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Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

Malvern...
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Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

My husband and I are interested in traveling to the UK in late spring or late summer/early fall 2015. We are senior citizens in good health. We are not interested in taking package tours where we are part of a group of 40 Americans getting a sanitized version of the country. We plan to fly from the US to London and spend 3 days there before flying or taking a train to Edinburgh. We would like to have only 2 or 3 bases while in Scotland for our 10 days there. We hate packing up and moving constantly. We would prefer to get to know fewer places on a more intimate level. A series of day trips from our base would be fine. We are primarily interested in fantastic scenery and history/art. We are not into difficult hiking/climbing but some 6-10 mile walks would be fine. I would love to see some of the isles. Since we've never been to Scotland and most likely will not get back (there are other bucket list items), what are some suggested places to see? We are not interested in trying to cram in the maximum in a short time. Should we rent a car? Public transport? Should we take some 1-2 day trips with local companies like Timberbush or Rabbie's? We want to be economical but it's also a drag to keep your head buried in a guide book or a road map when a guide can save you time and enrich the experience. Also, what is acceptable dress in the cities vs the countryside? We want to pack essentials and not be weighed down with stuff we won't use. Thanks for any help you can offer.

boston, ma
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for Western Ireland
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1. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

We just returned from a 9 day trip to Scotland. We used Edinburgh as a base for most of the time. We chose not to rent a car and relied on train travel. Most people advise you not to have a car in Edinburgh itself. You can do nice train trips out of Edinburgh to such places as Stirling, St. Andrews, and North Berwick. We took the one day bus tour called Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, and the Trossachs which is offered by both Rabbies and Timberbush. Both tours give a senior discount. We also took the bus to Rosslyn Chapel for a half day trip. The highlight of our trip was our ride on the West Highland Train line from Glasgow to Fort William to Mallaig. It has been voted the most scenic train ride in the world. There are hiking trails around Fort William, but I'm not sure how strenuous they are. Once the train reaches Mallaig you can take a ferry to the Isle of Skye. Of course, if you chose to rent a car you can explore the Highlands and the Isle of Skye at your own pace.

Edited: 02 August 2014, 14:17
Malvern...
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2. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

Thank you so much. This is very helpful, indeed. Would you recommend going the same time of year that you went? We are retired and are flexible. Also, any hints on how to pack?

boston, ma
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for Western Ireland
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3. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

We went the first and second week of July. The weather was in the 60s and cloudy most days. But it didn't stop us from enjoying every minute. We tried to avoid August because it is so busy with tourists, and the hotel prices skyrocket. As far as packing, we packed a few sweatshirts and light jackets and that was plenty. All that being said, it can also be warm in July. Be prepared to pay twice as much in restaurants as we do in the States. The biggest surprise of all was how friendly and helpful the Scottish people are. Have a great trip.

Edited: 02 August 2014, 16:40
glasgow scotland
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for Glasgow
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4. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

The reason hotel prices would have been expensive is because of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow which finish on Sunday and in Edinburgh the Festival, otherwise prices are fairly constant.

As for eating out it depends what your expectations are and how much you are willing to pay, there are plenty of cheap eats out there like Pre Theatre or Pub Grub.

I was in Hawaii earlier this year and our expectation of cheap dining was blown out the water as we found prices were very high.

glasgow
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for Scotland
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5. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

Edinburgh is expensive and mobbed in August because of the Festival.Anywhere else, prices and crowds are the same as any other summer month.

Hire a car.

As a rule, the further west and northwest you go,including out to the islands, the more beautiful the scenery.

Bases including Torridon, Skye and perhaps Mull/Iona would allow you to see some wonderful and varied areas.Or include Harris instead of the southern Hebrides.Miles of empty shell sand beaches to wander,though many of the islands (except Skye) offer that.

Google some images to see where most appeals.City dress is casual.Even in five star restaurants,mostly, smart casual is the norm.For everywhere, have layers for warmth and waterproofs.

Scotland
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for Scotland
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6. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

I'd think about traveling in May or June. Schools break up at the end of June and that's when things get busier and ferries get booked up. You mention the islands.

www.calmac.co.uk is what you need to plan an island hopping trip

In mid June you'll get daylight in the north of Scotland till midnight. It's a great time to go a you can sightsee well into the evening.

That's not to say the weather will be good. It's very unpredictable at any time of year.

Bring layers.

Malvern...
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7. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

Thanks again. I want to minimize the packing we do and maximize what we get for our Euros. Your comments are very helpful.

Malvern...
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8. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

Good points. I will make sure to avoid festival crowds and added costs. We are not going for the food. We went to Bologna for that :-) I'm a vegetarian, well really a "pescatarian". If worse comes to worse, I can exist on fish. Thanks for your insights

Malvern...
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9. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

Thank for the great advice. I have good waterproof clothing from previous trips. We definitely want to visit some of the islands--so many choices--good tip to check photos and see what is most appealing. I am drawn to the isolated with a strong history.

Malvern...
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10. Re: Itinerary and transportation options for 10 days

Thanks for the ferry link as well as the reminder about school holidays and long days. I haven't been to the UK in some time and so have forgotten how long the days can be in summer. It's almost like having a longer holiday since you have more hours of daylight. Now, if only I had matching energy :-)