We would love some feedback from the lovely Scotland experts whether the following itinerary is doable or overachieving. The trip will be in July and we will have a car for the whole trip. Since we love to take pictures and short breaks from our drive, we would love to hear about your favorite spots along the way as well.

  • Day 1: Drive ~2hrs to Hadrian's Wall from Lake Windermere. Then, drive another 1.5-2hrs to visit Border Abbyes: Melrose, Dryburgh, Jedburgh en route to Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Day 2: Explore Edinburgh new town and old town. Walk on the Royal Mile from the Edinburgh Castle. The National Monument, Calton Hill, is east of new town. (View of the National Monument and the city from Salisbury Crags, a mile about from the Edinburgh center, is excellence.) Overnight at Inverness.

  • Day 3: Visit Loch Ness. Drive to Portree in Skye, and overnight.

  • Day 4: Explore Skye: Trotternish Peninsula, Dunvegan Castle, Cuillin Hills, and Talisker Distillery. Overnight at Portree.

  • Day 5: Visit Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William and Glencoe. Overnight at Glencoe.

  • Day 6: If time permits, visit Loch Lomond the en route to Stirling. Visit Stirling Castle, the William Wallace Monument, and the Bannockburn Heritage Centre (need to spend about 4 hrs) en route to Edinburgh. Edinburgh to London on a sleeper train (Departure - 23:40)

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    You do know that neither of Hadrian's Wall nor Lake Windermere are in Scotland, don't you? – Gagravarr Jun 21 '12 at 4:32
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    Day2 - how are you getting to Inverness? its not a short drive from Edinburgh. – Stuart Jun 21 '12 at 9:50
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    "Is this Scotland itineary doable or overachieving?" - If you're asking this, the answer is probable "overachieving". – nibot Jun 22 '12 at 8:29
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    Day 2 is a bit full. Edinburgh definitly desearves a bit more time. – nsn Sep 26 '13 at 14:20

I did a 5 day tour back in 2008 that may give you some hint - the itinerary is on their website. (well the route and highlights at least).

Driving distance-wise, yes I'd say it's doable. What you'll want to consider is time at the places like Isle of Skye (one of my favourite places in the UK), and Glen Coe - whether you want to do some hikes or something. And whether weather will impact that.

Let's look by day:

  • Day 1 - This being your entrance, and the days being long (that's hugely in your favour at this time of year), it's certainly doable without being too rushed.

  • Day 2 -and 3 This is where I have the biggest issue. I feel you want a whole day in Edinburgh - it's a FANTASTIC city and the castle and Royal Mile are just incredible. You may also want to do a ghost or underground tour (although you can do that on the evening of Day 1). Inverness - even on our tour, we didn't really do much there, it was just a stopping point overnight, before continuing around through the highlands which were stunning - reminded me of the South Island of New Zealand.

  • Day 4 - This is fine, this is what we did on our tour - 2 nights on Skye. Spectacular.

  • Day 5 - Consider Glencoe on Day 3, maybe? You could even consider checking out Ben Nevis, depending on the weather.

  • Day 6 - Our final day we did basically all that aside from the Loch, and went from Fort William to Edinburgh by 7ish(?), so I think you'll be fine there.

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My wife and I did a similar driving trip touching on Edinburgh, Inverness, Skye and a lot of the places you want to see. Days 1, 3, 4 and 5 seem feasible if long, as we did similar trips. I can't comment on Day 6 because we didn't make it down to Glasgow/Stirling.

Day 2 raises a big red flag - seeing the Royal Mile and the centre of Edinburgh was basically a full day for us, as was driving up to Inverness. I know that the days are long in July so you'll still be travelling in light, but if you want to see anything on your way to Inverness (Scone Palace, Blair Castle, Dalwhinnie Distillery) the trip can easily take longer than the 3.5-4 hours that Google alleges.

Overall I think it is physically doable but whether it is advisable is in question.

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Looks like you have timetabled the driving but forgot that each of these places takes time to see. For example Hadrian's wall cannot be seen from the car. Give yourself two hours to go round the museum and perhaps another hour or two to hike along the wall itself. Same goes for the other locations you plan to see such as Skye: "Trotternish Peninsula, Dunvegan Castle, Cuillin Hills, and Talisker Distillery." Each of the things you mentioned are a day in themselves. Particularly how do you see the Cuillins without getting on your boots and hiking several hours up the glen.

Another factor you have omitted is the weather. Scotland gets a lot of rain. You should plan a schedule that allows for some indoor activities (e.g. museums and shopping) to be inserted when the weather isn't so good. You might want to completely rethink your itinerary based on the weather. For example Take a look at the weather for this week (mid June) to see what I mean: Inverness weather in mid June Portree, Skye weather in mid June Glasgow weather in mid June Edinburgh weather in mid June

Based on this week, you would want to do Skye on Monday. However, this was taken from Google and it's just not precise enough. It's not going to rain all day every day. Only parts of the day will be wet, other parts dry. You should look at the BBC website for accurate hour-by-hour forecasts to help you schedule so you can get indoors before the rain comes on, then get out again once the rain stops.

