Which castle to skip in Edinburgh on England, Scotland,Wales trip

My husband and I will be traveling on England, Scotland, Wales next June, 2019. We are golfers, and we want to do a day trip to St. Andrews while we are in Edinburgh. The tour begins at 1:00 on the first day, instead of at the evening welcome reception as usually happens, with a visit to Stirling Castle. The next day is an all day tour of Edinburgh, with visits to Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyroodehouse, and a whisky tasting. We’ll seriously need the whisky by then; too bad I don’t like Scotch. We will arrive one day early, but we would prefer not to arrive 2 days early. So unless we skip a castle or two, we will not have time for St. Andrews.
Therefore, what would you suggest we skip? Stirling or all day overview?? Somehow I am thinking that there will be plenty of castles on this trip. Like cathedrals and quaint village walking tours, after a while they all look alike.
Long live the Queen!!
Nancy

Comments

  • edited May 2018
    My husband and I will be traveling on England, Scotland, Wales next June, 2019. We are golfers, and we want to do a day trip to St. [Employee Name] while we are in Edinburgh. The tour begins at 1:00 on the first day, instead of at the evening welcome reception as usually happens, with a visit to Stirling Castle. The next day is an all day tour of Edinburgh, with visits to Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyroodehouse, and a whisky tasting. We’ll seriously need the whisky by then; too bad I don’t like Scotch. We will arrive one day early, but we would prefer not to arrive 2 days early. So unless we skip a castle or two, we will not have time for St. [Employee Name].
    Therefore, what would you suggest we skip? Stirling or all day overview?? Somehow I am thinking that there will be plenty of castles on this trip. Like cathedrals and quaint village walking tours, after a while they all look alike.
    Long live the Queen!!
    Nancy

    Wow, that is a tough one! Honestly, I think the only solutions are to go two days early, especially since you haven't booked your flights yet, or save it for a return trip on your own or on another Tauck tour, .

    The ride through the country with narrative and visit to Stirling Castle should not be missed.

    Of the castles on this trip, other than exterior photos, the short tour of Edinburgh Castle and Crown Jewels was the most ho-hum of the entire tour, and I love castles and castle ruins, but the day is just too full of other things to see that you shouldn't miss.

    A full day is needed to travel to and from, see the course and buildings, and play golf at St A n d r e w s. Also, there is more to see there than just the golf course- ruins of St. A n d r e w s castle once owned by a powerful and wealthy cleric, St. A n d r e w s cathedral, British Golf Museum, St. A n d r e w s Museum, etc.

    Spend your free time before the tour starts with a stroll on Princes St., hop the bus for a visit to Craigmillar Castle (seen on Amazing Race), Rosslyn Chapel (featured in Dan Brown's "The Davinci Code."), or the former Royal Yacht Britannia.

    Hopefully joycesw will weigh in. She and her husband are on this tour right now, they just left Scotland a few days ago, and they are avid golfers. They had a similar dilemma- and skipped St A n d r e w s and golf (believe they are going to try to get in a few holes in Ireland - they are taking back-to-back tours.
  • Alan has given you excellent information. If St. Andrew’s is a bucket list item, then come in 2 days early. Our plans went awry when we missed our connection at Heathrow due to the huge crowds and under-staffed immigration and security lines, some of our plans didn’t happen. The tour starts at 1 pm with a trip to Sterling Castle. Not only is it a very interesting site, but the info from both our TD and local guide were invaluable to understanding so much about Scotland, and as we are seeing, the remainder of the trip. Edinburgh Castle is a military installation, and while the views are incredible ( we lucked out with a beautiful, warm sunny day), we breezed through it quickly. For instance, we spent 20 minutes in line to see the Crown Jewels and about 3 minutes inside. HOWEVER, I would suggest that you not miss this day either. Prior to the Castle we visited Holyrood (where we were the first group there and were not hampered by crowds...mobbed by the time we left) and then toured around the city learning about various sections. Again, our local guide was outstanding, and those two things have been among my favorite parts thus far. This part ends mid-day, but, again, I don’t think that leaves enough time to get to St. Andrews and golf. Yes, you will see a lot of castles, but as I am observing so far, each is unique in its own way.
  • Thanks, Alan and Joyce for the helpful information. We don’t actually want to play golf at St. A, just see the course and soak up the atmosphere, but still, it will take time. I guess we can arrange this outing through the hotel concierge
    or a tour company ahead of time. Suggestions anyone??
    ESW is already a two week trip plus travel time and extra day before and after in London. Maybe one more extra day won’t matter. It is a long time away, so we can think about it.
    Nancy
  • edited June 2018
    Thanks, Alan and Joyce for the helpful information. We don’t actually want to play golf at St. A, just see the course and soak up the atmosphere, but still, it will take time. I guess we can arrange this outing through the hotel concierge
    or a tour company ahead of time. Suggestions anyone??
    ESW is already a two week trip plus travel time and extra day before and after in London. Maybe one more extra day won’t matter. It is a long time away, so we can think about it.
    Nancy

