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Winter Scottish trip advice needed

leshkin Oct 30, 2015

  1. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    As per title, weather permitting, I'm planning a family road trip around Scotland between just after Christmas and early in the New Year. I know that there are many members from this part of the world and wonder if anyone is willing to share advice on things to do, places to see and roads to drive (assuming they are open at that time of the year).

    I did something similar many years ago, but only had two days and it only made me want to come back again for more :) The main idea of the trip is to see as much of rural Scotland as possible within 4-5 days - not really interested in the urban areas, unless there is something very interesting and family-oriented to see or do there there.

    The plan is to drive from London on my own and pick up my wife and daughter there, who will fly over the following day to keep everyone's sanity, so ideal starting point would likely be Edinburgh. We would then stay at a different hotel/b&b every night as we move along our yet-to-be-decided route.

    Looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts.
     
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  3. Pinky1959

    Pinky1959 Registered User

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    I am shocked you haven't had any replies yet but you could go up to loch Lomond its lovely , check out the boats on the loch and there are sea life centres as well which are really good ,Edinburgh zoo , If you are staying in Edinburgh and going into town you can use the trams and parking is free , unless you are staying in one of the hotels with the parking included .safari park near stirling , various castles etc and you could always check out the transport museum in Glasgow or Edinburgh cant remember which .
    if you have time and are near Longleat on the way back home I would highly recommend it especially if you get a tour in the safari land rovers its really good( bit more cost though) we went a few years ago and had Andy Girraffe keeper who did our trip as the regular guy was off and it put us in the notion to do a real safari and we did and it was really the best holiday we have done so far .
    Check these are open though.
    Enjoy Scotland but watch out for speed traps /unmarked cars on all the busy routes .especially A/ M 74 , A9 M8 etc etc
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
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  4. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    Thanks for the tips - our plans and route are starting to take shape now. I'm getting a bit excited :)
     
  5. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    I just saw this.
    How far North are you planning to travel @leshkin ...?
     
  6. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    hey Jake! Ideally I want to make it to north coast.

    We have made some plans for some of the days already - my wife and kid are flying in to Glasgow on 26th where I pick them up after driving there the previous day. The plan is to stay just north of Glasgow. Then head further inland and try to cover as much area as we can there, before stopping north of Inverness for a couple of days over the New Year. We will then set off home and spend the next couple days getting home.

    We settled on more of a road trip and nature sightseeing as I'm betting that most places will be closed at that time. Saying that, would be nice to see some old castles while we there, so made a wish list of ones we will try to visit.

    I'm no stranger to driving in cold or snow, but do hope that the weather doesn't throw a spanner in the works. Would be amazing to do some passes, with Applecross pass being on my to do list. Although it will be more for just driving them rather than going for it. I know that these are all dependent on weather, so not holding my breath for this

    I suspect that Scottish local authorities are generally more prepared for winter then they are in the south, so hope most roads will be relatively usable
     
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  7. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    Okay, Glasgow is probably the best starting point to take in some really nice scenery.
    This is only an idea, but heading for the A82 takes you along Loch Lomond and it's "Bonny Banks" as the song goes. There are a few parts of the road which can be quite tight, for want of a better description and others, where you will wonder what all the fuss was about as they are quite good. There are loads of small villages on the way North, Crianlarich, Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy and then you start the climb up to and across Rannoch Moor. The views and scenery here are absolutely stunning and it only gets better as you pass the ski and outdoor centre and along to the top of Glencoe.
    I used to travel this road with my job often and I always stopped to take it in.
    This will take you back down to sea level and past Glencoe village and Ballachulish, across the bridge which crosses Loch Leven, through Onich and the road will take you from there, to Fort William and the foot of Ben Nevis.
    Fort William is probably the best place to stop for a breather, (and not as expensive as some of the other tourist orientated stops), before you head up through the Great Glen and along the Caledonian Canal to Inverness. Loch Ness and all it's folklore, is the last loch before Inverness and is always moving with Americans hoping to see Nessie.
    It's a great run and the only way to travel North for me. The A9 is fine, but there is just more to take in on the A82.

    The next part is up to you and I will point you in the most interesting and scenic direction I can, no problem.

