View Full Version : Traveling to Scotland

Will pipe for Guinness
01-19-2006, 02:05 PM
I want to take my tax return this year and travel to Scotland with my husband...

Can anyone recommend the off-peak time to go there? Also when the weather will be good enough to spend a lot of time outdoors (though it has to be before the piping season begins at the end of May) I don't want it to be crowded..has anyone had experience with an airline who was inexpensive? I'm coming from East Coast US..

I want to travel to Inverness and stay there..I need a recommendation on hotel (or B&B) probably a 5 night stay..

Of course I want to take my pipes..I need to go read the thread on traveling with the pipes.

Sorry if this isn't the right place to post this but I don't see a "travel" or "off the topic of pipes/drums" thread..

01-19-2006, 05:12 PM
Skibo Castle (http://www.carnegieclubs.com/)

I would reccomend this place highly. It's location is in Inverness.

Andrew Jessop
01-19-2006, 05:16 PM
Best try early May for the weather, you might also miss most of the midges!

Don't worry about it being crowded, if you're avoiding the major cities like glasgow and edinburgh.

The jist of the 'travelling with pipes' thread was don't check you pipes.



PS. Just watch though, Skibo is not within reasonable walking distance of Inverness - it's about 40 miles.

01-19-2006, 06:02 PM
Try the following site (http://www.scotland-info.co.uk/inverness.htm)and follow the links, but in Inverness, I'd recommend Talisker Guest House (http://www.scotland-inverness.co.uk/talisker.htm), right on Ness Bank - 5 minutes walk into town. A lot of others along there to.

01-19-2006, 09:13 PM
I travelled to Scotland in July. Only place that was too busy was Edinborough, but I doubt there is a time it's not busy.
Are you going to Inverness for any reason? If you aren't, I highly recommend visiting Wick, in Caithness. It is absolutely beautiful up there. I can recommend a great B&B, if you are interested.
Here are some links you might find interesting & you'll definately find the info you are looking for:
www.celticcastles.com/ (http://www.celticcastles.com/)
www.scotlandmadeeasy.co.uk/ (http://www.scotlandmadeeasy.co.uk/)
www.visitscotland.com/ (http://www.visitscotland.com/)
www.stayatlochlomond.com/ (http://www.stayatlochlomond.com/)
www.syha.org.uk (http://www.syha.org.uk)
As for decent priced flights, you'll have to check out sites like Cheap Tickets, Priceline, etc...you will most likely get the cheapest tickets that way.
Have soooo much fun!!! I'm going back there one day with my new hubby and baby girl. My heritage is there, and it feels like home!!!

Will pipe for Guinness
01-20-2006, 07:01 AM
thanks everyone!!

I tried Expedia and still ended up with a travel package that was $1500 per person..that still seems like a lot to me..

Do you think it's not worth it to call a travel agent?

also, is it best to hire a car or to rely on mostly walking? I've never driven on the other side of the road..I'd be very afraid of crashing into something!

Mom2Grace, I bet it'll feel like home to me too! I guarantee I won't want to come back!

What would really be my dream is to stay there and hire a teacher to help me improve my pipe playing!! I wonder if anyone would object to me wandering out on a moor early in the morning or at dusk and playing my pipes??!! :lol:!

Dave R
01-20-2006, 07:44 AM

Always call a travel agent, look out for specialist ones, or bucket shops.

Go for the car, there is a lot of distance between places in Scotland. You will be fine driving on the "Other" side of the road after about half a hour. :thumb:


Klondike Waldo
01-21-2006, 07:40 PM
Unless things have changed in the last few years, the travel agent's commission is built into ticket prices anyway- so if you do all your own booking, you pay the same price. If you get a travel agent who knows the ropes, you'll get the benefit of his/her connections and experience for the same price. It also used to be that certain seats and rooms were available to some agencies with long-time relationships with airlines, hotels, etc, which did not show up in the views that the generl public saw when looking them up. I suspect that may have changed. My dad retired from the travel business a few years ago, about the time online services came on, so I don't have a current "insider's view".

01-21-2006, 08:47 PM
I went to scotland in August and we stayed in inverness. I also rented a car. The car ended up a little expensive but well worth it. The rent a cars have a damage deposit that made it cost a lot. I used the website undiscoveredscotland.com for travel tips and the B and B's we stayed at. We stayed with Margaret and Angus at Glendoune B and B. They were the best and very reasonable.
http://www.glendoune.co.uk/ Tell them Mary and Evelyn sent you. Have fun.

01-21-2006, 09:46 PM
You can fly into Glasgow, Manchester or London. London prices tend to be cheaper, then try National Rail system to get you up North ( http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ ) .

