Follow-up question on travel in Scotland (this time eastern Scotland)
August 5, 2013 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Because we're probably going to be in Scotland long enough to not only see Islay and Isle of Skye but also return via eastern Scotland (Inverary, Loch Ness, St Andrews maybe, and Edinbugh), I'm looking for similar great tips to those people offered in my earlier AskMe. Thanks, all.
posted by aught to Travel & Transportation around Scotland (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
If you're going to be close to Loch Ness, you might be able to arrange a stop at Moniack Castle Winery, just west of Inverness. Unusual white wine from the sap of the silver birch.

Dunfermline Abbey would make a nice stop. The nearby church is still in active use and is the burial place for several Kings of Scotland, including Robert the Bruce. Dunfermline, itself, is also the boyhood home of Andrew Carnegie. Easy rail connections to Edinburgh.

Check out Loch Leven Castle, on an island in Loch Leven, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned and forced to abdicate the throne to her thirteen month-old son, James. James (he of the King James Version of the Bible) later became King of England when Elizabeth (last of Henry VIII's heirs) died.
posted by John Borrowman at 2:38 PM on August 5, 2013

My wife and I recently moved to Aberdeen and have been able to explore the eastern parts of Scotland a bit. If you have an interest in seeing Loch Ness, I would probably look into one of the Jacobite cruises that allow you to explore around Urquhart Castle and the town of Drumnadrochit. Past that, I probably wouldn't bother with nearby Inverness. There isn't a whole lot of interest there.

If you want to go to St. Andrews and Edinburgh from there, I would suggest taking the A96 from Inverness to Aberdeen and then the A90 south from there. Along the way you can stop at the Johnston's of Elgin cashmere mill and store for shopping and a mill tour. If you have time, I would also recommend a stop at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum in Aberdeen. It is dedicated to documenting Aberdeen's past as a fishing village and present as a North Sea oil hub and its really quite a nice museum. A little jaunt into Aberdeen would also allow you to take a look at the granite architecture which the city is known for.

South of Aberdeen I would stop at the ruins of Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven, which, in my opinion, is what you expect when you think of a Scottish castle. From there, its a pretty easy trip south towards St. Andrews and Edinburgh via either the A90 or the coastal tourist route.
posted by Joe Schlabotnik at 2:48 PM on August 5, 2013

In the last day a great trip report was posted on r/Scotland mainly Edinburgh and surrounding but very well done. link
posted by stuartmm at 2:50 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Near-ish to Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle (pronounced uck-urt), which is most certainly worth a look. Inverness is a great city if you live there or nearby, but if you're a tourist there's really not a whole lot in the city for you to do, although it's quite pretty. A Jacobite cruise is probably the way to go.

Speaking of castles, you MUST take a detour to Dornie and see Eilean Donan castle. For my money, it's one of the most beautiful places in all of Scotland.

Near Inverness, you should go and see Culloden battlefield, the site of the final battle of the Jacobite Rebellion. The visitor centre is excellent, and it's worth a look if you're interested in Scottish history.

If you have any interest at all in whisky, go to Moray & Speyside and drive the Malt Whisky Trail, stopping off for a few tours of some distilleries. And if you're not interested in whisky, go anyway, because it's a beautiful drive.

The Cairngorms National Park is probably also worth a visit, weather permitting.

If you stop by Elgin to see Johnston's Woollen Mill, go over the road a wee bit and look at Elgin Cathedral - the ruins are stunning.

If you're in Aberdeenshire and happen to be near it, Pennan is a beautiful village in an amazing location, but don't detour if you're not near by because it'll take about 2 minutes to see the entire thing.

Depending on when you go (in September?) you may find St Andrews unbearable with all the new students. There are some great fishing villages in Fife that are well worth a look - Crail, Anstruther, etc. And if you're in Fife, you should probably go and see the secret bunker - a cold war era underground bunker where the government would have been based, had there been a nuclear war.

Oh, and be prepared for rain. Bring a hooded raincoat, not an umbrella - in a Scottish autumn, umbrellas are very often useless, because the rain (oh, so much rain) is very often accompanied by high winds.

People mentioned it in your other ask, but I will reiterate that roads will be much smaller than you are used to in the US (there are literally no motorways north of Perth) and while the dual carriageways are pretty decent, if you are not on an A-road, be prepared for single track country roads with hairpin bends, down which the locals drive remarkably fast.
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 3:30 PM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd skip Culloden, 'cos it's very grim.

Definitely the villages of the East Neuk of Fife (Crail, Anstruther) and down to Elie. Make sure you get fish and chips in Fife, because — even though their speech makes Kenneths nervous⁺ — they know their f&c.

A brisk walk on the beach at North Berwick, with some S. Luca of Musselburgh ice cream afterwards (look for the purple truck). Roads to and from N Berwick are tiny and curvy; I'd only been away from Scotland for a decade and I found them troubling.

⁺: "…, ken?" (= y'know) is a common speech tag on the east coast.
posted by scruss at 6:19 PM on August 5, 2013

Seconding Urquhart and Eilean Donan and bringing an umbrella and maybe Inverness and thus probably everything else Joey Joe Joe said.
posted by dogwalker at 11:35 PM on August 5, 2013

Stirling is not really east but it will be in your vicinity. See it, it's beautiful.
posted by mani at 1:45 AM on August 6, 2013

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