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!