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Old 04-15-2019, 08:22 AM
 
Location: Plainfield NJ
311 posts, read 109,071 times
Reputation: 1216

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After reading the responses to my previous thread we have decided to try Scotland and were looking at the NC500.


We are in the early phases of planning a trip to Scotland and we were considering doing a 7-8 day expedition on the NC500, renting a car in Inverness and going around the coasts. But we would be traveling with a 5 year old and I was wondering how family friendly the experience would be. Im not keen on camping so we would be staying in B&B's and hotels.


Any advice?


We live in the NYC metro area so Im not overly concerned about the ability to actually traverse the roads themselves.
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Old 04-15-2019, 09:11 AM
 
Location: Seattle
1,531 posts, read 1,310,974 times
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The NC500 is essentially a marketing scheme intended to bring visitors to parts of northern Scotland that many have ignored in the past. As such it's like most similar schemes - there are good parts and not-so-good parts. (I won't say "bad," because that's not really possible in that region.)

We don't know your child, but how does he/she do with long hours in the car? Most 5-year olds are not impressed by scenery or history (yours might be different, for sure) but this part of Scotland doesn't have a lot to do besides look at the scenery. For sure, you can walk around old castles or on the beach, and I think you'll find Scottish hotel keepers and landlords to be pretty wonderful with kids, but you're not going to find playgrounds, kid-specific activities, etc.

A couple of considerations, just to help with planning. First is that timing matters. In the peak of summer, say July-August, the area gets quite heavily visited; in this respect the NC500 scheme is succeeding marvelously, so booking accommodations well in advance is important. Second is that in the early summer, especially around twilight (and remember you're at the same latitude as parts of Alaska, so sunset is very late) there can be annoying insects (midges) near any bogs, moors or lochs. And of course don't forget you're in northern Scotland, where the weather rolls in off the Atlantic with a vengeance.

I'm going to recommend an alternative plan, just for you to consider. Pick one, or at most two places in the northern Highlands, in particular the northwest, and stay put for several days, rather than doing a point-to-point tour. Having a house or a B&B where you can base day trips (or just hanging out) will simplify things hugely on the accommodation front, and believe me, there are many day trips that can use your base as a hub, each of which will offer terrific variety and interest. If the weather turns to crud (which is always a risk) have some games or books or whatever that you can turn to, rather than trying to squeeze in one more glen or loch (which can, to be honest, start to look alike.)

My recommendation would be to pick a place in the village of Plockton. Look here:
https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co....ton/index.html . Plockton is a very picturesque village located near the bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh over to the Isle of Skye. If you've ever watched the old TV series Hamish Macbeth (look for it,) it was filmed in Plockton, renamed Lochdubh.



In addition to being a pretty and very walkable little village, Plockton is situated within easy driving range of most of Skye, as well as superb country to the north - the Applecross peninsula, Torridon, Ullapool and Inverewe Gardens, etc. Here's a map - https://goo.gl/maps/bRPVHJcDFRA2 - showing some of these places; use Undiscovered Scotland to research them. (Note the map is not proposed as a route, only to show where these places are. Always add 30% to Google's silly time estimates, by the way.)

You could return to Inverness or simply drive down to Edinburgh at the end; one-way cars in Scotland usually don't have big one-way drop fees or penalties attached. You might even consider doing this as a round trip from Edinburgh rather than from Inverness, using a route something like this - https://goo.gl/maps/2qLhZiDt2KK2

Now this plan doesn't include a whole lot of the NC500, but it would, in my view, offer a better range of activities and locations for you and your child, and, as I say it would simplify logistics quite a bit.

Just a thought, of course.
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Old 04-15-2019, 10:06 AM
 
