This is a continuation of my trip to England and Scotland which included 2 Rick Steves tours.
It is long and detailed so if that bothers you, quit reading now and move on to the next thread!
Pre tour Transition: We ended our Villages of Southern England trip in Bath on a Saturday AM. We stayed there 3 more nights to see Bath, do a day trip with Mad Max to the Cotswolds and then traveled to Edinburgh. I chose to route us thru London even though folks here recommended I go via Bristol. I should have listened. I somehow thought the trip would be more scenic along the coast plus I was able to get the tickets on various sales and advanced purchases and it was much cheaper. It might have been OK if we hadn’t run in to multiple train cancellations to Edinburgh due to a line being down near Doncaster which meant about 3 trains worth of folks were jammed onto one train. I did find us seats even though this was not our reserved train. They were reserved for others but those people thankfully did not show up. We were about 2.5 hours late in to Edinburgh. I’m really risk averse when it comes to travel on the day a tour starts so I had us traveling to Edinburgh the day before. Very glad we did!
Fitness: I did not think this tour was as high a fitness level as Villages of Southern England, however, SIL fell on our orientation walk and bruised her arm and leg badly so we didn’t do everything. To me the most strenuous day was the Edinburgh walking tour plus visit to Edinburgh Castle. I found the RS tour page assessment of activity level accurate altho slightly overstated for Day 6 but I did not climb to the top of the ruins at Urquhart Castle. (It was the beginning of the end for me wanting to see ruins!) All in all I walked approximately 45 miles on this tour including the miles on Day 1 before the tour started. Day 2, the day of the walking tour in Edinburgh, was my highest mileage day with about 7.7 miles.
Wardrobe: I put my detailed list of clothing on the Villages of Southern England post. I forgot I also threw in a pr of wool/poly glove liners, a buff and a polarfleece headband. I’ve been using Smartwool glove liners for the last couple of years at home and they are great. They were kind of worn looking so I tried to find some replacements at the end of winter to take on this trip. I wound up with Rab brand merino/poly blend and they were awful. The Smartwool ones are slightly water repellent (they are my snow shoveling gloves!) but the Rab ones seem to excel at being absorbent – not what you want on a rainy, windy day on Iona and in Oban! Yikes. They are going in the charity shop bag come fall. I do recommend some kind of light gloves for a Scotland trip this time of year. No sense being uncomfortable and they are easy to tuck in your day bag. I did not use the headband but in retrospect, I’d pack it again as it doesn’t take up too much room.
Packing - Carry-ons/day packs/bus bags: In the first part of my trip report I didn’t mention our day bags. On previous trips I carried Rick’s Veloce but in January switched to a LiteGear day pack. It is a bit taller but quite a bit narrower and fits better under an airplane seat. It’s sized right for my rain jacket (yes carried and used it nearly every day), extra layer, ziplock with gloves, snacks, guide book. My SIL used her new Rick Euro Tote. I think the big drawback to this piece is that it holds too much, lol! I also didn’t like how it zips open around the top as stuff tended to fall out. It also looked awkward to carry as the base is a bit wide when you try to carry it cross body.