This summer we had a truly magical trip around Scotland- we even managed to have a few nice days of weather (a true miracle).
The trip that we went on wouldn’t have been so easy without a car- mainly because of the amount of camping equipment that we had but also because some areas aren’t so well connected via public transport. That being said there are definitely remote areas that you can get to without an extreme amount of effort- for example I know that the Isle of Arran is pretty easy to get to from Glasgow by train and ferry.
This trip was Edinburgh to Edinburgh. But it could have easily have been Edinburgh to Glasgow or inverness by just tweaking a few parts if this were to suit your time frame/ flights/ preferences more.
We camped every night on this trip which made our trip a lot cheaper- especially the wild camping. If you don’t want to camp I recommend booking well in advance so you have a choice of accommodation and lower prices.
We went to Edinburgh during august- this means that it is festival time.
The Edinburgh fringe festival is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone with a sense of humour. And I mean even if you don’t have one there is still loads of music and plays on. The itinerary will be made available on line just before August so you can find out what is going on and where- booklets are printed as well so you can pick one up when you get there. Many of the shows are free you just pay what you think it is worth at the end.
That being said if you have never been to Edinburgh before the city will be pretty packed and you may not have enough time to visit all of the tourist attractions like Edinburgh castle, Palace of Hollyrood House and to catch some amazing views from Arthurs seat. You will also be looking to may HUGE prices for hotel rooms unless you book 6 months to a year in advance or camp.
I recommend spending at least two nights here.
Book well in advance if going in August or looking at Edinburgh festival camping
Remember the weather could be terrible even in the summer- dress appropriately
Walk up Arthurs Seat
If coming from the airport the Airlink bus runs 24/7 or the trams that run in the day time click for more info.
We had a car so drove up to Loch Lomond but if you don’t have one you can the train to Glasgow and then a train to Balloch- or busses to other areas of the lake (but it does take much longer and I suppose you wont see so much of the area)
We stayed near Balloch in a campsite at the south of the lake called Lagganbeg Caravan Park- this was mainly set up for campers and caravans but it was okay for us and nice and remote. In Scotland it is legal to Wild Camp in most places- so long as you are respectful. But not in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park because of the footfall that they have.
We went on a number of walks around the lake to see different parts our favourite spot was Rowardennan- an area where you can also free camp in. We also did some water skiing on the lake which was good fun but the water was ice cold!
If you are able to drive around the park a bit there are loads of other places with smaller walks available to you found some walks around Loch Venachar which we found on the Walk Highlands website. And went to Loch Katrine and had a really nice cycle ride to get be able to see a bit more.
I spent 2 nights here but you could easily spend a lot longer here depending on how many trails you would like to do and the length of them.
Driving to Skye
On the drive to Skye we made quite a large diversion to go to Glenfinnan- the train line in the Harry Potter movies. The walk we did there was really nice and had some amazing views BUT it did add a bit of extra time to our journey. From here you could drive to get the ferry from Mallaig but you can also cross with the Sky Bridge.
Just to warn you that the drive to Skye is long- but incredibly beautiful. You will spend the whole dive looking from window to window with each view nicer than the previous. On top of stopping in Glenfinnan we also made many smaller stops along many of the Lochs to take in the views and to stretch our legs. If you feel that this drive is too long you could make a stop somewhere along the way like Glencoe, Fort William (and maybe climb Ben Nevis) or Fort Augusta (a little out of the way but you could look for the Loch Ness Monster).
You can get buses to Kyle (this is just before the bridge crossing to Skye) from Balloch that take from 6 hours and would also have the amazing views- the 915 is direct. You can then pick up the local Stagecoach bus that runs around Skye for about £8.50 for an all day ticket.
We stayed here for three nights and for most of the time we were there we were attacked by midges- I think you just have to remember to keep completely covered so they can bite you because even smidge “the best midge cream” didn’t help too much.
Portree is the biggest village in Skye and had loads of nice seafood restaurants around. As well as a sailing club where we did a taster session to have fun for a few hours.
Skye can get really busy in the summer months and so it is recommended to book in advance for a campsite here as you may find they are all the wild camping sites have been taken. However, in August the summer holidays are over in Scotland so it was fairly quiet by the time we go there.
There are loads of walks to do here and the highways walks website can help you with them. Perhaps my favourite was the fairyglen walk where that land has formed odd shapes due to land slides. But there is also the famous fairy falls and old man storr. This island was so beautiful that I think you could park up anywhere and start walking and you would see amazing scenery.
There are also plenty of adventure activities to do on the island we had a go at climbing but there are a huge number to choose from a number of companies.
We spent 3 nights here but could have had longer it was amazing. If you don’t have the time don’t try to cram too much in.
Drive back to Edinburgh
We did this all in one day making many stops- but it was quite long and you could stop over somewhere. As we had never been before we stopped at Loch Ness on the way and did the Foyer’s Falls walk and at the edge of the Cairngorms national park before getting back to Edinburgh.
Day 1 Edinburgh (Festival)
Day 2 Edinburgh (Festival)
Day 3 Drive to loch Lomond
Day 4 Loch Lomond
Day 5 Drive to sky via Glenfinnan
Day 6 Skye
Day 7 Skye
Day 8 Drive to Edinburgh via Loch Ness
I hope this is useful for planning your trip. More information can be found in the links that I have included above.
There were obviously loads more places we could have stopped but due to time restraints this is what we did and I am sure your holiday could be made even more special by exploring different areas.
I found that the Highland walks website was really helpful, with clear walking instructions for out hikes. Below is a list of the walks that we did.
There were a few more around Trossachs which were recommended to us in the information centre.
Have a great time in Scotland