A Circuit of Scotland: Overview

This series covers a thirteen-day circuit of Scotland, including Edinburgh, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, Oban, Fort William, Skye, and Inverness, in May 2015. It is divided into two parts:

The map below covers our general itinerary, and I’ve made some notes about resources we found helpful while planning our trip and where we stayed. You can also view my full Scotland photoset on Flickr.

Resources we found helpful in planning

  • We used Wikitravel quite a bit for Edinburgh and to get a sense of overall top destinations.
  • For hikes, we used used WalkHighlands extensively; I can’t say enough good things about this website and the people who maintain it. It contains detailed walk descriptions throughout Scotland, arranged by area, making it a great resource at all steps in planning your trip.
  • TripAdvisor was, as usual, indispensable in planning where to stay.
  • Maps. We didn’t count on cellular data, so we bought two maps for this trip. One was great, the other not so much.
    • Michelin Map Great Britain: Scotland 501. While unwieldy, this is a great map. It was our constant companion during the trip and added value beyond what we got from Google Maps. The map helped us find points of interest, identify faster routes or more scenic routes, and just generally navigate. It had wonderful detail about not just road locations and landmarks, but also road conditions (single track with passing? dual width? along cliffs?) that helped us know what we were getting into when we selected a route. The legend and symbols are clear and fairly intuitive. For downsides, the map is large and a bit hard to fold. This is a fair tradeoff considering the detail — I would not want it smaller. By the end of the trip, it had some tears in the creases and I doubt it would have held up well for another two weeks. Still, if I were to make a repeat trip, I’d use this one again or buy another copy without hesitation.
    • Collins Scotland Road Map. Collins produces a map that is clearly laid out and very easy to read. It folds well, which is good, since it is large and can be handful in the car. It doesn’t have a lot detail though, and misses many secondary roads. We found ourselves wanting to refer to this map since it is clear and was easier to work with, but almost always turning to the Michelin map which had more roads, more landmarks, and more details about road conditions and attributes. I recommend purchasing the Michelin map over this one.

Gear we found helpful

We mostly used our standard hiking and travel gear for this trip, with just a few additions.

Note: when possible, we use links to sites where we earn commissions if you make a purchase after following that link.

  • We both bought gaiters (Outdoor Research Crocodiles), which we used infrequently but very much appreciated for the boggiest sections of the hikes. Sean’s developed a wear spot, which Outdoor Research agreed was a defect and replaced without hassle.
  • Unsure of which hikes we were going to do and how much snow would linger, we both bought traction devices, settling on the Hillsound Trail Crampons, which are easily packable and have a little more grip than microspikes.
  • Sean got a lightweight hardshell to deal with the gusts and rain.

Where we stayed in Scotland

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel (Edinburgh). Comfortable, convenient for what we wanted to see, and reasonably priced. (Booking.com)

Hilton (Edinburgh Airport). Modern, clean hotel, with good drinks and breakfast for Hilton Diamond members. The hotel has its own stop on Bus 100, but make sure to let the driver know you want to stop. Very convenient for early flights.

Lomond View Country House (Tarbet / Loch Lomond & The Trossachs). Friendly, small guest house with a good breakfast and peak-a-boo views of Loch Lomond. Walking distance from Cruise Loch Lomond in Tarbet.

Glenrigh Guest House (Oban). One of the larger guest houses we stayed at so it did not have quite the same personal feel. It had everything we needed and was in a great location, right on the coast and walkable to the center of town. (Booking.com)

Treetops B&B (Fort William). This was probably my favorite bed and breakfast of the trip. The owners went out of their way to take care of all the guests and breakfast was fantastic. Our room also had a lovely view of Ben Nevis. (Booking.com)

Woodlands B&B (Portree, Skye). This was another small bed and breakfast, with simpler accommodations than others. To save money, we stayed in a ground floor rom that was a bit darker. The location was convenient, since we could walk to and from meals in Portree but didn’t have to struggle to find parking. Portree is also centrally located, making it a good base for exploring the island for a few days.

Inverglen Guest House (Inverness). Set in a residential neighborhood but walkable from a number of restaurants (we recommend Thistle and Fig). The owner was particularly helpful in recommending how to make the most of our time in Inverness, and they also fix a good breakfast.

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