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Scotland trip report

Just got back from 2 weeks in Scotland a couple weeks ago. Seem to remember someone was interested in 1 of the day tours I was to take. I stayed in Edinburgh at the 23 Mayfield B and B for 5 nights. This is a wonderful B and B!! Beautiful room, creative and yummy breakfast and very, very nice owners. Located a short bus trip from the Royal Mile attractions. I spent the first 2 days seeing those attractions. Had some wonderful views from atop Calton Hill and also Salisbury Crags, took the mid level walk that passes the loch vs that on the bottom or actually Arthurs Seat. I had arranged 3 day trips from Edinburgh including the first with the Heart of Scotland to Rossyln Chapel, the borders and Hadrian's Wall. Good local guide/driver, nice small bus (16 seat). Long day (8:45 til 7 PM) as it is quite a journey all the way into England, but worth the sites. Note in May the days are long this trip in Fall would be returning in the dark. Also took day trips to Loch Lomond National Park and Stirling Castle and another to St. Andrews and the fishing villages. These I took with Rabbies which is also a great group. Also small, nice bus. All of these tours are long as you drive out to see the sites then return to Edinburgh around 6 pm. I did see alot of country with someone else driving and regaling us with historical facts and also stories. I took a 5 day trip with Rabbies to Isl of Skye, Iona, Mull and Staffa. Loved it! Great guide, great scenery, history, stories, also accommodations which I did choose the option of B and B vs hotel or hostel and also with Rabbies booking. Many of the 16 people on this tour also linked another Rabbies tour to the Orkney Islands. If you have the time I highly recommend this option as well, wish I could have. I returned to Edinburgh for 2 nights prior to returning home. I stayed at the Inverleith Hotel in New Town. Nice small hotel with great manager, wish I had asked her name to give her personal cudos. All my meals in all locations were good with exception of a pork loin dish that I got in Edinburgh that was horribly chewy guess that is what I got for not going with fish as I did with every other meal. All fabulous seafood meals everywhere I went. I really lucked out as during the whole 2 weeks there was not one drop of rain, heard that is unusual. Made for seeing all sites especially the islands fabulous!! All the people I encountered in Scotland were very friendly and helpful. Great trip all the way around.

Posted by
359 posts

We took the 4 day Rabbies Islay tour a few years ago and loved it. Glad to hear yo also had a great Rabbies experience. I'm envious of your visit to the Orkneys!

Posted by
163 posts

Actually I did NOT add on the Orkney Islands but wish I would have had time. Many of the 16 people on the 5 day island tour had added on the Orkneys. Oh well good reason to go back right? That seems to be a common theme with me anyway, I am always returning to places I have visited as I have such a good time and can't possibly see it all. Our world is so big with so many wonderful places to go, things to see and experience and people to meet!!! Ut oh I am already thinking of the next trip......

Posted by
359 posts

Thanks for the clarification - I misread that part of your post. I am still envious of Skye, Iona, Mull and Staffa!! :-)

Posted by
440 posts

Great report, you got very lucky with the weather probably the only two weeks of the year it doesn't rain

Thanks, very helpful! My daughter and I are traveling to the U.K. the first two weeks of September, and I will have a rental car for the entire time. We plan to drive from London out to Liverpool, then take the car and ferry over to Dublin from Holyhead in Wales. We will then spend a few days in Ireland, and drive across to Belfast, and hop another ferry to Cairnryan, and drive from there out to Inverness. We have 3-4 days to spend at Inverness and want to do the complete Isle of Skye tour and fit in as much of the Highlands as possible. There is a tour company called WowScotland which offers a private tour, including the Old Man of Storr, Loch Ness, Kilt Rock, the Fairie Glen and Fairie Pools, Portree, The Quairang, etc. Should we pay for the guided tour, or just take the car and drive to all of the destinations ourselves ? And after reading your report and the great replies, I obviously need to add the trip to the Orkney Islands. Any other suggestions for lodging and/or food while there? Thanks so much!!

Posted by
163 posts

I found that the local tour company/guide of course had "inside information" such as she pointed out that the Fairy Pools did not have much water in them due to little rain and also how crowded they are, which we saw as we drove by. She took us elsewhere for some falls and we were the only people there. The fairy glen on the other hand is definitely a must see and "feel" (definitely an undercurrent of unseen energy). We stayed in Plockton on the mainland vs in Portree. Plockton is a very quaint little town on the water, appears to just be a few streets in size. Stayed and ate some very good fish dinners at the Plockton Hotel (right across from water) and had some cider and enjoyed music at Plockton Inn around the corner. Did not have much time in Portree which is also a pretty little town but definitely bigger than Plockton with more people, restaurants and stores if shopping of interest. Kilt rock and old man of stor both must sees. Staffin Slipway a beach with existing dinosaur prints. Without the local guide I doubt I would have been able to locate as demonstrated by people wandering all over and then coming up to our group as our guide looked around and finally found 1. It took her awhile to locate as the tide comes in/out and sand covers them up etc. There were also many view points that we stopped at with the history explained by local tour guide. I have traveled to Ireland several times with my daughter and no guide/tour. My daughter had read up on Ireland and had booked B and Bs in advance and decided on all the sites we would see. I was the driver and boy was that an experience in itself. Not sure why I did that twice as I should have learned the first time. The roads are soooo very narrow and that is true of Scotland as well definitely on Skye. So benefit of local guide is inside info, detailed history/stories, you don't have to deal with driving. Downside can be if you want to stay longer at a certain spot it is not up to you rather the guide/group. Have fun!

Posted by
440 posts

Take the ferry to Dublin from Liverpool saves driving through Wales unless you plan to stop on the way

Posted by
88 posts

I'm the same about returning to places I've already been. If I fall in love I don't have time to see it all the first time and have to return to get my fill. We went to London for the first time last fall and really want to go to Scotland, Wales and Ireland (and other places) but first I have to go back to the London area at least once, maybe more. Then I can move on and try new places. We can only afford a week-long International trip about every two years.

I'm seriously torn between London and Edinburgh, but we haven't done much international travel and I want to see London again, so I think we will go back there first. The public transportation is so easy there.

Posted by
252 posts

Sounds like a great trip! We returned about the same time you did from 2 weeks in Ireland. We had amazing weather as well.

Would like to get back to Scotland some day and plan to use tours much the same way you did. Glad to know you had such good luck with them.