I'm going to Scotland for a week in September - What should I do and see?

I’m not a golfer and I WILL be tasting Scotch at a distillery. My base is Glasgow. I’d like to see the countryside. It’s going to be three dudes, one of which is a Glasgow resident. I like art, wilderness, culture and oddness. I don’t a have a ton of money, but I’m also not poor.

And… go!

A week? You probably won’t to get to see much of Scotland in that time. Although distances aren’t great there is just so much to see. I think you will manage Glasgow and maybe Loch Lomond.

Hermette is from Glasgow and she may be able to help with specifics.

I loved Stirling Castle when we went to Scotland this summer.

Rick Steves and some others recommend hillwalking. We did some of this near Hadrian’s Wall. If you do go hillwalking, know that some of the areas will have cattle and sheep in them. Watch out for the poo. We spent most of our hillwalking time trying not to step in sheep poo. If you went to a site like Hadrian’s Wall in the US (say, one of our Civil War battlefields), it would probably be a park, not a pasture with animals in it.

Are you going to Edinburgh at all? I liked Edinburgh.

We took a Highland bus tour from Edinburgh with a company called The Hairy Coo. It was a lot of fun. They don’t have tours from Glasgow, though, only from Edinburgh.

You have to try haggis at least once, or at least vegetarian haggis.

I’d say Edinburgh is a must. It’s really one of the most beautiful cities around. There’s a nice hike up Arthur’s Seat with gorgeous views.

Even if you don’t hike up Arthur’s Seat, the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle are fun.

In Glasgow - the Kelvingrove Museum and art gallery, perhaps. I’ve studiously avoided visiting the Burrell Collection as to me it sounds, well, tedious. But it’s in Pollok Park, which is beautiful, and plenty of people seem to like it.

The West End is good for pubs and places to eat, though it tends towards the pricey. Loch Lomond is easily accessible from Glasgow as well.

Edinburgh is only 40 miles away, about an hour by train so it’s a feasible day trip, but set off early because there’s a lot to see and do there. In terms of seeing wilderness, the use of a car would be a huge advantage. As mentioned above, distances are not that large on paper, but it still takes quite a long time to get from A to B if you’re relying on buses and trains. If you are using a car, don’t take it to Edinburgh. I promise you, you will regret doing that.

The Falkirk Wheel.

If you can take a short distant ride through the area it would be worth it. You go through a tunnel, on an aqueduct, the wheel, and through old style canal locks.

People in Glasgow were really nice to us. People in Edinburgh mostly ignored the tourists. I think this may be because they don’t get so many tourists in Glasgow.

We took a bus and walked to Bothwell Castle from Glasgow. (I think they also have a car park, but we didn’t have a car) It was really nice, and a different experience from Stirling. At Stirling, there were a lot of tourists around. The people around at Bothwell seemed to be more local. We saw lots of people there with their kids or their dogs.

Try at least one really peaty single malt Scotch whisky. Laphroaig is one example. You can probably find it at a good bar that serves a variety of whiskies.

If you go to Islay, where Laphroaig is made, I can recommend a inn in Port Ellen. PM me for details.

If you make it to Edinburgh and don’t fancy the climb up Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill near the East End of Princes Street is smaller with loads of historic stuff on top and good views.

Don’t mean to hijack, but I’ll also be visiting Edinburgh in September for a few days. Can you tell me more about this hike up Arthur’s Seat ? How long (distance/time) ? How strenuous ? We won’t have a car, so will getting to/from the trailhead be an issue ?

Here you go: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/lothian/arthurs-seat.shtml

It’s in the city, so getting to the “trailhead” is not an issue.

Yes, there are several ways into the park and, if you’re reasonably fit and aiming for the top, I’d be surprised if you took more than about half an hour from any point to reach the summit.
Personally, I’d not take all the route Scougs links to, I’d veer clockwise at stage 4 and go round the hill rather than up the new zigzags - I’ve seen them almost jammed with large groups going up in single file. Better to take the older path and circle round and approach it from the back. (Not the eroded path mentioned; that’s quite treacherous.) Going this way also means that the full view of the city is only revealed at the summit.

It’s also a great place for strolling around or about on, with lochs and a nature reserve, etc. to admire.

As Meurglys mentioned Calton Hill is great as well. If you stay at the Parliament House Hotel (great value and very central) you are right at the base. If you are lucky you can get a bedroom that when you wake in the morning you get to oversee this small ancient graveyard. It is kind of spooky but has charm.

