My sister and I have 6 nights in Edinburgh booked in early July (I know it's school holidays but it was the only time my sister could join me). In that time I guess we can visit some of the nearer places to Edinburgh by public transport.
Then we will hire a car which we will have for nine nights. We don't want to be constantly driving, so I thought about three stops to use as bases would be good. We would rather stop for a few nights in one place and explore from there. That's why I thought of three stops at three nights each.
My sister's only stipulation is that she sees Iona. I want to see highlands, scenery, walk, wildlife including sea birds. We are both interested in churches, castles etc.
I have been given some suggestions - stay in Oban, go over to Mull, Iona and Coll (question - would we take the car across and stay in Mull or stay in Oban and do day trips?
Then, go to Torridon and explore around there.
Then, go to Loch Rannoch.
Return to Edinburgh (perhaps in the morning of the last day).
Does that sound interesting and do able? I'm a bit desperate as I'm having to try to plan this in a bit of a hurry and I'm anxious about accommodation being booked up.
Other places that have been mentioned are Glencoe, Plockton to Skye, Cromarty, Inverness. Also East Neuks (but I think maybe we could go there on a day trip from Edinburgh?)
Personally, I have always wanted to go to the Orkneys, but I think it would be too rushed to try to do that? I could arrive in Scotland before my sister and go there by myself at a more leisurely pace...
I know that the gist of this question has been answered many times and I apologise for that! Any concrete advice on a route would be gratefully accepted!
All the suggestions you've been given are good, but I'd have to say from the list you mentioned, that Loch Rannoch would be my number 1 suggestion. I worked at Rannoch School when I was younger, and it's honestly one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. I'd suggest basing yourself in Pitlochry (nice and central), and seeing the region from there. Kinloch Rannoch is about an hours drive from Pitlochry. You can climb Schiehallion, drive all the way to Rannoch Moor and the train station, stop along the way for the view along Loch Tummel... So much to see! :)
[original VT link]
I can recommend this book to help make your decision
[original VT link]
I'm no expert on all of Scotland so I will bow to those with superior knowledge but I do know parts of it.
My general advice as a tour driver for 26 years is don't underestimate travel times. Scotland might look really small on a map but it's bigger than you might think. It's a beautiful country but it can take a lot longer to get around than you might expect.
You won't find 6 lane motorways in the highlands to whizz you from A to B so allow yourself plenty of time to really appreciate the scenery and don't try to fit in too much.
Another bit of general advice is to get a good map. We do have satellite navigation and Google Navigation on mobile phones here in the UK but in remote areas you may lose a satellite or internet signal. There are several available but my favourite is the large scale "Phillip's 5 star Navigator"
Oh and one other thing. If you have not driven in the UK before please do take a look at the "Highway Code" or at the very least brush up on UK traffic signs.
A free PDF file is available here
I've lost count of how many times I've been driving my tour bus when international passengers have said "What does that sign mean"? or "Why are those wiggly lines painted in the road.?"
Oban would definitely be a good base for the ferry across to Mull. Accommodation, generally speaking though, will be cheaper in Oban than on Mull, but if you can spend a night or two on Mull it would give you the opportunity to take the car across and spend time exploring this wonderful island. I always think that places like Iona are much nicer when they can be visited at a time of your choice - and don't forget you can get a boat to take you to the Treshnish Isles and Staffa, where if the tide permits, you can walk along and into Fingal's Cave.
The good thing about having your own car is that you can explore out of the way places, and Torridon is a good case in point. The coast road from Kinlochewe to Ullapool is fabulous [original VT link] and Loch Rannoch is another example. Bushman23 has given you some great advice on the best way to take it in.
Glencoe, Plockton to Skye, and Cromarty are all great destinations, but Inverness is more of a convenience than a destination in its own right imho.
The Orkneys are really a separate holiday with the North of Scotland. To try and do that as well is going to be too ambitious I feel. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's more enjoyable if you can take Scotland at a leisurely pace.
People on here don't mind how many times the same questions are asked, and there's some excellent pages about all the places you've mentioned.
Hope this helps
There is an excellent alternative to driving yourself, Rabbie's small group tours ([original VT link] ). I also have my itinerary there, which might help you choose a route.
Thank you all for your answers. Each one had something helpful for me! I am very glad for the advice on the Highway Code and will be checking that out!