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Planning summer 2017 holiday: Inverness / Aberdeen / Fort William?

(22 Posts)
Wigeon Sat 06-Aug-16 12:28:44

We live down south on the Caledonian Sleeper route and so thought it would be really fun to catch the sleeper up to Scotland for next year's summer holiday. Possible end destinations on the route are: Inverness, Aberdeen or Fort William.

I'd love to go to the west coast near Fort William (including Skye and Mull) but am really worried about the reputation for midges - I think they love me - last summer I got bitten to complete shreds by mosquitos in Italy (about 30 bites on my legs alone) and it was awful. Would you definitely avoid? I know some people do of course live there....

Aberdeen or Inverness - what would an August holiday be like in either of these places? Where is nice to stay / go to? Keen to get into the countryside (we'd hire a car). Are there fewer midges?!

All advice most welcome.

WankersHacksandThieves Sat 06-Aug-16 14:31:01

Fewer midges on the East as it's windier, higher up you are it's better too. So hill walking might be good (above the treeline). I don't know the Aberdeen area at all really. With Inverness you have access up to the black isle and dunrobbin castle, Loch ness etc and also down towards Aviemore with loads to do.

North of Fort William is great in terms of scenery/beaches etc.

Maybe you should invest in a midge net to wear - looks a bit mad but if you need it you need it!

Wigeon Sat 06-Aug-16 14:42:30

What's good about the Black Isle? What's good about Aviemore? Am googling images but it only tells you so much? Just googled Dunrobbin Castle - looks very cool! Would really like to get to know my own country a bit more (or at least, while England and Scotland are still one country...!)

Midge net - got two DC (would be 9 and 6 next summer), don't fancy having to tog up in nets every time we go anywhere! Afraid I'd just rather go somewhere without midges...

itmustbemyage Sat 06-Aug-16 15:10:21

Aberdeen is nice for a family holiday, weather never particularly hot but not midgie being on the coast.
It is bigger than the other places on your wish list so has more attractions but not so big that you can't be out of the city in half hour drive.
Aberdeen beach is lovely if you get the weather for it. Activity wise there is a permanent fun fair, leisure pool and Transition Extreme- skateboarding, biking, climbing wall centre which kids love and a science centre all in the beach area.
It's a good place to see Dolphins (there is even a boat tour) There are nice parks in the city with good play parks. Also a dry ski slope, great sports centre and golf courses. Nearby there are nice NT properties to visit, steam railway, the whole Royal Deeside area including Balmoral castle, nearby places to visit include Stonehaven with a lovely lido pool and picturesque harbour and Boardwalk, Dunnotar castle (been in a few films) is nearby and well worth a visit ( if you are fit). In Aberdeen itself plenty of hotels, shopping centres, cinemas and a really good family friendly maritime museum(free).

Wigeon Sat 06-Aug-16 15:40:01

That does sound pretty lovely. We'd probably be trying to escape to the countryside mostly (staying there), but could go and visit Aberdeen, especially if the weather was rubbish.

Just googled the average July temperatures - 14 C! Well, I never thought we'd be going there to get tanned....

theladylovescupcakes Sat 06-Aug-16 16:44:56

Also the International Youth Festival is on in Aberdeen in August - parade, shows, singing, dancing etc.

Flippertygib Sat 06-Aug-16 16:53:25

Wigeon " (or at least, while England and Scotland are still one country...!)"

Don't say that in Scotland. Scotland and England (and Wales and Northern Ireland) are separate countries.


whiteagle Sat 06-Aug-16 16:59:59

Not my cup of tea in summer - would rather go to Europe for same money. May or Easter better for that kind of trip imo. No midge either. Scottish kids don't get a May half term week so accommodation will be easier and cheaper.

whiteagle Sat 06-Aug-16 17:03:34

I cannot imagine going to Aberdeen for a summer holiday - but i grew up there!

