This past July, I spent 20 days traveling in the United Kingdom. I spent a few days in England, and the rest in Scotland. If you’ve been following along for awhile, you might be thinking, “Scotland, again??” This was my third time traveling to Scotland. If you can’t tell, I’ve kind of fallen in love with the country. This time my trip was mostly focused on some of Scotland’s islands, but I also added on a few days in England. This was my first time in England, but I’ll definitely have to go back to see more (I spent a day in Manchester and a few days in the outskirts of London, but I have yet to see any of the main tourist sites in London or the rest of the countryside). At the end of my trip, I spent several days with my Moldovan host sister and her family in East London. I hadn’t seen my host sister since 2017, and had never met her kids, so it was great to see them!
Before I get into the details, here is the itinerary for the trip:
Day 1: Arrive in London (Heathrow), Manchester
Day 2: Manchester, Ayr, Scotland (via Glasgow)
Day 3: Ayr, Culzean Castle
Day 4: Glasgow, Edinburgh
Day 5: Started 10-day tour of Scottish islands: Loch Lubnaig, Glencoe, Fort Augustus, Inverness
Day 6: northern Scotland, Dunnet Head, Orkney Islands (Scapa Flow, Italian Chapel)
Day 7: Orkney Islands (Standing Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe, Skara Brae, Twatt, Birsay Island, Standing Stones of Brodgar)
Day 8: Orkney Islands (Stromness), North Coast 500 to Ullapool (Betty Hill, Smoo Cave, Sango Sands, Ardvreck Castle), Ullapool
Day 9: Ullapool
Day 10: Ullapool to Outer Hebrides (Isle of Lewis: Port of Ness, Butt of Lewis, Truiseil Stone)
Day 11: Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides (Lewis Castle, Sheiling, Arnol Blackhouse, Norse Mill & Kiln, Calanais Stones, Ardroil Beach, Bernara Island, Callanish 8)
Day 12: Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides (Luskentyre, St. Clemens Church, Horgabost Beach) to Isle of Skye
Day 13: Isle of Skye (Fairy Glen, Quairang, Kilt Rock, Lealt Gorge, Old Man of Storr, Lesser Pools, Glen Brittle Beach, Dun Beag Broch)
Day 14: Isle of Skye (Castle Maol) to Edinburgh: Eilean Donan Castle, Carr Brae viewpoint, Loch Duich, Glencoe, Loch Ba, Rannoch Moor
Day 15: Edinburgh to London
Days 16-20: Outskirts of London, visiting my Moldovan host sister and her family
Since this was a long trip, and I have a lot to share, I’m going to break my trip up into 4 blog posts:
- Manchester, Ayr, Glasgow, & Edinburgh (days 1-4 of my trip)
- Island Tour Part I (days 5-9 of my trip: Loch Lubnaig, Glencoe, Fort Augustus, Inverness, northern Scotland, Orkney Islands, North Coast 500, Ullapool)
- Island Tour Part II (days 10-14 of my trip: Ullapool, Outer Hebrides, Isle of Lewis & Harris, Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle, Loch Duich, Glencoe, Loch Ba, Rannoch Moor)
- East London with my host sister (days 15-20 of my trip)
Before I get into the daily details, here are some of the overall details of my trip:
- I flew into and out of Heathrow Airport. This was mostly because the flights were cheaper than traveling directly to Scotland at the time.
- I met my sister on the first day of the trip, in Manchester, and also spent a couple of days with her and her boyfriend in Scotland (where they were temporarily living at the time). The rest of my trip I was traveling solo (but on a tour).
- I did this 10-day tour from Rabbie’s Tours: Orkney & the Outer Hebrides 10-day Tour. I’ve traveled with Rabbie’s on both of my previous trips. Their tours are mid-range; they aren’t super expensive but they also aren’t the cheapest option available. What I really like about their tours are the size of the tours- on mini-coaches instead of large buses. This means the maximum number of people on each tour is 16. The guides are also wonderful, and every guide I’ve toured with has mentioned that Rabbie’s is a great company to work for. The 10-day tour I went on this time is really two of their tours combined into one. This means that those of us doing the full 10-day tour switched guides and travel companions halfway through. For the first portion of the trip, there were only 6 of us! For the second portion of the trip, there were 14 of us (myself and 2 others did the full 10 days). Both travel groups were great, and I even made some new friends.
- I opted to have Rabbie’s book my accommodation while on the tour. I stayed in a hotel for two nights (in Ullapool) and in bed & breakfasts the rest of the trip. If you’re looking for recommendations, I enjoyed my stay at The Caledonian Hotel in Ullapool (not the cheapest option, but the options are very limited in Ullapool- I wouldn’t recommend paying extra for the breakfast option, though). I also really liked the bed & breakfast I stayed at in Kirkwall (Orkney): Royal Oak House. It’s a bit outside of the center (it’s a pretty uphill walk back from the center), but it was very nice and the breakfast was great.
- I spent the night in Edinburgh the night before and after my tour. The night before the tour, I stayed at The Baxter Hostel, where I had stayed on one of my previous trips. They didn’t have availability for the night after my tour, so I stayed at Royal Mile Backpackers, which is right on the Royal Mile. Of the two, I preferred Royal Mile Backpackers- it was quiet at night and the showers are nicer (bigger) than at The Baxter.
One thought on “Travel: United Kingdom (Scotland & England 2022)”
So happy to hear from you and that you’ll be taking me on another of your wonderful trips. Love it.
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