    :friends:
     
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  8. Scottyg

    Scottyg Registered User

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    ^^^^^ that. Applecross at that time of year maybe a little adventurous. The above route is a superb drive. The Great Glen is stunning as is Glencoe and all its clan history.
    You'll be surprised what is opened up here at that time of year. Major shops only close on Christmas Day. Even New Year's Day most big town shops are open for the sales.
    Nairn is a lovely town north of Inverness and has its own wee micro climate.
    However, I'd still go with Jake's route as you'll love the drive and the scenery.
    If you can get to Stonehaven for Hogmany you'll see the parade and festival of fire. Something I'd love to see at some point.

    Enjoy. As has been hinted at, watch out for the rozzers. They do like their unmarked Beemers up here.
     
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  9. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    Thanks so much for this guys! It's funny, because my rough plan was to follow this general direction during the first couple of days. I have driven south-west, along Loch Lochy and through Fort William, then down towards Glasgow via this route about 10 years ago on New Year's day - the views were indeed breathtaking although almost ran out of fuel and made it on fumes to Fort William to the only open petrol station for the whole day :) Can't wait to experience it again with my girls!

    I'm not holding my breath for Applecross and if it's looking a bit too much, we'll give it a miss and leave something to come back to during the warmer months in the future.

    I hear you about the boys in blue, @Scottyg , I'm not planning on setting speed records with the family in the car, but will keep an eye out in case I get a little bit overzealous with the loud pedal.

    I'm putting together a route at the moment and will post here once I have the final list of places where we are going to be stopping for the night. Thanks again, much appreciated!
     
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  10. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    To add to that... I know it may sound sad and very touristy, but I always wanted to make it to 'Dunnet Head' and 'Duncansby Head', just to take a photo of all of us and be able to say that I've been to UK mainland most northerly point. We're staying just outside of Alness from 29th to 1st, so will try to make it up there on the 30th before the NY celebrations really kick off :partypooper:
     
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  11. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    I can check out the condition of the Bealach na Ba before you plan that trip. I know that the council guys up there pride themselves on keeping it open as much as they can, so it could be quite do-able.
    Dunnet head is a good one and there's plenty to see on the North coast. John o Groats is just a pretty unspectacular signpost pointing to Lands End and not much else.
    You're going to be staying not far from me, then. I'm about 10 miles South of Alness.
     
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  13. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    Ha! Maybe an opportunity for a mini ASN meet and a couple of photos then! :)

    I hear you about John o Groats - I've spent hours on Google street view already and am struggling to understand what all he fuss is about... Still, its a tick on a list :)
     
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  14. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    Absolutely, ASN mini meet is defo on the cards with photos, and don't worry, I'll think of a nice backdrop for that.

    :salute:
     
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  15. Scottk

    Scottk Active Member VCDS Map User

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    Remember the alcohol limits are lower up here now and the police will breathalyse everyone they stop at that time of year. Inverness is great and there are some superb restaurants. There is also a really good pub near Alness which does good food but the name escapes me at the moment.
    You might manage to get a distillery tour if they are open.
    A9 is average speed so watch that too.
    Aviemore is not bad and a visit to the ski centre gives you good views. You can get the funicular up to the restaurant. There is also a reindeer herd which is a visitor attraction but it does close at some time round then as they are quite busy on the run up to Xmas with Santa visits etc.
    The cairn o mount road is great from Banchory to Stonehaven but does close quickly in poor weather.
     
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  16. AudiSpy

    AudiSpy Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I have an aunt in Aviemore area and it's really nice around there, rode my bike up there and spent days riding round and up to John o'groats as well. I am planning another trip and this picture is firmly on my list!

    [​IMG]

    Its off the A82 near Glencoe
     
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  17. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    Buachaille Etive Mòr, the place that everyone goes to see how good the Mountain Rescue people are.
    Beautiful part of Scotland it is though.

    There is actually a Skyfall on the map if you check it out...!
     
  18. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    I've been checking out photos from Google Earth - that place looks amazing!
     
  19. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    I've never been down that road but, it is just off the A82 before you get to Glencoe.
    There are a few Munro's down there, so it will be happening sometime.
    Not in the winter though, it's as treacherous as it is beautiful.
     