UK car hire prices are beastly, but car is indeed the way to get around.

Don't neglect the west coast, Edinburgh, Deeside (storybook castles galore such as Craigivar). Love Glasgow. The people a pure gold.

A nice way to do things is to rent a cottage for a week. Makes a good base to tour from and you have someplace to hang your hat and undies. Google "self catering Scotland" or something like that and you'll find a zillion agencies which will help you out.

Lived near Aberdeen for three years - best years of our lives. You'll love the trip.


01-21-2006, 10:26 PM
I went for 2 weeks in Sept (Mostly in the middle and lower section). Had great fun in the countryside. :bleh: The driving is different than US, and it takes a lot of attention. Flew into Edinbourgh (was crowded - big city...ugh) Took train to Glasgow Piping Center, but was not very scenic on the way. Stayed in B&Bs and guest houses, and a couple of quaint hotels. There are lots of places to walk :woohoo: (coastline and highlands). Costs a lot to fly, but prices were not too bad once I got there. PM if you want more details or picture link. Get to the highlands if you like scenic beauty.

01-22-2006, 03:18 PM
Will Pipe For Guiness...too bad you didn't live closer to me in Ontario, Canada. Our teacher is 100% Scot, and a great teacher.
I flew into Manchester myself, then travelled with an English friend up into Scotland. I don't think I'd want to fly into Edinborough...went there for a few days, just to the city and it's crazy busy. BUT, if you go there, check into staying at the University (off-season). Very good rates.
Hope you figure things out...I honestly don't think driving there would be too bad. That's my plan when I go next. Just have to be careful about the 'round-a-bouts...they are seriously crazy. :S

Will pipe for Guinness
01-23-2006, 08:24 AM
Mom2Grace, I live SERIOUSLY close to Ontario!!

Thanks all for the input!! Gene, I wondered if flying into another airport would be cheaper..I'll definitely check into that! Thanks for the self catering idea too..I envision myself in a thatch covered cottage really living the experience! :lol:!!
You can stay at the University? Where do you find the rates for it?

A tour guide to drive is a brilliant idea also!! thanks again!!

01-23-2006, 09:05 AM
I went last April (lambs and rain). I asked folks and they said the best months are May and September. I flew to Dublin, Ireland on Aire Lingus then to Prestwick on Ryan Air (restricted on weight of bags - but really cheap). I rented my car through AAA and got a great discount and picked the car up at the airport. Driving is easy there - but if you want to look at the scenery - be a passanger or get out often at the way-bys. Next time I will rent a cottage and take day trips.

The site I found all my B&Bs on was
www.undiscoveredscotland.com (http://www.undiscoveredscotland.com)
It also has great info about every region of Scotland. I learned all about single track roads and how to drive them - great fun! Remember - a wave and a smile are required!

Have fun!

01-23-2006, 09:35 AM
Will Pipe -> We are about 45 minutes north of Toronto. Might take you a little while to come...

These were the links off the University site...
www.edinburghfirst.com/accommodation/selfcateredaccommodation.asp (http://www.edinburghfirst.com/accommodation/selfcateredaccommodation.asp)
www.edinburghfirst.com/accommodation/cateredaccommodation.asp (http://www.edinburghfirst.com/accommodation/cateredaccommodation.asp)

Also, just my input weather. I went in July. It was just like early summer here. It only rained at night or when we were driving. Was probably a fluke. I was also to London in February, and even with the occasional rainy day, the flowers were blooming and it was a heck of a lot better than freezing my butt off here. :)

01-23-2006, 12:26 PM
oh also if you rent a car those pictures of cameras on the side of the road are not upcoming photo op areas they are letting you know there is a speed camera coming up and you better slow down or they will mail you a ticket and the rental car place will make you pay before you leave......we were lucky but didn't realize this for about 5 days....lol

01-23-2006, 07:01 PM
Why not try getting around Scotland the way the vast majority of Scots do - by public transportation? Trains & buses ("coaches" as they say over there) go all over the country. Meet the locals, see the countryside, maybe enjoy a wee dram every now & then without worries. There's really very little reason to drive.

Will pipe for Guinness
01-24-2006, 08:13 AM
do they run often though? I'd hate to be a slave to having to watch a bus schedule..or to watch my watch for the time..I'd prefer to take a leisurely pace..

So I looked into flying in at the end of march instead of April and I save over $200 !! But I'm afraid it'll be too cold in March.

I looked into the self catering idea...it's great!