    Not going to play golf? That changes things- If seeing St. A n d r e w s is important to you, here is my revised suggested plan for Day 2 (if I were really interested in seeing St A n d r e w s, I would follow my plan in a heartbeat! : ) :

    According to Google maps it is only a 1 hr 30 min. drive from the Sheraton to St. A n d r e w s. That will leave you plenty of time to tour (3 -4 hrs), especially if you skip out early and/or skip dinner with Tauck. When you call Tauck ask about dinner- it might be individual dining at the hotel or other restaurant at a time of your choosing, or even cash to dine somewhere on your own. We have experienced it all ways.

    First, call Tauck to get a more accurate itinerary for Day 2. Joyce should be able to help here, too. If Tauck touring ends midday as Joyce says, then your are golden- just leave for St A n d r e w s after touring is done. If the Whiskey Experience (I believe it is located adjacent to the castle) is last on the daily schedule and you don't care for that sort of thing, then forget it and skip out even earlier. We have done that on other tours- we just finished Blue Danube and left the walking tour of Old Town Vienna 15+ minutes early to catch the last half hour of the Lipizzaner Morning Exercise (We alerted our Tauck and local guides of our plans ahead of time.) The itinerary on the Tauck website shows lunch is on your own, so you could eat when you get to St A n d r e w s or get something to go from a Pret A Manger (a few in the area) or similar sandwich shop. According to Google maps it is a 1 hr 30 min. drive from the Edinburgh Sheraton to St. A n d r e w s. That will leave you a few hours to tour, especially if you skip dinner with Tauck. When you call Tauck ask about dinner plans for that day- it might be individual dining at the hotel or other restaurant at a time of your choosing or even cash, for dinner on your own. We have experienced it both ways.

    Once you have the necessary info you can book a car and driver. Check the internet, email the concierge a few months out, or if not going during the busy season, see the concierge as soon as you arrive at the hotel in Edinburgh on Day 0, and arrange for a car and driver/guide to take you to St A n d r e w s in the afternoon of Day 2. Pickup time will depend on what time Tauck says touring ends for the day (and where) or the time you choose to skip out. Look through the ESW forum archives for a post about side trips in Edinburgh. I believe one was posted here a few years ago by ndvd (Nial D a v i s) who went to St. A n d r e w s before his ESW tour. He hired a retired policeman who was super! I used to have his name and # but can't find the email. Unfortunately, Nial doesn't participate here any more.


  • There is so much to see and do in Edinburgh that I don't think you'll regret extra time. Having said that, I'd easily take Stirling over Edinburgh castle. The ride to Stirling was lovely especially since they passed by the Kelpies horse statues. Wish we could have stopped for a photo op there. They are amazing. The view from Stirling is lovely.

    Yeah, the Scottish crown jewels is a miss. The Stone of Scone? It's a rock. Meh. The only part I really liked about Edinburgh castle was the view we had for lunch at the Red Coat cafe inside the castle grounds. Great views of the city and the Firth of Forth. Could have sat there longer but so much more of Edinburgh to see. I agree with Joyce that Holyrood is worth seeing - I had my doubts about this one too.

    There are lots of castles and stately homes on this tour but I wouldn't have missed any of them. The gardens at Levens hall, the moment the bus came through the gate at Blenheim and we saw the house/grounds, seeing Windsor then watching Harry & Megan wedding there, etc.
  • edited June 2018
    There is so much to see and do in Edinburgh that I don't think you'll regret extra time. Having said that, I'd easily take Stirling over Edinburgh castle. The ride to Stirling was lovely especially since they passed by the Kelpies horse statues. Wish we could have stopped for a photo op there. They are amazing. The view from Stirling is lovely.

