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Week two. Need a little insight.

Birmingham, AL
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Week two. Need a little insight.

We have a two week trip to Scotland planned for June 2014. The first week was relatively easy to plan, the second, less so. I would appreciate some opinions about "which way to go" for our second week. Here's a rough draft of our first week's itinerary:

1. Fly into Glasgow, pick up rental car and drive to Loch Lomond area, stay two days here.

2. Drive Loch Lomond area via Oban to Glencoe. Two nights in Glencoe

3. Drive Glencoe to Portree via Fort William (want to avoid dealing with/missing Mallaig ferry strategic mistake??...please comment)

4. Including arrival day, spend four days in Skye.

5. Skye to Inverness via Eilean Donan Castle-Plockton-Gairloch-Inverness

6. Two days in Inverness, including visit to Urquhart Castle

7. Inverness to?

I am considering one of two major branches after Inverness. Should we head east via Aviemore and a ride up the funicular before continuing to Aberdeen and Stonehaven to see Dunnotar Castle, or head southerly from Inverness in the direction of Pitlochry, Perth, and Stirling?

The end of the two week trip must include two full days in Edinburgh and one full day in Glasgow. So the ends of the trip are fixed, but the middle is still "up in the air".

Might I trouble the knowledgeable for some arguments for or against the eastern vs. southern options? I know this is highly subjective, but having never been to Scotland I'd appreciate some educated opinions. Thanks in advance.

Edited: 14 December 2013, 23:35
Edinburgh...
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1. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

"Mallaig ferry strategic mistake"

It's only a strategy tragedy if you turn up late for the last ferry. My experience wih Calmac car-wranglers is they try to get latecomers with bookings on the next ferry, and from what I've heard they're pretty good at that. Or if you turn up early, they try to accommodate that.

Glencoe to Portree takes little more time via Mallaig [just over 3 hours] compared with via Kyle. In June the Mallaig ferries are pretty regular. If you plan on passing through Mallaig in the afternoon, you shouldn't have too many worries. 1440 1600 1800 departures. But make a booking.

Edited: 14 December 2013, 23:55
Birmingham, AL
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2. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

Ah, right now they only show two departures per day, with the earliest being too early and the latest being at 1600. I guess my concern is not only missing the ferry but whether the cost is worth it. Do you think the ferry ride is a "not to be missed" thing to do if we will have four days in Skye? I respect your opinion....

Also, what about the important second half of my question? Which way after Inverness....south or east?

Thanks for your response!!!

Edinburgh...
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3. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

I think you're looking at Calmac's winter timetables.

…calmac.info/Timetables/All-summer-Timetable… for Summer 2014

I answered the easy question. I'm torn between your alternatives. Actually no I'm not.

I'd suggest Aviemore, and yes you can do the funicular but Abernethy Forest, at the foot of the mountains, is beautiful and easy to walk in.

Then round to Carrbridge, Grantown, and Tomintoul - whisky country and nice countryside - and then southwards into Deeside. Braemar, maybe Balmoral if you're into royalty, Ballater, and all the way to Banchory. [I have a soft spot for Banchory; it's where I got married]. And then cut the corner direct to Stonehaven rather than going via Aberdeen. Braemar is the biggest centre in the area, and the roads beyond it penetrate into the Eastern Side of the Cairngorm mountains, with the Linn of Dee and my favourite glen, Glen Quoich, with caledonian forest, and rare birds like crossbills.

I also like the East coast option because you have a possible diversion to St Andrews, the East Neuk fishing villages, Falkland Palace before returning to Edinburgh.

I'm well aware of the attractions between Pitlochry and Perth, and around Stirling, and it's a close call. Pitlochry itself is, I think, a bit too touristy, though the towns and villages roundabout have many attractions, Perth is more a working city, and if you intend to go to Edinburgh Castle, you'll find it and Stirling castle have many similarities. Personal opinion. Maybe someone else will wade in.

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4. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

Some people don't rate Mallaig as a tourist destination. Certainly it's a small town with a fishing history (stll has a smaller, less industrial fishing industry) and is converting itself into somewhere people might want to visit. There are hotels and B&Bs and you can eat seafood next to the pier. But the locals aren't as yet attuned to tourist expectations, and Mallaig remains a place which most people visit on the way to Skye.

The scenery from Fort WIlliam to Maillaig is spectacular, with views behind you to Ben Nevis and its surrounding mountains, and then much wilder country once the road leaves the lochside. Lots of people do it by train for that reason, though I reckon car is more flexible. Glenfinnan viaduct, the nearby monument to Prince Charlie, then spectacular coasts as you approach Mallaig, with the little villages of Arisaig and Morar, and white white sands.

Once you get on the Ferry (30 mins transit) you have spectacular views westwards to Rum, Eigg, Muck, and Eastwards into the remoteness that is Loch Nevis and Knoydart - some of the remotest and wildest country in Scotland.

I wouldn't buy a cup of tea on the ferry, personally. I'd stay on deck and watch the changing views. And the tea's disappointing anyway.

Edited: 15 December 2013, 00:55
Stanley, Falkland...
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5. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

5. keep going north after Gairloch. Spend a few days getting to Inverness. You wont regret it.

Edinburgh...
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6. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

Peterscot is right. The coast as far as Ullapool - and beyond if you have time - is spectacular.

I was merely answering your questions. Peterscot is filling the bigger picture.

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7. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

Hi.

I agree to spend more time on the Wester Ross coast between Skye and Inverness. Spend a night in the Gairloch area and head on up to Ullapool.

I would choose south from Inverness, as it takes you in the direction you want to end up in (Edinburgh/Glasgow) and is a lovely route.

It depends how much you want to see the Eastern area.

Abs :)

Birmingham, AL
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8. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

Ah, you guys are killing me. The only way I can create more time between our time in Skye and our time in Inverness will be by losing a day in Skye. We currently only have three full days in Skye (in addition to the end of the first day when we take the ferry over from Mallaig). Are two full days plus a fraction of a third enough for Skye? I wanted to do the Elgol to lake Coruisk boatride. That will probably consume most of a day all by itself.

Birmingham, AL
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9. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

Is this what you all are advocating? Gairloch to Inverness, the long way:

http://goo.gl/maps/hS9YD

Edinburgh, United...
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10. Re: Week two. Need a little insight.

Hi.

You've got time to play with AFTER Inverness, why not give yourselves an extra night BEFORE Inverness (for Wester Ross)? And shorten the stops on the second week of your trip.

If your nights in Inverness are fixed, can you amend the booking?

Abs :)