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Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Apple Valley...
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Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Hi everyone,

I have read through several pages of this forum and you all seem extremely helpful! I am hoping I could get some feedback on the routes I have been making for our trip starting in Edinburgh on July 3rd, making it up to Skye and around the highlands and then back to Edinburgh in 3 days (or possibly 3.5 depending on feedback!).

A little bit of background: we are a group of 8 friends and will rent 2 cars in Edinburgh. We are planning on finding a room near Edinburgh airport as we will have just flown in from Shannon and can get up early the next morning to rent the car and head out. At a high level, we are interested in seeing the highlights of the highlands. We are certainly not against the idea of getting out of the car and walking around as long as we have the time. We'd like to see castles, natural wonders, and as much Scottish history as possible. I have scoured a few travel sites and Rick Steves' United Kingdom book and come up with several stops along the way, but I am hoping I can get some feedback on if any of them are worth skipping or if I am missing anything.

Day 1: http://goo.gl/U6GaK

Leave Edinburgh. Stop at Stirling Castle for tour (opens at 9:30am). Stop at Doune castle to look around. Stop in Callander for lunch. Continue up the A82 to Glencoe. Stop at car park to see the Three Sisters. (Is there any other places we might want to stop between Callander and Glencoe?) Explore Glencoe a bit. Continue on to Fort William and explore a bit. We could either stop here or continue on to Mallaig and catch the ferry to Skye. Must be there by 5:30pm though to catch the last ferry at 6pm. OR we could go on to Kyle of Lochalsh. If we end up getting on the ferry, stop at Armadale castle and then continue on to Portree to sleep for the night.

Day 2: http://goo.gl/nO97F

Full day for Isle of Skye. You can see our stops on the map, but they include: Faerie Glen, Uig, single track road across the island to Quaraing for a possible hike. (Should we instead go north and take the A855 loop on the upper edge of the island?) Then down through Staffin with a quick stop at the car park for Kilt Rock. Continue down A855 to Old Man of Storr for another possible hike. Back to Portree for lunch. Continue to Dunvegan Castle for a tour/explore. On to Neist point if there is time and the Fairy Pools. Continue down west side of the island on the A863. If we had made the ferry the day before, continue on to Skye Bridge and see Eilean Donan before sleeping in Kyle of Lochalsh or surrounding area. If we didn't make it, take ferry Armadale -> Mallaig and take Road to the Isles back to Fort William.

Day 3: http://goo.gl/hWpHw

I am more unsure on this day. Starting at wherever we slept (Fort William, Kyle of Lochalsh, surrounding area), take A87 to Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness. Continue on to Inverness and stop at Culloden Battlefield. Head back to Edinburgh via A9 with possible stop depending on time in Pitlochry.

I know that is a lot of stuff packed in to 3 days. Is it too much? I don't want to have to be constantly watching the clock and herding people back into the car if we want to be spending a little extra time at any certain place. The other option is to spend an extra night in Inverness and head back early to Edinburgh on the 4th day. However, we are leaving for York from Edinburgh on July 8th (which would give us 2 full days in Edinburgh if we spent 3 full days in the Highlands). I would really like those 2 full days in Edinburgh but could be convinced to give an extra night to the Highlands.

Thank you guys in advance for any feedback you can offer!

Yellow Springs, Ohio
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1. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

It is a little too much. My suggestion would be to spend two nights in Portree. The key is what your group's priorities are. Personally, Edinburgh is a lovely and interesting town and if you're looking for a town it's well worth your time there. if you want accessible scenic grandeur and more sheep than people you'll be happier on Skye.

Be sure to do the drive from Uig across the Quirang. Stop at the parking place on the east side and walk up the hill (on the other side of the road from the parking area),. Great ocean views.

Also, I'd skip the ferry and go to Kye and cross the bridge. Here's a tip. Just after you pass Eilean Donan castle you'll see a road that goes off to the right. Take it and then take the first right that goes up the hill. You'll soon come to a parking spot on the left that gives you magnificent views of the castle as well as the loch. I don't want to overwhelm you but here's a link to a gallery from my last trip which was May and June of last year:

http://www.ryboltcox.com/Photography/Scotland-and-England-2012/23072587_m2QdWp#!i=1856840991&k=mVk5WfQ

Apple Valley...
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2. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Thanks paulkris! It is a lot - I know. If we skip the ferry we would miss the Road to the Isles and the Glennfinan Monument which is one of my priorities.

We will definitely try to find that parking spot for views of Eilean Donan! Thanks for the tip - that's one I haven't heard before.

Also maybe you might be able to answer this - there are a few people in the group who are extremely excited to see Highland Cattle/Hairy Coos. Did you have to go anywhere specific to find them or are they pretty much everywhere?

Looks like you had amazing weather! Hope we get as lucky!

Apple Valley...
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3. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Paulkris - Just for clarification, is this the spot you were talking about above Eilean Donan? http://goo.gl/MIBzB

Yellow Springs, Ohio
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4. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Josh, yes. That's the spot. It's a bit better known now than when we first found it about 20 years ago. There are plenty of highland cattle on Skye. I've recently seen them just past Dunvegan Castle on the road to the coral beach as well as on the road from Uig to the Quirang. They're great shaggy beasts and wonderful to see.

We were on Skye two weeks last year and had galeforce winds and torrential rain the first two days. After that it was great. Even had snow on the Cuillins.