Location: Plainfield NJ
311 posts, read 109,071 times
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Gardyloo,
I wish I could pick your brain since you seem to have a good knowledge about Scotland. I will give you some more information and my rationale and you can see what you come up with. I also didn't realize but my son will be 6 at the time of travel. Not 5. So I was researching and after talking to my husband I decided on the Highlands because my husband is uninterested in seeing England in this trip. He also enjoys moving locations a lot, he thinks if you go back to the same hotel everynight you didn't see enough of the country. This made me consider a road trip sort of thing since you can cover a decent amount of the country. My son is a good car tripper. He has previously enjoyed trips hiking, ferry boats trips (even though it was freezing), seeing the statue of liberty (from the base we didn't go inside), road trips into the mountains and the days at the Ren Faire. I was thinking of traveling in either May or Late September. I would greatly like to avoid the drama of traveling to tourist spots in the middle of summer. I would like to see Culloden Moor and other Jacobite historical sites and eat traditional Scottish food with an emphasis on seafood. We would like to stay in a castle for at least a night and family owned B&Bs. So, what says you?
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Old 04-15-2019, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Seattle
1,531 posts, read 1,310,974 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LO28SWM View Post
Gardyloo,
I wish I could pick your brain since you seem to have a good knowledge about Scotland. I will give you some more information and my rationale and you can see what you come up with. I also didn't realize but my son will be 6 at the time of travel. Not 5. So I was researching and after talking to my husband I decided on the Highlands because my husband is uninterested in seeing England in this trip. He also enjoys moving locations a lot, he thinks if you go back to the same hotel everynight you didn't see enough of the country. This made me consider a road trip sort of thing since you can cover a decent amount of the country. My son is a good car tripper. He has previously enjoyed trips hiking, ferry boats trips (even though it was freezing), seeing the statue of liberty (from the base we didn't go inside), road trips into the mountains and the days at the Ren Faire. I was thinking of traveling in either May or Late September. I would greatly like to avoid the drama of traveling to tourist spots in the middle of summer. I would like to see Culloden Moor and other Jacobite historical sites and eat traditional Scottish food with an emphasis on seafood. We would like to stay in a castle for at least a night and family owned B&Bs. So, what says you?
Fair enough, and the timing can make a difference. Pick away.

How long would you have overall? You said 8 or 9 days for the NC500, but does that mean you have 10 days overall, or could you take longer?

As far as timing, late September is my favorite time in the Highlands, but, like late May, weather can be an issue. (Well, it can be at any time, so there's that.) There's also a bank holiday in late May (same weekend as Memorial Day over here) that can lead to congestion in areas within short reach of the big cities, but again, only worth mentioning in order to book accommodations.

What other things carry interest to you? Distilleries? Prehistoric/ancient sites? Literary sites? You said your husband doesn't want to see England this trip, but would that rule out some coastal areas in Northumberland that are close to Edinburgh? What about the cities themselves?

Google these places and read their blurbs on Undiscovered Scotland, just to get the juices flowing.

Isle of Mull
Isle of Iona
Kilmartin
Inveraray
Glen Etive
Fortingall
Glen Lyon
Tantallon Castle
Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Bamburgh
Alnwick Castle

Look at the driving tours on Undiscovered Scotland's tour page - https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co....urs/index.html (Believe me, I don't work for them )

Happy to help.

Images to illustrate -

Mouth of Glen Etive



Dun Dornaigil broch (prehistoric fort) near Ben Hope, northern Sutherland



Glen Lyon in the autumn



Skye

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Old 04-19-2019, 10:49 AM
 
4,410 posts, read 1,637,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LO28SWM View Post
After reading the responses to my previous thread we have decided to try Scotland and were looking at the NC500.


We are in the early phases of planning a trip to Scotland and we were considering doing a 7-8 day expedition on the NC500, renting a car in Inverness and going around the coasts. But we would be traveling with a 5 year old and I was wondering how family friendly the experience would be. Im not keen on camping so we would be staying in B&B's and hotels.


Any advice?


We live in the NYC metro area so Im not overly concerned about the ability to actually traverse the roads themselves.
with a five year old in the car that travels in the opposite traffic direction (left hand side) in Scotland to the one you are used to in NYC (Right Hand Side)?
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:32 PM
 
Location: SW France
14,246 posts, read 14,130,781 times
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I am sure that places en route will be family friendly.

Unless you are familiar with stick shift, which will be on your left hand side, you may wish to ensure that you get an automatic car.

I saw a video clip recently showing mishaps on the NC500 involving people driving on the wrong side of the road.

That said, from all accounts it does sound like an enjoyable route.
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:40 PM
 
9,519 posts, read 13,433,244 times
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30-something year old me LOVES these pictures and thinks Scotland sounds great!


6 year old me, no. What 6 year old wants to look @ castles?
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Old 04-24-2019, 05:23 PM
 
Location: Plainfield NJ
311 posts, read 109,071 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoCardinals View Post
with a five year old in the car that travels in the opposite traffic direction (left hand side) in Scotland to the one you are used to in NYC (Right Hand Side)?
My husband drive a manual car every day and is familiar with opposite side driving from his previous travel. So I trust that.
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Old 04-24-2019, 05:24 PM
 
Location: Plainfield NJ
311 posts, read 109,071 times
Reputation: 1216
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jdawg8181 View Post
30-something year old me LOVES these pictures and thinks Scotland sounds great!


6 year old me, no. What 6 year old wants to look @ castles?
Most 6 year olds I've ever met would love a castle. Castles are very cool. Museums are not cool and we wont be visiting those. But castles are cool. So are mountains and sheep and cows and beaches.
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Old 04-24-2019, 08:50 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,525 posts, read 39,903,732 times
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Our 6 YO, loved to go up the tower of the castle every morning to raise the flag and scout out the territory! We stayed for a month or so.
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