  20. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    Haha, I definitely plan on staying close to the beaten path - I'm sure that there are plenty of things to see without risking too much :)
     
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  21. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    Absolutely. I was meaning the mountains but that is the sort of road that won't get much treatment over the winter.
    Every time we hear somebody has gone missing, or there is an Air Sea Rescue search, Buachaille Etive Mòr is a hot contender for the location.

    :search:
     
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  22. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    Just thought I should check in and say that petrolheads of Scotland are a lucky bunch to have such epic roads and views nearby! The family and I have spent the last few days roaming the lands just north of Glasgow and are making our way north, through Fort William and then to north of Inverness for a couple of nights over the New Year.

    The weather has been a major letdown so far and so has the mobile data reception, but the views and opportunities for getting out and getting messy on some nice trails are more than making up for it.

    We are already making plans for a summer trip - need more daylight to get the most out of it :)
     
  23. Scottk

    Scottk Active Member VCDS Map User

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    Weather has been absolute pish so far. Would be much better if the temp dropped and we got some cold crisp days. Summer is great with daylight lasting so long, just watch for the midgies!
    Have fun and hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.
     
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  24. Sandra

    Sandra Administrator Staff Member Administrator Platinum Supporter Audi Main Dealer

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    @leshkin hope you and the family enjoy the rest of your stay. It is rather wet at the moment but a return trip in the summer be worth it. Drive safe. :) x
     
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  25. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    @leshkin, have some candles at the ready for tomorrow, word is there will be some strong gales coming in.
    PM me if you fancy meeting up. There are some nice places around where you are staying and there are some nice roads and views close by.
    Oh, and welcome to **** signal territory......lol.
     
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  26. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    Thanks Jake! We're already starting to hear the wind, hopefully it's not as bad as they say.

    Definitely up for a quick meet if it's convenient. I'll pm you my number, but chances are I'll struggle to find phone reception around here :(
     
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  27. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    ...and we're back home! Safe and very tired, but we met some interesting people along the way and brought back some great memories with us. The weather did throw a spanner in the works on occasion, but overall, I'd say that we were very lucky with it and even had a good few sunny days to enjoy the scenery. I did feel like the S3 would need to be fitted out with a outboard motor due to some roads being quite flooded :)

    We managed to see some of the castles, with Eilean and Urquhart Castles being the highlights.

    Anyway, here are some of the photos from the trip:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
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    Dunnet Head was amazing when we got there! We were probably the first to get there on the last day of the year and were treated with glorious sunshine and some great view of the coastline.
    [​IMG]

    I got to drive some of the most amazing roads in UK and had a huge grin on my face for much of the time.
    [​IMG]

    The local constabulary did like my front plate though. They started off with illegal material (pressed plates), non-reflective (they were) and no BS stamp visible. In the end we settled on the fact that only the BS stamp was the reason for it being illegal - I will have to pay a visit to my local MOT place this week to get this resolved :)
    [​IMG]

    Thanks to those who helped with ideas for this trip! And it was great to meet you @Jake 61 ! Like I said, give me a call if you are ever near London, would be great to grab a beer together :)
     
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  28. mister.c.

    mister.c. Registered User

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    Excellent read. Food for thought for me to do something when the weather is better.
    Any B&B's / Hotels you would definitely recommend?
     
  29. Sandra

    Sandra Administrator Staff Member Administrator Platinum Supporter Audi Main Dealer

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    @leshkin Apart from the local Constabulary not liking your number plate, im glad that you and the family enjoyed your stay. We do have wonderful scenery and fantastic roads. Good you got to meet Jack. Your pictures are fantastic, think I need a road trip soon so I can enjoy all over again, im afraid I take the scenery for granted. Good you home safe. :) x
     
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  30. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    @mister.c. Yes, I would recommend booking a cheap 3-star hotel in favour of B&Bs as the prices vary greatly, but so does the quality. With quality sometimes being very out of whack with prices.

