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Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

Toronto, Ontario
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Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

Hi there! I am in the VERY preliminary stages of planning (dreaming about :) ) a trip to Scotland and could use some pointers on where to focus my research. It will be my wife and I on a one to two week trip (to be determined) between June and August. We want to see a good amount of "natural Scotland" as well as some city exploring, and beer hunting (we are beer geeks like to try new beers in our travels) We like hiking but are (to be honest) kind of out of shape right now. Hopefully that will change before the trip but we shall see :) I expect we will spend 1-2 days each in Glasgow and Edinburgh

Nature:

- I'd like to visit at least one (or both) of Loch Lommond NP and Cairngorms.

- I like the idea of visiting Balmoral and the area but this is largely based on the Royal connection, and scenery from The Queen movie!

- I'd like to see at least some of the coastal shoreline

- I saw a Land Rover tour of Atholl estates on the Visit Scotland website. That seemed like possibly a good way to get out beyond where our out of shape legs might take us! Any suggestions for tours similar to that?

Any suggestions for hikes and/or tours to see those parks, or other must see scenery would be much appreciated.

Castles/Buildings: Dunrobin, Doune (Monty python!), Stirling, Culzean, Haddo House, Duff House and Dunnotar all caught my initial interest.

Sports: Depending on timing (e.g. if we are there during the season) I'd like to try and go to and SPL football game, or possibly a rugby game. Any suggestions for games outside of the usual big names would be great. Any particularly fun/special stadiums or fields to visit for a match?

Isle of Skye - It has been recommended to me, and I am curious about it. Is it the scenery that draws people? What distinguishes it from say the eastern coast?

Whisky - I don't drink whisky but I am sort of inclined to maybe visit a distillery nonetheless. Is there one that has a particularly good visitor experience? I have done a ton of brewery and winery tours and expect it to be similar.

Any tips for great cheese, food/drink etc. in the areas I've mentioned?

Thanks in advance!

Brechin, United...
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1. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

June for three reasons, no school holidays, longer nights and Balmoral is closed from late July(HM on her holidays).

Fife, Scotland
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2. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

Are you driving?

Mid to late June seems a good time, as the pesky midges are not so bad

One whisky distillery will do it, as they are much the same

Don’t know if of any interest but here is a list of highland games

www.shga.co.uk/events.php

If swamp soccer interests you www.swampsoccer.co.uk/

More driving experiences

www.perthshireoffroad.co.uk/

driving-experience.knockhill.com/index.php

or for something different

tankdrivingscotland.com/driving-experiences/…

Crathie
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3. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

Living so close to it, I am all for encouraging people to visit Balmoral Castle but I try to make everyone aware that there is only one room in the castle which is open to the public. There are exhibitions in the stables area and the grounds and gardens are open, but the ballroom is the only part of the castle which may be viewed by the public. The rest is closed. So, unless you are a fan of all things royal you might want to consider your options where Balmoral is concerned.

That said, they do run Land Rover safaris which might be of interest to you and I believe purchasing a ticket for one of these means you get access to the ballroom, grounds and gardens included in the price, though you might want to check that if you book such a tour.

Balmoral website is

www.balmoralcastle.com

and a site for Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms National Park is

www.visitroyaldeeside.com

Interestingly filming locations for The Queen which represented Balmoral Castle and the estate were Culzean Castle and Blairquhan Castle in South Ayrshire, Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire and Glenfeshie Estate, Kincraig.

Somerset
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4. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

For your Royal connection you may know but Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh is still used for some occasions but open. Always check when the Royal family is there and it will be closed. Not to mention the Royal Yacht which had me spellbound.

Haddington, United...
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5. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

If you are coming this year you better get your plans made soon' as we have the Commonwealth Games & The Scottish Homecoming this year. Early June would be best for the reasons already mentioned and it is also generally our best weather, August being the 'Rainy Season'

Toronto, Ontario
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6. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

Thanks for all the replies so far!

Damn! I had forgotten about the Commonwealth games! I had originally hoped to go and abandoned the idea when I didn't get tickets right away. Will it be busy all over or mostly just around Glasgow?

