An Epic Scotland Road Trip – part 2

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.

Fairy Glen - Skye
Fairy Glen – Skye

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
Neist Point
Neist Point

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.

Fairy Pools
Fairy Pools

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:

Dunvegan Castle
Dunvegan Castle

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.

Eilean Donan
Eilean Donan Castle

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

IMG_1020

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.

Inverness - River Ness
Inverness – River Ness

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.

Boat 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:

  • Kirkwall
  • Scapa Flow
  • Ring of Brodgar
  • Skara Brae
  • Italian Chapel
Kirkwall
Kirkwall
Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow

 

Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones
Ring of Brodgar

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.

John O'Groats
John O’Groats

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.

Dunrobin Castle
Dunrobin Castle

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.

Culloden Moore
Culloden Moore

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
Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle

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
Glamis Castle

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
St. Andrews Golf Course
St. Andrews Golf Course

 

St. Andrews Cathedral
St. Andrews Cathedral

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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Epic Scotland Road Trip - Part 2

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!!!

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32 Comments

  1. You relate in such a way that I am mesmerized. The pictures should be presented at an art museum. This is your true calling my dear

  2. Wow!! What an amaaaaaazing trip, just read both posts and they are so lovely and must have been so much work, well done!!
    I really can’t wait to go there after seeing and reading this and Dunnottar castle is just spectacular! Beautifully captured Jo.. Keep up the great work👍Xxx Naomi

    1. Thank you Naomi. Dunnottar is just a dream. I know you will love it. If you need help with any planning let me know. Happy Roving!!!

  3. I’m moving to London in a few weeks and I’m definitely keeping this for our future roadtrips once we’ve made the move. It does look like an epic trip!

    P.S. Don’t ever lose your gopro again! :p It happened to me too in the US, good thing there are still good souls out there who would return it to its rightful owner. 🙂

    1. A move to London is awesome you will be able to see and do so many cool things with London as your home base. Good luck with the move. I recently spent about 36 hrs in London (not enough time) and loved it. And yes I was so lucky with the GoPro. I surely will not test my luck with a third time.

  4. Oh, wow! First of all, I feel like I need a pronunciation guide for all those places! I felt like I was reading out of a movie like Braveheart. All those castles look so cool! Now I want to visit Scotland. It looks so green and beautiful.

    1. It is green and beautiful because it rains all the time 🙂 It really is a wonderful country and if you get a chance you should visit. Happy Roving!!!

  5. I have loved reading these posts. My grandmother was Scots (not Scottish.. apparently that is very wrong) and proud of her heritage. We need to do a big road trip like this while we are living in the UK. Bookmarking for future reference. Have you been watching Highlander? It’s a bit trashy/sensationalist but you will appreciate the scenery

    1. I watch the Outlander – is there another series called Highlander? Need to find out more about it. The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorite books of all time and it is what got me interested to visit Scotland in the first place. Oh and thanks for letting me know about it being Scots and not Scottish. The Scots are very particular with how things must be said. But I have found them to be some of the nicest people ever. I sure hope you get to visit it is a fabulous country for sure. Happy Roving!!!

    1. Yes Glamis is great for Shakespeare fans – you would love it. It is a grand beautiful castle and the tour is lots of fun. Hope you get to visit one day. Happy Roving!!!

  6. Scotland is absolutely amazing. The photos are gorgeous and reminds me so much of the show I am currently watching called “Outlander”. And what a relief that your GoPro was found and turned in 🙂

    1. OUtlander is actually me favorite book and what got me obsessed with Scotland to begin with. I also have been watching the show on Starz. Glad you enjoyed. Happy Roving!!!

  7. Wow this looks absolutely incredible! During my brief visit to Scotland last year (when we drove from Edinburgh to Glen Coe) I realized how big Scotland really is! There is so much to explore in the north and this post really proves it. Skye looks really beautiful!

    1. I would love to go back and explore Glencoe some more as well as the route 500 on the North West. Yes you are right there is much to see there and it is all quite beautiful. Happy Roving!!!

    1. Yes we rented a car. The car we rented was supposed to be a mid size car similar to a WW Passat but they had none available when we got there and they gave us a mini-van. Not exactly the car you want for small roads but at least it was comfortable. I think the cost in US dollars came to about $600 after exchange rates and everything. Not bad for 2 weeks and we rented in the city and returned at the airport so they charge extra for that. Well worth it to have your own car especially if you want to get off the beaten path and go to some of the more remote areas.

  8. Wow, wow, wow. I’ve only been to Scotland (only Edinburgh) once but I forget just how breathtakingly gorgeous it is. I feel like renting a car is a total necessity to see so many places – looks like you really got a chance to see the great highlights of the country. I need to go back and explore some more!

    1. For a small country (compared to the USA) Scotland felt really big. And while they do have good public transportation I found a car essential to go to some of the more remote areas. Hope you get to go back soon. Happy Roving!!!

    1. Dunrobin is a fabulous castle indeed I hope you get to visit and enjoy the wonders of Scotland. Happy Roving!!!

  9. OMG this is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do for so long. We actually saw a mini-series on Scotland’s castles and how they shaped the history of the country. Wonderfully captured by the way 🙂

    1. We saw 10 castles while we were there (11 if you count the hotel castle we stayed in). Every castle has it’s own history and I loved learning about each one. My hubby on the other hand had enough by castle 5. The history in Scotland is really amazing and they have done a great job at each location to make it engaging. I really hope you can go and see all of Scotland’s beauty and history soon. If you want to see many of the Historic Scotland Properties I recommend getting either the Explorer pass or the membership it will save you tons of money on admission.

  10. Scotland is number one on my Europe list, but it seems other opportunities keep popping up! I have to send this to my mother. It’s so beautiful! Skye and St. Andrews look like places I have to go!

    1. Skye was our families favorite and St. Andrews is a charming town. If you go to St. Andrews you must stop by Jannetta’s for icecream. I will be posting soon about the best hikes I did in Skye so stay tuned for that one. Hope you get to go soon. Happy Roving!!!

  11. I’m a huge Outlander fan, I’m on book 4 and on season 3, so seeing Culloden & Ring of Brodgar in your post was like 0_0!!!!!! I didn’t realize there was a Clan Fraser stone! The photos are beautiful especially loved the fairy glen/pool, looked so magical! I can’t wait to get back to Europe and explore Scotland.

    1. Yes there are stones for multiple clans including Fraser and McKenzie – it was quite a moving experience. The Outlander books are awesome I have read them all. I read book one about 8 years ago and that is what started my obsession with Scotland. I saw many places that were Outlander related – visited Doune Castle which was used in the filming of the show. I hope you get to visit soon. Happy Roving!!!

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