Getting Around Scotland
Public transport is generally good and efficient. With a combination of buses, trains, ferries, walking, hiring a bike, plenty of time and careful planning, you can get almost anywhere. Most places in the Central Lowlands, between Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, are easily reached by bus and train. Services in the north and south of Scotland are less efficient and it can be a slow and difficult process getting to more remote parts of the Highlands and Islands and Argyll. Public transport can also be expensive, but there's a whole raft of discount passes and tickets which can save you a lot of money. Hiring a car can work out as a more economical, and certainly more flexible, option, especially for more than two people travelling together. It will also enable you to get off the beaten track and see more of the country.
You'll find a good selection of maps of Scotland in many bookshops and at the main tourist offices. Road atlases can be bought at most service stations. The best of these are the large-format ones produced by the AA, Collins and Ordnance Survey which cover all of Britain at a scale of around three miles to one inch and include plans of the major towns and cities. The Michelin and Bartholomew fold-out maps are also excellent, as are the official regional tourist maps published by Estate Publications, which are ideal for driving and which are available from most tourist offices. The best detailed maps for walking are the Ordnance Survey maps, which are unsurpassed for accuracy and clarity. These are available at different scales. The Landranger series at 1:50,000 (11/4 inches to a mile) covers the whole of Britain and is good for most walkers. The new Explorer and Outdoor Leisure series are 1:25,000 and offer better value for walkers and cyclists. An excellent source of maps is Stanfords at 12-14 Longacre, London WC2E 9LP. You can see our accommodation maps here
As well as the main airports of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, Scotland has many small airports, many of them on islands (one of them, on Barra, uses the beach as an airstrip). Internal flights are expensive, however, and not really necessary in such a small country, unless you are short of time and want to visit the Outer Hebrides or Orkney and Shetland. For example a return flight from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Shetland costs over £250. There are discounted tickets available, such as Apex fares, which must be booked at least 14 days in advance, and special offers on some services. BA's Highland Rover costs £189 and allows you to take any five flights within seven days (except inter-island flights within Orkney or Shetland).
The majority of flights are operated by British Airways/Loganair, Tel. 08457-733377, www.british-airways.com. For inter-island flights in Shetland, you should book direct through Loganair, Tel. 01595-840246.
Other carriers are British Midland, Tel. 08457-554554, www.iflybritishmidland.com The British Airports Authority (BAA) publishes a free Scheduled Flight Guide.