Will you have a car? You can take the train up to the highlands - it’s quite slow but it’s a beautiful journey. An obvious place to go is Fort Bill, a main highlands town on the west. An ugly place but you’re in the heart of serious mountain country (Ben Nevis, Grey Corries, the Mamores etc) so great hill walking.
Even better though, how about re-creating trainspotting and getting off the train at Corrour halt? As a one-dayer this would be hard to beat - the station is in the wilderness on Rannoch moor, there are then several Munro’s to climb round here some of which are quite easy. So you’d go out in the morning, plan a walk for around 5 hours in the mountains which would be awesome, in time to coiincide with the train back. DO NOT MISS THE RETURN TRAIN! Or you’d be sleeping under the stars.
Would be a great trip with respect to maximising time and getting out into the wilderness, only drawback is the train fares can be a little expensive IIRC, but nothing crazy.

We really liked Edinburgh when we stayed there a few years ago.

We also did a touristy bus tour of Loch Ness. It was ok except that you are basically on an all day bus ride through the same Braveheart/Rob Roy/Highlander scenery only to get to a boat tour of a big lake that doesn’t actually have a monster in it.

I think my girlfriend’s favorite part was meeting Hamish the Highland cow.

You only having a week is perhaps going to be a problem to see “Scotland”. Nowhere looks very far but it all takes a long time, especially up the West Coast as it is mostly single carrageway roads.

From Glasgow you are probably going to waste too much time going much further north than Loch Lomond or Loch Katrine (basically the Trossachs National Park). Worth spending a night around here (avoid doing so in Crainlarich which is a touristy dump). The Arrochar “Alps” are not too challenging if you want to walk up a mountain (our mountains are small at around 3,000’ to qualify). A nice wee hill called The Cobbler is considered the jewel in the range for it’s setting, even thought it is tiny.

Museums are well provided for in Glasgow - my three favourites are the Kelvingrove, the Burrell Collections and the new Transport Museum with attached tall ship. All are free!

Glasgow is a pub culture and has many fantastic examples - everyone has their personal favourite and so will the Glaswegian you are travelling with. That said I would insist he takes you for a pint and a dram in The Horseshoe Bar - officially the longest serving bar in the UK and a great pub. Any pub that is going to suggest it has a good range of whisky is going to have well over a 100 different to choose from - I would strongly suggest you allow yourself to be guided by the barman if he is good into areas you will not find easily outside Scotland, and discover what you like that way. If you start ordering drams over 18 years old though do ask the price first, as some will have a heavy price-tag!

I would definately recommend a day in Edinburgh - it is only a hour away on the train each way so an easy day trip. If you are going to visit Edinburgh Castle pre-book and go as early as you can and go mid-week to avoid especially the afternoon/weekend crowds.

Edinburgh also has the Royal Yacht (okay only if you are into royalty things) and the world class and newly refurbished Museum of Scotland. If you want good views over the city over the Forth and into Fife, then Carlton Hill or Arthurs Seat are easy climbs in stout shoes only and accessable from the city.

For pre-reading, especially if you like odd off the beaten track things then I could not recommend highly enough buying “Scotland The Best”. Pete’s guide is the only one many Scots keep in the car and use themselves. Not your usual guide to areas but lists with reasoning of - for example - the ten best fish and chip shops in Glasgow, or the best ten beaches in Fife say. Really excellent inspiration.

Enjoy yourself and come for longer next time.

Get the train to Stirling, take the open top bus tour and get off and visit the Castle, the Wallace Monument, and the town centre. Go to the Settle Inn and drink whisky :slight_smile:

Do any of your friends drive? If they can give you a lift, GlengoyneDistillery is just to the north of the city, and does tours (with tastings)

I also second the recommendations for Kelvingrove in Glasgow, again, I’d suggest an open top bus tour to get an overview of the city and to hear the local patter :wink: Also visit the People’s Palace museum on Glasgow Green!

Their home page doesn’t, strangely enough, mention that they have beer on tap, but it’s mentioned at the CAMRA Glasgow home page, so I suppose it’s OK.

If you get thirsty in Edinburgh I’d like to recommend The Halfway house. It’s a wee wee place but the beers are good and the grub I’ve had there has been OK. If you’re an Ian Rankin fan The Oxford bar is a must.

  1. Hitting Edinburgh for sure.

  2. Corrur Halt sounds like exactly what I’m looking for. Looks like 3 hours there and 3 hours back, though. So… wake up at 6, get there around 10, walk for 5 hours and get back around 8. Not bad. Tiring, but not bad.

  3. Arthur’s Seat sounds like fun.

  4. The Falkirk Wheel would be neat, but is there anything around to justify a trip? My buddies wouldn’t be up for a long trip to look at a cool thing and then a long trip back. Any distilleries in the vicinity? Or good museums?

  5. Looking to hit the world stone skimming championships. Seems like fun. I don’t how hard it is to get to Easdale Island, though

  6. Not really interested in doing tours. We will likely rent a car, though.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!