Stunning Scottish Driving Routes – Part 1
What makes a good road trip?
Good music, a reliable car, snacks? A road worth travelling? Because let’s be honest, if the views are spectacular a drive can feel like a journey of discovery, round each bend a new place that feels like a great stumbled upon secret. The rest is all secondary (apart from perhaps the snacks…) Driving some of the most remote roads in Scotland is a reminder of how much of this remarkable and proud country is still unspoiled and truly wild. Whether travelling the barren road from Tomintoul to Ballater, crossing the Cairngorms National Park or taking in the small mining and fishing villages along the Fife coast, there are certain drives that epitomise Scotland, each one showing the diverse and breathtaking wonder of this ever-long place. Read on to discover some of the best Scottish Driving Routes.
Mountain passes that feel close to the heavens drop through forest trails, passing cascading waterfalls and expanses of greenery, flatland’s of peat bog, wide open valleys and rush to meet shorelines of pure white sands – Scotland’s undeniable beauty is what draws the perennial panoramic hunters to keep returning. Taking to the road brings new experiences and with a car comes freedom and the chance to visit far flung places that public transport can’t get to. No timetables to stick to, no limits on where you can go – so jump in the car, and follow your untraveled roads to take in some of the best Scotland has to offer. There is just nothing like the ability to stop wherever you want, hang around as long as you want and take detours to reach even more beautiful spots along the way.
Balloch and the Trossachs – Allow 4 hrs.
It’s no secret that Loch Lomond is a must for every visitor to our shores – where else will ye find such bonnie banks? Take a drive from Balloch at the southern shore of the loch and drive a loop, travelling up the west side of Loch Lomond along the A82, with the Ben in sight across the water. Follow the road through the beautiful sights of the Arrochar Alps and then head to Crianlarich at the head of the loch.
Here you can grab a bite, try the Rod and Reel, or The Reel Food Cafe before joining the A85 which passes the spectacular Lochearnhead, and a take a drive down to the loch is a must. Take the A84 south and the turn on to A821 and you’ll arrive at the A821 and Loch Katrine which at 13 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide at the widest point, it runs the length of Strath Gartney. Here is the idyllic location where you can enjoy a ride on the Sir Walter Scott steamship and witness the picture-perfect views of Scotland’s waters. There are also bike hire facilities at the pier so you can explore the loch side on two wheels and be rewarded with some spectacular views.
Property feature: Claddochside, located on the shores of Loch Lomond is genuinely unique, giving real seclusion and privacy. Sleeping 8 it is perfect for family gatherings or a group getaway, the piece de resistance – the three separate terraces to catch the sun at different times of the day! A fenced walkway leads down to the shoreline and a secluded, private sandy beach, ideal for picnics. There are no other houses on the property, so it is always quiet and private, and a fantastic base to explore this exciting area. Sleeps 8 | From £900/week | Pet friendly |
Loop around South Harris – Allow 1.5 hrs
The Isle of Harris feels otherworldly. With its ever-changing mix of terrains; mountains, hills, moon-like rocky plateaus, moorlands, meadows, rugged coastlines and white sandy beaches, you can’t help but be blown away! A round trip of the southern part of the island will showcase the best of these features, and endless sea panoramics that will simply take your breath away. Starting at Tarbert follow the A859 south and take the road to Scadabay and Grosebay, and enjoy the coastal views. Essentially travelling south west to Rodel, there are many smaller looping detours that will bypass tiny areas where no more than a few houses may be.
At Finsbay make sure to stop off at Bays of Chocolate for some handmade treats! Once you reach Rodel, a visit to the church is well worth it, then take the road (the same A859) north and get ready for a change in landscape. The sheltered side of the island sees white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Take the time to stop and enjoy the beaches at Sgarasta Mhor, Borve, and Horgabost. Stop of at Traigh Iar beach and climb to Mcleods Stone – a must see. Continue to the startling silver sands of Seilbost and then around the inlet to Luskentyre beach. Such astonishing landscape and awe-inspiring views, this route will stay with you long past its end.
Property feature: Directly on route, in Manish, you can find Taigh Ailein, a recently refurbished cosy cottage set in a picturesque, serene position by the water. Inside, the cottage is modern yet cosy, and each of the rooms has breathtaking views of the water at the front of the house. A perfect island retreat for those looking for a quiet and relaxing break, you will be truly mesmerised by the stunning location alone. Sleeps 6 | From £680/week | Pet friendly |
Edinburgh to St Andrews via the East Neuk of Fife – Allow 2 hrs 18mins
Not a route that is considered as big a hit as its western counterparts, the east coast is unspoilt and boasts some truly beautiful locations. Starting in Edinburgh, the road to St Andrews takes in the imposing Forth Road Bridge, with views east and west of the Firth of Forth. Drive across the Forth Road Bridge and follow the scenic coastal route around the East Neuk. Pass the quaint fishing villages of Elie, with its long stretch of golden sands and Elie Ness Lighthouse, and Anstruther, where you can take a boat trip to the Isle of May, and admire its 16th century harbour, one of the most photographed in Scotland. There are many places of interest in the Kingdom of Fife – castles, countryside, cathedrals and coast. So stop for some fresh air via the charming fishing villages of the East Neuk, with Shell Bay and the beach at Crail great places for a seaside picnic!
