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Scotland By Train in May 2012

Cullman, Alabama
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Scotland By Train in May 2012

I would like to ask about using British Rail to see parts of Scotland in a 9-10 day period. I would fly into Edinburgh and spend a few days there then I would be off (depending on train schedules) in some direction and though I'm not sure which and need some suggestions from fellow TA members to form my first intinerary.

It appears to me that British Rail does hassome routes that would allow us to see sights around Oban and Ft William as well as heading in the other direction to Sterling and on to Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen or Inverness or to the kyle of Lochalsh but where will I need other assistance such as a cab, bus or hiring a car?

I do know that Scotland is best seen by car so I wondered about using the train as my main way to get around and hiring a car when I get to an area I wish to explore more. Is this doable and if so where and where not in May 2012.

Can my fellow TA members please give us some pointers and if Scotland is enjoyable or adoable trip by train because we can look at other places in Europe where train service is a better way to see a country though Scotland appears to have a good train system.

One goal for Scotland would be too see some of the Natural Beauty but without missing some of the historic sites and castles located all across the country. We also would hope to spend the night in a castle but have no idea what iis the best route(s) are to take a train to see Scotland.

Thank you for your help and Happy Holidays.

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1. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

I'd disagree with your statement about a car being better. Public transport allows you to concentrate on the views, not the tarmac.

A simple route would be to go up the west coast to Skye then loop over and back down the east coast.

If you head from Edinburgh to Glasgow, then up to Mallaig. Potentially stopping at Loch Lomond or Fort William on route. Then spend a few days on Skye, then jump on the bus to Kyle of Lochalsh, catch the train over to Inverness and then down through the Cairngorms to Edinburgh.

By my rough estimate if you allow for 7 days, you could do it somelike

1 - Head from Edinbugh to Loch Lomond/Fort William

2 - Head to Skye

3 - Skye

4 - Skye

5 - Skye to Inverness, then onto to somewhere like Aviemore/Pitlochry/Perth

6 - To Stirling

7 - To Edinburgh

Its quite travel heavy, and more than I'd normally suggest, but if you want views, its worth it spending time on the trains

england
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2. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

I have hired a car for one day on Mull, Orkney and other islnds so you could hire a car for your two/three days on Skye, this would be better than driving there as the ferries are expensive with a vehicle. The train journey from Fort William to Mallaig is breathtaking.

Manchester, United...
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3. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

OP, you write 'I wondered about using the train as my main way to get around and hiring a car when I get to an area I wish to explore more. Is this doable?'

Yes, it's very doable - indeed, it's one of the best ways of seeing Scotland, because you get the best of both worlds: sit back and enjoy the view on the scenic rail routes, and then pick up a hire car when you arrive, so that you can explore properly.

Are your 'few days' in Edinburgh included within your ten days, or are they additional? I hope they are additional; even if they are, I wouldn't recommend trying to visit all the other places you list in ten days.

Stirling is an easy and short day trip from Edinburgh by train. Then you could take the train to Oban and have, say, three days touring Mull and Iona by local hire car. Then take a train from Oban to Mallaig, cross to Skye and pick up another local hire car. After another three days-ish, drop off hire car and take train from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness and then back to Edinburgh. That would take you on some of Scotland's most scenic railway lines.

Cullman, Alabama
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4. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

Thank you for your comments. As a couple in their 50's, it would be nice not to drive for once. Since we are just planning the initial agenda, I need further suggestions on any destination put in and which to take out. I also need to know where the train station is a long way from town and a cab would be needed.

While I havent looked at the rail schedules yet, I did notice most routes looked solid but was a bit more worried about frequency of schedule with some trains. Reading that the train from Ft. William to Mallaig is Breath taking makes that a Must Do and I have always heard that skye (or the trip there) is simply beautiful plus I key to see one of the more popular castles.

I have only seen photos of Oban and were wondering about seeing Oban, Mull and Iona and how many days I should allow to see them. Sterling I could do either by a bus tour or by train on my way to a different place. I don't yet know much about Mull or Iona except the pictures I have seen of the Abby.

As for Edinburgh, I want to spend at least 2 full days there Minimally preferrably 3 days how ever I do not want to be rushed but this will be my starting and returning point. I hear Edinburgh is just fantastic.

Now a few more questions if I may. How is travel and the weather in Late May? While one can't see everything, is there any "Must Sees" that I am overlooking? Also after seeing an area, is there anywhere I should take a PM train to get to another place to start the next day ready to go?

Happy New Year to You!

Manchester, United...
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5. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

UK weather is famously unpredictable, but in late May you will have no problems with travel, and the weather is often quite dry and sunny at that time, especially in western Scotland.

As for 'must sees', I'm not very good at those, and one person's 'must see' can be another's 'must avoid'! However, you mention natural beauty, historic sites and castles, and if you do Edinburgh, Stirling, Skye and Mull/Iona you'll be able to visit a fair few of those.

Don't worry about taxis into town from the rail stations mentioned above - Oban and Fort William are small towns with centrally located rail stations, and Mallaig and Kyle of Lochalsh are barely more than villages.

Scotland, United...
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6. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

Strange when people recommend routes around Scotland they invariably miss out Aberdeenshire, which has some beautiful countryside and castles. Remember Queen Victoria found Balmoral and the Royals have been coming ever since for holidays. It's one our our present Queen's favourite places. So please don't forget to give us a visit. Lots on offer in Aberdeenshire and not quite so "in your face" as some of the other very well worn touristy places.

Elie, United Kingdom
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7. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

I find Aberdeenshire a minefield of minor roads and therefore tend to miss it our from places to visit for tourists from abroad. Basically it seems to take forever to go from A to B when driving in the rural part of the county. Sorry F.J. - thats just my opinion. Most people have limited time (even too limited to take advantage of all the major "attractions") - so Aberdeenshire, sadly, is well down the list.

W

:-((

Edinburgh, United...
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8. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

Hi!

Late May is a fabulous time to travel! Probably the best time if the year (for me, anyway!). The daylight hours are long and the weather tends to be fair, but the midges are not yet out to bite you! The railways on the west coast are spectacular, Glasgow-mallaig and Kyle-Inverness routes are unmissable, in my opinion. The rail timetable looks a little sparse but the connections tend to work, and the rail service is generally incredibly reliable (freak rock falls or flooding/snow notwithstanding).

I don't know enough about the Aberdeenshire area to pass comment, not somewhere I have been tempted to explore, in all my years of travelling around Scotland. My one foray to Ballarer was nice and it is a pretty area.

Abs :)

Scotland, United...
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9. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

Aberdeenshire is the really beautiful and unspoilt jewel in the crown of Scotland and not difficult to get to or travel around. Aberdeen is the Oil Capital of Europe and a lovely city and a good base to stay to travel by road or train to some wonderful castles, museums and breathtaking countryside.

My daughter and her husband visited a small but beautiful Castle near Turriff last May and where amazed to find that they were the only visitors that particular time of the day and where delighted to meet the owner who agreed to give them a guided tour himself. After hearing this we visited too and found it such a lovely place steeped in history.

I think it's high time people (including the Scots) discovered the charm of Aberdeenshire for themselves and stopped treading the well worn and over hyped touristy haunts... New Year, new experiences please.

Elie, United Kingdom
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10. Re: Scotland By Train in May 2012

Yes - I agree BUT if you only have one trip to Scotland its likely that your beautfiul part of the world will be missed due to the fact that MOST people want to see the well worn and over hyped touristy haunts! Perhaps Aberdeen Torist board needs to raise its profile?

W x