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Thoughts for a week in Scotland in late August

Thoughts for a week in Scotland in late August

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Old Sep 24, 17, 9:32 pm
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Thoughts for a week in Scotland in late August

Hi all,
In the process of planning a trip for the end of next summer and was hoping for some input.
I have a week to see Scotland, coming from Manchester on a Monday morning , and flying back to the States the following Monday. I am traveling solo, and am a mid-30s, midrange traveler.
I definitely want to see Edinburgh and Glasgow, but have read competing suggestions about the rest of the trip. In particular, I've been thinking of either Skye or Oban for a relaxing few days. As I see it, my main options are
1) train from Manchester to Edinburgh or Glasgow- 2ish nights there; drive to Skye with stops on the way, 2ish nights there, return to Glasgow or Edinburgh, 2ish nights there
2) same as above, with Oban
3) fly from Manchester to Inverness, 1 day/night there, drive to Skye, 2 nights there, drive to Glasgow, 2 nights, then Edinburgh, 2 nights.

I know this is vague but since I have plenty of time, wanted to start amassing some perspectives.
Thanks in advance.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 3:01 am
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A good place to start is with the Calmac Ferries timetable. This is the 2017 version but it won't change much https://www.calmac.co.uk/summertimetable. Oban is the gateway to the islands. Skye has a bridge.

One place much overlooked is the Isle of Arran about one hour from Glasgow - dubbed Scotland in Miniature
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Old Sep 25, 17, 3:28 am
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Might be helpful to know what you enjoy doing on a holiday.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 3:45 am
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
Might be helpful to know what you enjoy doing on a holiday.
Agreed. For me, Scotland is all about its wilderness rather than its towns and cities. Of course you must see Edinburgh Castle but I would skip all other cities and focus on the Highlands and Islands.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 4:09 am
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You haven’t mentioned the Edinburgh Fringe - do you want to include that? It runs officially until 27 August although dates of individual shows vary. I would definitely recommend including it and to some extent you would need to build your itinerary around it, depending on your visit dates. Be aware that accommodation can be frighteningly expensive in Edinburgh at that time but if you book early you should be able to find something reasonable.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 4:25 am
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Agreed. For me, Scotland is all about its wilderness rather than its towns and cities. Of course you must see Edinburgh Castle but I would skip all other cities and focus on the Highlands and Islands.
Agree. Hikes at Arthur's Seat, Siccar Point, Knockan Crag just for example.

Last edited by 747FC; Sep 25, 17 at 4:26 am Reason: Typo
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Old Sep 25, 17, 5:29 am
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
Might be helpful to know what you enjoy doing on a holiday.
I'm a fairly all purpose traveler. I enjoy cities with wandering and food, light hiking, and sitting outside enjoying a book taking in the view. Over the course of a week id hope to get all of that in.

Unfortunately I wouldn t arrive until the last day of the Fringe Festival so I'm not sure that should play a huge role in my planning.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 5:41 am
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I agree that the CalMac timetable is a great place to start. But temper your expectations about driving. Scotland may look small, but once you get out of the Central Belt, the motorways disappear, even the A-Roads (highways) can end up being single track with passing places (that's right, only wide enough for one car to travel). At peak season, the main roads like the A9 and A82 will be choc-full of holidaymakers in campervans, and the kind of people who slow down to 30mph on an open road "to admire the view".

But once you reach the Rest and Be Thankful, you can rest, and be thankful. Don't worry, it's all worth it. Just set your expectations with timings accordingly. It's slow going, so relax, and cover small distances between location if you want to keep your sanity. If you're more up for the countryside, have a night out in Glasgow, a night out in Edinburgh, and get a flavour of each during the daytime (as much as I prefer the former, the latter is far more tourist-friendly).

The weather will be unpredictable, so just carry clothing to cope with anything. Don't overdo it, just expect it to rain, be warm, be windy, and have a warm layer somewhere. There'll be midges, so carry insect repellent. But get a sunny evening, and you can lose yourself on an Ardnamurchan beach and look at your watch, and suddenly it's gone 10pm and you didn't even realise...

The train up from Manchester is easy enough. You can book about 12 weeks out on tpexpress.co.uk (they run the trains). They're mid-haul trains, rather than long-distance once, and first class at least gets you a bigger seat. Cheapest tickets are linked to a single train.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 7:33 am
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I'd echo some of stut's comments.

Sounds like you want a bit of a mix, and fair enough. Although Scotland's outdoors is beautiful, it's cities are great. I love Glasgow and Edinburgh, although in different ways. I prefer Glasgow - more of a real city and less touristy. The nightlife is also better. But then Edinburgh's just lovely and you can't miss it from your itinerary.

