Scotland trip itinerary assist, please

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steveinUS

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Wife and I will be visiting Scotland in Spring 2020 (late April to early May our first trip outside the U.S. since our Cancun honeymoon 35 years ago). I’m building our itinerary and would greatly appreciate any kind feedback and reality checks on what we have thus far. Dates of flights are booked and firm.
  • Depart the US on a Sunday evening on a 7 hour direct flight into Edinburgh, landing Monday morning.
  • Spend 3 days & nights in or around Edinburgh.
  • Thursday drive to Kelso for 4 nights (Booked and firm). We’ll be there for Border Terriers 2020 (but not bringing our little fellow). The show events we plan to attend are on Saturday and Sunday, leaving the better part of two days to explore what Kelso has to offer, which from our view looks pretty rich. I’m looking forward to some shopping, wonderful meals, taking in a castle or two, visiting Rutherford’s Micro Pub, the Cross Keys hotel, and Cobbles Inn for the Kelso Folk Club music which the hotel and Cobbles host on Fridays. Also would appreciate any opinions on Tempest, and Born in the Borders breweries as either places to visit, or for their beers to seek out.
  • Monday morning depart Kelso and drive to just outside Glasgow for one night, as a waypoint to the Islay ferry. On the way to Glasgow, we’ll make touristy stops to spend some time at both Abbotsford and Traquair House.
  • Tuesday a.m. on we go to Kennacraig for the ferry to Islay, for a 2-night stay...undecided where to stay on Islay to maximize our use (distilleries, pubs, sightseeing, great meals, meeting the people) of the approximately day and a half there. Because of their ferry timetables, we think we will arrive at Port Askaig and depart from Port Ellen. We love a nice B&B and I’m thinking more centrally located might be better than staying closer to one of the ports, but does that really even matter, since it looks pretty much like only a 45 minute drive between the furthest reaches of the island?
  • Thursday ferry from Port Ellen back to Kennacraig, then a brisk drive to a hotel we have booked for Thursday evening near the Edinburgh airport.
  • Friday morning to the airport for a direct flight home.
Does any of that sound crazy, unmanageable, too hectic, etc.? I really really wanted to go to Shetland but that would have been too big a time suck, so we compromised on Islay. The pace seems steady, but with enough time spent everywhere to enjoy and relax without running ourselves ragged, and with a little flexibility for the inevitable unforeseen issue or event. We are also slowing down somewhat ourselves (energy level and mobility) but we still get around ok, just don’t plan on adventurous hikes, or climbing rocky beaches.

Please feel free to laugh at, cry for, critique, or lambaste the above draft. We’re grateful for any input from this forum.
 

Clint

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Sounds great! I was in Edinburgh a couple of weeks back...what a great city..the castle is worth a visit..I was staying just outside at a place called Rosslyn... of the chapel and holy grail/davinci code fame.
 

kelper

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Google Maps will give quite good time estimates for driving. On the smaller, Scottish roads you will average no more than 40mph. What car are you planning to use? A compact is recommended. I have not visited Islay in decades but I visited every distillery! Bowmore was the best. The weather is very variable but can be surprisingly warm on a sunny day so use a 'layered' approach for clothing just in case it's wet and windy. If it's wet, windy, cold and misty it's 'driech'!
 

Northern_Brewer

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Tempest are one of the best breweries in Scotland, if not the whole of the UK, but are in the modern vein. BitB is mebbe less interesting from a beer point of view but AIUI their visitor centre is one of the better ones if you want a one-hit exposure to various local produce, brewing is just one thing they do as part of that wider localism agenda.

+1 on using Google Maps to get an idea of drive timings - but rush hour can be brutal, particularly around Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Closer to the time it's worth having a look around for any beer or other festivals going on - although October is peak beer festival time there's usually a number in late Spring as well - Tempest have theirs in late May. I think the big Glasgow arts festival is around that time of year for instance.
 

prog99

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I live in Edinburgh but generally give the tourist destinations a body swerve. However Roslyn Chapel is worth a visit.
I can advise on plenty of good beer spots though!
 

Stewart Brewing

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Hi Steven,
If you are staying just outside Glasgow and have some spare time there are a few good beer pubs you might want to consider. Two listed but there are others of course.
Glasgow West End - Innis and Gunn Brewery and Taproom. G12 8SJ
Glasgow City Center - Shilling Brewing Company and Taproom. G2 1PJ
 

steveinUS

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Thanks everyone. We built the itinerary using Google Maps for travel time estimates. But we anticipate that reality on the ground, and learning new driving skills, will probably slow us down at least at first.

The car thing will be an adventure, I have links to some videos to help me anticipate the challenges of driving on the wrong side of the road, traffic signs, etc. but nothing will substitute for getting behind the wheel and giving it a go. I will be looking for the smallest possible car that we can fit into (we’re both tall) with the most legroom. Also has to be an automatic (I am a caveman who never needed to learn to drive a manual) which I suspect will limit our selection.
 

Alex.mc

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If you are driving around Loch Fyne to get from Glasgow to the Islay ferry, then definitely drop in on Fyne Ales. It's literally 200 yards off the road you would be on. Their Jarl is amongst the others, a very fine Cask beer.
 

Rodcx500z

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Hi Steve hope you enjoy your jollys in Scotland I love the place, be aware the drink drive limit is lower than the rest of the uk, Glen Marnoch distillary is near Glasgow I enjoyed our visit 2 years ago
 

steveinUS

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Hi Steve hope you enjoy your jollys in Scotland I love the place, be aware the drink drive limit is lower than the rest of the uk, Glen Marnoch distillary is near Glasgow I enjoyed our visit 2 years ago
Thanks! I have read that about Scotland’s low blood alcohol threshold, and the expression “forewarned is forearmed” comes to mind. So yeah, definitely no plans here to press my luck on that.
 

kelper

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If you like a whisky or a beer in the evening this will dictate where you stay on Islay. You want to be in, or at least near, a pub or hotel. You could telephone or email the Islay Tourist Information people.

https://www.islayinfo.com/islay-tourist-information-bowmore.html

They can help with accommodation booking and will know what attractions are fully open. They have an app that you can download.
 

johncrobinson

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Re:> SteveinUS
Come over and have a grand time
You will be made most wellcome

BTW I have no connection with the Scottish tourist board.
 

druid1966

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Aye on the driving bit. I learned to swap in New Zealand last year.....boy that takes some getting used to. My mrs said it took 3 weeks before she felt "somewhat" safe in the car......
 

steveinUS

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If you like a whisky or a beer in the evening this will dictate where you stay on Islay. You want to be in, or at least near, a pub or hotel.
Thanks, those are my current thoughts as well. A friend and his brother stayed at a B&B in Port Wemyss a year ago and he absolutely still raves about it. Our current inclination is to be in a hotel (with a nice bar) that is more centrally located. But a B&B that is very close to a pub would almost be better. We plan to visit some of my favorite distilleries during our one full day there, but know we cannot go to more than just a few of them. I do intend to claim my dram of ground rent at Laphroaig.
 

steveinUS

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If you are driving around Loch Fyne to get from Glasgow to the Islay ferry, then definitely drop in on Fyne Ales. It's literally 200 yards off the road you would be on. Their Jarl is amongst the others, a very fine Cask beer.
Thanks for that, it’s definitely on the list if tyme permits!
 
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