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Planning help, please!

 My husband and I are planning a Scotland trip for this summer (2019). We would like to see mostly the western coast with castles, abbeys, and nature as our highlights. We know that we want to experience the West Highland Rail and the Jacobite Steam Train. We would like to visit Skye, the Firth of Forth, and the Falkirk Wheel. We would like a mix of self guided, self driving, and a tour day or two. Advice on who would be helpful for the details and itinerary would be perfect. We know that this part of our travel will be after 3 days in Edinburgh. We are thinking 10 - 14 days total for the trip.  We tend to do too much when we travel and we are looking for assistance in helping us narrow our focus.  Thank you for any assistance that you can provide. 
- Julie

Best Answers

  • LochNessPhotographyLochNessPhotography Member ✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer


    As an alternative and as a way of slowing things down, seeing as you say that you tend to do too much, how about heading up to somewhere like Lewis and booking a self catering there for a week?

     Here’s what I’d suggest:

     3 days in Edinburgh (including a side trip out to the Falkirk Wheel.

     Day 4: Pick up a hire car early morning and drive to Fort William via Glencoe. It’s a stunning drive and you’ll see plenty of mountains, big landscapes and nature. Overnight in Fort William.

    Day 5: Jacobite Steam train to Mallaig and back.

    Day 6: Drive to Skye via the Skye Bridge or if you make a good early start go via the ferry at Glenelg – keep your eyes peeled for Sea Eagle and Otters as you cross on the short trip.

    Day 7: Explore Skye – the obvious places like Trotternish, Kilt Rock, fairy glen and pools tend to be very busy so go for really early starts or late finishes to get it at quieter times. In summer the daylight hours are your friend and it doesn’t get dark till 10pm. Skye is mega busy so book now!

    Day 8: Ferry from Uig to Tarbert Harris. Again keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, whales and plenty of seabirds (gannets, skua, razorbills, shearwaters). Head to your accommodation in Harris or Lewis. Lewis is flatter but has an impressive Atlantic Coast and is generally better than Harris in every way imaginable. 😊 (I grew up on Lewis and there may be a little bit of inter-island rivalry here!)

    Day 9 – 13: Explore Lewis and Harris, kick back and relax. Huge unspoilt beaches abound on the West Side (Seilebost, Uig, Eoropie, Port Nis) and there’s plenty to go and look at if you like Brochs and Standing Stones. 

    Day 14. If you can bear it, return home via the Stornoway to Ullapool ferry and on to Inverness. If you hire with companies like Enterprise you should be able to pick up in Edinburgh and drop off in Inverness which might make life easier for flights? There are direct flights from Inverness to Heathrow, Gatwick and Amsterdam.


  • juliedwyerjuliedwyer Member
    Thank you!! This looks great! Now to booking accommodations and details.  Enjoy Spring. 
  • VisitScotlandLindsayVisitScotlandLindsay Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    If you are interested in seeing Abbeys and you have the time, The Scottish Borders has 4 of them. Melrose, which is where the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried, Dryburgh, where Sir Walter Scott is buried and Jedburgh and Kelso. All 4 of them are different but beautiful in their own right. Kelso, Jedburgh and Melrose are lovely little market towns with other attractions available from Floors Castle in Kelso, Mary Queen of Scots house in Jedburgh and some gardens and a Roman museum in Melrose plus lots more in between.
  • ParsmanParsman Member ✭✭✭
    Talking of Robert the Bruce, most of the rest of him is buried in Dunfermline, about 25 minutes by train from Edinburgh over the amazing Forth Bridge. It also has the ruins of a Royal Palace, and 11th Century Abbey, a new Museum and Art Gallery, an amazing public park donated to the town by Andrew Carnegie who was born in the town (you can visit his Birthplace Museum) which includes the base of the tower of Malcolm III Canmore (the Malcolm in MacBeth) and a museum called Pittencrieff House. An often overlooked gem of Scottish history.
  • JonBJonB Member
    Great info! What time of year was this? We’re thinking about going this fall - maybe late Aug -> Sep???
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