascow you can fall in love with the highlands. Go slower and enjoy them. The Scots are wonderful people and very friendly. My wife and I explored the highlands, the Great Glen Way and the whisky trail from Inverness to Perrth . Best of luck. I hope this helps Bob

Posted by david
837 posts

I was confused by the three weeks and what appears to be about 3 days in Scotland. I guess that the 3 weeks is a tour of all of Britain. IMPOSSIBLE!!! I would say that it takes two trips of 3 weeks each, one south of London and one north. As for Scotland, you have had a lot of good advise. I will include the Lake District which is wonderful. Rick's drive through the mountains near Keswick is spectacular, equal to anything in Scotland. There is a lot of beauty in the area, however, Keswick isn't part of it. I would stay a couple of nights in another town. Near Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Stirling are wonderful, although in opposite geographical directions. We used Pitlochry as a base. From there we drove in one day, a round trip to Ft. William/Glencoe. From Glencoe back to Pitlochry is absolutely stunning. We didn't go to Oden. If you do, I would suggest using Oden as a base for a night or two; perhaps ferry to Isle of Mull. I would also spend at least a day driving around the Inverness area and Inverness itself. Cawdor Castle was a great tour, one of the best furnished "castles" we have toured. Eat at the River Cafe.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3048 posts

David- I really think this is VERY unrealistic. Even by train it would be a grueling trip- and by car it might be near impossible. You certainly wouldn't get to appreciate the beautiful splendor of Scotland.

Posted by Daniel
Janesville, WI, USA
13 posts

Thank you to all of you that responded to my question. As a result of your comments I have revised our schedule a bit and will try for a smaller bite. Better to do less and enjoy than overextend and do nothing but drive. That would be just like work, then, would it? Again, thanks. Daniel