01-24-2006, 09:18 AM
I looked into public transport before renting the car. We wouldn't have been able to get to some of the outta-the-way B&Bs we stayed at or visit Harris & Lewis (because of schedule). Do your research on bus, train and ferry schedules and routes. If you are staying in one place, public transport might work best. If you are playing it by ear and hopping around, a car is much more freeing.

Remember - gas is more expensive there. It is much less expensive to rent a manual transmission (stick shift) than automatic. If you don't drive a stick - learn and practice. You will be shifing with your left hand, but all the floor pedals are the same. Look for a model of car that gets good mileage. Ours was a VW Passat - lots of room, easy to drive and great on gas.

Most importantly, my family and I were able to go anywhere we wanted on a whim. We didn't worry about reservations (being off season) and were never turned away from a B&B. We met great people at all our stops. Although it was cool and rainy in April, the lambs were great to see and there were no crowds at the few touristy things we did.

Can't wait to hear what you decide to do. Thanks to everyone who posted website links! They all look great.

Will pipe for Guinness
01-24-2006, 03:26 PM
I agree! I can't thank you all enough for everything you've posted!!

I'll let you know once I've finalized the plans!!

01-24-2006, 04:10 PM
The best time to go to the highlands is Late September early October. No midges..no getting stuck behind huge coaches..no crap pipers in laybys waiting to ambush you!!

Rent is cheaper for cottages and cabins etc.

The weather can be extremely warm that time of year. I was up in Glen Cannich last year and was skinny dipping in a lochan..in early October.

The colours on the hills are fantastic as well.


You will also find everything on sale in the touristy shops from naff hariy nessie monsters to high quality made in Scotland clothing.

You will need to hire a car..whoever suggested public transport for the highlands of Scotland has never been there!!!!!

Inverness is a great town..but like all major population centres is has its no go areas. Most B&B is on the main road out towards Drumnadrochit ( my fave place )

Fort William is a good place to stay, as is Fort Augustus..Glen Cannich which is away from it all is a great little place with a wonderful pub..The Slaters Arms run by Jim MacKintosh who cooks an awesome Angus Steak!! The best walks are of this glen..Glen Afric is IMHO the most beautiful place of Gods earth!!

PM me if you want lots of help??! :thumb:

01-24-2006, 05:56 PM
DoogieG is right: Car. Harrowing to drive on the left, but just keep repeating the mantra: "Keep left, keep left, keep left" -- especially when you make a right hand turn (which is like our left hand turn - got it??). Public transport is great if you go between major metro centres and within those cities - such as Edinburgh (noote tha shpelling, folk!), Glasgow, Aberdeen and then London, etc. But apart from that, if you want to tour and have a lovely stay at a scenic place to play the pipes and roam with the sheep - drive.


Will pipe for Guinness
01-25-2006, 08:34 AM
I may take a few of you up on the PM'ing..

Thanks for all of the suggestions!
I'd love to go in summer but it won't be possible..looks like either late March or early to mid April..

01-25-2006, 04:02 PM
Woolies. Take woolies. And your brollie. Don't leave the house without your bollie.

Doug Walton
01-25-2006, 04:20 PM
I got married once in Muchalls Castle near Stonehaven.

The marriage, unfortunately, didn't stick. But my love of the place, people, and culture did.

I liked late March to early April in Scotland - cold and rainy one day, and then ... cold and rainy the next. Just what I wanted. Happy bartenders always offering free beer. And the pub food - well, one place was pretty much just like the next. The time we were served a frozen pizza dressed up with carrots, potatoes and peas in a pub near Balvenie - that's a haunting memory that will stay with me forever. :)

Bill Marshall
01-25-2006, 06:24 PM
We used Enterprise car hire - was a good price and worked out fine. Prices on B & Bs and small hotels vary from place to place with Edinburgh being the highest so stay somewhere else and train or drive into Edinburgh. It's also the most fun city around event times. I haven't been there when it's 'tween this and that.

Inverness is smallish but surrounded by many great sites and places to visit within easy travel by car - or take the tour buses - they are good too.

01-25-2006, 08:09 PM
Originally posted by DoogieG:

You will need to hire a car..whoever suggested public transport for the highlands of Scotland has never been there!!!!!

<...>I have been there actually.

You do not need to hire a car.

WPfG, Inverness is a major transportation hub. Eight rail lines, 19 coach (long distance bus) lines, one hundred thirteen local bus lines ...

Go to

& click on the map in the Inverness area. Bingo!

01-26-2006, 02:23 AM
Its fine to get on a coach if you want to go to all the usual touristy destinations but you can only truly see the highlands proper when you have your own car...even better try walking!!

