Scotland with a friend: Edinburgh to Skye
February 11, 2024 2:19 PM   Subscribe

MeFi has some fab posts on this topic, so for now limiting this request to ideas around a proposed Edinburgh to Skye route over, say, a 10-day period in a shoulder month like May or September. We are two open-minded active outdoorsy women who want a balance of quirk, adventure and comfort. Plenty of mindblowing scenery a must.

For starters, very curious about our lodging options when a) we are two friends who'd like to share a room but would rather not share a bed and b) the idea of shared common space to meet others really appeals. A step up from a standard hostel experience, perhaps? It seems reasonable to think we'll find lodging in the realm of no more than US$100-150/nt each. Something like the Isle of Skye Guesthouse might be up our alley. Or the kind of AirBnb that is in the home of a local. When I see 'double' in a listing, I assume that's one bed for two. When I see 'twin' I don't know if that's one twin bed, or two. I rely on pictures, and welcome local knowledge about such things. I really don't think we want to stay anywhere that isolates us in separate rooms.

Otherwise, we want to visit a couple of castles, enjoy some scenic hikes that are in the 5-10mi range, and visit some interesting sites... things that jump out so far are the Kelpies, the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail, Eileen Donan Castle, the Storr. Oban looks wonderful, and I wonder if the Hollow Mountain is worth a visit.

We were at first thinking of walking stretches of long-distance trails, though I know we'd not be packing with plans to carry it all on our backs. We'd want baggage transfer, and I think we want to limit anything like that to 2-3 days so we can diversify our experience. We are completely open to fitting in short tours here and there. I wonder about scenic day trips from a kayak that might involve some birding experiences, or viewing ruins from the water, for example.

Would it makes sense to rent a car for all or part of this?
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Travel & Transportation around Scotland (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
> When I see 'twin' I don't know if that's one twin bed, or two.

In the UK, a “twin” room means two single beds.
posted by parm at 2:36 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Oh hey, did exactly this with my BFF in 2022. Sounds like you already have some great plans but may I insist on going to Glencoe and staying at the Clachaig. It's exactly what you are looking for.

Reasonably priced modest accommodations with twin rooms (a twin room is 2 small separate beds in UK). It's a great little small inn with a pub where everyone goes at night because it's otherwise in the middle of nowhere. The views from the Inn alone are insane, and you can walk right out of the front door and hit some spectacular trails. It's right along the A82 Glencoe Valley drive which is more breathtaking scenery (Three Sisters) and just down the road from the Glencoe Visitors Center which itself is a great stop (more hikes, a lovely facility with good history and nature exhibits and good cafe and shop).

We were there in mid/late September which was wild weather, bright sky and sun one minute, grey and wet the next, but made for dozens and dozens of rainbows. Like you would see 2-3 rainbows at the same time, it's bananas. It also makes for beautifully dynamic way to see the scenery bc the light is constantly shifting.

Have so much fun!
posted by greta simone at 2:37 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]

Would it makes sense to rent a car for all or part of this
It occurs to me that you could consider renting a camper van. That would give you travel flexibility, certainly of accommodation and the sociability you can get if you stop over in camp sites. Not as comfortable as a hotel but more resilient than a tent in a country that is not always a stranger to wind and rain.

For outdoorsy inspiration I recommend some of the videos made by local couple with channel “Going the hole Hogg
posted by rongorongo at 2:37 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]

My husband and I did this 15 years ago, so take it with a grain of salt, but: we rented a car to drive from Glasgow to Skye, and the drive was spectacular (with the caveat that I made him do all the driving because I was too scared to drive on the “wrong side”). We stayed at the Stein Inn, which was lovely, visited the Tallisker distillery, and wandered/drove around to Portree and some of the other towns. It’s hard to find a less than stunning view anywhere in that area.
posted by theotherdurassister at 2:39 PM on February 11

Oh sorry, I missed the point about the car. Yes, highly recommend getting a car. We spent so much time just seeing stuff from the road and turning off to explore (old church ruins! A random-ass castle! Oh look, that pub looks fun! Where does this road go? Holy crap we need to pull over and take a picture of that!). I wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way.
posted by greta simone at 2:42 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

If you go in the university summer (could not find a definite answer but looks like late May - early September) you could stay at the Edinburgh University accommodation. It will have a common room (how busy this is depends on the other guests) and restaurant where they serve an excellent Scottish buffet breakfast (included in the room rate).

They have other (year round) accommodation too but that is probably more like a hotel.
posted by pianissimo at 2:57 AM on February 12

If you're looking for jaw-dropping scenery, I recommend the Quiraing, which is on the northern end of Skye. I honestly think it's the most beautiful place I've been in my life, and I was there in late November! It should be even more breathtaking in May or September. I only did part of the hike and it was honestly pretty hard, but there's plenty of space to just walk around and admire the view if you don't want to follow the trail.

We stayed a few nights in Uig and I really enjoyed that area. The Fairy Glen is a really neat little walk!
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 3:28 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]

The MV Glenachulish crossing to Skye, is an interesting alternative to the bridge, it is the last manually operated turntable ferry in the world.
posted by Lanark at 3:55 AM on February 13

Seconding greta simone’s endorsement of the Clachaig. Not the nicest or largest room I’ve ever stayed in but painfully beautiful location/views (we literally kept gasping as we drove up into Glencoe) and yes, the pub was truly special. We ended up spending hours chatting for hoirs with a local-ish couple who had driven up in their camper van and were seated at the table next to ours. A magical place to be sure.

Driving on the opposite side of the road from what I was used to was not the most comfortable experience but deeply worth it. Allowed us to get places and see things (and be spontaneous) in a way that would have basically been impossible without it.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 5:34 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

Just adding a shout to maybe consider wild swimming while you are here. Popular throughout Scotland particularly since lock-down times, many local groups you can contact and which are open to newcomers. The BBC series in which Jules and Greg travel the country doing just this can be an inspiration. If you try it is unlikely to be an experience you forget.
posted by rongorongo at 10:01 AM on February 15

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