Then there's the driving. Roads on the west coast, such as near Skye, are small, twisty and require care to drive. You may find that journeys take longer than expected.

To improve your itinerary, reduce the distances you drive and give yourself more walking time at each location. Don't try to circumnavigate the entire country. Focus on part of the country but try to get a taste of each aspect.

What aspects should you cover - not places? You'll want to:

  • learn some history,
  • see natural beauty,
  • visit religious sites,
  • view historical and modern architecture,
  • sample the various kinds of foods and drinks,
  • view or take part in cultural activities,
  • and meet and talk to the local people.

What places should you cover? Well roughly:

  • Edinburgh
  • Highlands
  • Islands
  • Coast (Clyde or Fyfe)

Try to spend as much of your time doing the above list of things with the minimum or time spent in a car and the maximum time spent on the activities.

Day 1: Drive ~2hrs to Vindolanda or Housesteads on Hadrian's Wall from Lake Windermere. Take sandwiches and spend the remainder of the morning and lunch time viewing the site and learning the history. Continue on to Jedburgh, stop at the Abbey ruins for an hour and a bit. Considering the borders roads are quite exhausting to drive, you might decide to overnight just shy of Edinburgh proper.

Alt Day 1: Go to Birdoswald on Hadrian's Wall which is closer to the M6 than other sites and takes less time to go round. Spend an hour there then return to the M6 and drive north the New Lanark, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take lunch in Lanark town there then explore New Lanark museums and visitor centres. I suggest overnighting in Lanark giving you the evening to walk up to the Falls of Clyde.

Day 2: A short drive into Edinburgh. If you are arriving during the Festival, give yourself an extra day here. Otherwise visit the castle, walk down the mile to St Gyles, lunch at a restaurant such as The Witchery, go through princes gardens and do some shopping on princes street. If you are fit, walk up one of the hills such as Carlton hill or Salisbury crags. I seriously doubt you should try to get to Inverness on this night. You've scheduled allot of walking in Edinburgh and it is a long drive on the A9 up to Inverness. The A9 gets my vote as the most boring road in the highlands. It goes near many interesting places but never actually too them. The west coast route up the A82 is far superia. I suggest instead that you overnight in Edinburgh so as to enjoy the night life of this city. Perhaps take in a show at one of the theatres.

Day 3: Drive past Stirling and head into the highlands. Stirling castle is nice but if you've already done Edinburgh castle I wouldn't go to both. Wallace monument is best seen from a distance if you want photographs, rather than close up. Can't comment on Bannockburn as I've not visited the centre there. Either go for Loch Tay side (used in the movie "Loch Ness" as it is more beautiful) or the Trossachs. If you really wanted to push the driving you could get west to the A82, and north through Glen Coe, Fort William and along the road to the Isles and Skye but only do this if the weather promises to be good. Skye is famous for it climbing. If your not a climber, you'll enjoy one of the other islands better. Rather I'd suggest to spend your time in the Trossachs, Loch Tay and perhaps Glen Coe. Overnight somewhere in the central highlands. Calladar or Killin are nice villages as is Fort William.

Day 4: Drive round the west side of Loch Lomond, cross over the hills to Loch Fyne and lunch at the Loch Fyne Seafood Restaurant. Continue on to Inverary and visit the castle and gaol. The ancient ruins around Kilmartin provide another aspect to the tour. Loop round Oban (nice distillery) by tea time and return to Glasgow to overnight there.

Day 5: Take the PSS Waverly down the Clyde river to the islands and return same day. Stop off at Bute, Arran or Dunoon for a few hours. Or, drive down the Clyde coast and take the regular ferries (leaving your car at the harbour). These islands are much more accessible and every bit as interesting as Skye.

Alt Day 5: Rather than returning to Glasgow on day 4, take the ferry to Mull and overnight there. Visit Ioana on day 5 and maybe Tobermory (another distillery). Then head to Glasgow in the Evening.

Day 6: Spend the day in Glasgow museums, shopping, food and nightlife. In the evening, take the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh and connect with your sleeper down to London.

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  • You're not tweaking, you're changing a large part of it. 2 of their nights were on Skye and you've removed all that? I get that you're trying to save time, but even the 3-day paid tours of Scotland manage to get to Skye, so it's not unreasonable to do so. – Mark Mayo Jun 21 '12 at 22:19
  • Nobody asked for a tweak. – Rincewind42 Jun 22 '12 at 5:23
  • I think your itinerary sounds great, don't get me wrong - just that you seem to be trying to swap out things they already know they want to do, for things which you think they should do. – Mark Mayo Jun 22 '12 at 5:33
  • If you get up early enough you can do Dunvegan Castle (and a little of the grounds) and Talisker Distillery in a day actually with a little spare time, also in summer with long day light hours you can see plenty. – Stuart Jun 22 '12 at 9:23
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    @Rincewind42 - yeah I saw on your profile you'd lived there. It's worth noting that tourists also visit different things to locals. The explanation in your comment I guess is what I felt was missing - but sometimes people like to go to the famous parts - otherwise they get home and without fail the question is "oooh did you go to Loch Ness?". ;) (I know, I missed it out when I was there, unintentionally) – Mark Mayo Jun 23 '12 at 19:31

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