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Please comment on our itinerary

Singapore
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Please comment on our itinerary

My wife and I are planning to visit London and Scotland in July. Below is a draft itinerary of our Scotland trip. I would appreciate some comments on it.

11/7/2014 (Fri) - Train from London, arrive at Waverley Station in Edinburgh by mid afternoon. Check in B&B.

12/7/2014 (Sat) - Whole day at Edinburgh.

13/7/2014 (Sun) - Collect rental car at Waverlay Station in morning, check out B&B and drive to Glencoe. On the way, stop by Stirling Castle and Callander, and detour to Glen Etive. After check in at B&B, if time permits, drive to Oban. Stay 3 nights at B&B at Glencoe

14/7/2014 (Mon) - Day trip to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

15/7/2014 (Tue) - Day trip to Isle of Skye. Drive to Mallaig via Fort William, and take Ferry to Armadale. Return to Glencoe via Skye Bridge. On the way, stop by Eilean Donan Castle and Fort William.

16/7/2014 (Wed) - Check out B&B and drive to Aviemore via Inverness. On the way, drive along Loch Ness and stop by Urquhart Castle and Inverness. Check in B&B at Aviemore, and stay 2 nights.

17/7/2014 (Thu) - Whole day explore Cairngorms Nation Park.

18/7/2014 (Fri) - Check out B&B and drive to Edinburgh. On the way, stop by Pitlochry and Dunkeld. Return car at Waverley Station in Edinburgh.

19/7/2014 (Sat) - Morning explore Edinburgh. After lunch, check out B&B and get to airport.

In addition, I have some questions:

(1) My wife wanted to visit Duncansby Head, but it's way up north. It's hard to fit into our itinerary. How long does it take to drive from Inverness to Duncansby Head and back? Looks like it will take like 4 hours total. It doesn't seem worthwhile to drive all the way there just to see a cliff. What is your opinion on this?

(2) I left out Glasgow because it doesn't seem appealing to me. We like scenery and historical buildings like castles, but not so much into arts and museums. Glasgow doesn't seem to offer much to what we like. Are we missing anything?

(3) Are there mountains (like Ben Nevis) where we can actually take a cable car or train up to the top? We did so before in France and Switzerland, and my wife would love to do it again.

(4) On the way back to Edinburgh on 18/7/2014 (Fri), possibly late afternoon, would we have a problem with the rush hour? Is it wise to hold on to the car until our last day, and return it at the airport?

(5) Which car rental companies offer competitive rates? I have checked Enterprise and EuropCar, and the latter seems so much more expensive (like 100% more).

Thanks in advance!

Edinburgh, Scotland
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1. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

Like so many first-time visitors, I think you have greatly underestimated the travel times involved in driving in rural Scotland, and the fact that, if you are to see the places and scenery that you mention, you need to actually schedule some time for stops. Much of this itinerary is more tarmac-seeing than sight-seeing.

Specifics:

12th You will find one whole day inadequate for Edinburgh. Time only to glance at a few locations.

13th Waverley isn't a great place to pick up a car, even on a quiet Sunday (and it may not be quiet). Take the express bus or a cab out to the airport - you don't want to get in a car you are not used to and then get lost.

You would be able to get from Edinburgh via Stirling and Callender to Glencoe in a day, and stop for long enough to give the castle the once-over, but going to Oban and back in the evening - even though it will be light until midnight - doesn't make a lot of sense.

14th Now this is crazy - you went through Callander, but you are going to drive practically all the way back there to see the Trossachs. Why not travel through the Trossachs on the 13th, stay at, say, Alexandria overnight, and carry on (possibly even via Oban) to Glencoe this day?

15th You won't see Skye on a day trip. You will drive the length of the Sleat peninsula, maybe pop down to the beach at Elgol for a distant glimpse of the Cuillin, and then rush back to Glencoe the long way round.

16th This is one day that actually works (although you would have seen a significant part of the road on the 15th).

17th This would also work, but you need to decide quite what you want to do!

18th Aviemore to Edinburgh via Pitlochry/Dunkeld and Perth is fine, but again far easier to return to airport location

19th A little more time to see a few of the things you missed in Edinburgh makes sense

Duncansby Head - not a drive I can recall ever doing but even the ever-over-optimistic Google says Inverness-Duncansby will need 2h40 each way. So 6 hours plus stopping time for the round trip. I wouldn't have thought it worth it.

Glasgow has a very different scenic setting than many cities - and it most definitely is scenic. True, the main cultural attractions are its museums, but there is much of architectural interest, not least items related to Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

There are chairlifts primarily for winter skiing at various locations, most notably probably being the one at Cairngorm, where there is also a funicular railway to take you to the highest point.

If you come into Edinburgh from the west during the late afternoon, you will be going the opposite way to the main traffic flow, but the west side of Edinburgh is notoriously busy, even though it isn't as bad as some places!

