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Dramatic drives – the best roads in Scotland 

Dramatic drives – the best roads in Scotland 

Scotland’s roads are not for the unprepared (or for those who cannot reverse) with single tracks with hair pin bends and unexpected wildlife in the road. However, to see the most awe inspiring parts of Scotland you need to get behind the wheel and off the beaten track.

I’ve driven all over Scotland seeking out the roads with the most awe inspiring views – many of our roads are contenders for the most beautiful road in the world! Here are the best Scotland driving routes.

Drive to Kinloch Hourn - Scotland driving routes

The best Scotland driving routes

  1. Glengarry to Kinloch Hourne
  2. Shiel Bridge to Glenelg over the Mam Ratagan Pass
  3. Strontian to Sanna crossing the West Highland Peninsulas
  4. Aberfolye to Inversaig and the banks of Loch Lomond
  5. The A82 through Glencoe
  6. The mad wee road (Drumbeg Loop)
  7. Scotland’s longest glen – Glen Lyon
  8. The Three Lochs Forest Drive
  9. The Trotternish Peninsula, Isle of Skye
  10. Bealach Na Ba, Applecross Peninsula

See all of my best Scotland routes mapped here – and download to your mobile phone.

Looking for the best road trips in Scotland? From the North Coast 500 to the SW300, here are the best Scotland driving routes to do over a few days.

The dramatic drive from Glengarry to Kinloch Hourne

Described as Britain’s longest dead end road, the drive down to Kinloch Hourn (also marked on maps as Lochhournhead) is 22 miles of rather hair-raising single track road – making it my favoutrite of all my Scotland driving routes.

The drive to starts from the A87 as it rushes by on its way from Loch Ness to the Isle of Skye. At first, the single track road leaves Glengarry (signposted to Tomdoun and to Kinloch Hourn) taking you along Loch Garry to Loch Quoich and the massive Glen Garry hydroelectric dam.

With the mighty Munros of Gleouraich and Spidean Mialach rising above you and views to the back of the Glen Shiel Ridge, the road winds its way along the steep hillside before descending down to Kinloch Hourn on a final rather dramatic and extremely steep section of road.

Don’t miss: taking in the views, the road to Kinloch Hourne is 22 miles of absolutely spectacular Scottish scenery. From Kinloch Hourne you can hike out to along the loch to Barrisdale Bay or deep into Knoydart. This is one of the most remote Scotland driving routes.

Watch out for: the very last section of the drive – this is not for the faint of heart – do not come down this final section of road in a campervan! 

Read more: Visit Kinloch Hourne

Google maps route: Glengarry to Kinloch Hourne

Five sisters of Kintail Glenelg - Scotland driving routes
Mam Ratagan pass

Shiel Bridge to Glenelg over the Mam Ratagan Pass

Across the Kyle Rhea strait from the Isle of Skye is the Glenelg peninsula. Accessed across the dramatic 1,112ft Mam Ratagan pass and 10 miles of single track road, the route to Glenelg starts at Shiel Bridge.

Mimicking the fjords of New Zealand’s south island, the views from the drive over the Mam Ratagan Pass to Loch Duich and Five Sisters of Kintail mountains is one of Scotland’s best.

From the top of the pass, the drive down to the main settlement on the peninsula, Kirktown of Glenelg (the Glens of Eilg or Na Glinn Eilg in Gaelic) is somewhat easier, but no less beautiful, hugging the hillside as it descends down to the village of Glenelg.

Don’t miss: Stopping at the two viewpoints on Mam Ratagan from which to admire the view, catching the turntable ferry across the strait to Skye, hiking to Sandaig Bay, visiting the 2000 year old Dun Telve and Dun Troddan brochs.

Watch out for: Otters at Sandaig, campervans dealing with the hill up to the top of Mam Ratagan.

Read more: driving the Mam Ratagan pass to Glenelg

Google maps route: Shiel Bridge to Glenelg

Strontian to Sanna - Scotland driving routes

The long and winding road from Strontian to Sanna Bay

‘A roads’ in Scotland are considered to be the major roads, but that is until you reach the Highlands where an A road can often have grass growing down the middle at worst and single track at best. One of my favourite single track ‘A- road’ Scotland driving routes is the drive from Strontian to Sanna across the West Highland Peninsulas.