We love Aviemore in spring time. Still prob some snow on the hills and the country aide is glorious. My DC love Landmark. Hilton colymnbridge often has great b&b and dinner deals.

Wigeon Sat 06-Aug-16 18:10:54

Flipperty - I do appreciate that the United Kindgom is made up of four separate countries, but rather than using anything more technical like "unitary sovereign state" or similar in a very informal mumsnet post, I used the shorthand of "country" to describe us all. In the words of this popular junior school website, the UK can be thought in common speech of as "countries within a country".

But I shall definitely avoid any detailed discussion with Scottish people of the extent to which Scotksnd is or isn't part of the wider UK, or what term they should be referred to, or whether the status quo is right or not, should we go on a lovely family holiday there!

I think we'd be unlikely to want to stay in Aberdeen itself - I live in a city and love to be more rural for holidays, so it's great to hear about things within a reasonable drive of Aberdeen - thanks for other thoughts.

cecinestpasunepipe Sat 06-Aug-16 18:23:47

If you decide on Fort William, can I recommend Fort William Car Hire. They met me off the Caledonian sleeper with the car, and were very helpful, reasonably priced and efficient. For midges, I found Smidge an excellent deterrent - available from Amazon, and widely up in the Highlands. It was developed specifically for the Scottish midge. Not oily or chemical smelling at all. From Fort William, you can visit Skye via Mallaig which you can drive/ bus to, or take the Jacobean steam train passing over the viaduct that features in the first Harry Potter film. Also Glencoe, site of the Glencoe Massacre, and the eerie bleakness of Rannoch Moor. Going down towards Oban you can visit the Sealife Centre. Lots of boat trips available to see seals etc. Fort William is also close to Ben Nevis and the West Highland Way if you like walking. I had an amazing week up there earlier in the year.

bramblina Wed 10-Aug-16 00:25:44

I agree with Cecine (above) I live even further up which is similar and beautiful. My local beach and farm were in "What we did on our holiday" (Billy Conolly and David Tenant). Look up Gairloch. You would go to Inverness, there is a car hire (perhaps Budget?) place next to the railway station, and Gairloch is an hour and a half away. You will drive along this road as I do on my way home from the supermarket smile check out the North Coast 500

Midgies only come out when there is no wind, which tbh is rather rare! Smidge is excellent, as is Avon's SSS (ordinary green one) dry oil body spray. They are a small price to pay for a beautiful place.

I would not travel on the Sleeper again!! It is a great idea but really uncomfortable and super expensive!! have you priced it?!

Wigeon Wed 10-Aug-16 20:31:37

Thank you for more replies! That road picture is stunning!

Re the cost, yes, I've had a look and it was coming out as £408 for two adults, two children return, which actually I didn't think was that bad considering we'd fly if we didn't do the train (not that I've actually priced up flights, but I can't believe they'd be loads less). That's interesting to know it's really uncomfortable though...TBH, DH and the DC would probably be ok (they seem to be able to sleep anywhere), but I would probably suffer!

Lots to think about...

Superjaggy Wed 10-Aug-16 23:55:38

I think you'd get flights with easy jet from London to Inverness for much less than that tbh - I took my kids to London from Inverness at Easter time for £120 all in. You need to book your seats on the first day they're released though, as the prices soon jump up.

I've used the sleeper and it can be fun for children, but a lot of the carriages are dated and it often runs late on the way north (or at least, it used to)

As for things to do around Inverness: a Jacobite cruise on Loch Ness; a trip to the top of Cairngorm on the funicular railway; water sports at Loch Morlich or Loch Insh; Highland Wildlife Park; loads of forest trails for walking or cycling; Landmark Adventure Park at Carrbridge; beautiful beaches at Nairn, Findhorn; plenty castles (Cawdor and Urquhart are probably most popular). And Inverness itself might have its Highland Games when you're visiting.

Hope that helps!

