We (my husband, 2 girls and I) recently spent 14 days traveling around Scotland. In the 14 days we covered a lot of miles and many of them were on single track roads. The scenery is spectacular, you see mountains, valleys, lakes, forests, waterfalls, and wildlife everywhere. Scotland really is a country that is perfect for an epic road trip.
If you have never driven in this part of the world then just keep in mind that the roads are narrow (many times even single track roads) and winding and that you will be driving on the left side of the road. Let me tell you that getting used to this type of driving is not easy, especially when you come from the US where we have big open roads and highways. But I will leave the topic of driving in Scotland for another day and get back to our Epic Scotland Road Trip (Part 2).
Bellow you will find days 8 through 14 of my itinerary. For the first 7 days of this trip check out An Epic Scotland Road Trip Part 1
Day 8 – SKYE
Approximate amount of miles driven today is 107 miles.
Today we explore Skye and most of the activities include hiking or walking to take in as much of the beauty of this mystic Island as possible.
Because we have 2 young children we don’t complete the full circuit hike at every location but we still spend enough time in each one to appreciate the scenery while making the hikes family friendly. If you are interested in hiking Skye then check out the Walkinghighlands for routes, difficulty, distance, and time for each walk or hike. The highlights for today are:
- Old Man Storr
- Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls
- Fairy Glen near Uig
- Neist Point for sunset views
Overnight in Portree: Garalapin House
Day 9 – SKYE
Approximate amount of miles driven today is 72 miles. We actually drive 113 (an extra 41 miles) as we need to return to Talisker to pick up my lost GoPro. Thank you to the staff for holding it for me and to the honest people who turned it in.
Today we explore the West part of Skye as well as some indoor activities which were perfect for the rainy day we experienced. The highlights for today are:
- Fairy Pools in Glenbrittle
- Talisker Distillery
- Dunvegan Castle and Gardens
Overnight in Portree: Garalapin House
Day 10 – SKYE TO INVERNESS
Approximate amount of miles driven today is 120 miles.
We had some of the most amazing experiences and met some great people in Skye so it is hard to say goodbye. But it is time to head further into the Highlands to spend the next few days in and around Inverness and the north of Scotland. We chose to take the bridge to the mainland instead of the ferry. This way we are able to visit one of the most photographed castles in Scotland – Eilean Donnan.
Today’s journey is filled with castles and mythical monsters and the highlights for the day include:
- Eilean Donan
- Loch Ness Center and Exhibition
- Urquhart Castle
We take advantage of the long summer days to take a walk through the city of Inverness and find our way to the bus station we will need in the morning for a full day tour to Orkney.
Overnight in Inverness: Premier Inn River Ness
Day 11 – DAY TOUR TO ORKNEY
Today is another full day on a tour booked through John O’Groats. We board a bus that takes us from Inverness to John O’Groats where we board a Ferry to Orkney.
Once in Orkney a bus takes us around to some of the different islands that comprise it to see the sights. The highlights are:
- Scapa Flow
- Ring of Brodgar
- Skara Brae
- Italian Chapel
We are lucky to meet up with one of my husbands friends mom who resides in Kirkwall. She accompanies us during the time we have there to explore. Such a wonderful lady to show us a wonderful place. She also provides us with some local goodies from the family store called The Brig Larder.
The Ring of Brodgar was a site I was really looking forward to seeing. Of course the weather decided to not cooperate. For about 1 – 2 hrs we experienced some of the worst weather conditions we had the entire trip. But since we had limited time in Orkney I did not let this stop me from seeing the sites and placing my palms to the stones, closing my eyes and seeing if I would be transported in time. I did not succeed in my time travel endeavor and my hopes to meet Jamie were crushed, but the good news is I am still here to write this blog. Outlander thoughts and jokes aside, this World Heritage site is truly magical and worth a visit rain or shine.
After our day in Orkney we board the ferry Back to John O’Groats and the bus back to Inverness.
While it is great to see the wonderful and remote Orkney this tour has more travel time than exploration time. If you are short on time and don’t mind the long travel day then this tour is not bad and will provide the highlights. However if time permits do yourself a favor and schedule one or two nights here to allow proper time to explore.
Overnight in Inverness: Premier Inn River Ness
Day 12 – HIGHLANDS TO ABERDEEN
Approximate amount of miles driven today is 206 miles.
The highlights of today:
- Dunrobin Castle
- Culloden Battlefield
- Clava Cairns
Today we head back up the coast to visit Dunrobin Castle for a tour of the castle and the falconry exhibit that that takes place in the castle gardens twice a day. You can see a video on the falconry here.
After a fantastic falconry display we head back towards Inverness to visit the Moors of Culloden and the nearby Neolithic Clava Cairns.
If you are an Outlander fan like me then you may recognize Culloden and especially the Clan Fraser stone. I confess that at first, the link to my favorite book, was the appeal to visit this site. However, once I stepped foot on the grounds of the battlefield that all changed. Culloden Moore filled me with emotion. An overwhelming sense of sadness and loss. It is a field that once ran red with the blood of men, but today it is green and flowers bloom. The stones are markers of the mass graves for each clan as well as where the English were laid to rest. It is a reminder of the reality of war and the loss of life that once passed.
I had allowed time in today’s itinerary to visit Fort George, Cawdor Castle, or even a distillery on our drive towards Aberdeen but the family decided to skip these in favor of an early arrival in Aberdeen to get some rest.
Overnight in Aberdeen: Holiday Inn
Day 13 – ABERDEEN TO DUNDEE
Approximate amount of miles driven today is 78 miles.
Today we visit 2 castles and then explore Dundee. The sites we see are as follows:
- Dunnottar Castle
- Glamis Castle
- Dundee city
From all the castles I planned to see on this Epic Road Trip, Dunnottar castle is the one I was looking forward to the most. The castle is in ruins but what is left behind is enough to imagine what life was like in this amazing fortress a few hundred years ago. To me it is all so surreal almost like walking the pages of a romance novel or a game of thrones scene. The location alone is breathtaking – a castle high on the cliffs, surrounded by clouds and the ocean.
Glamis castle is said to be Scotland’s most beautiful castle. It certainly is beautiful but the title of most beautiful is up to debate. You can only tour the interior with a guide and no photography is allowed inside. The castle is well appointed and the guide is knowledgeable providing even some fun ghosts stories. The castle is famous for being the childhood home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth – the Queen Mother.
Overnight in Dundee: Apex City Quay
Day 14 – ST. ANDREWS
Approximate amount of miles driven today is 65 miles.
Today we spend the day in the beautiful city of St. Andrews (this city is considered the birthplace of golf) before heading back to Edinburgh for the night and to catch our plane the next day to go back home. The activities for the day include:
- St. Andrews Golf Course
- St. Andrews Castle
- St. Andrews Cathedral
- Forth Bridge
On our drive towards Edinburgh we get to see the Forth Bridge. We then drive to our hotel that is near the airport and take a tram back into Edinburgh for last supper in Scotland.
Overnight in Edinburgh: Novotel Edinburgh Park Hotel
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I hope you have enjoyed this itinerary and that it is helpful to you in planing your own trip to Scotland. I will have a separate post that will provide more information on where I stayed and what I ate while in Scotland – so stay tuned.
You can read about the first 7 days in this Epic Scotland Road Trip here
Have you been to Scotland? What did you see and do? Feel free to share your favorites with me below and happy roving!!!