Apple Valley...
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5. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Paulkris -

I have heeded the advice of you and several others in the thread I posted on the Scottish Highlands forum. Obviously my plan was a little too ambitious! That was precisely the reason I came to the experts over here, so hopefully the suggestions have saved our trip :)

Can I ask for a little bit more feedback on the following revised route? Yes the days are still long and packed, but I tried to remove time constraints (like catching the last ferry at Mallaig) while still making it to Skye. The second day is the longest, but I think it would be able to be changed easier than my previous route in case we do want to stay at a particular site longer, or if we get tired and want some rest.

Here is my revised route:

Day 1: http://goo.gl/f0WdJ

-Instead of pushing to get to Portree on this day, sleep in Fort William. Take longer to get there, no more pushing it to try to make the last ferry. This way we may have time for a hike at Ben Nevis as well. Should we plan on trying to get over to Oban on this day as well? Also possible to remove Doune.

Day 2: http://goo.gl/KBGpJ

-Take Road to the Isles early in the AM, stop at Glennfinan Monument and take a leisurely pace here. Catch either 8:10 or 9:30 ferry to Skye. Then head up west side of Skye to Neist, Dunvegan. Then over to Portree to check in at our hostel. Then a loop of the Trotternish Peninsula, stopping along the same places as in my first itinerary for day 2, with possible hikes at Quiraing and Storr.

Day 3: http://goo.gl/tpgo1

-Portree back to Edinburgh via Skye bridge. Stop at Kyle of Lochalsh, Eilean Donan. Not sure on route here, could use some suggestions on sites along this route. Google says it's about a 5 hour drive without stopping, but we could arrange late check in at hostel in Edinburgh and take it slow with frequent stops.

Hopefully this plan is a little bit more doable. Thoughts?

Yellow Springs, Ohio
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6. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

First, I should say that everyone who gives you advice has their own likes and dislikes and all of us are right in what we believe! I don't like the Fort William area. It's too touristy for me and I enjoy it at 60mph but not while walking.

If you want to do a really fun but slow drive to get to Fort William look at picking up the A85 at Perth and taking it toward Oban. You could then go north to Fort William. That's a nice drive and if you find yourself late you can take the A82 up to Fort William and cut off some time. Google Maps can show you this but don't pay alot of attention to their times. Maybe add 30-50%.

Day Two looks good but I'd take the little jaunt off the A863 on Skye and go to Carbost and see the Talisker Distillery. Assuming you aren't opposed to a distillery. Neist Point is terrific and a nice walk. In Glendale there is a small Rec Center with public toilets. Also one of the greatest hidden cafes you'll find in the Red Roof Cafe and Gallery. When you get back to Dunvegan you could go past Dunvegan Castle and get to the coral Beaches but, honestly, I'd go across the Quirang instead. There are also public toilets in Uig. I mention the public toilets because many of them have been closed due to budgetary issues.

On day three there are two ways I'd suggest you consider. Either go from Kyle to Inverness which can be a great drive. If you HAVE to stop at Nessie Land you could do that. Urquhart is now a tourist attraction with a visitor's centre. When I first went there you parked in the ditch and hopped the fence.

Or you could go from Kyle to Eilean Donan and then backtrack a few miles and take the A890 north toward Strathcarron, pick up the A832 and get to Inverness from the north. Then down to Edinburgh.

Hope this helps. We're going to Ireland this year for a month but already planning next year in the Highlands!

Isle of Skye, NW...
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7. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Josh,

you will see "Highland Coos" at many places along the road, see them all the time on Skye on the way up to Portree :)

Apple Valley...
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8. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Can't wait! I better factor in a good 2 hours for our group to pet them and take pictures :-P

Edinburgh, United...
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9. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Hi.

Highland Coos are impressive, but do be careful and keep the wall/fence between you and the creatures. Their horns can be deadly.

Abs :)

Edinburgh...
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10. Re: Feedback on 3 day driving itinerary

Day one: There's a nice cafe/restaurant at the Scottish Antiques Centre just West of Doune; the food's probably better than available on the High Street in Callander, and you also have the opportunity to snap up authentic souvenirs, as opposed to Callander's tartan and woollen industry much of which is doubtfully Scottish. Also: stop on Rannoch Moor before Glencoe; get out the car and take photos of lochs and distant mountains. I too agree that Fort William is not somewhere I'd stop by choice. I'd be tempted to press on given your plans for day 2 involve quite a bit of driving - driving that will probably take you a bit longer than you think.

Highland coos are usually fairly friendly, friendlier than many other breeds, but I wouldn't want to cuddle one. And I wouldn't cuddle a calf if its mother is nearby ... red mist might descend.

If five hours will get you back to Edinburgh, then day 1 is also about 5 hours driving, to Portree, inc ferry timings at Mallaig. Whether day 1 or 2, stop a while at Arisaig and Morar to admire the coasline and the white sands.

A good portion of day 3 - roughly the part from Spean Bridge to Bruar - is solid driving with not much to do except look at passing mountains. With an exception, being the distillery at Dalwhinnie. The House of Bruar is a very good tourist trap - higher quality but expensive tartan and woollen goods. Further on you have Blair Atholl Castle, then The Loch of the Lowes (ospreys, other birds, red squirrels in all likelihood) at DUnkeld. Which is also a good place to stop if you look for the cafe near the Cathedral.

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