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Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

Seattle
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Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

Hi all, I'm planning a 7 day trip to Scotland in Feb. Yes, yes, I know it's going to be terrible and freezing (last time I visited it was also Feb), but this just happens to be when the trip worked out.

The travelers include 4 adults (two of us are whisky lovers) and 2 preschool-age children. We fly in and out of Edinburgh, and we're renting a minivan.

My question is: I plan to make Edinburgh our first home base (my parents have never visited Edinburgh, so there will be lots for them to see). I'd then like to pick 1 or possibly 2 other towns to serve as a home base for the remaining 4 days. I'd like to pick a whisky-producing region, and my dad and I like the peaty stuff, but it seems like getting to Islay is a bit of a task. I'm leaning toward heading up to the Speyside area. I don't need distilleries/tasting rooms to be the main focus of our trip (my mom and husband aren't such fans), but I'd like to at least spend one day visiting two or so interesting distilleries. My mom is interested in good walking opportunities and we're all interested in castles and coastlines. I've just begun digging into the undiscoveredscotland website, but just curious: if you were in my shoes, which other city or town might you choose as a home base after Edinburgh? With two preschoolers, I'd like to keep long-driving days to a minimum.

Thanks, y'all. Happy new year!

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1. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

Don't hire a vehicle until you LEAVE Edinburgh

Check which distilleries will be open in February

Then I'd start thinking about areas - BTW what will the children do while you are in a distillery?

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2. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

If you want to keep kids and grandparents occupied, and have access to Speyside, look at Aviemore.

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3. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

Given Aviemore is a skiing are, your visit might coincide with half-term therefore Aviemore might be busy. Not all schools will take the same dates - but 15-23 February 2014 seems about right.

Elgin gives access to the coast (long walks on sandy beaches, cliff tops.) as well as the more northern Speyside distilleries. Not geared up to visitors in the same way Aviemore is. In fact, in February, it might be rather quiet.

If you haven't yet committed to dates, the last week of February would avoid the worst of other kids getting under your feet. 2 of your own are quite enough.

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4. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

Look at the Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore. I think its owned by Hilton. Its very geared up for families and will give you activities for the long dark evenings when you can't get out

Edited: 03 January 2014, 16:06
Seattle
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5. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

Thanks all, this is helpful. Yes, I was a little concerned about places being closed in Feb., so I'll be sure to check first. I'm thinking the kids will stay and play with grandma while we hit up the distilleries. I'm only planning on doing that one day, though. We're fine with finding things very quiet - this is a bit of a reunion of sorts, so our #1 priority is just spending time together and letting the kids play with grandma and grandpa. I've done a lot of sightseeing in Europe recently, and I'm content to just take it easy this trip. But this is my parents' first visit to Scotland, so I'd like them to feel like they actually got to see a bit of it.

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6. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

We stayed near Aviemore at Boat of Garten in April, all the distilleries where closed. We did ask in the Tourist Board and were told the Distilleries where open from May, we were told that Tomatin was open and drove there, only to find it was closed.

We where only in the area for the weekend, it was cold an snowy and their was not much opened as it was off season.

On the other hand Edinburgh and it's attractions are open all the year around and you children will not be bored.

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7. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

There's been a recent thread with a link entitled "Are distilleries open in February" so if you search back a couple of pages you'll be able to follow the link which you may find helpful. I would suggest Speyside as being a good area to visit but perhaps base yourselves in Nairn or Forres or even Inverness.. they rarely get snowed in so if the weather turns nasty you would still be able to something! Have a look at the Greater Speyside website which gives you an overview of the geography of the area and proximity to distilleries, towns, castles etc. You may think about just getting the train to Inverness and hiring a car from there. Culloden Visitor centre is open all year I think and with a large indoor display may save you if the weather is bad though sometimes February can be OK.

Regards

Woody x

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8. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

Aviemore would get my vote too! If you're there during or after school half term holidays things should be opening. There's walking for all abilities and distilleries in the area, plus some stunning scenery to give your parents a taste of Scotland. You definitely don't need a hire car in Edinburgh itself, it will be more trouble than its worth!

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9. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

The A9 north to Speyside in February can be a hit and miss if you are not used to snow and adverse weather / road conditions, so also bear in mind the area around Pitlochry / Blair Atholl as a second choice. There you have a couple of distilleries,(Blair Atholl in Pitlochry and Dalwhinnie slightly further north on the A9) but the smallest distillery in Pirlochry is Edradour will be closed in February. You can also visit Blair Castle, Killiecrankie and you could also spend time in the House or Bruar for coffee / shopping if the weather closes in.

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10. Re: Suggestions for second home base after Edinburgh?

Think Blair Castle is closed in February?