After spending 3 days in Edinburgh, we'd like to see the countryside. This is our first time to Scotland. We plan to leave Edinburgh on Mon. at noon (July 18th). We aren't sure when or if we'll ever be back, so admittedly we are trying to cram in a lot. Please advise if this is reasonable.
Neither my husband or I prefer heavily crowded places (though some are inevitable), but I'm a hobby-photographer and artist, so love any great photo opportunities or places for a quick journal sketch. My husband loves scotch, so would love to tour a good distillery or two. We have three kids (not coming) and are Harry Potter fans, so anything related to that would be fun.
Here's our plan:
Ediburgh to Stirling (see castle and village of Killin for photos)
Glencoe - walk, photos, lakes, Harry Potter filming area
Ft. William - not sure what to do here (Distillery?)
Glenfinnan - see railway viaduct (Harry Potter); any way to find out when the Jacobite will be passing over the viaduct?
*possibly stay in Glenfinnan on first night? I think we could realistically arrive here by 8-9pm
Corran - to view Ben Nevis mtn (should we stay on west side of water [A861] and take ferry Ardgour to Corran or drive around on A82?)
Portnacroish - Castle Stalker view; just photo stop
Oban - ??? not sure yet; maybe Oban Distillery
Inverary (or skip this stop) - castle or jail
Loch Lomond - just plan to drive, make a few scenic stops for photos, and continue on; maybe stop at Balloch Castle?
*am undecided about driving A82 on west side of Loch Lomond - hear mixed reviews - we are from the US, grew up in rural area where we drove manual, 4x4 trucks on the hills, have driven city traffic last 10 years and are fine with roundabouts, etc . . . but do not have experience driving on "other" side of the road and will be in unfamiliar territory. I plan to get a car with GPS or take our portable one and download Scotland maps, but not sure how "bad" this road really is . . . please advise.
Then we'll need to end up back in Edinburgh late Tues. night. We have a hotel near the airport and fly out to Dublin Wed. morning at 8:30. Once we arrive in Dublin, we'll have 8 hrs. to rest before we meet up with our business group in the evening.
My map route shows this to be 360 miles of road and will take about 9 hrs of driving time. It's hard to guess how much time we'll spend at each stop, but thought we could pace ourselves.
I'd appreciate any tips about destinations, restaurants/cafes, pubs/distilleries, unique (uncrowded) stops, and Loch Lomond tips (heard it's a must-see, but very touristy, so not sure where best stops would be).
Thanks so much!