To get to Sanna you first have to cross Loch Linnhe on the Corran Ferry before leaving the tiny hamlet of Ardgour behind and follow the single-track road west along Loch Sunart, Scotland’s longest sea loch, to Moidart and then on to Ardnamurchan through Glenborrowdale.

The road passess through remnents of temperate rain forest, through beautiful oak woodlands, and across a volcanic caldera – Ardnamurchan is over 60 million years old!

Don’t miss: a visit to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, Scotland’s most westerly point where you can watch whales and dolphins pass by, a stroll at Sanna, with its views of An Sgurr and the Rum Cuillin, and a visit to Ardnamurchan Distillary.

Watch out for: wildlife – the Ardnamurchan Pensinula is home to red squirrels, red deer, otters and I’ve even see wild boar on the road to Sanna. The Corran Ferry can be a bit hit and miss so check it is running, it is a long way round to Fort William if the cross across Loch Linnhe isn’t running.

Read more: visiting Ardnamurchan and the West Highland Peninsulas

Google maps route: Strontian to Sanna Bay

Aberfolye to Inversnaid and the banks of Loch Lomond

The bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond are usually visited from the busy A82 on the loch’s western edge, but did you know that some of the best views of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the loch are from the Scotland driving route from Aberfolye to Inversnaid?

Leaving Aberfoyle behind, the B829 hugs the side of Loch Ard with its stunning and ususual view of the back of Ben Lomond, one of Scotland’s best hills. becoming more and more remote, the road passes by Loch Chon before reaching the end of Loch Arket, revealing one of my favourite view in Scotland.

The last stage of your drive takes you down to Inversnaid and the banks of Loch Lomond.

Don’t miss: a stroll along the banks of Loch Lomond on the West Highland Way.

Watch out for: ice in winter, this is a remote road.

Read more: visiting Loch Lomond and the Trossach’s National Park

Google maps route: Aberfoyle to Inversnaid

The most popular of my Scotland driving routes – Glencoe

No visit to Scotland is complete without a drive through the spectacular Glen Coe as it winds its way from Rannoch Moor.

Drive past the monolithic Buachaille Etive Mor and Beinn a’Chrulaiste, past the famous ‘wee white hoose’, under the dramatic Aonach Eagach ridge (the narrowest ridge in the UK) to the Three Sisters (Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh). It is a classic Scotland road!

Glen Coe is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland – no debate there. However, Glencoe has become one of the main sites of over-tourism too.

There is a sea of selfie sticks in front of the Three Sisters, queues of tripods in front of a puddle beneath Buachaille Etive Mor, and most depressingly, red deer leaving their herds behind for a diet of polos and chocolate biscuits in exchange for selfies.

So, park responsibly and whilst the drive through the Glen Coe is spectacular in itself, get out of your car and explore – don’t just take the same photos as everyone else and zoom away!

Don’t miss: a walk around the beautiful Glencoe Lochan, finding the Lost Valley (Coie Gabhail), climbing the Pap of Glencoe, visiting the Glencoe Folk Museum. Take a detour down Glen Etive (yes, the Skyfall road).

Watch out for: Bad driving – lots of locals (and visitors too) get frustrated by the slow speeds through the glen and over taking is rife. The parking situation in the glen is also rather informal in places and in the summer months can be tricky.

Read more: things to do in Glencoe.

Google maps route: Glencoe

The NC500 Scotland driving routes – the mad wee road (Drumbeg Loop)

If you are looking for a technically difficult, but absolutely stunning Scotland driving route. The the mad wee road (otherwise known as the Drumbeg Loop) which you can drive as a detour on the North Coast 500 is for you.

This might be the shortest of my Scotland driving routes at 14 miles long but it has the most twists and turns and blind hair pin bends of them all.

Starting in Lochinver, the first stop on the mad wee road is Achmelvich Beach with its turquoise waters and white sands, and from there the beaches and bends just keep coming – Clachtoll and Clashnessie are also worth a stop.

Don’t miss: visiting the beaches and Clashnessie Falls, a photo at the Drumbeg view point, a stiff drink when you reach your accommodation or next stop.

