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Scotland: standing stones

Santa Barbara...
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Scotland: standing stones

My husband and I are fond of visiting standing stones and other prehistoric monuments. This June we plan to go to Scotland for 2 weeks, visiting Edinburgh for about 3 days, then Skye, Harris and Lewis, and Orkney. We plan to rent a car and drive from Edinburgh to Skye, since I gather this route is particularly beautiful. After this I'm not clear whether we should keep the same car or hop around by plane, renting cars on the different islands. How easy is it to drop off a rental car in some of these small places? Is there a route that makes possible the best plane connections? Thanks for any advice!

Manchester, United...
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1. Re: Scotland: standing stones

It's virtually impossible to drop off a hire car on any of the islands. Your best bet would be to travel from Edinburgh to Skye by train or Citylink coach, and pick up a hire car when you get there. Take the car across to Lewis and Harris via the Calmac ferry from Uig to Tarbert, and drop it off back on Skye when you are ready to go on to Orkney.

You can travel from Skye to Orkney by train, starting from Kyle of Lochalsh, on the mainland side of the Skye Bridge, and changing trains at Inverness for Thurso.

When you get to Orkney, you can hire a car locally. Then the best plan would probably be to fly directly back to Edinburgh from Orkney.

Hope this is useful.

Santa Barbara...
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2. Re: Scotland: standing stones

Thanks. You've saved me a lot of time trying to get in touch with rental car companies there!

Stanley, Falkland...
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3. Re: Scotland: standing stones

Hi, While I agree Dhmellor's suggestions are good, I think its also worth considering hiring a car in Edinburgh for the whole period.

Sure you'll have ferry fares, but you won't have flights. The bonuses include the flexibility of going and stopping where YOU want, and the drive around the north-west from Skye to the ferry Scrabster has some of Scotland's best scenery (including Skye).

You could even return from Lewis to Ullapool, but that, too would omit a fair chunk of scenery.

Do look out for the brochs in Glenelg overlooking Skye. If you were to chop anything from the trip, I'd say that Lewis/Harris are not in the same league as Orkney in terms of ancient monuments.

Edinburgh, Scotland
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4. Re: Scotland: standing stones

If you are truly interested in visiting standing stones and other prehistoric monuments then you really have to include the Kilmartin area in Argyll in your itinerary. This is part of the cradle of civilisation of Scotland. Search on Kilmartin and also look up http://www.kilmartin.org and educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandshistory/ea… as a start point.

Santa Barbara...
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5. Re: Scotland: standing stones

Thank you all for your local knowledge! I am now planning on including Kilmartin, which looks wonderful, and probably driving the whole route. However the route around the top of Scotland is long and, I imagine, rather bleak. If we did take the ferry from Lewis to Ullapool (missing some of the wonderful west coast scenery) and then driving to Inverness, what are the chances of returning the hire car there and flying to Orkney, where we would rent another car, then fly back to Edinburgh?

Stanley, Falkland...
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6. Re: Scotland: standing stones

"Bleak"? Not really. I have met several nationalities on holiday there, saying its among the best scenery in Europe.

Have peek at some photos of Ben Loyal or Suilven.

But no doubt your plan is possible.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Scotland: standing stones

It's a spectacular drive around the north of Scotland. I did this with my then 76 year- old parents and we enjoyed it. We were circling out of Inverness and made two night stops. But we were going a slow route in the west and stopping to tour in places like Inverewe Gardens. The geology is breath-taking.

There is an interesting book by Cameron McNeish and Richard Else called The Sutherland Trail that is about their trip through western Sutherland.

Pam

Edinburgh...
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8. Re: Scotland: standing stones

If you do want to examine flight options, this would be a good starting point, covering a number of the smaller airports.

http://www.hial.co.uk/

There are also seaplanes based on Loch Lomond. http://www.lochlomondseaplanes.com

Private charter flights are possible but less affordable than scheduled, obviously.

The west coast north of Skye includes Torridon, Loch Maree, Inverewe, An Teallach, some of the grandest scenery in Scotland and further north Stac Pollaidh, Foinaven, Arkle, Suilven, Quinag, isolated mountains rearing out of a water and rock surface, some of the oldest rocks in existence. Some might call it bleak. I wouldn't. The road from Ullapool to Kinlochbervie has a lot to offer. The country on the East coast (Wick to Thurso) is perhaps less exciting; maybe that's where you've come across 'bleak'.

The problem is you would need to take time for that journey to be worthwhile, and you may be in a rush because of the attractions of Orkney. A difficult decision.

Edinburgh...
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9. Re: Scotland: standing stones

If you're going to Kilmartin by road, one way would be to turn left on Loch Lomond, at Tarbet. The road then wends west and south, before turning northwards up the coast through Kilmartin on its way to Oban. From there you can continue northwards to Ballachulish near Glencoe, and you're back on the main route through Fort William. This is a beautiful way of exploring the west coast, and as dedinburgh has said, Kilmartin (and its museums and relics) are fantastic evidence of the cradle of Scottish civilisation.

This is a much slower route than driving straight up the A82, but probably not much different were you to go northwards then turn south through Oban to Kilmartin. But the road's so much more enjoyable and there are lots of castles, gardens, foodie places. So much to do, you'd need a couple of days if you stop a lot.

Manchester, United...
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10. Re: Scotland: standing stones

OP, in answer to your question 'If we did take the ferry from Lewis to Ullapool (missing some of the wonderful west coast scenery) and then driving to Inverness, what are the chances of returning the hire car there and flying to Orkney, where we would rent another car, then fly back to Edinburgh?'

......it's a good plan, IMO. You will be able to get a one-way car hire from Edinburgh to Inverness Airport. Try Arnold Clark or any of the big international firms.