What is the story with the Homecoming?

Stonehaven, United...
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7. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

Ooh if you're already considering seeing Dunnottar castle I will whet your beery appetite with this pub in Stonehaven - http://www.marinehotelstonehaven.co.uk/

This is my favourite pub here. The food is excellent and the beer selection is mental. They have a microbrewery so have their own cask stuff on, as well as hundreds of bottles of Belgian beer (they have a menu!)

You could walk along the cliffs to the castle, then walk back and have dinner and a pint in the Marine, which is in the harbour area. Castle, Coast and Beer all in a oner!! It's a lovely spot.

More info on Stonehaven here: http://www.stonehavenguide.net/

Also it's a really good location if you are interested in travelling on to Royal Deeside, Balmoral, Cairngorms etc. Heading out that way there's another castle called Crathes just before Banchory (20 mins driving from Stonehaven) which is really good for visitors.

We went to Doune last year for the Monty Pythoness and the audio tour you get is excellent. Narrated by Terry Jones with loads of info on the film :)

The football season will mainly be over, but depending when you come you might get some friendly games going on.

Have fun planning your trip!

Toronto, Ontario
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8. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

Still haven't booked anything but I am looking at a potential itinerary. I think this is probably too long and too busy and would love some comments. Aiming to arrive end of June now if it works out.

1. Fly into Glasgow

2. Glasgow

3. Glasgow to Callander

On the way: Falkirk Wheel, Stirling castle, Bridge of Allan Brewery, Doune Castle, Lade Inn

4. Loch Lomond area

While There: Fyne Ales - I'm actually considering skipping Loch Lomond now as I haven't really found anything that particularly excites me, and the time could be used for other walks etc later in the trip.

5. Fort William (approximately 3 hr drive from Callander area)

While There: Hike to Steall falls near Glen Nevis

6. FW to Isle of Skye (Approx 3 hour drive via Maillaig and ferry)

On the Way: Glenfinnan Viaduct, Mallaig, Ferry to Skye. Is an hour or two enough for a very quick tour of Mallaig?

7. Isle of Skye (2 days? 1.5 and sleep in Aviemore?)

While there: just general touring? I have no firm plans. Stuff interests me but there are no big "must do"s here for me so I'm tempted to skip it.

8. Skye to Aviemore (approx 3.5hrs drive w/ no stops)

On the Way: Stop at loch ness? (That's probably a lot to do given the length of the drive)

While There: Cairngorms brewery, hiking in Cairngorms park, other?

9. Ballater

While There: Balmoral. Stay in Ballater for a night rather than trying to do it all from Aviemore and puts us closer to Aberdeen the next day. Is two days in this area too much or just right for a nice hike or two and seeing Balmoral?

10. Ballater > Aberdeen

On the Way: Haddo House, spend afternoon and evening in Aberdeen

11. Aberdeen to Stonehaven

While there: Dunnotar Castle and Marine Hotel

12. Stonehaven to Pitlochry (2hrs driving + stops)

Aberlemno stones en route, Moulin Hotel brewery, possibly Stay at AirBNB farmhouse?

13. Pitlochry/Aberfeldy

While There: Range rover safari? Hike Schiehallion area? TBD

14. Pitlochry to Edinburgh 1.25 hours

An early start would mean having almost a full day in Edinburgh

15. Edinburgh

16. Fly Edinburgh to Toronto

Is this too much? There are definitely days with a lot of driving.

I am thinking the day 4 could possibly be cut, skipping Loch Lomond but I'm worried that we may not feel up for the hike to Steall Falls after a three hour drive to Fort William. That might depend on how early we can get started as well.

I'm tempted to drop Skye as an obvious way to cut some days but it is consistently recommended. I could compress some other sections to allow for it (e.g. around Aberdeen), but the fact that we want to visit pubs in the area limits the driving that can happen after obviously!

Any suggestions on how to best do the Cairngorms section?

Thanks in advance!

9. Re: Early Stages of Planning Scotland Trip

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