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Visiting Scotland in April - Best Possible Itinerary

Dear All,

I am Rajendran and I am from India. I had posted this during October 2016 and had got some responses also.  Unfortunately, I forgot my password and was not able to recover the same since I forgot the answer the question as well. So I decided to create another account and try.

 When I posted last, our plans were in a fluid state. Now it is finalized. The plan is as under:

 1.       There are 8 of us and will be driving to Edinburgh on 9th April from Chester.

2.       We will be staying in Edinburgh on 9th and 10th.

3.       We will be leaving from Edinburgh to Fort William on 11th morning.

4.       We will be staying in Fort William on 11, 12, 13 and 14th

5.       On 15th morning, we will be driving back to Chester

 

What I now need to know is the best plan / driving route / itinerary to achieve the following.

 1.       For me, the fundamental purpose of this trip is Photography and Scotland is such a beautiful place with unlimited options for photography.

2.       Would like to visit the following places.

a.       Loch Ness

b.      Glenco and the Via Duct

c.       Ben Nevis ( Not climbing it but will use the gondola)

d.      Kilmartin glen

e.      Loch Awe

f.        Loch Shiel

g.       Loch Linnhe

h.      Loch Lomond and Trossahchs National Park

i.         Eilean Donan Castle

j.        Urquhart Castle

k.       Drive through At least some part of NC500  ( May be we can go to Inverness and then drive through NC 500)

3.       Had plans to visit Isle of Skye initially, but decided to drop it due to lack of time. ( It is quite sad. I would love to visit this place. But then that is the way it is.)

 We have not made any plans as such for Fort William. So we can change it anyway we want.

 Please do suggest what best can be done in the given time frame. We do not want to tire ourselves by travelling all the time. However, would like to see the best of the places also.

 A possible plan has been given by VisitScotlandAldona. But that would need some modifications. It would be great if the specific road numbers are also given.

 This may be my one and only chance to visit this beautiful country. I would like to return with some of the best photos that I have shot in my life. For this I need all the help I can get.

 Thank you very much for all the help and suggestions. I really look forward to your suggestions and also to visit this beautiful country shortly.

 Thanks and Regards

 Rajendran

 ---The Original Post------------------------------------------------

 Response from VisitSctolandAldona

 

Hi @Rajendran I strongly agree with @Horizons regarding the Isle of Skye - photographing on Isle of Skye is every photographer's dream. It is truly breathtaking, I mean - it's hard to comprehend the beauty and versatility of Skye landscape until you see it for yourself...

If you're concerned about not having enough time, let me assure you that as soon as you first glimpse at the Cuillin Hills you will feel that the journey there was well worth it.

Think you might want to reconsider your base - you would save yourself a lot of driving there and back if you were willing to stay at various locations. Having said that, it doesn't mean you can't see all of the above on day trips from Fort William - just that you will spend a bit more time in the car (window sightseeing can be very enjoyable too!)

If you were, however, considering staying overnight at Skye, here's what you could do:

  • climb Ben Nevis (if you want to) or take the mountain gondola to 650m on the mountain of Aonach Mor for great views of Ben Nevis;
  • drive from Fort William, which lies at the head of Loch Linnhe, along the A82 north towards Inverness via the Great Glen and along Loch Oich and Loch Lochy;
  • take in Loch Ness (just south of Inverness) and Urquhart Castle which sits at the bank of Loch Ness;
  • then head west towards the Kyle of Lochalsh and en route you'll see Eilean Donan Castle;
  • continue across the Skye Bridge to Skye and, should you only want to make quick photo stops rather than take time to experience Skye, you could head straight for one of Skye's most recognisable geological features which is the Old Man of Storr (along the way you will pass the famous Kilt Rock); further along is the Quiraing, and Neist Point is also worth a stop;
  • you certainly wouldn't want to miss the Fairy Pools, too, and the Cuillin Hills in the south west part of the island;
  • take a ferry from Armadale to Mallaig (CalMac ferries), drive back to Fort William via Glenfinnan where the world famous Glenfinnan Viaduct is (made famous by the Harry Potter movies) - if you time your visit there well you can see the train crossing the viaduct! The viaduct lies at the head of Loch Shiel, so another tick there 
  • I reckon you could do the above in 3 days comfortably, but it would be stretching it if you wanted to explore each site longer.

    As 
    @Horizons said - Glencoe and / or Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park could be done on your way to / from Fort William, and that still leaves you with a day to explore Loch Awe and the Kilmartin Glen 


Comments

  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Hello again @Rajan. Since the last time we spoke there has been the introduction of a really great tool on the VisitScotland website: https://tripplanner.visitscotland.com/ I'd use this to plot your points of interest on a map to identify clusters which will make up your day trips (instructions here)

    Couple of things, Fort William is a great base location but my honest piece of advice is still to do a Skye day trip on a day when the weather is nice. Your trip is the equivalent of coming to India from the UK & visiting Agra City but not the Taj Mahal (I'm quite well versed with that part of the world). Start early, take the Mallaig route to reach there & the Kyle route to come back.

    Second tip is to not go to Inverness to drive on the NC 500, instead drive up to Strathcarron via Kyle and continue on to Applecross / Shieldag / Torridon. Applecross in particular has great views towards Skye (wink) and Torridon is one of my favourite places in Scotland.

