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Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

Kittery, Maine
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Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

We (two couples in our early 60's) have roughly 7 days and want to see at least Mull, Iona and Skye. We are traveling from the States and will be in York, England for a week prior to visiting Scotland. We plan to take the train (contemplating renting a car) from York and end up in Oban on Friday, April 14th. We need to be in Glasgow on the 21st to catch a flight the next day. We are interested in history, walking, and local music/pubs. We prefer to minimize the number of places we spend the night not wanting to pack in too much. What would be your suggestions? Can we comfortably get around by train/bus in that area or best to rent a car? Thank you so much for your help!

Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

Personally, I think the car would give you so much more flexibility.

Having said that, there are a couple of very scenic lines there - Glasgow to Fort William and Ft William to Mallaig, but these could be done even if you rent a car.

An option could be to get the train, via Edinburgh to Ft William, then hire a car there for a week. Spend 3 days om Mull, see Iona, and then drive to Skye, and return the car to Ft William. Then train to Glasgow.

There are MANY options. Renting a car at Glasgow would also give you some great journeys.

You also have many ferry options. EG - go to Mull from Oban, but leave by another route. Ferry from Mallaig to Skye and then over the bridge to return. See www.calmac.co.uk for details.

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2. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

With a very small amount of planning, public transport is by far the better option in my view. Simply because instead of focussing on driving and the road ahead, you will be able to enjoy the view and surroundings.

By either method, skye and mull aren't the easiest to join in terms of travel time. Depending on what your key aims are, a trip to the outer hebrides from skye could be an easier but equally enjoyable extension to the trip

Edited: 24 November 2011, 16:05
Glasgow, United...
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3. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

Doing things by public transport is possible, but will take a bit of planning and organising. It could be spectacular, if you take the two West Highland Line train routes, say arriving in Oban, then returning from Fort William or Mallaig.

After that you'll need to use a mixture of public service buses and coach tours. The public buses are usually very comfortable nowadays, and as has been said, let all four of you see the countryside. One of the best ways to see Iona anyway is to get the coach that meets the ferry from Oban, taking you from Craignure to the Iona ferry.

It boils down to whether you want that mode, where you can all relax, or would prefer the flexibility and potential for spontaneity offered by using a rental car. Be aware, that one-way hires in the west Highlands are not common, and you'd need to negotiate this with one of the local companies, if it is even feasible.

Check out Bowman's for Mull services and Iona tours http://www.bowmanstours.co.uk/ And the generic sites for getting around the west coast, including to Skye. eg http://www.transportdirect.info

Adelaide, Australia
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4. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

It would probably be cheaper for you to rent a car than to travel by train, since there are four of you. You could take the train from York to Edinburgh (scenic East Coast) then rent a car in Edinburgh, returning it at Glasgow. It doesn't cost that much more to return it to a different location.

Manchester, United...
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for The Hebrides
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5. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

I agree with the above, except no 2. The train routes to Oban and especially Fort William are ezceptionally scenic, so its worth taking the train there rather than picking up a hire car in Glasgow or Edinburgh. You probably won't be able to do a one-way hire in this area, so I think the best plan would be to pick up and return a car at Fort William.

From Fort William you should be able to cover Skye in about three days, and spend the other three on Mull and Iona.

Have a great trip!

Terrigal, Australia
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6. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

Hi,

Just returned from a similar trip using hired car. Tip:- using Calmac ferries which are very good - ensure that you book the ferries that can be booked.

We thought that because of the time of year (November) travelling from Mull to Skye would be easy especially using a Hopscotch ticket see www.Calmac.UK, We left Mull travelled to Malliag to catch ferry to Armadale (Skye) to find that the ferry was fully booked -out - had to drive to Skye.

Fortunately Calmac refunded the unused portion of the ticket...Safe Travels!

Herefordshire
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7. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

I don't think public transport on Mull, and from there to Skye, will easily fit in to a short-ish itinerary like yours. My choice would be rail to Fort William (via either Edinburgh or perhaps the scenic Leeds / Carlisle route if you've time and are feeling adventurous), hire a car there and drive to Mull via the Corran and Lochaline ferries (neither of which are bookable). Leave Mull via the Tobermory - Kilchoan ferry (also not bookable) and drive to Mallaig for the Skye ferry (which you need to book). Return from Skye via the bridge and drive back to Fort William to return the car and take the train to Glasgow.

You will probably need to stay overnight in FW on 14th April, then nights of 15/16/17th on Mull, 18/19/20th on Skye and back to Glasgow on 21st. Sounds good - now I want to do the trip myself....

Terrigal, Australia
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8. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

And............if you are looking for accommodation on Mull...IMO can't go past Tobermorey Hotel ...........see reviews on TA.............has excellent restaurant attached ...........especially handy when the weather is inclement ? (read pouring rain - cats & dogs - horizontal waterfall)

Safe Travels!

Kittery, Maine
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9. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

Thank you so much, each and every one of you! All your comments/advice are extremely helpful to us in making our decisions.

10. Re: Western Highlands and Islands Itinerary

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