(I'm not a fan of Aberdeen or FW but I'm sure there's plenty to do there too)

Superjaggy Wed 10-Aug-16 23:57:07

And, Avon Skin So Soft (original green bottle) is an excellent midgie repellant!

bramblina Thu 11-Aug-16 00:12:15

Yes dh and I flew to London Easter weekend and return for £250, Inv-Gatwick. There are 3 per day I believe. Easyjet. 2 separate freinds flew via Luton recently and had nightmares (infrastructure, ongoing) which I'd avoid. You haven't said where exactly you live so this may not be relevant.

Airport website with destinations;

GoudyStout Thu 11-Aug-16 13:28:21

Luton to Aberdeen by easyjet can be ridiculously cheap, as can Gatwick to Aberdeen.

Lots of National Trust properties close to Aberdeen - Crathes Castle, Drum Castle, Castle Fraser, Cragievar, Fyvie Castle, Leith Hall, Mar Lodge - so it would be worth joining if you plan to do 2 or 3 of them (there is a Go Ape at Crathes). Slains Castle and Drumottar Castle are coastal ruins. There are some great walks, Loch Muick (out towards Ballater) is a favourite, as well as Bennachie and Scolty, the Burn o Vat, Linn o Dee and Glen Tanar.

There are some good things to do in the city - the Art Gallery and Maritime Museum are good, dolphin watching around the harbour and Torry battery, Balmedie beach is lovely - and some good restaurants too (if you like seafood then treat yourself to lunch at The Silver Darling).

Don't bother with the Avon Skin So Soft (I am also a midge magnet, midges just ignored it when I've used it), go for the Goibi Xtreme Spray (you can get it on Amazon now).

LucyGravity Sat 24-Sep-16 16:27:11

Can I revive this to defend the Caledonian Sleeper? I travelled on it with husband and 2 kids and we all slept brilliantly. We got it assuming we wouldn't sleep but actually the motion of the train had us all dropping off wonderfully. If you are the kind of person who falls asleep on planes/trains or in cars I reckon you'll be fine.

I'm using it again this year as it worked out a lot cheaper than flying in half term. You can use a family & friends railcard to keep cheaper tickets if you haven't already done that. Flying might be cheaper if you are organised enough to get tickets as soon as they come out. But trying to book for a half term about 8 weeks before the train was a good £200 cheaper. And you don't lose a day of travelling.

The cabins are small, dated and there's nowhere to charge your phone or wifi, but we had so much fun!

On location, I think any of those places could be nice. Inverness has Loch Ness, Culloden battlefield (nice visitor centre there now), Cawdor Castle and Brodie Castle nearby. The beach at Nairn and Findhorn are lovely. You can go on dolphin and seal watching trips. At Findhorn you can see the seals right on the beach if you go to the right bit. There's a great outdoor activity place too which I am trying to remember the name of. Will come back and find it! There's a wildlife centre on the Black Isle but I've never been. A good swimming pool in Inverness itself with water slides.

I think you could have a really lovely holiday. Aberdeen area also great but I can't add much to the previous post.

LucyGravity Sat 24-Sep-16 16:31:22

Landmark Adventure Park is what I was thinking of, near Aviemore.

Beebeeeight Sat 24-Sep-16 18:38:47

With kids that age is visit

Despite the midges the west coast is better- fairy glen in Skye, more dramatic scenery overall.

The east coast has good beaches though eg lunan bay.

RumAppleGinger Sat 24-Sep-16 21:56:50

A few years ago we hired a boat from caley cruisers and did the Caledonian Canal from Inverness to Fort William and back. It was incredible and I would highly recommend it. We arrived and they gave us a two hour lesson in how to steer a boat and sent us on our way. We live in Scotland and travel about it a lot but I have never seen it like this before. It was brilliant and once DS2 is a bit older we'll do it again.

LucyGravity Sat 24-Sep-16 23:05:00

The canal trip sounds fabulous. I would love to do that when my kids are old enough to be a bit more responsible.

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