    Yeah, the Scottish crown jewels is a miss. The Stone of Scone? It's a rock. Meh. The only part I really liked about Edinburgh castle was the view we had for lunch at the Red Coat cafe inside the castle grounds. Great views of the city and the Firth of Forth. Could have sat there longer but so much more of Edinburgh to see. I agree with Joyce that Holyrood is worth seeing - I had my doubts about this one too.

    There are lots of castles and stately homes on this tour but I wouldn't have missed any of them. The gardens at Levens hall, the moment the bus came through the gate at Blenheim and we saw the house/grounds, seeing Windsor then watching Harry & Megan wedding there, etc.

    I agree with Claudia and Joyce- I was worried I was mis-remembering about the crown jewels and the Stone- thanks for confirming my memory!

    Dixie Chick,

    I think you can do St A n d r e w s following my revised suggested schedule.

    The only other consideration- Day 2 will be busy and you'll be tired at the start of the tour. On the other hand, I think you'll be able to rest a bit on Day 3 on the bus ride (fairly long ride) to Cumbria (Say hello to Penelope and Giles). It looks like they have dropped the visit to and short boat ride on Loch Lomond ("The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond"- You take the high road and I'll take the low road . . .)* and shortened the stop(s) at Hadrian's wall (we stopped at two places, one with a small museum.

    * the history of the song and meaning of the words were more interesting than the lake. : ) Really!

    I forgot to mention, if, as I suspect, Day 2 ends at the Whiskey Experience which is located by the castle at the start of the Royal Mile, you'll miss walking the Royal Mile and possible shopping (no kilts today : ) )- something else you can consider doing when you arrive on Day 0.
  • It's hard to tell what happens on day 3. Our green book itinerary just said " Travel from Scotland through some of Britain's most beautiful landscapes to England's Lake District today. Enjoy lunch today at a manor house." We made 1 restroom stop near a church, another stop at one portion of Hadrian's wall that had a small visitor center & museum, then another stop at a portion of the wall where there was just the car park and the wall, and then lunch at the manor which was fun.
  • I agree that you shouldn't skip any of the castles. You should also go see the Royal Yacht Britannia. It's a short bus ride from central Edinburgh. One complication. Holyrood House is sometimes closed. Not just if the queen is visiting, but if she sends an envoy to Scotland for any reason, they close the house. I've been to Edinburgh twice and both times Holyrood had been closed. When we were there with Tauck, they substituted the Royal Yacht for Holyrood. Since we had been there they day before, we saw the Yacht twice. So if you're thinking of seeing the Royal Yacht (and you should), be sure to check to see if Holyrood is closed during your stay. The palace website is:


    https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse

    This year it will be closed June 26 - July 7, 2018.
  • edited June 2018
    It's hard to tell what happens on day 3. Our green book itinerary just said " Travel from Scotland through some of Britain's most beautiful landscapes to England's Lake District today. Enjoy lunch today at a manor house." We made 1 restroom stop near a church, another stop at one portion of Hadrian's wall that had a small visitor center & museum, then another stop at a portion of the wall where there was just the car park and the wall, and then lunch at the manor which was fun.

    Yup, that is what we did in 2013.

    Restroom stop had this fantastic view. Can you imagine what it would look like here and elsewhere in GB if Henry VIII hadn't had them all destroyed?!?!

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  • Okay...I can clear up some of the questions...on day 2 you tour the city, visit Holyrood, visit Edinburgh Castle and then have lunch on your own and the remainder of the ay free. We left at 6:15 for dinner at the Scottish Whisky Experience, which was very nice. Afterwards some opted to walk back to the hotel and wander about the area in much smaller crowds than we saw earlier.
    Alan has posted Day 3 photos of the rest stop, the Roman fort ruins, Hadrian’s Wall and the manor lunch stop. That is also what we did. We arrived at Langdale late afternoon/ early evening after a stop at Grasmere to see either Dove Cottage ( think Wordsworth) or wander about the village ( kinda eh). The very narrow road to Langdale is quite a challenge in a large coach! Glad I wasn’t driving ( either the bus or a vehicle in the other direction) ...narrow road and rock wall on both sides! Most of the drive this day is along those “Yellow Roads” that Tauck loves. It is a drive through some lovely landscapes.
  • I have to go to Edinburgh in August, ahhh, not my choice of time of year and you say it is crowded now Joyce, if I can get to Holyrood House and Britannia which I have not seen I will be happy. Would you suggest or do I have to get tickets in advance for Britannia? It's about forty years since I was in Edinburgh.
  • British wrote:
    I have to go to Edinburgh in August, ahhh, not my choice of time of year and you say it is crowded now Joyce, if I can get to Holyrood House and Britannia which I have not seen I will be happy. Would you suggest or do I have to get tickets in advance for Britannia? It's about forty years since I was in Edinburgh.