Watch out for: other drivers. This road deserves a ‘be careful’ warning! You will need proper reversing skills to drive the Drumbeg Loop (the mad wee road)

Read more: driving the North Coast 500

Google maps route: The Mad Wee Road / Drumbeg Loop

Drive Scotland’s longest glen – Glen Lyon

The beautiful Breadlebane or “Bràghaid Alban”(the High Ground of Scotland) area of Perthshire is mostly undiscovered by those who normally venture further north to Glencoe or the Highlands.

Hidden in the heart of the Breadlebane is Glen Lyon – at 34 miles, Scotland’s longest glen.

Described by Sir Walter Scott as the “…longest, loneliest and loveliest glen in Scotland…” Glen Lyon is a personal favourite. Following the River Lyon, the drive passes by the beautiful Bridge of Balgie with its lovely tearoom – a welcome break after miles and miles of single track road.

Turning South the road reaches Loch Lyon before passing between the mighty Ben Lawers range which contains some of the highest mountains in the UK before finishing on Loch Tay.

Don’t miss: a coffee at the tea room at Bridge of Balgie or a swim in the pools in the River Lyon.

Watch out for: red squirrels – highland Perthshire is one of the best places to spot these lovely creatures. You might also find sheep on the road…

Read more: how to visit Perthshire

Google maps route: Glen Lyon

The three lochs forest drive

The beautiful 7-mile Three Lochs Forest Drive visits Lochan Reòidhte, Loch Drunkie and Loch Achray and takes you over the beautiful Dukes Pass.

Just 7 miles long, but packing in the views, the three lochs forest drive is open to cars between March and October (walkers and cyclists all year round) and has a charge of £2 to enter. The route is one way and starts at east side of The Duke’s Pass/A821, about 2 miles north of Aberfoyle.

Most of the forest drive is unpaved, so this is the slowest of my Scotland driving routes, but probably the most relaxing! If you want to stay over night, there are lots of camping spots by the lochs – although you will need a permit.

Don’t miss: taking a walk down to one of the lochs – there is a trail to follow at Loch Achray (3/4 of a mile), Loch Drunkie (1.5 miles).

Watch out for: stones and rocks, cyclists, walkers and red squirrels

Google route map: Three Lochs Forest Drive

The Trotternish Peninsula, Isle of Skye

The circular route around the Trotternish Peninsula on the Isle of Skye visits some of the biggest and best sights on the island – from the Fairy Glen to the Quiraing, Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls, and the Old Man of Storr.

The small hamlet of Uig on the Trotternish peninsula is where the ferries departing for the Outer Hebrides leave from on Skye. The lovely Ferry Inn is a great place to stay if you want to explore the Trotternish Peninsula from Uig.

Don’t miss: leave the crowds behind and hike out to Rubha Hunish and the Lookout Bothy. The most northerly tip of the Trotternish Peninsula and on Skye, Rubha Hunish is a great place to spot wildlife, including whales and orcas from the cliffs that drop down into the sea.

Watch out for: thanks to Instagram the Trotternish Peninsula including the Fairy Glen and Kilt Rock (Meall Falls) have made the Isle of Skye Scotland’s most famous island. It has also led to some disappointing headlines of poor parking, overrun locations and litter and campervan waste being dumped by the side of the road.

Think about visiting Skye in the off-season when the roads are much quieter – and the views just as spectacular.

Read more: the complete guide to the Isle of Skye

Google route map: The Trotternish Peninsula, Skye

The Bealach Na Ba, Applecross Peninsula

Last, but definitley not least is the ‘pass of the cattle’, the Bealach Na Ba pass which takes you from Strathcarrron onto the Applecross Peninsula. For those not used to the winding west coast of Scotland roads, the Bealach Na Ba requires nerves of steal – this is one of tightest, switch back roads in Scotland.

Don’t miss: Stopping at the Bealach na Ba Viewpoint – the view back down the route you have just come up is incredible!

Watch out for: campervans trying to get up the Bealach na Ba, despite the sign at the bottom saying it is not suitable. Make sure you can reverse confidently before you head up the pass – this is one of the main access routes into the peninsula and is used by locals and lorries everyday.

Google map route: The Bealach Na Ba, Applecross Peninsula.

Happy driving!

Love from, Scotland x