The historic seaside town of St Andrews has many attractions including the British Golf Museum, St Andrews Botanic Garden, the cathedral, the aquarium, plus numerous coffee shops, restaurants, and history on every corner. The magnificent stretch of beach could not be more perfect for a sandy stroll. This drive shows the best of coastal Fife, so buckle up and breathe in the salty air.
Property feature: Within ten miles and set amongst lush green countryside, you find the secluded Hall Teasses, a wonderfully luxurious and spacious holiday house that has been carefully thought out to provide a top quality experience for you and 5 others. Outside there are lawns and patio with furniture and BBQ to enjoy the summer evenings, and you can walk for miles here as well as take in the many delights of the area. Sleeps 6 | From £740/week | Pet friendly |
Glasgow to Inverary, via the Rest And Be Thankful Pass – Allow 2 hours
They say that good things come in small packages, and it’s no truer than with the 3 hour drive from Glasgow to Inveray, via the Rest and be Thankful pass. A great drive that starts in central Glasgow and ends in sea loch town, the A82 is a drive of mountains, glens and dramatic skylines. Beginning at in the St.Georges Cross area of central Glasgow, thread through the city’s West End. Glasgow’s Great Western Road is a boulevard of a number of the city’s finest terrace. The road runs northwest through the city, through Kelvinside, Clydebank and Dumbarton, before turning north to head up the western shore of the mighty Loch Lomond, with the Ben in sight across the water. Half way up at Tarbet, the A83 to the west starts. A very important through road in Scotland the A83 connects the Central Belt, via the A82 from Glasgow, with the south west down to Campbeltown Kintyre. At almost 100 miles long, the A83 takes you through some of the most beautiful countryside Scotland has to offer.
The highest point, 245 meters above sea level, is reached only ten miles after Tarbet at the famous pass called Rest and Be Thankful, dividing Glen Kinglas from Glen Croe. Named so because it was the place where travellers in olden times would stop, rest and be thankful that they had reached the top of their steep climb, before continuing on to their destination.The viewpoint from the top is truly beautiful with views of Glen Croe. A stone inscribed with the words ‘Rest and be thankful’ was erected to commemorate the completion of this military road in 1750. The pass is flanked by a group of high mountains referred to as the Arrochar Alps. The Cobbler, or Ben Arthur, is one of Scotland’s most spectacular mountains visible from Rest and be Thankful. The road onwards follows the shore of Loch Fyne and on to Inverary for some delicious food, and perhaps a trip to the castle! What a great day!
Property feature: Peacefully located on the edge of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, The Steading is a characterful holiday retreat. Attention to detail, from exposed original stonework, polished timber floors and exposed beam ceilings. really does make The Steading a special place to stay. Surrounded by lush fields with only a few cottages as neighbours, the cottage has its own private garden with several outdoor eating areas. French doors lead from the dining room onto the large decking area which is ideal for barbecues. Sleeping 6, this delightful house is the perfect place to explore this fantastic area. Sleeps 6 | From £575/week | Pet friendly |
Dingwall to Dornie, return via Loch Ness/Drumnadrochit – Allow 4hrs
Travel East coast to West, sea to sea, over the narrowest part of the highlands of Scotland by taking some dramatic A roads from Dingwall in the east to Dornie on the West. Set off from Dingwall in the direction of Garve, on the A835. Stop off at Rogie falls and take a stroll into a secret and beautiful glen with some spectacular waterfalls. And if you are peckish for a nibble then stop off at Out of the Blue Catering in Garve for some delicious food. Take the A832 towards Achnasheen, west on leaving Garve and the road gets wilder. Wide open valleys, stretching to heather hills and cragged mountain, this road is dotted with lochside drives and majestic scenery.
Take a brief detour at follow the A832 from Achnasheen to the Glen Docherty viewpoint – one of the most breathtaking glen panoramics in Scotland is it worth the extra minutes! Double back to Achnasheen and turn south on to the A890. Ledgowan lodge offers lunches and afternoon tea, so if you are feeling decadent why not stop in? The A890 is lush with open moorland, caledonian pine, wide burns connecting numerous lochs and lochans, tall peaks and rolling hills – such a drive will have you stopping frequently to capture the majestic joy of the remote Scottish Highlands. Down through Strathcarron, stop off at the Attadale Gardens and drive the length of Loch Carron, all the way inland and south to Auchertyre, where the final stretch is turning east on to the A87 to take you to Dornie. Finish with a visit to the spectacularly magical Eilean Donan Castle. This drive is a feast for the eyes, no doubt about it.
Property feature: Just minutes from Dingwall sits the cutest little cottage, Dunglass Cottage. Sleeping 2 it is the perfect base to explore the Highlands of Scotland from. Set in the middle of an estate it enjoys far reaching views over the Conon Valley and it’s cosy and comfortable to come back to after days out adventuring. The open fire in the living room offers a cosy atmosphere for a night in, and the living spaces are fully set up to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. Sleeps 2 | From £395/week | Pet friendly
So there you have it – the first lot of stunning Scottish Driving Routes to ponder over. All of these drives can be done of a day which is why they suit the self-catering holiday and this is exactly why we wanted to share them. Road trips are slightly trickier for those who have kids, so a day here and there in the car is a lot more manageable! We hope you enjoyed this post and make sure you keep an eye out for part 2.