Scott Niven
01-26-2006, 04:26 AM
Agreed with Doogie - it's much better to hire a car, the transport isn't that frequent, and only sticks to the major routes. If you want to see the quieter glens and hills away from the main roads, then hire.

01-26-2006, 11:09 AM
Originally posted by Torphinian:
DoogieG is right: Car. Harrowing to drive on the left, but just keep repeating the mantra: "Keep left, keep left, keep left" -- especially when you make a right hand turn (which is like our left hand turn - got it??). Gene I was told to always keep my passenger in the ditch :blush: . Sounds weird, but it worked. Also, when walking, be sure to look RIGHT first to cross the street :D . Bigger cities have it written at the cross walks to help the tourists.

DoogieG: Where in Glen Cannich did you stay? I am looking for a cottage in that area for a future vacation. It sounds lovely.


01-26-2006, 03:53 PM
Comes down to personal taste, I suppose. Some people are happy visiting one new place per day - maybe even staying more than one day! - and others feel a need to bag as many different places as they can ... "glenspotters", you might say.

And some of us are happy visiting the usual touristy hangouts - you know, Blairgowie and Pitlochry and Balloch and such, with their straw sombreros and their bleedin' Watneys Red Barrel ... :D

01-26-2006, 05:37 PM
Originally posted by Howbah:
Comes down to personal taste, I suppose. Some people are happy visiting one new place per day - maybe even staying more than one day! - and others feel a need to bag as many different places as they can ... "glenspotters", you might say.

And some of us are happy visiting the usual touristy hangouts - you know, Blairgowie and Pitlochry and Balloch and such, with their straw sombreros and their bleedin' Watneys Red Barrel ... :D :D :D !!

I will try and dig out where we stayed in Glen Cannich...but if you put it chalets, houses cottages to let Glen Cannich in google youll get loads. It is indeed a fantastic Glen..one of the hottest Ive ever stayed in!! Glen Afric is home to some original forestry..native trees such as Alder Ash Rowan and 250 year old pine..which tower above you. Loch Mullardoch is worth seeing too..in fact Id live in Glen Afric!!! You can even pick up huge lumps of fossilized wood..though you should not take it home!! (ahem)

Will pipe for Guinness
01-27-2006, 08:16 AM
Scott..you live in Scotland now?

John Macfadyen
01-29-2006, 08:29 AM
Here would be my trip as I would like to showcase Scotland.

Fly into Glasgow: Probably better prices and easier for going North.

Hire a Car: Must do if you want to stop off at the various sites and scenery at your leisure.

Start your Journey North to Perth which is where I live and is the gateway to the highlands. B&B are easy to find but if pre booking is what you require there are loads of web sites geared up to help. Lots to see and do around Perth where you can easily back track to Stirling (Robert the Bruce, Battle of Bannock Burn and William Wallace with the battle of Stirling Bridge. Edinburgh is also only 45 minutes drive south from Perth if Cities are your thing

Going North from Perth has to be up the A9 to Pitlochry ( Home of the recently deceased Gordon Duncan and the Vale of Athol Pipe Band) which again is a must stop off to soak in the location.

Just North is Blair Castle which has its own private army and a must see.

On the Road again heading North and your are in wilderness for some miles before coming across Aviemore which is supposed to be our Winter Ski resort but the Snow hasn't been good to us for a few years but there is a Mountain Railway that can take to to the top of the Cairngorms which even on a hot summers day can be freezing so dress well.

45 minutes North and you go downhill into Inverness with views across the Moray Firth to Ben Wyvis in the far North. Inverness as a base has plenty to offer and its your choice to go East to Speyside and try a drop of Whiskey tasteing or North To Wick (2-3 hours drive)or go West to the Hebrides or just a drive to Ullapool go south to Skye where you will be blown away by the scenery.

To Finish you can drive down Loch Ness to Fort William and from there down to Glencoe where if you have not played it before learn the tune "The Massacre of Glencoe" and read up on the history of this famous location.

Drive around Loch Lomand and you are back in the North of Glasgow

May is probably the best month and don't let anybody put you off because of midges as they are only tiny compared to your Mossies.

Any advise required on time and distance send me a PM and I will gladly help.



02-02-2006, 09:23 AM
I agree with John.But would add a detour through the Borders.Driving gives you the opprtunity to stop,get out of the car and walk.Travel should broaden the mind,not other parts of our anatomy.So exercise is important.Especially as,if you're like me,on vacation one tends to eat and drink more than when at home.



02-23-2006, 01:12 PM
I agree with the Borders bit.Places like the Devils Beef tub and Scotts view have to be seen to be believed.Borders Scotlands best kept secret.