Road tripping in Scotland is not just about the North Coast 500. As part of BBC Scotland’s This is Life series, here is a video guide to three stunning alternative Scotland road trips you could do instead.
Read on for more detail on how to drive the road trips in the video.
1 – Go West as Far as You Can
Scotland’s wild west from Arisaig to Ardnamurchan is a driver’s dream. Cruise through a stark volcanic landscape, discover white sands that beat the Caribbean and then stay at a traditional inn for a sublime west coast sunset.
How to Road Trip Ardnamurchan
Start: Fort William. Round trip. Distance 140 miles / 20km. Driving time: approx 6 hours
- From Fort William take the Road to the Isles (A830) to Lochailort and take the A861 to the village of Glenuig. The Inn, perched on Glenuig Bay is the perfect place to stop for a coffee or lunch.
- From the Inn, drive south to the village of Salen, detouring off to visit the beautiful ruins of Tioram Castle which sits on a tidal island on Loch Moidart. Watch out for the tides, for it is very easy to get caught out on the island! The Salen Hotel is a great stopping point for lunch.
- After lunch it is time for the best bit – it is time to take the single track B8007 along Glenborrowdale. The road hugs the side of Scotland’s longest sea loch, with views of Mull across the sound.
- At the end of the road is Ardnamurchan Point, with its lighthouse, the most westerly point in mainland Britain.
- Don’t miss Sanna Bay where the sands are white and sea is as blue as the Caribbean! You can drive to the beach but you can also walk from Portuairk along the coast to Sanna Bay – you get the best view of the beach from above!
- To make this a round trip, return via the B8007 to Corran and catch the Corran Ferry (£8.20 a car inc passengers) back to Fort William or Glencoe.
Ardnamurchan Road Trip Tips
- Before taking the B8007, make sure you know how to drive on a single track road!
- You can make this a longer trip by hopping on the ferry from Kilchoan to Mull and then returning by ferry to Oban (see below)
More info: How to visit Amazing Ardnamurchan
2 – Discover Scotland’s Heart Breaking Glens
Deep in Scotland’s heart is the majestic ‘glen of weeping’ where the Glencoe Massacre eventually led to the Jacobite Uprising 23 years later. Drive this majestic Glen and then head to Glenfinnan to watch the ‘Harry Potter Train’ go over the viaduct.
How to road trip Glencoe and Glenfinnan
Start: Anywhere north of Loch Lomond. One way trip. Distance 50 miles/80km. Driving time: 1 hour
- From Loch Lomond take the A82 through Crianlarich and then Tyndrum. The road then opens up to the highlands, taking you through Rannoch Moor to the head of the glen, guarded by Buachaille Etive Eor, the Great Herdsmen ooad tf Etive, at the head of Glen Etive. James Bond fans might want to take a detour to take that Skyfall photo.
- There are are various photo points in the glen including at the Three Sisters, but be careful, as the road is very busy – so use the car parks at all times! In Glencoe, the Clachaig Inn is an institution for real ale and food.
- Leaving the Glen behind, head to Fort William for lunch before taking the Road to the Isles (A380) to Glenfinnan. Stopping points include Neptune’s Staircase, a flight of 12 canal locks.
- At Glenfinnan, the ‘Harry Potter Train’, otherwise known as the Jacobite Steam Train crosses the viaduct twice a day – at around 11am and 3pm. The best views are from up behind the viaduct so get there early.
- On the banks of Loch Shiel is the Glenfinnan Monument, a tribute to those fallen fighting for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Jacobite rebellion.
More info: Let’s go to Glen Coe!
3 – Go ferry hopping around our beautiful islands
Road tripping in Scotland is not all about driving. Take a ferry to discover Scotland 790 islands. The best road to the isles – is actually on the water.
How to ferry hop around Scotland
From Orkney and Shetland in the north, to the Outer Hebrides of Lewis and Harris and the myriad of islands that make up the Inner Hebrides including Arran and Bute you have lots of choice for your island hopping adventure.
Visit Scotland has a guide to the Scotland ferry companies, including the most well known, Caledonian MacBrayne, affectionately known as Cal Mac. Cal Mac offer an Island Hopscotch ticket which allows you to hop along various routes. A great ferry hopping road trip can be taken from Ardnamurchan to Mull and and back to Oban.
Start: Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan. One way trip. Distance 40 miles/65km including ferrys. Driving time: 3 hours including crossings.
- From the Kilchoan ferry terminal catch the CalMac Ferry to Tobermory on Mull. The Kilchoan to Tobermory ferry takes around 40 minutes.
- On Mull, stay in Tobermory which is a bustling little town, with lots of restaurants and bars.
- Spend at least a day exploring the island, great views of the island and the west coast can be seen from the island’s Munro, Ben More, there is a distillery in Tobermory and the island has great beaches such as Calgary Bay.
- Return to Mull from Craignure, catching the Craignure to Oban ferry which takes 55 minutes. Oban is famous for seafood, so make sure you stop in the town for at least one meal. For great views of the town and the Isles, climb up to McCaigs Tower.
If you now fancy planning your own road trip in Scotland, check out my guide on How to Plan a Road Trip in Scotland. Remember that wherever your road trip journey takes you, take it easy, there is no rush – don’t let Scotland just whizz by. Make sure you always greet the locals with a wave as you go past, and always stop and say hello to our lovely hairy coos!
Love, from Scotland x
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