    Lastly, make sure you read up on single track driving and follow all the rules associated with it on the NC 500 and other rural single track roads. It is a new experience even for most Brits who don't live in the Highlands / Islands of Scotland.
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Also, if you want to try a place not very famous on the internet but very unique, checkout the Singing Sands beach near Kentra. The beach is named so due to the melodious sound made while walking on the sand.
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • RajanRajan Member ✭✭
    Thank you Horizons for the advice. Skye I would definitely love to do. But then when you are on a family vacation, there are certain limitations. I will try and persuade others to do Skye. Let us hope they agree. Thank you for the information on the planning tool. Looks interesting. 

    Regarding driving, I don't drive. My brother and his son will be driving. I will inform them of the rules. 

    One more thing. What kind of clothes do you suggest for April ? (Me , wife and children are not used to the cold climates and hence what you consider as warm is cold for us :).

    Thanks
    Rajendran 

  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Dress in layers. I'd pack those thick wool sweaters that you can buy in India and a wind + rain jacket with a hood (example jacket) for each of you. The hottest it gets in Scotland is around 25C with averages around 15C so the summer here is like winter for you :smile:
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • RajanRajan Member ✭✭
    Hi,

    Our plans to visit Scotland during April has been finalized.  We are renting a house in Ballachulish and will be travelling from there. The tentative plans are as under:

    1. When travelling from Edinburgh, visit the Stirling Castle, Trossachs, Rannoch Moor, Gelenco and may be the gondola if time permits
    2. One day travel to Oban, Kilmartin Glen, Inveraray, Loch Awe, Oban distillery etc
    3. One day trip to Skye ( going via the ferry and return via the Sky Bridge ) covering the Eilean Donnan Castle, Via duct etc
    4. One day trip to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
    5. Return via Loch Lamond, Glasgow etc

    Horizons has suggested that we do the NC 500 as under:

    "Second tip is to not go to Inverness to drive on the NC 500, instead drive up to Strathcarron via Kyle and continue on to Applecross / Shieldag / Torridon. Applecross in particular has great views towards Skye (wink) and Torridon is one of my favourite places in Scotland."

    What we planned do was when do the Loch Ness, after finishing the Urquhart Castle, we will travel to Strathcarron etc. However, we have been advised not to do this since it is too much of driving for a day. Understand that Torridon is over 3 hours from the Urquhart Castle. We do not want to over tire ourselves. At the same time, we want to do this. What is the suggestion? Do not go till Torridon? or travel to Inverness and then hop on to NC 500 ? Please advise .

    Thanks for all the help. 

    Thanks and Regards
    Rajendran 


  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Hey Rajan, what I meant was that I prefer the western part of the NC 500 (near Strathcarron) to the Eastern part (near Inverness) and that I would suggest doing the western part on a day different from the day you're visiting Inverness. Given your plans, it makes sense for you to hop on to the eastern part of the NC 500 towards Dornoch (and drive back) and skip the western part completely.

    For what its worth, I would personally pick driving to Strathcarron / Torridon over going to Loch Ness / Urquhart castle as I enjoy mountains + nature over Loch Ness + history. The latter is far more accessible and many tourists flock to that area. But the NW highlands are just something else :smile:
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • RajanRajan Member ✭✭
    Thanks Horizons.. 

    But then having traveled all the way to Scotland, we need to see the Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. We do not have another day to spare to do the NC 500 since plans are already fixed for other days. We may not do Inverness.  Any way, we will decide. As I understand it , there is a shorter route to Torridon if you are not taking the NC 500 . So is it  possible that if we travel to Torridon one way on NC 500 and then return via the shorter route? 

    The eastern part I believe is not as scenic as the western part. Either way, we will do the NC 500. :)

    Thanks and Regards

    Rajendran 

  • RajanRajan Member ✭✭
    Hi,

    A question to Horizons. 

    We are trying to keep a day separate to do NC 500 by skipping some of the other places planned. We are staying in Ballachulish. So what itinerary do you suggest? The same one that  you had mentioned? drive up to Strathcarron via Kyle and continue on to Applecross / Shieldag / Torridon. ? Will we have time to drive till Torridon? Or Apple Cross will be fine? We can start say by 8 AM. and should be preferably back by 6 PM

    Thanks and Regards
    Rajendran 
  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    Hey Rajendran, I believe you will have time to drive up to Torridon based on your schedule. After Strathcarron a lot of the road will be single track so you need to add some time to the Google Maps suggested times. But you should be in Applecross in time for lunch and then drive up north as far as you can before turning back. Alternatively, you can choose to skip Applecross and try to drive up to Kinlochewe & Gairloch (has a nice beach) via Torridon. This way you'll cover some more distance on the NC500 proper.

    Make sure you check out the NC 500 website for find the places that you'd like to cover on your trip.
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • RajanRajan Member ✭✭
    Hi,

    Our plans for Scotland is finalized. We have rented a house in Ballachulish and will be travelling from there. Based on the suggestions, we have included a trip to Skye as well.  Horizons has suggested the drive along NC 500 as under :

    "Second tip is to not go to Inverness to drive on the NC 500, instead drive up to Strathcarron via Kyle and continue on to Applecross / Shieldag / Torridon. Applecross in particular has great views towards Skye (wink) and Torridon is one of my favourite places in Scotland."

    While we are there the daily itinerary is as under:

    1. One day drive to Oban and nearby areas
    2. One day go to Skye 
    3. One day visit the Loch Ness and the Urquhart Castle. 

    What we are planning is on the day we are doing the Urquhart , do the NC 500. That is from Urquhart Castle, drive to Strathcarron etc.  However, we have been advised not to do this since it is too much of a driving for a day.  So what is the suggestion? Not to go till Torridon? or as we had initially thought, go to Inverness and then drive along NC 500? We definitely do want to do NC 500. 

    Kindly advise. 

    Thanks and Regards
    Rajendran


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