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Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

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Newport, Oregon
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Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

Hello All:

I will be enlisting the services of CIE Tours for a women's tour of Scotland in September 2012. This will be my 4th year in a row with CIE - the first 3 were to Ireland, and I cannot speak highly enough of their services / drivers. I like to plan my own custom itineraries, however, I have not traveled to Scotland before, so it has been a little slow going...

My plan is Glasgow (MacIntosh fan), Oban, Iona, Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh. I was reading the forum and one person said to just skip Aberdeen altogether...YIKES!

I have no feel yet for travel times in Scotland, but fully recognize that a few inches on a map can mean hours on the coach...

Keeping in mind that some of these women are much more interested in shopping, eating & drinking than they are in historic relevance, and that's fine with me - we need to strike a balance!

I'd be most appreciative of the following info...

1. There are so many castles, which are the very best - both ruins / rustic and more polished castles within the confines of the above itinerary.

2. Is Iona worth the day's travel for a group of women?

3. How does one get back to Edinburgh from Inverness without traveling the eastern coast? And if not Aberdeen, where?

Thanks so much for any constructive info!

Susan

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1. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

You don't say how long your holiday will be. That will help.

You've chosen an odd route. Lots of driving - 4 cities (although maybe that's good for the shoping) and Iona, which is quite far west.

Without knowing more about your trip and why you chose Scotland - a few thoughts.

Castles - if it's a short trip and a mixed bag of women hit the big iconic ones. Edinburgh castle, Blair Castle, Eilean Donan castle. That should be more than enough for those with a passing interest.

Iona - depends how long you have - I wouldn't say it's a must-see but if you're here for a couple of weeks - maybe.

I'd include

the Trossachs

Glencoe

Skye

Most visitors want to see Loch Ness. If so drive to Urquhart Castle for a good look at the loch.

Skip Aberdeen - why did you want to go there? Possibly there's something you haven't mentioned?

Travel back to Edinburgh on the A9, taking in

Pitlochry/Dunkeld

House of Bruar - just north of Pitlochry - I think it's got all the shopping a visitor to Scotland could want

Glasgow, United...
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2. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

In answer to point 3, by far the most attractive route from Inverness south is via the A82:

* Towards Fort William, along-side the Caledonian Canal for most of the route.

* Then Fort William to Glasgow, via Glen Coe, Rannoch Moor, Loch Lomond - heading south means along Loch Lomond from Crianlarich so your group are all on the loch side, which is good;

* Then motorway for the short stretch to Edinburgh - assuming you are heading for the airport, which is on the Glasgow side of Edinburgh - ideal.

This route will be particularly attractive if you are not re-tracing an earlier part of the tour too much - namely the route from Glasgow to Oban. Ask your driver to do that part via Inveraray, thus minimising the 'doubling up'. Also, that is a more attractive (and faster) route to Oban, and you get Inveraray and its castle thrown in for good measure!

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3. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

I would also say skip Aberdeen. As well as having a great castle and the Wallace monument (as in William Wallace of Bravheart fame) Stirling has a large shopping centre. You could visit there on the way back from Inverness to Edinburgh.

For maximum retail therapy then a visit to McArthur Glen near Livingston where all the discount designer stores are located.

Herefordshire
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4. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

With reference to Iona - it's well worth it if you're into the history / christianity thing, and it's a nice trip - however it does have its drawbacks. Firstly you'll be taking the ferry from Oban to Craignure (Mull), and so are restricted by the timetable, unless you plan to stop on Mull overnight. Then it's a longish journey across the south of the island to Fionnphort, but with some spectacular scenery; however it's a single track road most of the way and slow going, especially in a coach. At Fionnphort, you must leave your transport - vehicles are not allowed on Iona (apart from resident's cars etc), so there's a bit of walking involved. However, it's not a big island, and most of the attractions are within a few hundred yards of the ferry terminal - but if it's raining, you have no option but to get wet....

Newport, Oregon
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5. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

Thank you all for your first round of replies! Here is a bit of background...I have an "Irish Shop" on the coast in Oregon. The women of the group are mostly comprised of customers of the shop, and because we have a core of 9 women who have been on 3 Irish tours in a row, we've chosen a new Celtic country to visit! Thus I unfortunately know much less of Scottish history than I do Irish, however, In Ireland, the history is so tied to everything that even the arts and crafts contain relevant icons and ornamentation (i.e. spirals / Newgrange). So sharing a bit of Scottish history seems important, albeit in small doses, so the women understand what they are seeing in other areas.

