Scotland is a land of breathtaking scenery, rugged hills and mountains, dramatic castles, glassy lochs and peaceful islands, not to mention a number of excellent whiskey distilleries and a history full of bloody battles for freedom. Getting off the beaten track and exploring the sights of Scotland by car is an excellent way to see the treasures it has to offer. We have put together a list of the top three drives in Scotland to get you started, including some suggestions on how to get the most out of your driving tours.
Edinburgh to Trossach National Park
A visit to Scotland would not be complete without spending some time in the historic capital, home of the biggest arts festival in the UK- the Edinburgh Fringe, with its iconic castle and cobbled streets. It’s a great base from which to take day trips or longer stints in the car to the surrounding beauty spots. We suggest heading north from Edinburgh on the M9 towards Stirling, home of famous Stirling Castle, site of countless battles and assassinations as well as the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots. It’s worth stopping off for a look around, tours take in everything from the Great Hall to the kitchens. From Stirling take the A84 followed by the A873 into the pretty village of Aberfoyle on the outskirts of the Trossach National Park– Rob Roy country. It’s a good spot for lunch, try the Forth Inn for authentic Scottish atmosphere and food. From here you can explore the delights of the Trossachs including distinctive Scottish scenery and gorgeous Loch Lomond where you can enjoy water-sports and cruises. Why not stay the night in the park in one of the many hotels, B&Bs or campsites.
For more information, follow these links:
Stirling Castle: http://www.stirlingcastle.gov.uk/
Trossach National Park: http://www.trossachs.co.uk
Inverness to Fort Augustus including the Cairngorms and Loch Ness
Starting at Inverness, head south on the A9 through beautiful Scottish countryside and into the Cairngorms National Park, packed with things to see and do, from hiking and canoeing to whiskey tasting and shopping. Stop off for lunch in bustling Aviemore or quiet and pretty Kincraig. Continue on to the A86, whisking you through the fabulous scenery in the park, out and along the banks of Loch Laggan. Head north on the A82, once again skirting the banks of a Scottish Loch, creatively named Loch Lochy! Finally, you will reach Fort Augustus, nestled at the south bank of notorious Loch Ness. Enjoy unrivalled views of the Loch and see if you can spot the famous monster lurking in the depths. Fort Augustus is a perfect place to eat and stay and, when you’re ready to move on, why not complete the loop and make your way back to Inverness via the A82 north, all the way along the banks of Loch Ness.
Applecross and Isle of Skye
For the more outward bound and adventurous drivers who are truly looking to head off the beaten track, the journey to Applecross peninsula is a must. From Shieldaig up in the rugged northwest highlands, take the winding road hugging the coast through pretty villages and crofting townships to the peninsula whose Gaelic name means sanctuary. With stunning views across to the Isle of Skye, Applecross is a remote and peaceful destination for travellers and one of the earliest outposts of Christianity in the UK. Stay at the Applecross Inn or local campsite and relax in the tranquil and beautiful surroundings. Continue your journey along the Bealach nam Bo, the Pass of Cattle, an old cattle drove that winds up the mountains to 626m above sea level and affords amazing views as far as the Outer Hebrides. At Tornapress, take the A896 south through Kishorn and round Loch Carron on the A890 and onto the A87 down to the bridge across to the mystic Isle of Skye. Timeless and romantic, Skye is home to jagged Cuillin Ridge, sleepy fishing villages and soft sand bays, not to mention amazing seafood and its own Whiskey distillery.
For more information on Applecross visit http://www.applecross.uk.com
For further details on Skye, look at http://www.skye.co.uk/
Guest post from Ashley Auckle who works with B+B Edinburgh, a boutique bed and breakfast in Edinburgh.