    We stayed at Cairndow Stagecoach Inn for the first two nights after I picked up the girls, its conveniently located near Loch Lomond, but I can't say that we liked it - very old, cold and food was mediocre at best. It's fine in a pinch, but I'd look for an alternative next time and fall back to this if no other options were there. http://www.cairndowinn.com

    Then we stayed at 'The Isles of Glencoe Hotel' for the next two nights which is a reasonably priced, modern hotel with focus on water sports and the like. No thrills, but nothing bad to say about it. Very close to the Skyfall filming location too! Has a pool, which my little one loved. Sauna is a great touch too. http://www.islesofglencoe.co.uk

    For the NY celebrations we stayed at Kincraig Castle, which was quite nice, but a little out of the way from the nicer roads and more like a country house than a castle :) Service was good, food was amazing and great atmosphere. It's a nice place to stop if you, like us, really want to visit the north - http://www.kincraig-castle-hotel.co.uk

    If you ever get out that way, do make a point of driving along the A87 from Invergarry toward Eilean Donan Castle - an amazing road with some epic viewpoints as well as a great driving experience. Many places to pass slower traffic and generally a must-drive road :) Although we were running out of daylight and had to go back after doing a guided tour of Eilean Donan Castle, Applecross pass is only a bit further on, so would be a great day's driving.

    Also, as people said, avoid the A9 like the plague - average speed cameras everywhere and that was the lowest point of our drive back Great views, but boring as hell from a driving experience perspective. I even resorted to coming off it and driving down the slower, but much more rewarding B9152 to stay focused. If I had the time, I'd go back along Loch Ness and down via the A82, but that would have added more time to our already very long drive down to Carlisle.
     
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  31. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    Aye ;) Scotland has a truly amazing landscape. First couple of days I kept thinking how small and insignificant it makes you feel :)
     
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  32. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    Hey @leshkin, glad you enjoyed the most of the trip and yes, great to meet up and have a chat. Sounds like you took in a few good sights and roads. Shame about Mr. Knox though, as I said, no need for that really, with tourism being one of the attractions up here, there is no need to put people off by issuing unnecessary tickets like that..!
    I also stayed at The Stagecoach at Cairndow many years ago. I was working at one of the local power stations and it was very good, although I did hear that the then owners, had sold up and moved on.
    Some great pics from the trip, was that a picture of Kilchurn...? A place I must visit myself having never been there.
    Nice write up though and I hope it encourages more of the ASN gang to take a look at what's on the doorstep.

    [​IMG]:yes:
     
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  34. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    Thanks Jake! The two officers were OK and I remained polite with them throughout, which made it easier to get my point across. We had a chat about the road conditions and the S3, which one of them really liked :) But yeah, it did strike me as being a little on the pedantic side.

    The Stagecoach Inn did seem a bit past its prime and could do with a bit of renovation work done.

    Yes, that was Kilchurn castle, which we stumbled upon by accident after we decided to drive through A819 (another great piece of tarmac) and along the coast (A85, A828) on our way from Cairndow to Glencoe. We wanted to visit the Inveraray Castle, but that was closed on the day, so Kilchurn was our consolation prise :) Unfortunately it was closed off inside, so we walked around it and took some photos. I really took to the railway bridge that is nearby, loved how that photo turned out considering how bad the light was at the time :)
     
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  35. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    @Jake 61 Just noticed your signature - I think Carlsberg have been consulted on, when it comes to Scottish roads :laughing:
     
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  36. el-diablo675

    el-diablo675 Registered User

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    Reminds me of our bike trip up there in July. Did some of the same roads truly stunning even with two days riding in the rain.
     
  37. Jake 61

    Jake 61 Teacher of bad things..! Gold Supporter VCDS Map User

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    He, he..... I'm going to drop you a PM, re pedantic.
    Kilchurn is on my to do list, it's one of those places where you could spend a day with the camera, so I am going to.
    Yes, my signature photo was taken on the A894, just South of Kylesku Bridge. This is on the West part of the newly publicised North West 500 tourist route and I have to agree, Carlsberg must have been consulting engineers on that contract...!
     
  38. leshkin

    leshkin Hold my beer... VCDS Map User

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    I was very surprised to see some bikers still touring there given the very wet and conditions. I was a biker myself and not really sure about how much enjoyment that can be had when you're soaked and cold :)
     

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