My employer has an account with Europcar so I usually hire from them for personal purposes, too. I've found them very satisfactory.

Edinburgh, Scotland
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2. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

Long post above, but to sum up:

A week is a reasonable amount of time to spend simply based in Edinburgh, working in day or half-day trips to some selection from Fife and St Andrews, Stirling and the Trossachs, Perth and Pitlochry, Glasgow, Linlithgow, the Tweed valley, the Berwickshire coast, and of course outlying attractions such as Rosslyn Chapel.

Alternatively, with seven days (eight nights) you could spend, say, two full days (so three nights) on Skye, which with reasonably practical full days travelling to and fro, giving room for stops at one or two attractions en route, would leave two full days and a bit to take in a reasonable selection of what Edinburgh has to offer.

In short, you need to be selective or all you will see of Scotland is tarmac.

Singapore
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3. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

Thanks John, for your comments. I will review my itinerary based on your comments.

One thing I'm not so sure about is your suggestion to pick up the car from the airport. From the airport, will we have an easier time find our way and not getting lost?

Also, we have to check out that day with out luggage, so that is a lot of things to carry with. If we take a cab to the airport, how much would it cost?

If we take bus, is there one from near Waverley Station directly to the airport?

Manchester, United...
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4. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

" From the airport, will we have an easier time find our way and not getting lost?" - Yes!

"If we take bus, is there one from near Waverley Station directly to the airport?" - yes, every ten minutes.

Edinburgh, Scotland
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5. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

The point about the airport is that it is on the west side - exactly the direction you want to go in - with a limited-access, well-signposted, divided highway taking you to a major motorway intersection. You will completely avoid city traffic and it will be hard to get lost. Furthermore, because of the dedicated lanes in the city, the bus or a taxi will probably get you to the airport more quickly than you can drive yourself there. The new tram system from the city centre to the airport might even be running by July - I forget the exact schedule.

The airport express bus leaves from Waverley Bridge adjacent Waverley Station; the tram if running will stop on Princes Street in the same area. There is also a slower but very inexpensive city bus route (number 35) that serves other parts of the city centre from the airport. Airport express and probably tram £4 per person per ride; city bus £3.50 per person for an all-day ticket.

A taxi will cost £20-£25 from the city centre depending on the exact location, traffic conditions etc.

Singapore
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6. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

Thanks John, that was very helpful. There is indeed an airport express bus, and it runs every 10 minutes. The journey is 30 minutes. I found from the following web site.

lothianbuses.com/timetables-tickets-maps/…100

Singapore
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7. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

I think we may as well leave Aviemore on the last day (19th) morning, and drive to the airport without going into Edinburgh. Our flight is close to 5pm so we have plenty of time.

Tampere, Finland
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8. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

Actually your itinerary is not so bad, if you want, like I, driving around and make some short stops away.

I have visited Scotland three times in last couple of years (and next will be this april), and have done some driving in a day maybe even more longer than you have plan..

But still John have very good points:

13th EDI -> Stirling -> Trossachs -> Glencoe

15th Glencoe -> Skye -> Glencoe, you dont have time to see Skye at all (only southern coast of it)..

Scotland is beautiful country, so have a great trip.

Singapore
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9. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

Hi guys, here is updated itinerary. This time we arrive a day earlier. We will spend one more day in Edinburgh and Portree.

10/7/2014 (Thu) - Train from London, arrive at Waverley Station in Edinburgh by mid afternoon. Check in B&B. Rest of the day explore Edinburgh.

11/7/2014 (Fri) - Whole day at Edinburgh.

12/7/2014 (Sat) - Whole day at Edinburgh.

13/7/2014 (Sun) - Check out B&B, take airport express bus to airport to pick up car. Drive to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. On the way, stop by Stirling Castle (and Callander?). Stay at a B&B near Loch Lomond.

14/7/2014 (Mon) - Check out B&B, drive to Glencoe. On the way, detour to Glen Etive to have a look.

15/7/2014 (Tue) - Check out B&B, drive to Fort William, then on to Mallaig and take Ferry to Armadale. Check in B&B at Portree. Rest of the day explore Isle of Skye.

16/7/2014 (Wed) - Whole day explore Isle of Skye.

17/7/2014 (Thu) - Check out B&B, and drive to Aviemore. Drive through Skye Bridge. On the way, stop by Eilean Donan Castle, Urquhart Castle along Loch Ness and Inverness. Check in B&B at Aviemore.

18/7/2014 (Fri) - Whole day explore Cairngorms Nation Park.

19/7/2014 (Sat) - Check out B&B and drive to airport. On the way, stop by Pitlochry and Dunkeld. Return car at airport and check in for flight home.

For 13/7/2014, which is the better route from Stirling Castle to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and where should we stay for the night?

Manchester, United...
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10. Re: Please comment on our itinerary

It's looking good. Make sure you book the Mallaig - Skye ferry in advance. Have a great trip!