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URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

New Delhi, India
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URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

I'm planning a trip to Scotland with my wife and kids aged 3 and 5 (June 2014). We will be there from June 3rd to 13th. It's our first time in Scotland and there are a whole bunch of questions on what to see, what routes to take and how to divvy up the time (especially given that we are traveling with young kids). We would like to explore as much as practically possible since it's unlikely that we will be back in Scotland for a holiday again soon!

We are interested in getting a taste of the scenic landscape including the Lochs and Glens, visiting a few castles, exploring select historical sites and enjoying the wildlife as we pass through the mountains and country side. I have drafted an itinerary based on other posts in this forum. Would hugely appreciate your judgement on whether the proposed itinerary makes sense - are we trying to do too much? should we drop something and take up something else? should we adopt alternate routes? change our mode of transport? etc

Here is the itinerary as it stands right now:

DAY #1

Train from London to Edinburgh.

Walk through Princess Garden, New Town, Calton Hill, Cowgate. Overnight in Edinburgh

DAY #2

Visit Edinburgh Castle in the morning. Walk Royal Mile. Visit Palace of Holyroodhouse

Overnight in Edinburgh

DAY #3

Pick up rental car, drive to Stirling Castle, stop for lunch at the Oyster Bar at the head of Loch Fyne, stop by Inverary Castle and jail, stopover briefly at the village of Loch Awe and then move on to Oban. Overnight in Oban

DAY #4

Day trip from Oban to Mull (is it worth doing this?)

Stay overnight in Glencoe

DAY #5

Day trips from Glencoe

Stay overnight in Glencoe

DAY #6

Drive from Glencoe to Fort William (return hired car)

Train from Fort William to Mallaig - The Jacobite

Hire a car from Broadford (to be delivered in Armadale at the ferry dock) and drive to Portree

Overnight in Portree

DAY #6

Overnight in Portree

DAY #7

Explore a couple of distilleries (Talisker?)

Late afternoon drive from Portree to Kyle

Return hired car and leave using the Bridge from Kyle along Loch Carron to Inverness (by train)

Overnight in Inverness

DAY #8

Hire a car for day trips from Inverness (to Stonehaven to visit Dunnottar Castle?)

Overnight in Inverness

DAY #9

Day trips from Inverness

Explore a couple of distilleries (Dalmore?, Glenmorangie?)

Overnight in Inverness

DAY #10

Return hired car and take a train from Inverness to Edinburgh

Overnight in Edinburgh

DAY #11

Late afternoon train from Edinburgh to London

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Edinburgh
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1. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

URGENT? Seriously? Your trip is 6 months.

Your plan is ok, its a fair dose of dashing around, but not impossible.

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2. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

Not sure what the urgency is but I would say there is too much travelling with young kids in tow.

Better to stay in one or two places and do day trips.

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3. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

Day 3 is a bit heavy. We've done pretty much the same trip but starting from Glasgow and it was a long day. Not too arduous, but you need plenty of time in reserve to pull over and look at the scenery. Our Glasgow to Oban day was one of our favourites in our trip round the coast a few years back.

Angie

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Georgia
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4. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

A few thoughts...

- You might consider slowing down a bit, a 2 and 5 year old are going to get really tuckered out. Day 2, after a walk around the Castle (and there is a lot to see), a walk down the RM and a walk around Holyrood; they will be wiped out. Not to mention however far the walks to/from the hotel are.

- The kids should enjoy Stirling Castle. It looks and feels like a prototypical castle, smaller and less spread out than Edinburgh Castle. I'd suggest a visit to Inchmahome Priory fairly near Stirling. It's on a small island and a ancient ruin, kind of mystical. Kids could run free a bit and explore, plus they'll like the boat ride over. At the head of Loch Awe is Kilchurn Castle. It's about a 1/2 mile walk out, very picturesque ruined castle. It was open entry when we went, just in case it's getting late. Also, they have lots of wooden steps and platforms that allow you to get pretty high up into the castle. Your 5 year old should enjoy exploring. You could also do a day trip here from Glencoe, but you will be going right by it.

- Not sure Oban holds much interest for kids. There is a candy shop there, which makes really nice chocolates. There is also the Oban Distillery for you.

- One caution on distilleries. Make sure you check! I seem to remember reading that young children are not allowed in. It's not a question of the whisky, its that it can be a very dangerous industrial environment for kids - hot surfaces and unforgiving metal walks and stairs!

- The drive from Inverness to Stonehaven is at least 3 hours, one way. That's a hell of a day trip. I know you've got several train trips and multiple car rentals built in. I'd be more inclined to just rent a car, in Edinburgh and return it there. If you did this, I may or may not spend a night in Inverness. I'd think about spending a couple nights down around Banchory in the Royal Deeside. Maybe visiting around Dufftown, to visit a distillery.

Now if you find child restrictions, here's an idea to consider. The Glenfiddich Distillery and Balvanie Castle are side by side, practically sharing a parking lot in Dufftown. Maybe you could tour the distillery while your family explores the castle? I'd suggest the same at the Queen's Balmoral Castle where they could visit and you could visit the Royal Lochnagar Distillery near Breamar in the Royal Deeside. There are a number of castles in the Deeside. Crathes was my favorite, excellent castle to tour and a very large and grand garden - again great for the kids. Drum and Fraser castles are also excellent and nearby. Drum had a nice garden and Fraser had an excellent playground. All 3 are large estates with lots of parkland to explore and run around.

Dunnottar is a very dramatic castle with about a 1/4 mile walk out. There is a good sized hill to walk down and then up a hill to the castle, then back down and up leaving. That's going to where the kids or the parents carrying them out. If you do this as a daytrip, you are going to ask yourselves why you did it considering a 6 hour round trip.

If you stay in the Royal Deeside, a much more manageable set of day trips. BTW, just south of Banchory there is a river called the Water of Feugh. We were there a couple of June's ago and could see 4 or 5 salmon per minute trying to climb the falls.

Anyway, a couple ideas.

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Stirling
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Edinburgh
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5. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

Thanks everyone for your fantastic suggestions. Very helpful.

Apologies for the subject line. I thought of exploring hotels for the trip and realised that most of the recommended properties from this forum were no longer available. Assumed that people plan well in advance now a days and hence the urgency :-)

@Kevin - Appreciate our detailed inputs. Will incorporate all of them into the plan including avoiding the stay in Inverness

Cheers

Bingley, United...
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6. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

Are you spending time in London before travelling to Scotland - if not consider booking flights from India to Glasgow or Edinburgh (or even Inverness via Amsterdam) . It'll save you a day of your holiday. Same if you aren't spending time in London afterwards.

Don't forget about "multi-city" tickets so you can fly into one UK city from home and back from a different city.

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Glasgow
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Edinburgh
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7. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

Thanks Alanrow. We are indeed spending time in London with friends and family before and after our Scotland trip ...

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8. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

Kevin gives a lot of useful information which even those of us who live here don't have personal experience of so I would take heed of what he says! (Which I think you have)

My advice would be don't try to do too much but do enjoy your trip

Woody x

9. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

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10. Re: URGENT - 11 day vacation (with young kids) to Scotland

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