Unless you have a personal preference to head for the highlands/further north in Scotland (in which case a flight to Inverness would be a good idea), I'd get the train to Glasgow to start with. One day/night is enough to get a flavour of the city, from where you can hire a car and drive north. I did just this with a group of friends for a holiday several years ago - our destination was the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Lovely scenery and the drive from Glasgow was pretty good. Very doable in 3-4 hours so great for a day and a stop on the way (you pass by Loch Lomond on the way too).

Ardnamurchan is also the most westerly point of mainland Britain. Little-known fact! Also, it sets you up for a side trip to the Isle of Mull. A drive back and one or two nights in Edinburgh and you have the basis for a great trip.

Two other bits of advice I'd give: one is be prepared for midges in rural areas at that time of year (midges are small mosquitos). In general it won't impact your day with a bit of protection. Except from about 5pm for an hour when you definitely want to be indoors.

The other is to spend some time choosing your accommodation - and book well in advance. You have plenty of options from B&Bs to camping, glamping, woodland cabin type things and loads of others. I'd personally find a lochside cottage/cabin with decent facilities (fully equipped kitchen, wifi etc) and base yourself there for several days and explore day-by-day. But that might be more a personal thing. Bear in mind for self catering especially, that in these more remote areas you can be a very long way from the nearest shop, so best prepare.

Enjoy! I'm sure you'll have a great time. Come back and tell us what you've found
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Old Sep 25, 17, 3:54 pm
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Does it have to be August? Scottish weather is unpredictable (to put it mildly) but August is often wetter than most. More importantly, August is way more crowded than any other month. If you have any flexibility, I'd recommend May or June. More chance of clear weather (NOT guaranteed!), sunsets close to midnight, and far fewer tourists.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 4:10 pm
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Originally Posted by rcspeirs View Post
Does it have to be August? Scottish weather is unpredictable (to put it mildly) but August is often wetter than most. More importantly, August is way more crowded than any other month. If you have any flexibility, I'd recommend May or June. More chance of clear weather (NOT guaranteed!), sunsets close to midnight, and far fewer tourists.
...and fewer midges too.
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Old Sep 25, 17, 5:29 pm
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Originally Posted by rcspeirs View Post
Does it have to be August? Scottish weather is unpredictable (to put it mildly) but August is often wetter than most. More importantly, August is way more crowded than any other month. If you have any flexibility, I'd recommend May or June. More chance of clear weather (NOT guaranteed!), sunsets close to midnight, and far fewer tourists.
Unfortunately the event I am going to be in Manchester for is in August, so, that is not optional.
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Old Sep 26, 17, 3:51 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
You havenít mentioned the Edinburgh Fringe - do you want to include that? It runs officially until 27 August although dates of individual shows vary. I would definitely recommend including it and to some extent you would need to build your itinerary around it, depending on your visit dates. Be aware that accommodation can be frighteningly expensive in Edinburgh at that time but if you book early you should be able to find something reasonable.
And the Edinburgh International Festival
And the Edinburgh Book Festival
And the Edinburgh Art Festival
And the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh is a tadge busy in August.
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Old Sep 27, 17, 3:20 am
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= Originally Posted by Ldnn1
You havenít mentioned the Edinburgh Fringe - do you want to include that? It runs officially until 27 August although dates of individual shows vary. I would definitely recommend including it and to some extent you would need to build your itinerary around it, depending on your visit dates. Be aware that accommodation can be frighteningly expensive in Edinburgh at that time but if you book early you should be able to find something reasonable.
Originally Posted by Tisbutascratch View Post
And the Edinburgh International Festival
And the Edinburgh Book Festival
And the Edinburgh Art Festival
And the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh is a tadge busy in August.
I doubt you'll get a hotel deal in and around Edinburgh even booking early as the hoteliers are aware of the Festivals. You could still get something in Glasgow which is only 50mins by train and you really don't want to drive in Edinburgh then anyway
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Old Sep 27, 17, 6:55 am
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Originally Posted by farci View Post
I doubt you'll get a hotel deal in and around Edinburgh even booking early as the hoteliers are aware of the Festivals. You could still get something in Glasgow which is only 50mins by train and you really don't want to drive in Edinburgh then anyway
I was able to grab 2 nights on points, refundable, for the first two nights in Edinburgh, in case I want to take advantage of festivals (the end of my trip is already September).

Thanks for the tips so far. Welcome more It seems there's no need for me to schlep all the way to Skye and Inverness. I'll aim to do 3 nights somewhere more bucolic between 2 nights om either end in Edinburgh and Scotland.I assume I should plan to rent a car rather than train/ferry on foot.
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