--We will be traveling for 13 days in Scotland including our two flight days - so 11 days on the ground.

--I didn't mean for there to be "a lot of driving", but I find that to have a home base and go out on day trips means some driving. I like to spend no less than 2 nights in any hotel, often 3 nights, occasionally 4 nights if there are enough points of interest within easy striking distance, and usually this is where a free day takes place. It slows the pace a little so people can actually relax.

--I like to include at least one sacred site, one or two castles, and lots of natural beauty and coastline. I thought Culloden Battlefield and the Wallace Memorial would be nice nods to Scottish history, and have contemplated a boat on Loch Ness - is the boat ride nice, even though it's touristy...or just avoid the boat and visit Urquhart Castle from the ground.

--The women seem to like to visit cities, but really love the villages - I used to think that Killarney was a complete tourist trap, until I visited. Having spent a few days there a few times, I have come to appreciate that it's just big enough to be interesting and small enough for the women to feel safe. It's also a perfect gateway to so many other areas. So a Scottish village comparable to this description would be perfect.

--I would love to get out of the cities and into the villages, if anyone can recommend hotels that can easily accommodate groups. We will definitely spend a bit of time in Glasgow and Edinburgh--perhaps 2 nights in each--which leaves about 8 nights on the road. I already have 25 people committed and the list is growing. I stop at 30 regardless, but B & B's and small hotels often cannot fit us all in. Then we come to the trouble of the single rooms, which smaller hotels will not accomodate...don't get me started! I'd much rather hear music in the pub than spend time in my room, so I don't really get the "I need a single room thing", but to each their own.

--I like to give the women a free day in a village / city of enough size that those who like to shop can shop or have a spa day, and those who would like to take in a museum, castle, or other cultural site have somewhere to visit that is easily accessible.

--I think based on the description give, that I will probably not include Iona on the itinerary, what would be another meaningful sacred site...

Thanks to any and all who have the time to ponder this itinerary and advise accordingly. I appreciate the help!

Susan

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6. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

One last thing I fogot to mention

--thanks for the retail therapy options! However, one of the things that crosses over the entire group is finding hand crafted merchandise. Are there areas of Scotland that are artists' colonies? I know the Shetland Islands have a few good jewelry designers, but that is too far afield for our purposes.

Thanks, again,

Susan

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7. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

Am in a rush right now but it just struck me that St Andrews might be a good base for you for a night or two. It's a small town on the coast and as well as being the home of golf it's got some lovely shops and plenty of history. Cathedral, castle etc.

It's in a part of Scotland called the East Neuk of Fife and is good base to visit the beautiful fishing villages along that coast; Crail, Anstruther, Pittenweem, Elie etc. These places are full of craft shops and galleries.

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8. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

Sounds nice, The Good Witch...we live in a fishing village!

Georgia
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9. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

re: "I would also say skip Aberdeen."

Can't disagree with this, but don't throw Aberdeenshire (the Royal Deeside, etc...) out with it!!!

The areas north, south and especially east of Aberdeen are beautiful with many days worth of attractions to visit.

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10. Re: Women's group to Scotland - how to get from A to B

Hi,

Sounds like a bit of an epic planning task!

Kevin - "east of Aberdeen"... that would be the North Sea then?!

I would skip Aberdeen. Head south from Inverness down the A82 or the A9.

I can't think of any specific artist colonies, but there may well be some. Most towns and villages will have a couple of local jewellery/craft shops. Areas of Edinburgh are awash with boutiquey shops - I'm thinking a wander around the Stockbridge area of the city would appeal to your group.

Re: single rooms - not uncommon in the UK, but twin and double rooms are obviously more prevalent. Bear in mind that "twin" rooms in the UK are two single beds, not two queens, as they often are in the USA.

I was thinking "St Andrews, St Andrews, St Andrews" whilst reading your description - Glad Goodwitch agrees. It is a lovely small town with plenty of options for shoping, crafts, dining, walking, golf, beaches and a fair few spas too.

Abs :)