Scotland - Road Trip & T in the Park
June 23, 2012 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Upcoming Trip to Scotland: Itinerary, Road trip & T in the Park

One of my best friends and I are flying to Scotland next week - and our itinerary looks like this:
-Fly into Edinburgh from U.S.
-Drive to St. Andrews (1 day)
-Inverness (1 day)
-Glasgow (2 days)
-Edinburgh (2 days)
-Kinross for T in the Park (3 days)

What are the 1-2 things in each place we MUST see?

As first time T in the Park attendees - what are your best festival tips?

Lastly - any good road trip games
posted by angsolom to Travel & Transportation around Scotland (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My favourite road trip game is Eddie Stobart - basically you shout as soon as you see one of his friendly trucks, and she who sees the most wins! All the trucks have names as well for extra interest.
posted by ukdanae at 10:29 AM on June 23, 2012

Personally, I'd can the Inverness day (its charms are subtle) and spend a day hanging out in the East Neuk (Anstruther, Elie, Crail) so you can soak up some Fence Collective wistfulness. And likely have the best fish and chips of your life.
posted by scruss at 10:50 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

1. I thought Edinburgh Castle was really neat. They ceremonially fire a cannon every afternoon, if you like that sort of thing.
2. There is also Mary King's Close, which is a museum type exhibition of the catacombs underneath the town.
3. I also went on a ghost tour that took us through a few places above ground, and several other parts of the catacombs underneath the city (best part - it finished up at a bar where we proceeded to drink away the terror from some creepy moments).
4. The Scott monument gets you a really good view of the city. I'm acrophobic, but I'm glad I went up to the top for the view (costs around 3 pounds)
5. The Scottish Parliament building was pretty neat looking, if modern architecture is your thing.

If you're going to Inverness, you should drive down to Drumnadrochit & take a tour of Loch Ness. There is a Nessie museum that is really rather corny though.
posted by AMSBoethius at 11:01 AM on June 23, 2012

You don't say what sort of things you are looking to see: engineering, architecture, country houses, beautiful scenery... if you can be a little more specific, so can we. You also say in each place, so I'm restricting myself to things within a short drive of the actual towns. I'm also not going to discuss the route between your destinations, although I think that this could make or break your road trip (A9 to Inverness? No thanks!). There are obvious things (Old Course, Culloden, Urquhart Castle, etc.) that I'm going to skip over in favour of things that are less immediately apparent to tourists.

Picking up on the Inverness point before we start: as scruss says, its attractions are limited (although less so than Fort William or Aviemore which are definitely not that special) but the really interesting stuff starts north west of there. Luckily the tourists rarely make it that far ;)

So, with those caveats, here are a couple of things I would seek out close to each of your destinations:

St Andrews
If you are in the Howe of Fife at this time of year, you should definitely consider getting some strawberries from the local fruit farms to graze on as you drive. Also there's Hill of Tarvit mansion house if you like old houses and Balmerino Abbey if you like ruined abbeys with sea views [free, unmanned, only takes about 15 minutes].

If I were you, I'd drive north west to Coigach and climb Stac Pollaidh for views over (IMO) the most beautiful landscape in the country. I'd give nearly anything to be standing there right now. If I can't persuade you, then how about the Clava cairns? For a wet day, visit Leakey's bookshop.

Voltaire and Rousseau is the complete opposite of Leakey's (small, pokey, no cafe, but unfortunately not as messy as it once was). The Burrell Collection on the south side with some fascinating medieval art and tapestries. Unfortunately, the building (while impressive) does leak, and when I was last there, there was some water damage.

I've already told you to climb one hill. Climb more here! At least get up Arthur's Seat for the best views of the city except those from Appleton Tower and if Stac Pollaidh above was your thing consider venturing into the Pentlands. It always amazed me that in my old home town I could take a bus to the edge of the city and I was into hilly moorland. Be sure to visit the museums and galleries that take your fancy, my favourite is currently the reopened Portrait Gallery.

As a rule, tourist attractions that are in good condition and have lots of staff (castles, country houses) are (IMO) too expensive for what they are. The ruins and archaeological stuff is typically free, and well worth seeking out. Publicly funded museums are invariably free.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 11:16 AM on June 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah Inverness is a bit of an outlier in the locations you want to see and only really worth it if you want to spend some time in the Highlands (which you totally should!). I would maybe shave a day off your time in Edinburgh or Glasgow to really check the Highlands out.

In any event. I live in St Andrews. MeFImail me if I can help you guys out, or you find yourself needing a drinking buddy in the Whey Pat Tavern :)
posted by TheOtherGuy at 12:39 PM on June 23, 2012

Unfortunately, the building (while impressive) does leak, and when I was last there, there was some water damage.

It's looking gorgeous at the moment, so they've had that fixed and it really looks splendid. If you go to the Burrell, Pollack House is wonderful and has a fabulous collection of Spanish art. And cart horses. And a really nice cafe in the basement.

Voltaire and Rousseau is a wonderful bookshop - it's got very little order, but it's a total trip and you will always find some gem. There's a great tea shop near there called Tchai-Ovna, which is well worth a visit. Everyone who goes to Glasgow concentrates on Mackintosh, but a lot of Greek Thomson's buildings are worth a look at if you're into architecture - the St Vincent Street Church is downtown and fabulous. I love the Botanic gardens in Glasgow, and they have enough glasshouses that you can escape the rain. If you want a fun lunch time experience the Oranmore (right beside the botanic gardens) has 'A Play, A Pie and a Pint' lunchtime theatre which is 10 pounds and a nice afternoon bit of culture.

I have no idea if you'll have a car, but if you will and will have a designated driver and want to do a distillery I highly recommend Bladnoch Distillery, in Bladnoch, near Wigtown. They're small (you might run into the owner rolling barrels) and they produce some amazing whisky. Simply magnificent.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:41 PM on June 23, 2012

Oh and Festivals in Scotland.... bring midge repellent!

I was at a Festival in Aviemore last weekend and my face is still covered in bites!
posted by TheOtherGuy at 12:41 PM on June 23, 2012

When in Edinburgh, eat at these two places:

Edinburgh Larder - OH MY GOD I WANT TO LIVE THERE. This is the Deli/Cafe and is right off the High Street. I seriously want to be adopted by these people. I could have eaten there every meal.

Castle Terrace Expensive, awesome, amazing. Make reservations. We had a big dinner here that was completely off the charts. Worth every single penny and possibly the best meal we had during our entire trip. Don't look at the prices just order what you want.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:04 PM on June 23, 2012

Glasgow Subcrawl !!. The underground is just one big oval. The original version was getting off at every station and finding a bar to have a drink but it has variations that include Art and Architecture if you want to mix and match.
ie Scotland Street school at Shields road instead of Old Toll Bar. New Transport Museum from Partick , Art Galleries from KelvinHall etc

Glasgow is also great for live music with a range of venues and styles. A wee video about the Merchant City music scene.

Lesbiassparrow is correct about 'Greek' Thomson. St Vincent Street church is fantastic and the Caledonia Rd Church is criminally neglected. If you do go to the cemeteries go to the Southern Necropolis and spot his grave

Previous AskMe re Glasgow
Also the web site for this years Doors Open Days may give you some ideas. There are versions in other cities as well.
posted by stuartmm at 2:11 PM on June 23, 2012

It has been raining heavily for a while, and there's more forecast for next week; unless there is a very dramatic hot spell to dry things out, it's going to be a very muddy festival.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:19 AM on June 24, 2012

I liked eating at Nice and Sleazy's in Glasgow.
posted by mippy at 4:11 AM on June 25, 2012

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