    We were there in early July 2013 and had no problem getting tickets when we arrived- slightly before noon on Saturday, July 6 (I just found my log : ) ). I don't know where you will be staying but suggest either do some online bus research or get help from the concierge if you won't have a car. The Lothian (city) bus service is fantastic- we used it to go to the Britannia which is docked in the Port of Leith about 3.5 mi. from the Sheraton, Craigmillar Castle ruins (a grand total of 6 people there including us!) near the medical school (Royal Infirmary) (4.3 mi.) and even to Rosslyn Chapel (8.6 mi.) I researched, selected and downloaded the appropriate schedules before we left home and it worked out great.

    We visited Holyrood House (and the attached abbey ruins) first thing on our Tauck city tour on Monday, 8 July. It was not busy, though more buses had arrived by the time we finished our tour.

    Have you considered seeing the Royal Tatoo performance at the castle- you will need to get tickets for that now, if you can.

    August seems to be a busy month in Edinburgh. There are 5 festivals (link).
  • edited June 2018
    Alan, thank you for the info about tickets and amount of people for the places I mentioned. We are going with our singing group. For an 8 night stay INCLUDING flight, we go to Harrogate to sing in the International Gilbert and Sullivan whoops S u l l i v a n Festival competition, our group the Savoy Company from Philadelphia will be performing Iolanthe, yes, I am a fairy with Wi-Fi changing color wings and all. We get to see one or two other shows while there and a day trip to York. Then on to Edinburgh for a couple of days I think, I haven’t look in detail for a while, and includes tickets to the Tattoo—- I had to tell the younger members of our group doing the organization to get a move on for the Tattoo tickets. Our hotel in Edinburgh looks very very basic online, it looks as if all we get is a bed! I looked up the online price and it was 32 pounds???? a night. It also includes all the transport. The entire trip $2300. It’s not going to be like a Tauck tour, but lots of fun. I went myself two years ago, Mr B was still working then, so I hung out with some of the younger crowd in our group and found myself in a pub at 11pm at night on the first night, also a lot different to what I do on a Tauck tour.
  • We thought the Castle crowds were huge, but our guide kept insisting that this was nothing compared to the crowds for the Tattoo in August. Apparently there is a “Fringe Festival” that runs simultaneously, and that attracts many more in addition to the 9,000 who watch each performance of the Tattoo. I guess there are all sorts of venues for this festival including street corners and restrooms! If I were you, British, I would have tickets nailed down if you are sure of what you want to see and when you are available.
  • edited June 2018
    Thanks Joyce! I would much rather see some Edinburgh Fringe festival events. For those interested in this annual event look it up on line, I can't get the link to work. Many famous people, especially comedians got their big break there.
  • edited June 2018
    British wrote:
    Thanks Joyce! I would much rather see some Edinburgh Fringe festival events. For those interested in this annual event look it up on line, I can't get the link to work. Many famous people, especially comedians got their big break there.

    Try my link above for a brief description of the Fringe and other festivals. If you continue to scroll down on that page, you will see other things to do and places to see. We also thought about hiring a car or taking the train to visit Linlithgow Palace, Hopetoun House and other attractions like the Falkirk Wheel that are located west of Edinburgh, but we would have needed an extra day. Linlithgow is the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Annually (from Saturday 30 June to Sunday 1 July 2018) they hold a jousting tournament there.
  • British, I agree that some of the Fringe performances sound like great fun! Our TD said that there was even a play ( very small audience and few performers, I assume) that took place in a restroom location. Act 1was in the Ladies Room and then the audience moved over to the Gents for Act 2, etc. !!! Gotta love something that’s that creative!
  • We love theatre, that sounds just the sort of thing we like. We once saw a play where the first act was in the theatre and the second was in the church across the street. Hey, we are going to the theatre this evening!
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